Why theme parks are wonderful and awful

My name is Amie. I am 41 years old, I don’t have kids, and I still LOVE to go to theme parks.

My grandparents used to live in Southern CA, and I visited them pretty much every other summer, so that meant I got a trip up to the magical happiest place on earth almost every time I went to see them. And also Universal Studios, SeaWorld (which makes me too sad now), and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Because of this, going to theme parks as an adult makes sense to me. They are wonderful! But they can be really awful too—depending on a variety of things, and the type of people who happen to be there when you are. I happened to be there recently, and loved-hated it, like usual.

 The awful
Sometimes, people are dicks. People are especially dicks when it’s 90+ degrees, because Disneyland doesn’t have much shade, and they don’t have those awesome misting cool down stations like Universal Studios has. And people are even bigger dicks when they want their kids to get on rides before adults, and complain loudly about it when they’re behind you in line.

I get it—you’re spending upwards of $80 per kid, per day, per park. That would make ANYONE crabby, not to mention the $200 you shelled out to dress your daughter up like a princess, $100 for food and drink, another couple $100 for toys, souvenirs, hats, etc. It costs a lot of fucking money to go to Disneyland, and I appreciate that you’re stressed about it, and then get pissed when your kid doesn’t want to wait in a 2-hour line to sail through the wondrous world of Peter Pan. But hey! I’m here to enjoy it too. I really am. I’m not here just to jam up your day, man.

 

This is my “totally terrified but trying not to show it” face.

There were definitely a few times when I wanted to leave the park, most notably this one: In line for Winnie the Pooh, there was a woman in front of us who had a large backpack, waiting by herself, and making exasperated noises. My cousin and I were standing in line directly behind her, still in awe over my mom going on Splash Mountain and LOVING IT (does. not. compute.). We thought we were standing a respectful distance behind her, but the woman whips around and says,

 “CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME SPACE! NOW!”

To which, I stunningly say “Oh yeah, sorry.” Because you know, I didn’t think I was crowding her, but maybe we were too close for her comfort. So we backed up to give her TONS of space. Which she then used to throw her backpack on the ground, taking up the whole width of the wait line, and proceeded to rearrange things just as we were coming up to the front, swearing and sighing the whole time.

I realize, at this point, that this woman’s problem is obviously not with us. But I start to get apprehensive, because it looks like we’re going to be sharing a car with her. And sure enough, we end up directly behind her. As a guy with his kid and wife tries to get in the front and realizes he won’t fit comfortably, he asks if he can sit with her, and she says “NO. NO WAY! Uh-uh”.

The guy kind of looks amazed, then stuffs himself into the front seat with his family. After the ride starts, the woman taps him on the shoulder and says, “I’m sorry. That wasn’t about you. THESE TWO ASSHOLES BEHIND ME [pointing back to us] were crowding me in line! So I’m upset about that.”

At this point, I thought my cousin was going to punch her in the mouth. Which obviously wouldn’t have helped anything (but I understood the urge). Really, the only reaction you can have to something like that is to just ignore it. I knew that asking her to clarify probably wouldn’t go over well, as she spent the whole ride swearing and rearranging things in her bag and sighing over and over.

That was the most in-your-face example of rudeness we saw at both Disneyland on our trip, but it sadly wasn’t the only one. Things were a bit calmer on the CA Adventure Park side—which we discovered was probably due to the to-go alcohol! Beer or Vodka/Lemonades (in Cars land! Get yer booze and ice cream cones here!) that you could tote around the park. WHAT. No wonder all the adults were happy and smiling over there. Seriously. WHY DIDN’T WE DISCOVER THAT THE FIRST DAY?

There were plenty of other dicks though, which is why when someone was actually nice to us (offering a baby wipe to my mom who had spilled tomato sauce on her shirt), I fell all over him, thanking him about a million times because he was actually nice to us. And in a good mood! Amazing.

 

RAWWWRRRRRR

RAWWWRRRRRR

The wonderful
Despite all the complaining we heard about the heat, the waiting, the broken-down rides, and the lack of edible food (park food is kind of the worst), I still had SO MUCH FUN. Even though I can’t do roller coasters because of a near-crippling fear of heights, and motion sickness messes with my fun times, I love me some theme parks.

For the most part, they’re fun! And happy! And full of memories, old and new! And I Instagrammed the hell out of our trip, because I wanted to capture all the awesomeness of each and every day. I still remember seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle for the first time and squee’ing with happiness. That was my favorite Disney flick when I was a wee one, and I still love it, even with its fucked up “rescue the helpless princess” theme. I mean, come on: Maleficent is such an awesome villain. How can you not love her?

Sadly, the Haunted House was closed for Jack Skellington-izing, so we didn’t get to see that—but we went on Pirates of the Caribbean TWICE because people are dumb and apparently don’t like it anymore. I still love that ride, even though they stuck Johnny Depp pirates in everywhere (mom’s favorite part, unsurprisingly). It’s essentially the same, and there’s so much to see it’s like a new ride every time. Plus, it’s dark and cool inside, which is awesome when it’s super hot out.

Also seeing my mom enjoy Splash Mountain was a (freaky) highlight, Star Tours still rocks (I was very glad to see they kept it classic), and I bought a SW hoody and a ridiculous fuzzy Wampa hat! Can’t wait for the temps to drop so I can wear it.

Speaking of Star Tours, confession time: I was SO JEALOUS of all the kiddos who got be Jedi knights at the Jedi Academy because they got handed robes and training light sabers, and actually got to fight Darth Vader! WHAT. Where was this stuff when I was a kid? I mean, seriously. I almost cried from all the cute (and from all the rage of me being too old to participate). One kid even got to “use the force” to push back some Stormtroopers. HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE YOU GUYS?!?!?!?

Other favorite moments at D-land, CA Adventure, and Universal Studios: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! Mickey-shaped beignets and mint juleps in the French quarter, going on Dumbo for the first time ever, cramming myself into tiny cars for all the fairy tale rides, Jungle Cruise cheesiness (Indiana Jones was also closed! Sad face), trying to conquer my fear of heights on the Mickey fun wheel, rafting down the Grizzly River Run in the dark, getting totally soaked on Jurassic Park, the sweet comfort of the mostly-same studio tour (that new King Kong 3D part is amazing also), and enjoying the Transformers ride more than the movie.

There is really nothing better to me than re-experiencing stuff from my childhood with adult eyes…and some booze, if we’re being completely honest. Brief moments at the pool with some beer in my polka dot suit were really amazing. Plus! There was a water slide that was super fun.

I don’t think they’ll ever be a time when I feel too old to go. I really, really don’t. And I figure if my mom can enjoy them at 64, I have plenty of time to keep visiting.

How ‘bout you guys? Do you love theme parks too? TELL ME I AM NOT ALONE

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4 responses to “Why theme parks are wonderful and awful

  • abbytron

    You know how I feel about Disneyland! Your experience (except for the rude people) sounds a lot like mine back in 2009. Haunted Mansion was closed down for Halloween-izing (which was the absolute most upsetting thing about my visit because it’s my FAVORITE so the next time I go will be in the spring) and I was a bit disturbed by all the Johnny Depps on the Pirates ride. WTF? Like, why can’t they just leave some stuff alone? I miss the Country Bears thing and thought the Winnie The Pooh ride was too boring and fluorescent. But I will go back a million jillion times forever because it is completely the happiest place on Earth. I thought California Adventure was kinda lame though. Probably won’t go back there.

    • Amie

      I know Abby! 🙂 I have never seen The Haunted Mansion with all the cool Jack stuff, so I’ll have to make sure next time I go it’s in October.

      Winnie the Pooh was definitely not as thrilling as Dumbo, but I still love the old-school kiddo rides like Snow White and Alice in Wonderland. The Depp stuff is unnecessary, but at least most of the other stuff in PoTC is pretty much the same, and still enjoyable.

      The Cars land at CA Adventure is pretty amazing – honestly felt like I was walking through a cartoon. I also loved the inner tube raft ride. Especially on a 90-degree day!

  • Evani G

    Lol I agree with SO many of your points!!

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