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Christmas gifts for theme park fans

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Published: December 13, 2007 at 5:50 PM

Crunch time approaches in the Christmas holiday season. If you're a regular reader of this site who blanks when someone asks what *you* want for Christmas (like me!), here's a handy holiday shopping list with items that should make any theme park fan happy.

And if you are a friends of relative of a theme park fan, who found this site through a search, here are the answers you've been looking for -- what to get a theme park fan for Christmas!

Tickets (duh!)
Every theme park's official website sells tickets, many of which you can print at home to stick in a stocking or under the Christmas tree. Just make sure that you put the gift-ee's name on the tickets, and not yours' (the gift-er). Many parks don't bother to check online tix against photo ID, but why buy yourself bad gifting karma by making that mistake?

Universal Studios Hollywood is offering a particularly sweet holiday deal: Buy a special one-day ticket, and you'll get a 2008 annual pass free (with blackout dates). Consider this a must-have for any SoCal-area Simpsons fan, as Universal's new Simpsons Ride debuts at the park in the Spring.

Stuff for your trip
Make your loved ones think of you when they are at Walt Disney World by sending flowers to their on-property hotel room via DisneyFlorist.com. (What better way to say "Remember to buy me some mouse ears while you're there!")

If you want to help your favorite theme park fan get around the park in over-the-top style, load 'em up with a Pal Mickey, Disney's talking Mickey Mouse doll that dispenses advice as you move around the parks. Pal Mickey is available via phone from Walt Disney World's Merchandise hotline, 407-363-6200.

You also can arm your friends with money to burn in the parks with a gift card from Disney or the Busch theme parks (the latter including the SeaWorld parks).

A theme park video game
Can't wait for the trip? Enjoy theme parks 24/7/52 with a theme park video game. If your theme park fan is a hard-core gamer, he or she probably already has the classic Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum, which released. But do they have SeaWorld Adventure Parks Tycoon? (A version of RCT preloaded with rides and shows from the SeaWorld theme parks.) If not, start with either of these favorites.

Otherwise, go straight for this year's must-have game for theme park fans: Thrillville: Off The Rails, from LucasArts (available for Wii, Xbox 360 and PC). The LucasArts team amplifies theme park simulation with track-jumping coasters and animatronic-filled lands.

A theme park guidebook
You can find a whole range of guidebooks in the travel section of your local bookstore, but let us draw your attention to a new one: Moon's Walt Disney World and Orlando by Laura Reiley. This guide includes not only a handy, paperbound guide to everything Disney, but also Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and attractions around Orlando, from Winter Park to the Space Coast and Daytona. (The Moon guide's also smart enough to recommend TPI as a "wonderful" online resource for Orlando-area trip planning.)

Donate to a good cause
Feel especially good about yourself by giving a totally self-less gift this year.
Give Kids the World offers free week-long Orlando vacations for terminally ill children and their families. Give Kids The World has hosted more than 75,000 families from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research funds important research into cures for this debilitating disease, research that's been undercut in the United States by religious fundamentalist politics. Why is this cause of interest to theme park fans? Because this disease is affecting some of the folks who helped turn this industry around over the past decade. Spend a few bucks to honor those who work to make theme parks better, with a contribution to the Fox Foundation.

Readers' Opinions

From Danny Melillo on December 14, 2007 at 5:28 AM
there's a radio show about this on www.themeparkave.com I think Im gonna get the thrillville game for wii
From Bradley Robertson on December 14, 2007 at 8:23 AM
Thank you so much for this list! I asked my wife to get me Thrillville: Off The Rails after I looked it up. It looks like they took Tycoon and amped up the graphics but took out all the management stuff so you could simply enjoy being at your own park.
From Anthony Murphy on December 14, 2007 at 9:22 AM
Yes, Roller Coaster Tycoon is a must! Great game if you like Theme Parks.

Another thing you can get is a gift card to the parks. I am not sure who else does it, but Disney has a gift card you can use at the Disney Store, Disneyland, Disney World, and Disney Cruise line. You can always go with the Disney Dollars as well!

From Erik Yates on December 14, 2007 at 10:15 AM
Specific link to the "Theme Park Avenue" Theme Park Geek Gifts:
http://themeparkavenue.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=284195

I really like the idea of giving to a charitable donation, but a lot of people get offended saying "if I want to give a donation I'd do it myself".

From Michael Smith on December 14, 2007 at 12:47 PM
Behind the scenes tours make great gifts for people who already have annual passes.
From Robert Niles on December 14, 2007 at 1:31 PM
Actually, I didn't intend the donations to be given on behalf of anyone. I offered those as options for folks to give in their own name, as a gift to the charity.
From Erik Yates on December 14, 2007 at 10:04 PM
Why save them for Christmas? Give when ya can, I always say. GKTW is a great place, and just as much as money, they also need volunteers. The place is simply amazing, its built by folks from both disney and universal. Great way to meet fellow theme park lovers, and a great way to spend a morning before heading to the parks.

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