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Vote of the week: Giving thanks for theme parks, and for theme park fans

Written by
Published: November 21, 2012 at 9:59 AM

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that...

…Universal Orlando has chosen to put so many of the millions it's earned from Harry Potter back into its theme parks - bringing Transformers to Orlando, building an immersive new Simpsons land, and expanding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Florida. I hope Universal will provide a compelling example to other theme park companies in the years ahead, reminding them that - if you spend money for attractions of the highest quality, you'll earn that money back, and profits beyond.


I'm also thankful for the Three Broomsticks' fish n' chips and Butterbeer. Yum!

…SeaWorld Orlando is investing in what might be the most ambitious ride system ever implemented in a theme park. I can't wait to experience Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin next spring, with its trackless, customizable motion-base ride vehicles. I love what SeaWorld partner Oceaneering did with Universal Creative on the ride vehicles for Transformers and Spider-man, and am looking forward to seeing what the next iteration of motion-base technology can do for SeaWorld in a live animal environment.

Buena Vista Street will forever preserve a memory of what California once was - to inform (or remind) people whose only thought of California is stereotype. I especially love that it replaced a stereotype and did so by recreating a vibrant public space, one that has make the entire Disney California Adventure theme park feel like a more comfortable and welcoming space. Theme park designers should learn from New Urbanists, and work to create livable public spaces like this, where people can just "hang out," instead of leaving us with nothing but crowded, soulless pathways between the rides and the stores.

…True Theme Park Insiders honor us by choosing this as their venue to, uh, inform the public about such new developments at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, Transformers coming to Orlando and new concepts for Disney's Avatar. I know that leaks drive theme park managers nuts. But when fans hear about parks making major new investments, they get excited. Leaks drive vacation plans, as fans start setting aside money and changing long-term vacation plans to make sure they see the new attractions that get them excited. We are proud to share news of new attraction developments with our readers, and invite more theme park insiders to let us know about upcoming projects. (Anonymity assured, of course.)

…I've been blessed with the opportunity to visit some of the world's great theme park attractions beyond the United States' borders, and to bring you along (well, virtually) on these adventures. Tokyo DisneySea, Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Singapore and Disneyland Paris each offer unique, world-class attractions that any theme park fan should wish to visit someday.

…You, thousands of Theme Park Insider readers, continue to support this community with your time, attention, comments, questions, answers, ratings and reviews. You hear a lot from me on the site's front page, but you - collectively - have seen, ridden and stayed at many, many more places than I will ever have the chance to experience in my lifetime. You are the heart of this community and I am forever grateful for every single one of you who visits and chooses to hang around for a while.

For what are you giving thanks this Thanksgiving? Please let us know, in the comments. And while we're on the topic of Turkey Day, let me offer you another chance to vote on something:


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Absent any major theme park news in the meantime, I'll be back on Friday with our annual list of theme park holiday shopping links.

Readers' Opinions

From Mike Gallagher on November 21, 2012 at 11:20 AM
For a person that loves English style fish and chips as much as I do...added to the fact I haven't been to WWOHP, despite my love of the books...that picture was cruel and unusual punishment, Mr. Niles. But I will forgive you in the spirit of the day.

*Edited to add*..I'd really like to go to HersheyPark on Friday, but can't find anyone to join me. I wouldn't mind soloing if the coasters were open, but they're not. Many other rides are, though, and they do a nice job with decorations and lights for what they call Christmas Candylane. Very cool (literally and figuratively.)

From Amanda Jenkins on November 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you each have a wonderful time with your loved ones. Now, please pass the white meat over here :)
From David L. on November 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM
White meat? too dry! Have a great Thanksgiving to all!
From James Rao on November 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I am thankful for turkey (white meat), mashed potatoes (made with a block - or two - of butter), corn (frozen, not canned), and gravy in one big, gooey pile on my plate.

I am also thankful for those theme park designers who continue to prove that story is more important than steel (although using steel to tell a great story is a wonderful thing), and that immersion isn't just a method of baptism.

And, I am especially thankful for my family and friends with whom I am honored to share all my theme park adventures.

So, Happy Thanksgiving to all of TPI-dom! I hope each of you has a blessed and glorious feast.

From Daniel Etcheberry on November 22, 2012 at 5:52 PM
I give thanks for having parents who agreed to fly with me to the west coast and help me transfer into the rides at Disneyland.
I also give thanks for having this website that I enjoy so much.
Happy thanksgiving everyone!
From Bryce McGibeny on November 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM
I go for the Tofurkey!
From Dominick D on November 21, 2012 at 1:04 PM
Just give me some turkey and I'll be happy :)
From Mike Gallagher on November 21, 2012 at 3:36 PM
My friend Jennie O'Connor...aka Jennie-O...is in my freezer waiting to be eaten. Maybe with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Nah, more like rice and corn.:)
From Carrie Hood on November 22, 2012 at 1:08 AM
Happy Turkey Day Everyone!
May your plates be full of delicious bird-type goodness and my your gravy not runnth over the sides of your plate.

As for theme parks, I'm thankful that some of them still care about the collective history that they all share. For allowing classic attractions of the past to be shared with new generations, even if their not the "newest" thing

I'm also Thankful that the new Test Track looks promising and I'm tentatively hopeful this is a sign that perhaps other, lagging pavilions at Epcot will receive the care and refurbishment they so very much need to bring the park back to the showplace it once was.

...okay so it's wishful thinking, but I'm allowed to have some hope this time of year!

From O T on November 22, 2012 at 4:14 AM
I'm from Europe so I don't get what Turkey day is all about. Making somthing glorius about invading a country isn't my idea of a festive day, having gravy as a dish is sick and stuffing stuff in a turky is not my idea of a meal. But it's your culture and when I lived there I enjoyed black friday a lot to by my clothes for the next few years.
I'm thankfull for Theme Park Insider. My body is broken and I'm always in a lot of pain but your site take me to the places I love and every few years are able to visit. I love you interlectual look on the whole industrie and how you dare to ask the tough questions. How you are advertising living life in a consumption driven country is a fresh wind. And above all, it's fun. With the site I also like to include the readers and commenter who add to this experiance.
Thanks.
From 184.90.201.47 on November 22, 2012 at 6:58 AM
Dark meat FTW! Lol.

I am thankful to live in Orlando, where I not only get to read about the new developments, but I get to see them any time I want with just a short car ride.

I'm thankful my brother lives in Los Angeles, where I not only get to read about the new developments, but I get to see them any time I want with just a ...err...long flight.

I'm thankful to be alive in this wonderful day and age of what I'd consider a theme park renaissance, with Harry Potter, Cars Land, the recent Marvel and Lucas purchases by Disney, and even SeaWorld building an Aquatica Park in San Diego and the Antarctica land in Orlando.

I'm thankful for so much, but I'll keep it theme park related right here, right now.

Cheers!

From James Koehl on November 22, 2012 at 8:50 AM
OT, no, you don't get it. Thanksgiving Day is not about celebrating invading another country (whatever that means). It has been partially hijacked by the merchants of America, the NFL and the Food Network, but some of us still try to focus on the true and original meaning of it- giving thanks to God or who/whatever you feel is responsible for the good things we all have in life. We get out of it what we put into it.
I'm sure that The Netherlands has some holidays that we also "don't get". That doesn't mean that we should denegrate them because we don't celebrate them or understand them.
From Tim Hillman on November 22, 2012 at 9:59 AM
Amen, James, I couldn't agree with you any more.

I'm thankful for he many blessings I've received over the years and even for the bad times that taught me how special those blessings are. Sometimes we don't know how good we have it until we have it taken away.

May you all have a wonderful day and may you enjoy your time with family and friends!

From Mike Gallagher on November 22, 2012 at 10:39 AM
James, I think O T was referring to the Pilgrims coming over from Merry Olde and settling in a land already ocupied by Native Americans.
From James Rao on November 22, 2012 at 1:40 PM
Mike, I'm still not sure it makes sense. Those first pilgrims aren't known for slicing and dicing their way through the native population!

And, James, what says, "Thanksgiving" more than the NFL!? It's all about teamwork, friendly competition, bone crunching tackles, shaving points, and spitting blood! God Bless American Football!!! :)

From James Koehl on November 22, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Mike, I am aware what OT is possibly referring to, but he is still not correct. It is NOT about celebrating an invasion of a country as a glorious event, regardless of what the politically correct revisionist historians might decide. It is exactly about what it's name says- giving thanks for what we have. The historic basis of the holiday have been debated, altered and mythogically enhanced over the centuries, but the modern holiday, which dates to (I believe) the administration of Abraham Lincoln, does not glorify the past admitedly horrendous treatment of the native Americans by the settlers. It is for giving thanks- the other modern additions to it might cheapen it, but can't touch the core value that it stands for anymore than all the crass commercialism of Christmas can truely damage "the reason for the season".
Now it's time for our non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner of sirloin roast with all the trimmings. For that, and so much else, I am thankful.
And yes, OT, I am also thankful that you posted. It gave me a chance to stand up for what I believe in. I am thankful that I live in a country where I can do that.
From Mark Kausch on November 22, 2012 at 4:33 PM
To which I can only add, "Amen, James. Amen".
From Daniel Etcheberry on November 22, 2012 at 6:12 PM
Thanksgiving is about family; black friday is about greed.
From Amy Smith on November 22, 2012 at 9:53 PM
I am thankful that I got the day off and got to eat stuffing and green bean casserole with my family (I hate turkey). I am also thankful that I live in Orlando aka theme park central and have access to butterbeer and Peter Pan's Flight. I am even more thankful that I just got Brave on Bluray/DVD for $8, but not thankful at all that the cashier forgot to remove the plastic magnetic lock box of doom which has defied all attempts at removal and I now have to drive back to Walmart on Black Friday to get the stupid thing removed. (Anyone else get a side of aggravation with their turkey day shopping?)
From TH Creative on November 23, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
From Mark Fairleigh on November 23, 2012 at 6:14 AM
Thankful for love, life, theme parks, and theme park sites. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. :)
From TH Creative on November 24, 2012 at 4:03 PM
I'm thankful for that moment in the Spring of 1982 when I was walking across the campus of the University of Kentucky and I came across a yellow flyer posted on a bulletin board. The 8-1/2x11 sheet of paper featured Mickey Mouse and an invitation to apply to the Magic Kingdom College Program.

Thirty years later I am blessed with a home in the center of the theme park Universe.

And I'm thankful for Rao and Anthony Murphy and Amanda. Also OT and David L. and NB and D-Sqaured and Ms. Hood. Also Timmy Hillman and the Original Gallagher and J. Koehl.

And I'm thankful to Robert -- What's it been, about a decade? And the best is yet to come.

From James Rao on November 24, 2012 at 5:28 PM
Ahh, shucks, TH, you're pretty swell yourself. Hope you and your family had a stellar Thanksgiving!
From Mike Gallagher on November 25, 2012 at 4:27 AM
Thanks for the shout-out, TH! The "Original Gallagher?"

Trying to figure out on this early Sunday morning if that's a play on the "original gangsta" or a dig at the annoying , watermelon-smashing comedian.

Perhaps both? Perhaps neither? Perhaps it shall remain a mystery, like why Carrot Top has a career?

From TH Creative on November 25, 2012 at 4:41 PM
Mike you are and always will be the "TPIOG."
From Mark Kausch on November 25, 2012 at 8:07 PM
That I'm still alive after a small heart attack two days ago. Found an alternate reason to call it "Black Friday". Don't know how it affects my theme park plans long-term, but short-term they're nonexistant.

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