I got a jump on this topic with my Orange County Register column this week, which offers a few thoughts on what theme park fans can do in 2018 to make visits more enjoyable for themselves and others.
Here are a few other suggestions to consider for the new year:
Be even nicer to cast and team members: You might be paying $100+ a day to visit the parks, but chances are strong that every single cast and team member you encounter during your stay will earn less for working that whole day than you alone paid to be there. For that, they help ensure your safety, keep the rides and shows running and the facilities clean, and prepare and serve your food. And their job is to do that with smiles and helpful advice. Why not try to make their job easier by being as nice as you can in return? Even if you are a cold-hearted pragmatist who can't accept being nice to people for goodness' sake, at least recognize that a smile and friendly pleading in a bad situation will get you more help from theme park employees than shouting and abuse ever will.
Respect safety instructions: After rain and bad weather, people ignoring safety rules causes more downtime than anything else at theme parks. Yes, your 39-and-a-half-inch kid probably would be able to go on that roller coaster just fine, given normal operation. But stopping to argue about it is only going to slow the line for everyone behind you. (If you're new around here, check out our explanation for roller coaster height limits.) Breaking the rules isn't worth the risk to you and your loved ones, and forcing park employees to bust you isn't helping to keep capacity up and lines moving for everyone else. So, please, just follow the rules.
Pick up after yourself: Again, be nice to employees and other visitors. It's an industry standard now that parks put trash cans every few feet along pathways. Take a moment and use them, especially in counter-service food locations where there's likely another family hovering to take your table as soon as you are finished. Let's all try harder to leave them a clean table to enjoy their meal next year.
Stay off the perpetual outrage machine: This goes beyond theme parks, but hate and anger sell in modern media. Nothing drives clicks and views by getting people upset about a change that the presenter insists you will not like. But perpetual outrage cripples your ability to enjoy life. Stop following sources that are more interested in exploiting fears and insecurities to keep you outraged than providing accurate information and thoughtful insight that simply keep you informed. And if something a park changes truly does upset you, then you have a more powerful way to address that than getting angry....
Try something (or someplace) new: There's a whole world out there with delightful attractions, waiting for you. Don't stick around in a bad or boring theme park relationship. Look around and discover something new. Parks that know they need to earn and keep your business are the parks that do the best job for their guests.
Finally, I will share with you my personal Theme Park Insider resolution for 2018, and that's to try to do a better job of providing guidance without sliding into gatekeeping. There's no such thing as "true" or "fake" fans, and unless you are abusing or endangering yourself or others on a theme park visit you are not "doing it wrong."
I've said before that, for me, the perfect review would be one that a person who would end up loving the new ride would see as me gushing about it, while a person who would end up hating that ride would see as me panning it. My goal is to give you the information and insight you need to find the stuff you'll end up liking and appreciating the most, while steering you away from thing you would end up seeing as a waste of your money and time. Since everyone is unique and many of us have different tastes, the best I can do is to provide context and insight and hope that you find that useful. But I don't want to provoke arguments by engaging that perpetual outrage machine and cranking out gatekeeping posts, no matter how comforting that might make those who fall on the "right" side of the gate feel.
No, I haven't always met that standard in the past. But I resolve to try harder to meet it in the future.
What is your plan for 2018?
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