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What is your dream theme park experience?

If you had an unlimited budget and unlimited access, what would you choose to do?

From Robert Niles
Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:01 AM
I'm looking for a little help in planning things to cover over the next few months here at TPI.

So, I'd like to ask... what is your dream theme park experience?

Now, I'm not looking for suggestions of the physically impossible. So please don't respond with "I'd like to ride Millenium Force, Hulk and Tatsu, all in a row, on the same morning." Unless you've got a Star Trek teleporter, that ain't gonna happen.

But I do want to hear about the things you'd like to try, but just haven't had the budget to do: Special meals, hotels, behind-the-scenes tours, hard-ticket extras, that sort of thing.

If you had an unlimited budget and unlimited access, what would you like to do?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Audrey Hamlin
Posted July 13, 2006 at 11:35 AM
Oh, fun question.

With unlimited finances, I'd go on a summer circuit and visit the top 5 parks over the course of a month. I'm not even sure what the name of the magazine is that determines the "top" attractions, but I'd resort to it for guidance.

Even though it isn't necessarily a theme park, I'd also stop by Vegas for a few days and try that roller coaster on the top of a casino.

(On a side note, could you imagine, say, the Dragster experience on top of a skyscraper???)

From Ben Mills
Posted July 13, 2006 at 12:07 PM
From a European perspective, it's always been a hope of mine that I'll one day get to spend a night or two in the Disneyland Hotel in Paris, or one of the resort's many suites. They're said to be spectacular, and if the budget wasn't such a problem, I'd book one right now.

Other than that, I love the thought of behind-the-scenes tours. Unfortunately, with visits to theme parks that do this few and far between for me, it seems a shame to waste what precious time I get in them merely walking around. Especially when they could turn out to be a waste of time.

From Chris Walton
Posted July 13, 2006 at 2:08 PM
Nice topic Robert!
I would probably start with 7 days at one of WDW's delux resorts perhaps the Grand Floridian or Contemporary Resort spending 1 day at each of the four parks and a day each at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon leaving an additional day for Orlando sight-seeing, then spend two days at Universal's Portofino Bay and take in USF and IOA one day each. Then, I would catch a flight to SoCal for two days at the Disneyland Resort to visit DL and DCA. Top it all off with USH's VIP Experience and finally head home to recuperate and plan for an overseas theme park trip to USJ, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris...kinda' makes me wish that they followed through with Universal Studios Shanghai.

From Erik Yates
Posted July 13, 2006 at 2:46 PM
Great topic Indeed. Well they are going to be having a new "Cinderella room" at MK in the castle. That will be sure to be a few grand, but more than likely worth it. Imagine, you get tired and walk upstairs in the castle, look outside and watch the fireworks. Unreal.
Also doing the morning safari at Animal Kingdom Lodge, or even the feeding tour at Busch Gardens Africa. The trainer for a day at Sea World, getting to interact with Shamu and the Dolphins. And while we're on the subject of what we would like to do, but cant afford....Discovery Cove, I cant see shelling out 300 bucks to swim with dolphins, but I'd love to do it, ironic.
But the biggest answer is obviously take the best room at any resort, whether it be Disney Universal or whereever and spoil yourself rotten. Example: The Presidential Suite at Portofino Bay in Universal. They have a full apartment. You can have a chef come up and prepare all of your meals....I'd love for that chef to be Emeril, and actually teach me a few of the secrets he doesnt have on the show. Just me. Pampering...the ultimate theme park vacation.

From Debra Davidson
Posted July 13, 2006 at 10:55 PM

Here is my dream theme park experience. I would dearly love a Disney theme park here in the NYC aria. A place were you can going that is affordable to everyone including people on low and fixed incomes. A very clean park with very courteous and helpful CM's. A place that has the very best high tech security to protect you from the crazies that live in our world. A place were the disabled are treated with the ut most respect and dignity. Have the ride vehicles be accessible so the disable can ride the rides just everyone ells? Were you can spend time with your favorite characters taking picture and getting their autographs. Were the food, drink and souvenirs are at very reasonable prices. A place that treats you like you are a guest in their home. A place full of magic, pixie dust, fantasy, fun and were dreams really do come true.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro
Posted July 14, 2006 at 2:02 AM
For sure I will go to Japan and visit Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea for 5 days and stay at MiraCosta Suite! It's $5,000 a night and I'm sure it's absolutely very expensive! Then I'll go to America by plane in First Class and visit the top theme parks include Disneys, Universals, Cedars, SeaWorlds, and Six Flagses. In Europe I'll visit the Disneys, Alton and Thorpe, Chessington, abnd the other tops! Ooh, I just can't make the right decision! It's too good too happen!

From Philip Pasch
Posted July 14, 2006 at 4:43 AM
I want to Ride Apollo, Nitro, Millenium Force, Alpengeist, Tatsu, The Boss, Mr. Freeze, and Goliath all in the same day

From Mitchell Botwin
Posted July 14, 2006 at 8:38 AM
My choice would involve backlot tours. Going to each park and taking the tours and services offered for behind the scenes and special visits. The Segway tour in Epcot is an example, then add eating in the high rated resturants at each park. There are 2 ranges of park attendies, occasional and frequent. As a frequent attendie, the non standard are much more interesting. Doing the back tours at Seaworld was great, didn't have enough time to swim with the sharks or be a trainer, that will be next. Diving the tank in Epcot Living Seas. My great trip.

From Adrienne McDonald
Posted July 14, 2006 at 10:19 AM
If I had unlimited budget, I'd visit every park in the US, Europe, Japan (Australia counted w/Europe) & Canada over the course of one year plus I'd pay the parks to let me in before the parks open so I can ride w/no lines, teehee ;). Then I'd build a time machine & revisit the recently closed or torn down parks & rides. I'd also visit Vegas to ride Desperado, Manhattan Express, Canyon Blaster & Speed the Ride. I hear the High Roller is no longer, thank goodness I rode it already! :).

From Darrell Shimel
Posted July 14, 2006 at 12:18 PM
2 weeks in Orlando: I've done one week at Disney World, but I didn't get to do Universal, Sea World or BG Tampa.

A week in SoCal to do DLR, SFMM, Sea World, USH and KBF. This one I've done.

About 5 years ago I did a week in TX doing SFOT, SFFT, SFAW and Sea World San Antonia. With SFAW gone, can't do that trip again.


As for future: Maybe doing all 28 Six Flags parks in a month...


Or the ultimate can't do it:
Get to be one of the dozen non-movie-industry-insiders that will get to watch the premier of Pirates of Caribbean: At World's End at Disneyland next May.

From Mike Duchock
Posted July 14, 2006 at 1:12 PM
The Golden Fastpass that is part of Disney's new marketing campaign sounds awesome. It would be so nice to be able to walk into those attractions without having to get a fastpass for one ride and wait two hours to get another one. Any dream theme park experience can not involve any waits in lines.

Also, it would be great if you could have an option to ride dark rides with the lights on as part of a special behind-the-scenes tour. I've been lucky enough to ride Spaceship Earth, Rock n Roller Coaster and Space Mountain with the lights on and believe me, it gives you a MUCH better appreciation for the attraction.

For the theme park virgins I think that parks should offer orientation tours so that new visitors don't feel so overwhelmed when they step foot into the park.

Lastly, I wish that more parks could replicate the stellar guest service that Disney is famous for. I can't tell you how many times I've walked through a Six Flags or Universal and thought about how an employee's attitude wouldn't cut it at Disney.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted July 14, 2006 at 3:57 PM
I'd love to try that dinner at Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian. If you get the Chef's Table, it's upwards of $1000.

I'd like to spend a month at WDW doing all of the recreational activities, like golf, waterskiing, the Nascar experience, etc., and spend a few days at each hotel at Disney and Universal.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 14, 2006 at 7:58 PM
Great ideas. If you have other specific tours, special meals and events you wish someone would give you the money to experience, please mention those. The specific suggestions like that really help!

From Erik Yates
Posted July 14, 2006 at 8:31 PM
There is just so much that one can do at any of these parks, and at any give time.
At Sea World it would definately be the "Dine with shamu" The Shark Encounter dive, and the trainer for a day. I love marine life and dont have the opportunity do that kind of stuff any longer.
At WDW it would definately be the Chefs table at Victoria and Alberts, as well as the various tours and experiences at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. They have one that you get to sample all of the food and every type of wine....I just cant for the life of me figure out what it is.
Again, they are going to, from what I hear, open a room in Cinderellas Castle, that would be super expensive, but so worth it. There is also going to be one at a resort themed to Pirates.
At Portofino Bay in Universal, I would definately have to say that a stay at the Spa would definately ease the body and the mind, and it would also help to have that Presidential suite with the private chef.

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted July 15, 2006 at 6:20 AM
Pay Universal Studios to let me spend a night at USF. Pitch camp inside of The ET Adventure queue...man I love the atmosphere and smell in that place...and just enjoy the vibe of the park.

From Gareth H
Posted July 15, 2006 at 6:56 AM
Ultimate theme park experience:

Well I'd have to ask that all the thril parks be emptied for me, my friends & family only.

Then I'd me given that magical "Key", allowing me to do what ever I want.

Ride with no queues, ride with the lights on, walk anywhere I wanted. Especially in USF. I'd like to walk into every building that has a door and find out whats behind it...

In Disney I'd love to go under the tree of life in the Animal KIngdom and see if there is an actual Cryogenic chamber holding Walt.....


I just asked my Wifey, Justine, and she said she'd love to organise it so she could go on Jurassic Park, but get off before the big drop (Shes never been on it because of the drop but I know she's love the rest) and she'd like a souvenir from every land of every park in the world...

From Audrey Hamlin
Posted July 15, 2006 at 12:25 PM
That's a great idea, having the park to one's own friends and family. I didn't consider that at the time, but I think that would definitely be up there on my dream experiences, too. Maybe parks should consider something similar to that for fundraisers? I don't know...

From Brett Denehan
Posted July 15, 2006 at 2:53 PM
Wow, I guess I would take two years to visit every theme park in the country and hit all the special occassions(Such as Howl-o-scream, Halloween horror nights, winterfest ect)

From Mary Ann Nowak
Posted July 15, 2006 at 4:05 PM
My kids are all grown up -- so my dream theme park experience would be one day set aside a year for us "kid-at-heart" grown-ups at Walt Disney World Parks, Universal, Cedar Point, Kings Island, and Six Flags Great America. We could experience a day without crying babies, screaming toddlers, no middle school field trips and obnoxious teenagers running, talking loudly, sneaking smokes, swearing, and line jumping.

From Derek Potter
Posted July 15, 2006 at 7:27 PM
Two words.....road trip. Load up one of those giant tour buses (you know the ones with everything), put a couple of motorcycles on the back, and go. Stick to the north in the summer and go south for the winter. If the park has a hotel (one worth staying in anyway), than we stay...taking as much time as necessary to soak up the park and everything it has to offer. Of course the parks would help us out a little bit with ride exit passes, in which we could cut to the front of the line. We also get the all access VIP tour. Personally, I'd probably visit every operation out there, and even stop by some SBNO's (closed parks) for a look. Sounds like a good idea for a TV show for the Travel Channel. Maybe I'll see about that. Of course they would probably get someone like George Wendt instead of myself to host (they already have John Ratzenberger, why not have Norm as well).

My other dream experience would be to create and operate my own park. Hey you said unlimited budget.

From Brian Trost
Posted July 15, 2006 at 9:56 PM
I would go to the disneyland resort and stay in one of those suites at the Grand Californian and see if they are really worth paying like $3000 a night. I would also want to see if there truely is a basketball court in the middle of the Matterhorn and go on space mountain with the lights on to see how small it really is.

From Wendy Purdy
Posted July 16, 2006 at 3:57 AM
Wow...all of these ideas sound great. If I had an unlimited budget, I would also love to stay in the best suite, eat at the best restaurant, take the best tour, and participate in any special guest activity at whatever park I happen to be visiting.

Here is my special wish if I had an unlimited budget.. buy plane tickets and pay for an extra hotel room for my parents to join us at each park. That way, we could take our girls with us....we can do all the fun kid stuff in the morning, then grandparents could take them back to hotel for naps and swimming, etc., while my husband and I did the thrill rides. Then the whole family gets together again for dinner and any special nighttime entertainment (fireworks, shows, etc.)

Of course, I don't know how my parents would feel about this plan, but this is my fantasy, not theirs. :-)

From Bruce Lane
Posted July 16, 2006 at 9:00 AM
Oh, my... what a great question! ;-)

Ok... My own 'dream' experience would depend not just on my own resources, but on the existence of my 'dream park' as well (no, it doesn't exist as yet).

Specifically: My ultimate 'dream' is to find an open-water type marine park, similar in layout to Xel Ha (in Mexico, south of Playa del Carmen), where they've got a huge lagoon with an assortment of species of dolphins and small whales in it. Guests and animals would be free to come and go as they please, and interact as they please, for one flat fee for the day.

Given the litigious and shun-personal-responsibility nature of our current U.S. culture, this kind of facility would never fly within U.S. boundaries. It would pretty much have to be in a foreign location.

Now, with the 'fantasy' section out of the way... Given unlimited time and resources, I would tour every single zoo, oceanarium, and dolphin swim-with program OUTSIDE of the U.S. Australia, New Zealand, Israel (Tel Aviv has a big park), French Polynesia, Sweden, Japan, you name it: If it's outside U.S. boundaries, and has an oceanarium or zoo, I'd go see it.

Keep the peace(es).

From Robert Niles
Posted July 16, 2006 at 10:12 PM
Derek,

Can't speak for the Travel Channel, but it's my intention to make this a Theme Park Insider Web Video show.

Some of these I can shoot just by paying my way in and hauling in the camera. Others I'll need cooperation from the various parks in order to get good video. In those cases, my ability to do the episode will depend upon the park's willingness to work with us without demanding script approval. (Which no parks are ever gonna get from me. We're an *independent* source of news and information, and I intend to keep it that way.)

Keep the ideas coming!

From Erik Yates
Posted July 17, 2006 at 5:12 AM
Dang. Here I was hoping you were going to do what disney plans on doing with a year of a million dreams. Just pick someone with great ideas and no money to live up their dreams. Well, it was a slim chance anyway. Still love the topic.

From Melinda Webster
Posted July 17, 2006 at 6:04 AM
I have always wanted to stay in Walt Disneys apartment in the Magic Kingdom, then be able to walk the park after closing and ride all the rides once with no one in the park! But as far as practicality is concerned. I have always wanted to take one of the boat cruises that Walt Disney World offers, there are firework cruises and romantic cruises all on yachts! Also, I want to do the Epcot tour of the living seas where you get to go in the big tank and swim with the fish.

From Erik Yates
Posted July 17, 2006 at 7:25 AM
I have actually been able to do that in the Living Seas, not as a tourist but as a worker. A friend of mine owns a leak detection service and he just happens to have Disney as a client. I've been in the main tank during operation and it is an all out blast. Normally as a scuba diver you're looking at fish, but this time it was the other way around....I've never been a fish.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 17, 2006 at 8:02 AM
Hey, I haven't ruled out some nifty giveaways in the future. (Ya gotta leave me something to promote "season two" of the videos, though.)

From Jake Countiss
Posted July 17, 2006 at 8:12 AM
I would like to spend a day at a park with my family with no one else in the park and get to eat at a Japanese restaurant for free for supper. I would also like to take a tour of the animal exhibits at Seaworld and Busch Gardens Tampa. This really isn't a theme park experience but I would like to meet Werner Stengel and learn about roller coaster design.

I read earlier in this discussion about someone wishing teens wouldn't be in a park. I am a teenager and I don't litter, use bad language, or line jump. Couldn't that person just say trouble maker instead.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted July 17, 2006 at 12:09 PM
I'm also a teenager, but I save my rambunctious behavior for Friday and Saturday nights when I’m at a bar or a similar area far away from families.

More importantly, I believe that any dream is reachable if you work hard enough. Since I was four I’ve been drawing theme park sketches, and when I was sixteen, I decided to pursue a career as a theme park engineer. Currently, I am studying engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and I plan on joining Disney’s foreign exchange program next summer (where young foreigners come and work at a theme park, most likely Epcot, for a certain period of time). After I graduate, I’m moving to California in hopes of working for Universal or Disney as an engineer. I know it’s a long shot, but it has been my lifelong dream, and I’m not giving up after coming this far. And even if I only ever get to design the seatbelts for a roller coaster, I’m going for it.

Really, these dreams aren’t so impossible. Sure, most of them are unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come close to doing them. Save your money for a huge trip after retirement or a fancy hotel room or an unforgettable tour. Send letters to companies about private tours of the hidden rooms. Sure, a park empty of teenagers is improbable, but go in the off-season when they’re in school, or bring a group of sarcastic friends that bite back at the teenagers. My friends aren’t obnoxious, but if some punk annoys them, they’ll get what’s coming to them. Maybe having a theme park completely empty except for your friends and family would be impossible, but just visit the parks at the right time. I remember when we visited WDW for the first time – it was about five months after 9/11, and we almost had the parks to ourselves – “0 min. wait” for Tower of Terror on a Friday afternoon. “5 min. wait” for every mountain at the Magic Kingdom on a Saturday afternoon. I remember walking into Epcot’s World Showcase and seeing nobody around. There were no crowds for the live entertainment, no waiting list at the restaurants, and every viewing spot for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was near-perfect.

My point is that if you’re serious about these dreams, go for them. Take the time and money necessary to do what you want.

I did. So did Walt.

From Neil Preece
Posted July 17, 2006 at 10:50 PM
I wish I could have a whole day on Dueling Dragons- Half on ice and half on fire.

And have unlimited fastpass and even just to live in a florida villa and visit all the theme parks again and again.

From Gareth H
Posted July 18, 2006 at 8:44 AM
I gotta go with the duelling dragons thing too, front row, awesome. Actually, I'd like to do that for charity if I could!!!

From Erik Yates
Posted July 18, 2006 at 2:06 PM
Hey Gareth,
Tried that, wont happen. And you really dont want to be on a high g force inverting coaster all day....trust me.

From Gareth H
Posted July 18, 2006 at 2:26 PM
I'd give it a damn good try though!!! Front seat all the way!!

From PM 24-7
Posted July 18, 2006 at 2:05 PM
Unlimited funds?

Rent out either an attraction, a land, or a whole Disney Park for an evening!

There are several different Disney packages in which you can rent out just about anything if the price is right...I have read about packages where people have rented out the Haunted Mansion after hours and had dinner served in the 'elevator' shaft -or- the Tower of Terror and had dinner served in the boiler room area followed by unlimited riding of whatever attraction they had chosen...

Disney is, after all, a business and if the price is right, anything is possible...I have checked into these and WDW costs considerably less than DL to set up but you would be looking at $20K minimally...

I've also heard that the park can be rented out for the evening for ~$100K...I have heard that local companies rent out the park/attractions as an employee event or to entertain clients...(ie: I believe AT&T had rented out the park not to long ago)...

If you can pull this off, take pictures!

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