We'll go to the zoo and start talking about Animal Kingdom. We'll go to the science museum and start talking about Epcot. We went to a nice play area and then I will start to remember my daughters playing at the Honey I shrunk the kids play area at DHS. We'll go to a little amusement park and I will see the shoddy themeing, the peeling paint and the trash on the ground here and there instead of the fun times I am suppose to be having. We'll go places that are meant to be fun and I'll look around and think, "this place blows."
So it is official, the theme parks have ruined all area attractions for me. Has this happened to anyone else?
I must have missed the memo. :) :)
You just learn that not everything can be Disney (I mean really, who really has THAT kind of money!?).
Like Andrew, I'm also highly jaded due to my own 23 years living in Orlando but I'm on the other end of this coin. I often end up criticizing the major parks compared to smaller parks.
I love theme parks, but they aren't perfect in any way. There are several problems with theme parks: huge crowds, concrete and metal sprawls, queue lines in the sun, mediocre food, and lack of social interaction with locals. Can you bike across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset in Disneyland? Does Universal Studios have a Californian vineyard wine flight offered at its restaurants? How's the nightlife at Six Flags?
When I visit a theme park, I make sure to absorb as much local culture as possible. Theme parks are great, but they can't compare to reality.
First off, a little history about me. I'm a Florida native, always have lived within 45 minutes to the theme parks and loved it. Grew up and started working for both Universal and Disney and loved it for the most part (that's another story . . .)
So yes, my views about the theme parks are obviously going to be a little different than the average visitor, and no I do not think the theme parks are less magical when I know all the in's and out's of them. One thing I've learned as I've started to travel around was to appreciate all the other little tourist traps the world has to offer. They all bring a little something different that the big theme parks can never offer, and it's hard to put that experience into words, so you're just going to have to take my word on it and check out these places without your mouse-tinted goggles.
For example: This past Memorial Day weekend, I had a lovely 4 days off, and I decided to head up to South Dakota to check out this Flintstones Theme Park as mentioned here in these forums. Yes I was aware of it's existence, and yes I knew it was going to be incredibly cheesy, and that's pretty much why I had to check it out. Besides hamming it up with a bunch of old guys that probably grew up with Fred and Barney, and the nearly identical houses, I had a great time visiting this place. I also drove around several of the scenic routes and saw Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Badlands, and a few other places nearby.
Before I turn this into a trip report, the point I'm trying to make is that while I was going through all these places, I have had those thoughts pop in the back of my mind of how similar this is to Disney or Universal. Heck, there was even a Norwegian chapel in Rapid City that was screaming "Remember me, from Epcot?!" Anyways, even though I've had those thoughts in my mind, what I tend to think is how this trip turned out better than what the theme parks could offer. Sure I'm not screaming off my head on a thrill ride or enjoying that smell past popcorn and churro vendors, but it was a nice change from all that hustle at the theme parks.
So please, do yourself a favor and learn how to take time and smell the roses nearby, and not just keep going back to the same artificial wildlife known as plasticus mechanicus that you all know and love.
Trying something new nearby: Everybody's doing it! (because it's cheaper!)
Edit: I just realized that this was not a short message.
I get EPCOT flashbacks often :)
Believe me, I do enjoy life. I don't want to come across as some curmudgeonly person that is coasting through existence mad at the world. I am aware there are lots of things to do outside of themeparks and believe me, I do them (especially here in New England). Like hiking up in the white mountains of New Hampshire, traveling to the beaches of Maine and Cape Cod, biking around where I live (in the Nashoba Valley area of central Massachusetts). Taking trips into Boston with my daughters and doing things like grabbing a Regina pizza pie at Faneuil Hall and then tracing the steps of the Freedom trail. I even enjoy the cheesy local attractions as well and am able to find the great side of them (like being chased by the Wolfman at Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, NH....which is always, um, intersting (http://www.clarkstradingpost.com/attractionsWolfman.php))
My point is that sometimes I find myself wishing that these area attractions were something grander. Which is silly. Who goes to a small attraction in Maine and thinks, "If only they could add a 1.5 billion dollar expansion!"
Ultimately I realized that I associate the themeparks with great memories (these are the Orlando area parks mind you). For me, I would go as a child, I would go as a young adult and now I go with my children. So of course there is a sentimental attachment to it, so it is hard to compete with that. Plus it is a long vacation, so who doesn't look fondly on those?!
Maybe I just phrased everything wrong. Ruined is too strong of a word.
To answer the question, Disney may be spoiling other parks but not in the way you think.
It definitely got me thinking and I realised that , when I'm on holiday away from the Parks, mainly in Europe, my mind starts to wander back to the theme parks. There are always those slow days on a trip when I miss the fact that every minute of every day at the Parks is taken care of. I don't have to plan or travel or find things to do. It's all there for you. And that can be equally relaxing. Not having to think about anything other than your next ride or attraction. All on your doorstep.
Likewise : when I'm at the Parks I sometimes, in a rare moment among the crowds and long lines, start to wish I was on , say, the Amalfi coast or Venice in Italy or in Andalucia in Spain savouring the beautiful country , it's culture , it's lifestyle and it's local foods and wines. Or in California where you can visit Cities, beaches, mountains and deserts all in one day. ( and a Park or two )
I must also say that EPCOT's World Showcase acts as a quick fix. Despite having visited a lot of the original Countries on show I still get a buzz out of that part of EPCOT. I suppose it's seeing how cleverly they've scaled down everything to give a taste of that Country. Being able to identify each part with it's original is good fun. And extremely well done.
But I know what you mean but other attractions. They often don't have the finance to make them good enough to compete with the major theme parks. But some are still very worthwhile and make a really good attempt at entertaining. I suppose you'd have to pitch places like Kennedy Space Centre, San Diego Zoo and even Silver Springs, The Everglades and Boggy Creek in that category to varying degrees.
So , in essence, the Parks may not be reality. They are an escape from it. But, boy, what an escape ! And the real World will still be waiting for you outside too.
However...... we just got back from a week in Orlando. Even though I have been to Magic Kingdom and Epcot numerous times, this past week provided our first experience at a Disney water park (Typhoon Lagoon). My kids (now grown) spent a number of summers at our local water park (Six Flags White Water-Atlanta). We still go there 2-3 times a Summer. Fun place to go on a hot day, but NO comparison to Typhoon Lagoon. After experiencing TL, I almost dread our next visit to White Water with its overcrowding, concrete walkways and absolute lack of theming. The Wave pool at TL was easily 3 times the size of White Water's with much less crowding. Similar comparison of the 2 parks lazy rivers. TL's river was much longer and nicely landscaped. WW's is basically a floating mass of humanity in a concrete trough.
In conclusion, I admit this is one of the first times in my life where my usual attitude of "enjoy the moment for what it offers" will probably be compromised a little.
The tacos are better in real Mexico, so take that Epcot and Disney World.
Another thing we do is try to do things that dont directly compare with the parks, for example, in our area there are a lot of beer and cider shows over summer, we might visit a castle or a historical site or a museum or a craft market or a country show or a vineyard or the beach.
Undoubtably you will still find similarities that make you long for the delights of Florida, but I thought Rob's point was important - enjoy what 'real' life has to offer in addition to the wonders of WDW...If you think about it we're all really lucky to have WDW to compare things to!
Sorry if I'm being a bit too upbeat (don't know why, im stuck at work!)...I have felt that 'its rubbish here' feeling...no-one can do it like Disney...