2020 - The Year Without a Theme Park

May 26, 2020, 3:18 PM

It just dawned on me that for well over 50 years, I have gone to a theme park or a regional amusement park every year without exception. This year will break that streak. Even when the theme parks and amusement open, I won’t be going. The risk isn’t worth the returns. (Plus, my wife said if I want to stay married to her, theme parks are off limits until this coronavirus crisis is over.) So, I’m going to wait until a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

And 2020 was going to be big. My theme park bucket list certainly was going to be a whole lot shorter. One project at work required several business trips to southern California. A return to Six Flags Magic Mountain as well as a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood were in the works. Maybe I could have worked Knott’s Berry Farm into my plans. Another project had me making several trips to Cincinnati with Kings Island and a day trip to Cedar Point on tap. Hey, I could have dramatically increased my coolness factor by hanging out with James Koehl! What’s better than hanging out with James Koehl? Hanging out with Dolly Parton! I could have worked a day trip to Dollywood into my drive up to Cincinnati! (For those of you who are now making metaphorical comparisons between Tim Hillman and James Koehl and certain attributes of Dolly Parton, I want you to know that you are sick, pathetic, mean-spirited people.)

Worst of all, I signed up for the American Airlines credit card this last fall on a special bonus point offer and took several flight bumps so I could get enough airline points and voucher credits to afford first class seats to France this coming September for my wife and me. I even had her convinced to take one day out of our visit to Paris and spend it at Disneyland Paris so I could check that park off my bucket list. 2020 was going to be awesome!

But like Snoopy fighting the Red Baron, all my plans and efforts are going down in flames. No King’s Island, no Cedar Point, no Eiffel Tower, no Disneyland Paris. My vouchers expire this fall. My bonus points expire this fall. Even if they were extended, my wife won’t go near a germ factory like an airplane. Flying pre-COVID-19 was bad enough for her. Arguing with Chad H. and Brian Emery and trying to read all of davedisneys posts about the pandemic got me so depressed, I even cancelled my Six Flags Membership! (Ok, no great loss in that last one.)

I’m starting to think that I caused the COVID-19 pandemic just for messing with the cosmic balance by trying to have too much fun in one year. Is it not allowed? Is AJ Hummel the only one allowed to visit more than 5 amusement parks in one year? Was it the Six Flags membership? Did I rock the foundations of Asgard by not slamming Disney management in the TPI Comments section for the first time in nearly 20 years? Was it my professed admiration for the MyDisneyExperience app? Whatever I’m doing wrong, I promise to stop it.

Even though 2020 has turned into my Summer of George, I’m looking forward to 2021. I’m going to get my COVID-19 vaccination just like President Trump promised, and then the world is mine!

Replies (15)

Edited: May 26, 2020, 10:42 PM

My beautiful and intelligent wife had a bad flight several years ago, and she has been very resistant to flying again for several years. I finally got her to the point where she was willing to try it again by bribing her with a trip to Paris where she can pick out her own purse at one of the Gucci stores. Now with the coronavirus and all of the news stories about germs on airplanes and in hotel rooms, I've got to start over.

Thanks for the suggestion on checking with the airline to see if the bonus points and vouchers can be extended. I'll do that.

Edited: May 27, 2020, 12:12 AM

"Is AJ Hummel the only one allowed to visit more than 5 amusement parks in one year?"

Well, you always have the option of coming along for the ride on one of my tours so the privilege can be extended to you.

In all seriousness, it sounds like this whole thing was the absolute worst timing for you, and I'm sorry so much got canceled. I hope you're still able to make it happen at some point. For me, once it became clear to me that the trip I had planned for this summer wasn't going to happen, I essentially took all my plans and shifted them back by a year. In my current situation, that's not hard to do, but I know not everyone has that luxury, and many are going to lose out on fun travel both this year (due to closures) and next (due to budget). I'm still hoping for the ability to do a smaller scale trip this year, but we'll see how things play out.

May 27, 2020, 9:24 AM

Sorry for your loss and thoughts and Prayers, you know the usual GOP dribble whenever anything happens... (Sorry I had too, hahahahah)....

I also would like to visit Paris someday. When I was in the US Navy and I did get to France several times but never got to Paris. I have been to Toulon (Usual Navy port) , Cannes (Great place), Nice and Marseille… Also got to see Monte Carlo…

We did have to cancel our annual trip to Orlando which was planned for the first week of May... If we somehow get a handle on this Virus, maybe December for a private event at Universal...

Edited: May 27, 2020, 10:09 AM

I'm with you Tim .... no theme park vacations this year. Bummer really, as I'd got a good vacation planned for OH and PA, but hey, there's always next year, and maybe I'll do my 2020 and 2021 vacations in one go :)

Even the local parks, I have no desire to rush back, and when I do venture thru the gates, I'll be just doing my usual walks. No dining and coaster riding for the foreseeable future. Being local, and only going in for an hour or 2, I'm OK with wearing a mask. I wear them when I'm out out in public anyway, so it's no different for me to wear them at the parks. Maybe I'll be able to get a good Mako mask ... LOL ... !!!

May 27, 2020, 10:43 AM

Mako, how in the world can you walk through Sea World Orlando and not ride the coasters? I wouldn't be able to stop myself. I'm not going to even talk about Universal Orlando.

AJ, your yearly coaster park tours are awesome, and I've been taking notes and hope to add a few of the lesser known parks you've visited to my itinerary when I go on my business trips.

Brian, I've been to Paris and Bordeaux and managed to slip in a half day at the Normandy landing sites, but I can't wait to go back and spend some serious time in France. And I see from your post that you've got some sophistication (unless the port calls were all spent in bars), so your Trump-hating persona is all an act. Is that private event in Orlando in December that you refer to in your post a side trip to Mar-A-Lago and having cigars and brandy with The Donald?

May 27, 2020, 11:06 AM

Tim - I took advantage of the USO tours offered in ports and went to see everything I could. For $20 busks you were on a bus all day and a meal included.

There is a Private event at Universal Orlando that I get invited to, basically just buying a ticket and attending an event from 8 PM to 1 AM. Tickets are a bit costly but the parks are not as crowded...

May 27, 2020, 11:36 AM

Tim .... I've been on the rides so many times, it doesn't bother me at all. Now if I was to venture over to BGT, and Iron Gwazi was working, that might be a different story :)

May 29, 2020, 4:21 PM

Tim, I just read this...wow! To be mentioned in the same sentence as Dolly Parton...I'm not worthy. Another thing that I've never seen is the word "coolness" in reference to me! Yea, it sucks that all this had to happen in Cedar Point's 150th anniversary year, but since it was always intended to be a two-year celebration that just means that next year will be twice as cool!

Maybe when you're here I'll tell you about the night Dolly Parton was almost mine.

Edited: May 30, 2020, 7:27 PM

James, I look forward to the story about Dolly Parton, and the background stories about Cedar Point.

I'll holler at you next summer when my business trips to Cincinnati start up again. (Actually, they start up in January, but I don't think Cedar Point is going to be open then.) Gotta keep working on that bucket list.

May 30, 2020, 9:35 PM

Tim, I'm looking forward to it. I'm hoping that CP opens by May 2021!

June 1, 2020, 9:25 PM

Can roller coaster trains be fitted with a snowplow? Asking for a friend.

June 2, 2020, 8:08 AM

Uh huh, one of those "I've got a friend" stories.

June 2, 2020, 9:58 AM

I’m sorry this year has been rough Tim.

As they say, shit happens. You bear no responsibility for any of this situation.

I hope 2021, or 22 turns into a big blowout year for you. The biggest baddest theme park road trip ever.

June 2, 2020, 10:17 AM

Thanks, Chad!

I don't think my story is all that different from a lot of people that frequent this site. It's just that this year was shaping up to be kickbutt awesome on the theme park side of things for me, and then, it's all kaput. I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football away. It's so bad, it's comical.

But in 2021, I've got Cedar Point and James "Coolness" Koehl and Dollywood and Dolly Parton! Yes!

June 4, 2020, 11:22 AM


This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive