What are you giving thanks for this holiday season?

November 28, 2019, 12:00 AM · Happy Thanksgiving, Theme Park Insiders!

As the founder and editor of the site, I would like to share some of the things about theme parks that I feel thankful for this holiday season. And I also would like to invite each of you to share in the comments the theme park-related things you are giving thanks for this year, too.

In 2019, I am thankful...

...That we are finally getting a new major theme park in the United States. Disney California Adventure opened in 2001, so it soon will be two decades since we've had a top 20 (attendance) park open in the U.S. With firms looking to Asia for market growth, many insiders had worried that we'd never see another major new park in the U.S. again. But Universal Orlando this year announced plans to open its third theme park, Epic Universe, in 2023. With an innovative site design including a line-up of single-IP-focused lands, Epic Universe could quickly move up into the nation's top 10 most popular parks.

...For Joe Rohde's Instagram lectures. If you are not following this future Disney Legend on Instagram, please do. One of Disney's leading Imagineers, Joe offers fans wonderful, insightful, and engaging posts that dive deep into his world travels and why the art, architecture, design, and engineering that he encounters resonates with people. It's a free, never-ending master class in understanding the principles behind themed entertainment design.

...For "The Imagineering Story" on Disney+. Joe, of course, is just one in a long line of Imagineers who have created this industry. Leslie Iwerks' "The Imagineering Story" tells their story in one of the best original, non-fiction TV series to come along in years. To me, this is the best park of the new Disney+ streaming service and I have heard from many other theme park fans who agree.

...For designers that "go for it" instead of sticking with easier ways of doing things. This year, specifically, I love that Universal Creative went for it with a record-setting multi-launch coaster featuring animatronic-driven scenes on Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. I love that Walt Disney Imagineering went for it with an original setting and storyline for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, crafting a platform for interactive story participation. Neither attraction came out of the gate as the wildly popular, smoothly functioning hits that their companies had hoped for, but both projects thrilled countless fans who remain grateful that these designers tried to do something new and amazing.

...That Thanksgiving itself doesn't get completely ignored in the parks. For many theme parks as well as much of the retail industry, Halloween gives way to Christmas at the beginning of November, leaving only grocery stores to remind consumers about Thanksgiving. But Universal Orlando celebrates a Thanksgiving IP during its holiday festivities, with its Macy's parade. And, of course, Holiday World celebrates Thanksgiving throughout the park's operating season with an entire Thanksgiving-themed land. Pass the turkey! But only after another ride on The Voyage.

...For you, for reading Theme Park Insider and supporting this community by sharing your tips and experiences as well as telling family, friends, and colleagues about the site. Of all these things I have listed here, I am most grateful to all of you for the gifts of your time and attention to this community. As we enjoy this holiday season, I continue to send my thanks and best wishes to each of you for being here. Happy Thanksgiving!

Replies (5)

November 28, 2019 at 9:50 AM

Amen to all of this! I agree wholeheartedly about all of these points (except I have to say The Mandalorian ties The Imagineering Story in terms of show favorites on Disney+). Joe Rohde’s Instagram feed is worth having Instagram just for it alone. He posted an in-depth and very profound lecture last Christmas about the winter solstice, why the World celebrates at that time of year, and in general our collective desire for togetherness at such a still and dark time of year. Fascinating stuff. I’m thankful for this community of Theme Park geeks like myself and to you Robert for your wonderful site. We truly appreciate your professionalism and journalistic integrity. It’s a breath of fresh air. Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this site and to all of yours as well :)

November 28, 2019 at 3:50 PM

I am grateful for my family, my health and a great job that I love. I am grateful that I was able to visit Disneyland 3 times and Walt Disney World once this year. And of course, I am grateful for Theme Park Insider who keeps this Indiana boy up to date on my favorite pastime around the globe!
p.s. Now that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is soon to be under new ownership maybe we can get that theme park built ;)

November 28, 2019 at 5:11 PM

From your keyboard to Roger Penske’s to-do list, please!

November 29, 2019 at 10:25 AM

I give thanks that I had sibling and family reunion at UO this month. It was so fascinating to hear reactions to decorations and Hagrid ride from first time park goers and veterans, ages 14-62.

I give thanks that after hour wait, I got to ride Hagrid FRONT ROW. And double thanks that it got stuck for 20 min. Why? Because son and I got immediate RE-RIDE!

November 30, 2019 at 6:57 PM

A bold take on GE but thank you for it.

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