Announcing Parks Con - a New Event for Theme Park Fans

April 12, 2021, 12:06 PM · (Updated) Theme Park Insider will be part of Parks Con '21 - a three-day, worldwide online conference for theme park fans.

Scheduled for April 26-28, the event will feature speakers talking about ride strategies, food tips, how to plan your next vacation, behind the scenes stories, hidden parks secrets and more. Disney's Tony Baxter headlines the first day, sharing inside stories from the Disney theme parks. And I will lead off the third day, talking about visiting parks around the world.

All sessions are pre-recorded, and I did mine about a month ago. But I will be using the session to kick off a new series posts here on the site about travel planning basics, since that was the main topic I spoke about in my interview.

Admission to watch all 31 sessions is free, but if you want to watch on demand, including after the conference is over, you can upgrade to an All-Access pass, which includes early access to all interviews, plus a commemorative Parks Con '21 T-shirt and swag pack. Your purchase of an All-Access pass through this link also helps Theme Park Insider, so it's a way to show your support for the site. You can follow the same link to claim your free admission to the online event, as well.

Replies (7)

April 12, 2021 at 10:13 PM

A lot of controversy coming out about this event. Any thoughts to the following?

April 12, 2021 at 10:22 PM

In case you don't want to read the thread or would prefer to stay ignorant let me enlighten you on some concerns:

"Spokesmayne was listed and I couldn't respond fast enough that I would absolutely NEVER be billed with a known abuser. I was asked if I could provide any proof and if they found it valid, they would do something about it."

"I also said the lack of women and BIPOC was incredibly disappointing. They said they tried, but no one responded and that most of them were white men because Walt hired other white men. And I agreed that I didn't expect a lot of diversity of retired Imagineers..."

"..but that bringing in content creators and members of the Disney community was an amazing opportunity to bring in these voices. I was asked if there were anymore problematic people they should remove. I was not, however, asked about who else they could/should invite."

"...on top of making an event that actually doesn't make any sense, including paid tiers for information that is not exclusive, freely out there, and honestly out of date. I just...don't get it. It feels weird. Dear Tony, pls get out of there."


April 13, 2021 at 1:49 PM

Let me jump in with some context.

As some of you who are active on social media might have noticed, I don't engage much with other publications and influencers who write about the parks, especially Disney's. I came to the site from newspaper journalism and prefer to keep my head down and just cover the parks, rather than engage in a bunch of community drama.

And there is *plenty* of drama and conflict among prominent voices in what park management often calls "the fan community." Along with a handful of people including Rick West, Matt Roseboom, Robb Alvey, and Lance Hart, I've been doing this for decades. But in recent years, the number of people trying to make a living posting about theme parks has skyrocketed. While some try to build a following with unique coverage - as we old-timers tried - some try to stir up and exploit drama to prise followers from others. Again, I try to steer clear of it.

I typically do several media interviews a month, from my local public radio station to national and international news outlets, but I rarely make appearances on other theme park media. Yet over the past year - with so many parks closed - I've wondered if perhaps I should be more open to working with others in the community from time to time. I respect Tony greatly and have had nothing but positive experiences with Jason Klein, so when Jason asked if I would like to record an interview for Parks Con, I agreed. My only condition was that it would be freely available for Theme Park Insider readers to watch, and it is.

Yes, Jason is upselling passes for on-demand viewing after the event, as well as a bunch of swag. Frankly, that intrigues me because I would love to get some real world data on just how much demand is out there for paid content in this space. Lots of people express opinions about this, but I want to see how many people are actually willing to pay.

Granted, Parks Con is not the line-up I would put together if I were running an event, but it's not my event. It's Jason's. Having been part of dozens of conferences over the years (mostly in the journalism field), you rarely know the full line-up of other speakers when you agree to do an event. These are the people Jason wanted and could book, and if they sound interesting to you, I hope that you will get the free ticket and watch.

And if you want to spend the bucks to upgrade, please do. Half the money from people who book through this site goes to me, and the other half goes to Jason, who has to pay his production and promotion costs from his half, by the way. I get nothing from any passes booked through other sites. But I do get to see the data on how many Theme Park Insider readers claimed free tickets and upgraded - information that is as valuable to me as any potential commissions.

Yes, it's been a tough year for theme park employees. But it has been an absolutely brutal 20 years for people in the news business, with newspapers and magazine closing, websites dropping original content for AI-generated clickbait, and TV channels opting for partisan talking heads over informed, on-location reporting. If any publisher wants to try something fresh to make money from interesting, engaging news content, I say... more power to them. I'm always curious to see how it works out, as I look for new opportunities for my own work as a writer.

April 13, 2021 at 2:30 PM

I'll also add that there's a disturbing trend that has exploded in the era of social media, and that is the negative coverage of EVERYTHING. Not a single person on the planet can say something without being criticized, no matter how noble, just, or apolitical. Certainly by posting on social media and the internet opens you up to these criticisms, but more often than not, negative views and posts gain far more traction and visibility. The old adage: "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" no longer applies in today's world, and it's becoming more common that being critical, mean, and "anti-whatever" is glorified and acceptable.

It seems the more we try to unite the world, the more divided it becomes, because opinions just become more polarizing and the need to be noticed/accepted overrides basic decorum and politeness.

April 13, 2021 at 5:03 PM

Interesting response Robert. A lot of creators and bloggers are backing out based on the optics/reality of this event. I hope you win the free trip.

April 13, 2021 at 5:32 PM

What is your problem with the event and with Jason, specifically, AndrewL? On multiple posts, you seem to wish to accuse people on this site of racism, but here you fail to cite any specific reason why I should not have done a pre-recorded interview with a specific person that you seem to dislike.

If you can provide me with a real reason for your objection to this event - either here or privately via email - then I will allow your posts to stand. However, if you're just spamming to discredit people by insinuation - including me - then I will just delete your posts and your account as a troll.

And by the way, if you or anyone else are concerned with our stand on race here at Theme Park Insider, I invite you to read these posts of mine: 'All Lives Do Not Matter Until Black Lives Matter' and Can Theme Parks Get on the Right Side of History?.

I will put my record on writing about this issue up against anyone's.

April 14, 2021 at 6:49 PM

Thank you for your email, AndrewL. I have replied.

For others, if you have a concern about something, please realize that I am not omniscient. I need sources to keep me informed and always appreciate a heads-up via email. Coming at me with guns blazing without telling me what's going on is not only a bad look for you, it does not put me in any good mood for considering what you have to say.

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