Are You a Disney Adult... or Some Other Type of Theme Park Fan?

June 25, 2022, 6:44 PM · Countless reasons bring people to theme parks. Some of us come for the thrill rides, such as roller coasters. Others enjoy the entertainment, including live shows and nighttime spectaculars. For some fans, it's all about the theme in theme parks - the immersive spaces that recreate famous locations from around the world, or the worlds of fantasy and science fiction.

Maybe it's the chance to spend time with a specific entertainment franchise - or collection of franchises - that entices you to visit. Or perhaps you are just a fan of travel, and make your way to theme parks from time to time because they have become such popular tourist destinations.

For our Vote of the Week this weekend, I would like to hear what kind of fan you most consider yourself to be. Of course, many Theme Park Insider readers - including me! - love parks for a wide variety of reasons. I enjoy the thrill rides, the dark rides, the shows, the immersive spaces, and more. But for this vote, I want to push you to pick the top reason why you come to - or just follow - the parks.

I thought of this vote following the social media dust-up over the latest Big Media article about Disney fans, Rolling Stone's How ‘Disney Adults’ Became the Most Hated Group on the Internet. There's much in that piece that set my eyes rolling, so I want to move past any discussion about that article itself and instead focus on the question that it has inspired.

Disney fans on a coaster
Some Disney fans love coasters, and vice versa. Photo courtesy Disney

Obviously, love of Disney as a brand brings millions of fans to its theme parks every year. So I have included "Disney fan" as one of the options in this week's poll. Yet I don't see any other theme park chain cultivating the same sort of brand loyalty - and brand self-identity - that Disney has. I am certain that there are devoted fans of Universal, Legoland, Six Flags, and perhaps ever SeaWorld out there. But none of those fan bases have coalesced and self-realized to the extent that Disney's has.

What might the other options be, then? I think that the community of self-identified roller coaster fans might be comparable to the number of Disney fans out there. Otherwise, I think that people might first identify simply as theme park fans, or even just general travel fans, when asked. From my past research asking Theme Park Insider readers, those have been the top four categories that compose the theme park fanbase, so I will present them as our options today.

Let's see how the numbers work out.

If you would like to share a specific moment or example that most sold you on theme parks, please do so in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading and being a part of the Theme Park Insider community.

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Replies (14)

June 25, 2022 at 8:04 PM

First, that article was....well, let's just say a good reason I stopped reading Rolling Stone years ago.

Moving on, I will say I lean Disney first above others but I do enjoy Universal and Six Flags among other parks. So will say a theme park fan even if I lean toward Disney more than others but acknowledge how amazing other parks are. I used to be more coaster but as I get older, I enjoy slower rides well and even younger a dark ride often more appealing than some bigger coasters. So while Disney first love, I'm not bound to it more than other great parks.

June 25, 2022 at 8:40 PM

Theme Park Fan-- Formerly a Disney Fan and that makes me deeply sad. Nothing tops the Magic Kingdom, the parades, the rides, the atmosphere. Just seeing the train makes me "happy." I own Disney stock and want it to do well. But if I try to explain my feelings, someone reading this will mistakenly believe this is turning into a political discussion. And I REALLY don't mean it that way. I'm disappointed the fun is gone.

June 25, 2022 at 10:29 PM

I still love roller coasters but have found myself, through a combination of age and diminishing tolerance for waiting in long lines and the other accoutrements that come at a visit to an understaffed regional theme park, drifting more towards the Disney and Universals of the world. There are several parks (Busch Gardens [both]), Dollywood, Holiday World, etc.) that I know I'd love to get to but just haven't happened yet for one reason or another.

June 26, 2022 at 6:30 AM

I love a lot of the rides at Disney, but due to things like the intensely increased crowds, the excessive amount of pre-planning and the reliance on phone apps, I don't enjoy the Disney experience anymore. I like my vacations relaxing, which is still possible (so far) at Universal.

But I gotta say that my most enjoyable experience at a theme park recently was during my first trip to Dollywood in May. It was amazing. That park has some truly unique, fun rides, a great atmosphere and good food.

June 26, 2022 at 6:56 AM

I love theme parks and I would go out of my way going to a theme park but above all I'm a traveler. I guess that has to do with the 10 weeks of vacation I can take so I need more than just a theme park.

June 26, 2022 at 7:29 AM

Proud member of the “perhaps even” group !

In 2018, my family of four did a full week in Central Florida equipped with our “Super Grover” passes we had from Sesame Place. We did 2 days at SeaWorld (one being an Electric Ocean day), 2 days at Busch Gardens Tampa, a full day at Aquatica (as well as a few hours on our fly home day), a day at Adventure Island followed by an evening at Clearwater Beach and a few other non-theme park activities. Oh yeah, and we did a day at Legoland, but that was kind of meh. We never went to a Disney or Universal park on that trip and didn’t need to. Most dinners were off site including a night at Capone’s Dinner and Show (where my oldest daughter got selected to be on stage for a few minutes of the show). The “Dine with Shamu” or whatever the name is in the given year, is always included in our trip and a real nice experience for the kids.

It was an extremely budget friendly trip, stress free and had quite a few unforgettable memories.

We always include Sea World in our trips out West as well. My first Sea World experience was in Ohio back in the late 80’s, which I have some faint memories of, so it was cool to see that throwback merchandise featuring those SeaWorld characters this year.

I haven’t done Discovery Cove yet, but look forward to that within the next few years (and will probably do a similar trip like we did in 2018 along with it). I’d also like to try and get to Sea World San Antonio some day.

But I will also say I am a big Universal fan…

June 26, 2022 at 10:46 AM

I would assume most of the folks that read this website are theme park fans. A true Disney adult fan would only be sticking to Disney theme websites. Lol

But seriously, I always thought this topic would be interesting to discuss in a psy class at a University. To me an adult Disney fan is somebody who will continue to pay no matter the cost and goes a few times a year. They never been to another theme park and their whole house is decorated with Disney stuff. They have that sticker on their car letting you know they are season pass holders. There is a certain attitude they have toward you too.

June 26, 2022 at 12:21 PM

I was previously a theme park fan, but the quality of Six Flags and other lesser parks has diminished to the point where it's not worth the headache.

Disneyland is its own form of headache that's starting to wear out its welcome as well, especially now that you can't even buy a coke without scheduling ahead. but I have so many wonderful memories of being at Disney as a kid, and, more importantly, of being there with my kids when they were little, I can still feel the Disney magic, so I'm still a Disney fan.

That said, if Chapek keeps ruining the parks, I'll soon be done with Disney as well.

June 26, 2022 at 2:41 PM

Theme park fan. I love Disney as much as the next person, but I can recognize when other parks put out equivalent experiences in themed entertainment (like Knott's or Dollywood). Coasters are nice and all, but they wear me out quickly, hence my preference of dark rides.

If I were to pick a movie studio brand that most fits me, it'd be Warner Bros, which is home to some of my favorite franchises (Game of Thrones, DC, Harry Potter, Looney Tunes). Just wish they had better parks, or at the very least, bring the good ones overseas closer to home.

June 26, 2022 at 5:45 PM

Some might think of me more as a roller coaster fan, and while I definitely seek out the thrill rides, I consider myself a theme park fan instead because I visit for far more than that. My favorite parks tend to be those operated by Hershend, SeaWorld, and Universal, which offer well rounded experiences with quality thrill rides as well as some slower paced attractions, well themed and landscaped environments, and decent food offerings. I do enjoy visits to Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks and tend to not be quite as critical of them as many enthusiasts, but those are parks I'll return to for major new rides while the other parks I return to for the full experience. I used to be more into Disney and still visit the parks sometimes, but I've grown a bit cold on them over the past ten years due to the increasing price, additional hurdles to visiting, and relative lack of compelling new offerings. As a result, they're no longer a priority on a trip to Florida, and I'm fine with just visiting Disneyland once or twice a year while I hold passes to SoCal'z other theme parks.

June 26, 2022 at 10:23 PM

Theme Park dude all the way. I am fascinated by theme parks. My favorite is islands of adventures. I love Disney parks too, and they now have some of my absolute favorite IP, such as star wars and Marvel ( and the muppets too!! ) but i have grow too angry at current disney managment, ( for too many reasons).

June 27, 2022 at 1:15 PM

Theme Park fan here!

Obviously, Disney & Universal are the biggies & there are "better / best" parks when it comes to official rankings, but I find I enjoy myself at pretty much any park.

June 28, 2022 at 7:14 PM

I’d have to go with “theme park fan”. I grew up going to Disneyland, I was a CM for about 4 years while I was going through college, and I still love the place, but even at my Mousiest, I’d go to other SoCal theme parks and attractions when Mickey didn’t call me first.

That said, I haven’t been to the Park in about three years, both because of COVID and because I couldn’t justify the cost of buying a set of four Disneyland APs anymore. In that three years, I’ve been to WDW once and have had Knott’s season passes for about a year now. It’s been fun keeping an eye on the industry in general instead of being laser-focused on Disney (mainly thanks to this website). Honestly, I’m surprised I’m not going through theme park withdrawal.

June 29, 2022 at 2:01 AM

I remember waiting in line for King Kong back in the ‘90s, being blown away at how entertaining waiting in lines could be. It’s Universal for me.

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