Good morrow and welcome back to Walk in the Parks!
It’s been a while since we last posted on here. We’ve been busy little bees recently but as things are calming down, we’re going to be putting a bit more time into both our blog and getting our Orlando 2018 series out weekly over on YouTube.
We feel refreshed after a somewhat lengthy break and are ready to hit you right in the kisser with the four things we just don’t ‘get’ at theme parks. This post is a bit of a joint effort, the first part has been written by me (Carl) and Charlotte picks it up towards the end.
The topic was somewhat inspired by the goings on over on Twitter. You know, like when everyone is tweeting and talking about the ‘best TV show ever’ and you just don’t get it? Those conversations fuelled our fire.
Star Wars is a big one for me. I just don’t get the hype. I don’t understand the idea or allure of a man in a robe with a florescent light bulb as a weapon hanging out with talking teddy bears.
Of course everyone is different, and we all like different things, which is what makes life so fascinating. Let’s face it, the world would be as boring as Henry Cavill as Superman if we all had the same views and opinions.
This list is purely based on theme parks and the community as a whole. We’ll mention who came up with each choice so you can either agree or disagree (or berate or praise if you so wish) with us on Twitter or in the comments.
Right, enough jibba jabba, let’s get into our five things we just don’t ‘get’ about theme parks.
1. VR Coasters – Carl’s Choice
I think everyone is mainly of the same opinion when it comes to virtual reality coaster experiences, hence the reason both Galactica at Alton Towers and Kraken at Seaworld no longer have VR.
The whole point of a coaster to me is the ride. I know that sounds odd but it’s true. Seeing and feeling the actual ride. Viewing the scenery of whatever park you’re in while you ride any coaster is huge to me.
The lift-hill is such an important part of the experience, building up the anticipation of what’s to come. The feeling of the unknown the first time you climb the hill of a coaster you’ve never ridden before is incredible and the feelings of fear, happiness and sheer fun as it cannons you around the track are unparalleled.
Let’s take my favourite, The Smiler, as an example. Forget the history or controversy for a second and just picture that track. It’s a beautiful clusterfuck of metal and it’s a wonderful sight to behold.
Put VR glasses on and it takes all that away. You might as well just be in a simulator instead. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy VR, but it needs to be kept as far away from coasters as possible in my opinion. We rode Galactica a few weeks ago and it was running better than ever with no VR in sight.
2. Backlash to Epcot changes – Carl’s Choice
This is a big one for me and it’s something that not only baffles me, but actually makes me annoyed. Change is a part of life, there’s no point fighting it and no point hiding from it. Things are going to happen whether you like it or not.
To keep it strictly theme park related, classic rides close to make way for new attractions. Whole areas of theme parks come to an end to make way for updated magical worlds.
To me, Streets of America looked incredible (I never got to witness is sadly, though Charlotte has). The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights looked amazing and I understand the sadness when things like this close to make way for new areas but at the end of the day, we now have Toy Story Land and the soon to open – as much as we are not fans of Star Wars it looks absolutely fantastic – Galaxy’s Edge.
These changes are – like it or not – better for the park and will make Hollywood Studios one of the best parks in the world again. Like seriously it’s going to be shitting money for big old Bob.
This brings me to the upcoming changes at Epcot and the way people initially reacted to the news, and are still going on about it now.
In the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow the first area you enter is called Future World. Now let’s face facts, this area should be called 1994 World because it’s so out of date and sucks much like 1994 sucked – mainly because of the amazing World Cup that year that England never qualified for, bloody Graham Taylor!!
The only thing ‘future’ about it is that I want to jump forward 15 minutes in the future to get to World Showcase. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Soarin’ and Test Track, and I absolutely adore Spaceship Earth but other than that, I’m not arsed about the rest of it.
The buildings are ugly and have a weird smell inside. Club Cool should be shut by the Health & Safety authorities as it’s an assault on my taste. I get that in 1982 it looked futuristic and was using cutting edge technology, but here’s the thing, we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto and it isn’t 1982.
The changes proposed look great and will completely revitalise that part the park. Let’s face it, it desperately needs it. If it wasn’t for World Showcase I’m not sure I’d even fork out the money to go to the Epcot right now.
As for IPs being introduced… well that’s just how modern life is. Things change, technology evolves and gets greater and more powerful every day. We need to stop living in the past, take a note out of Elsa’s book and just let it go.
Right, anyone got plans for Tomorrowland?
3. Coasters Over Dark Rides – Charl’s Choice
I’m coming in with something that’s possibly more controversial than Carl’s views about Epcot, the fact that people always hype coasters way more than dark rides.
Look, I know a massive, thrilling ride is a bigger draw to a park for most people, and I love a coaster as much anyone else. But for me, especially in the UK parks, I’m desperate for somewhere to announce a big-scale dark ride.
There has been a few rumours about the next big things to come to the UK, and almost all of them are coasters. Let’s be honest, we live in a country where it’s either rainy or cold 70% of the time, and we have barely any exceptional dark rides.
I know it’s not a common opinion, but over the years I think I’ve come to love dark rides more than coasters. I adore that they tell stories so intricately, that they generally last so much longer and that they lend themselves to being so well themed.
When I last visited Alton Towers, for example, I lauded Hex and Duel as two of my favourite experiences, but I couldn’t help feeling that what the park is truly missing is a really decent dark ride. I’ve heard The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure at Chessington is good, and to be honest it’s one of the main reasons I want to go there this year.
After spending the last couple of overseas trips venturing to Orlando, I miss big-scale dark rides in this country, and wish some of the parks would start prioritising a few of them over massive coaster expansions.
4. Screens Getting a Bad Rap – Charl’s Choice
This post is pretty much becoming my love letter to dark rides and I’m not even mad about it.
There is a lot of discussion within the theme park community about parks – – and Universal Studios in particular – favouring screens over physical theming.
In general screens are considered to be negative, with people getting upset that parks are sacrificing immersive experiences for the easier option. And I have to say I disagree.
Sure, Fast & Furious Supercharged is actual garbage but in general, when screens are used properly, I think these rides are some of the best I’ve ever experienced.
Flight of Passage, Escape from Gringotts, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Ratatouille: The Adventure; all are considered some of the best rides in the world, and all of them rely heavily on screens.
For me, I’m happy for parks to keep using technology and screens to their advantage, as long as they also inject some real theming into the experience.
Take Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey as an example, screens and theming and blended perfectly to create a ride that is genuinely out of this world. If attractions start becoming screens and screens only, I’ll start giving them a bad rap, but while they are used in conjunction with physical theming – I’m all for them being here to stay.