Rumors and Commentary

The Role of a Theme Park Fan

My favorite professional sports team sucks.  Despite winning 89 games this year, the Seattle Mariners continued their 17 year-long playoff drought, the longest such streak in professional sports.  The last time I saw my favorite team in the playoffs was back in 5th grade, I’m 28 now.

Even with the lack of success, I’m still passionate about the team.  I go to a decent amount of games each year and complain about the team along with all of the other fans there.  Every year I get sucked in at the start of spring, enjoying baseball every night.  By the end of August I’m usually ready to swear off the team for good, knowing I spend too much money and time on a frustrating product.  It’s a tireless cycle and I, along with most fans, have thoughts on how the franchise could be ran better.  We still show up though, critiques and all, to support and enjoy our team.

ToT water blue hour TDS

Being a theme park fan is vastly different from a sports fan.  When enjoying sports, most fans have one goal in mind – to watch their team win.  While I suppose that theme park fans have the overarching goal of going to a park and enjoying themselves there are far more aspects to this.  Having said that, I’ve been thinking about what roles fans/guests play in theme parks overall outside of the obvious.  Much like a pro sports team, theme parks wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for us showing up, paying for entry and enjoying them.  This post is going to dive into a few, somewhat random, thoughts I have on the matter.  I should say at the onset that this post is more for those that really love Disney Parks and isn’t necessarily here to help you plan vacations.  This isn’t really the norm for this blog, hence the disclaimer.

Recently I was asked if writing on a blog and looking at the Disney Parks through a more critical eye has lessened the experience for me.  It’s a good question, as most people don’t go on vacation to critique but instead to enjoy and relax.  Not that I don’t enjoy our vacations, I think I enjoy traveling more than most people, but some of our time is spent trying new places or itineraries instead of ones that we know we like in the name of research.  Keeping that question in mind, the answer is no.  In fact, looking at the park’s with this blog in mind have made me enjoy them more.

Outside of the obvious answer being that Wandering in Disney has made me pick up photography, one of my favorite aspects of traveling, there are a myriad of reasons why being critical of the Disney Parks have made me love going there more.  No, the reason is not because this award-winning blog (just take my word for it) fills my pockets with money.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t.  Instead, having a greater understanding of the storytelling and process of building a theme park has made me enjoy them more.

To take it back to a sports analogy, I love going to baseball games and my fandom could just stop there.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as it would provide some great moments and you’d get to know the team you were rooting for casually over the summer.  But, I enjoy learning more about the game and the team I’m cheering for so I’ll read about them a couple of times a day and follow their transactions and minor league teams as time goes on.  Again, this doesn’t make me a better fan but it does make the roots grow deeper.   As I gain more knowledge, there’s more of a chance to have justified opinions on things.  This is all true for Disney Parks.

I do want to reiterate that no level of fandom is better than the other, just some fit people more than others.  Some guests will go to Disney World every year, love it and never say a bad thing about it.  That’s fine because that’s how they prefer to vacation.  It doesn’t mean they love the experience more or less than someone seeing the parks from a more critical eye, instead they’re just there for a good time.  In that way you could think of the Disney Parks as a movie theater showing a critically acclaimed blockbuster.

Monorail sunburst Epcot

All this talking in circles brings me to one of my main points, it’s okay to say you don’t like something at the Disney Parks.  People are fiercely loyal to the Disney brand which is justifiable.  The company has done exceptional work in many fields and deserves respect and admiration.  But that doesn’t mean everything is perfect.  There are areas in the parks and decisions made that frustrate me and I think voicing those concerns in a respectful way is fairly vital to being a fan.  No, that doesn’t mean everyone should do it but there’s nothing wrong with speaking up about curious decisions.  Will it change something?  Probably not but there might be some justification from the company.

While fans of other entities are eager to let it be known when there is a mistake made, there is a small segment that think any decision Disney makes shouldn’t be questioned.  I certainly don’t agree with that and think that’s a quick way to make the park’s less enjoyable for everyone.  While I know there’s a reason behind every decision made, it doesn’t always make that decision the right one.  I’ll take the low hanging fruit as an example.  A Guadians of the Galaxy Coaster is coming to Epcot.  That attraction doesn’t seem to fit into the park when just thinking about the themes of both.  Disney has come up with a back story of Peter Quill (the main character in Guadians of the Galaxy) visiting Epcot as a child and therefore the attraction works there, I’m paraphrasing.  That simply isn’t good enough reasoning and diminishes the idea behind Epcot.  Now, they might have a better integration down the road and some guests simply might not care about that (which is absolutely fine) but voicing concerns over that is absolutely justified.

There are better ways to go about voicing concerns than others, of course.  Answering surveys that Disney gives out while on vacation or via email is a big deal and the most effective way to make your voice heard.  Sending respectful emails or having honest discussions in comments or forums of Disney related sites is another easy area to do it.

Steamboat wheel with Splash water TDL

Swinging back the other way, it does feel like some critics will try to pick apart every single thing they can.  This is more of a view on life in general than simply the Disney Parks.  We all know people who will always find something to complain about.  I don’t think that’s healthy or a good way to enjoy vacations.  I like most of what Disney does with their theme parks, I disagree with their decisions every once in a while and then there’s quite a few times that I simply don’t care.  Having thoughts on every single bit of news that comes out is exhausting and can take a turn to disingenuous.  There needs to be a balance, again like being a fan in anything, about what to care about and voice concerns over and what to let slide.  Seeing both sides of the coin is invaluable to most walks of life, including being a better theme park fan.

As for me, what I’m most captivated by in the parks is the storytelling.  Whether it be cohesive lands or attractions, I’m really drawn into the way a theme park tells a story.  Most of my concerns or praises will come from that.  My wife is completely different in what she focuses on.  If you want to enjoy the theme parks at a deeper level, find what is most interesting to you and start reading and observing that area.  While you can enjoy it all, trying to care about every single thing is a difficult task.

More than anything, find the right way for you to experience Disney Parks.  I’ve tried my best to convey throughout this blog’s existence that there isn’t just one way to do all of these parks.  Some people just like to be there.  Some people want to explore the storytelling.  Some just want to lose their voice on a roller coaster.  There’s not a wrong way to do it, unless you aren’t having a good time.

Tall castle from Tomorrowland MK

Thank you for indulging these fairly random thoughts.  If you have any thoughts or questions to add in the comments below, I’d love to continue the conversation!  We hope you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney.  You can subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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