Theme parks are the bomb! If you like to be thrilled, there are roller coasters and stimulating multidimensional adventures galore. If you like entertainment, there are street performers, parades, and shows throughout the parks and resorts. There are activities for every age. Who couldn’t enjoy a day of living your favorite fantasy worlds?
But wait, we have to wait in a line for every step of the way? People can spend months anticipating their tropical Florida getaway and feel entitled to an incredibly fun and breezy day, especially for how much money they’ve spent. Being slammed with huge wait lines and even more unexpected expenses (such as replacing broken flip flops, sunscreen, churros, rock climbing walls, souvenirs for the grandparents, etc.) reasonably add up to angry and sunburned afternoons.
Having been an employee of four of the Orlando theme parks, Universal Studios, LegoLand, SeaWorld, and Disney Springs; I am quite familiar with the agitated guest and every level of frustration towards wait times. While I pursued my career in theatre in college, I worked part-time and holidays performing and selling merchandise at various theme parks. I absolutely love theme parks and get this - I even like the lines. Crazy, right? Let me explain why…
Ever since I was a couple feet tall, my dad took me to the theme parks. He worked at Six Flags Over Texas as a teen and wanted me to grow up appreciating the thrill of them. My first roller coaster was Woody Woodpecker! I remember almost every year when we’d go, running up to the height board and seeing which rides I was tall enough to ride this trip.
By the time I was old enough to ride every coaster in Central Florida, the family trips had dwindled down to just my dad and me. We took several years off from the parks. Disagreeing family matters happened. With the tribulations of raising a kid switching between two roofs, my dad and I weren’t always on the same page. We bickered, we competed in eye-rolling matches, and we rarely liked the way the other handled things.
While it wasn’t entirely in the budget, one year my dad bought the two of us annual passes to Universal again. I remember being a bit skeptical but appreciating the chance to play in the parks.
Then we had to face the lines. The new roller coaster, Rip Ride Rocket, was over a 2-hour wait. My favorite ride, Spider-Man, was over an hour. Lots and lots of hurry and wait. You know what happened? We talked. As I was getting older, I was forming my own ideas. He asked me about them. He shared his own. We bonded over the stories we were stepping into. We created memories of spitting straw covers at each other and accidentally hitting our neighbors in the next booth. We both were sad that The Jetsons ride was being replaced.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that long line after long line gets tiring especially when you just want to sit down and gulp down a gallon of water. It feels like time is being wasted when there are so many other rides you could be going on. But next time you go, try changing the definition of the “wait time” to “quality time.” Take it as a chance to revel over what you loved about the last ride or how funny it was when Suzie screamed when the spiders came out! Every theme park has its own type of magic but it’s the memories made that make the magic last.