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Theme Parks Are The One-Night-Stands of Summer Activities.

They’re fun while you’re there, but in the morning all you’re left with is a sore neck and a missing wallet.

Ba-dum DUM!

*If you don’t care for my blather or haphazard iPhone pictures, feel free to skip to the end for my quick-and-dirty tips for visiting theme parks.

Okay. I’m about to admit something to you that might make me seem like a lame-o stick in the mud, but here goes:

I Do Not Enjoy Theme Parks.

Oh, wow.

That actually felt kind of good. Like an AA meeting, except instead of for alcoholics, this one’s for people who don’t enjoy things that most normal people enjoy, like Saturday nights at the movie theater. And in-home jewelry sale parties. And French toast.

My name is Katie, and I do not enjoy theme parks.

Oh, look at all of the smiling, happy people.

I do not enjoy theme parks because they are noisy, they are smelly, they are hot, and they usually involve longer lines than the DMV on a Monday afternoon and let me just tell you something right now: roller coasters have fallen a long way since I was a kid. The designing of coasters used to be an art form, you know. And I suppose it still is, but where the coasters of yore were designed to induce suspense — an intense build-up of adrenaline followed by a euphoric release and then, if it was really good, another rickety, knee-trembling, do-you-think-we’re-going-to-make-it-out-of-this-alive? kind of moment before another stomach dropping plummet.

But now? Now they’re about speed. And vomit. And G-force. And vomit. And, hey. I like a little danger as much as the next adrenaline junky, but honestly — the only exciting build-up on these puppies is the two hours you wait in line, followed by the shaky moment you make the mind-numbing decision to remove your flip-flops and tuck them safely under your butt so they don’t fly off into the murky depths of a theme park pond. That’s it. Everything else is just a blur. Especially if you’re on one of the coasters designed so your feet are dangling into the air because you can’t actually see anything up ahead of you.

“The Hulk” at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

Basically, all you get anymore is a 45-second, non-stop terror-fest where, when the thing comes to a sudden halt at the end, all you can think is, Get me the eff off of this thing and where the eff are my shoes?

The art of suspense has been lost, you see. And I can’t decide whether that says something negative about the next generation or my own. The next generation wants everything now, now, now, but it’s my generation that’s enabling it.

So, yeah.

Not a huge fan of theme parks.

But we went to one last week because, really. Who gets a free timeshare in Orlando and doesn’t go to a theme park? Well, I wouldn’t. Except my hunky geek of man meat is a huge Harry Potter fan and we happened to be near a place that proclaimed he’d be able to walk through the village of Hogsmeade and drink butter beer and gaze up at Hogwarts Castle with wonder and excitement, and I’ll admit —

Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.
Butter Beer (super rich cream soda topped with super rich dairy-free cream and a whopping $4.25(?) a pop).
Butter Beer (super rich cream soda topped with super rich dairy-free cream and a whopping $4.25(?) a pop). Oh and don’t even ask how much it is for the commemorative souvenir mug.
Totally worth it.
Totally worth it.

— most of that was actually true.

By heading to Shades of Green, the Armed Forces Recreation Center at Disney World the day before, we were able to procure free tickets for Justin and Pedro, both active-duty service members, to get into both parks at Universal Studios. My ticket cost $88 for just Islands of Adventure within Universal (gotta love how they split it into two parks so you have to buy two tickets), but knowing my low-level theme park tolerance, we figured just the one would be enough.

And judging by our full day of excitement requiring exactly two poolside piña coladas back at the resort just to come down from the high, it totally was:

I don’t know why that water looks poop green in my iPhone picture. I assure you it was actually blue. I think.
This was the best building in the whole place. It had air conditioning and relatively unoccupied bathrooms.
Pedro and MIssy and some scary guy in an orange shirt photo-bombing my shot.

Those of you who followed along during our Day of Adventure on Facebook got a live-preview of the shot above, right before we embarked on the air trolley that gently glides through Seuss Landing.


See, Missy and Justin were the token weak-bellies of our group and were ready to slow things down. Yep. The main guy who talked us into going to a theme park doesn’t even like roller coasters (though he was a total sport and rode the Dragon Challenge with me in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter).


Did my opinion of theme parks change after our day of fun?

Not really. I still think they’re over-priced with really bad food and too many long lines. (Hey. If I’m going to pay $7 for a hot dog — and believe me I’ve spent more than that before because I love them — I expect it to be exceptional.)

But am I glad we went?

Absolutely. See, while I bitch and moan about the state of roller coasters today, there’s one type of ride I was never subjected to as a kid — the virtual reality ride. And here, I went on two: The 3-D Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and let me tell you, my friends, my life has been changed. Look. I can’t say much because that Harry Potter ride was pretty much indescribable. All I can say is that I basically got to fly a broomstick on a Quidditch field and got spit on by giant spiders and fought a fire-breathing dragon and I actually felt the heat.

Way. WAY. Cool.

Even the line was kind of fun once it wound its way inside the castle.

All-in-all? I’d definitely do it again.

And here are my quick-and-dirty tips if you’re heading to your own theme park adventure this summer:


1) Go during the off-season. This is obvious, but it’s true. It won’t be as hot as during the summer and the lines won’t be as long. Our longest was about 45-minutes, which is short compared to the peak season. Even if you have kids — just pull ’em out of school instead of waiting until summer. Your life will be better for it.

2) Bring your own food. Check the rules first, but many theme parks don’t have a problem with you bringing your own food. They usually don’t allow coolers, but a backpack full of sandwiches, chips, bottled water, etc. is totally acceptable. Considering the cost of tickets just to get into these places, you could spend an additional small fortune on sustenance. Especially if you have children.

3) Skip the souvenirs and bring your own. Souvenirs are over-priced crap. I happened to glance at the cost of a plastic wand in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and guess what? I could get an entire pedicure for the cost of one of those puppies, so think ahead. If you have kids, order awesome wooden wands like these or these from Etsy and take them with you to surprise them while they wait in line. They’re way cooler and less than half the price.

4) Wear proper footwear. Seriously. Flip-flops are awesome when it’s hot outside, I know, but they don’t offer the proper support for a long day of walking, and they’re prone to flying off during the more raucous rides. So embrace the sweaty ankle farmer’s tan. Your feet (and back) will thank you.

5) Other gear to remember: Sunglasses, sun screen, hat, some type of line entertainment, small camera/phone, patience, and at least one person who doesn’t actually want to ride the rides but doesn’t mind waiting in line. Missy waited in every single line with us right up to the end, then grabbed our bags, hats, etc. and stood in the designated waiting area for the full minute it took most rides to complete. Sometimes less. And it was awesome to not have to worry about that stuff or pay for a storage locker.

Do YOU enjoy theme parks? If so, what’s wrong with you your favorite? If not, what will you be doing this summer, instead?


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The only one I have gone to is the the seasonal one here in Vancouver BC PNE /Playland. Thats been probably a decade or more but I do have to disagree with you I like the concept of theme parks there just no fun if you are alone.


That’s because you have to stand in such long lines! If you’re alone, there’s no one to entertain you while you’re in the line. :\


lol lines ?? are everywhere in society how do you handle those lol …what about those you know ,,, bank lines, grocery lines . an the “x” lines that people wait in for hours just to “get something” can be just as long at times for me thats what my HTC is for.

(…..but i’m sure you know me well enough to know what I was saying originally )


What I meant by “lines” is that when I was single, the worst part of going to a theme park was watching all of the happy couples hold hands and cuddle in line. Blech. :)


ok see that makes more sense … i agree with that…actually that statement goes for a lot of places not just theme parks ……..


Totally normal not to like theme parks. Especially after the age of 25. Theme parks are awful for all reasons you’ve described, the only thing that’s worse is water parks. All of the same problems as theme parks, plus every one is half naked and you’re barefoot unless you wear those ugly water sock shoes. No. Just no.


This entire comment cracks me up. :) (And I’m so glad I’m not alone.)


I admit that I like theme parks and I love Disney. I, however, will only go to them in the off-season, when it’s not hot as balls or crowded. Fave park is EPCOT during the Food & Wine Festival, where I can eat and drink my way around the world showcase. I’ve been to the F&W Festival 3 times in the past 7 years. I’m probably due to go again this fall…


Okay you MIGHT have just convinced me to give them a second chance because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I happen to LOVE food and I happen to LOVE wine. When Justin asked me if I wanted to go to a park, I said I could probably stand to go to EPCOT just because of the whole around-the-world thing, but I had no idea they had a food and wine festival. Seriously! When are we going?


The only theme parks I genuinely like are Disney’s and only during the off-season. I don’t even dare imagine going when school is out.

We were at Disney/Shades of Green during the last week in September last year, just as the Food & Wine Festival was beginning. The parks were empty to the point of the ride lines making the average supermarket line look daunting. With Fast Pass and the low crowds, I think 15 minutes was the longest we waited for any ride; most were walk-on quick. We even managed to get curb seats right in front of the castle for the Electrical Parade and fireworks show.

The Food & Wine Festival is wonderful. Just walking through the world showcase and smelling all of the options is an experience. Several websites, including Military Disney Tips, have crowd calendars showing when the crowds will be smallest and much of the low crowd times coincide with the F&W Fest. This is especially true during the weekdays and the crowds will be even thinner at Epcot when one of the other parks is offering Extra Magic Hours as most people staying on property will be heading to one of those parks. The crowd calendars typically break down the numbers by park as well as total property allowing you to plan the best place to be on any given day.

A big YES to all of your tips. If anybody is headed to Disney with children, nice souvenirs can be picked up on sale/clearance at the Disney Store and also at the dollar store. Add in some glow-in-the-dark jewelry/glowsticks with the Disney themed merchandise and you’ll save $ when the glowing items come out at firework time. We were at Disney for my daughter’s birthday and I picked up a birthday banner, confetti, and some other party goodies at the dollar store. My husband took her out to walk around when we got to the hotel while I set up an in-room celebration, complete with the souvenirs and white feathers on the floor from deliveryman Donald Duck. ;) The Disney Florist in-room celebrations are in the hundreds of dollars range. Mine was $50ish.

Many of the souvenirs at the Shades of Green PX are also less expensive than what is offered in the parks.


Wow, great tips!! You all seriously have me wanting to hit up that food and wine festival before we move, now. And here I thought I’d taken my last trip to Florida for a while… And thanks for all of the info on Shades of Green! I didn’t even know that resort existed until we went down there, so good to know they have all of those resources readily available. Way to go on saving all of that money on your daughter’s birthday! I bet she had a blast, and it made no difference to her where the supplies came from. How fun! :)


Not a fan of roller coasters. Theme parks can be ok (depends on the theme), but usually the crowds get to me. I will have to try out that Food and Wine Festival tho! Also, love Missy’s hair!


Yes! The food and wine fest sounds fantastic! And Missy has awesome hair because she’s a super chic designer with an amazing sense of style. If I didn’t like her so much, it’d be really hard to be around her. ;)


The colors were incredible. Especially the sky that day.

resilientoneathy Munch

Poop green water? Girlfriend what you been eating?? And do they really serve green eggs and ham? Love your adventures Katie!


Haven’t you been reading my posts about detox smoothies?? ;)

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