How To Be A Coaster Enthusiast During A Global Pandemic

Well here's a blog post I didn't think I'd be writing this year, but hey, I don't think anyone could have  foreseen the situation the world is currently in with COVID-19 and coronavirus. So yes, unless you've been living under a rock you'll be very aware that in order to minimise the impact of the virus we're being advised to adhere to social distancing and as a result of this the majority of our beloved theme parks, amusement parks and other themed attractions have sadly had to close their gates in the interest of protecting health and welfare internationally. And if you were down to just days left before the 2020 season proper was about to kick in you're probably experiencing a little bit of theme park blue-balls right now in that the closure of the parks has meant that for many of us there has been no relief of payoff for what at this point has been months and months of anticipation. And that is pretty shit, let's be real. 

BUT - did you know you can still be a theme park or coaster enthusiast without actually visiting the parks? It's true! It's a weird one because if you live somewhere like I do where our parks experience some kind of closure or partial shut down over the winter months you should be used to figuring out how to entertain yourself while the parks are closed, but obviously the core difference between right now and regularly closed season is that all of the alternatives we'd usually turn to to keep ourselves amused are also closed. So. What to do then?

Well fear not, fellow enthusiasts! I've got five top tips for you to keep those thrill-seeking juices flowing that should hopefully tide you over until the gates of our beloved attractions reopen once more and we can once again get our adrenaline fix. 

Let's start off with a pretty straightforward one - binge yourself some theme park content on YouTube! It's a closed season staple for me to sit and inhale as many vlogs as I possibly can as it's not something I get a ton of time to do when the parks are open as I'm usually too busy visiting the parks themselves. And you don't need me to tell you that YouTube is a treasure trove of theme park content - from vlogs to sit down chat videos to voiceover-led documentaries to did-you-know pieces to coaster POVs. There's literally something for everyone to scratch that itch for theme park related content and easily enough to keep you going for months if not years (hopefully it won't come to that!) Find the links to some of my favs below (too many to mention in just one blog post though but please feel free to share recommendations in the comments if there's any I've missed!)

While libraries across countries may be closed, Amazon is still there and there are a ton of theme park related books you can dive into. If you're anything like me you'll also have plenty collecting dust on your shelves so it's time to dust them off and get stuck in! There's everything from the gloriously illustrated coffee table style books like Walt Disney Imagineering and Are We There Yet by Efteling to fascinating looks at the history of parks in books like Tales from the Towers and Universal Orlando: The Unofficial Story by Nick Sim to denser subject matter books that cover theme park theory. When you've got lots of time on your hands like many of us find ourselves with currently it's the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself further into your hobby and really get to grips and deepen your knowledge into its history and the hows and whys of what makes it tick and grow. 

This is something I've often found myself doing on a rainy day in the closed season and something I'd highly recommend if you've got an internet connection and a few hours to kill. Generally speaking I don't like to look too much into parks I have no plans of visiting in the next few years as it often leads to me making crazy decisions like booking flights to China on a whim or something, but these are desperate times so you have my permission to go nuts. The best way to start is with the 'Random Roller Coaster' section that loads on the home page of RCDB when you visit. Keep refreshing until you see a coaster you've never heard of before and essentially start clicking on links and you'll eventually find yourself staring through a list of kiddie creds in Sao Paulo that have you questioning everything you knew about the realms of possibility when it comes to coaster design. Honestly, I find it fascinating to dig deeper and deeper into what coasters are out there, or have been out there, especially in countries you don't tend to hear a lot about when it comes to theme park updates. And then better yet, when you find a really mad one, post it on social media and spark some conversation - you might even stumble across somebody who's actually ridden it (the ECC group on Facebook is usually pretty good for this) and can tell you a bit more about it if you're so inclined.

Right, hear me out on this one. I'm by no means suggesting you do a John Ivers and start building a coaster in your back garden (although if you have the skills, equipment and the planning permission then by all means work away) BUT, have you guys ever seen that one Christmas TV ad from Efteling where the kid builds a dark ride in her living room out of household items? That's the kind of thing I'm alluding to here. If we're in lockdown for as long as I expect we might be we're eventually all going to reach the stage where we've built a fort out of sofa cushions and are living inside it surviving solely on cereal and whatever we've got left to defrost from the freezer so why not take it one step further and fashion our very own theme park rides? I'm sure you've all seen the viral videos from Disney fans getting creative with their furniture and playing POVs of their favourite rides on the TV to get their ride fix so yes, it's definitely one I'm saving for when we're a few months in and we're not allowed to leave our homes but still something I'm up for trying if the time comes. Needs must, y'know?

If you're anything like me you've accumulated a ton of crap from visiting parks - everything from literally thousands of photographs to park maps to everything else in between. If you haven't already undertaken the mammoth task over the closed season now is a great time to get organised. Go through your park maps and organise them, maybe upload any surplus stock you might have to Facebook groups to see if anybody wants to swap or even list them on eBay if you've got some rare ones knocking about. I know personally I need to go through my photos and video from the end of 2019 and sort them all into albums before the 2020 season kicks in so it's definitely something I'll be spending a few hours looking at sorting in the coming weeks (this is a lie I will tell myself over and over again so hopefully by committing it to paper digitally I'll give myself less of an excuse to avoid doing this any longer...)

So yes, it's pretty shit going that our favourite places to be are not able to be open, but fear not, there's plenty of highly nerdy theme park stuff we can content ourselves with and in the meantime if anybody does indeed decided to build a home made dark ride out of household items I implore you to upload photos and videos of it so that I can see. Thanks in advance. 

Talk later xoxo,