How To Be A Theme Park Enthusiast In A Global Pandemic: One Year On

Last year during lockdown I shared some tips and tricks on how to continue being a theme park enthusiast whilst we were all cooped up inside. After all, being an enthusiast is more a state of mind than anything, and it'll take more than a little devastating global pandemic to knock the coaster nerd out of us. Well, one year (give or take) on, I thought I'd revisit what it's like to be a theme park enthusiast throughout all of this madness, how the various lockdowns have impacted certain aspects of my enthusiasm and how I will still do my damnedest to be nerdy about theme parks if it kills me. This is how to be a theme park enthusiast in a global pandemic: one year on.

I certainly experienced a renewed appreciation and love for my local attractions last year, and that has absolutely carried over into 2021. Potentially even moreso as at least last year there was a vague promise of getting to another country at some point! I am SO grateful that we have some truly world-class attractions here in the UK, and especially grateful that not only have they all opened some pretty kick-ass new attractions (some of which I'm still yet to ride!) but my favourites are all offering different events. This means that if we truly are stuck here in the UK for the long-haul this year there will always be something new to do when I visit the parks for the umpteenth time, and that feels very much like a saving grace in a year where one could quickly become disillusioned with visiting the same attractions on repeat for wont of visiting attractions abroad. 

It's also a great time to tick off some attractions in your home country you've always wanted to visit, but never really got the chance to try before. For example this year I finally visited a Diggerland park - something I likely wouldn't have time to do when the borders were open but something I'm so glad I was able to tick off the list. And this doesn't just apply to theme parks - I' m a huge lover of the awesome Atlas Obscura, and have been using it to identify weird and wonderful attractions (some of which I've never even heard of) here in the UK to feed my attraction enthusiasm and keep my weekends filled with fun and exciting new things to do in between revisiting my old favourites. 

This one is the killer for me. Something that got me through many a month locked-down and on furlough last year was my continued passion for trip planning. Something I've always loved doing is making lists of dream locations I'd like to visit and spending time conjuring up my ideal trips to get them all ticked off the list. In terms of travelling, last year felt a little more optimistic and although many flights were cancelled and plans changed, there was always that glimmer of hope that at some point we'd be allowed to travel. This year feels like the polar opposite. I brought myself to book a few hotels (with free cancellation of course) but given the uncertainty didn't book and flights. And given how things are going so far I'm glad I didn't because I've just had to cancel a bunch of hotels due to the various variants floating about and urgh, it's really put out the light of trip planning optimism for me. I never thought it would happen, I thought I'd always continue my blindly optimistic outlook for travelling this year but it's feeling pretty bleak at the moment and has really taken the wind out of my sails. There's only so many times you can build up your excitement only to be disappointed again. 

The above said, the blind optimism remains, but for the future. I hate this attitude of 'oh NEXT year' because it feels like wishing my present day life away, but next year really does feel like when normality will resume (as much as possible) and given what has essentially been two years of no 'big' trips (by this I mean the USA or Asia), 2022 feels like the prime time to splurge on some bucket list trips to make up for the shit show that has been 2020/21. So I'm going all out - I've got tabs on my planner for UAE, Deep South, Orlando, California and the Mid West. Will I do all of them? Likely not, but I can certainly have a ton of fun planning them to keep me powering through.

I know I'm not the only one scrolling back through social media and seething with jealousy at past me and all the fab parks I was able to visit. If only we knew how lucky we were back then I'm sure we'd have even more appreciation for the trips we were able to go on at the time! I HATE the Facebook memories and Timehops of the world for this - just this week Facebook decided to remind me that this time two years ago we were on our road trip across the Mid-West USA. It's a downer for multiple reasons - firstly because I seriously cannot believe it's been two whole years since that trip. It's very depressing to me that this was the last major theme park trip I did and that the months since have flown by at an alarming rate. I'm a 'make every day count' kinda gal and when there's a global panedemic in your way it's hard to embrace that mantra. And secondly because I can't shake this feeling of FOMO...even though I know basically the whole world is in the same boat as me it feels like the world is cracking on without me which is a wildly irritating feeling that I long to shake!

The upside of all the trip downtime is I've had time to do some serious coaster nerd admin. Ive always kept a fairly basic spreadsheet of my coaster count that consisted of two categories: park and coaster. During the various lockdowns I've spent a fair amount of time adding multiple categories to this beast and it's become something I'm a little afraid of at this point. The good news is I can now fairly quickly work out what percentage of my coaster count are Vekoma Boomerangs, for example, so I'd say that's time fairly well spent wouldn't you?

And when all else fails, YouTube is our saviour. Long-time readers of this blog know that I don't usually advocate for watching coaster POVs before you've had the opportunity to ride it for yourself as I believe it skews expectations and therefore your experience when finally riding. But, desperate times call for desperate measures and for parks I realise I'm not going to get to any time soon YouTube has been instrumental in provising that little thrill-fix I need to keep me going. I STILL haven't given in and watched any Rise of the Resistance or Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railwat POVs though, and I intend to keep it that way so for gods sake TAG YOUR SPOILERS!


Hopefully it's not too much longer now until we can travel again (but hey, we were saying that this time last year so you'll forgive my pessimism). And remember, if you haven't ridden anything new in over a year, you're still a theme park enthusiast. If you haven't been to a theme park since all this madness begain, you're still a theme park enthusiast! And if all you've been able to do is scrape together a few plus ones by tracking down the remaining Wacky Worms left for you to ride in this country, you are DEFINITELY still an enthusiast (no? Just me?)

Talk later xoxo,