4 Parks I'd Like To Visit Again With Fresh Eyes

This past 18 months or so I've found myself with a new found appreciation for attractions here in the UK. Parks I've grown up with and gotten used to visiting often, so much so that I've not really taken the time to take in just how much they've changed over the years. It reminds me of that boiled frog analogy - put a frog in a pan of water and slowly increase the heat and it won't notice itself boiling to death. That, but with not noticing how awesome a park has become with all the changes going on because you visit so frequently. And it got me thinking about other parks I've visited over the years that have changed so much since my first impression - whether it be that I visited for the first time when the park wasn't at its best or I visited for the first time when I was so young I can barely remember what I first thought of the place. Regardless, there's some parks now that I KNOW are excellent, but I didn't get the chance to be blown away by my first visit because it was more of a slow burn into that excellence. Which is what I wanted to chat about today! These are four parks I'd love the chance to experience again for the very first time.

Kicking off the list with the grand daddy theme park of the world, Disney's Magic Kingdom located in Walt Disney World in Orlando. I've been lucky enough to visit this park a bunch of times throughout my life, usually twice per trip with a few years' gap in between visits. Despite it not exactly being my local park by any means, I find there's a familiarity with the Magic Kingdom for me that potentially takes the edge off of the magic a little?

It's a complicated park for me. I first visited in 1994 at the age of three, and although I have some very vague memories of meeting Chip and Dale and being totally freaked out by the Haunted Mansion, they're blurry at best. And with each subsequent visit there was something new and exciting to discover: in 1997 Toon Town was the big newness, in 2000 for us it was Pooh and Space Ranger Spin, 2004 I was excited to ride Mickey's Philharmagic for the very first time and perhaps the biggest change in my 30 years of visiting the park was the addition of New Fantasyland. 

There's always been something new to see or do, but for me the changes haven't so much been in new rides but in the experience as a whole, especially now with Instagram and the like. The food, the merch, scoping out the perfect spot for a photo, enjoying incredible new technology in the parades. I'm still 'wowed' by it, absolutely, but I would give anything to be able to walk through those park gates myself for the very first time with no frame of reference or expectation to see what I would make of the place. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure I'd fall in love with it without that childhood nostalgia?

Unlike its southern counterparts Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park Resort, Alton Towers doesn't have that same magical nostalgic association with it for me. Being from the south, we grew up going to Thorpe Park and Chessington, and as such even though these parks bear nothing of a resemblance to those parks I grew up visiting in the 90s, there's still that feeling of a big warm hug whenever I walk through the gates of those places. Towers is different for me. We visited a few times in the 90s and early noughties absolutely, but I can barely remember those visits save some vague recollection of the Black Hole and standing at the fences of Nemesis watching my dad and his brother riding it. We MUST have ridden The Haunted House and Toyland Tours on our visits but I have no confident memory of doing either. 

I started visiting Alton Towers regularly from around 2009. As an enthusiast the first 'big' event for me was the opening of Thirteen in 2010 then basically at least twice a year every year following that until...well I still do that now. But with massive additions like Wicker Man and The Smiler as well as a general improvement in event offerings and the like, I would love to visit Alton Towers for the first time ever once again. Particularly during an event like Scarefest or Oktoberfest, something where we know the park looks its best and pulls out all the stops. 

Ah, my beloved Phantasialand. I first visited this magical place back in 2011 but I can say it didn't instantly fill the slot of 'best place ever' for me. I had a good time, sure, but back then the park was more known for its quirkiness and the fact it had a pretty kickass B&M invert akin to Nemesis than anything else. And sure, I had a great time and wanted to go back, but on my first visit there was no Taron. No Maus au Chocolat. No Chiapas. And what it did have was some pretty huge...slightly weird/dilapidated areas that were more aligned with the standard 'weird European theme park' vibe I'd come to know that anything world-beating. 

And now when I go to Phantasialand there's a weird kind of...expectation for it to be excellent that I try really hard not to let myself slip into but when it's been THAT GOOD every other time I've been it's really hard not to fall into that mindset. I would give anything to fall in love with Klugheim all over again, to wander through the dank walkways of the Chiapas queue and not think (EVERY SINGLE TIME btw) "this is so much better than the weird log flume that used to be here", to accidentally stumble into the Maus queueline and be blown away with a shooter so original and charming. 

It's a weird one for this list because essentially, I'm jealous of myself? You only get those 'wow' first impressions once and whilst I got them over the years visiting Phantasialand with every subsequent new attraction, I want them again. It's not fair I want a time machine!

Europa Park has always been a weird one for me. I've been in the park a grand total of four times across two visits and honestly the place has always left me a little cold. I get that it's HUGE, and that's great and there's absolutely loads to see and do, but nothing there has ever been a stand out attraction to me, not in the same way as somewhere like Phantasialand where I would genuinely struggle to whittle down a Top 5 list. The first time I went was in 2012 for my 22nd birthday and we did the Halloween event at the time. I really do not remember a lot of that trip apart from the fact that the Halloween event was really not great? The second time is a little more vivid but on the first day there my phone was lost/stolen so the mood was instantly off on the wrong foot, and once again the Halloween event wasn't great and most of the attractions just didn't leave much of a lasting impression. 

But so much has changed at the park in the six years since I've visited - major new investments like Rulantica and Voletarium. Complete rethemed and updates like the CanCan Coaster and that weird dinosaur dark ride. Not to mention the major upgrades to Pirates in Batavia which I am dying to see. Essentially I'd love to be able to scrap my memories of the park so far and do a big three or four day long trip to the Resort, staying at an on-site hotel, taking some time to enjoy Rulantica and leisurely wandering around the park. I think I'd have an entirely different outlook on the place for sure!


But alas, no such time machine exists and I'll therefore have to do my best to block out any previous thoughts, feelings and prejudices about these parks the next time I visit to get as close to that 'first time ever' feeling as possible. Or I could just have a lobotomy. Either way. 

Are there are parks you'd love to visit again with fresh eyes? Which ones, and why? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,