Disclaimer: This post is much longer than I’d anticipated, so I apologise in advance for that! Hi guys. As we’re all on this forum together, I’m assuming we all have a similarly in-depth interest in theme parks; the thing uniting us is that we’re all theme park enthusiasts. But have you ever had moments where you wish that you weren’t a theme park enthusiast? Do you think there are any notable cons to this hobby? Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten bored of theme parks? Personally, I’m undecided. So, I’ll split this post into why I don’t regret becoming a theme park enthusiast, and why I perhaps do through a certain lens. Why I don’t regret becoming a theme park enthusiast If I’m talking from an entirely personal standpoint, and talking only about myself and my own wants & desires; I’ve never not wanted to be a theme park enthusiast. I can’t think of anything else that interests me and makes me happy anywhere near as much as theme parks do, and in the nearly 8 years I’ve actively been an enthusiast for, I have never once gotten bored of being a theme park enthusiast and I have never once wanted to give it up. I love going to the theme parks themselves and riding the rides themselves, but I also love thinking about & talking about my experiences in a more in-depth way, and I relish learning new things about theme parks, and the way they’re put together & run, and interesting facts & figures about the rides and parks. As much as I’d like to think I know a fair amount about theme parks, I imagine there’s literally so much about theme parks that I don’t know, and I can’t wait to discover those facts! I also relish some of the other interesting side elements of this hobby; I’ll make the slightly geeky admission that I’ve grown to love a good spreadsheet, as I have certainly made many! Also, I have a real passion for Planet Coaster, as a means of channeling my own theme park ideas, channeling my more creative side (something I seldom get to do, having taken STEM-based subjects in school in recent years), and making my wildest theme park fantasies come to fruition. And to be honest, I also absolutely love hearing other people’s opinions on different theme parks & rides (this is part of what makes the forums so great for me!), whether they agree with me or not; I’m so interested in hearing what makes other enthusiasts click compared to me, and even if someone’s opinions are the polar opposite of mine, I accept their opinion, and I love hearing why they have it! I should also say that I really appreciate these forums, and the fact that I’ve found so many like-minded people who won’t push me away or shut me up if I talk about theme parks too enthusiastically is one of the things I truly relish about being a theme park enthusiast! As much as I’m not the most outgoing or confident of people by nature, I’ve always felt comfortable talking honestly on these forums, as I know you guys will all understand me, and many people have shared very similar experiences to me, from what they’ve said in the past. So I guess through that lens; thank you all for being so welcoming towards me, in spite of the fact I often have controversial (or even plain wrong, in the eyes of some) opinions! I do really appreciate it! There’s genuinely so much I love to get stuck into in this hobby, and I probably haven’t even exhausted all of them in the paragraphs above! When I discovered theme parks as a hobby, I honestly think they captivated me so much that I didn’t want to invest myself into anything else in quite the same way (don’t get me wrong, I have other interests, but theme parks are my most prominent interest by a considerable margin), and I frankly love being an enthusiast. When I discovered theme park enthusiasm, I feel like I discovered my passion, the thing I was truly interested in, and thus far, I have not once had the slightest desire to give up theme parks in favour of something else. Why I do regret becoming a theme park enthusiast As much as I said above about me never regretting becoming a theme park enthusiast through my own personal lens, the world doesn’t revolve around me, and I know there are other people around me who are somewhat judgmental of the hobby, especially certain elements of it. One of the main things that makes me regret becoming a theme park enthusiast is that I have in the past had people judge me for it or express disapproval about elements of the hobby. I’ll admit I’m rather embarrassed about being a theme park enthusiast, and it’s something I’ve mostly kept secret outside of my own family for fear of being judged or made fun of about it. Well, you could probably infer that I’m into theme parks if you looked hard enough at my liked pages on Facebook, but I’ve never really told anyone about the hobby outside of my own family. If I’m being very candid, there are numerous experiences where I’ve been judged or questioned about this hobby that do really stick out to me. I could name a fair few, but I’ll stick to some of the main ones: Back in Year 7, when I’d just joined secondary school, we were asked to do a PowerPoint presentation about a person who inspired us. Everyone else did well-known celebrities, and many of the other boys all seemed to do well-known football players (people like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi etc.), but being a budding theme park enthusiast, I did my presentation on none other than John Wardley (given everything he did for the UK theme park industry, as well as his general principles of design, he certainly does inspire me!). Another boy came up to me and asked who I was doing. When I said, he seemed aghast that I wasn’t doing a football player, pop star or some other well-known celebrity, and said to me something along the lines of (paraphrased to avoid swearing) “Who [on Earth] is that? Why [on Earth] does that old nobody inspire you more than a proper celebrity?”. He then gave me a rather judgmental look that seemed to convey disapproval of my choice and walked away. Many of the places theme park enthusiasm leads to you are often a bit taboo, or seen as a bit weird, in non-enthusiast circles. For instance, I can sense I’d get vilified if I ever expressed support for SeaWorld, in spite of them doing some amazing conservation work. Some of the places I’ve wanted to visit as a result of being a theme park enthusiast have also led to judgement from my family; for instance, I remember that all of my relatives seemed to shudder in horror whenever I expressed desire to visit Blackpool, in spite of it having one of the country’s most prominent & loved amusement parks. Personally, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one of my very favourite UK theme parks, and I think the Blackpool seafront itself has been absolutely lovely whenever I’ve visited, but it often garnered judgement from my relatives whenever I said I wanted to go. Similarly, in spite of Paultons being the home of the UK investment I’ve been most excited for for a good couple of years, the fact I’m visiting for the first time seems to have garnered a lot of questions from my relatives; their response is usually something along the lines of “Why are you visiting Peppa Pig World? Are you regressing back to childhood or something?”. Personally, I can’t wait to visit Paultons for the first time, but I’m a bit embarrassed about the fact I’m going, as no one outside of enthusiast circles (and my parents, as they know about my excitement for Tornado Springs) seems to understand why I want to go. In general, I get the impression that people view theme park enthusiasm as a bit of a childish hobby, and I’ve had people in my family ask me things like “when are you going to grow out of this phase?”. I remember my Nan once saw me watching a TPW video, and she said to me “when are you going to grow out of this, and join the real world along with the rest of us?”. She also expressed disapproval of Shawn himself, saying “That man needs to grow up, get a proper 9-5 job instead of flying to theme parks all the time, and join the real world along with the rest of us”. I’ve also had other people tell me I need to “have a couple of years’ hiatus from theme parks, and try to grow out of it and get into something else”. For that reason, I’ve always felt a bit ashamed of the fact I’m a theme park enthusiast, and I’ve never really told anyone outside of my family. The other thing that kind of makes me regret becoming a theme park enthusiast is that at times, I do feel that the community, although always welcoming from my experience, can sometimes feel a little bit “clique-y”, for lack of a better word. As much as this community has always been very welcoming to me whenever I’ve engaged, and you guys and all the other enthusiasts I’ve engaged with have been lovely, lovely people, I do at times find it hard to “pick a side”, if you like; there seems to be certain little “battles” within the theme park community that I’ve never really understood, and there are groups of enthusiasts who almost automatically don’t like certain other enthusiasts for whatever reason. For instance, TPR and its fanbase seem to be against everyone else, the fan bases of different theme park YouTube channels seem to be divided against each other, and different coaster clubs seem almost like they’re against each other in many ways. In some parts of the community, you’ll seemingly get vilified if you speak positively about an “enemy page” or whatever. Thankfully, none of the forums I’m on (CoasterForce & TowersStreet) seem to be like this, and I’ve largely steered clear of this side of the community due to not being an overly active social media user, but I’ll admit it does surprise me and make me a little bit sad that there’s parts of the community that are so divided against each other. In fairness, I guess a bit of rivalry is probably human nature, but it does make me a little sad that we can’t all just get along, as we’re all united by the same hobby (and a pretty niche hobby, at that). Phew, that was a long post! I’m sorry if this post comes across as a little self-indulgent, but I just felt like I wanted to be honest about some of my personal cons of being an enthusiast, and also to gush a bit about what I love about the hobby and being part of this community. So basically, my question is; do you ever regret becoming an enthusiast, or have you ever gotten bored of the theme park community? Are there cons to this hobby that have ever made you regret doing it?