A change in perspective

AT NOTEBOOK: John W.C. Robinson

I have to admit, I’m a little spoiled when it comes to enjoying the amusement industry. Between professional events, enthusiast events, industry connections, as well as just knowing crowd patterns within the parks, I tend to enjoy a full day at a park at will without fighting crowds. My focus has been normally just on riding as many rides as possible and experiencing the attractions themselves.


Then something happened. With parks shutdown for months to start the season, I found myself thirsting just to walk into a park and experience strolling an active midway again. I was missing being able to walk through the gates of a theme park, without regard as to what I’d actually do once inside.

As parks reopened, I began to notice I was experiencing things in a refreshed and new way. 

For the first time in my life, I waited more than four hours to ride a roller coaster (Orion, on its opening day debut at Kings Island). Surprisingly, the time flew by. It was just myself and a friend in line, a friend who I hadn’t seen in more than a year, but both shared a love of parks and coasters. Masked up and stocked with water in the line, we passed the time quickly. It was the only ride I rode that day, spending the remainder of my time grinning as I wandered the park and took photos of attractions back in action and guests strolling the midway once again.

More recently, I found myself enjoying a date at a park. Rather than timing things out, planning and being sure to hit every coaster and ride in the park (often running to exhaustion), we just strolled the park like a teenage couple and enjoyed the day. There was not a mission or a determination. There was not a disappointment because we didn’t get to enjoy a particular attraction. It was just two people who had a day of fun at a park without the current worries of the world around us pressing down on our hearts or minds. It was just like an old-school date to New York’s Coney Island as protrayed in so many cinema classics.

Just this past week, I took two young friends for a day of fun to Cedar Point. From a carousel ride to the wild twists of Steel Vengeance, everyone enjoyed every single part of the day. We laughed about a food truck delivering a hefty side of pickles (on request), talked with people in line near us and never once found ourselves running to make an attraction or frowning because we didn’t get to do it all.

The sudden shutdown — and, now, reopening — of parks has rekindled what I’ve always truly loved about this industry. Riding all the rides in the park is no longer the focus. It’s enjoying the people, moments and unique opportunities that visiting an amusement or theme park provides.

This article appears in the SEPTEMBER 2020 issue of Amusement Today.
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