How Theme Park Enthusiasm Survived Lockdown!
Okay, so let’s get real for a second! The last 15 months have quite possibly been some of the hardest the entire world has ever faced and in these times it was imperative we did all we could to take our minds off the dreadful situation and focus on doing that which we love most – our favourite hobbies and past times.
As a lover of all things theme parks and attractions however this presented a serious problem!
Our favourite places to escape had obviously been forced into closure which therefore meant we couldn’t just jump out of bed at the crack of dawn and head to our usual haunts (e.g. Alton Towers, Thorpe Park etc.) for a day of adrenaline soaked euphoria.
So, how did a community so heavily formed around the themed attractions industry survive what were quite possibly some of the most mind numbing months of our lives? Let’s go back a bit!
The End of an Era!
In March of 2020 we all soon came to realise that the way of life we all knew was soon going to screech to a rather abrupt halt!
The month prior the entirety of the UK theme park community had gathered to celebrate the start of what we all thought would be a normal UK season boasting the opening of some pretty exciting new rides and attractions.
Little did we all know that a massive storm (and not Storm Dennis, believe us we would rather have taken months of that instead lol) laid just around the corner ready to eviscerate life as we knew it throwing us all into a terrifying world filled with fear, panic and chaos.
As the ensuing pandemic took hold, the themed attractions industry quickly fell into uncertainty (with the rest of the world’s industries) forcing closure after closure to take place with no timescale or end date in sight.
Everything we loved and all that we had come to take for granted was fastly snatched out of our grasp and we as a community were left pondering those two all important, fear inducing words “what now?“.
At a time when we thought all hope had gone however, we also soon came to realise just how resilient the human spirit can be.
Over the last 12 months in particular I have seen some of the most ‘out of the box’ thinking I think I have ever seen within the UK theme park community.
Daily LIVE streams, charity streams, theme park inspired food recipes and so much more besides seemed to burst onto the scene, and we got what was quite possibly some of the best entertainment I have seen in years.
Not only that, however friendships seemed to grow stronger, the community came together and we all came to realise just how much we all shared in common.
The spirit I witnessed within the theme park community during these first horrific months was extraordinary to say the least, and the same spirit seems to have prevailed throughout the other ensuing lockdowns too.
It was truly inspiring to see! Even thought the attractions we all love to visit were closed people still found new and exciting ways to showcase that which they loved most without having to visit the places in question.
Theme park gaming also became the next best form of escape, however it was on what should have been Blackpool Opening Weekend 2021 that the true extent of our communities resilience was revealed.
If there is one thing we will all remember the most from the last 15 months itself got to be Nick Hutson’s Theme Park Fan: the Musical!
The mammoth collaboration brought together (virtually) some of the communities biggest content creators and was created in aid of the mental health charity CALM.
To date this awesome project has helped raise well over £2,000 for CALM and also featured a special cameo from none other than legendary Hollywood actor Neil Patrick Harris (read our interview wit the show’s creator Nick Hutson for more details).
It’s fair to say our community spirit couldn’t have been stronger throughout these dark and difficult times.
A New Found Appreciation
When the time finally came for our favourite parks and attractions to reopen again it’s no mean feat to say we all had a brand new appreciation for them.
Even though access was now heavily restricted and brand new conditions of entry had been implemented we all quickly found our feet again and headed straight back to do that we love most – escaping life and riding our favourite rides.
Indeed, even when the likes of Alton Towers opened back up with just a walk around the gardens on offer most of the enthusiast community flocked back to the park just so they could once again immerse themselves in their favourite environment.
Personally, from my perspective this in itself is testament to just how deep seeded our passion for the industry really is.
even though no rides were on offer we still made the conscious effort to visit our favourite park and show them our love and support.
So, how did theme park enthusiasm survive lockdown?
With any passion comes a community of like minded individuals, and at the end of the day the subject matter at the heart of a great community is irrelevant.
True, we all share a love for the theme park and attractions industry, however when backed into a corner friendship and community spirit counts for so much more!
It isn’t the love of the industry that prevailed during the darkened months we all faced, however instead it was a mutual understanding of our combined struggle and an appreciation for those we had around us.
Without friendship, determination and a willingness to help each other through our combined experience the enthusiasm would have very likely faded and our community would have been a very different place altogether.
So, how did theme park enthusiasm survive lockdown? It did so through friendship, community and an unfaltering human spirit made stronger by a mutual love for a subject matter we all have in common – theme parks!
How did you find your experiences of lockdown and how did you cope? Let us know in the comments below.
Thanks very much for reading