Did you ever felt like you were standing in a world of your dreams? Had an experience you never thought was even possible? Or just felt like you needed to slap yourself in the face before you knew you were really in a physical place? If the answer is all yes than I think you also like theme parks.
For me the world of theme parks has kept me busy for as long as I could remember. It even lead me to doing my graduating dissertation in relation to Disney parks. When they asked me to go down that road, it was a moment for me to reflect on how I came to that point. And it’s that reflaction I’m sharing today from my dreamcloud.
Apart from the funfair that passes each June and September in my hometown about 200m from my doorstep (and visited all the time until I got into university), I grew up with visits to “de Efteling” almost every other year or something that order. “De efteling” is a Dutch park that started of as a forest walk allong fairytales, a playground and now grew further into a theme park that is celebrating it’s 65th anniversary in 2017! It’s located in ‘Kaatsheuvel’, the Netherlands, and not that far from the Belgian border.
What I keep remembering from my younger years, is being blown away by “de droomvlucht”. Although I must admit, little me got scared on it too. Always scared we would drop our bags on the ride, lose stuff,… but the sceneries where you fly between planets and castles, with that beautiful music, that touches my heart until this day.
It’s also a park we visited often with my whole family, the park where I went onto my first rollercoaster and a rollercoaster with a looping. So it holds a special place in my heart for all the memories.
But my parents didn’t took me only to “de efteling”. I was blessed enough to get to experience several parks. I was around in the early years that “Plopsaland – De Panne” opened, but I also experienced the previous “Meli park” in that same location. I was really little back than, but I never forgot the dark boat ride (Apirama) among the little bees showing off their work. And sorry studio 100, but Plop didn’t gave the same magic for me on that ride.
“Bobbejaanland” is also a place I visited quite often. Mainly cause it’s not so very far from where I live. I even applied for a summer job here. Got invited to have a tour though, and more of the formalities done, but I ended up not getting a job here. Quite a bummer though, since my love for theme parks had only grew by this time.
My love wasn’t limited to visiting parks. I own almost all editions that ever came out of “Roller coaster tycoon” and when I had time during schoolbreaks, or after school, you could find me playing it… often. I loved building a park, the different complexities of getting good attendance, how to deal with the trouble in the parks,…
But the very big click was made when I first stepped into Disneyland Paris in 2005 at my 14. I fell in love with the park in an instant. And it was all in the small details. The level of immersive design I hadn’t seen until that day, also the fast cleaning, the cast member uniforms,… it all left an impression on me and just only sparked my already existing love for theme parks.
It got that much sparked that I started reading books about imagineering, dug more into immersive design, develloped a fondness for themed design and hotels, and just lost my heart in that area. It’s why I listen to “the season pass podcast” or went to the D23 expo in 2015. I want to know more about that world, but why??
Well I think my biggest why is because it makes me feel like travelling. The more immersive an area is themed, the more it feels like stepping out of the real world for a moment and enter a dream bubble. A small part of the why is the thrill, cause no daily experience provides the excitement some attractions give you. And also cause those places make my heart fill with joy.
That concludes my story for now, but I’m interested in yours. Do you enjoy theme parks? And are you able to define for yourself why? I would like to hear your stories as well so I can dream away with you!