After an exhausting 14 hours at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, my party became separated as many helpful “cast members” with glowing batons took turns hustling my scooter-riding mother off all the main sidewalks during the fireworks extravaganza. We walked nearly a mile (topping off 10 miles according to my Fitbit) before I helped my aging parents find an acceptable place to rest and eventually reunite with the rest of the group, which included children who were running on fumes.
Just as I was thinking “Fuck Mickey Mouse. Fuck him in both of his big, stupid ears,” the creepiest woman on Earth glided into my vision in an eerie, diagonal motion. “Hello,” she said with a fake grin that failed to suitably mask how much she clearly hated her job. “I am here to collect guest feedback and would like to know what you thought of tonight’s presentation.” I brushed her off quickly without explaining how I was unable to even see the presentation because I was too busy trying to help my mom find a place to park her scooter. And frankly, after a week of visiting various theme parks and animal attractions from Tampa to Orlando, the fireworks were least among my complaints.
Since then, I’ve given this matter some thought, and if you’re out there creepy lady, please forward the below suggestions to your “imagineers” or “producers,” or whatever dipshit titles Disney bestows upon senior executives.
Improve the Line Rides
Nothing sucks more than waiting over an hour to go on a ride, especially when you stand in these lines for the majority of the day. While I appreciate efforts made to make the experience slightly entertaining with props, funny signs, and the occasional interactive gadgets, you can do MUCH better in this department.
Most of these lines, especially when they are outdoors, are constructed of fences or railings that trigger a child’s biological need to jump and climb in inappropriate locations. I’ve personally witnessed two children, on separate occasions, playing on log fences and iron rails, cracking their heads right open while blood poured out during their wait for the next attraction.
Another frequently used design feature is twine ropes. Really? Twine? It’s 900 degrees out. I’ve got my shorty shorts on. Why should I suffer twine burns on my thighs because small children feel compelled to turn every hanging rope they see into a swing?
Look, theme park geniuses, I know it’s not your fault that kids are so antsy, but you know as well as I do that their never-sit-still behavior is entirely predictable and should be better contained for the safety and sanity of all your guests. Kids in these lines all think alike. They are Borg. They all share the exact same, OCD-like tendency to tap the top of every post. They will treat all rails as jungle gyms. They will sit and scooch along every curb at butt height and get frustrated on the parts of the curbs their butts didn’t get to touch.
How do you change this? I’m sure you masterminds can refine my rough ideas, but here are my initial thoughts: All lines should be indoors to protect your guests from rain and sun damage. As long as there is a roof, you can devise pulley systems that suspend soft, plush rope from the ceiling. If you cleverly combine colorful rope and strong velcro, you can create whimsical child restraints that prevent your child from jumping, playing, grabbing, or even speaking. And kids will love it too. Just add velcro crowns and draw giant smiley faces on their gags, and they will never want to leave the line.
This mock up illustration will give you an idea of what I’m talking about:
Upgrade the Food and Drinks
Theme park food hasn’t changed much since I was a kid. It’s all the same boring hot dogs, cotton candy, etc. The only change seems to be those disgusting, sticky Dippin’ Dot things that taste nothing like ice cream. As much as I enjoy confections made with liquid nitrogen, I think this is a big opportunity for improvement. It’s not like you are offering any nutritional value, so why not go completely ape shit with the junk food?
Deep fried treats sweep the nation every summer through various state fairs. Why haven’t theme parks caught onto this trend? Why are there no giant deep-fried Mickey Mouse heads made up of three giant Oreo cookies and covered in powdered sugar? How come Legoland hasn’t made deep-fried building blocks with Pop Tarts? Why can’t you get Shamu nibblers made from dee-fried orca whale bits at SeaWorld? Don’t even get me started on the chocolate-covered, bacon-wrap concepts you can explore.
The beverage situation is what really pisses me off. At least Bush Gardens provides beer for its guests. Most other theme parks force their adult guests into sobriety by offering extremely limited, or worse yet, no alcoholic options. Listen, Legoland. If you want me to endure the endless stream of the “Everything is Awesome” song, you’d better be plying me with cocktails in the process. Imagine how cool it would be to hand a mother a bright green appletini with a little Lego man inside. The mother would be much more relaxed while the children insisted on her ordering enough cocktails to ensure every kid gets a Lego man. Profits would be had. Kids would get toys. Somewhere, an angel would get its wings.
Quaker Steak and Lube has already perfected this concept, making it socially acceptable to drink in front of your kids. Heck, if you make the toys cool enough, the kids will demand you drink more. Here’s a picture of their “Duck Duck Goose” cocktail, and the reason why my bathroom has about 60 rubber duckies.
Make Animal Attractions Interactive
You know what’s even more exciting than getting a marginally attractive college cheerleader to balance on a dolphin’s nose while “Ya’ll Ready for This?” plays ever-so-predictably in the background? Animals that interact directly with the children.
One of the more unusual stops on my Floridian trip was a pilgrimage to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is a marine hospital that lets visitors gawk at handicapped sea creatures. This place draws tons of foot traffic from animal-loving fans of the movie “Dolphin Tale” and its sequel, which feature Winter, a boring, gimpy dolphin who lost its tail to a crab net entanglement. Winter just floats around like a lump, never using the prosthetic tail that Morgan Freeman builds for him in the movie. When you visit this aquarium, they show you a bunch of different prosthetic tails made for this dolphin, but they are just plain plastic or rubber. Why not give Winter a super awesome electronic tail with remote control capabilities? Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun to watch than just a depressing, stumpy dolphin for $20+ a ticket?
In every animal attraction, at least one animal should be outfitted with an electronic device that elicits specific responses. With modern day shock collar technologies and Pavlovian fear conditioning methods, the possibilities are endless. In Winter’s case, a kid could press a green button to make Winter flip, a yellow button to make him squeak, or a red button that makes Winter swim to a specific area of the tank for photo ops.
This concept could be more easily applied to land mammals. Bush Gardens could totally charge me another $10 if I got to send mild electronic shocks into a zebra for a really cool selfie opportunity.
Consider the Comfort of Your Guests
A significant portion of your visitors suffer from physical handicaps, obesity, laziness, or worst of all, small children. These people require strollers and scooters, and you offer them very conveniently (thank you), but you forgot to expand your facilities to accommodate them. All main park routes should have a special lane for scooters and strollers so bitches on wheels can stop rolling all over my feet. And here’s a thought – why not make the gift shop aisles wide enough so that these people can actually maneuver through the stores? Certainly I’m not the first to suggest this to you.
How about rides that encourage people to nap? I mean, let’s face it. Most of these theme parks have at least one ride so lame that visitors frequently fall asleep on them anyway. Why not officially designate them as such? For example, the Magic Kingdom has “The Carousel of Progress” attraction, which is basically a quaint, animatronic presentation in an endlessly rotating theater. It’s nicely air conditioned and if they installed reclining seats and noise-cancelling headphones, and allowed guests to stay for as long as they liked, children would be a lot less cranky come fireworks time.
The Time Has Come
Much like Jonas Salk, I will not patent or profit off of my brilliant ideas. I just humbly request that you implement them for the betterment of humanity.