I found this post in my drafts from earlier this Summer.
I am theme parked out this Summer. Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and 18 hours of Summer insanity in the big wahoonie – Disneyland.
Or at least I thought Disneyland was the big one, after a trip to Universal Studios I’m not so sure.
I’m not a huge Universal fan, whereas I am a Disneyland junkie. It’s been a while since I stumped up the cash for a Disneyland pass but it will definitely happen one day again in the future – maybe next year…. maybe this year… maybe this week.
The rest of the world though seemed to be all about Universal this year. When I went to Disneyland, their splendid Fast Pass system ensured that even during the height of Summer when every single kid across the USA is off school, we never waited more than 35 minutes for any ride, and the only horrendous bottle neck area was – as always – outside the Tarzan treehouse towards the Pirates of the Caribbean (it’s just too skinny a patch of tarmac).
In Universal however, the week after all the LA kids are back in school, I played chaperone to a gaggle of young park enthusiasts. We waited over an hour for most of the rides, and we navigated our way through sardined packed oceans of people, in single file the aforementioned enthusiasts hanging onto my back pack straps like baby elephants gripping trunk to tail.
I blame Harry Potter for this.
See here’s the thing, Disney films are known and loved, but mostly by children in the Western world who like to collect the fluffy toys and the merchandising. JK has fashioned a world that unites adults and children across the globe because they all want to live there, and has created characters and plots that enthrall people and spark lively, enthusiastic debate in over 70 different languages.
Universal has now made Hogsmeade, and Hogwarts a reality, allowing fans to immerse themselves in a life-size fantasy. Fans of all ages, from every corner of the planet. Translation: many people; every sodding day of the year.
I understand this. I love JK Rowling’s fictional realm, and it is a huge relief to be immersed in tangible make-believe as opposed to being overtly aware of the uncomfortable 3D glasses on my face. But two hours for a ride??? Seriously? Go home! Take up hang-gliding, it will be better, and last a lot longer than the ride.
On a side note, I am not a huge fan of 3D rides… they’re okay, but I like movement and seeing things without goggles. I avoid wearing my glasses; and when I’m in new places I’ll drive through the suffocating Summer heat with the windows rolled down because looking at it through car windows makes me feel like I’m watching it on a TV screen. Similarly I take very few pictures when I’m traveling because I don’t like looking at things through a lens (and really crap at taking pictures too, I’ve never cared enough to put in the effort – pathetic but true). I am, and I assume everyone else is too, innately concerned that experiences should be real. My favourite professor from university – and coincidentally the only one whose surname I cannot remember, and have been unable to remember for around 17 years now which is profoundly irritating – posed the question to us: would we prefer an idyllic easy lifestyle or one of hard work and harsh conditions, if in the idyllic lifestyle we were owned by someone else who imposed no rules or obligations upon us, and in the harsh life we were free people? In later years when The Matrix came out, it occurred to me that this was a variation on that question, would you want an idyllic life if it wasn’t real? Do you want to run on a treadmill wearing a VR headset watching trees on a film, or do you want to run in the woods? And that therefore, ‘freedom’ and ‘reality’ are intertwined for us. It is an inherent notion within the mind that a real life is free life.