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Planning a vacation to a theme park has many points to consider. Find out what is the difference between theme and amusement parks, what you can find there, what you should check when you choose a theme park and how to plan you theme park experience effectively.
What is the Difference between Theme and Amusement Parks
Theme parks are large areas of land that focus on an overall theme surrounding the public with accessible attractions, concert halls and various entertainment displays that require the visitor to stay for a few days.
While amusement parks are more like a carnival featuring some favorite rides for a lower cost of entertainment, usually that can be completed in a day.
Both offer the thrill and fast rides that are popular and have massive lineups.
Theme Parks Offer:
- Large grounds
- Popular animated themes
- Food Courts
- Water Parks
- Rides & Attractions
- Kids Area/ Rides
Amusement Parks Offer:
- Medium to smaller sized area
- Famous roller coasters, either the fastest or the scariest
- Fast food stands
- Game zones
- Familiar rides, like bumper cars, and ferris wheels
Theme parks focus on catering to the visitor's everyday need, providing restaurants, hotels, and age-appropriate shows and rides. The hospitality of offering all of these goodies to the guests benefits the theme parks financial costs, as the customers have their needs met.
What You Should Check When You Choose a Theme Park
Theme Parks are favorite places for group and family outings, depending on what you prefer. Do you want to enjoy thrilling rides, the best themes, water parks, live entertainment, kids parks or a bit of everything? Here are a few things to consider when you need to decide which park to visit.
Some people plan on avoiding popular tourist months and go to the best theme parks when tourism is low. Busy months are often in the summer and at holidays. It’s recommended to go to the official website of the park to view their calendar if they are open in the slower months.
It’s best to consider what the climate is, is it going to be too hot? Or is it going to be too wet? Some parks are closed when the weather is rainy. Planning your trip around the rainy season would be best in tropical places, as the park will most likely be closed on those days. It’s recommended to call or check the website of the park and ask when it is open. Parks in warmer climates can be open all year round, and attract various customers through all seasons. Certain parks in North America who have colder climates will only open during peak seasons from May to September. If you’re going to warmer regions such as in Florida theme parks are open year-round but are not open every day. On some weekdays they are closed for park maintenance.
Waiting Time/ Fast Pass
The most popular rides will have the longest lineups. Some visitors reported the longest they have waited for a ride was 9 hours. Most parks have incorporated a fast pass to help customers not wait for hours so that they can go on the ride faster. The customer pays more money but is guaranteed a quicker experience. The good thing about theme parks is that they have activities while you wait in line for an hour or two.
Parents and children want to feel safe when visiting a park. Thus, to have good reviews and safety checks for the rides will bring back customers and increase the popularity of the park. Statistics show that is rare for a ride to go wrong, as parks check and maintain the rides daily, they have their staff follow a safety check guideline before the park is open.
Having a theme helps the park to create an entertaining visual that most small amusement parks don’t offer. Are you into space, Lego, cultural, animal or movie based themes? While you wait in line, you can enjoy being a part of the theme of the park. Themes are relatable to the customer, either animal themes, ocean themes, cultural experiences, movie based topics, or the most popular is cartoon themed parks.
Popularity and Visitors
The best theme parks have the most visitors during high seasonal peaks. And if you know the park has a high volume of customers, you can plan your visit during less popular seasons, such as the fall and early spring.
Popular Rides & Awards
Theme parks often introduce new rides to bring in more people. The fastest or engaging roller coasters help the park gain followers and repeat customers. Theme parks usually win awards for the best rides, industry awards, hospitality, and the best theme park in the region, world or country. When you visit the theme park website, you will see what awards they have won.
Zoos and aquariums are very popular in big theme parks as they help bring the theme to life, giving a variety of ways for people to enjoy the park. Some people may not be interested in chasing a thrill, catering to all types of people is beneficial. Animals are a great way for the park to educate its visitors.
Theme parks have a variety of age-appropriate themes for the array of groups that visit the park. Having a kids’ play area that is exciting for the family is essential as theme parks main customers are children. Roller coasters/ water rides/ flat rides are exciting for the thrill seekers. Theme park should have a variety of classic and new rides that fit all ages. The fastest, tallest and most fear-driven rides make a park popular.
How to Plan Your Theme Park Experience
Choosing a theme park is based on individual preference, however, reviews help to find what people like and dislike about the park. And typically guests look for an experience that offers convenience, food choices, nearby hotels, lots of daily activities and events and hospitality. Here are some things to consider when you plan your visit, and here are some key points before you begin.
Search for the latest reviews
Reviews that compare the best theme parks in the world are an excellent place to start but are also opinionated. However, comparing customer reviews can be tricky, as you have to find reviews that are not advertising the park and are not used for marketing purposes. You can narrow down your review by selecting the name of the hotels, or the names of the rides in the park.
Look for overviews
Uploaded videos on hosted channels give you the opportunity to see the parks from the reviewer's perspective, using a POV camera style to guide you through the surroundings of the park. Videos provide a visual sample of how large the park is, how busy it is, and the appearance of the kid's parks. Written overviews provide detailed comparisons of the various theme parks and amusement parks within your city, or from all over the world. Such reviews describe details of the park, and what makes the park user-friendly, either the number of rides, the variety of ways of entertainment or how child-centered it is. The downside of online overviews (written and video) is that each report will list the best ten spots differently, so the number 1 park in one article might be a different number 1 park in another article or video.
Check the website
Visit the parks website to look at the map of the park, see what they offer for entertainment like water parks, movie & live theatres, zoos, aquariums, children play zones, unique rides. Check their refund and cancellation policy. Most parks offer a full refund of 72 hours before the date of arrival. But it depends on the package you booked; some deals only provide a percentage of your money back. You need to read the fine print before you purchase your trip.
Opt for the biggest parks
The most exiting water rides, thrilling coasters, and essential flat rides make for the best theme park. So it’s hard to calculate which park is the biggest, it’s more common to count how many rides and attractions the parks have in their entirety. The more rides, means there is more to do and see, and can entertain you well without feeling repetitive. It’s better to look for a park that has a lot more to offer.
Consider staying at a hotel
The most visited parks offer hotels that allow their visitors to explore the theme park first hand. The hotels are a part of the atmosphere and add to the theme of the park, by allowing the visitors to feel like they are part of the themes experience. Hotel packages and discounts can be found on the park's website. If you’re flying in from somewhere else ask the booking agent if it’s a participating airline, the airline might offer hotel and ticket discounts.
Look up places to eat
Outdoor and indoor dining restaurants in the various theme parks offer a variety of cultural friendly foods, instead of just a food court with typical fast food menus. Although fast food is available, the restaurants provide the park with a relaxing themed environment for the visitor to enjoy. Most parks ask you not to bring outside food into the park and to purchase it in the park. But you are allowed to bring a water bottle.
Think about ways to save money
Buying your tickets to the theme park in advance can make your theme park visit more affordable. Looking for discounts either on the park's website or with participating booking agents, like cruises or airlines can be another way to save. Ticket prices may vary and if you add a fast pass, the cost can go up roughly 30/40 percent of the regular pass. Some passes offer unlimited visits per season or even an all year membership. These yearly passes or packages will save you money if you plan to go often. So expect to go at least four to six times a year to make the membership worth your money.
Theme parks offer lots to satisfy the customer's appetite for entertainment. A few things to remind you when you have chosen your theme park is to check the dates you want to go, make sure the park is open by going online to the company website and view the park's calendar or call the park. Bring what you need for the day and enjoy.