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Do you ever regret becoming a theme park enthusiast? Are there cons to this hobby?

Thecoasterrus

Mega Poster
I think for me it's mostly the social challenges that come with being an enthusiast that are the most difficult.

For instance none of my close friends are enthusiasts and only one of them actually enjoys roller coasters, so trying to convince them all to travel to poland just to ride roller coasters isn't feasible.

Like people have said whenever you're around people talking about a coaster that they have very basic or incorrect knowledge of, it's hard not to butt in and letchure them on the subject, but I don't want to be that guy. There was one time when I got into a heated debate with someone in college about the smiler crash in 2015. They claimed the ride would be torn down, I argued that they wouldn't tear down a 18 million pound investment 2 years after it opened and also explained that it was most likely human error, but thanks the power of the daily mail the consensus was that the ride was unsafe. Sometimes it's worse to be right.

However, if someone was let's say a car enthusiast, I would be just as much of a GP as everyone else.

Overall I think it's a good hobby because it's still an innovating industry and things are always happening which keeps it interesting for me. This hobby has been with me since a very early age and shows no signs of stopping, however I have other hobbies such as filmmaking/film analysis and music so I wouldn't just want to be known as the "roller coaster guy".

While like others I got some hazing in school for my interest in roller coasters, but by the time I reached college I didn't bother hiding it and I think people began to respect me for just being myself.



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JoshC.

Giga Poster
Do you ever regret becoming a theme park enthusiast?
No.

Are there cons to this hobby?
Yes. There's cons to every hobby though.

Ultimately, most everyone will have some sort of hobby / thing that brings them enjoyment. Other people won't understand why people enjoy said hobby, and there will be downsides to it.
If you enjoy it though, then so what?
 

Will

Strata Poster
Yeah, coaster enthusiasts are so oppressed. We need a parade or something.

For actual f**k's sake.
This... did make me laugh from a satirical point of view, but quite obviously not what Matt meant. I'm as guilty as anyone of taking the piss out of his optimism and level of enthusiasm, but I'm sure he's worked out it's purely playful :) I wrote something when I was at uni where I tried to pass the coaster community off as a 'subculture' purely in order to fit the title of an essay. It actually got a surprisingly good mark :D

In truth, I suspect a lot of us took some degree of abuse in our school years for having an 'unconventional' interest - not helped by the fact that Young_Will was poorly travelled and into 'Alton Towers' as opposed to theme parks and coasters. In my thirties now, it's funny when I see some of those people on Facebook who are jealous when they see some of the places my hobby has taken me to. I admit I'd be slightly less keen to let them know when I'm riding kiddie creds in New Brighton though :D

As for work, I know a lot of people who hide their goon status, but I find it to be a good talking point - for instance, I remember one bloke in my last job telling me he'd ridden Oblivion on its opening day and who was oddly fascinated that I was able to say - 'Mate, that was March '98 and I'm pretty sure you weren't BORN!' A subsequent boss was a colourful character who had worked at Alton in its heyday, and I often caught him singing the theme from Toyland Tours to himself.

Aside from being more judgemental of parks than the average visitor and more likely to let an annoying little detail ruin a park or ride instead of taking them at face value, I can't think of too many other 'cons' of the top of my head. Maybe theme park twitter, but that's not hard to avoid!

The 'grow up and join the real world' comment has naffed me off a fair amount as well - many of us are all too familiar with 'the real world' and theme parks (except Thorpe) are among the best escapes from it that there are. Would they say the same to somebody who reads a lot or somebody who watches a fantasy film most evenings to unwind after the daily grind. Again, my family got sick of hearing about theme parks from me in my teenage years, but once I didn't need lifts and had a wider range of conversation topics, this did improve. They'll affectionately mock me for 'playing swings and roundabouts again' but then I mock myself for it a certain amount as well :D To be honest, I think they were glad when I found CF so that my social circle was massively increased and I had like-minded people to travel with, even if I did end up meeting a few people they were left wishing I hadn't.

From a jokey point of view, I think the time I most regretted my life choices was when I was on Slammer, which broke with me at the top... and the heaven's proceeded to open. Disembarking, I commented I was considering 'a drier hobby. Perhaps scuba-diving!'

Going back to Gavin, had Matt been in his class, I reckon he'd just have been glad his hero wasn't Helen Keller ;)
 
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zazobo

Hyper Poster
I really don't get the 'shame' about being a coaster enthusiast at all!? I willingly share my passion, and as others have said, if you say things with enough enthusiasm and confidence then they'll not think it's lame.

People don't often understand it fully, but I can't tell you how many people I know who have said 'I wish I had a hobby like that...' because it means I travel all over, see all sorts of cool stuff and come back gabbing about how awesome a particular new park/coaster is. Everyone wants something in their lives that makes them that happy!?

I bloody love being a coaster nerd, it's healthy (lots of walking around in the fresh air), encourages travel, allows you to drink beer in sunny spots in between creds and obv the feel good factor of balls to the wall coaster speed. Win win. My husband loves coasters too... which really helps as I've always got an excitable coaster buddy who'll go along with park trips over 'normal' activities.
 

bmac

Giga Poster
Speaking from my experience this past year there's definite cons to being apart of the community if you're involved at a higher level than just going to amusement parks with friends.

I room with another enthusiast and up until recently he regularly invited over other enthusiasts who I either did not know or did not personally like the company of, and I had to set my foot down on guests due to him bringing them over without telling me late at night so that they could save on a hotel fare. It got to be too much when one decided to become the third roommate and abstain from their homelessness so they could go work at the local amusement park and try and set up an address to commit credit fraud to fund their hobby. There's parts of this community I really wish I did not experience in this past year, from the ones who obviously need to sort their life out from the hobby and the others that have been talked about in here and elsewhere for being creeps, racists, and other fancy words for goddamn idiots.
 

Charlie's Circus 🙃

Roller Poster
Disclaimer: This post is much longer than I’d anticipated, so I apologise in advance for that!
Hi guys. As we’re all on this forum together, I’m assuming we all have a similarly in-depth interest in theme parks; the thing uniting us is that we’re all theme park enthusiasts. But have you ever had moments where you wish that you weren’t a theme park enthusiast? Do you think there are any notable cons to this hobby? Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten bored of theme parks?

Personally, I’m undecided. So, I’ll split this post into why I don’t regret becoming a theme park enthusiast, and why I perhaps do through a certain lens.

Why I don’t regret becoming a theme park enthusiast
If I’m talking from an entirely personal standpoint, and talking only about myself and my own wants & desires; I’ve never not wanted to be a theme park enthusiast. I can’t think of anything else that interests me and makes me happy anywhere near as much as theme parks do, and in the nearly 8 years I’ve actively been an enthusiast for, I have never once gotten bored of being a theme park enthusiast and I have never once wanted to give it up. I love going to the theme parks themselves and riding the rides themselves, but I also love thinking about & talking about my experiences in a more in-depth way, and I relish learning new things about theme parks, and the way they’re put together & run, and interesting facts & figures about the rides and parks. As much as I’d like to think I know a fair amount about theme parks, I imagine there’s literally so much about theme parks that I don’t know, and I can’t wait to discover those facts!

I also relish some of the other interesting side elements of this hobby; I’ll make the slightly geeky admission that I’ve grown to love a good spreadsheet, as I have certainly made many! Also, I have a real passion for Planet Coaster, as a means of channeling my own theme park ideas, channeling my more creative side (something I seldom get to do, having taken STEM-based subjects in school in recent years), and making my wildest theme park fantasies come to fruition.

And to be honest, I also absolutely love hearing other people’s opinions on different theme parks & rides (this is part of what makes the forums so great for me!), whether they agree with me or not; I’m so interested in hearing what makes other enthusiasts click compared to me, and even if someone’s opinions are the polar opposite of mine, I accept their opinion, and I love hearing why they have it!

I should also say that I really appreciate these forums, and the fact that I’ve found so many like-minded people who won’t push me away or shut me up if I talk about theme parks too enthusiastically is one of the things I truly relish about being a theme park enthusiast! As much as I’m not the most outgoing or confident of people by nature, I’ve always felt comfortable talking honestly on these forums, as I know you guys will all understand me, and many people have shared very similar experiences to me, from what they’ve said in the past. So I guess through that lens; thank you all for being so welcoming towards me, in spite of the fact I often have controversial (or even plain wrong, in the eyes of some) opinions! I do really appreciate it!

There’s genuinely so much I love to get stuck into in this hobby, and I probably haven’t even exhausted all of them in the paragraphs above!

When I discovered theme parks as a hobby, I honestly think they captivated me so much that I didn’t want to invest myself into anything else in quite the same way (don’t get me wrong, I have other interests, but theme parks are my most prominent interest by a considerable margin), and I frankly love being an enthusiast. When I discovered theme park enthusiasm, I feel like I discovered my passion, the thing I was truly interested in, and thus far, I have not once had the slightest desire to give up theme parks in favour of something else.

Why I do regret becoming a theme park enthusiast
As much as I said above about me never regretting becoming a theme park enthusiast through my own personal lens, the world doesn’t revolve around me, and I know there are other people around me who are somewhat judgmental of the hobby, especially certain elements of it.

One of the main things that makes me regret becoming a theme park enthusiast is that I have in the past had people judge me for it or express disapproval about elements of the hobby. I’ll admit I’m rather embarrassed about being a theme park enthusiast, and it’s something I’ve mostly kept secret outside of my own family for fear of being judged or made fun of about it. Well, you could probably infer that I’m into theme parks if you looked hard enough at my liked pages on Facebook, but I’ve never really told anyone about the hobby outside of my own family.

If I’m being very candid, there are numerous experiences where I’ve been judged or questioned about this hobby that do really stick out to me. I could name a fair few, but I’ll stick to some of the main ones:
  • Back in Year 7, when I’d just joined secondary school, we were asked to do a PowerPoint presentation about a person who inspired us. Everyone else did well-known celebrities, and many of the other boys all seemed to do well-known football players (people like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi etc.), but being a budding theme park enthusiast, I did my presentation on none other than John Wardley (given everything he did for the UK theme park industry, as well as his general principles of design, he certainly does inspire me!). Another boy came up to me and asked who I was doing. When I said, he seemed aghast that I wasn’t doing a football player, pop star or some other well-known celebrity, and said to me something along the lines of (paraphrased to avoid swearing) “Who [on Earth] is that? Why [on Earth] does that old nobody inspire you more than a proper celebrity?”. He then gave me a rather judgmental look that seemed to convey disapproval of my choice and walked away.
  • Many of the places theme park enthusiasm leads to you are often a bit taboo, or seen as a bit weird, in non-enthusiast circles. For instance, I can sense I’d get vilified if I ever expressed support for SeaWorld, in spite of them doing some amazing conservation work. Some of the places I’ve wanted to visit as a result of being a theme park enthusiast have also led to judgement from my family; for instance, I remember that all of my relatives seemed to shudder in horror whenever I expressed desire to visit Blackpool, in spite of it having one of the country’s most prominent & loved amusement parks. Personally, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is one of my very favourite UK theme parks, and I think the Blackpool seafront itself has been absolutely lovely whenever I’ve visited, but it often garnered judgement from my relatives whenever I said I wanted to go. Similarly, in spite of Paultons being the home of the UK investment I’ve been most excited for for a good couple of years, the fact I’m visiting for the first time seems to have garnered a lot of questions from my relatives; their response is usually something along the lines of “Why are you visiting Peppa Pig World? Are you regressing back to childhood or something?”. Personally, I can’t wait to visit Paultons for the first time, but I’m a bit embarrassed about the fact I’m going, as no one outside of enthusiast circles (and my parents, as they know about my excitement for Tornado Springs) seems to understand why I want to go.
  • In general, I get the impression that people view theme park enthusiasm as a bit of a childish hobby, and I’ve had people in my family ask me things like “when are you going to grow out of this phase?”. I remember my Nan once saw me watching a TPW video, and she said to me “when are you going to grow out of this, and join the real world along with the rest of us?”. She also expressed disapproval of Shawn himself, saying “That man needs to grow up, get a proper 9-5 job instead of flying to theme parks all the time, and join the real world along with the rest of us”. I’ve also had other people tell me I need to “have a couple of years’ hiatus from theme parks, and try to grow out of it and get into something else”. For that reason, I’ve always felt a bit ashamed of the fact I’m a theme park enthusiast, and I’ve never really told anyone outside of my family.
The other thing that kind of makes me regret becoming a theme park enthusiast is that at times, I do feel that the community, although always welcoming from my experience, can sometimes feel a little bit “clique-y”, for lack of a better word.

As much as this community has always been very welcoming to me whenever I’ve engaged, and you guys and all the other enthusiasts I’ve engaged with have been lovely, lovely people, I do at times find it hard to “pick a side”, if you like; there seems to be certain little “battles” within the theme park community that I’ve never really understood, and there are groups of enthusiasts who almost automatically don’t like certain other enthusiasts for whatever reason. For instance, TPR and its fanbase seem to be against everyone else, the fan bases of different theme park YouTube channels seem to be divided against each other, and different coaster clubs seem almost like they’re against each other in many ways. In some parts of the community, you’ll seemingly get vilified if you speak positively about an “enemy page” or whatever.

Thankfully, none of the forums I’m on (CoasterForce & TowersStreet) seem to be like this, and I’ve largely steered clear of this side of the community due to not being an overly active social media user, but I’ll admit it does surprise me and make me a little bit sad that there’s parts of the community that are so divided against each other. In fairness, I guess a bit of rivalry is probably human nature, but it does make me a little sad that we can’t all just get along, as we’re all united by the same hobby (and a pretty niche hobby, at that).

Phew, that was a long post! I’m sorry if this post comes across as a little self-indulgent, but I just felt like I wanted to be honest about some of my personal cons of being an enthusiast, and also to gush a bit about what I love about the hobby and being part of this community.

So basically, my question is; do you ever regret becoming an enthusiast, or have you ever gotten bored of the theme park community? Are there cons to this hobby that have ever made you regret doing it?
Hello again :)
I've loved rollercoasters/ theme parks and funfair rides since I was a little kid when I went on first rollercoaster "the big one" and "valhalla" at Blackpool. I've not been to a whole lot of theme parks since I'm 16 and I don't have the money to go in my own but I met a few very obsessed theme park enthusiasts recently and they were a bit defensive about how I don't know a lot about the specific speed or height of certain coasters, saying I'm not a real enthusiast lol so sometimes people can get a bit competitive about who knows the most I guess, but I get it lol xD I collect arcade machines and claw machines aswell so I go between them both
 

Matt N

Strata Poster
As the thread’s been bumped, I’d just like to clarify that most people in my family have been very supportive of my hobby, and only a select few have been more judgmental. I’m not sure if my opening post gets that across.
 

Ethan

Strata Poster
Sometimes I feel a bit sad and nerdy loving theme parks, but then I see straight men who will pop a vein in their forehead if they haven mentioned football for 3 minutes and so I don't feel as bad about myself.

In all seriousness, most people I know don't think anything of it, everyone has hobbies and this one isn't hurting anyone and it's a bit different!
 

toofpikk

Mega Poster
i think the only thing i dislike about it is branching away from discords and forums, there always seems to be a level of toxicity on social media platforms. Petty squabbles between different cliques, allegation upon accusation of predators, and just general personal stuff that I have no interest nor relation to, and nothing to invest in other than poor opinions of the people involved.

I often think it's a shame that half my twitter feed is often people I only semi-know, who always seem to have something to rant and scream about. Its so often really awfully negative on all topics and subjects, but then it only takes a moment to reflect and realise how lucky I am to have a hobby that connects me with such a wide variety of different people I'd never otherwise know of, talk to, or meet.
 
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hyde666

Roller Poster
Alot of things I like are looked down upon many, so I can't really complain nor do I even care. (Things like being a male goth and collecting cat memorabilia; harmless stuff like that) You do you as long as it's legal, everyone.

Do I regret becoming a coaster enthusiast? Not one bit, in fact, I am thankful because I never had a hobby where I was really into until just a couple of years ago. Because of this, I got the confidence to go out more and get to talk to people too. Something I kinda regret is dragging my parents around because I do not drive, therefore I am pretty dependent; even though they really don't mind. I never was the type that got to hang out with others aside from my parents until I have accumulated this thrill-riding hobby of mine.
 

MJSMids

Roller Poster
Matt N, I sympathies with your experience in school.

Back when Air at Alton Towers was being constructed, I was in school and had mentioned how it's the worlds most technologically advanced coaster. That gave me some snarky comments and labelled a geek. Still embedded in my brain to this day.

Do I regret this slightly odd hobby? no! Although to echo others, the 'community' can be toxic at times, but I'm quite antisocial anyway, so their petty squabbles has no interest to me
 
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