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  1. You know those 'memory' notifications you get on your iPhone now and then, where it features a load of photos from a past trip? One of those popped up for me recently from an old meet up we had on another site, which sent me on a bit of a nostalgic frenzy. Since that happened, I've spent a bit too much time these last few weeks looking back through old photos and videos, and it's prompted me to reach out to some old 'theme park friends' who I haven't spoken to for a while. To be honest it's been absolutely bloody fab. But it's got me thinking... Being a theme park enthusiast just isn't what it used to be. I'm wondering if others feel this way too? Of course I dearly miss the days in my teens where I'd regularly meet my friends at the parks, but equally I am finding myself really missing all the fan forums that there used to be, and how busy they were every evening. The forums used to be buzzing with excitement and discussion about our weird shared favourite topic! And that was just it, it was a discussion, often about the unknown. It was rare that we actually knew what was going to be happening at the parks, so speculation and rumour really did drive the discussion and keep everyone interested! Aside from the big forums and fan sites, there were also countless smaller sites, run by people who loved the parks just as much and just wanted to share their hobby and interest. It didn't stop at the forums either - YouTube was awash with videos from enthusiasts everywhere, not just the big names, who now seem to have unlimited access to everything. I remember sat at my laptop in my room at my parents house, most nights I'd check my usual sites and channels for any updates I could find! It was exciting - had someone managed to get a blurry photo from underneath a fence, or even better get a 20 second video clip of a scare maze entrance, or a trench being dug somewhere? Or the rare holy grail, someone had found some plans on a planning portal somewhere! 😮 I absolutely loved the mystery and excitement surrounding everything - "what could be under those tarps?", "Did anyone see that crane today?", "There's a new poster for Fright Nights!"... If you wanted to know what happened inside the Asylum, you would need to physically go into the Asylum and find out for yourself! There were no HD POV videos from press night, no behind the scenes videos, and no real construction updates to speak of. All you had to go on was the reviews and discussion from others who had been through before. God... it was brilliant wasn't it? There's no denying, however, that things are better now. We got what we wanted. We now have more access to information than ever before, with the parks being very open about what they're doing, and the YouTubers and Influencers of today being very detailed in what they show. It really is good that we have access to all this stuff - but I have to admit I do miss the days when the 'news' came from everyone - whoever happened to be at the parks (or peeping over the fences) that day, with their blackberry camera out and ready to snap a picture or two! I think the age of the influencer and all of this free and open information has nearly killed off the forums, and the way that theme park enthusiasm used to be. It seems that now, the 'star enthusiasts' who run the major YouTube channels and social media pages, are in some ways an extension of the park's own marketing team, with some influencers quite literally being employed by the parks, even creatively responsoble for some of the attractions... It would also appear that, although I have nothing against any influencers out there, that the enthusiast game has in some ways become about building up an audience and even making a living from it - it's not as much a 'hobby' as it used to be it seems? Taking a wonky photo of the Curse arriving on the rain soaked beach, or Saw the Ride's brand new supports going in to the newly reclaimed land, and getting home to plug in your cable to transfer the image to your laptop to post it on the forums was never about seeing how many likes you could get - it was about sharing the joy with like-minded people from across the country, or it was in my case at least, then having a good chat about it. Social media has killed off the forums really hasn't it, all those little hidden communities where friendships were made and interests were shared! There's no denying that social media is better, and information is more readily available, but are we better off as enthusiasts? I'm not convinced we are.
  2. Disclaimer: I apologise in advance, as this post is quite long. There is a TL;DR at the bottom for those who would like one. Hi guys. As many of you probably know, Duel, Alton Towers’ interactive haunted house-style dark ride, recently closed for a retheme and is reopening in 2023. Speculation is rife throughout the UK enthusiast community about what this retheme could entail and what it might be like, but one thing I’ve noticed is that there are a considerable number of people who wish for the park to go down the nostalgia route. These people are clamouring for the ride to be returned brick by brick to exactly how it was when it first opened in 1992, as though the 2003 Duel revamp never happened. There’s quite a considerable group of people who believe this, and it’s part of a wider trend of nostalgia that seems to have gripped the UK enthusiast community as of late. There are now quite a few different nostalgic calls to “bring back” old rides being made around the community, including: “Revert Duel back to the Haunted House” “Revert Galactica back to Air” “Revive Pirate Adventure” “Revive Rocky Express” “Revert The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure back to Professor Burp’s Bubbleworks” “Revive Ripsaw, Boneshaker and Dynamo” “If Project Horizon isn’t a Black Hole revival, they’re missing a trick” My basic point is; a considerable wave of nostalgia seems to have gripped the UK enthusiast community as of late, with clamouring for old attractions from the 90s and early 2000s to return being quite commonplace at the moment. So my question to you today is; what are your thoughts on the use of nostalgia within theme parks? What are your thoughts on parks “bringing back” old attractions, or making nods to the past? Personally, I’m a bit mixed on nostalgia myself. I’m perfectly happy with minor displays of nostalgia at parks. Subtle nods to the past scattered within a new attraction? Great! Loads of old artwork and concepts being displayed, like in the Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers? Love it! Wanting to sell retro merchandise? Go for it! Relatively minor nostalgic touches are nice for those who look for this sort of stuff and don’t really affect the experience at large for the average guest, so these can certainly be pretty good when done well, in my view. However, I’m not so keen on the prospect of more major scale nostalgia, such as “bringing back” old rides. Personally, I think parks should move forward into the future rather than stay in the past when it comes to new attractions, and I am personally sceptical as to whether “bringing back” old attractions would have a happy ending, for multiple reasons. Basically, my thought process is that “bringing back” an old attraction would please relatively few people, because the average guest likely wouldn’t know what the old attraction being “revived” was, or even if they did, they likely wouldn’t understand why the park was “reviving” an old ride that closed years prior. I also have a concern that the ride of old may not resonate with modern crowds in the same way as it did with original crowds, no matter how good it was when it originally operated. Whereas I fear that the enthusiasts and die hard nostalgics whom such a move would be aimed at would be critical of the fact that the “revival” wasn’t enough like the old ride, because let’s face it, a “revival” can never be the exact same ride as the original attraction being “revived” was, no matter how good the intentions of your creative team are. That’s simply impossible due to technological advancements, part of or all of the old ride having been scrapped, and simply due to the fact that no matter how hard you try, you cannot rewrite history to pretend that the removal of the original ride never happened. That’s why I always say “revival” in inverted commas, because it wouldn’t be a true “revival”, but rather a new experience with the same name. For instance, one of the main nostalgic wishes as of late is for Duel at Alton Towers to be reverted back to the Haunted House exactly as it was in 1992, with all of the original props being kept, the Swamp finale being rebuilt and the Graham Smart soundtracks and original facade being fully restored. My concern here is that the original HH closed 20 years ago, so there is likely a considerable number of Alton Towers guests who don’t know about it, and even those that do would probably be somewhat bemused at why it was “returning”. I also have concerns that the ride as built in 1992, as good as it was back then, might not resonate with 2023 guests in the same way. On the other side of the coin, I fear that the enthusiasts such a move would be aimed towards would be critical that a “revival” of the HH wouldn’t be enough like the original 1992 ride. Given that I’ve heard “it doesn’t even smell like it did in 1992” being banded about as a criticism of Duel, I think the nostalgics would be keen for every little detail to be restored to exactly how it was before in the event of a “revival”, which I fear simply wouldn’t be possible. The entire 1992 finale was demolished prior to the Duel revamp in 2003, Keith Sparks (the original designer) is dead, certain technologies used in the 1992 original are now obsolete and have long been succeeded by modern alternatives (for instance, the ride would have to be lit very differently nowadays, which would make the original scenes look very different to how they were originally supposed to look)… there’s a lot of factors that mean the ride simply would not be the same ride as it was in 1992 no matter how hard the creative team tried to make it the same. You cannot rewrite history and pretend that Duel never happened; there was only one of the original HH, and it closed in 2002. A “revival” of the HH would be a totally different attraction that simply shares the same name; it wouldn’t actually bring the old experience back. But what are your thoughts on the use of nostalgia in theme parks, and the prospect of “bringing back” old attractions and themes? TL;DR: Given the recent clamouring for many old attractions to return within the UK enthusiast community, I’d be keen to know your thoughts on the use of nostalgia within theme parks. Overall, I have a mixed opinion on the use of nostalgia within theme parks. I don’t mind minor displays of nostalgia, as these can be fun for those who look for such things and don’t really affect the experience at large. However, I am less keen on major scale nostalgia, such as “reviving” old attractions and themes, simply because I feel that you can’t rewrite history no matter how hard you try, and that a “revived” ride would never be the same as the original attraction. I also feel that a “revival” of an old attraction wouldn’t really resonate with the average guest.
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