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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. Dreamland Margate has been a place that I have always been interested in for years and when I found out it would be reopening this year I knew I had to plan a visit, after all it's the nearest park to me with a woodie (with the others either being in the north, East Anglia or Wales). This is why I have decided to hold an unofficial trip/meet up there this summer to check what has been perhaps the most exciting 2015 development in the UK. This is not a meet by all means as there's no specific plans/arrangements apart from having a great time and exploring the park and possibly surrounding areas. The trip is currently scheduled for Saturday 11th July 2015, which loosely may also be my TPM birthday celebration trip too. The park's openings hours that day so far are 10am-8pm. For anyone who's interested and would like to join, feel free to comment below or any form of PM or communication you request. Further information on the park, prices and how to get there can be found on the Dreamland website. http://www.dreamland.co.uk
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