Today marked the last “day off work” of my staycation. We decided earlier in the week to gather all of our various coupons together, and spend the day at “Thorpe Park” – a theme park about an hour from home that has roller coasters, rides, stalls, and all the rest of the things you would expect of a sizeable theme park.
What we didn’t expect was for half the rides to break down repeatedly during the day, or to be shut down altogether. I know luck plays a big part of it, but it seemed by the end of the day that any ride the kids got in the queue for had mechanical issues – not exactly confidence building, given the accidents at theme parks over the last year.
I only went on two things with them all day – a ridiculous water slide, and the dodgems. To be honest, I was looking forward to sitting down with my other half, having a drink, and relaxing while the children spent half an hour in the queue for each thing they went on.
We would probably have stayed in the park far longer had the weather not suddenly turned from hot sunshine to thunder and lightning late in the afternoon. You have never seen so many people run towards the covered concessions stalls and shops in your entire life. We watched the downpour from the relative safety of the “Angry Birds” shop, which was trying to sell people chocolate bars for three times their usual price, and rain ponchos for twice the price you can buy them in the high street. Even the kids were aghast about it. One young boy sprinted for the shop, lost his footing, and slid on his ass across it’s polished floor – I didn’t know if to laugh, or rush towards him to find out if he was OK. His siblings arrived, pointing and laughing.
The rain did eventually stop and we made our way out of the park. We were cold, wet, and the kids were getting fed up of being ripped off, so we decided to go home.
I got talked into having a go at one of the many games of chance (to win a massive pikachu) as we passed by – I caved, and failed miserably. I had to throw two balls into a bucket – I landed one of them, and realised there was perhaps a 10mm region of error. My other half went slightly nuts when she saw what it took to win, ranting about parks ripping off children – given that we had already paid a colossal amount to visit the park in the first place, it was wrong to continue ripping off visitors.
We saw another stall, inviting people to try and hang from a bar for two minutes to win a cuddly toy. Lots of teens and young men were trying it – throwing their money away in displays of bravado that all failed spectacularly. I pointed out to my other half that the bar was pretty thin, and that two minutes was a LONG time. I also noted there were no rules about lifting your legs over the bar, and hanging from the to give your hands a rest. One young guy, built like a stick insect, was doing particularly well and I hoped he might beat the beefy teenager alongside him, but after a minute his arms began trembling like electric pipe cleaners, and he fell like so many before and after him.
While leaving I posted a tweet, naming and shaming the park about the rides that were out of action. I doubt it will achieve anything, but it made me feel a bit better. Somehow I don’t think we will be returning any time soon.
Maybe I’ll go find the Jessie Eisenberg movie “Adventureland” this evening, to continue the dysfunctional park theme – or show it to the children to dissuade them from ever getting work helping on rides or stalls at a park.