The Park Geeks Ride Again - The Tea Party Comes Along (and I'm not talking about the Mad Hatter...)

Jake and I hit up Kings Island yesterday, but not for filming. Just to enjoy. We are releasing a tip this month on our Park Geeks YouTube page and filming in Florida this October. So there's more on the way. But until then, here's a little photo album of sorts from the Park Geeks' day off, three pictures from our day. After that, I'll get into a little review of how Kings Island is doing this season and tell you about some of our stranger experiences yesterday.

The Zephyr became a new favorite yesterday after a rough ride on The Beast.

Kings Island has a new light show set to Vince Guaraldi. 
Jake watching said light show...
I have to say, the light show went a long way in fixing some of the theming problems that KI has suffered since Paramount left. Not necessarily because Cedar Fair is bad, but because it's hard to top a movie-themed park with the backing of a huge studio. But the addition of the Peanuts gang and the Vince Guaraldi music that comes with it adds a lot of charm, especially for kids and families. It was a great time and you could hear the "oohs" and "ahs" of kiddos everywhere as the lights flashed to the music. Very colorful and creative.

The Haunted House is still suffering under some weak theming. It's now "Boo Blasters on Boo Hill". Actually, maybe the theming is great for very little kids, and it is located in the kiddie section of the park. So maybe I should lay off, after all, as a Haunted Mansion enthusiast, I'm pretty hard to please. There is a sort of neat skeleton effect at the end of the ride that's probably really effective for kids and they have adopted that projection onto fog effect that first debuted at POTC and the Indiana Jones Adventure. So that's always cool.

However, there was a deeply disturbing new trend that needs to be cracked down on. Constant smoking, for one. Every single line we stood in had multiple people smoking and multiple people chewing tobacco and spitting ON THE GROUND in the lines. It was truly disgusting. Part of me wonders if the designated smoking areas just make people feel more inclined to smoke wherever they please vs. making the entire park a no-smoking zone, which they should absolutely do as soon as possible. There's nothing worse than being trapped in the middle of a huge line and having to inhale someone's smoke or step in their disgusting...I can't even talk about it. It literally makes me sick. You get the idea. It must be hard to police thousands of theme park guests, but I wish they would try just a little bit harder. I saw several employees just letting the smoking and spitting happen and that makes me less inclined to return to a park.

The weirdest part of yesterday was the fact that it was the "Friends of Liberty" day. Now you may think that we're all friends of liberty here in America. But actually, it was a day sponsored by the Tea Party, and without going into any politics of my own (I could be a Tea Party member myself...you don't know...), I want to talk about how irksome it was to have them all over the park yesterday. They gave lectures in front of the Eiffel Tower on loud speakers about Obama bringing this country down, they parked a bus with a slogan on it about how there should be a spending revolt, and there were parents and children everywhere with t-shirts on again showing their allegiance to free markets. As though we aren't ALL for free markets in this country...

I'm a HUGE proponent of free speech, but theme parks are where we go to get away for a day. We pay to get in. It's our place to escape on a holiday or a mini-vacation. So to have the day be sponsored by a political party (and I would've felt this way if it had been ANY party, I guarantee you that) just felt all kinds of wrong. What's next, are they going to set up at Chuck E. Cheese? Little kids' dance classes? It reminded me of this...

Theme parks are no place for political rallies, because what you get is a portion of an unwilling but captive audience. I'm pro political rallies of all kinds, but not where people can't get away. I highly doubt that any political party is going to do any effective campaigning at a place of recreation to begin with. Also, they weren't making very persuasive arguments, they were just being hostile and grumpy, which is not going to do any good convincing anyone to your cause...no matter what you stand for. They were less campaigning and more berating any time I saw them. It was really odd. Odd technique, odd choice of location, just a very surreal thing to experience when you pay a decent chunk of change to go to a theme park and relax for a day.

It's a big pet peeve of mine when people seem to be disguising their motivations. Whether that's a theme park choosing to look the other way about their smoking policy but pretending they have smoking zones or a political party talking about what they are for (freedom, liberty, free markets) instead of being more honest about what they are against, which is their actual agenda. Even if the intention is good, it comes across as manipulative. It's designed to make people feel like they are excluded if they disagree. Sort of a way of saying, "If you don't like us being here today, you're not for liberty or free markets!" It's a faulty argument.

But I'm a curmudgeon...I also thought that some of the dancers and singers costumes were too skimpy for a family park...so you have every right to disregard my opinion as a grump. In fact, I invite you to do so.

All in all it was a great day at the park. It's still sad to see Son of Beast shut down, but I'd say that things are generally on the upswing at Kings Island since the Cedar Fair takeover, which was a bit like how you feel the day after you take down your Christmas decorations. They had a tough challenge on their hands from die-hard Paramount fans.

I'll certainly be checking the smoking policy and the "sponsored day" schedule a little more closely next time I go. But I'll leave you with some fantastic Vince Guaraldi music and just say that for all of my thoughts on the politics of yesterday, nothing and I mean nothing, beats strolling in the cool night air with my husband at a theme park, watching some beautiful lights and listening to some classic jazz.