In this tough economy, sometimes we just need to get away, escape for a while with the family. One fleeting, magical day at an amusement park is a splurge, but well worth it if you follow a few simple tips to maximize not only your joy but that of those around you.
- Decide to forgo the lockers in favor of a backpack. Make sure that you stuff that sucker full of coats until you’re twice as deep as you normally are. And this is the important part — FORGET ALL ABOUT IT. No, really. Never think about it again. Only then can you play the SUPER DUPER LAUREL & HARDY GAME. If you know you’re batting people like ping pong balls every time you turn around or smashing the person on the other side of the rope every time you step backward, then it just becomes malicious, and that just isn’t you. You’re A Good Person. That exempts you from ever being the bad guy in any situation. You may make the occasional innocent mistake, but if anyone ever mentions it, remember — they’re being jerks, trying to make you feel bad for their own entertainment, and need to lighten up. A blank stare should convey this message clearly.
- You know those rules about flash photography? Those are just for all those other people. Other people are stupid. You know what you’re doing, and once won’t hurt because you’re A Good Person. Besides, your camera phone just won’t get a good picture of a hairy, plastic, life-size pirate without the flash, and then what will you frame and hang over the fireplace for decades to come, warming the hearts of all who visit?
- Bring a stroller. If you don’t own one, rent one. No. Rent FOUR. Make sure that most of the time no one uses one, but insist on pushing them everywhere anyway in the crookedest possible path. BONUS POINTS for letting your cutesy wootsy toddler push them. It’s ADORABLE, and people don’t mind being trapped behind you because they get to watch junior, and all their hearts will grow three sizes.
Remember, a stroller is a magical ENTITLEMENT GRANTER and can be used as a weapon, every offense automatically deemed “an accident” or “in self defense”. If anyone gets mad that you slammed the front end of one into their leg or ran over grandma’s foot, you must give them the stare of righteous righteousness, the I’VE GOT A BABY ON BOARD AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT stare. And if you stop suddenly, as you are so entitled to do, and the people behind you trip over you and slightly jar your stroller on their way to cracking their heads on the happiest pavement on earth, make sure you shriek — not in sympathy but in outrage. How dare they jostle your child in the slightest as they die? Why, next they’ll expect you to stop texting as you steer your stroller with your pinkies.
- People may claim that it’s for the greater good if you ask a few family members to walk behind someone else, narrowing the group, but that’s ridiculous. Everyone knows that we are all equals and must walk abreast through the park, never yielding in the slightest to oncoming traffic. Walk proudly! Walk slowly! Let your eyes go unfocused! Then and only then can park guests enjoy WAVE AFTER WAVE OF SOMNAMBULANT ROCKETTES. Tease them by never quite getting to the part where you kick your legs — unless there are people right in front of you, then encourage your children to spontaneously practice kung fu and karate.
This method is greatly aided by the next.
- If they are actually passing out valium at the park entrance, as it so often seems, get some! Get heaps. All the cool kids are doing it, and they’ll look down on you if you don’t. So, if you forget, just do your best to act stoned so no one catches on. Zombies are red hot in popular culture right now. You can eat the rational brain right out of a person if you zombie just so. If a non-zombie has the gall to remind you of what they’re supposed to do to kill a zombie, then they’re just being jerks, they don’t get it, and obviously forgot their valium. Do your duty and look down on them.
- You will feel that you are slightly off your desired path from time to time. The best thing to do in this instance is to STOP DEAD IN YOUR TRACKS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. Do not pull over to the side. Just start shouting, “I thought it was that way,” or, “Where’s the map?” Argue about that for a while. Never ever look up to see the effect this has on traffic. After all, everyone else is just a cardboard cut-out extra in the movie entitled, YOU, MAMA’S SPECIAL FLOWER, ARE AT AN AMUSEMENT PARK, so they can be ignored. But kindly do remember to fling your arms out from time to time, pointing in different directions, or you won’t get to feel the lovely massage that comes of socking someone’s cardboard cut-out grandma in the teeth or poking the eye out of someone else’s child.Which leads us to the next rule.
- Children must be neither seen nor heard. If you have somewhere to go, even if it’s a non-emergency, just plow right through them as though they aren’t there. If a child is standing right next to a rope, and you see your friends up ahead, catching up to them is far more important than that child — besides, those sissies can’t fight back. Shove the child, shove the rope so its reverberations take out the ears of several more children, and run like Forrest Gump. If you don’t see you’ve hurt someone, IT NEVER HAPPENED, and you remain A Good Person.
- Just as tips are discouraged on cruise ships, “please,” “thank you,” and, “sorry,” are considered in poor taste at amusement parks. If you ever say one of those things, especially at the end of a day, you may see the other person start to weep with shock and gratitude, and that’s just gross.
- FOR PARK EMPLOYEES: Install lockers on one side of your main street, put all the restaurants on the other side, and then, just as dinner time, sunset, and sharp drops in temperature intersect, CLOSE THE STREET TO ALL PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC. Don’t have a parade. Just cord it off, add people waving neon sticks, and direct all the freezing diners who want to get at their coats all the way back to the park entrance, shoulder to shoulder like cattle — or, in this case, frozen hamburger. Shout at them, put down orange cones in no particular pattern, make it very dark, and shake more lights in their faces so that half accidentally leave the park. Force the rest to repeat their fight up the other side to the lockers. If you can, hire lots of giggling teenagers (drunk on their day of autonomy), and thick-necked men (who’ve had it up to HERE, unlike the rest of the guests) to shove their way through the crowd for maximum pain and indignation.
Advanced Method: When the biggest glut of visitors has been put through The Stampede Ride and are in sight, suddenly open the street for easy crossing , just to kick ’em in the gut.
- The most important rule of a visit to an amusement park: Hold on to each and every grudge you develop during the day, forget that you were sometimes guilty, too, and then post a rant on a blog that only fourteen yawning crickets read.