Casa Flamingo

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Book Cover


I’M OBVIOUSLY NOT ALONE in my passion for amusement and theme parks. In 2002, despite the drop in tourism and despite the dive in the economy, nearly 320 million visits were registered at North American parks. That’s more than attended all professional football, basketball, baseball, and hockey games combined.

People often ask why I enjoy parks so much. That’s a hard question to answer. I like the way they look. I like the way they sound. I like the way they smell, and I like what happens to me when I’m there. A park visit is a multi-sensory symphony and is truly one of the feew experiences where I can escape from the cares of the outside world.

Even if I don’t ride any rides, a park visit is a special experience. Parks are fabulous places to study mankind, to people watch. Sometimes that’s more fun than a coaster ride. Few places offer the opportunity to observe so many people unabashedly enjoying themselves.

What exactly is the draw? Why are parks so popular, even in hard economic times? The simple answer is that they provide an experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. When you come through the turrnstiles of a park, you are entering a unique atmosphere that you won’t and can’t find on the Internet, on TV, at the cinema, in the mall, or even at the county fair.

It is fantasy at its best and in the world today, true fantasy is hard to find. An amusement park is one of the few pieces of Americana still thriving today.

As Senior Editor of Amusement Business, the leading business to business trade magazine for the international amusement park and theme park industry, I get the opportunity to visit the best the world has to offer and to meet and mingle with the greatest park pioneers of all time. I visit parks mostly as part of my job, but even on assignment, with a camera and notepad in hand, I still experience the thrill of being there. I’m one of only two or three journalists on Planet Earth who gett to chronicle parks on a full-time basis. I do for a living what other people do for vacations. Lucky, you say? You bet I am!

Tim O’Brien

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