On a recent episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” guest Riz Ahmed talked about how he visited Universal Studios Hollywood for his 39th birthday. When he mentioned this to Kimmel, Kimmel’s reply was, “What are you, eight?” The comment got a laugh from the audience, but a groan from me. Whenever an adult makes a comment about theme parks being just for kids, my first thoughts are that they either haven’t been to a theme park in a long time, or they simply have no sense of whimsy. But there does seem to be a large group of people who find it “weird” for adults to attend theme parks without children.
Sure, theme parks certainly have elements to them that appeal mostly to children, but my guess is that most adults aren’t visiting Disneyland simply to ride the King Arthur Carrousel. But even if they are, who cares? The fact is that good theme parks are full of an immense amount of detail that isn’t noticed by the average child. So, who is that detail for? It’s for the adults (even the childless ones) who visit the park. Whether it’s the hieroglyphics (or “Maraglyphs”) to decode inside the queue for Indiana Jones Adventure, or even something as childlike as a pun in the Muppet*Vision 3D waiting room, these are designed for adults. I don’t think any kid understands the “A net full of Jell-O”/Annette Funicello joke.
With those examples, someone who adamantly feels that theme parks are just for kids could argue that those details are added for the entertainment of the adults who bring their children to the parks. But if that were the case, why are there so many theme park attractions designed specifically for adults? Even when a child hits an age where they can reach the height requirement, I don’t believe that something like Jurassic World VelociCoaster is designed with a child in mind as the primary customer. Then there are attractions like The Hall of Presidents which aren’t written in a way to appeal to young guests, even if the grand vision is to introduce children to these historic figures.
Theme parks are designed for people who like to enjoy this unique form of entertainment and storytelling. There really should be no limit or judgement as to what age a person should be in order to appropriately enjoy a theme park. Some adults watch animated movies without children. A large portion of the audience for something like WWE wrestling is adult viewers. One could argue that these forms of entertainment were also made for children, but for some reason, adults going to the theater to see an animated movie or catch a WWE event live without a child by their side doesn’t seem to get the same sort of scrutiny as adults attending theme parks without children.
What do you think? Do you find it strange for an adult to visit a theme park without a child in their party? Leave a comment letting me know why you feel the way you do.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.