Tag Archives: Theme Parks

Amusement Park vs. Theme Park

18 Nov

Whenever I tell someone that I’m going on a trip to one of the Disney parks, I often hear the phrase “I don’t really like amusement parks.”  That’s when I say, “The only amusement parks I like are theme parks.”

What’s the difference, you ask?

Well, the term “amusement park” is all-encompassing.  Old Mr. Webster defines it as “a commercially operated park having various devices for entertainment (as a merry-go-round and roller coaster) and usually booths for the sale of food and drink”.  A theme park is a specific type of amusement park defined as “an amusement park in which the structures and settings are based on a central theme”.  For example: a square is also a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square (for geometry nerds) or a Q-Tip is a brand of cotton swab, but not all cotton swabs are Q-Tips (for Q-Tip nerds).

Photo: Magic Kingdom Park – Splash Mountain (one of the most well-themed attractions in WDW)

To simplify, a theme park is a themed amusement park.  The park can follow a single theme or have multiple themed areas.  The attractions, buildings, and landscaping are all developed using a specific design concept.  Every item in the park is placed there deliberately to convey the central idea.  This fundamental difference between a theme park and an amusement park is what sets Disney parks apart from others.  Disney fans who “get it” will often use the phrase “it’s all about the details” when trying to describe why they love Disney parks.

Photo: Disneyland Park – Mad Tea Party and Storybook Land (my favorite themed area in DLR)

Very few theme parks throughout the world dedicate as much time and attention to theming and details as Disney does.  If you ever visit WDW or DLR and spend any amount of time simply exploring its “look and feel”, you will undoubtedly gain an appreciation for the consideration that was given in the creation of the parks.  Everything has a story.  Someone spent time designing the building facades, the landscaping, the area music and lighting, and even the trash cans.

Photo: Epcot – Spaceship Earth

So if someone makes the argument that the main reason they do not wish visit any of the Disney parks is because he or she doesn’t like amusement parks, you can now explain that they are not just amusement parks; they’re theme parks.  And that’s one of the reasons why you and so many other people love them.

If you have any favorite themed areas/attractions of one of the Disney parks, please share by commenting below.  I love hearing about the neat little “extras” that people are drawn to in the parks!