Theme parks. The holy grail of fun, enjoyment and excitement. The alluring smell of popcorn, the cheerful screams of nearby theme park goers, what is not to like about these parks of utter joy. I for one love theme parks, however, I’m from New Zealand, a country boasting a measly population of around just 4.5 million. There is only one major theme park in New Zealand, even so the waiting time for most attractions is never over 30 minutes. I actually found a review about this theme park in which the individual complained that they had to wait 20 minutes to get on a particular attraction, how ridiculous.
Since I have moved to Japan I have been to Universal Studies in Osaka twice, both these experiences can be summed up by one word. queues. I understand that Japan has a much larger population than little old New Zealand, but regardless of this, Japanese people just seem to have an almost masochistic inclination to wait in queues for absurdly long periods of time. On both occasions I was utterly shocked as I watched Japanese theme park goers eagerly rush to line up in queues with wait times of up to 170 minutes. Never before has the idiom “like lambs to the slaughter” had a more fitting portrayal. At 170 minutes that accounts to just less than 1 ride per 3 hours. 1 ride per 3 hours??? At that point you might as well call them time abusement parks. On my most recent visit to Universal studies I arrived at 10:00 am and left just after 4:00 pm. During this period I managed to get on 3 rides. One in Japan might consider this a tremendous feat considering the standard of 1 ride per 3 hours that I had come to expect. However, if we look at this deeper you will discover that out of the 6 hours I was at this park, I probably spent about roughly 15 minutes on amusement rides and give or take 5 and a half hours in queues. This really puts the “amuse” in amusement parks, as I was thoroughly amused to discover this.
The amusement rides themselves are actually pretty impressive, and I would be happy to wait 1 hour in order to ride them. But once you start getting past an hour it starts to feel like the ride itself is just laughing at you in the face. Now the biggest problem with long queues is not the waiting itself, but how to pass time without simply standing in awkward silence. Unless you prefer awkwardly standing with your friends or significant other for long periods of time, you have to think of ways to entertain yourselves for what could be up 3 hours. I decided I would help you out and offer some suggestions.
Number 1: Carry an overly large watermelon around with you. Although the watermelon itself may not seem to hold any intrinsic entertainment value, the odd stares and comments you will get from nearby people is more than enough entertainment. As an added bonus, the laughing directed towards you will help to drown out some of the awkward silence.
Number 2: Attempt to bargain your way to the front of the line by trading certain commodities or services in exchange for swapping places with the people in front of you. There is really no restrictions on what you can or can’t trade here: a paper clip, a half eaten sandwich or maybe a 3 minute massage, you name it! This can also be helpful if you came to the park alone and need to make some friends.
Number 3: Pretend you are a professional narrator and narrate the actions of nearby people in your queue. For added effect, try putting on one of those generic narrator voices. One word of warning, avoid narrating the actions of people immediately in front or behind you as you may be-overheard and could considered be rude. Unless of-course you intend to pass the time by picking fights with those around you.
Number 4: Avoid the queue all together and just go home, with any luck there shouldn’t any queues to get into your house.
Overall, theme parks can be very entertaining. However, just be prepared that you will have to provide some of the entertainment yourself. In all honesty thou, who doesn’t like some good old awkward silence once in a while.