December 17, 2015
Christmas Eve is just one week away. If you’ve already bought and wrapped all your gifts and have them safely under the tree with pretty bows and ribbons – congratulations. For many, though, it’s probably time to at least consider a shopping trip so our friends and family don’t end up with Slim Jims and lottery tickets wrapped in a nondescript plastic bag from the 24-hour gas station. So with not much time to shop or ship, what can you get the theme park fan in your life? And before you ask, B&M cannot have a hyper coaster built in the backyard within a week – we checked.
Season Passes and Tickets
Let’s get the easiest one out of the way first. Any park fan would love to receive a season pass as a gift. It is obviously fun, useful for months on end, and even practical since you know they were probably going to get one anyway. Nearly every park out there offers season passes for sale online and the vouchers can be printed right from home, so there’s no traffic or checkout lines to deal with and no shipping deadlines to meet. Wrapping is a breeze – just stick it inside a card and hand it over! Getting season passes now is also a frugal move as it is not likely any sales or discounts closer to opening for the season will beat the deals offered at the moment. Individual park tickets may be a little more difficult. Not every park is offering single-day tickets for the 2016 season yet, but some are ahead of the game trying to capitalize on all the holiday spending going around, so you can always check on their websites. Be careful, though – many parks have been offering promotions on passes since before this season even ended, so before you go investing in a pass, make sure they didn’t get their own in September. If they did, there are some great add-on options at some parks – like season dining plans from Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks – that would make an enthusiast squeal with delight as much as the pass itself.
So, what if you like your gift recipient but maybe not that much and you’re looking for something a little more budget friendly?
Some parks, such as Holiday World, Adventureland and the Disney Store, have online stores that are still guaranteeing Christmas delivery, but you better act fast! These stores carry shirts, hoodies, plush, gift cards, books, art and more. Better yet, if your local park has a Christmas event, visit yourself and pick up something from one of the gift shops (if you can find one, we know gift shops are hard to come by inside the parks). You’ll have a great day of rides and shows yourself and feel productive since it wasn’t all about you. Sure, the true theme park fan in your life probably has a closet dedicated to park t-shirts and a few shelves of collectible snowglobes, but the thing about a real theme park fan is enough is never enough! Anything and everything with a park or ride logo is awesome and will find a place somewhere inside their home even if it requires moving silly things like family photos out of the way.
Now, I know that everyone is well aware of Amazon and all the things you can find there. We have no relationship with Amazon, financial or otherwise, and this is not an ad for them, but the beauty of free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime cannot be denied when it comes to last-minute shopping (and if you’re in one of the few lucky major markets, same-day delivery is even available). Obviously there’s no way to go over every potential gift idea for your favorite coaster enthusiast that could be found on Amazon and you know how to use the search box, but here are just a couple of ideas.
Churrera Churro Maker
There are thousands of different snacks and treats at parks worldwide, but one offering found at almost every park and often every corner inside the park is the churro. Sticks of fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar or stuffed with cream – whether fresh made or warmed by the sun in that big glass box, churros are a theme park staple. Even if you’re not a huge fan of churros, you know you’ve thought about it after seeing a few pass by. Well with this kit, your favorite theme park enthusiast can live the park experience every day from their own kitchen! If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll invite you over to try out their new gift. Churrera Churro Maker – $34.95 with Prime shipping
K*Nex All-American Roller Coaster Building Set
Who hasn’t dreamed of having their own roller coaster at home? This may not be the same as your own spinning mouse in the backyard, but make believe is fun at any age! With this kit, your loved one can build their own coaster in their living room floor that stands over two feet tall with working cars navigating elements like loops and hills and dips. If they’re truly obsessive, it will become a permanent fixture in the corner – possibly with a nice plastic fence and some trees – and they will think of you every time they walk by. They will also think of you as they curse when they step, barefoot, on that one misplaced piece they lost a month ago, but at least you’re on their minds! K*Next All-American Roller Coaster Building Set – $49.97 with Prime shipping
We had to include the standards, but these are all things you already knew, right? Well, how about some ideas that are little more outside-the-box…
How is this outside-the-box? Gift cards are everywhere and are often considered one of the least thoughtful gifts. They are seen as being gifts with no thought for when you just don’t want to bother with shopping but want to stop short of handing them a twenty directly from your wallet. With a little thought, however, you can make it seem like you exerted some effort and give something truly useful. One of the biggest expenses for a theme park enthusiast throughout the year is gas. Whether it’s the death-march road trip across 8 states and a province or two or the constant back and forth 45-minute trips to their home park every weekend, a park fan will make a lot of stops at the gas station. Get them a gas gift card, sold by every gas station chain, and they will know you helped get them there for their day of fun. With today’s gas prices, just a $20 card is basically a tank, and if they continue to drop your gift only becomes more valuable. If they rise, maybe that extra boost will get them to their home park at least one more time before the season ends. While money is money, a gift card that is specific to the individual and from a place that, while useful, is often ignored as a gift-giving opportunity will surely be appreciated.
A Thrill Ride In A Bottle
This is one of the most truly unique and confusing products that has come on the market recently. Who came up with this idea and why? Nevertheless, it is out there and actually does an OK job of living up to the claims (yes, we’ve tried it). According to the company’s description, the Dark Ride fragrance is “[a] realistic interpretation of water ride staples like Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park and Splash Mountain. For years, perfume and theme park enthusiasts alike have searched for fragrances that accidentally smell similar to water rides. For the first time ever, the intoxicating, moody scent has been intentionally captured. Xyrena’s Dark Ride features the familiar note of chlorinated water, a thrilling accord of theatrical fog and pyrotechnics and a hint of atmospheric mildew and damp ozone to create ‘the first thrill ride in a bottle.” What theme park fan wouldn’t love to smell of chlorinated water and theatrical fog? The recipient of this novelty gift can blow up a pool raft, sit in the tub at home, spray a little around the room and pretend they’re floating down the river…for added effect, pair this gift with an mp3 download of “It’s a Small World After All.” The company is currently still guaranteeing Christmas delivery. Dark Ride by Xyrena – available in Cologne or Room/Body Spray
We all know enthusiasts can be a little crazy sometimes with the collectibles and memorabilia, so almost anything park-related will work as a gift. If you’ve come down to the last second and still have no ideas, take a look around. Were you walking by a wooden coaster one day and happened to find a bolt on the ground that you stuffed in your pocket and hoped wasn’t really necessary for structural stability? Box it up and print out a little card with the logo of the coaster. Did you once find an old park map in a box in your grandfather’s attic where he visited Disneyland in the 60’s or Rebel Railroad long before Dollywood was even an idea (stuffed next to, of course, tax returns from 45 years ago and the warranty card of an old Victrola that no one remembers ever owning)? It’s the perfect gift for an enthusiast! Be creative and pretend that you knew exactly what to get them all along!
Coaster Crew Membership
Finally, how about gifting a Coaster Crew Membership to your favorite theme park fan? And while you’re at it, get one for yourself if you’re not a member! It is the Coaster Crew’s mission to encourage and support the industry that we all love. Members will receive a Membership Badge, a yearly full size calendar, various Crew merchandise in the welcome packet, discounts from parks and attractions around the country, access to Coaster Crew events at parks like Dollywood, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens and many others along with park-held events like Holiwood Nights at Holiday World and Coasterstock at Kings Island. Coaster Crew is all about bringing people together in the enthusiast community and Christmas is the perfect time to think about bringing people together! Coaster Crew Membership – www.coastercrew.net
If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear them! Let us know in the Comments below and good luck with your last-minute shopping!