There are a lot of great theme park websites out there, but it seems like there’s not a lot of innovation. Theme park sites could definitely borrow some fresh ideas from the rest of the Web. For this special Saturday edition of Top 3 Thursdays (see, it’s not really late it’s just a special edition) I’m going to list three types of theme park fan sites that I’d like to see in no particular order. Of course, I’m assuming that they don’t exist today. If they do, please feel free to point me to them and you’ll get a free plug for your site!
The Theme Park Social Network – A New Way to Connect with Fans & Have Your Own ‘Space’
Sure, theme park fans (and everyone from your tween-aged sister to your grandmother) are on Facebook. But what about a social network just for theme park fans. Profiles could be tailored to things we care about. They could include your full ride and coaster list, your own top ten coasters, favorite park, home park etc. Fans could upload pictures from their trips and share them instantly with other park fans.
To me, message boards are pretty limited. I think it would be easier to upload photos and videos to a Facebook-like site and always have a place to point to them, rather than adding them to a message board thread. New niche social networks are popping up all the time. There are focused little social networks for groups like body builders, fire fighters, parents, and cat lovers. Why not one for theme park fans?
The Theme Park Social Bookmarking Site – Fun & Easy Way to Share & Discover New Stuff
How about a place where people can easily share links to anything on the Web? Popular examples of social bookmarking sites are Digg and Reddit. The added value to a site like this is the voting function. If the site’s large enough you can get a sense of what’s hot or what everyone’s interested in. Right now in Digg’s Tech section, an article about how Android smartphones are faster than iPhones and an old photo of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are among the most digged (or liked) submissions.
For some reason I have a particular interest in social bookmarking. I even created my own theme park social bookmarking site in Theme Park Syndicate (version 1). Fans were sharing links to breaking news items, cool videos like this one of the Aeroplane coaster from 1928, images,and really anything of interest. There’s a lot of neat stuff out there that won’t always be unearthed by your favorite theme park blog or the message boards that you frequent.
Unfortunately, the platform it was based on had a weaker defense than the woeful Washington Redskins and eventually it was overrun by spam. Then came Thrillator. It didn’t have the security issues my project had, but it seems like the creator moved on. I’ll admit that I have a bias to a site like this and I’m not sure everyone got it right away. To me, it seems like a fun and easy way to share AND discover cool stuff.
The Theme Park Social Blog Network – Chronicle Your Theme Park Trips Or Make Your Voice Heard
Theme park blogs joined the bloggosphere a little late. When I started this blog in 2006, I didn’t have a whole lot of colleagues. These days new amusement park and roller coaster related blogs are popping up all the time. Even if you don’t consider yourself a theme park pundit, blogs are a great way to chronicle your trips. They can as simple as a microbloggish Tumblr blog with short posts and images like this. And, like the aforementioned niche social network idea, they give you a repository or home that you can refer to. One of my original reasons for starting this blog was so that I could send people to my Busch Gardens related posts instead of talking their ears off about how great those parks are.
A theme park blog network, like a social network would allow these bloggers to immediately share their posts with each other. After many start the venture of their own website or blog, they realize how lonely it can be until you gain traffic or a following. For that reason many give up after only a short while. A community of blogs means that you would have at least some traffic from the start and newbies would be encouraged. Also, they allow for the incubation of ideas, cross-posting, and just sharing on all kinds of levels. Leading blogger Darren Rowse wrote this article about the benefits of being in a blog network.
What’s Your Take?
I know that many aren’t as adventurous as I am when it comes to the Web and they’re happy with their current favorite theme park sites. But, out of these ideas, which site would you see yourself visiting? Which site could you see yourself contributing to? Rank the ideas or just give your take. Leave a comment below and vote in the poll.