How A Universal Studios Tour Guide Got Internet Famous For Taking Down Theme Parks
Once you work in a theme park, what can you do with all of that secret insider knowledge? Jason Ginsburg created the Twitter account @FakeThemePark, and now there's a new Kindle book of his best roasts of the theme park industry.
He realized in 2010 that no one was really doing a social media account making fun of that world, so he used his knowledge as a Universal Studios Hollywood VIP tour guide to start Fake Theme Park. The account both acts like it's a social media account for a pretty terrible sounding theme park, as well as being used to give marching orders to that park's fictional employees.
"Anyone can make fun of Disney -- that's easy," Ginsburg said, "but I always have the insider knowledge of seeing what it's like as an employee, even as management a little bit. ... The management, the unions, the rules, the romances -- that's something that I can speak to."
He even played a character for a summer -- and he still enjoys the parks as a guest, like the rest of us peasants.
Before you ask: All of our puppets are gay.— Fake Theme Park (@FakeThemePark) September 18, 2018
It largely parodies four different brands of theme parks: Universal, Disney, SeaWorld, and Six Flags. But the observations feel so real that everyone thinks it's about their favorite theme park.
"For the rest of my life, I'll love [Universal], but there are certainly things to make fun of there, just as Disney fans love Disney so much that they hate it," Ginsburg said. "Disney fans love it so much that everything makes them mad about it."
Remember, if your child is lost in the park for more than three hours, they legally become Cast Members.— Fake Theme Park (@FakeThemePark) August 13, 2018
The account used to be anonymous, capitalizing on all the shadowy mystique of coming from someone deep inside the industry. But last year, Ginsburg thought -- why am I still doing this?
"I was on podcasts where I used a burner app on my phone so you couldn't tell what area code I was in, anything, and then I realized, this isn't really getting me anything anymore," Ginsburg said. "No one seems to care that much, and I'm missing out on opportunities."
So he revealed his secret identity, and now he doesn't have to be afraid to let everyone know his own history -- he grew up in Texas, with his home theme park being SeaWorld San Antonio. He went to USC and got pulled into the world of Universal, though now he's left L.A. behind and does social media for the Science Channel in New York City. He also writes screenplays -- the low-budget film he wrote comes out in 2020.
His new book -- If The Princess Rolls Her Eyes, Your Wish Will Come True -- gives you what you'd need for a self-guided tour of this virtual park, broken up by category and offering some longer form content than he can do easily on social media. The princesses and their jadedness is one of the go-to jokes on @FakeThemePark, so they get a spotlight in this book.
Another go-to: the holidays. From Christmas to scary Halloween attractions, Ginsburg's tried to find a chance to lovingly ridicule it all.
Cast Members, please don't tell guests you "miss your family" working on Thanksgiving THE PARK IS YOUR FAMILY NOW AND YOU LOVE YOUR NEW FAMILY— Fake Theme Park (@FakeThemePark) November 23, 2017
#BastilleDay in the park!— Fake Theme Park (@FakeThemePark) July 14, 2018
🇫🇷 Guillotine a rich person
🇫🇷 Get tortured by Robespierre
🇫🇷 Loot the Tuileries
🇫🇷 Choose which Jacobin you are: Montagnard or Girondin
🇫🇷 Experience a 10-hour day
🇫🇷 Vote on whether Napoleon was a good guy or bad guy
🇫🇷 Be let to eat cake
Ginsburg's all for theme park fandom, but he did say that people need to chill sometimes -- and realize that not every line is worth it. His advice: Don't follow the crowd, because there's always a shorter line somewhere for something else cool.
He also has some advice for theme parks: focus on your theme. That's what he thinks makes Disney so successful -- tight theming around different lands. Universal's struggled with that, beyond their Harry Potter areas.
"It isn't a state fair, where it's just like this is the ride area -- it's all of a piece, it's all connected," Ginsburg said.
You can find out more about the best/worst attractions to see in a fake theme park in If The Princess Rolls Her Eyes, Your Wish Will Come True on Amazon.
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