The Pleasure Paradox

The pleasure paradox, also sometimes called the paradox of hedonism, refers to the practical difficulties encountered in the pursuit of pleasure. Unfortunately for the hedonist, constant pleasure-seeking may not yield the most actual pleasure or happiness in the long run—or even in the short run, when consciously pursuing pleasure interferes with experiencing it. At least so says Wikipedia. The subject of this week’s blog is the Amusement Park — that modern construct (both literally and metaphorically) beloved of holidaymakers everywhere!

Trip Advisor (another resource loved by pleasure seekers) recently compiled a list of the top 25 amusement parks in the world and whilst unsurprisingly, the US versions of the species dominated the listing, there were many surprises in there too. I’m assuming of course that the list is based purely on votes or ratings submitted by readers/users of Trip Advisor so we must add that caveat as there were also some omissions that surprised me.

Unsurprisingly, Orlando dominates the listing, boasting of no less than eight parks out of a total of 25 or roughly 30%. These include: Universal’s islands of Adventure (1), Discovery Cove (2), Magic Kingdom (4), Universal Studios (8), Epcot (9), Disney’s Animal Kingdom (10), SeaWorld (11) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (14). The original of the species — Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens sits almost at the midway point in the list at position 15.

The Americans don’t have it all their own way as the list also includes contenders from Brazil, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany too! Indeed, the highest placed European entry at number 3 is Europa Park in Germany which I suspect that most Irish people (including myself) have never experienced — shame on us! There are also a few that I must admit I had never heard of including Leolandia in Capriate San Gervasio, Italy (23), Beto Carrero in Penha, Brazil (7) and Silver Dollar City in Branson Missouri — the family entertainment capital of the US! Zoomarine in Guia in the Portuguese Algarve comes in at position 24, just ahead of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Park, both located at Marne-La-Vallee just outside Paris are at positions 20 and 21 respectively. Port Aventura outside Salou is at number 22 but I suspect that that position will improve in any future listings due to the recent opening of Ferrari World there.

On a personal note and having visited 13 of the above-mentioned parks over the course of the past 25 years, I am proof that the Pleasure Paradox does exist because if I never saw another amusement park again, I wouldn’t lose another night’s sleep over it — unless of course some genius somewhere comes up with a new gimmick or ride and then the child inside me will resurrect itself and we’ll have to start all over again.

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