A Sudden Case of 'Routine Maintenance' in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe

A Sudden Case of ‘Routine Maintenance’ in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

Our local amusement park has a ride based on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The trolley takes you past large-scale mock-ups of various sets from The Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and yes, Trolley goes through a tunnel.

“Come along, come along, to the castle hug-and-song,” you’re supposed to say to the characters at each stop along the ride.

Okay, the animatronics are a bit lame, but my two-year-old rode it four times in a row the last time she was at the park.

We went back for another go the other day, and after waiting in line for a half hour we were told we would be in the last row of the next car.

Then I noticed a flurry of activity in the loading area. A trolley rode away with nobody on it, and park attendants carrying mops and buckets walked out onto the tracks.

A few minutes later, the park mascot appeared out of nowhere, shaking hands with the people who were first in line. That’s strange, I thought… wouldn’t it make more sense for the park mascot to cheer up the kids who are farther back in line, in order to keep them happy?

When a full trolley returned from the ride, the kids were unloaded from it, and a bunch of park attendants started leading them in the Hokey Pokey, something in my mind realized: “This is the booby prize — the ride is busted and they’re trying to keep parents and kids from freaking out.”

The park attendants would only say “The ride is temporarily closed for routine maintenance. You can wait here if you like, and you’ll be first in line for the next ride, or you can enjoy the rest of the park.”

My wife was very confused, until I told her that “routine maintenance” must be themepark-ese for “technical difficulties”.

Can it possibly be routine to let people wait for a half hour and then send them away? Wouldn’t it make sense to stop admitting people to the long ride first, if a scheduled maintenance is coming? And what kind of an amusement park schedules routine maintenence during the middle of the day?

When pressed, the park attendant only said, “King Friday has laryngitis.” Again my wife was confused, until I translated for her: audio problems.

We decided to stick it out, eating our lunch in the line. About twenty minutes later, everyone else had bailed out, and we were first in line when the ride re-opened. I had brought along my new digital video camera (a Father’s Day gift), and recorded the whole adventure.

It was actually perfectly pleasant… the park attendants recognized us from our previous visits, and we had brought along a picnic lunch that we would have had to eat sometime.

(See also “It’s a Didactic Day in the Neighborhood“.)