Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Amusement parks aren’t just for kids.

With: Stacy Juba

Amusement parks aren’t just for kids. To me, they have a magical ambiance and are a playground for romance. At first glance, a theme park might seem like an unusual setting for a chick lit/sweet romance series. Carnival music, overtired toddlers, spilled popcorn. . .those images don’t exactly conjure up romance. But what about holding hands, snuggling up on the Ferris wheel at sunset, and having your guy spend ten bucks shooting baskets to win a teddy bear? And you don’t even want to know what goes on in the dark rides at Disney. . .I did lots of theme park research for my book Fooling Around With Cinderella, the first in the Storybook Valley series, and apparently, some lovebirds forget they have cameras on those dark rides and that the employees can see everything.  

Still, there’s something about letting the real world fade away, and seeing your partner tap into his/her inner child that sparks romance. To make my fictional Storybook Valley seem realistic and romance worthy, I lived and breathed theme parks for a few months. I watched employee training videos and recruitment videos, listened to radio interviews with park management staff, viewed videos created by former theme park employees, read blog posts, and ordered library books. I wanted to know everything, from what it’s like to dress up as a princess, to how these parks motivate employees to be perpetually cheery, to the job responsibilities of the food warehouse staff and the ride attendants. I learned tidbits like squirrels enjoy chewing on antique car wiring, that princesses deal with sticky ice cream hands and frisky dads, and that costumed fur characters must practice making animated gestures so they can communicate without speaking. I learned about employee incentive programs, coaster junkies, and parents who give their daughter high ponytails and taller shoes to add a couple inches for height requirements. (Don’t get any ideas. . .most of the ride attendants catch on to these tricks.)

Somewhere during the course of my research, Storybook Valley became real to me. I could see Jaine and Dylan kissing by the Swan Princess ferry and her rubbing sunscreen on his whiskers by the medieval playground. I could visualize them laughing on the antique cars and emerging dripping wet from the water rapids. Next time you need to reconnect with your partner, visit a theme park. Until then, I invite you to visit mine.    

Bio: Stacy Juba got engaged at Epcot Theme Park and spent part of her honeymoon at Disneyland Paris, where she ate a burger, went on fast rides, and threw up on the train ride to the hotel. In addition to working on her new Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series, set at a theme park, Stacy has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths. When she’s not visiting theme parks with her family, (avoiding rides that spin and exotic hamburgers) Stacy helps writers to strengthen their manuscripts through her Crossroads Editing Service. She is also the founder of the Glass Slipper Sisters, a group of fifteen authors who have published Cinderella-themed romance novels.


What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella's toes? When Jaine Andersen proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, general manager Dylan Callahan charms her into filling Cinderella’s glass slippers for the summer. Her reign transforms Jaine’s ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother. Secretly dating her bad boy boss, running wedding errands for her ungrateful sisters, and defending herself from the park’s resident villain means Jaine needs lots more than a comfy pair of shoes to restore order in her kingdom. First in the Storybook Valley series, a blend of sweet romance, chick lit, and fairy tale fun.  


Jaine Andersen couldn’t stop staring at the framed poster of Cinderella outside the castle. Cylindrical towers and turrets ascended into the sapphire sky, lofty mountains rising in the background. Her hand poised in an elegant wave, Cinderella beamed toward the camera. Ornate script flowed across the right side of the glossy photograph. 

“Follow your heart, dream big, and you will find the magic.”

“Okay, Jaine, time to find the magic,” she mumbled, shifting in her seat.

“Interesting. What magic are you hoping to find?” a masculine voice asked behind her.

The kind that erases someone’s memory and lets you start over? Nice going, Jaine.

Squirming, Jaine clutched the black leather portfolio case in her lap as Dylan Callahan closed his office door. He sat down at a battered desk strewn with papers, her eyes tracking his every movement. Forget Cinderella’s stirring quote. Now Jaine couldn’t tear her gaze off the hot guy conducting her interview. The blond hair ruffled across his forehead made him resemble a Venice Beach surfer, not the general manager of a family theme park. 

Winter sports seemed his thing though, considering the posters flanking Cinderella. In one, a skier whipped down a powdery slope while the other showed a snowboarder in mid-air. Inspirational words stretched across the bottom of each print: Goal-Setting for the skier and Persistence for the snowboarder. 

To nail this interview, Jaine needed to demonstrate her prowess in both areas. And show that she wasn’t some weirdo who talked to herself.

She recovered her voice. “Actually, I’m hoping to help your company find some marketing magic. Uh, thank you for inviting me in.” Jaine toed her navy blue dress shoes into the industrial carpet, hoping he didn’t notice her fidgeting. When the receptionist had escorted her into the office to wait, she hadn’t expected such a good-looking man to join her.
Focus, Jaine. Focus.

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  1. Thanks so much for letting me talk about one of my favorite topics - amusement parks!

  2. I have been married for 21 years. Many of our early dates were at Knott's Berry Farm Magic Mountain and Disneyland. I love amusement parks, I even rode Fury 325 at Carowinds last Spring. A 325 ft drop straight down.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy. We went to Knott's Berry Farm once too on a trip to California. It was a lot of fun. We enjoyed eating in the restaurant there also. You are braver than me - I could never ride that! I didn't even like Test Track at Disney. I do like flumes, though.


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