The BLOGFlume—In the Mood

Forbes' Top Ten list, Great Wolf plans another indoor waterpark, and breaking news from Six Flags America.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: June 5, 2005 at 8:50 PM

Best of the Best
Forbes 5/25/05

Everyone seems to want to come up their own top tens lists, and it seems that Forbes is no different. While many will disagree with the parks that appear on the list, I think it’s one of the more interesting ones that gives recognition to parks around the world, particularly Europe. The list is (drum roll please)…

1. Alton Towers
2. Busch Gardens Tampa
3. Disneyland
4. Europa Park
5. Gardaland
6. Liseberg
7. Lotte World
8. Port Aventura
9. Six Flags Great Adventure
10. Tivoli Gardens

According to this list, I’ve got to get to Europe, since six of the ten parks on the list are somewhere across the pond. People could dissect this list for weeks, and just about everyone out there could come up with a reason why every park that’s on this list should not be on the list, and 10 other parks that didn’t even receive mention on this list. Sophia Banay, a lifestyle travel staff writer for Forbes, compiled the list by looking at new attractions for 2005, history of the park, and probably a whole lot of subjectivity. While I have not been to seven of these top ten parks, I’ve heard great things about just about all of the others, especially Alton Towers, Europa Park, Port Aventura, and Tivoli Gardens. So let’s see what you think… Do you agree with this list, and if not, what are your top ten parks? From my experience of only US parks, my list would be…

1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
2. Islands of Adventure
3. Hersheypark
5. Disney/MGM Studios
6. Busch Gardens Tampa
7. Disneyland
8. Six Flags Fiesta Texas
9. Kennywood Park
10. Cedar Point

Water Water Everywhere
Cleveland Plain Dealer 5/15/05

Based on the success of indoor water parks from Sandusky, OH to Williamsburg, VA, Great Wolf Lodge is expanding its locations with indoor water parks coming to Niagara Falls, OT, Pocono Mountains, PA, and Mason, OH. The Mason park will be the franchise’s largest, and located close to Paramount’s Kings Island. The hotel will have 404 guest rooms, and the water park will be 75,000 square feet, with an estimated opening date sometime in 2006. The chain has been having a lot of success, particularly in the winter months, and their locations near established theme parks are more successful than one would expect. I have not yet stayed at a Great Wolf Lodge, but most reviews are generally positive, and the rates are similar to an on-site Disney or Universal resort. Indoor water parks are quickly becoming a fad, and seem to be popping up just about everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tries to open one in Orlando, Florida, or even southern California.

This Just In…
WUSA TV9 Washington, DC 6/4/05

I happened to be sitting and writing this evening, and a news blurb popped up on TV. It seems that there was a shooting at Six Flags America in Largo, Maryland this evening around 6:00 PM EST. There aren’t a whole lot of details yet, but I’m sure more will be known tomorrow morning. However, as it stands now, there was a verbal argument between at least three individuals in the Six Flags parking lot, and it quickly escalated. Shots were fired from three vehicles, with two other vehicles racing off, and still at large. Shattered glass injured one person in the remaining vehicle. The sound of gunfire caused a number of guests exiting the park to drop to the ground, and frightened people who were ending what was a normal day at the local amusement park. Since this incident occurred in the parking lot, there was very little Six Flags could do to prevent this incident, but their security cameras, which survey the parking lots constantly, could provide police with the information to track down the persons responsible for this event. I don’t want to place blame on Six Flags, because it’s not their fault that an incident like this occurred in their parking lot, as it could have happened in just about any parking lot, but you rarely see these types of things happening at other parks.

Readers' Opinions

From RANDY TAYLOR on June 6, 2005 at 4:59 AM
I agree that Six Flags is not to blame. As close as this park is to some very bad neighborhoods, it is a miracle that more incidents of this nature have not happened. MAYBEE a more visible police (NOT six flags security)prescence in the parking are could make these thugs think twice...
From Jason Lester on June 6, 2005 at 9:16 AM
It could just have easily happened in any theme park. People do stupid things, no matter where they're from.
From Ben Mills on June 6, 2005 at 1:02 PM
Okay, you probably expected to hear me chime in about this, but...

That Forbes list is strangely misguided. Really, quite poor. Not only does it show an ignorance when it comes to Europe (Liseberg in sixth, yet no Phantasialand?) it insanely manages to place Alton Towers at the top of a list that doesn't even mention a single Orlando park, not to mention ignoring Disney's Paris or Tokyo resorts.

Seems like another fluff piece, to me.

From Derek Potter on June 6, 2005 at 4:59 PM
While I'll give kudos to Forbes for recognizing some overseas parks (that I've never been to either), I really can't put much stock in a list that has Six Flags Great Adventure over the likes of Islands of Adventure, Cedar Point, Kings Island, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and a few other places we all know are better. That isn't even the best Six Flags park. Obviously this list either had some kind of strange criteria, or these are the only parks the writer has been to.

Speaking of Six Flags, when did Six Flags become gangland? I realize that not a lot can be done to secure a huge parking lot, but where are the local police if it's in a bad neighborhood.

Paramount's Kings Island is actually a partner with Great Wolf in the Mason venture. Why? Because the Great Wolf will be built right next door...on PKI grounds. Also, one of PKI's latest surveys layed out some groundwork for a possible Nickelodeon themed campground.

From Robert Niles on June 6, 2005 at 10:25 PM
I've said it before, but....

If you promote your park as nirvana for "extreme" thrill lovers, no one ought to be surprised when that park ends up with a parking lot filled with extreme thrill lovers. And violence being the cheapest form of extreme thrill available in our society....

Nor should anyone be surprised when said park fails to attract and families whose presence might discourage that behavior. Let's not forget that the most effective law enforcement personnel on the face of this planet are angry mothers, protecting their kids. (Followed closed by fathers trying to put kids in line before Mom blows her stack.)

So let's review: No mothers, no fathers --> Youth violence.


From Robert OGrosky on June 7, 2005 at 10:46 AM
I do agree that when you sell season pass's very cheap and then promote your park as a thrill park and not fanily friendly you will draw what you wanted, a bunch of teenagers who will spend little money but we be profane, skip lines ans scare away the families that do come which explains why SF loses money by the hundreds of millions while family parks prosper!!
When will SF management ever get it??
Im just glad my local SF is much better run than SFA/SFMM.
From Ben Mills on June 7, 2005 at 1:40 PM
We've got a similar position over here at Thorpe Park. Fortunately, it's not as big as Magic Mountain, so problems aren't as bad, but many people (including myself) stay away at weekends and holidays, because it really is a nasty environment.
From TH Creative on June 8, 2005 at 8:30 AM
Don't forget, after a certain number of repeat business, annual passes become money losers. Whether it is adults of kids in the queues.
From Kevin Baxter on June 10, 2005 at 1:42 AM
What a wretched list. Most of us here haven't been to Tokyo DisneySea, but I think we would all expect that park to be on there, right? RIGHT? And no Orlando parks? Ridiculous.

But the worst part of that list is how even someone with minor knowledge of the European parks knows that Alton Towers is not considered to be that great a park by THE BRITISH THEMSELVES! And I have only heard great things about Phantasialand, so I would expect it to be the European park to top the list. Even worse, I have been to four theme parks in Spain and they picked THE WORST ONE to place on the list. I could make a list of greatest parks in only Orlando and Spain and Port Aventura would come in TENTH! (Over pukey MK, naturally!) WORST LIST EVER!!

From Ben Mills on June 10, 2005 at 2:32 PM
Well actually, the average Briton does think of Alton Towers as some sort of wonder-park, but then again, the average Briton doesn't have a lot of experience to base that on.

I think Europa Park would come ahead of Phantasialand on most people's lists, but I think that Phantasialand certainly deserves to be ahead of a lot of parks on there.

And PortAventura being ahead of all other Spanish parks is complete bull, for sure. But considering the other two "biggies" have only opened in the past few years, maybe the reviewer is a little out-of-date on their park knowledge. Still, someone like that shouldn't be writing theme park lists for Forbes.

From Derek Potter on June 10, 2005 at 6:17 PM
This list also gets me thinking.....what other things is Forbes writing on that they have no idea about?

Top 10 Attendance

  1. Magic Kingdom
  2. Disneyland
  3. Tokyo Disneyland
  4. Universal Studios Japan
  5. Tokyo DisneySea
  6. Epcot
  7. Disney's Animal Kingdom
  8. Disney's Hollywood Studios
  9. Universal Studios Florida
  10. Islands of Adventure