Written by Robert Niles
Published: July 8, 2004 at 5:46 PM
Employees at two local theme parks recently e-mailed me, asking that I give poorly-reviewed attractions at their parks a second look. With some time on my hands, thanks to a generous buy-out from the Tribune Company and a new day job not set to start until next month, I've decided to take a step beyond that. It's time for a blow-out theme park tour.
Next week, I'll be visiting five Southern California theme parks in five days. And reporting each day's trip here on Theme Park Insider. Then, it's off to Orlando for a week, with visits scheduled to some of Central Florida's parks. After that, I'm back to L.A. for a week's rest before flying to Ohio.
Here's the tentative schedule:
If you are a cast member, employee or regular visitor to one of these parks, and have some tips for what I ought not miss, let me know. If there's a show or ride that's gotten an unfair shake on TPI (in your opinion), tell me and I'll give it another look. If there are major rides that will be closed when I'm visiting, or rides I ought to be certain to see first thing, let me know, too. You can respond below or e-mail me.
I won't be at each park from open to close. With so many parks on my agenda, I just couldn't stand up to that schedule. So I'll be hitting each park at opening, and staying through the early afternoon. With single rider lines, and a good (I hope) schedule, that ought to provide enough time to see the eight top attractions at each park that I want to see. (The exception will be Cedar Point, which, believe it or not, I've not visited before. So I'm devoting a full day for that park.)
With so many parks to see in such a short period, I'll be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons on who's doing the best job running their parks. Typically, I visit parks with my two kids in tow. But this time, I'll be seeing most parks solo, allowing me complete freedom on what to ride, and when.
So what do I need to see? What should I do first each day? Where should I have lunch in each park? What ought I avoid at all costs? The TPI rankings will guide me, but I'd love to hear some personal appeals and anecdotes from folks who want to make a case for a place that's been overlooked or misunderstood by TPI readers.
And I'll see you back here each day throughout the tour for my daily trip reports!
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Hollywood