Published: May 21, 2006 at 3:21 PM
From what I've heard, TPI's ratings match up nicely with parks' internal data on user satisfication (for parks where we have a significant number of readers voting, of course...).
So it's not like TPI readers were alone in their dislike for Haunted Lighthouse. But what TPI, and other websites, do is to alert customers *before they visit* about attractions they probably won't like. So Internet ratings can move attendance numbers for attractions, and entire parks.
There's been a battle within the industry over which factor is the cause and which is the effect. My take is that the attraction is the initial cause and that visitor reaction (expressed both online and through in-park surveys) is the effect. That word then spreads online and becomes the secondary cause resulting in the effect of increases or decreases in attendance.
Of course, price, travel expenses, the economy and marketing all affect attendance as well, making it difficult to isolate the effect of online reviews.
But there are some within the industry who cling to the idea that online reviews *do not* reflect the general population and that if the online sites would just shut up, or be silenced, then the public would discover that it really does like stuff like Haunted Lighthouse and Disney's California Adventure (to cite the most famous example of such an argument).
Haunted Lighthouse was doomed, thanks to its glacial pacing and lack of laughs. TPI and the Internet, if they did anything, *might* have accelerated its removal a little bit, by giving park managers additional confirmation of what they probably already knew. But that's all I'd be willing to claim.