Published: May 29, 2007 at 6:41 PM
What IS a "theme park"? That is the question. Is Cedar Point a "theme" park, or is it just roller coaster heaven? (heaven!) And does that make it a "theme park"? You have to compare parks to other parks to make sense of the term. Some are heavily themed, where the theme becomes the raison d'etre for the park area, not just an excuse for somewhat related attraction names. Compare BGA (not listed) with BGE, for example. BGA does what no other park does (and even Disney tried but didn't quite get right) - mixes a theme park and a zoo. But even BGA (my home park, and so I'm a bit miffed it didn't make the list) has had to stretch theming considerably in several areas to get rides and attractions to fit. BGE, on the other hand, has so artfully blended rides and attractions with their themed areas that one can literally get lost in the experience. And, outside of Disney, they are the best at it. I have no particular affinity toward the Mouse (I successfully completed the Disney 12-step program several years ago, and can now visit for a few days at a time without losing perspective), but I find it hard not to give them credit for theming in most of their rides and attractions. After all, who can argue against the detail found in Animal Kingdom and its several lands??? With the glaring exception of the dinosaur-"themed" area, their attention to detail and level of "realism" is surpassed only by International Showcase at Epcot -- and that's because a lot of that area is authentic, not "themed." So I personally don't see how I could, in good conscience, vote for anything other than a WDW park. Given the agreed-upon concept of "theme park," then one must consider what makes a particular park the "best." What rating scale and on which elements? Parking, entrance, layout, transportation, shows, rides, food, staff, cleanliness, crowd control...and then there are sub-elements ...motion control, lighting, audio, condition, authenticity, comfort, apparent (real) danger, etc. How can any one park be the best at all aspects? The answer...it can't (or probably won't be). So how does one choose?