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Vote of the week: Orlando vs. SoCal - Which is the better theme park pick?

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Published: October 12, 2007 at 9:13 PM

Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando? SeaWorld San Diego or SeaWorld Orlando? Busch Gardens Africa or Magic Mountain/Knott's Berry Farm?

This weekend's vote is a classic East Coast vs. West Coast showdown:

Explain your pick in the comments, please. Previous votes of the week

Readers' Opinions

From Erik Yates on October 13, 2007 at 4:49 AM
I think it boils down to more. More disney parks, more Universal parks, more Busch parks....true thats about all we have, but it makes a difference. Add to that the fact that USH has nothing compared to USF, and I think you'll sway a lot of peoples votes.
True enough I've heard many people say that DL is much better than WDW, as far as keeping classic attractions and going back to basics. However Orlando is just so much grander in scale, and more a destination.
From Mark Hollamon on October 13, 2007 at 5:20 AM
I think Central Florida wins this pretty much all they way around, however, I do agree that DL is better at staying "old school" compared to WDW, but there are so many ways to "go Disney" in Central Florida that it makes it a more attractive vacation choice.

Add that to USF, IOA, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Aquatica (opens in 08), Busch Gardens, and all the other little diversions of Orlando, there is no wonder why millions flock here each year!

As a local, I would like to see a true Giga-Coaster park built here. Something just for thrill junkies. That would seal the deal hands down!

From Chris P. on October 13, 2007 at 10:38 AM
I voted Florida because, to me, the parks all seem to be better quality. And I realy like that the Central Florida parks are so close together. It makes it a really fun experience to be in a city with so many big-name parks close by.

Florida: 4 Disney Parks, 2 Universal Parks, 2 Busch Parks (One isn't exactly central Florida, though...

SoCal: 1 Six Flags Park, 1 Cedar Fair Park, 2 Disney Parks, 1 Universal Park...

It really comes down to your person preference of parks.

From Robert Niles on October 13, 2007 at 1:08 PM
I'm going to defend SoCal here, for having a better kids' park (Legoland) and more thrill rides (with Knott's and Magic Mountain). USH actually has production happening, as opposed to the faux studios at Disney-MGM and USF. And Disneyland is Disney's best U.S. theme park, hands down.

SoCal's biggest weaknesses are the parks being much farther apart than in Orlando, as well as increased expense (not for tickets, but for hotels, travel and meals.)

So... in my book, Orlando offers more convenience, and better top-to-bottom consistency. But if you want the very best of the best available between the two areas, I think those options are in SoCal, even though SoCal's got some weaknesses that balance them.

Of course, when Harry Potter opens, then this becomes a blow-out in Orlando's direction.

From TH Creative on October 14, 2007 at 5:00 AM
Geographic considerations hand this one to Orlando. The proxemity of Disney to Sea World to Universal is too convenient.
From Erik Yates on October 14, 2007 at 6:56 AM
I'm not arguing with you Robert on the quality of the parks or attractions. I've heard so many things about USH's mummy attraction alone that I want to go, but the reality of it is exactly what you have said. Everything is more spread out, everything is more expensive. Orlando there are 9 parks and 4, soon to be 5 water parks within an hour drive of each other, and 8 of those parks are within 20 minutes. Add on top of that the amount of ease that hotels have given to get to and from the parks, and the variet of hotels....which generally means that you're sure to find one cheaper than the next...unless of course if you stay on site at disney or Universal.
The only thing that you will not find is a thrill park. IOA is the closest thing to it. Why? The mouse, plain and simple. Disney has everyone so family oriented in Orlando that IOA was a huge gamble, and it still has naysayers with things like "its too intense, there's nothing to do for kids, etc." Of course they tend to argue that with BGT(who has 5 coasters vs. IOA's 2, three if you count unicorn 4 if you count the flyers) as well, but it kind of gets nulled out by the fact that they have a zoo....and hey, kids love animals, thus not making it a thrill park...how that works out, I dont know. Point is, because of that mentality, you have everyone in Orlando competing for the family dollar, where in California you have everyone competeing for the best theme park experience.
A giga coaster, while it would be great, will never happen for that reason.....and the fact that Orlando and I think Tampa has a 200 foot limit on its coasters and rides....so I've been told. So yes, while Cali is more versatile in the theme park world, Orlando is the best pick, simply because there are more.
From Robert OGrosky on October 14, 2007 at 11:56 AM
Robert, when you get into thrill rides I would take the combination of thrill rides at Busch Gardens Africa/IOA over SFMM/Knotts any day!!
When you compare Hulk/DD and then Sheikra/Kumba/Montu it would beat out the top rides at SFMM/Knotts, then throw in Spiderman/TOT/Kraken etc, there is no comparsion in thrill rides IMHO .
From Chris Walton on October 14, 2007 at 4:23 PM
It should be a no-contest win for Florida. The Cali parks are condensed smaller parks (when it comes to Disney and Universal).
From David Kirby on October 15, 2007 at 5:52 AM
I think one of the main reasons Central Florida is so far ahead in this poll has to do with the Florida parks being more of vacation destination atracting visitors from across the US and the even the world, whereas the SoCal parks are visited mostly by locals. I doubt most people (myself included) on this site have ever been to any California parks. Put this poll on a few Disney fan sites and CA is sure to come out on top. I think in the end though Orlando comes out on top simply because there's no California Adventure.
From Bradley Robertson on October 15, 2007 at 8:30 AM
This is easy. Central Florida. Parks are cleaner, better kept, and the employees at most destinations are more customer service oriented. My wife and I thought Disney would be rolling in his grave had he seen how some of the employees treated us when we were at Disneyland in May.
From Joseph Boone on October 18, 2007 at 9:16 AM
I've lived in SoCal my whole life. Grew up going to DisneyLand, Magic Mountaint, etc. So it's only natural that I chose... Orlando. IOA is my favorite theme park by a very wide margin. I love USF as well, and would gladly take either one over USH. Animal Kingdom, Disney MGM, and Busch Gardens Africa are all fantastic places to spend the day. I love walking around Disneyland but too many of the rides are old and tired for my taste.

It doesn't help that our roller coaster park (Magic Mountain) is literally falling apart from lack of even the most basic maintenance. I never liked Knotts either as a kid or as an adult. Their roller coasters were always ridiculously short and most of the rest of their rides were county fair quality. It would be somewhat closer if I could add the San Diego Zoo to the SoCal tally but that isn't a theme park.

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