You're right. I am jumping the gun. But once you've read what I have planned for next year, I think you will agree that an early start is necessary.
Let me back up and explain why we're doing this tournament in the first place. I envisioned the tournament as a fun way to get regular Theme Park Insider readers more involved with the site, to attract new readers, and to get everyone fired up at the beginning of the traditional theme park season. And if we throw some attention toward a really great ride, all the better.
The trick with the tournament always has been to create match-ups that were engaging and entertaining. No one cares about a 90%-10% blowout. Nor can readers get into debating the merits of a $80 million 4D dark ride versus a $50K off-the-shelf carny spinner. Rides matched up against each other need to have some common points of reference, so that readers can compare and contrast them.
The past two tournaments have exposed some frustrations that I wanted to address. (And I want to thank everyone who's offered suggestions on improving the tournament during that time.)
First, to help preserve meaningful match-ups, I limited the tournament to rides, and this year, to rides aimed at older kids and grown-ups. That excluded many great shows from the tournament, preventing many fans and readers from getting to debate their favorite attractions.
Also, the Great Cedar Point Invasion illuminated one of the continuing rifts that divides some theme and amusement park fans. Theme Park Insider's long been "neutral ground" in this space. We're not a Disney site nor a coaster site. We include readers who love parks from a variety of companies, and who are willing to consider rides and shows from just about anyone.
But we should be even more open and accommodating, to give coaster fans and themed entertainment fans plenty of opportunity to boast about their favorites. Therefore, next year, instead of running one tournament, we're going to run four!
The 2010 "Best Attraction" tournament will feature four 16-attraction tournaments, each of which will function as a separate bracket in an overall tournament to select the best overall attraction in either North America or the world.
The four brackets will be:
Best Themed Ride
This will feature rides that include significant storytelling, as well as a unique themed setting. Potential nominees in this category include The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Pirates of the Caribbean, Men in Black Alien Attack and Revenge of the Mummy.
Best Roller Coaster
This category is for the best in non-narrative coasters. If a coaster includes an elaborate themed setting, such as Mummy, it will go in the above category instead. Potential candidates here include Millennium Force, Griffon, Thunderhead and El Toro.
Best Live Show
This category honors shows where the majority of the action is presented by live performers. Notice that I didn't say live "people." Animal shows go into this category, allowing the many SeaWorld shows finally to join the tournament. Potential nominees include Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo - The Musical, Believe and Blue Horizons.
Best Multimedia Show
The final category is for shows where the majority of action is prerecorded or mechanically or digitally animated. Potential nominees include IllumiNations, Terminator 2: 3D, Impressions de France and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Once voters have selected the best in class for each bracket, the two rides will square off to determine the best ride, and the two shows will go against each other to determine the best show.
Then, the best ride and the best show will match up as readers select the best overall attraction.
Voting in the tournament will kick off next year at its traditional time in mid-March, and will continue to be open to all Theme Park Insider readers and visitors. But the build-up to next year's tournament will begin long before that.
The selection of the 16 nominated attractions in each class will continue to be determined primarily by Theme Park Insider's reader ratings. So, please, be sure to visit TPI after each park visit, to rate and review every attraction you experienced. Those ratings are essential in helping us pick the very best 16 attractions in each class.
(And please, don't bother rating attractions either "10" or "0", with nothing in between. To be honest, I've set up the site's publishing system to erase those votes, anyway. Let's not forget that I was a math major and can sniff out and purge bogus voting patterns. Most attractions should be in the 4-7 range, with a few outstanding attractions getting exceptional ratings.)
I will reveal the 16 nominees in each class in early January 2010. Then, for 64 days leading up to the tournament, we will run one feature a day profiling a nominated attraction. These profiles will include descriptions and photos and as well as videos and interviews with attraction designers or performers. With all this information available, no one will be able to use the excuse that he or she doesn't have enough information about an attraction to vote!
Obviously, this is going to be a huge reporting project. So, I'll ask for help right now. If you are or have been involved in the design or production of any attraction - ride or show - that you think ought to be in the top 16 in its category, and want to talk about it, e-mail me at themeparkinsider - at - gmail.com. I'll be starting the work of reporting on potential nominees right away. I won't save all that reporting for next year, either, but will be weaving much of it into the blog here on TPI throughout the summer and fall, as well.
If we can get enough TPI readers to rate and review attractions from listed parks around the world, and if I can enlist support from the designers and producers of those attractions, we will make this a "World's Best Attraction" tournament, instead of simply a "Best in America" one.
With all these previews, not to mention the voting itself, we'll have theme park fans covered with fun tournament coverage from New Year's week up until the regional parks open in the spring. No need to fear the dark days of winter next year.
I'm excited about these changes, and all the great content we'll have on the site, and hope that you will be, too!Tweet
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