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2009 in review: The top theme park news posts of the year

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Published: December 29, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Yesterday, we talked about what I thought was the biggest overall story of the year in theme parks - the financial deals that involved all of the top U.S. chains. But were the most read individual stories on the Blog Flume in 2009?

Here are the top 10, by page views: (Note that I am not including tournament or voting posts in this list)

  1. Six Flags Over Georgia flooded
  2. Baby otters at SeaWorld Orlando
  3. Worldwide Disney Parks updates from Imagineering
  4. Disneyland debuts changes to 'It's a Small World' [with video]
  5. Kings Island closes Son of Beast
  6. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit lights up the night at Universal Orlando
  7. Obama's Inauguration, in Legos
  8. Soft opening for Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit this weekend?
  9. Universal Orlando giving away 300,000 free 7-day tickets
  10. Disney offers free passes to active and retired U.S. military

Given that many frequent Theme Park Insider visitors read our pieces on the front page of the site, this list skews toward pieces popular with folks more likely to visit the article pages directly - typically, infrequent or first-time visitors who come to the site via a search engine query or link from another website.

I suspect that a list of the most-commented articles might provide a more accurate glimpse at what stories regular Theme Park Insider readers found most compelling in 2009. Here is that top 10: (Again, not including tournament or voting posts)

  1. Disney to acquire Marvel; problems for Islands of Adventure?
  2. What are the most overrated theme park attractions in America?
  3. No big surprises as Disney announces theme park expansions at D23
  4. Blackstone Group buys the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme park chain for $2.3 billion+
  5. Should theme parks build kids' lands?
  6. Announcing Theme Park Insider's 2009 Summer Roadtrip
  7. Harry Potter and the quest for your entertainment dollar
  8. What's the most underrated theme park attraction?
  9. Two monorails collide at Walt Disney World, killing driver
  10. Disney stops serving all-beef hot dogs

Curiously, there was no overlap between the lists, though several of the most-commented stories placed between 11-30 among the most viewed. Given that the Disney purchase of Marvel topped this list, as well as yesterday's reader vote, I'm going to go ahead and declare that, in the view of Theme Park Insider readers, that acquisition was the biggest individual story of the year in the theme park business.

Next year, as always it seems, I suspect we'll see even bigger stories, including the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

And, of course, we'll probably see a few more cute pictures on the site, too:

Baby otters at SeaWorld

Please share you thoughts about the year past, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on December 29, 2009 at 6:53 PM
Plenty of good stuff happened in 2009, with my favorite announcement being the expansion at the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland. However, I did my best (I use the term loosely) writing in the "Should theme parks build kids' lands?" thread where Robert so aptly likened the kiddie sections at most park chains to theme park ghettos. Ha! That was awesome!

But I digress...

Looking into my Crystal Ball for 2010, I present my personal top ten theme park related events of the year:

1) Riding a refurbed Space Mountain at Mk, visiting the Sum of All Thrills at Epcot, and dancing a jig with the Yeti in May.
2) Reading about Potter Land at IOA. Sadly, I do not have an IOA visit scheduled for 2010 as the RRR fiasco in 2009 has me worried about when the main attraction in Potter Land will actually be operating (I'll hit Universal in May 2011 if I am still alive).
3) Riding Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion when I visit my old Virginia stomping grounds in August.
4) Riding Tom & Huck's River Blast at Silver Dollar City several times over the course of the summer as I make my now routine visits to SDC.
5) Partaking in my first visit to Wild Adventures since Herschend took over in late 2007 (I love Herschend). While I don't expect much, it will be nice to ride Celebration City's Jack Rabbit at WA once the coaster move is complete in 2010.
6) Visiting Adventure Mountain at Dollywood on my return trip from Orlando.
7) Seeing what happens at Worlds of Fun, if anything, now that new ownership is in place.
8) Reading about Wildebeast at Holiday World, the worlds longest water coaster (maybe a 2011 visit is in the works?).
9) Monitoring the continued progress at DCA.
10) Reading TPI daily.

Plus there is expansion at Adventureland (Altoona, IA) to report, continued progress on Schiltterbahn's Vacation Village (Kansas) to witness, and another year of the Six Flags Bankruptcy Soap Opera to be enjoyed.

Sure, looking back at 2009 is a blast, but looking forward to 2010 is even better!

From Joshua Counsil on December 29, 2009 at 2:39 PM
Baby otters was the second-highest read story? Ha!
From Anthony Murphy on December 29, 2009 at 2:58 PM
I thought the crash article and discussion was insightful and interesting. None of my stories made it on the list :( JK, I know that not everybody goes to SFGA on the site (like a handful).

My plans for theme parks:

My family has decided to try Disneyland and the California parks on for size this year.

No worries WDW, we will be visiting our new favorite event, EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival

SFGA (had to bring it up) will be visited by me and I am hoping this year, we can perhaps make TPI teams at our local SF parks for Walk in the Parks event. More details coming soon (like in four months!)

From Robert Niles on December 29, 2009 at 3:32 PM
My 12-year-old daughter duped the otter photo and uses it as the desktop image on her laptop. She also has a print-out on the wall of her room. (She's named the otters Saltwater, Seaweed, Pipsqueak and Whiskers.) So, uh, yeah, some people really liked the otters. (It did get linked to from several sites that do nothing but link to cute animal photos, which explains the traffic surge.)

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