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Theme park wants to know what you love most about a Christmas event

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Published: December 28, 2010 at 10:38 AM

I'm running a special mid-week vote this week upon the request of a manager at a small west-coast theme park that's considering a major expansion of its Christmas event for the 2011 holiday season. The park's managers want to know where to get the most bang for their investment bucks, though, so they've asked me to ask you.

So… what is it about a theme park's holiday event that you love most? What's the one element that you cherish above all the others? If a park was going to spend its bucks to improve one thing about a Christmas event, where would you like to see the park focus that investment? (Click "Archive Link" below if you do not see the poll immediately below when reading on the TPI front page.)

We'd love to hear some specific suggestions, in the comments. On behalf of our reader who asked for your feedback, thank you!

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on December 28, 2010 at 11:09 AM
Its nice that they are asking for your advice!

I voted for lights because its the most feasable and always is a nice touch if done right. Especially in the West Coast, lights would look beautiful!

I would have voted (if I could) for a parade as well! Seeing Santa in a parade is always a highlight for my family and I!

From Brandon Grayson on December 28, 2010 at 4:13 PM
I picked real snow because we never get it where I am.
From rick stevens on December 28, 2010 at 9:22 PM
I went for decor since the look puts me into the holiday spirit. If there was an "All of the above" I would have gone with that. I think the ambiance of the total package is what I like best.
From Tyler Stover on December 29, 2010 at 12:38 AM
My primary theme park holiday experience comes from Disney, so my views are certainly based on how they do it. I love Disney's A Christmas Fantasy Parade, but what really brings me back for the Holidays at Disneyland are the decorations. They just get me in the best mood and are a visual delight. If you're asking "bang for the buck" I figure that is the best place to start.
From 68.6.247.162 on December 29, 2010 at 12:23 PM
I picked Fireworks, since we no longer "always" get to see them. Although the lights and decorations do "make it" the holiday season.
From 99.132.73.241 on December 29, 2010 at 3:13 PM
Decorations! A local park that I go to has some great decorations welcoming you into the park...and then once you're out of sight of the front gate it could be any day of the year unless you look at what the guests are wearing.
From Mary Ann Nowak on December 29, 2010 at 6:03 PM
The Candlelight Processional at Epcot is quite amazing. I really hadn't heard too much about it, and went for the first time in 2007. The music, along with the narration of the Christmas Story by a celebrity definitely would put you in the Christmas spirit. (This might not be for everyone, depending on your religious beliefs)
From 173.136.44.40 on December 29, 2010 at 6:46 PM
We booked a 7 day Christmas vacation at Walt Disney World and cannot recommend that anyone go there with small children or when the park is busy. We took our 5 & 6 year old children. By day two, they were begging to go home, and crying when we said we were going back to the park. The park was dangerously oversold. We got no indication from anyone that this was the busiest time of the year and Disney failed to tell us that it was, and also failed to mention that they had plans to oversell the park to the point of dangerous overcrowded occupancy. We were unable to ride but one ride per day. It was nearly impossible to navigate the park. There were lines for everything, and lines for lines. We paid $14 to park each day, $8 for a hot dog, and $3.50 for a soft drink (if you can wait in line long enough). Expect about $120/day for a family of four, minimum, in ancillary expenses (that does not include buying gifts). The park staff were stressed and often rude (many of them, not all), and we got trapped behind a parade and unable to leave the park on the first night for 2.5 hours. When we exited, there was mass confusion, inability to see signs or directional issues due to overcrowding. It was very dangerous in our opinion. On the 26th, a man was killed by being struck by a Disney bus....the second person who has died in 2010 from being struck by a Disney bus. Given our exit experiences, we can see how this could happen. In the bottle necks of the park, it is literally shoulder to shoulder, and you cannot have a child walking by themselves. Our son's foot was run over by one of the thousands of rented wheelchairs. I think that Disney has a duty to inform guests, who have never been there, about the possibility that they may not even be able to get into a park over Christmas, much less enjoy any part of it. We asked for a refund and they greedily refused. In fact, a guest services supervisor told me that the overcrowding was my opinion and that they had not even reached maximum occupancy (very scary...wait for photos and you decide). Unfortunately, our view, our kids' view, and the views of everyone that we encountered within earshot complaining of Walt Disney World is that it is dangerous, overcrowded, overpriced, and greedy. This was a first visit for all of us, and we don't plan to go back...ever, and unfortunately Disney has created a very negative image in the minds of our children, despite our efforts to downplay the problems. I will post videos and photos evidencing this debacle once I have them available. I have read many good reviews of Walt Disney World, and we are shocked at just how much things have changed from what we have read. It is our strong recommendation to avoid Walt Disney World for the reasons above. Even if the park were not so busy, their lack of customer service, their disregard for safety, and the greed surpassed all expectations of common sense. All in all, we did not have a "magical" experience.
From michael hogerhuis on January 2, 2011 at 5:23 PM
I was born and raised in Orange County, California and do not like the cold so I never go to the mountains for snow. So when Disneyland has everyone out on Main Street, it is decorated for the season and the big X-mas tree is out, we are drinking our hot chocolate, and then they make it snow, it is an awesome experience for the whole family to enjoy =)

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