Tournament final: Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas vs. Universal Studios Florida's Halloween Horror Nights
By Robert NilesHere we are: the finals of the 2011 Theme Park Insider Tournament. For the past few weeks, we've been voting our way down to the final two as we select America's best theme park event. Today, we'll pick our winner.
Published: April 4, 2011 at 8:59 AM
The finalists are:
Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas
Readers have raved about the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee theme park bathing itself in lights and holiday decor for this annual holiday festival. Dollywood's known for its musical productions, and Smoky Mountain Christmas continues that tradition, with specially-themed shows for the season. The cold mountain weather's a great fit for the season, too, and readers say they appreciate Dollywood's embrace of religious symbolism in its Christmas celebration, instead of secularizing the holiday, as some other theme parks do with their Christmas events.
Universal Studios Florida's Halloween Horror Nights
USF didn't create the first theme park Halloween event. (Knott's Berry Farm in California earned that honor.) But Universal Orlando's taken Halloween to a new level, building an unparalleled event in terms of scope, popularity and economic impact. With its aggressive online social networking, Halloween Horror Nights has become almost a 12-month experience for its fans, rather than a one-night deal in October. Sure, fans rave about the scares and the haunts. But it's the overwhelming social camaraderie that builds in a great Halloween event such as this, as people come together in laughter or screams in response to the park's scareactors, that makes this event so beloved by its many fans.
These events are here because they have built strong emotional connections with their fans - connections that these parks have maintained through social media and used to drive votes in this tournament. Your fellow readers have spoken. If you've not checked out these events, you should.
But, as they say, only one can be the champion. It's time to vote.
I'd like to thank everyone for participating in this year's tournament. And I'd like to invite our new visitors to click around and take a closer look at the Theme Park Insider website. As dedicated fans of your favorite theme park, you've got some great insider experience and tips that I'm sure other readers around here would love to hear about. So, please, feel welcome to jump in on the discussion forum, tips page or park review pages to leave your ratings and reviews of the attractions you've experienced. We're just fans helping fans here, and we'd love to have you join us, too.
Update - Polls closed: And congratulations to Dollywood for its victory in the final, as Smoky Mountain Christmas has won the 2011 Theme Park Insider Tournament title as the Best Theme Park Event in America.
Thanks, again, to everyone who participated in this year's tournament!
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