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Readers choose Orlando attractions over Southern California's in TPI's Theme Park Showdown

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Published: October 17, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Thank you to everyone who voted in our Theme Park Insider Orlando/Southern California Showdown last week. The final score was Orlando 9, Southern California 3, but I think it's interesting to note that the score was Orlando 3, SoCal 0 on the non-Disney attractions that competed. I don't think I'd get much disputing that Orlando's got a deeper pool of theme park attractions outside the Disney parks than Southern California does, thanks to the extra offerings at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. (Though, if we were voting on thrill rides, I have no doubt that Southern California would rout Orlando in that voting.)

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Your biggest Showdown winner? The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Of course, we were voting only on attractions shared in both locations. While I made a pitch for the virtues of San Diego's version of Journey to Atlantis, I expected that ride to lose overwhelmingly to the Orlando original, which it did. But I still think readers stiffed Universal Studios Hollywood's version of Jurassic Park, by choosing the Islands of Adventure version instead.

On the Disney rides and shows, the final score was Orlando 6, Southern California 3. I think the Orlando parks enjoyed a natural advantage, given how many more people visit the Orlando parks than the Southern California ones each year. If you look at the annual theme park attendance figures, each Orlando park outdraws its Southern California counterpart. In addition, the SoCal parks rely more on multiple visits from locals to boost their attendance than do the Orlando parks, further widening the gap in the number of actual individuals who visit the parks each year.

That said - Space Ranger Spin over Astro Blasters? Really? I voted for Disneyland's Space Mountain over Orlando's too, given the on-ride music, better starfield and much smoother ride. (Though I concede that Disney World's version has the comfiest roller coaster seats ever and a better queue.)

If you are interested, we didn't vote on Star Tours or Toy Story because those are identical on both coasts, once you get past the queues. I wanted to limit the voting to attractions where there was some significant difference in the ride or show itself. Same goes for Shrek 4-D, The Simpsons Ride, and a slew of attractions in the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland.

Finally, I want to announce that I am planning to bring back the annual Theme Park Insider ride tournament next spring, and learned a few things from this mini-tournament that I'll be applying to that event. I've got some ideas on how I can distinguish it from many of the other ride tournaments that have appeared on the Web since we first ran ours back in 2008. Keep reading - I'll be revealing more details this winter.

Orlando/Southern California Theme Park Showdown winners:

Readers' Opinions

From Sylvain Comeau on October 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM
I would agree with Robert in that DL's Buzz should have won. Also, DL's Space Mountain is better in many ways, but I voted for the MK's version because it is more thrilling. I do think more WDW regulars voted in this poll. It would be nice if people abstained from voting unless they have experienced both attractions.
From TH Creative on October 17, 2011 at 11:01 AM
Sigh ... and the Jungle Cruise gets snubbed.

Disappointed.

From Anon Mouse on October 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM
I thought that Disneyland should have won the majority of the Disney attractions. Disneyland's versions were clearly superior as evidenced by the overall experience and their better upkeep.

I do agree that since many have mostly experienced the WDW version that maybe it was good enough.

From Sylvain Comeau on October 17, 2011 at 2:18 PM
WDW deserved to win some of these (HM, TOT) while others were debateable (Splash, Space Mountain). I think WDW would have won for the Jungle Cruise, since they have the longer version, with an extra scene. The JC at DL had to be shortened a bit to make way for Indy.
From Brandon Mendoza on October 17, 2011 at 3:35 PM
Not that my single vote would have made much of a difference (I missed all voting except for Fantasmic!), I'm surprised as much as Robert is at how lop sided Orlando's win was in this.

I would have hoped that Astro Blasters, Space Mountain in DLR, and Jurassic Park Hollywood would have won. I feel they are at least marginally superior than their East Coast Counter Parts... Astro Blasters being much more flexible with the cords, Space Mountain with the Halloween overlay as well as the on board sound (there's no sound in space so it doesn't make sense to have sounds as you pass things... but yeah, you do hear the other cars on both), and JP having the Explorer fall as well as the Barbasol Easter Egg... not to mention the double attack of the T-Rex.

Tower of Terror, IASW, Mummy, and Atlantis are definitely superior by far in Orlando. Much much better on the East Coast for multiple reasons... almost too many to break down in a few sentences!

And Splash Mountain shouldn't have been such a landslide considering how much the show is shoddy these days in Orlando.

I'm not making excuses for the West Coast, but attendance numbers alone make me think that a lot of people voted for their "side" even if they haven't been to the other coast.

From José María Sandoval on October 17, 2011 at 6:55 PM
Well done Robert
From steve lee on October 18, 2011 at 4:58 AM
Oh, let's be honest. Half the people who voted for the Orlando attractions have never ridden the California version. People flat out admitted it in the comments. That's the ultimate problem with polls like this - it's impossible to qualify the voters.
From 198.30.160.191 on October 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM
Did I miss it or was there no voting for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad? It's in both locations, though I think the WDW one is far superior.
From Sylvain Comeau on October 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Brandon, I agree with your comments, for the most part. But IASW far better in Orlando?
From Brandon Mendoza on October 18, 2011 at 10:43 PM
@ Sylvain - OOPS! IASW definitely NOT better in WDW. I must have had a brain fart.
From Jacob Sundstrom on October 19, 2011 at 2:17 PM
I really can not believe that Space Ranger Spin beat Astro Blasters! SRS was AWFUL in comparison, in my opinion.

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