Vote of the week: Are you more a Disney fan or a theme park fan?
Published: April 13, 2012 at 2:23 PM
When people ask me who reads Theme Park Insider, I usually respond that this is a site for theme park fans who aren't necessarily just Disney fans. And who aren't simply roller coaster fans, either.
Fans lining up to visit a theme park that isn't Disney's.
A lot of the millions of people who visit the Disney theme park each year do so because they're Disney fans - they love the company's movies, TV shows and theme parks. But they don't necessarily care about anyone else's theme parks, and many Disney fans never visit them.
At the other end of the fan spectrum, perhaps, are the roller coaster fans - people who value thrill over theme and who travel the country in search of airtime. For them, a trip to a Disney park is a rare occasion, more a favor to other family members who wanted to go than a chance to increase their coaster count.
Theme Park Insider exists, at least in my mind, for those of us in the middle - people who enjoy and value themed attractions but aren't beholden just to Disney. We enjoy Universal, SeaWorld and the best of other companies' parks, as well as Disney. Sure, we enjoy roller coaster rides now and then, just as we go see Disney movies when they look good. But the world's best and most popular theme parks are our focus.
Hey, that's what I think. Today's vote is about what you think. I figure it's time to put my assumption to the test and to ask you, the Theme Park Insider community, where your loyalties lie.
Rather than pushing you toward one extreme or the other, I've given you five choices. Here are the options for this weekend's vote, with explanations for each. Please pick the option that best describes you.
I'm a Disney fan. Period - You care only about the Disney theme parks, and have no interest in reading about, much less visiting, anyone else's parks. You're here today only because this post included the word "Disney." A lot.
I'm mostly a Disney fan, but like other parks, too - You're primarily a Disney fan, but sometimes visit other companies' theme and amusement parks, even though you devote most of your trips to Disney.
I'm equally a Disney fan and a theme park fan - You're a fan both of Disney and of theme parks. You visit the Disney parks, but care just as much about Universal, SeaWorld or other parks, as well, and visit them just as often. But you've got some Disney collectibles at home and consider yourself a fan of all things Disney.
I'm mostly a theme park fan, but like the Disney parks, too - You're primarily a theme park fan. You visit and like to read about Walt Disney World or Disneyland in addition to other parks, but don't especially care for the rest of what Disney offers any more than the stuff from other movie studios or entertainment companies.
I'm a theme park fan who doesn't care about Disney - You're a theme park fan who doesn't care about Disney at all. You visit only other companies' parks and look forward to spring, when we start writing more about those parks instead of all this Disney stuff.
Time to vote.
As always, thank you for reading Theme Park Insider. Whatever your reasons. ;^)
I never really had any interest in the Disney parks myself, always preferring a trip to Universal Studios or Cedar Point if it was left to me. I did recently visit Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, though, and I enjoyed them a lot. I was actually very surprised by the quality and uniqueness of most of the rides. Since I was a kid, I always thought of Universal as the main pioneer in themed attractions, and never really thought of Disney as more than kid stuff. I see it in a different light now, but I still consider myself an overall theme park fan than a Disney fan.
I prefer theme parks to iron ride parks, and my favorite theme parks are Disney parks. However, I also love roller coasters! Too bad parks like Cedar Point, Magic Mountain, and Kings Dominion won't add more story, theme, and special effects to their great coasters....
Anyway, if I had to rank the major chains, I would rank them as follows:
Disney Universal Herschend (SDC / Dollywood) Busch SeaWorld Cedar Fair Six Flags
I'm mostly a Theme Park fan, but like Disney also. Heh, I don't discriminate. Busch Gardens, Disney, Universal (alphabetical order, so as not to favor)and any park that is heavily themed is my thing. But, in my opinion, I consider Amusement Parks & Coaster Parks on a lower level. I'll go to them if in the area but would no longer base a vacation on attending them. I've been spoiled by the Theme Parks' ambiance and immersive attractions and excellent shows.
I'd like to call my self equally a Disney and Theme park fan, but with my Nearly all Disney childhood, a sister and brother-in-law who 120% Disney, i have to call my self primarily a Disney fan who enjoys all theme parks as well. I'm gradually bending my family's ways to include other parks. For example, I'm a season passholder at SFOG, went to Dollywood this past summer, and am going to Universal Orlando in about a couple months for the first time in like 12 or 15 years! So i'm gradually trying to go to more general parks; i like them all!
I like al the big Orlando parks. Great theming, great stories and great shows. That said Disney is more and moring getting lower on my list. The lack of story (like castle projection show, Soarin) and some disapointings newr attractions like the Dinoland area, tha mission to mars attraction at Epcot or the ugly car show at the studios make me like them less and less. Also some attractions are in a horrible state like Ellens Enrgie crysis, imagination or the yetti part of the coaster in Animal Kingdom. Universal and Sea world are getting better al the time and put out some amazing attractions and when I was first pulled to Disney now I more often go to the other parks. Also the festvals like Mardi Grass and the Christmas offerings at Sea World are getting more exited than the same old stuff at Disney. But don´t get me wrong I like there differences and think they are all great but I move a little more now off Disney.
I've enjoyed my experiences at Disney parks, and I voted as a theme park fan who also likes Disney parks. But I'm a roller coaster guy, as most of you know. I would substitute the word "amusement" for "theme" as theming is not terribly important to me. If a great roller coaster with no theming sits basically on a parking lot..hello, Dominator...I'm happy as a proverbial clam, baby.
Published: April 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM
I'm a big Disney fan, but it's mainly because they create such great theme parks. I also have really enjoyed the Universal parks, Holiday World, and even some Six Flags parks. If a ride is done well, I'm cool with wherever it's located. Disney has come back to the pack, but they still are on top overall.
I am equally a Disney fan and theme park fan. While the Disney parks may have been my first theme parks visited, they opened up another world for me. After visiting so many others and living close by to a popular Busch Gardens park in Williamsburg, I feel that they all have something to contribute to the industry and to the guests that visit.
I voted equal. I am vastly more familiar with Disney, and think the general experiences they offer are better than most of the amusement industry, but I still travel around the country to visit all the parks I can. I had a goal of riding over 100 different coasters, and I was surprised how easy that was, and now I keep going further for a new coaster or park.
I only cared about Disney until Tranformers opened last year, also i always prefered disneyland for the history more than disney parks in Florida even with the Harry Potter´s atraction close, and now i want go to universal hollywood too, and i am not a big fan of transformers franchise, now i am fan of themes parks rides. The point is transformers and disneyland so close is perfect. Over seas I think Disneysea is the best "theme park" in the world.
I'm equally a Disney and Universal fan, but not much else. I've got Carowinds up the road and have been twice in 34 years. Same for Six Flags in Atlanta. Been to Seaworld once. Like most of the state, never bothered with Hardrock.
I think there should be another category: "I'm a Disney fan with strong loyalty to my home park." I was raised on Disney. Rarely a year went by without a family vacation there and therefore I am a huge Disney fan. That said, I am incredibly loyal to Busch Gardens Williamsburg as my home park. And, by extension, I am loyal to the Seaworld / Busch Gardens franchise.
I definitely enjoy other parks. And visiting offers a lot of variety, but in the long run I could give up the six flags and cedar fairs of the world for Disney and BGW.
I voted I'm more of a Disney fan, but enjoy other parks too. Magic Kingdom was the first park I ever went to, and today it's still my favorite park. Sure, I like Universal, Seaworld and Busch Gardens are meh on me as I'm not a thrill fan (not to mention little to no theming on most rides), and LEGOland is just downright awful.
Published: April 13, 2012 at 8:25 PM
As a SoCal family we love Disneyland and California Adventure and just renewed our passes. Magic Mountain/Hurricane Harbor is much closer. We got passes last year but probably won't this year. We're not too much into big rollercoasters and looooong lines and rude clientelle. Universal Studios is closer too but probably won't get passes there again this year. Not enough rides and long lines, maybe when Harry Potter comes.
I like them all. Busch Gardens, Disneyland, Dollywood, Holiday World...pretty much any park with quality attractions is worth visiting in my mind. Even Six Flags and Cedar Fair properties, which are primarily unthemed thrill rides are enjoyable (though not to the same extent). I currently have passes to Disneyland Resort and Knott's Berry Farm, as well as a three day Universal Studios Hollywood pass and formerly had a Six Flags season pass (SFMM isn't getting something to justify multiple 90+ minute drives this year or I would have renewed). On the two theme park tours I've done, even the smaller parks you probably wouldn't have heard of if you weren't a local (Great Escape, Lake Compounce, La Ronde, Quassy Amusement Park, etc.) were fun even if they only had a half-dozen rides of a generic variety. In fact, on this year's tour the only major park is Canada's Wonderland. To me, each park is unique and holds its own charm, and even at the worst park it is possible to have a good day. I have yet to find any park I truly hated, although there are a handful I would never care to return to.
I have to agree with Tom Rigg. I am first and foremost a DisneyNUT, I love and support pretty much everything Disney. It will always be my first love. But, I love my other parks as well. As a Houston native, we had many firsts in AstroWorld, but the extremely poor Six Flags management let the once funtastic park fall into complete ruin where parents would let their kids play while they went to work. As season pass was only around $100 (now that's cheap babysitting.) Gangs also roamed the park in the end so no parents brought their children to aid the park with an influx of income and there is nothing left of AstroWorld now...just flat land where mountains and lakes once stood. Also, I am very loyal to Sea World, TX in San Antonio...the largest of the Sea World Parks and this year we finally get the new Aquatica. Six Flags Fiesta Texas still ranks in the folks but there is a better bread at Sea World and the behind the scenes tours are great. Have not been to Six Flags Over Texas (the original Six Flags park)in a while but I hear they have really improved the place. Now I do not mean to be presumptious but Disney, you need a resort on the third coast and Houston is ready!!! We would also love a high quality Busch Gardens back in Houston...the only thing left of the orginal Bush Gardens of the 1970's is the brewery were you could once tour and get a taste for free. AWwwwww, memories.
Published: April 13, 2012 at 9:42 PM
I voted as being mostly a theme park fan, but I like Disney, too. Theme parks just blend the theming and the thrills so well. Call me a heretic, but I've actually always preferred Universal to Disney, anyway.
I'm a theme park fan that likes Disney parks too. I don't care about Disney movies, TV shows, merchandise or music. Until moving to FL in 2002, I only visited WDW on 6 days in 4 visits. I like spectacle and larger than life entertainment and theme parks provide that. Rides, coasters, shows and other attractions are more or less equal in my mind for providing entertainment. Right now I have APs for Universal Orlando and Busch Tampa/Seaworld Orlando. My AP for Walt Disney World lapsed last month and I may not renew until September. This summer will be Disney free and I think I will enjoy that.
I'm from back in the time where there were amusement parks and Disneyland. That's it. Parents frowned on amusement parks pretty much - as I've read it - for the same reasons as Uncle Walt. They were dirty, had bad clientele (where's spellcheck?)and, I suspect were probably beyond our means most of the time - I went to Edgewater Park once with my uncle and I was too young to remember anything much about it; my family did do several outings to Bob-lo, though. Neither park has lived to tell about it. And, since we lived in MI, we never made it to DL...
until we moved to CA in '60. First trip was in the first half of the '60's and...
What was the question? Oh, yeah. Disney was the only theme park out there for a long time and that's my background. Although we did enjoy the original Busch Gardens...well, not the Pasadena one but v.2 in Van Nuys ('66-'79). I suspect the free admission, free beer and, IIRC, free parking had something to do with it.
I think I voted "equally". But now I really don't remember.
I put mostly a Disney fan. I have been to many different other parks and have enjoyed them. Every time I go to Walt Disney World though, the place amazes me. To me nothing will ever comepare to the Disney parks. If I could go back to Walt Disney World once a year or more for the rest of my life, it would be great. I live in New Jersey and have been to Great Adventure many times but now I think that if I NEVER went back there again it would be fine with me.
I would say I am mostly a Disney fan, but I do like other Theme Parks as well.
What makes me like Disney parks more than others has to do with that Disney Parks, for the most part, are pioneers in Theme Park form and function. I will explain using my home park SFGA, which I will admit is actually one of the better SF parks out there:
Disneyland, as small as it is, is still a park that is relivitly easy to get around and everything seems to be set up in the perfect spot. They have repeated this spoke and wheel at MK, AK, DLP, HKDL, and TDL. SFGA has the wheel, but not the spoke which makes it sometimes more challenging to get around.
Going further, many of the Disney attractions are experiments in crowd movement and control. One attraction I know we all like to hate is the Dark Knight Roller coaster at the Six Flags Park. It never stops moving, but it only can carry 600 people per hour. Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Carribean, on the other hand, can carry over 1,000 people per hour.
Also, Disney has seem to revolutionize the classic theme park ride and has given it a theme and a new face:
Mission Space is a Gravetron Tower of Terror is a Drop Tower Star Wars is a Motion Simulator Its Tough to be a Bug is a 3D Movie Rockin Roller Coaster is (well) a Steel Roller Coaster.
While I like Disney, I like the parks more for what they offer in form and function (if that makes sense).
SFGA, my home park, is a roller coaster wonder which has stayed pretty stable from competly throwing out theme for thrills. They are on the brink of being a spectacular park. I highly suggest a visit to anybody!
After giving it some thought, I've decided that it's hard for me to not be a Disney fan as a theme park fan. Without Disney, it's likely we wouldn't have theme parks - at least, not to the degree we have them today.
Interesting vote. In general, I think theme park enthusiast websites have such a huge focus on the Florida parks that it is a shame that other theme parks around the globe don't get as much coverage. There is a wealth of information that we don't know about some theme parks because they just don't get the coverage. I am by no means complaining - but it is just frustrating when certain outstanding attractions get overlooked in votes and discussions because of a huge Orlando bias.
I really do love Disney and it has a special place in my heart. From a toddler to now, the magic of Walt Disney has always been there to make the world a better place. I've worked for The Walt Disney Company and it hasn't diluted the fact that whenever I go to a Magic Kingdom park I, and I am not ashamed to say this, moved to tears whenever I hear the familiar music and carefree atmosphere (after all it is the happiest place on Earth). Disney's parks are a blueprint for everything a good theme park should be.
On the other hand I am an avid follower and rider of new rides and roller coasters. Just because there is no theming doesn't mean a ride isn't good. As someone who lives in England I get very little chance to visit the Disney parks but when I do I know that the experience is second to none. But that said, one should not ignore the fact that places like that exist elsewhere. Eftleing in Holland has been around longer than the original Disneyland but it's virtually the same in terms of suspension of disbelief. The attention detail and loving care is evident in everything you see.
So for that reason being a Disney fan and a theme park fan, in my eyes, cannot be mutually exclusive. I love everything Disney equally as I love theme parks in general. I am just thankful that every now and again I can go to a place that combines these two. Where I can leave the world behind. The magic of Disney is alive in all good theme parks whether we like it or not.
I was a theme park fan and in 2000 I visited Disney for the first time and from that experince, I then became a Disney fan too. I think you have to experince the Disney parks to really apreciate being a disney fan and seeing the work that is put into the place! (such as the peanuts in the ground near the newly renovated Dumbo ride - I saw this on Orlando Attractions Magazine)
@ Flavio, I'd have to humbly disagree. If people want to vote middle ground, that's their prerogative. Plus, the options weren't presented in a 1 through 5 manner so I don't think that people are affected as much as you think. I'd like to think that TPI fans are passionate about their love for Disney and/ or love for other theme parks. There isn't a penalty for voting that you love only one or the other, just as there isn't a reward for voting that you both or one more than the other.
That being said, I'm more of a Disney fan than a theme park fan. Universal, while still fun is still too "edgy" for my taste. Although USF drastically raised the bar with the Wizarding World, the fact that USH has a vastly inferior Mummy Ride, a mediocre 3D Shrek Show, and the worst use of Fast & the Furious cars ("dancing" German cars on an exploding Japanese set set to Latin Dance Music? really??? That's the best they could do?) really shows me that Universal on the West Coast has a long way to go. Magic Mountain, while physically fun, lacks any sort of visual theme. I prefer to be transported to worlds that I can't go to than be thrown around. And Knott's is just... sad.
I'm a Disney fan, but I love all theme parks. The problem with Disney is it isn't keeping with the competition. Something is wrong when they won't consider new technology in what Universal is doing. There's a lack of awareness. Disney also seems out of touch with the way they are pricing their parks and their use of Fastpass, and the new Nextgen. They are wasting their money and worsening guest experience.
Anon Mouse writes: "Disney also seems out of touch with the way they are pricing their parks and their use of Fastpass, and the new Nextgen. They are wasting their money and worsening guest experience."
I Respond: How do you see the impact of that assertion manifesting itself? Decreasing park revenues? Lower attendance? Negative comments?
I find it interesting that most of the comments about being a Disney fan reference the theme parks. I thought I was making clear in the question that "Disney fan" meant being a fan of everything Disney does, and not just the parks. Did people read it that way?
@ Robert Niles: I read it as referring to Disney parks in comparison to general theme parks. That said as I said above, for me personally I can't find the two mutually exclusive as Disney forms the blueprint for most theme parks. Now that I realise you are talking about all things Disney I do feel like a mother having to choose her favourite child something I couldn't do. I know there was an 'I like them equally' choice but still.
Now I feel like I started with a point and now I don't know what I'm trying to say. I love Disney and I love theme parks just like I love bananas and toffee. They're just better when they're together.
@THC "How do you see the impact of that assertion manifesting itself? Decreasing park revenues? Lower attendance? Negative comments?"
Primarily negative comments and the seeking of alternatives. I don't see Disney impacted from revenues and lower attendance. It is awfully hard to displace Disney for what it offers, but there will be alternative experiences that are more suitable their needs. This has already occurred via the rise of Legoland, Universal, and SeaWorld. (Disney's Magic Your Way passes are a ripoff. It presents admission to 4 parks in 4 days as the best deal when it isn't true. $250 is too much to spend for questionable value.)
Previously, it was assumed that Universal will go the way of Six Flags (irrelevant and money losing). I thought so myself, but this didn't happen. Now, rejuvenated from Harry Potter and its advancements in ride technology has made Universal the go to place instead of Disney.
Disney does a poor job of another niche market, young kids. Legoland and SeaWorld takes the lead in this area.
I can see Disney making inroads with its purchase of Marvel for the boy and genre market in light of how they didn't license Harry Potter, but hmmm.. Star Wars is right there and ready to be exploited. Disney needs a Star Wars Land. Well, at least Legoland got that one right.
Disney's competition is rising to fill the void that Disney has intentionally missed. Frankly, a dollar that isn't spent at Disney is spent elsewhere. Vacation dollars once spent elsewhere will never be spent at Disney for that particular year. For myself, I have yet to go to Disney this year. My toddler is best entertained from SeaWorld and Legoland. The rides are more suited for her age and height. Besides, when you only have 3 hours, which is what happens with kids, you have to wonder why bother with Disney when you spent so much to get inside.
“I did recently visit Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, though, and I enjoyed them a lot. I was actually very surprised by the quality and uniqueness of most of the rides.”
“I prefer theme parks to iron ride parks, and my favorite theme parks are Disney parks.”
“i have to call my self primarily a Disney fan who enjoys all theme parks as well.
“I'm a big Disney fan, but it's mainly because they create such great theme parks.”
“I am vastly more familiar with Disney, and think the general experiences they offer are better than most of the amusement industry.”
“There's no place like Disney. You just come alive when you step inside the parks. I LOVE DISNEY!!!”
“I was raised on Disney. Rarely a year went by without a family vacation there and therefore I am a huge Disney fan.
“I voted I'm more of a Disney fan, but enjoy other parks too. Magic Kingdom was the first park I ever went to, and today it's still my favorite park.”
“I am first and foremost a DisneyNUT, I love and support pretty much everything Disney.”
“Every time I go to Walt Disney World though, the place amazes me.”
“What makes me like Disney parks more than others has to do with that Disney Parks, for the most part, are pioneers in Theme Park form and function.”
“Without Disney, it's likely we wouldn't have theme parks - at least, not to the degree we have them today.”
“I really do love Disney and it has a special place in my heart. From a toddler to now, the magic of Walt Disney has always been there to make the world a better place.”
“I think you have to experience (sic) the Disney parks to really appreciate (sic) being a disney fan and seeing the work that is put into the place!”
Anon Mouse writes: I don't see Disney impacted from revenues and lower attendance.
And then Anon Mouse writes: “Disney's competition is rising to fill the void that Disney has intentionally missed. Frankly, a dollar that isn't spent at Disney is spent elsewhere. Vacation dollars once spent elsewhere will never be spent at Disney for that particular year.
I Respond: So does that mean revenue is impacted or it’s not impacted?
Anon Mouse: This has already occurred via the rise of Legoland, Universal, and SeaWorld.
I Respond: Not sure about Legoland (it has not been open a full year). Universal got a jolt from Potter. Looking forward to see how that jump sustains in next months TEA attendance report. As for Sea World, I’m not sure you can claim a park that experienced a 12% drop in attendance in 2010 can be considered on a rise.
Anon Mouse: And THC, why so defensive of Disney?
I Respond: I don’t think I was being defensive. I was surprised by the claim and assumed you had a reason for advancing the assertion.
Anon Mouse writes: Only 5% selected "I'm a Disney fan. Period". There are many people looking for alternatives.
I Respond: Actually, 5% voted “I'm a theme park fan who doesn't care about Disney.” 95% responded to the other answers – all of which, to some degree, indicate that they have a relatively positive opinion of Disney.
Anon Mouse: “I never made any claim about revenue.
I Respond: Um ... you wrote “Frankly, a dollar that isn't spent at Disney is spent elsewhere.” That would be an implication about revenue … hence my inquiry.
Anon Mouse: “Instead, I was challenged to prove my assertion with hard evidence.”
I Respond: Actually I just asked a couple of questions. Your post was fairly assertive and I was just assuming you had an opinion as to how the circumstances you describe will manifest themselves. If Disney is in fact “out of touch with the way they are pricing their parks” and truly “worsening guest experience” it would seem logical that it would be illustrated by drops in attendance, revenue or some other measurable condition.
Truth be told, the Los Angeles Times reported on February 7, 2012: “Disney said revenue for parks and resorts rose 10% to $3.2 billion in the (first quarter of 2012), compared with a year earlier, and that operating income increased 18% to $553 million. The company said visitors were spending more at its domestic parks.”
Anon Mouse: I will say Disney is likely spooked. Why else will they license the Blue Man Group (Avatar)?
I Respond: I’d say it is because their business model is historically based on expanding the parks. Walt Disney is famous for saying (paraphrased) that his parks would “never be finished” and that Walt Disney World gave them room to grow.
Make no mistake, I think Disney is troubled by a handful of concerns – mainly the weak performance of DVC and box office humiliation by productions like “Mars Needs Moms” and “John Carpenter.” But I doubt that Disney's execs are currently concerned about the performance of their theme park operations.
"all of which, to some degree, indicate that they have a relatively positive opinion of Disney."
Positive opinion does not mean they do not have an negative opinion as well as I have voted. The poll merely asks if you're a Disney Fan or a Theme Park Fan and lots of variations. It is nice that you have qualified your remark with "to some degree" and "relatively". Why are you rebutting me when you already conceded?
"Um ... you wrote"
I never made any claim about revenue in my original post (April 16, 2012 at 1:22 PM). That was in my follow up post where the inquiry was made. You're just fishing for a rebuttal. Why are asking about impact on revenue when I never raise the issue? "How do you see the impact of that assertion manifesting itself? Decreasing park revenues? Lower attendance? Negative comments?" Should I have said, NO COMMENT? And what is wrong with just saying negative comments. You quickly dismissed that without evidence that I was wrong.
"it would seem logical that it would be illustrated by drops in attendance, revenue or some other measurable condition"
No Comment. This doesn't prove anything other than you get your jollys from arguing this.
"Truth be told" "The company said visitors were spending more at its domestic parks.”
What does this prove? Less than you think. Visitors were spending more. It doesn't tell you anything about increase in attendance, which Disney doesn't release.
"I’d say it is because their business model is historically based on expanding the parks."
If you say so and I'm not surprised by the arrogance of your own superior authority on theme parks.
"Make no mistake, I think Disney is troubled by a handful of concerns – mainly the weak performance of DVC and box office humiliation by productions like “Mars Needs Moms” and “John Carpenter.” But I doubt that Disney's execs are currently concerned about the performance of their theme park operations."
Yes, Disney makes mistakes so this means they are perfect with theme parks. LOL!!! Disney has a $1 Billion DCA makeover to sell you in June 15th. (No doubt, the performance of the park has something to do with the investment on expansion.) And the upcoming MK Fantasyland renovation is coming soon.
That's John CARTER. LOL!!!
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