Tokyo DisneySea, Transformers claim top spots in 11th annual Theme Park Insider Awards
Written by Robert Niles
It's Fourth of July Week, typically one of the busiest weeks of the year for theme parks in the United States, but that also means it is time to present the annual Theme Park Insider Awards. Can you believe it's the 11th annual Theme Park Insider Awards this year? Where does the time go?Tweet
Oh, yeah - as the cliche says, it flies when you're having this much fun!
Best Theme Park
We've changed the criteria for our Best Theme Park Award this year, moving from rewarding the park with the highest average rating for all attractions and restaurants to the one with the largest number of highly-rated attractions and table-service eateries. (That way, a large park with a huge number of attractions rated 8 and above on the site wouldn't be penalized for also keeping less-popular attractions open, as well.) But when we ran the numbers, the change didn't make a difference at the top, after all.
Tokyo DisneySea stood atop the Theme Park Insider reader ratings in 2012, no matter how you crunch the numbers. Led by Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tokyo DisneySea's impressive line-up of attractions drove the Japanese park to our top award in a year when the Tokyo Disney Resort recovered from the devastating tsunami and power crisis that crippled much of the country in 2011.
Disney also claimed the next two spots in our reader ratings, with Disneyland and its younger sibling, the recently rededicated Disney California Adventure, finishing a close 2 and 3 in this year's awards. With strong initial ratings for the attractions of Cars Land and the Carthay Circle Restaurant on Buena Vista Street, it will be interesting to see if California Adventure has a chance to move up the list in the years to come, challenging not only for the title of Best Theme Park in Southern California, but maybe for Best Theme Park in the World, too.
The Best New Attraction Award this year featured the closest battle in the 11-year history of the Theme Park Insider Awards. Universal's Transformers: The Ride and Disney's Radiator Springs Racers claimed two of the three highest initial average reader ratings since the site began in 1999. (Universal's Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was the third.) But only one of the two could claim this year's honor.
And, by the margin of a 4K, 3D piece of animated shrapnel, the award goes to Transformers: The Ride. A classic good-vs.-evil battle helped power Universal Creative's next generation 3D motion-base thrill ride to the top honor. And yet, we must also recognize Radiator Springs Racers - Disney's highest rated new attraction in the history of Theme Park Insider - an amusing romp around the world Disney/Pixar's Cars movies, featuring some of the most impressive animatronics that Disney's Imagineers have ever created. (Also keep in mind that this award is for a single, individual attraction. But if theme parks keep creating wonderful new experiences such as Cars Land and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, maybe we'll have to create an award for Best New Themed Land some day.)
Due to the gap between Transformers and Radiator Springs Racers and the rest of the field, we've declined to name any other runners-up in this category this year.
Best Theme Park Hotel
The Grand California repeats this year, winning its second consecutive Theme Park Insider Award, and fourth overall. An inspired mash-up of the Greene and Greene Arts and Crafts architecture of Pasadena coupled with the grandeur of western National Park lodges, the Grand California offers top-level service and amenities (including free WiFi!), as well as an unsurpassed location overlooking the resurgent Disney California Adventure theme park, as well as Anaheim's Downtown Disney.
Theme Park Insider readers apparently value having their hotels be within walking distance of great theme parks, as the next two spots in the reader ratings were claimed by top-quality hotels located a short walk from popular theme parks. Disney's Beach Club hotel stands just steps away from Epcot's International Gateway entrance, while Universal's Portofino Bay lies close to the two parks of the Universal Orlando resort, where Portofino Bay guests can skip the lines at almost all of the attractions, thanks to Universal Orlando's Express benefit for on-site hotel guests.
Best Theme Park Restaurant
Epcot's Bistro de Paris wins its third consecutive Theme Park Insider Award this year, edging Epcot's Japanese steakhouse, Teppan Edo, by a knife's blade margin. Epcot's "upstairs" French restaurant continues to impress with its high level of service and French cuisine, claiming this year's award for best table-service restaurant located inside a theme park.
Thank you to all of Theme Park Insider's registered members and readers who voted on the attractions, restaurants and hotels they've visited in the past year. The Theme Park Insider Awards are determined entirely by the submitted ratings from Theme Park Insider's readers.
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