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Monday Top 10: The Theme Park Stories of the Year, So Far

December 1, 2014, 7:16 PM · It's been a big year for theme park news, with major new attractions opening at many of the world's top theme parks. But what was the biggest news in 2014? The year's not done yet, but as we head into December, let's take a look at the Top 10 Blog Flume posts for most page views over the past 12 months.

As might be expected, Disney and Universal own this list. The top Disney stories were the continued implementation of the new MyMagic+ reservation and ticketing system at Walt Disney World, plus the Frozen phenomenon. At Universal, Harry Potter dominated the year with the opening of Diagon Alley. But King Kong snuck in (impressive for an ape that size!) to claim one of the spots.

So here we go — the Top 10 theme park Blog Flume posts of the year, so far:

10. On the Road to Diagon Alley: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

We led up to the opening of Universal Orlando's new Harry Potter land with a weekly "On the Road to Diagon Alley" feature, and our post on the signature land's centerpiece attraction got the most attention. Of course, we've long been experts on the Gringotts ride, as we first leaked the plans for it back on New Year's Eve 2011.

9. Walt Disney World to move Frozen's Anna and Elsa to the Magic Kingdom

Anna and Elsa

The best Jungle Cruise joke I've ever heard was on the Jingle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom last month, when the skipper reached the falls and cracked, "It's the only thing in the Magic Kingdom that's not Frozen!" Many of us might joke (or even complain) about Disney's obsession with this new franchise, but the box office and merchandise sales (not to mention the website traffic) all show that the public can't get enough of what Disney's selling.

8. King Kong is coming back to Universal Orlando

Like with Frozen, we expect Kong to claim space on this Top 10 posts list next year, too.

7. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, reviewed

It seems like we were posting non-stop during the media preview of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida last June. This was one of the two reviews we posted that week that readers pushed into our Top 10.

6. Vote of the Week: Disney World completes the Fastpass+ switch... but which system would you prefer?

We've had a Vote of the Week feature on the site for years, but many readers kept coming back to this post from last January for its overview on using the new Fastpass+ ride reservation system while inside the Disney World parks.

5. Where should Disney build a 'Frozen' theme park attraction?

Yep, more Frozen. While Disney ended up announcing plans to convert Epcot's Maelstrom ride to a Frozen theme, we tried our best earlier in the year to raise alternatives, including ideas for Frozen-themed attractions at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea.

4. Walt Disney World to allow unlimited Fastpass+ reservations

Using Fastpass+

The TL;DR here is that if we'd had the smarts to publish a post called "Harry Potter's Frozen Fastpass+" this year, we'd be retired and living in Hawaii right now.

3. Ride Review: Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios Florida

As we were saying.... ;^)

2. Walt Disney World raises ticket prices. One day at the Magic Kingdom up to $99

The Internet will break not when some reality-show floozie posts a photo of her naked tookus online, but when an Orlando theme park raises its one-day pre-tax ticket price over $100 a day.

1. Say goodbye to paper Fastpass tickets at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

The switch from Fastpass to Fastpass+ caused Disney theme park fans to have to go back and re-evaluate more than a decade's experience in how to navigate the Walt Disney World theme parks for maximum value in a day. Obviously, such a major disruption commanded a great deal of attention during the year... and will continue to do so in 2015, as well.

What were your favorite stories from the past year?

Replies (8)

December 1, 2014 at 11:56 PM · Nothing about the Hogworts Express train at Universal. Wow!!! I think that was the game changer this year as it connected two highly themed areas in different theme parks seamlessly and made it an entertaining ride.

It's the greatest thing since the monorail. There was no need for it but that's why its so great.

December 2, 2014 at 12:19 AM · What about the opening of 7DMT and the debut of the FOF parade, thus completing New Fantasyland? That was bigger news than yet another FP+ or Anna/Elsa item.
December 2, 2014 at 5:23 AM · You're saying that 10 out of 10 top stories are from Disney/Universal???? I really think there are other parks out there that would have easily made the top 10, had you broadened your search!
December 2, 2014 at 8:24 AM · This list reflects the number of page views, not my judgment of quality or importance. Look at the lists of most-visited theme parks in the world and in America, and you'll see all Disney and Universal at the top. Those are the popular parks, so it follows that stories about them would be the popar stories.
December 2, 2014 at 8:26 AM · FWIW, there are a bunch of Hogwarts Express stories just outside the Top 10, so it was a popular topic, just not as popular as these above.
December 2, 2014 at 12:47 PM · I definitely think the biggest stories this year were Diagon Alley and FP+. FP+ completely changes the way visitors tour the Disney parks, and the fact that Disney continues to tweak the system and change the rules, it will be a story that will persist probably through 2015.

Diagon Alley was a game changer. While Hogsmeade was well done and demonstrated the viability of a Harry Potter themed land, it was really just an overlay of an existing theme park land. Diagon Alley was built from the ground up, and the brilliant move to connect the two lands in two separately ticketed theme parks with the Hogwart's Express may prove to be the most lucrative business move in the theme park industry since the elimination of ticket books.

December 2, 2014 at 1:34 PM · I concur with Russell. He nailed it.
December 3, 2014 at 6:03 PM · Agreed. # 1 story is Disney self-immolates itself with Fastpass+ disaster fiasco. Don't believe me? Here's another opinion:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christy-heitgerewing/for-the-first-time-in-forever-i-did-not-enjoy-disney-world_b_6261760.html

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