Theme Park Insider

Announcing the Winners of the 14th Annual Theme Park Insider Awards

July 3, 2015, 10:45 AM · Every year on or around the Fourth of July holiday, Theme Park Insider honors our readers' favorite theme park hotels, restaurants, and attractions with our Theme Park Insider Awards. Over the past 12 months, we've enjoyed record traffic on ThemeParkInsider.com, as well as an unprecedented collection of great new attractions opening around the world. That has made this year's honors, our 14th annual, a particular joy to award.

With the addition of hotel restaurants to our listings this year, as well as all of those great new attractions, we've expanded the number of categories in this year's awards to a record 11. The winners are the locations in each category with the highest average reader rating and a minimum number of ratings overall. Attractions that opened officially to the public at major theme parks between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 were eligible in the Best New Attraction categories. Let's get to the honors!

Best Hotel: Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal Orlando

Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel

This is the third year in a row that the Portofino Bay as won our hotel award, and the fourth time overall.

Best Hotel Restaurant: Victoria and Albert's, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Walt Disney World

Victoria and Albert's

Victoria and Albert's captures our first-award in this new category.

Best Quick-Service Restaurant: The Leaky Cauldron, Universal Studios Florida

The Leaky Cauldron

In its first year of operation, Diagon Alley's signature eatery moved immediately to the head of the field.

Best Full-Service Restaurant: Monsieur Paul, Epcot

Monsieur Paul

This is the first award for Monsieur Paul, although its predecessor, Bistro de Paris, was a three-time winner in this category.

Best Show: Aladdin, Disney California Adventure

Aladdin

This is our second year giving an award in this category, and this is Aladdin's first win.

Best Roller Coaster: El Toro, Six Flags Great Adventure

El Toro

This wooden favorite captures our honor for the second year in a row.

Best New Roller Coaster: Thunderbird, Holiday World

Thunderbird

Holiday World's first all-steel coaster is Bolliger & Mabillard's first launched wing coaster and a big hit with our readers.

Best New Family Attraction: Hogwarts Express, Universal Orlando

Hogwarts Express

For the best new attraction with no height restriction, Hogwarts Express already ranks among the top themed rides in the world overall with our readers.

Best New Attraction: Justice League Battle for Metropolis, Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis

Justice League Battle for Metropolis

Six Flags capturers its first win in this category with its ground-breaking, motion-base, 3-D shooter ride.

Best Themed Attraction: Journey to the Center of the Earth, Tokyo DisneySea

Journey to the Center of the Earth

The centerpiece of the park's Mysterious Island wins our award for the second year in a row

Best Theme Park: Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea is our choice as the world's best theme park for the third year in a row, and for the fourth time overall.

For those not keeping count, here is the tally by brand:

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to submit ratings, reviews, and photos on ThemeParkInsider.com over the past year. We are honored to have you as part of our community!

Replies (25)

July 3, 2015 at 11:08 AM · I'm somewhat encouraged that Disney and Universal, while winning the most awards, did not win EVERY award this year. There's a lot of quality out there, but readers seem to focus on the dominant players in the industry.

I noticed that you didn't post the runners-up this year. It would have been interesting to see which attractions/rides were not the top choices, but the almost favorites.

July 3, 2015 at 11:51 AM · Kudos to Thunderbird! While it probably is not the best new coaster of the year for enthusiasts, it was quite a fun ride and worthy of any travelers' time.

*Sigh* As much as I hate to admit it, I really have no choice but to drive the three hours to Eureka, MO, and ride Six Flags Saint Louis' new Justice League attraction. If it can beat out Gringott's for best new attraction, then it must be special.

Plus Sux...errrr...Six Flags is a lot cheaper to visit than Universal Orlando.

July 3, 2015 at 1:13 PM · Justice League to replace Dark Knight at Six Flags Great America! Who's with me?

And I *really* need to make it out to New Jersey and experience El Toro. All this praise just keeps on hurting me on the inside.

July 3, 2015 at 1:21 PM · Great group of winners. I've can only personally attest to Hogwarts Express and Leaky Cauldron but read enough to wish I had personally enjoyed them all. I also ate at Monsieur Paul's predecessor, Bistro de Paris. (anything for TPI street cred!)
July 3, 2015 at 1:47 PM · 7DMT should have won for Best New Family Attraction. But I think it missed the cut, based on when it opened.

Disneysea may well be the best park in the world, but most TPI readers are voting on it based on reputation, not based on their own personal experience. So I think Disneyland should have won. Just sayin'.
July 3, 2015 at 2:07 PM · Just rode Justice League. I have to disagree. While fun, it is a lesser Transformers and a lesser Toy Story put together. It is definitely a plus for Six Flags, but it is constantly down. It was so bad when a person in line was complaining, one of the workers exclaimed,"please complain. They opened this way to early." A manager next to the worker said, "Uh huh!" It then went down for the rest of the day. Everybody that did ride it thought it was worth waiting 30 minutes and no more. My thoughts were that it is way too involved for the staff at Six Flags. Another guest lost it since they got to the park early with the season gold pass perk, and waited almost two hours before the ride started. At this point, it would be risky to travel there just to ride Justice League. It definitely is a worthy addition, but way too early for prime time.
July 3, 2015 at 2:41 PM · It's nice to see a mix of parks represented in these awards. While Disney is still the theme park king, these awards (and current developments in the industry) definitely indicate that Universal is becoming a serious competitor and that regional theme parks are developing attractions that are truly on par with those of destination resorts. If Six Flags keeps building more Justice League rides (rumor has it five more parks will be receiving one over the next three years) and Cedar Fair continues adding dark rides that match the quality of Voyage to the Iron Reef, the regional theme park scene could be a whole lot different in a decade.

Also, although I'm a little surprised that Thunderbird won (I would have expected Fury 325 or one of the RMCs to win best new coaster), it's nice to see independent parks represented here. Hopefully more will be added to the site as I can think of a few US parks that aren't part of a major chain but are definitely worth featuring on this site (Kennywood, and Lagoon immediately come to mind).

July 3, 2015 at 3:16 PM · Timing is everything in the Best New Attraction award the past two years.

Gringotts and Hogwarts Express just missed being eligible for last year's award, which was won by Kings Island's Banshee in what was a relatively light field. (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was eligible last year, too, but received mediocre reviews in its first months. And, yes, it has a height restriction, so it wouldn't have been eligible for Best New Family Attraction, if we'd given that out last year anyway.)

This year, I can tell you that Gringotts was hurt by the high number of TPI readers who had to wait through excessive downtimes, or who visited when major show elements were not working (such as the breakaway wall in the final battle scene). If voting had been limited to just those who rode Gringotts during normal operation, I suspect we might have had a different result. But that's not how the world works. You have breakdowns, and your rating suffers. As it should.

As for Justice League, I'm hearing that there's a big difference in operation issues in Texas and in Missouri, with riders in Texas reporting fewer problems. Tell me if I'm wrong there. But I will note almost all the ratings for Justice League so far have come from the Texas installation.

We have a minimum vote requirement to help ensure that we have representative reports on a new ride, which makes it tough for some attractions that debut late in the spring to qualify. But then those late-opening attractions do have the advantage of only having run for a short time before the awards, allowing them to get in before the gremlins set in, if they can attract the votes.

July 3, 2015 at 4:41 PM · Based on these updates, maybe I'll put off my trip to SFSTL until next summer - give them time to work out the kinks? Should I fallback to Universal Orlando, then, before they close Twister and Disaster? Do they have a round trip ticket for the Hogwarts Train yet - for those who don't want to pay the $45 upcharge?
July 3, 2015 at 5:22 PM · I'm surprised Twisted Colossus didn't win Best New Coaster
July 3, 2015 at 6:50 PM · Sylvain, I've been to Tokyo Disney twice now and it is undeniably the best theme park resort in the world and Disneysea the best theme park. I have a die hard Disneyland bias but I couldn't deny that Disneysea is better. Disneyland is the best magic kingdom but disneysea does beat it. Coupled with a great resort design (the monorail connects all hotels and parks) and Japanese legendary customer service and quality and it is easily the best theme park resort in the world.
July 3, 2015 at 7:50 PM · Twisted Colossus should've gotten it, it's the best coaster at SFMM
July 3, 2015 at 8:43 PM · I am not sure why Portofino keeps winning this award. It is nice and I have stayed there but even inside Universal Orlando there is a better option, the Pacific resort in my opinion. This award should be going to either the Grand Californian or the MiraCosta at TDS. Both are better themed and are either quite literally next to a park or inside a park for MiraCosta.
July 3, 2015 at 8:43 PM · I am not sure why Portofino keeps winning this award. It is nice and I have stayed there but even inside Universal Orlando there is a better option, the Pacific resort in my opinion. This award should be going to either the Grand Californian or the MiraCosta at TDS. Both are better themed and are either quite literally next to a park or inside a park for MiraCosta.
July 3, 2015 at 10:29 PM · Congrats to all the winners!!! Really glad to see no
Outliers in the data!
July 3, 2015 at 11:29 PM · Maybe so, Daniel, but that wasn't my point at all. My point was that most TPI readers have not been to Tokyo, so they must be voting based on reputation (and maybe YouTube videos), rather than personal experience. I feel strongly that people should vote based solely on their own personal experiences at a park.
July 4, 2015 at 6:07 AM · I rode the Justice League ride in St. Louis last week, and I agree that it's an amazing ride that's a cool mix of Spider-man with Men in Black. On the other hand, it did have a lot of mechanical issues on that day. We arrived right at opening and still waited like 30 minutes to go a distance in line that should have taken much less time. From what I heard, we were lucky. The ride was barely open for the rest of the day.
July 4, 2015 at 7:26 AM · Wait...scratch that... Disney's a bit of an outlier...well, not a big one at least.
July 4, 2015 at 9:00 AM · Portofino's ace in the hole? "Front of line." That's the key benefit that pushes up the ratings for the deluxe Universal Orlando hotels.
July 4, 2015 at 2:59 PM · Top notch places!
July 4, 2015 at 6:41 PM · Well done Holiday World! An amazing coaster in an amazing park! If only everyone could make the trip to Southern Indiana.
July 5, 2015 at 8:16 PM · So Battle For Metropolis is having some mechanical issues, huh? I guess that was kinda to be expected. Not only is this a new ride, but from my understanding, this is the first time Six Flags has had to work with such things as audio-animatronics and 3D visuals. My best guess is that they wanna do more rides like this. If this is true, then it might take them a while before they truly perfect it. Baby steps.
July 5, 2015 at 10:18 PM · We should have a throwback to 2009 and do an updated version of SoCal/Orlando Showdown
July 6, 2015 at 9:02 AM · This is in reply to post 70.126.135.117:

Animatronics are not new for Six Flags parks. Six Flags Over Texas, in addition to the new Justice League ride, also has a highly themed Looney Tunes dark ride that features extensive use of animatronic characters. Where the two rides differ, though, is in the quality and detail of the animatronics featured. Justice League's robots are way more complex. But you're right. Six Flags has plans for more rides like Justice League in the future.

July 6, 2015 at 11:53 AM · It's highly gratifying to see El Toro prevail against the competition two years in a row. Of all the amazing coasters I've ridden, El Toro remains my favorite. As to new attractions, the only ones I've ridden thus far are Fury 325 and Impulse so I have no basis for comparison but was sort of hoping that Fury would take top honors b/c it blew me away, literally and figuratively. Maybe this one didn't fare so well for the simple reason that in some ways it's old-school.

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