Disney's Animal Kingdom Should SWEEP the 2017 Theme Park Insider Awards!

Edited: May 7, 2017, 5:08 AM

This should be the year that Tokyo DisneySea is finally dethroned by a US theme park.

My predictions for the 2017 Theme Park Insider Awards:

Best theme park: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Best new attraction: Pandora's Flight of Passage
Best new show: Rivers of Light
Best quick-service restaurant: Satu'li Canteen
Best full-service restaurant: Tiffins
Best hotel: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

What are your predictions?

Replies (18)

May 5, 2017, 10:10 PM

As a big Universal fan, I fear for Volcano Bay.

But seriously though, I wouldn't go as far as to say "Best Theme Park" for Animal Kingdom. After all, aside from all this Pandora stuff and Rivers of Light, their stuff is pretty basic. Maybe Volcano Bay surprises? Disney Paris with all these new changes? Shanghai, which still looks pretty awesome? Who knows...

May 5, 2017, 10:58 PM

I thought TH posted this. He should be here any minute.

May 6, 2017, 6:08 AM

Sorry. I was taking a nap ... So what's going on?

May 6, 2017, 9:52 AM

From a review of "Flight of Passage" on CNET: "I knew flying on the back of a banshee would be cool. But I didn't expect to feel it breathing."

May 6, 2017, 11:40 AM

Interesting that "Flight of Passage" is getting pumped up by the Dis Fans, the same people that called Fallon "just another screen ride".

Same ride system, goobers :-D

Edited: May 6, 2017, 8:22 PM

Fallon is a very good ride with a great queue, but Flight of Passage takes it a few steps further.

May 6, 2017, 3:29 PM

I think they are both great as well! I love simulator type rides though.

May 6, 2017, 4:28 PM

Luke, is Volcano Bay even finished yet?

May 7, 2017, 6:34 AM

VB is getting very close.

May 7, 2017, 6:04 PM

@Joe I
No, but it's almost there, opening this month... And we don't know much about the place, so it could still surprise us.

May 8, 2017, 6:44 AM

Volcano Bay is just about done, going through final trimmings. I'm usually not a water park guy, but the theming and immersion have me interested.

Avatar "River Journey" I find underwhelming and far too short. Flight of Passage is very cool, but lacks immersion (for obvious technical reasons). I found it a little odd that you're on a banshee yet you don't see any of his body onscreen (head, neck). Also, if you look side to side you see the person next to you on their seat. There are also some very cool things, like you can feel the banshee breathing.

May 8, 2017, 8:30 AM

You can feel the banshee breathing?! No kidding? Where'd you hear about that?

May 8, 2017, 10:39 AM


Yes, it's really cool! One of those little details that makes the ride experience special.

Edited: May 8, 2017, 11:25 AM

I was thinking just the other day that this is one of those rare years when I have no freakin' clue which attraction is going to win the "Best New Attraction" awards. We've had five new parks open this year, but none of them seem to have a single, standout attraction that could win.

The structure of our awards make this a tough year for things such as new parks and new lands, such as Pandora. The award goes to an individual attraction and isn't designed to honor an overarching land or park. That puts something like Pandora at a disadvantage as its chance for winning BNA rides on River Journey and Flight of Passage, which might be great rides but don't strike me as dominant as past winners such as Shanghai's Pirates or Hong Kong's Mystic Manor.

I'll be writing a round-up of BNA contenders in early June, but other contenders to keep in mind include Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Rivers of Light, the Muppets Liberty Square show, Fallon, InvadR, and Mystic Timbers - plus new parks' entire line-ups opening from IMG Worlds of Adventure, Motiongate, Bollywood Parks and Legoland Dubai, plus Ferrari Land. (The eligibility period is anything that opens officially between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.)

As for the other categories, DAK and the Animal Kingdom Lodge face a long haul to catch up to competitors that rank well ahead of them at this point. (For best park, TDS's greater threat from inside the Disney family might be Shanghai Disneyland.) And my first look at the menu of Satu'li Canteen makes me think it's a bit limited in its appeal to win Best QS Restaurant straight out of the gate.

But Tiffins is a strong contender for Best TS Restaurant, and Rivers of Light would be strong for Best New Show, if it doesn't get Best New Attraction outright.

May 8, 2017, 12:45 PM

I think it's too early to call any of these, especially since several qualifying attractions have yet to open and there isn't a true groundbreaking or game changing attraction this year. Could Disney's Animal Kingdom win several awards? Absolutely, and I would be surprised if they didn't get at least one (Tiffins seems to have very little competition). The success of Pandora's offerings largely depends on how general visitors feel about them relative to other attractions. If it turns out more people prefer Soarin' to Flight of Passage (or, even more unlikely, prefer Jimmy Fallon), it would have almost no chance of winning.

As for DAK winning best park, I give that about a 1% chance. A single outstanding land in an overall good but not great park does not make it among the best. If it did, I would have expected to see wins by Disney California Adventure in 2012 and Universal Studios Florida in 2015.

May 10, 2017, 3:08 PM

My vote for best new attraction goes to Lighting Rod "rimshot"

May 15, 2017, 4:59 AM

I thought Animal Kingdom Lodge has won best hotel in the past.

May 15, 2017, 5:51 PM

DAK was already a very good park before and with the additions of Pandora, Rivers of Light, Tiffins, and Tree of Life Awakenings, DAK is now a GREAT park!

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