Here is What is New and Different on Theme Park Insider Today

Edited: September 8, 2015, 11:02 AM

Returning visitors might have noticed some changes around the Theme Park Insider website today. Here is what we have done, in our ongoing efforts to create a more useful and welcoming community for everyone:

1) Simpler and easier-to-see navigation

Instead of offering our navigation links in little gray navigation bars, we now have consolidated our links into three, easy-to-see links you will find at the top of every page:

Mobile users no longer will have to click a dodgy "Menu" link to expand the navigation. All three links are there at all time on all platforms. Still looking for something? Don't worry. We have not removed any content with this redesign. In fact, we've added quite a bit.

Theme park vacation

2) All our vacation planning advice — in one place

That first link, "Start Planning" might be the most useful new page on the site. For the first time, we have consolidated our best theme park vacation planning advice onto one page. Start here, as the link implies, and you will be well on your way to planning a memorable and enjoyable theme park vacation. We will be adding even more content to this page in the weeks to come, too!

3) More useful park and hotel listings

We launched the first page in our redesign a few weeks ago with our updated Park Reviews page, which now includes links to on-site hotels at the major resorts, so you don't have to click to a separate page for those. If you click through to the park listings, you will see that we've prioritized the attractions and restaurants at each park, based on readers' ratings. Locations are now ranked under "Must Do," "Worth a Look," "Maybe," and "Maybe Not," to help you quickly see what other readers consider the best (and worst) at each park.

4) Simpler identification

Ultimately, Theme Park Insider is a community. Since the site started, we've asked people to register with two names: a unique account name that you use to log into the site, and a display name, which we ask be your real name. Having the two names has confused some readers, who are used simply to using a single account name on many other sites online. In addition, park employees have been forced to create pseudonyms so that they can participate on the site without their employers' knowledge.

Going forward, people can register and site members will be identified only by their account names. Writers and editors on the site will be identified by the real names, however. This "one name" policy should simplify identification and allow greater participation by the industry "insiders" for whom the site is named.

5) A new "Insider" option

Today we are launching a new campaign where site members can support Theme Park Insider by becoming official "insiders" on the site. We are raising money to increase the frequency of front-page posts on the site, so that everyone can enjoy more of the original coverage and insight that brought so many of us to Theme Park Insider. We are offering some great perks to readers who donate, too, including an "Insider" badge on all of your posts, some TPI swag, and the opportunity to read the site ad-free. Visit www.patreon.com/themepark to learn more and to contribute. Thank you!

You also will find more photos throughout the site, especially on the home page, as we work to create a simpler, more pleasing and easy to use Theme Park Insider. Thank you for reading and being part of our community!

Replies (28)

Edited: September 8, 2015, 7:41 AM

Ok so it will take some time getting use to new format. Seems to be a lot of white space on both sides of pages..

Plus this box I am tying in is a bit messed up at end of each line.
Goes off page and can't see last word I typed.. In that first sentence the word 'of' is off the page. I have to use arrow keys to get to see it.

Test editor box is too large for page here....

September 8, 2015, 7:54 AM

What OS/browser are you using?

September 8, 2015, 7:57 AM

IE 11

September 8, 2015, 8:12 AM

Well there's your problem Mr. Emery. Get with the times and switch to a decent browser. for example, Chrome, Firefox, Safari

September 8, 2015, 8:24 AM

Matecki - I write code and we have to account to every browser in our apps.

And I do use Firefox also. I have not yet tested this on Firefox. I am trying to help Robert here.

September 8, 2015, 8:28 AM

I have the same problems as Mr Emery and I use Chrome.

Edited: September 8, 2015, 8:45 AM

Hey Mr Rob - how have you been?

We need to use this Thread as a sandbox to test the new updates.

Edited: September 8, 2015, 9:53 AM

With what OS on Chrome are you having problems? Screenshot? (Chrome on Mac OS is looking fine to me.)

September 8, 2015, 10:33 AM

I just enjoy bashing IE. That is all. Lol

Edited: September 8, 2015, 11:32 AM

Brian: Enjoying? our two weeks of 90+degree weather here in western Pa. I'm getting ready for WDW Oct. 3- Oct. 16th, with a couple of daytrips to Universal since I'm missing Diagon Alley & the Portofino piazza big time. But next year it will just be two trips to Universal. I'm already tired of all the planning you have to do for My Magic+ and dining reservations. It just destroys the leisurely spur of the moment way I prefer to spend my vacations. This will probably be the last time at WDW for a few years.....I don't really care for this new format. Too much wasted space.

September 8, 2015, 11:31 AM

Loving the new format and the Insider status. Fortune favors the bold!

September 8, 2015, 11:53 AM

Nice to hear Rob Pastor- WDW vacation should be fun..

I do agree - you have to plan each movement before hand - not for us who
get up whenever and go to park for the day.

October is such a greet time to hit Florida. Small crowds at Universal.
Disney seems to always be too busy anytime.

Have a great vacation..

September 8, 2015, 12:03 PM

FWIW, I fixed an issue with the navigation that was affecting older versions of IE, and I extended the "World's Top Theme Parks" list down to number 17 to include USH.

September 8, 2015, 12:24 PM

Robert - I do not see a 1 time only donation - you should have that option also.

September 8, 2015, 12:54 PM

Brian; Thanks. Yeah, Disney is even busy in October. Universal is going to get slammed for HHN 25 though. On site hotel rooms for HHN nights have been mostly sold out for three or four months. I used to be able to get rooms the week before October vacations. Plus they have a ton more rooms with CBBR. Times are a changing (sounds like a song).

Edited: September 8, 2015, 1:42 PM

Okay.

It's a change, but I'll get used to it.

Also, can you edit so your name shows on the discussion board and not your username.

I don't want to make a brand new account to change my username.

Edited: September 8, 2015, 1:58 PM

Thoughts on the new site layout:

Things I like:

-The front page format uses space very efficiently and it is no longer necessary to scroll past entire articles to find old ones.

-The navigation links at the top of the page are a lot nicer. One-click navigation is the simplest option and should be utilized as much as possible.

-Consolidating the advice into a single page is smart. I would suggest a table of contents, but the page isn't that long and is more of an overview, with links to specific articles for additional information. Perhaps in the future sections could be added to this page for specific theme parks/resorts.

-Using only a username for identification isn't a bad option. It might be nice to make it optional whether users want to display their username or real name, but if you have to stick with one or the other username is better to promote usage by those with inside information.

-While not drastically different from the old layout, the new one is very clean and doesn't feel at all cluttered.

Things I'd like to see tweaked:

-The park review page feels somewhat disorganized to me. There are a bunch of different theme park resorts in a seemingly random order followed by three separate lists, making it a bit difficult to find certain parks. Why not try something like this:

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

Disneyland Resort (Anaheim, CA)
Disneyland
Disney California Adventure
Disneyland Resort Hotels

Walt Disney World Resort (Lake Buena Vista, FL)
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Epcot
Etc.

Follow this with the remaining Disney resorts, then do the Universal resorts. After that, list the other US/North American parks alphabetically and then the other International parks alphabetically. That should make it much easier to find everything than a list that goes:

Universal Studios Hollywood
SeaWorld Orlando
Busch Gardens Tampa
SeaWorld San Diego
Knott's Berry Farm
Cedar Point
Kings Island
Hersheypark
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Great Adventure
Busch Gardens Williamsburg

-I like the way you have chosen to group attractions, but I don't quite get the way they are grouped. For example, why is Space Mountain a Must-Do while Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is only in the Worth a Look category? Both are rated a 9, so shouldn't they be in the same group? I'd suggest grouping similar to this based on the attraction score:

Must-Do (10-9)
Highly Recommended (8)
Recommended (7)
Time Permitting (6)
Not Recommended (5-0)

You might want to filter out kiddie rides and keep those separate as well.

-Questions & Answers makes the discussion board sound like just an FAQ and not a place to have general discussion, post trip reports, play games, etc. Perhaps change the name of that.

-Lastly, as others have mentioned, change the dimensions of the text box so that it matches the width of the page.

Overall, I do like the new design and it seems like an improvement over the old version. It is close enough to the old one that the change isn't jarring and it should be a lot more user-friendly, especially on mobile devices. I just think there are a few small things that could be tweaked to make it even better.

Edited: September 8, 2015, 2:01 PM

Nice suggestions. Will implement some of those. But gimme some time to squash a few bugs first.

September 8, 2015, 2:44 PM

Robert, like anything in life, it sometimes takes a bit of getting used to change. I remember the last time you updated the website and I thought I'd never figure out where things were. Now I don't even remember what it looked like. I suspect that will happen this time also. Thanks for not getting stuck in the rut of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Just because it ain't broke doesn't mean it can't be made better. Thanks for working to make it better.

Edited: September 8, 2015, 3:34 PM

I am looking into one-time donations via Patreon. In the meantime, though, here is a link to make a donation to us via PayPal, should anyone feel so inclined. Thank you!

September 8, 2015, 4:49 PM

Now that it is extended, I love the new layout.

September 8, 2015, 8:32 PM

My 'cute' name has been attached to my profile and not my real name. How do I edit my name back in? My comment box also is cut off on the right and I use a desk top PC with Chrome.

September 9, 2015, 10:10 AM

I am making a change where, going forward, new registration will be with account names only. However, for readers who registered before Monday, you can choose whether to display your account name or your first name/last name combination on your Discussion Board and future Blog reply posts.

When I make the change (in a few minutes), the system will revert to showing the first name/last name combination next to all posts. If you would prefer that it show your account name only, just click your profile (link at the top of the page), then the EDIT link on that to change your profile. Simply erase your first and last names on the form, then the system will revert to showing your account name only.

September 11, 2015, 10:27 AM

OK, my name popped up next to my post above.

September 14, 2015, 12:15 PM

One piece of information that I noticed is new is that the attractions and restaurants are grouped into not to be missed all the way to not recommended.

I think the qualifications of "Not Recommended" might be a little high. For example, the Tiki Room, Astro Orbitor, and Mad Tea Party are in this group for MK. While I agree that they are not the top attractions, I still think they are way better than, for example, Stitch's.

September 28, 2015, 9:50 PM

I know this is a pretty old post, but I just want to say that I would love to see park reviews, where users can review an entire park. It could help determine whether it is worthwhile to go to a certain park. Even though the ride reviews for a park could be great, the park itself could have bad staff/operations, park appearance, or other bad things. Without park reviews, guests are unable to be notified of these bad aspects.

September 29, 2015, 9:37 AM

Juan,

That's exactly what we hope readers will do with trip reports on the Discussion Forum. Please feel free to submit those types of reviews to the forum whenever you visit a park!

Thanks,
Robert

September 30, 2015, 7:42 PM

Great!

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