Disney, Universal split 2008 Theme Park Insider Awards

July 3, 2008, 11:22 AM · More than 75,000 votes have been cast and it is time to announce the winners in the 2008 Theme Park Insider Awards.

These awards are selected by you, ThemeParkInsider.com's readers, in year-long rating of the thousands of rides, shows, restaurants and hotels listed on the site. The represent the best of the best in the theme park industry, and stand among many close runners-up in providing outstanding value for a family theme park vacation.

So let's get to it, starting with the one award that changes every year:

Best New Attraction

The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood

The Simpsons Ride

These twin rides debuted on consecutive days in May and wowed fans with their mix of irreverent humor and physical thrills. Theme Park Insider readers said that The Simpsons Ride is "hilarious, thrilling, and visually astounding" and that even "the waiting is enjoyable."

Mark Woodbury, President, Universal Creative, Universal Parks & Resorts said of the honor, "The Simpsons Ride represents what Universal does best - which is to take pop culture's blockbuster entertainment concepts and bring them to life in wildly entertaining theme park experiences. We appreciate the recognition and share it with our partners at Fox Licensing and Gracie Films, who helped us create a truly authentic Simpsons experience."

Attractions that opened to the public in theme and amusement parks worldwide between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2008 were eligible for the Best New Attraction award. In addition to The Simpsons Ride, Theme Park Insider readers highly two other rides that stand among the Top Three Best New Attractions of the Year:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  • Nights in White Satin at Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    Best Theme Park Restaurant

    Mythos at Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Fla.


    For the sixth consecutive year, Mythos wins Theme Park Insider's honor as the world's best theme park restaurant. Readers lauded Mythos for "great prices, great food and great service" as well as "wonderful atmosphere."

    Ric Florell, Senior Vice President/General Manager, Resort Revenue Operations at Universal Orlando said of the honor, "With Mythos, our team set out to create an entirely new level of theme park dining experience. It was to be an experience that blended extraordinary food with extraordinary atmosphere. The continued recognition Mythos receives shows we have been - and continue to be - successful. We're grateful for the recognition. More importantly, our team is grateful for the opportunity to continue to thrill our guests."

    All table-service restaurants located within the gates of theme and amusement parks are eligible for the Best Theme Park Restaurant award. In addition to Mythos, Theme Park Insider readers highly rated two other restaurants that stand among the Top Three Best Theme Park Restaurants in the World:

  • Le Cellier Steakhouse at Walt Disney World's Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

    Best Theme Park Hotel

    Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

    Animal Kingdom Lodge

    Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge reclaims this honor for the third time. "Every part of the hotel from the room, to the view, to the food, and the cast members made this resort one of a kind," one Theme Park Insider reader wrote.

    All "on-property" hotels at theme park resorts worldwide are eligible for the Best Theme Park Hotel Award. In addition to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Theme Park Insider readers highly rated two other hotels that stand among the Top Three Best Theme Park Hotels in the World:

  • Universal's Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando
  • Disney's Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.

    Best Theme Park

    Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif.


    The park that started the worldwide theme park craze reclaims its crown, winning Theme Park Insider readers' top award for 2008. Disney's always had the most loyal fans in the theme park business, but even casual fans are falling back in love with this park, thanks to recent renovations and fresh attractions. With Pirates of the Caribbean and the Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland had two of the top four rides in the country in Theme Park Insider's recent "Best Ride in America" tournament, and qualified more attractions for that tournament than any other single theme park in the world.

    In addition to Disneyland, Theme Park Insider readers honored two other parks as among Top Three Best Theme Parks in the World:

  • Universal's Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando
  • Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Va.

    Thank you to all Theme Park Insider readers for another great year and... we'll see you in the parks!

    Replies (13)

    July 3, 2008 at 12:04 PM · By the way, watch the site next week for my interview with Universal Orlando executive chef Steve Jayson about Mythos.
    July 3, 2008 at 12:04 PM · Yay! I love all of the winners!
    July 3, 2008 at 12:20 PM · It's great that Universal's reps thanked the site for the honors. It's a shame nobody from AK Lodge or Disneyland was able to comment.

    Interesting choices - Universal's innovation and constant strive to change gave them a boost for best new attraction and restaurant, and Disney's return to its glory days secured the best park.

    July 3, 2008 at 12:26 PM · Also, if you count up the awards in terms of rank (1st place gets three points, 2nd gets two, 3rd gets one), here are the results:

    Disney - 12 points
    Universal - 10 points
    Busch Gardens - 1 point
    Hard Rock Park - 1 point

    I was hoping to see some smaller venues measure up, but I can't say I'm disappointed with the results. The Simpsons Ride was excellent, Mythos is great, AK Lodge is breathtaking, and Disneyland is always a pleasure.

    July 3, 2008 at 2:59 PM · Universal Picked it up quickly.

    Updates sent to Universal Orlando Facebook Fans


    It's official - Theme Park Insider awards, The 2008 Results are in.
    We are proud to announce that the readers of Theme Park Insider (www.themeparkinsider.com) have voted The Universal Orlando Resort winners in the following categories.

    Best New Attraction - The Simpsons Ride
    Best Theme Park Restaurant - Mythos (6 years running)

    Thanks go out to all who voted for us, an congratulations to Disney for the Best theme park: Disneyland Park and Best theme park hotel: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World.

    July 3, 2008 at 5:22 PM · I got that too, Gareth. Very classy of them to congratulate their competitors.
    July 3, 2008 at 7:46 PM · Imagine that, Disney and Universal split the vote...

    Expand your horizons people.

    July 3, 2008 at 9:27 PM · Aren't people sick of Mythos yet?

    I am a little sad that the Simpsons won especially since it really didn't add much in the attraction tech area. Good job Robert

    July 3, 2008 at 10:16 PM · On the day that The Simpsons Ride wins, let us pause to note the passing of the man who inspired Krusty the Clown.

    I will leave the inevitable irreverent joke to others....

    July 4, 2008 at 1:03 AM · No sign of anything British again...
    July 4, 2008 at 7:16 AM · lol, Bozo, the British Clown, but RIP.

    So happy 4th of July everyone.

    I'll be locked up inside today, windows & blinds closed, lights off with just a radio to update me on any rioting in the parks.

    First mention of trouble and I'm outta town to the nearest British embassy, (good ole GPS).

    I fear for the SunBurnt, English flag, soccer Jersey wearing tourist that will frequent the parks today, unaware of the patriotism that flows through Americans blood (Along with an unhealthy stream of cracker barrel fat).
    Ah, to be oblivious again.

    Be safe out there people ;)

    July 4, 2008 at 2:53 PM · From when I was down there in May, Disney should be rioting with all the British.

    American Adventure anybody?

    July 4, 2008 at 6:34 PM · I haven't ridden the Simpsons ride or TSMM yet. But I'm glad that the world's best theme park got the recognition it deserves. Take a bow, Disneyland. I'll be seeing you again quite soon...

    By the way, the real inspiration for Krusty the Clown is David Letterman. If you don't believe me, google it.

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