2011 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Preview of Wednesday's votes

March 15, 2011, 8:42 AM · Theme parks across the country have embraced Halloween events, which is why so many of them can be found in the field for the 2011 Theme Park Insider Tournament: America's Best Theme Park Event.

But let's not forget which park started this trend: California's Knott's Berry Farm, home to Halloween Haunt, which remains one of the country's largest and most popular "hard ticket" Halloween events, with scare zones and mazes throughout the park.

Halloween Haunt
Halloween Haunt

Tomorrow morning, Halloween Haunt will square off in the tournament against its Southern California Halloween rival, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Halloween Horror Nights
Halloween Horror Nights

Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights went on hiatus a few years back, but returned in 2006 and immediately reclaimed its popularity. Smaller than its Orlando sibling, the Hollywood version nevertheless makes use of an asset Universal Studios Florida lacks - the backlot tour, where ghouls and zombies are known to lie in wait for passing visitors.

So, Southern California theme park fans, which is your favorite local Halloween event? You've got until voting begins at 7 am Pacific (10 am Eastern) tomorrow to make your case in the comments.

Update The vote is open now.

* * *

The second match-up in Wednesday's first-round voting will pit two of the nation's top theme park events for athletes. No, I'm not talking about ESPN The Weekend, which is up today against the Star Wars Weekends. I'm talking about two events for people who aren't afraid to get out and get moving.

It's the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend versus the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, also at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Both events take place in the winter, to take advantage of the reasonably cooler temperatures at that time of year in Central Florida for long-distance running. (Can you imagine a marathon in Orlando in July? Even if the starting pistol went off at midnight, it'd be too hot!)

Registration opened today for the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend next January, which will feature a new relay option. The Disney Princess Half Marathon, which features a bit more character and whimsy than the "regular" marathon weekend, just finished this year, running on the last weekend in February.

Which is your pick? You'll have the chance to vote, starting at noon ET tomorrow.

Update: Voting is open now

Replies (12)

March 15, 2011 at 1:07 PM · Honestly, it's not even close. Anyone that has been to both events knows that what Universal lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality. The mazes, actors, and atmosphere outclasses Knott's by a HUGE margin.
March 15, 2011 at 3:55 PM · Its gotta be Halloween Horror Nights. although it doesnt have as many mazes they have AMAZING QUALITY mazes made based around some of the greatest Horror Movies around with horror icons that drove fear into our hearts from their movies coming to life right before your eyes! And they have, of course, the Bill & Ted Show. The greatest theme park show I've ever seen.
March 15, 2011 at 4:15 PM · Why does HHN get to go twice? I would just lump it into USO's version.
March 16, 2011 at 10:03 AM · I went to both parks one year to compare. And by far Universal beats Knotts hands down. I agree with the other that said what it lacks in quantity, it MORE than makes up for in quality. Also Knotts does not have enough land for all the mazes they offer. Which makes it seem very crowded and I felt packed in like a sardine. Universal has a more spread out park and although the lines can be long at some mazes (i HIGHLY recommend the VIP Front of the Line pass) you dont feel packed in.
The year I went it seemed like Knotts attracted the teen crowd and with no supervision, they tended to act out, overly kid-like. I am all for having a good time but with the tight crowds and teeny boppers, I got drained quick. And in all the years I been going to knotts (over 10 years) I have not yet to hit every maze.
Universals crowd had the teenagers but they seemed more calm, maybe cause the had room to breathe in the park. The mazes are scary, the detail is amazing and the length of the mazes is better than knotts. So in my opinion, HHN is my choice.
March 16, 2011 at 10:47 AM · HHN beats knotts hands down
March 16, 2011 at 10:54 AM · I went to both 2 years ago, and I must say HHN was way better. Just as another poster mentioned, it felt overly crowded at Knott's, which made the atmosphere less than desirable. HHN for me all the way!
March 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM · halloween horror nights beats all
March 16, 2011 at 11:33 AM · Halloween horror nights is the best!!! I can't wait for this years season to start. I agree with everyone that has commented on hhn being the best. They've said pretty much what has to be said.
March 16, 2011 at 3:11 PM · HHN has the rights to the characters of the iconic horror legends. And they have 3 quality maze costumes and makeup.. thats pretty much it. KSF has TALENT. And creativity. They've never let me down. HHN is just too flashy almost like they're trying too hard. KSF just feels like home.
March 16, 2011 at 3:48 PM · HHN forsure
March 16, 2011 at 6:46 PM · Ive been to both over several years and because of no front of the line pass Knotts crowds are out of handleaving HHN the winner hands down.
March 20, 2011 at 11:16 AM · I agree HHN is by far the best. The quality is exceptional. I would enjoy Knott's far more if they offered a front of the line pass so we could enjoy the mazes and not get crowded out by all the teeny boppers.

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