Theme Park Insider Podcast, Episode 7: What are the most over-rated and under-rated theme park attractions?

September 10, 2013, 9:16 AM · This week on the Theme Park Insider podcast, we're trying something different. Instead of a one-on-one interview, or a news round-up, as we've brought you in the past, we're hosting a round-table discussion with three Theme Park Insider front-page writers.

James Koehl and Jeff Elliott join me this week on the podcast, where we reveal our picks for the most over-rated and under-rated theme park attractions. You might know James for his coverage of Cedar Point, as well as his recent epic two-part overview of Colorado theme parks. Jeff is the author of the Blog Flume Filter, his twisted take on the week's theme park news.

Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Robert's pick for most over-rated theme park attraction is Epcot's IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Listen to this week's podcast episode to find out why.

You can subscribe to the Theme Park Insider podcast via iTunes, or you can access the podcast's RSS file directly, if you're resisting our Apple overlords. And if you just want to listen to the audio file right here on your computer/phone/whatever, that file is right here.

We've been producing the podcast for nearly two months now, and we'd love to hear some feedback from you, our audience. Have you subscribed to the podcast? Did you even know we had one? Which type of episode do you prefer: interviews, news round-ups or discussions? If you like interviews, do you prefer to hear them on the podcast, or just to read the transcripts on the site? What would you like to hear on future podcast episodes? Or are we just wasting our time with them?

Comments appreciated. And thank you for being part of Theme Park Insider!

Replies (12)

September 10, 2013 at 9:35 AM · My hearing loss makes it pointless to listen to the podcasts. I haven't tried, but I go from experience listening to other things on my computer. I am interested in reading transcripts/recaps. I didn't vote in the poll because this wasn't really an option.

*EDIT*..I realize Option 1 is me, so I voted.

September 10, 2013 at 10:25 AM · My option isn't in there but I voted I listen to it every week but I download the file and not trough Apple.
Love the podcast although the audio quality is often not that great but the content is and that is the important part!
Thanks for doing this.
On the subject of the podcast, Sourin is the most overrated piece of crap Disney produced ever. I love the ride mechanism but it has no story and you get pulled out of the experience every single time the scene changes. Come on you could do much better.

In regards of spending money on rides and making money back from it. That is true for everyone except for WDW. Except for MK non of the additional parks are considered to be great and do so well if they didn't hostage their guests on property. And as long as the sheep's are coming in droves attracted by nostalgia and the promise your kids won't nag as long as you buy them every peace of crap they demand Disney will penny pinch them to death.
But OT why did they do such an amazing job on Star Tours 2? Because they needed to butter up George Lucas who already demanded 'his' should get a much needed update.
But what about new fantasy land? New fantasy land is the result of focus testing and guests wanted more princesses. So Disney is building the whole thing on the cheap with 2 mediocre rides to cash in on food, drinks and photo ops and the fact they can sell more makeovers and princess dresses and stuff.
What the heck they where thinking about Avater is beyond me but it probably had something to do with a boy wizard that was racking in heaps of cash and they wanted something like that and they where dumb enough to not see they already had a license (Star Wars) to do that. But I'm sure Avatar is a better deal because it'll result in nice photo's, not rides (who cares about them, you can't show them) for guests to show to someone else. Because that is what counts. Non of the updates and expansions have resulted in more guests for Disney so why should they?

September 10, 2013 at 3:36 PM · In general, I've never listened to podcasts of any kind at all. I do read the transcripts, but it feels like listening to podcasts would be a waste of time (it takes less time to read than it takes to hear others speak). I may have to check this one out because it's a particularly interesting topic to me and you didn't give a transcript.
September 10, 2013 at 7:02 PM · Over rated: Soarin

Under rated: Either Monsters,Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue at DCA or Flight of the Hippogriff at IOA (Flight of the Hippogriff with the edge here)

I voted for the listen to some, skip some podcasts answer choice. They were all executed very well, just didn't feel like listening to some since I assumed a transcript would be provided after each podcast. So, in terms of future podcast ideas, maybe you could focus on the USH 20 year revolution plan, a Star Wars podcast similar to the Potter one you did, or even Avatar/Pandora for Animal Kingdom. So as you can see, I'm a long term thinker and like to hear/read about the future projects that are planned for the theme parks I have great respect for. As always, there's room for improvement which is why these comments will be most beneficial to your team. Hope this helps.

September 10, 2013 at 8:15 PM · It is something of a miracle that any amount of Cedar Point's Frontier Trial has remained somewhat intact. While it isn't nearly as quiet as it used to be in its early years, namely due to Millennium Force, Mantis, and the pump and lift noise of Snake River Falls, it has survived a couple decades of intense concrete and steel additions at the park. I have always felt like Frontier Trail has been a way to step back in time, not necessarily to the "Old West" but to the Cedar Point of the 1970s and 80s.

Sindbad's Storybook Voyage is precisely the kind of Disney attraction that made all of us fall in love with what Disney can do. Some of the greatest and most timeless Disney attractions are the ones not based on existing IP (in the sense of film, television, etc.): Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and essentially all of the original EPCOT Center. It is unfortunate that the drive to have IP-based attractions has almost snuffed out the possibility to create the next Pirates or Haunted Mansion. Attractions like Cars Land and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter have certainly shown us that IP is here to stay, but it is encouraging to see that original "new classic" attractions like Sindbad and Mystic Manor can still come out of Disney.

September 10, 2013 at 11:11 PM · Just finished listening to this week's podcast-- really interesting discussion, especially about encouraging theme park companies to spend the money to build good attractions (like at Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong and the Universal theme parks), which will help attendance and bring in more revenue.

I personally prefer reading a transcript more than listening to the podcasts, but if it's a topic that sounds interesting to me, I will try to make time to listen to the podcast on my computer. If it's a topic that doesn't sound interesting to me, it's unlikely I'll make the time to listen. Transcripts are just easier to read through and to find the most interesting sections (although I know they are very time consuming to write up from the audio files).

My personal pick for an overrated attraction is Pirates of the Caribbean-- I know it's a classic, but the movement of the pirates and other animatronic figures looks so unrealistic. The figures chasing each other on spinning circular platforms seem like they belong in a carnival attraction. I don't think the animatronics has impressed me since I was in grade school in the 1970s. With today's technology, you'd think they could do so much more with the attraction if it were built today.

September 11, 2013 at 7:56 AM · I occasionally listen to the pod casts but not very often. However I do have some strong feelings about over and under rated attractions.

Over rated attractions

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Sorry to those who love it but I just don't get it. It's one of the rare Disney rides that doesn't really have a story and as a roller coaster it falls flat. It has three lift hills. Three...I'll let that sink in for a moment. Up lift hill one, then running around low to the ground rocks and Im feeling good, then stop for lift hill two, off again dashing in and out, oh wait lets break up the action again with lift hill three, then the final section.

Top Thrill Dragster - I grew up near Detroit so Cedar Point was always it for me. I don't know if it is actually highly rated but I know the line is always long and I just dont get it. Really fast, one hill and done. Why that ride has lines longer than Millennium Force boggles my mind.

Under rated attractions -

Flight of the Hippogriff - For being a "kids" coaster its really good. Relatively fast, good turns and it gave me a rush. I think people see the kids part and turn away.

Flights of Wonder - For those who dont know, its a bird show in Animal Kingdom. Every time I go it is never full and yet its always a blast to watch. My daughter loves it too. If you never thought you could train chickens, this will prove you wrong.

September 11, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Over-rated: Toy Story Midway Mania. I know I'll get a lot of hate for this. Yes it's fun, but not enough for me to wait an hour or so to go on. It's an upgraded videogame to me as you can play the game at home minus the moving seats, air blasts, and water spray.

Under-rated: Disney Animation @ DCA. Most over-looked area in DLR. I've told friends who visit once a year to check it out. Before their trip, they always say "what are you talking about?" then are glad they stopped by once they make it there.

September 11, 2013 at 2:59 PM · I don't listen to all the podcasts, but I do listen to any that sound interesting. This was a pretty good one, and although I haven't experienced all the attractions mentioned I agree with all of them EXCEPT Indiana Jones Adventure (which remains my favorite ride at Disneyland and my favorite dark ride anywhere). As for my picks for overrated and underrated attractions...

Overrated: Toy Story Midway Mania-It's a fun ride, but the whole thing is just shooting at images on screens and feels more like a giant video game than an actual dark ride.

Underrated: Enchanted Tiki Room-The best of Disney's animatronic shows and a great way to escape the sun and heat of a hot summer day, plus you can take your Dole whip inside with you.

September 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM · I work for the parks, so I often am catching up on the latest news while I'm at work. Which isn't a good environment for listening to Podcasts. I prefer to read only because I can't listen.
September 12, 2013 at 7:11 AM · PS, is there a transcript for this Podcast?
September 12, 2013 at 10:24 AM · No, no transcript this week. I've only been transcribing the one-on-one interviews. FWIW, transcribing is a PITA, so I wanted to make sure readers cared before I put any more work into it. But it sounds like you (collectively) value the transcripts more than the audio itself!

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