Celebrating 15 years of Theme Park Insider

May 5, 2014, 12:26 PM · We just realized that today is the 10th anniversary of our first blog post on ThemeParkInsider.com!

Tower of Terror
First post: Robert Niles Reviews California Adventure's Tower of Terror

We started the site 15 years ago this month, too, with reader ratings of the attractions and restaurants at the Walt Disney World theme parks. Later that year, we expanded the listings to include Disneyland, Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood. In the years since, we've added 30 more theme parks in the United States and 22 parks in other countries to our theme park ratings and reviews listings.

In July 2000, we renamed the clunky "Interactive Guide to Disney and Universal Attractions" as ThemeParkInsider.com, and the site's been growing ever since. (Here is the earliest screen capture of ThemeParkInsider.com from Archive.org.) We started the discussion board in 2001, started awarding our annual Theme Park Insider Awards in 2002, and in 2004 we launched the front page posts that today have become our Blog Flume.

Today, we're reaching more than 400,000 unique readers a month and getting attraction reviews and news reports from all over the world. So thank you, so, so much, to everyone who has been part of our community over the past 15 years!

Update: I should mention another important milestone in our history: In 2001, we won the Online Journalism Award from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism for our coverage of theme park safety. Columbia is the same school that awards the Pulitzer Prizes and, back then, websites were not eligible for the Pulitzers, so the Online Journalism Awards were established as an alternative for online media. We won the award in the Service Journalism category for our Accident Watch feature, where we asked readers to help us collect a list of injury accidents at parks worldwide. It was the first "crowdsourced" reporting effort by any publication to win a major news industry award. So we're part of journalism history for that, and it couldn't have happened without you, the community.

In 2005, we were named one of five finalists for the Webby Award for best Guide/Ratings/Review site, and were named a Webby Awards honoree in the same category a year later. Along the way, we've also been named the "best theme park site on the Internet" by Forbes and Travel + Leisure magazines. Again, thank you to everyone who's been part of our community for these many years, and we hope that you will continue to be part of our community for many more years to come!

Replies (20)

May 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Standing and Applauding.
May 5, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Congratulations with this milestone. Lets hope many years will follow.
I like this site a lot. It's the only site I know that dares to give an intellectual and intelligent view of all things theme parks. It doesn't need to be overly positive to be granted trinkets and press meetings from the parks because it want to be free and honest, unbiased.
You dare to be critical without being bitter and dare to be positive without being a fanboy or girl.
The selection of writers you present is stellar and they all give their own, specific view representing their niche and I appreciate it a lot.
Please continue your excellent work and thanks to you and all the writers and contributors for making this the best theme park site I know.
May 5, 2014 at 1:10 PM · Bravo!!!
And you are welcome....

May 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Robert, it's an honor to be a small part of the Theme Park Insider family. Congratulations!
May 5, 2014 at 2:07 PM · You can say all you want about the TPI community, Robert, and it is truly filled with some wonderful folks, but you're the fella who gives us the vehicle to talk about our theme park passion. So, thank you, sir! And, well done, indeed!
May 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM · Robert, congrats. I'm not entirely sure how long I've been visiting the site, but I do remember when you regularly told stories about your days as a cast member. One of my favorites was (and still is) wearing your "Chicago" overcoat to work on a very very cold morning during Christmas break.

AM looking forward to many more years enjoying your work.

May 5, 2014 at 5:07 PM · 2014, like 2012, is shaping up to be a good theme park year. I've been around for only three years and it's the community of fellow park-goers that keep me coming. I find myself meeting new voices every month here (I wonder where some of our other regular members have gone), but it's Robert's informative articles along with other wonderful contributors who keep me coming back.

In the spirit of Universal's night show: "15 years is just the beginning."

May 5, 2014 at 5:08 PM · I was a fan of TPI way before Robbie was on the payroll of the conglomarates.
May 5, 2014 at 5:09 PM · One suggestion -

I used to enjoy perusing your message board, but after the recent forum format change, it seems like much of the conversation there has stalled.

Perhaps getting rid of the various sub-forums (ie- Disney, Universal, Orlando, Asia, etc.) and just having one main forum for all topics will help spur discussion again.

May 5, 2014 at 6:38 PM · I approved the anon comment from the troll as an excuse to remind everyone that, unlike some other theme park news website publishers, I do NOT accept free travel from theme park companies to attend press events, and I do not accept free admission to parks, except when it is necessary to attend those events.

So if I'm writing about a theme park and it's not a press event, I paid my way in to the park, just like everyone else. I don't do travel junkets.

May 5, 2014 at 6:42 PM · Also, regarding the message board: The traffic's been too slow over there for years, and I tried the new format to shake things up a bit. Since it's still too slow for my liking, I'm shaking it up again and listing the threads in time order, rather than by topic first.

It's the same collection of threads on the page, but you'll see the most recently updated posts, regardless of topic, at the top of the page now. Again, you no longer need to wait for a thread to be approved when you submit one as a registered member. I hope this encourages more use of the discussion board! Thanks again.

May 5, 2014 at 6:44 PM · Wow, 15 years!
May 5, 2014 at 7:30 PM · Congrats! and thanks for the wonderful publications.
May 6, 2014 at 7:03 AM · Congratulations Robert. I have been following this site for 5 or 6 years now and it remains one of my favorites. Well organized, objective, always informative and insightful with a great group of followers. It's inspiring to see someone who has a passion for theme parks combine it with good journalism skills and the flexibility to recruit additional talent to cover so many topics and issues. Keep up the great work !!
May 5, 2014 at 9:53 PM · Congratulations on 15 years. I too started reading this site because of your stories from working at WDW. I also really enjoyed your wife's recent tales of her time spent working at Epcot. I could read those types of stories all day. Keep up the good work.
May 6, 2014 at 12:25 AM · Out of all the many theme park web sites out there this is the one I come back to most often and have saved in my favourites list. It has the right balance of news and comment, spirited debate (!) and seems to have its finger on the pulse of hot theme park gossip and breaking news. It's a fine example of how to do something right.

Congratulations Robert, and the rest of your team. Here's to the next 15 years.....

May 6, 2014 at 5:47 AM · Congratulations on a job well done!!!
May 6, 2014 at 6:12 AM · Congratulations, Robert!

TPI has been a "must read" on my daily list for well over a decade. Hat's off to you and the other regular contributors for making my day a better place.

May 6, 2014 at 8:06 AM · So Happy I found this website! Thanks to Robert and to all else who contribute.
May 6, 2014 at 8:27 AM · Congratulations!

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive