Vote of the Week: Football or Theme Parks?

January 30, 2015, 12:21 PM · It's almost Super Bowl Sunday in the United States, when the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks this year will play for the National Football League championship. Among theme park fans, Super Bowl Sunday used to be "go to Disneyland Sunday," as thinking was that so many people would be watching the big game that the park would be relatively empty for the rest of us.

That hasn't been the case in years, though. Huge numbers of local annual passholders typically crowd the park on Sundays, when fewer passes are blocked out than on Saturdays. The lack of an NFL team in the Los Angeles area for a generation has helped make going to Disneyland on a Sunday more of a local tradition than going to a pro football game, and Super Bowl Sunday is no exception.

In Orlando, crowds typically have been relatively light on Super Bowl Sunday, but that probably has more to do with the day not being part of any school holiday week or weekend, which always hold down attendance in the tourist-dependent Orlando-area theme parks.

Aaron Rogers and Mickey Mouse
No matter what happens on Sunday, after the game, the most valuable player is going to Disney World (okay, Disneyland this year).

Over the years, the parks in Central Florida have started programming more and more special events during the non-holiday weeks between New Year's and the start of summer, in an effort to boost attendance among locals and those who don't have kids in school. Up until recently, the parks haven't tried very hard to compete with Super Bowl Sunday, but now even this weekend isn't spared. Universal Orlando is hosting a big "Celebration of Harry Potter" event this weekend as counter-programming for the big game. (Update: While Universal Orlando tries to compete, Universal Studios Hollywood is playing along. The California park just announced that it will run a national commercial during the Super Bowl pre-game for its new "Fast & Furious" Studio Tour encounter. The Super Bowl airs this year on NBC, which is owned by Universal's parent company.)

Theme parks often support their local pro sports franchises when they're playing for a championship. But Seattle doesn't have any major parks, and all the parks in New England are closed for the season this time of year. The only theme parks in the United States open on Super Bowl Sunday are in Southern California and Central Florida, and neither Los Angeles nor Orlando have NFL teams. (Maybe parks would get on board with promoting the game if the San Diego or Tampa teams were playing, as they have in the past, but it's been a while since either franchise made it to Super Bowl.)

The NFL also has been battling public backlash against domestic violence by players, a concussion epidemic that's shortened the lives of many league veterans, and lingering public distaste with the use of taxpayer money for stadiums. Still, the Super Bowl sets television ratings records more times than not in recent years, and the NFL remains the most popular sport in America.

So what will you be doing on Sunday? Will you be watching the game, or will you be going to a theme park? Given that many of you don't live in a city with an open park this time of year, let's ask instead which you would rather be doing this weekend, instead.

There's no wrong answer here. We'd just love to hear about any special or notable plans that you have for this weekend. Whether you're going to the park or watching the game, we hope you have a great weekend, and thank you for spending any part of it with us here on Theme Park Insider!

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Replies (16)

January 30, 2015 at 12:23 PM · What is this 'football' of which you speak?
January 30, 2015 at 1:17 PM · Super bowl comes once per year. Theme parks are open every day of the year.
I guess it all depends on your interest and if your local team in involved.

Plus do not underestimate the football pools and commercials folks want to see.

Oh by the way, Go Pats - TB12.....

January 30, 2015 at 1:10 PM · Football....Umm, is that the one with the pointy ends?? Yep, it's pretty obvious I'd rather be at a theme park :-)
January 30, 2015 at 2:06 PM · Very timely question, because my family and I will be at Universal Florida taking in the Harry Potter events.
January 30, 2015 at 2:50 PM · I try not to miss the Superbowl and the Rosebowl. They are both can't miss football events.

Is there a can't miss theme park event? The Halloween Party events are quickly becoming a can't miss. I completely enjoy myself at Disneyland or Legoland and the kids love it.

Summer is a hit or miss. I used to expect annual trips to the theme parks in the summer, but its a matter of priorities. If we already went in the more affordable off-season like the Spring especially for Disneyland/California Adventure, we don't need to go again in the Summer at full price when a few months away, I will go to the Halloween event at $70 a ticket.

January 30, 2015 at 4:58 PM · Normally I'd watch the game...but I'm still too bitter over my team losing a few weeks ago. I'll be at the Magic Kingdom this year.
January 30, 2015 at 9:20 PM · As long as my team isn't paying in the SB I'll take an amusement park visit.
And if I ever won the Super Bowl as the MVP my statement would be, "I'm going to Tokyo Disney Sea!".
January 30, 2015 at 9:40 PM · Did you know that domestic violence from professional football players is well below the average for the general population of that age group?

So it is likely that when you are at the theme park, there are more perpetrators of domestic violence on the roller coaster with you than in the football game you are not watching.

Meanwhile, I'd rather be at a theme park than watching the football game. But not because of "domestic violence".

January 30, 2015 at 10:00 PM · Spectator sports by their very nature are a passive activity with no agency. Theme parks are an adventure that you choose every time you visit. Not much of a contest really.
January 30, 2015 at 11:06 PM · Oh man...I am faced with this choice every December during our annual Christmas trip to Orlando. As a diehard NY Giants fan, I haven't missed a game in 40 years. The way I get around it is to buy tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for a Sunday night. That way I can watch the game during the afternoon without sacrificing a day at the parks. But I got burned a couple years ago. From the first time we went to Universal Studios over 20 years ago, one of our favorite attractions has been the Horror Make Up Show. Every time we've seen the show (at least 40 times), we always wished my wife would get picked to be the "victim." Of course the one time we couldn't get a Sunday night ticket to Mickey's party, we went to Universal and I left the early to go watch the guessed it. She was picked by "Mark James." I was told he had a ball with the "where's your husband" routine. At least I have the Polaroid!
January 30, 2015 at 11:22 PM · Pigskin>Theme parks
January 31, 2015 at 6:26 AM · I agree with Brian, but only because New England is in the Super Bowl this year. Otherwise, I would rather be at a theme park. Go Patriots!
January 31, 2015 at 7:41 AM · I was at Disney World the week after the NY Giants won. Had no idea Eli Manning was in a parade over at Magic Kingdom... Toy Story Midway Mania had, like, a 15 minute line. Thought it was bizarre until we read about the parade later that evening.
January 31, 2015 at 11:09 AM · I picked theme park mainly because I'm more interested in college football than NFL. Since college plays on Saturdays it was an easy choice.
February 1, 2015 at 6:02 AM · I wonder - is it a good day to go to the major parks? Are they lightly populated because of the game? Other than Hawks' or Pats' fans, who wouldn't choose a day at a sunny Southern California or Central Florida park over the shenanigans of the Super Bowl (and Old Man Winter)?

I do love the NFL, but this year's Super Bowl features two teams I loathe led by coaches I dislike, therefore I have a hard time cheering for either team to win (although I dislike the Seahawks - because of R. Wilson, who seems like a decent fellow - a little less than I dislike the Pats). So I, like 30 other teams in the NFL, will be participating in activities other than the Super Bowl today, and will check in after the fact to see who won, the Juicers or the Cheaters.

February 2, 2015 at 8:33 AM · I'm English...your strange game makes my brain hurt :-) I tried - I really tried! (But having said that I understand a bit more football than I do the extremely English game of cricket!)
I did watch up to half time. We even got to see some of the ads in our tv coverage which was cool.
But, I would definitely have much rather been in a theme park!

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