What was your favorite theme park memory of 2023?

December 30, 2023, 5:28 PM · Sixteen theme parks later, it's time to call "cut" on 2023.

For me, this was the first year when I felt back to full speed after the lockdowns of 2020-21. As I just mentioned, I visited 16 different theme parks in 2023, on two continents, thanks to my first overseas travel since before the pandemic.

Those two trips - to the new SeaWorld Abu Dhabi on Yas Island and to the new World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland - surely counted among my top memories of 2023.

But this also was the year when I finally got to see a version of Universal's Super Nintendo World, when it opened at my hometown Universal Studios Hollywood. And my beloved Disneyland kept me busy in 2023, with this being the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company, which Walt's original theme park went hard to celebrate.

With all that extra travel this year, my big takeaway from 2023 was... I want to get in better shape. Travel takes energy, and the better physical condition you are in, the easier it becomes to summon and spend that energy. So that's my top resolution for the new year.

(If you want to share some of your new year's resolutions, there's a thread over on the discussion forum now for just that!)

On Monday, I will reveal the winner of the Theme Park Insider Award for the 2023's Best New Attraction, as well as our updated theme park visitors guides for more than 30 parks around the world. In the meantime, I invite you to browse through our coverage of New Theme Park Attractions in 2023. You'll find all our new attraction reviews there, as well as plenty of on-ride and walk-around videos.

I also would love to hear, in the comments, all about your favorite moments from 2023. What new attractions did you like best? What did you discover in 2023 that was new to you? Or what favorites reminded you why they remain favorites?

And as we prepare to close the year, I want to thank each you, as always, for spending any amount of time with us here at Theme Park Insider. It is an honor and pleasure to bring theme park news and analysis to you via this site and our social channels. Thank you for your support, and I look forward to bringing you much more in the year ahead.

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Replies (12)

December 30, 2023 at 6:53 PM

Easily March Disneyland trip with my sister, her husband and their four year old son. First time back there in 20 years and fantastic experience, even with a rainy Friday. Stayed at Disneyland Hotel, VIP tour to get on rides faster, got on just about all the big ones wanted to and overall, a wonderful return after too long away from a Disney park.

December 31, 2023 at 12:08 AM

Visiting Efteling and staying there for 3 nights! I got to know the park pretty well!!

December 31, 2023 at 12:20 AM

Easily for me it’s been getting to ride Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot numerous times and feeling great after every ride. My wife and I are both 80s kids and the first ride through with I RAN by Flock of Seagulls had us giggling and singing along the entire time. So far we’ve rode and sung along to I RAN, DISCO INFERNO, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER and SEPTEMBER. Guardians really feels like Disney’s first attraction made with Gen Xers as the target audience and we LOVED it!

December 31, 2023 at 12:26 AM

Along with my previous post, staying in a non Disney hotel at WDW was eye opening and we can’t see going back to the mouse’s hotels. For half the price we stayed in a suite at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek with full kitchen, in room laundry and were still so close to Disney from our room we could look over the hedge from our balcony and see the Caribbean Beach Resort and enjoy Epcot fireworks every night. A great relaxing stay. A great capper to a fun trip every night.

December 31, 2023 at 2:35 AM

For me, there are three that stand out...

1. Attending an enthusiast event at Six Flags Magic Mountain with a pretty epic backstage tour of the park's maintenance shop, where we got to spend an hour chatting with the head of maintenance and learn tons of behind the scenes info.

2. Visiting Lost Island Theme Park in Iowa, which is a small, out of the way park with tons of potential if they can just find a way to attract guests to the place.

3. Taking a 2.5 week trip of Japan, which was not entirely about theme parks but did enable me to check out the most noteworthy parks in the country. Even though not all of them lived up to the hype, it was great to finally visit both Universal Studios Japan and Tokyo Disney Resort, as well as some more authentically Japanese parks (Himeji Central Park, Parque Espana, Nagashima Spa Land, Fuji-Q Highland, Tobu Zoo Park, and Tokyo Dome City).

December 31, 2023 at 7:09 AM

For me, it was something as simple as watching my 2 1/2 year old daughter interact with the various characters at Walt Disney World. As a north Florida native, I’ve been going to Disney my whole life and my wife and I have been going together for about 10 years before we finally had our own child. It was truly heartwarming and eye-opening to me to really stop and pay attention after all these years to the expert level of detail and personal attention that each character gives each and every person they interact with. I was moved and fascinated on multiple occasions to witness their expert interaction with children and adults, many of whom were nonverbal, on the spectrum or living with severe disabilities. Whether it was gently taking a guest by the hand, remembering a guest from the last time they came (which we witnessed during our visit to Anna and Elsa) or tailoring an embrace to linger until a child broke it first or giving a firmer more reassuring hug to a nonverbal adult, it really rekindled some of the wonder that I had missed through all the years of going as a childless adult with a mind geared more towards running around to each attraction as quick as I could or enjoying the multiple beverages on hand at somewhere like Epcot. So hats off to those fine folks for their hard work and patience. I feel as though I’ve rediscovered a part of the experience that was hidden from me in plain sight.
Favorite quip from a speaking cast member:
(My daughter looks in wonder and unease at the lurking stormtrooper pacing in front of the Millennium Falcon at Galaxy’s Edge and he approaches slowly)
Stormtrooper #1: “You haven’t seen the Wookiee rebel around here have you?
- my daughter clutches my chest, though still curious, uneasily. Stormtrooper #2, seeing this walks over and holds out in finger in a pointing motion. My daughter, being trained by her Daddy well in the art of the “boop” lights up and touches her finger to his. The first Stormtrooper expertly rolls with it, and boops my daughter’s nose…
Stormtrooper #1: “This one’s okay. She must be one of ours…”

December 31, 2023 at 10:16 AM

We discovered the frozen jack daniels (or rum) and cokes they sell at the Smokejumpers Grill at California Adventure. They are the most pillowy, fluffy frozen cokes you've had in your life, with the exact right amount of booze.

Also, we rode Matterhorn after dark this year, for the first time in years, and I felt like we experienced the true nature of the ride. It seemed to be moving much faster than usual, making the ride legitimately scary. I was so into it, it didn't even hurt my back.

December 31, 2023 at 12:12 PM

I had a lovely Disneyland visit with a first-timer which started with a ride on Indiana Jones that broke down so the lights came on (in the air dart hallway lol) and then let us ride through again (a lovely peek behind the scenes), and ended with a night ride on Jungle Cruise, which has a great queue after dark imo. We also saw Fantasmic only about a week before the dragon had some... digestion issues...

December 31, 2023 at 3:04 PM

Any new park I get to experience for the first time is a great memory and this year that was SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California. But it was actually Legoland Florida that had probably my favorite memory of the year. I was walking past the 4D theater and they had characters from the new Dreamzzz show out for meet and greets. A boy with vitiligo along his face went up to them and just seemed so happy to see a character who looked like him. It was very heartwarming.

December 31, 2023 at 9:16 PM

Getting to met Tony Baxter at Scary Farm on opening weekend was definitely my favorite moment.

January 4, 2024 at 6:57 PM

Toss up between riding Wildcat's Revenge four times because I wasn't sure I'd gotten the video right and riding El Toro for the 1st time since two mishaps in two years put it out of commission.

January 5, 2024 at 11:12 AM

Experiencing Puy Du Fou for the first time. An entire theme park with zero rollercoasters and literally only one ride (a carousel). But they do have an abundance of shows, and my oh my what impressive shows they are. From a falconry show with 10x as many birds as anything I'd seen at Dollywood or Animal Kingdom, to a full size Roman Amphitheatre replica complete with chariot racing stunts, to a Viking show with the most impressive "set somebody on fire" stunts I've ever seen live, to the indoor shows with mind-blowing scale in their purpose built theatres.

As long as you can get past the Catholic propaganda and the extremely loose and nationalistic takes on history, it is hugely impressive and thoroughly entertaining.

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