The results are in and the people have spoken. This poll was bit more involved then the previous two and allowed users to have multiple answers. The question was the following: In terms of park quality, which of these factors separate the best from the worst?
This question was meant to be a little trickier then the previous two. I wrote the question in a way to limit the answer field to the listed options, but not insinuate that those are the ONLY options. Some people commented that cleanliness and operations are really important, which they absolutely are, but I didn’t include an “Other” field because there are truthfully dozens of other factors that separate the best from the worst park. I also added the option for voters to pick 3 different answers after the initial poll was basically a two-way tie between “Theming” and “Attraction Collection”. Regardless, let’s dive into the results.
Theming – 123 votes
To me, this is an obvious choice. A high-quality, immersive environment is a huge indicator of park quality and is definitely indicative of a good theme park. This is what separates the Disney’s, Universal’s, heck even a lot of European parks from the Six Flags. When a park invests the money to fully theme their product, it is a clear sign that they are trying to be a high-quality destination. The subtleties that an immersive environment offers is what really makes the magic really happen.
Attraction Collection – 120 votes
This was yet another obvious choice. To me, you can look at this option in two different ways. If you break it down to regional parks like Six Flags or Cedar Fair, the huge separator between say Cedar Point and Six Flags America is absolutely attraction collection. Cedar Point is oft considered the “best” in it’s respective right because of the park’s collection of ridiculously awesome roller coasters.
On the other side of the spectrum, if you want to continue to think about what separates the Disney Parks from a less-then-stellar regional park, you can still say attraction collection. How many regional parks have an attraction like Mystic Manor or Journey to the Center of the Earth? Test Track? These insanely high-quality attractions are clearly present only at the higher-end parks because they are the ones with the money to put $50+ million into a non-coaster attraction.
Dining Options – 36 votes
So the first two choices were pretty obvious to most, but the third selection is where it became a bit more tricky. If I had to select one, it would probably be dining options. I can’t even remember the last time I purchased food at a Six Flags park. I also can’t recall a single full-service dining option at any Six Flags or Cedar Fair park (can someone confirm this?). The ability to sit down and have a full-service dining experience is reserved only for the higher-quality parks. Being able to break up your day and relax in a Mythos or a Le Cellier Steakhouse is an excellent option to have as a guest. I know a lot of our voters will probably say “No I don’t want to break up my day because I want to ride more rides” which is a valid point, but try to be less subjective and really evaluate how dining options goes hand in hand with overall park quality.
Nighttime Spectaculars – 12 votes
The order of the results are exactly how I would rank them personally thus far. Nighttime Spectaculars is a little tough because I instantly associate them with Disney. I personally also consider Universal a high-quality park, but their nighttime spectacular… not so much. Disney’s nighttime spectaculars, for me, are truly what separates them from the rest. It seriously is a HUGE reason why I think so many worship Disney because their nighttime spectaculars serve as a perfect nightcap. It leaves adults and children leaving the park thinking about how ridiculously good what they just saw was and erases the fact that they (adults) just had a crazy tiring day running around the park with their kids. Even after a night where I was at the park for a few hours and only went on two attractions, Wishes allowed me to leave the park with child-like wonder and appreciation for imagination. I think a Disney without nighttime spectaculars would be drastically different.
Street Entertainment – 7 votes
I probably would have ranked this one lower, but I think it serves an important purpose at all parks. Being able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park without having to wait for a specific showtime or attraction definitely increases guest satisfaction. Easy scientific way to confirm this theory is Roller Coaster Tycoon 2. Street Performers = happiness.
Stage Shows – 5 votes
I would rank this higher. GOOD stage shows are a huge asset to any park. I would argue that Finding Nemo: The Musical is one of the best attractions at Animal Kingdom. I am also a huge fan of Celtic Fyre at Busch Gardens Europe and Iceploration at Busch Gardens Tampa. These shows allow for a nice period of rest and relaxation while still providing a quality entertainment experience.
Retail – 5 votes
While it is excessively important to have retail and merchandise from a profit stand point, I don’t think I have purchased a souvenir from a park in a decade. I cannot speak much to how a retail experience ranks among different parks, but I do know that it can make or break a park from a financial standpoint. Think about how much Universal makes off of the house cloaks that they probably can make for less then $1.
The results are pretty much as expected. Theming, attraction collection, and dining options are all huge factors that can separate the best from the worst. I think one thing to note is the differences in ideology among voters. Some hear “best” and their mind goes to Cedar Point, Magic Mountain, or maybe a park like Dollywood. Others hear “best” and instantly go to Disney and Universal parks. These differences definitely played a factor in the results, but I think it is an interesting thing to note. Stay tuned for another poll in the coming days, thank you to all who voted!