Theme Park of the Decade Award

29 12 2009

As the Noughties come to an end many industry writers are giving their opinions on the best and worst from the decade. Here’s my top picks from the theme park industry.

Best New Theme Park – Tokyo DisneySea

Making its debut in 2001 DisneySea was the second gate at the first Disney Resort outside of North America in Tokyo, Japan. The resort is believed to hold the record for the most expensive theme park ever built, at an initial cost of around $4 billion. The park is simply one of the most stunning theme parks in the world, with a mixture of amazing architecture and perfectly sculpted landscapes that make DisneySea easy on the eye. The park hosts a collection of the best attractions to be developed by Walt Disney Imagineering including a modified version of The Tower of Terror.

Best New Attraction – Expedition Everest

Disney’s Animal Kingdom was in long need of another E-Ticket attraction to take the pressure off Dinosaur and Kilimanjaro Safari’s. When Expedition Everest was opened in mid 2006 it looked like Walt Disney Imagineering had hit the nail on the head. Coming in at a cost of around $100 million Expedition Everest shattered all records when it came to the cost of an individual attraction and it still holds the record today. Theme park fans around the world will tell you it’s money well spent as Expedition Everest offers a great roller coaster tied in with a detailed story, the perfect Disney Mountain.

Most Improved Theme Park: Disneyland

The 90’s were not a good decade for Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Walt Disney’s original park had seen the quality of the park and customer value neglected in preference of short-term profits and shareholder value. In the early part of the Noughties a new management team was appointed at Disneyland and the park has moved from strength to strength ever since. The worlds original theme park was not just brought back up to its former glory, it was improved upon. The most notable change being the renovation of Space Mountain between 2003 and 2005.  The highlight of the decade for the park has to be the celebration of its 50th anniversary, here’s hoping we’ll be celebrating a century of Disneyland in 2055.

Most Improved/ Changed Attraction: The Simpsons Ride

Whilst Back to the Future at Universal Studios Florida was a fan favourite Universal Creative recognised that the theme, taken from a 1985 movie of the same name, was a little dated. Not wanting to scrap a great ride system loved by all-ages Universal chose to simply give the attraction a whole new overlay themed to popular Fox cartoon The Simpsons. Despite running on an old ride system the attraction looks and feels like a brand new experience, a big win for Universal who didn’t have to fork out for a whole new ride. It’s capacity is questionable and long lines do form quickly but as far as a clever move by a theme park company goes, this has to be it.

Stay in the Noughties: Sounds Dangerous

I thought I better dedicate one award to something I don’t want to see again from the last decade, Sounds Dangerous at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The show based around sound in movies and television is heavily dated and fails to draw crowds in even at busy times. The attraction, featuring Drew Carey, is so unpopular with guests to the Lake Buena Vista park that the show is currently only operating seasonal openings, meaning the attraction is only opened at peak times to help manage big crowds. What really gets me about this attraction is that the building could be put too much better use. Whilst it would mean spending some cash changing the attraction if Walt Disney Imagineering found a way in which to integrate a popular new movie into the new show or ride they could easily sell tons of merchandise at the outlets surrounding the building.

Happy New Year

M. Owen

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