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The Theme Park Tourist Awards 2013

Hogwarts Castle at night

We're thrilled to announce the results of the inaugural Theme Park Tourist awards, which celebrate the very best that theme parks all around the world have to offer.

Incredibly, we've now received nearly 15,000 ratings for rides and shows, as well as hundreds of responses to our awards survey - making this one of the most comprehensive surveys of theme park fans around. Thanks to all those who voted - and check your e-mail, as we've contacted the winner of the $50 Amazon voucher that we gave away to one lucky survey participant.

Without further ado, here are the winners of the Theme Park Tourist Awards for 2013!

Best theme park in the world: Disney's Magic Kingdom

Disney's Magic Kingdom

Runner-up: Islands of Adventure

It attracts more guests than any other theme park in the world, and it seems there's a reason for that: people love Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. With the park's New Fantasyland expansion due to be completed next year with the debut of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster, expect its popularity to soar still further.

Best theme park attraction in the world: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Universal Creative boosted its reputation for innovation to new heights in 2010 with the debut of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure. The attraction continues to draw huge crowds, although it could face competition next year from the under-construction Gringotts Bank coaster over at Universal Studios Florida.

The full top 20 attractions in the world are listed below, and you can also check out our constantly-updated top 100.

  1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)
  2. Nemesis (Alton Towers)
  3. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure)
  4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios
  5. Expedition Everest (Disney's Animal Kingdom)
  6. Transformers: The Ride - 3D (Universal Studios Florida)
  7. Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride (Universal Studios Florida)
  8. Diamondback (Kings Island)
  9. Intimidator (Carowinds)
  10. Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point)
  11. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Walt Disney Studios)
  12. Dragon Challenge - Chinese Fireball (Islands of Adventure)
  13. Millennium Force (Cedar Point)
  14. Radiator Springs Racers (Disney California Adventure)
  15. Incredible Hulk Coaster (Islands of Adventure)
  16. Transformers: The Ride - 3D (Universal Studios Hollywood)
  17. El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
  18. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye (Disneyland)
  19. Manta (SeaWorld Orlando)
  20. Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)

Disney may have missed out on the top award, but it still walks away with two of the sub-categories:

Best roller coaster: Nemesis (Alton Towers)
Best drop ride: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Best dark ride: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)
Best water ride: Splash Mountain (Disneyland)

Best new theme park attraction in the world: Transformers: The Ride - 3D at Universal Studios Florida

Transformers: The Ride

Installed at both Universal Studios Florida this year, and previously at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Singapore, Transformers combines The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man's unique dark ride system with stunning computer-generated footage.

Runner-up: The Smiler (Alton Towers)

Most improved theme park in the world: Universal Studios Florida

Universal Orlando has invested hundreds of millions of pounds to improve Universal Studios Florida, wary that the popularity of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at neighbouring Islands of Adventure might siphon off guests. This year saw the debut of Transformers: The Ride - 3D, and the park could be in line for the award again next year when it opens it own Harry Potter land, Diagon Alley.

Runner-up: Pleasurewood Hills

Best value theme park in the world: Cedar Point

Runner-up: Holiday World

With its staggeringly wide array of roller coaster and flat rides, Cedar Point offers a lot of bang for your buck. Runner-up Holiday World continues to rate highly with its free sunscreen, unlimited soft drinks and free parking.

Best theme park in the US: Disney's Magic Kingdom

Runner-up: Islands of Adventure

No surprises here, with the global rankings being reflected in the US.

Best theme park attraction in the US: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Best roller coaster: Expedition Everest (Disney's Animal Kingdom)
Best drop ride: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney's Hollywood Studios)
Best dark ride: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)
Best water ride: Splash Mountain (Disneyland)

Best new theme park attraction in the US: Transformers: The Ride - 3D

Runner-up: GateKeeper (Cedar Point)

Most improved theme park in the US: Universal Studios Florida

Runner-up: Disney California Adventure

Best value theme park in the US: Cedar Point

Runner-up: Holiday World

Best theme park in the UK: Alton Towers

Alton Towers

Runner-up: Thorpe Park

Alton Towers, with its world-class line-up of thrill rides and sinister gothic mansion, continues to dominate the UK theme park scene. Despite a troubled year that saw it encounter a host of problems with new coaster The Smiler, it seems most fans still rate it as the country's number one.

Best theme park attraction in the UK: Nemesis at Alton Towers

Nemesis

The mighty Nemesis has been regularly cited as the UK's best roller coaster for many years, and TPT readers rate it as the country's best overall ride, too.

Best roller coaster: Nemesis (Alton Towers)
Best drop ride: Apocalypse (Drayton Manor)
Best dark ride: Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic (Blackpool Pleasure Beach)
Best water ride: Valhalla (Blackpool Pleasure Beach)

Best new theme park attraction in the UK: The Smiler at Alton Towers

The Smiler

It may have suffered from frequent downtime, but the record-shattering The Smiler still receives top marks from TPT's readers. Pleasurewood Hills shows that you don't necessarily need a mega-budget to create a great ride, with Hobs Pit (opened at a cost of just £500k) also ranking highly.

Runner-up: Hobs Pit (Pleasurewood Hills)

Most improved theme park in the UK: Pleasurewood Hills

Hobs Pit

Pleasurewood Hills' new management have instigated a major turnaround of the park, which at one stage looked to be drifting towards an inevitable closure. As well as a selection of new rides, the park has also greatly expanded its Pleasurewood Chills Halloween events, offering some of the best horror mazes around.

Runner-up: Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Best value theme park in the UK: Pleasurewood Hills

In the 1980s, Pleasurewood Hills boasted that it offered "your biggest day out ever". Nowadays, a day of fun at the park can be quite affordable: during its Halloween events, entry was £13.50.

Runner-up: Flamingo Land

Heading to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando?

If you're planning a vacation to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, be sure to check out the following resources to help you save money:

There are 14 comments.

Ha! Magic Kingdom the best park in the WORLD?! It's not even the best park in that resort. And for the record, the original Disneyland is vastly better than Magic Kingdom (pretty much the same rides, plus the superb Indiana Jones and Matterhorn Bobsleds).

Agreed Sam. The MK is a waste of space compared to the original, or Tokyo or even Paris. Shows people buy rhe advertising and hype and never go to the vvastly superior parks.

A lot of our readers have young children. If you have kids, the Magic Kingdom offers a LOT more rides that they can experience than most other theme parks, including the other three parks at Walt Disney World.

Yes, if you're a coaster junkie, then you're probably going to look elsewhere. But the Magic Kingdom attracts 16 million guests a year - many of them repeat visitors - because it offers a good product, not just because of advertising.

Nick, Disneyland offers almost as many attractions as the MK, Epcot and DAK combined.

Nick, Disneyland offers almost as many attractions as the MK, Epcot and DAK combined.

And I honestly have to say I think the MK is the worst of the 11 disney parks in terms of the attraction quality, queues management, ops, maintenance (ok Paris is worse on that front). I actually get angry in the MK because it is not as good as the other disney MK parks. And yet there are so many Europeans that never try disneyland that is superior in almost every way

Don't get me wrong, Dave...on a personal level, I much prefer Disneyland to the Magic Kingdom.

I'm not sure it's the worst park on an ops level, though...Disneyland Paris is far worse in my experience (although I prefer it as a park).

We'll use a different criteria to decide the "best park" winner next year (like average attraction rating), but don't quite have enough ratings to do that yet.

I just get frustrated as I hate the MK and it's popularity because it is not Disneyland and millions of people think that Rediculous florida park is the original and they are stort changed on most of the attractions esp. Pirates of the Caribbean

I think that's a little harsh. It's not Disneyland, but it still offers a lot of entertainment.

And some people really do prefer MK. My mum, for example, has been to both and despite my protestations she prefers MK. Even small things like the size of the castle seem to influence people.

I see quite a lot of bias in this survey, especially toward Disney, Universal, Cedar Fair, and UK parks. With only 15,000 who surveyed I can guarantee a high margin of error and bias because of a small sampling toward Disney, etc. Also, a breakdown of the votes were not even shown (which is quite shady to hide the full results). Maybe next time have more people survey, and get the word out about your survey (especially on Screamscape). Enthusiast groups would appreciate the time and effort to provide a better quality outcome than this bias that was shown here. I was stunned not to see the lesser known parks not even show up on here (Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, Kennywood, Knoebel's, etc.). This shows the poll was favored toward those who only supported specific parks narrowly. Disney World with their almost $100 admission? Not for me.

"Only 15, 000"? I'm not sure there are many bigger surveys of theme park fans than this. Having said that, we do of course plan to grow it!

Some of the smaller parks are represented...Holiday World and Pleasurewood Hills for example. But I think you'll see the same bias in most surveys, and to some extent it is inevitable when Disney and Universal can spend 200 million on a single attraction.

Thanks for the feedback. We have to start somewhere and the awards will evolve in future.

Also, we have no intention of specifically targeting enthusiast groups. While I am an enthusiast myself, they represent a very small percentage of theme park visitors. If anything it would result in an even greater bias.

As for hiding the results, the attraction ratings are visible on the site. There was no intention to "shadily" hide the other results...but it's a long enough article as it is. If there's enough interest I'm quite happy to publish them.

For the record Nick, I really appreciate your efforts. Btw, I recognise my bias. Dl was my home park for my first 11 years