USA Today 10 Best Theme Parks

Friday, August 22, 2014 8:36 AM

This discussion reminded me of something.

I spent my early years in Cleveland and Cedar Point was my home park. It was the only place my parents were interested in going or taking us. Even though when I was very, very young I had visited Lesourdesville and Camden, I came to think of CP as the standard in the industry and that all parks everywhere would be the same.
In later years when I started taking my own trips, visiting other parks like Idora, Euclid Beach, back to Camden and Lesourdesville, and even Six Flags Mid America in its inaugural season, I remember commenting to my mother (even though I had a good time) how the parks were either lacking or just plain crappy. And she said to me "That's because amusement parks ARE crappy and that's why we never took you to any other place than Cedar Point".

When I worked in a large office I'd have co-workers come up to me and say something like "Mac, you know about these things. We're tired of visiting Cedar Point or Kings Island every summer, what's a better place to go?" and I would say "ummmmm..... well...." then usually send them to Kennywood for a long day trip or a weekend. And hope like crazy they weren't disappointed after my glowing recommendation.

The point is, it's all relative. That same silly article could've been (and has been) written about golf courses, beaches, restaurants, art museums, or conservatory gardens. Some of us are fortunate to have the good stuff nearby and others of us are left to be content with what we have. And until we're lucky enough to be well-traveled we will always believe our own personal wonderlands are the best.

So, really, it's just foolish to even ask us.

+3Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 9:47 AM

I don't get why Legoland is rated while great parks like SFGA and Knoebels are missing out

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 10:02 AM

+7Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 10:27 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

I think your opinion would be as valid as anyone's.

If not, then at what point does it become valid?

I don't understand how this isn't the case. If Bannister says a ride in China is the best in the world, what basis do I have to dispute or affirm the claim? If I've only ridden two rides and I say "this one is the best in the world" then you can't take my opinion with the same weight as Bannister's. As Gator said, my opinion only applies for the coasters I've ridden and has absolutely no bearing on the relative merits of things I haven't.

The USA today article could have just as easily said, "LA, New York are cities with most people."

+4Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 11:28 AM

If they called the poll, "America's 10 Favorite Amusement Parks" it would be less upsetting to this audience and as a result allow nerds to consider how "normal people" view things.

"Best" brings taste into the equation. No accounting for that.

America's favorite burger might be the Big Mac but who's to say it's the best? All a matter of perspective.

+1Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 12:23 PM

Ugh. I'd hate to be in most of your heads. I can't imagine getting hung up on crap like this.

Lord Gonchar said:

I think your opinion would be as valid as anyone's.

If not, then at what point does it become valid?

ApolloAndy said:

I don't understand how this isn't the case. If Bannister says a ride in China is the best in the world, what basis do I have to dispute or affirm the claim? If I've only ridden two rides and I say "this one is the best in the world" then you can't take my opinion with the same weight as Bannister's. As Gator said, my opinion only applies for the coasters I've ridden and has absolutely no bearing on the relative merits of things I haven't.

I never said that wasn't the case.

What I said is that both opinions are still valid.

I don't care if you've been to three parks or 300. Your opinion still counts. It still has merit.

(As a compelete side note - my tastes may be different than Richard's. It doesn't matter that his track record is likely 5 to 7 times larger than mine. My opinion still reflects my tastes. In fact, depending on how I felt about Richard's tastes compared to mine, I might find his opinion less useful than a less informed one that more matched my feelings.)

You guys seem to be indicating that any opinion less than the most informed is suspect.

The little bit of my post that you quoted is simply me asking - if that's the case at what point does one's opinion suddenly become valid? Who gets to say that?

I'm of the belief that an opinion is valid the moment it is formed.

Between this and the statistic validity coversations, essentially if I put it all together what seems to be expected is a statistaclly valid polling of people with experience with every park in the known universe.

Come on. If it were anywhere but CoasterBuzz, I'd think I was being messed with.

Let me pretend this all actually matters for a minute and ask, "Isn't the point of the polling to create an aggregate of the opinion expressed?"

Hell, we let citizens vote for the leader of the free world with less scrutiny than you guys expect for a coaster poll.

+1Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 1:25 PM

I don't think our issue is with the validity of one's opinion. Our issue is more that USA Today referred to the poll as the best theme parks in the US when the better name for the poll would have been "Parks Most Able to Get People to Click on Their Names on an Internet Poll." If you've only been to Waldameer and Darien Lake and you feel Darien Lake is the best of the two, and therefore the best park you've ever visited, your opinion is no less valid than my opinion on which park is my favorite even though I've been to more than twenty times the amount of parks the Darien Lake/Waldameer person has visited. However, to say that Darien Lake is the best in the US when the only other choice for that person based on where they'd been thus far is Waldameer makes that opinion a bit "unqualified," if you will, for a poll on the best parks in the country.

All this being said, I don't take this poll too seriously and the only reason I've offered my scrutiny of it is because I actually enjoy talking about coaster polls and what makes some more effective than others. I will say that I find it amusing that nobody has really devoted much effort to complaining about the two winners as much as merely mocking the nature of the poll.

I'd like to add that I think there is some value to coaster polls, though, in that they can often help people decide on travel plans. Not "normal" people, lol, but I certainly appreciate the number of avenues available on Coasterbuzz to find out where the good rides are and what the best parks are. I think there's value to them when they're executed well.

Also, it's funny that you mention that we elect governing officials without giving them the level of scrutiny that we give coaster polls. I had actually asked myself repeatedly as I've read and responded to this discussion how I could devote this much thought into talking about a USA Today amusement park poll but probably couldn't hold my own in a debate over governmental polls. That being said, I think most of those are silly, too, so there you go. ;)

Last edited by sirloindude, Friday, August 22, 2014 1:28 PM
+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 1:36 PM

I don't take such polls seriously. Period. They're meaningless. The morning news shows and the cable news shows are always touting their latest social media polls -- and they're all meaningless.

Choosing between the two parks one has been to, here, Darien and Waldameer, makes that person absolutely qualified to vote in a silly Internet poll. They're making a determination based on their experience. Would they qualify for a demographically balanced, in-depth poll about amusement parks? Maybe, maybe not.

I'm not sure it's possible to declare a "best" theme park, given that a park visit is a combination of subjective experiences.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 2:26 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

Your opinion still counts. It still has merit.

I don't think that anyone ever argues otherwise, but in these debates, you tend to subtly change context between the validity of a single opinion and the validity of aggregate measurement of a subjective thing. That's why I always stress sample size and selection bias. A thousand years of statistics shows us that these are important factors when trying to measure the "trueness" of anything designed to draw some conclusion. You said you found the differences in this poll compared to enthusiast polls, and others explained why they're there.

The point of polling is to measure an aggregate opinion... but there are pretty well defined ways to do it to bolster how meaningful it is.

+3Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 2:38 PM

I think it goes without saying that for a given subject, the opinion of someone who is more informed on the subject has greater merit than someone's who isn't as informed. It's not about merit vs. no merit, it's about relative merit.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 3:15 PM

Jeff said:

The point of polling is to measure an aggregate opinion... but there are pretty well defined ways to do it to bolster how meaningful it is.

Two things:

1. It's a coaster poll. The concept of making it 'meaningful' is still funny to me.

2. The terms meaningful and useful have been thrown around a bit. I don't think these polls need the thought that you guys want to put into it to be either of those things (as I kind of pointed out with the comparison of the CB methodology with the GT's advertising scheme).

I'm not questioning that the method of measure and sampling and all of that is valid or correct. I'm arguing that it isn't necessary for the purposes of ranking rides or parks. Doing so is WAY overthinking it. Not doing it "correctly" doesn't immediately dismiss a coaster/park poll as useless.

So yeah, I'm on an enthusiast forum telling the room parks and coasters aren't that important...and I'm surprised that I get resistance. (roll eyes)

Like I said, you guys are demanding more scrutiny for picking a list of parks or coasters than you do for picking the people that run your world.

The even funnier thing is that this USA Today thing will reach infinitely more eyes than any enthusiast or industry piece and it will reach a completely different set of eyes - arguably a more important one.

Which to me makes it a much more meaningful (in terms to the number of people it affects) and useful (for both the parks and the casual reader) poll than anything we, as coaster nerds, usually give attention to.

+1Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 3:24 PM

The point of polling is to measure an aggregate opinion, yes.

But any online (or offline, for that matter) "poll", where those being polled are self-selected, is not a poll. 'Tis puff, and should be considered as such.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 3:39 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

It's a coaster poll. The concept of making it 'meaningful' is still funny to me.

It's a little weird then that you're the one who called it out and mentioned its non-enthusiast bias. I mean, isn't this discussion what you wanted?

+1Loading
Friday, August 22, 2014 3:46 PM

No, not really. I was looking for discussion on why the people in a broad-based casual poll would choose Six Flags parks as the best when in enthusiast circles they're generally thought of much differently.

More along the lines of normal human interaction about GP expectations, what the average visitor is looking for, brand notoriety in the marketplace.

But this is CoasterBuzz, and it went right to polling theory, data interpretation, skewed results, statistic significances.

And that's what so often makes me bang my head against the keyboard. :)

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 3:56 PM

I almost wonder if part of it isn't that they're naming a Six Flags park because it's their favorite, it's that some are using Six Flags as a generic name for amusement parks. I work with the public here in Chicago.... and I'd bet money there are people 'round these parts who last visited Cedar Point or SeaWorld but would respond "Six Flags" because it's the amusement park name they hear most.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 4:12 PM

Yeah (and this isn't really related to any of the conversation up to this point), I've often thought that about Six Flags. Like when anyone talks about pro wrestling they say WWF or Q-tips for cotton swabs and things like that.

I do think "Six Flags" is a generic term for amusement park for a decent chunk of people.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 4:14 PM

Gonch, people in a broad-based casual poll picked those Six Flags parks likely because those parks knew how to drum up votes. Maybe a lot of people who voted had been to a lot of parks, and as someone who very much has enjoyed his experiences at the top two parks, I don't really have any qualms with them taking top honors. I'm just saying that I think knowing how to use Facebook is how these types of polls are won. I read post after post from various parks asking for votes.

Remember that poll a few years ago where Le Monstre won the award as the best coaster in the Six Flags chain? It was because La Ronde went on a social media campaign to win the award. Personally, I only voted when I had been on both rides in whatever matchup was going on at a particular time. A lot of people don't operate that way.

I gather your goal was to find amusement that parks that traditionally aren't highly viewed in limited circles of enthusiasts (certainly not broad circles, as it seems most people around here rather like Six Flags parks) managed to take top honors, and I admit I got a kick out of it, but I'm just saying that I'd hardly take a glorified social media poll as the indicator of which park is best in the US.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 5:44 PM

Im'ma just refer you to this:

http://coasterbuzz.com/Forums/PostLink/911780

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 6:20 PM

And I'm still going to say that when Keansburg amusement pier was the only one I'd ever visited, it was the best one in the World. Of course, I was probably 4 years old and GAdv hadn't even opened yet.

+0
Friday, August 22, 2014 9:59 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

No, not really. I was looking for discussion on why the people in a broad-based casual poll would choose Six Flags parks as the best when in enthusiast circles they're generally thought of much differently.

Because it's a PR effort, right?

+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2019, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...