BTT Presents:The Thrill Weekly Awards-Best of 2011


Since Halloween of 2011, we have released weekly polls asking you, our readers and theme park fans, what you thought were thought were the best of 2011. You voted on several categories ranging from “Best Theme Park Employees” to “Friendliest Theme Park Crowds”. After two months, and thousands of votes we are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s “Thrill Weekly Awards” and are extremely happy to crown “The Best of 2011” as voted by you!


First of all we would like to thank everyone who voted. It was your votes that made these awards possible. Second we would like to point out that these awards are direct results of votes in our Thrill Weekly Polls. We encouraged everyone to not only vote for their favorites, but also for parks to promote their nominations. Some parks promoted a lot, others did not. Most of the time it was the parks that promoted that won the award, in other cases it was sheer popularity of the park, attraction, or event that won the award. In either case, these awards are not the opinion of, our staff, or writers. However, with that said, we do sincerely congratulate everyone on their victory.


Without any further ado, it is my pleasure to announce “The Best of 2011”


Halloween has become a huge business, not only for the retail industry but also for the amusement industry as well. The King of Halloween Award names the top Halloween Event in the country. Nominees are selected based on several factors including popularity of the event, reach of the event and the impact the event has on the industry.

You voted on your favorite Halloween event, and the results are:

3rd Place-Halloween Horror Nights 21, Universal Orlando Resort

2nd Place-Morey’s Fears, Morey’s Pier

And the King of Halloween for 2011 is:

Wow! Talk about a shocker! Howl O Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa went the non-traditional route this year and took a walk on the “Dark Side of the Gardens” where zombies “live”. They departed from the past few years with no pronounced icon, no defined scare zones, roaming hordes of zombies, and no front of the park show. The event also had three new houses, three returning houses, and the return of their upcharge maze, Alone. Fans were “hungry” for zombies, and Howl O Scream Insider, who helped push Howl O Scream to the top of the throne where we now crown you King of Halloween. Congratulations.

Visit the official Howl O Scream website

Social Media has become a theme park’s best tool in connecting with guests, those planning a trip, and fans. Through the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets parks have held contests, thrown out trivia and shared upcoming information with their followers. Nominees for the category are selected based on several factors including a strong social media presence, amount of interaction, and number of followers.

You voted for the Best Social Media Presence, and the results are:

3rd Place-Holiday World (@Holiday World)

2nd Place-Busch Gardens Tampa (@BuschGardens @HOSInsider)

And the Best Social Media Presence for 2011 is:


Cedar Point is one of the most beloved Roller Coaster Kingdoms in the world. It has several world class coasters, and dozens of thrill rides. Cedar Point goes bigger than just about any park out there. That includes the amount of followers on Facebook, which is pushing very close to one million. That’s a huge number of devoted fans. With that many fans, it’s no surprise that Cedar Point is the Best Social Media Presence. Congratulations!

Visit the official Cedar Point website!

Theme park employees are the first people you see when you walk into a park, they are the last people you see when you leave a park. In a lot of ways, the employees make or break a guests theme park experience. That interaction between employees and guests is what either keeps people coming back, or drives them to another park. Nominees for this category are based on several factor including news stories, reader trip reports and park popularity.

You voted for the Best Theme Park Employees of 2011, and the results are:

3rd Place-Busch Gardens Williamsburg

2nd Place-Hersheypark

And the Best Theme Park Employees for 2011 belong to:

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana is the little park that will. What other park has one of the owners on premises to speak and interact with guests? The employees who work at Holiday World love their jobs, and it shows in the level of customer service, and the loyalty of the fans who voted them to the top to become the Best Theme Park Employees for 2011! Congratulations!

Visit the official Holiday World website!


Food glorious food! A favorite past time for many is getting a tasty treat at their favorite theme park. From the traditional fried, not very good for you sweets, to the new trend of gourmet dining and variety, theme park food is something that has changed drastically over the years. Nominees for this category are based on several factors including reader reviews, critic reviews, and distinctive cuisine.

You voted for the Best Theme Park Food Destination, and the results are:

3rd Place-Walt Disney World (EPCOT,Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom,Hotels, Downtown Disney)

2nd Place-Holiday World

And the Best Theme Park Food Destination of 2011 is:

With all the flavors of Europe it’s no surprise that Busch Gardens Williamsburg took home the award for the 2nd year in a row. The park recently opened up the German themed “Beste Brezeln Und Bier” which boasts German style pretzels, and locally brewed beer.With fantastic flavors from all parts of Europe brought right to one place, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been voted the Best Theme Park Food Destination for 2011.

Visit the official BGW website!


Theme park fans can be the life blood of a park, especially during the off-season. Fans and enthusiasts are the ones that get extremely worked up and excited at every little detail about the park or event they call home. Over the past few years, fansites have become a key place to get information when planning a trip, or to find out about the latest happenings in the parks, because, who pays more attention to things than rabid fans? Fansites differ from news sites, as they deal primarily with one park, event, or aspect the amusement industry (i.e. coasters) .The nominees for this category are based on several factors including popularity, the parks covered, and frequency of updates.

You voted for the Best Park Specific Fansite, and the results are:



And the Best Park Specific Fansite of 2011 is:

Horror Night Nightmares has fast become one of the leading authorities on Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. The event has been around for 21 years, and has tons of fans, which Horror Night Nightmares have taken in as an extended “family”. Haunt freaks unite, every year 707, and that makes Horror Night Nightmares Best Park Specific Fansite of 2011.

Visit Horror Night Nightmares for more HHN goodness!

Where do you get your theme park news from? How about your rumors from inside sources? Theme park news sites do several things within the theme park industry. They get information out there to those who may not know where to look for it, they also give parks more publicity than they would most likely get if they relied entirely on mainstream media. The most important thing that theme park news site do is keep the information flowing, and get people talking about theme parks more and more. That’s right kids, theme parks aren’t just for vacations anymore. The nominees for this category are based on several factors including popularity, theme parks covered, and frequency of updates.

You voted for Best Theme Park News Site of the Year and the results are:



And the Best Theme Park News Site of 2011 is:

This year we included many more news sites to try and even the playing field for this category. Many sites didn’t even show up to play. Were they only playing it safe? took the lead early on and held it high above for all to catch.

Screamscape has been around for over ten years bringing news, and rumors to the forefront of public thought. He has a vast network of insiders, informers, and people who just hear things. He has a pretty good track record of getting the rumors right, and turning them into news. Congratulations!

Visit Screamscape for news and rumors!

This was the first ever poll, and was sent into us as a joke by one of our readers. It sounded like a great idea, so we ran with it, simply because it’s a legitimate question. Keeping park crowds friendly is a big job. It can directly relate to crowd levels, wait times, and what the park has to offer to keep crowds calm. The nominees in this category are based on several factors including news stories, reader reviews, and average wait times.

You voted for the Friendliest Theme Park Crowds, and the results are:

3rd Place-Busch Gardens Williamsburg

2nd Place-Dollywood

And the park with the Friendliest Theme Park Crowds in 2011 is:

Holiday World was voted the Best Employees of 2011, maybe that’s a big reason why they have the Friendliest Crowds as well. With great coasters, dark rides, and a family atmosphere Holiday World had the Friendliest Crowds in 2011.

Visit the official Holiday World website!

A lot of parks are closed during Christmas. Up until recent memory, the only parks that did much of anything were the Walt Disney Parks. With the huge success that Disney had, a lot of other parks that were open during the season started to take notice. From parades, penguins and Ice, only one event is worthy of Santa’s Pride. The nominees in this category are based on a variety of factors including popularity, uniqueness of the event, and Christmas spirit.

You voted for Best Christmas Event, and the results are:

 3rd Place-Christmas Candy lane:Hersheypark

2nd Place-Ice and Snow: Gaylord Palms

And the Best Christmas Event of 2011 is:

Christmastown is in it’s third year. This year saw the addition of new shows, and Polar Pathway which turned Pompeii into a glistening waterfall. The park that does Europe does Christmas in a big way. They have earned Santa’s Pride and are named Best Christmas Event of 2011.

Visit the official Christmastown website!

In a brand new award this year, we opened the polls to you. What attraction do you think was the best of the year? We opened nominations and were very surprised when we received over a hundred different attractions from parks all over the world. Not all attractions were new, in fact a lot of the new attractions barely made our top 30. Coasters, dark rides, and classic attractions like JAWS were all nominated for Attraction of the Year. Nominees in this category were chosen 100% by you!

You nominated, and voted for Attraction of the Year and the results are:

3rd Place-The Voyage, Holiday World

2nd Place-Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Islands of Adventure

And the 2011 Attraction of the Year is:

The little wooden coaster that stood up against an army of bigger, meaner, more technologically advanced rides and came out victorious. Wooden Warrior at Quassy is a Gravity Group family coaster that is the first to feature the all new Timberliner Trains. The resulting ride is fast, smooth and a lot of punch for a little coaster. It’s been a huge success for the little park, and could mean a lot more big things. Congratulations!

Visit the official Quassy website!

The Editor’s Choice Award is the only award in which the readers of our site have absolutely no say. It’s an award given by Behind the Thrills to a park, or attraction that we feel encompasses the best possibly theme park experience.  We base this decision on three factors, and only three factors.

  1. Unique Experience-Does this offer something that no one else does
  2. Immersive environment-Does it take you places like no other attraction or park can
  3. Customer Service-Do the employees help break the barriers that keep you in the real world? Do they make you feel like you’re really stepping into a different world?
And the Best Theme Park Experience of 2011 is: 

It was a really tough call on this award. Unlike last year, there were so many unique experiences and great attractions, it was just really hard to pick just one. We thought that we had it nailed down to another attraction, then we walked through the gates of Legoland Florida. I was a kid again, squealing in delight at all the amazing Lego models, all of the great fun rides, and just floored by the way that the park transformed the old Cypress Gardens into an actual Theme Park that people lined up for! The beauty of Cypress Gardens was kept in tact, while an all new park sprung to life with something to do for just about everyone. Sure, the park is aimed at little kids, and if you go without one you’ll be sorely disappointed, but with all the models, shows and coasters it’s a definite must see park. The “Model Citizens” are also very enthusiastic and extremely friendly, almost more than any other park we had been to this year. Plus the park has already announced expansion plans, has plans they haven’t announced and has been so successful over the holiday season that they had to close for capacity, and extend hours several times. This park has already done great things, and we feel that there will be many more great things to come!

Congratulations Legoland Florida!

Visit the official Legoland Florida website!

What is the best park in the nation? Which is the best of the best? Sure there are other awards that name the same park over and over again, but is that really the best? We asked you to vote for your favorite park. We divided the country into regions and took the top two out of every region and held a final to see who would reign supreme. Which park is your favorite?

You voted, and without any further ado, the Park of the Year for 2011 is:

In a nail biting finish, Dollywood took home the coveted title of Park of the Year. Amazing employees, rides that are well kept and a park that evokes a spirit of home, Dollywood captures everything that is needed for a successful vacation, visit or just a fun time. In 2011 they announced that they would be getting their first B&M Coaster, Wild Eagle, a wing rider coaster that will be the first of it’s kind in the country. How’s that for stepping things up?

Congratulations to Dollywood!

Visit the official Dollywood website!

Thank you so much to everyone who voted and participated in the polls! We had so much fun doing the Thrill Weekly Polls and appreciate all who voted, and helped to spread the word for your favorite parks. The Thrill Weekly Polls will return at the end of October for more fun!

If you would like to see the polls themselves, click here for a complete poll list!

Be sure to tune into Behind the Thrills Daily for all of your theme park news, rumors and trip planning resources!

Congratulations to all the winners!