Survey taps Soarin’ as best at Disney

  • Apr. 26th, 2007 at 3:03 PM

Survey taps Soarin’ as best at Disney
New guidebook gives tips on best rides, places to eat

By Donna Balancia
Florida Today

Visitors to Walt Disney World Resort selected the Soarin’ virtual hang-glider tour at Epcot as the best overall attraction, according to a new survey released Wednesday.

The Wishes Spectacular nightly fireworks celebration at Magic Kingdom was named as the most appealing attraction for children; while the Expedition Everest thrill ride at Animal Kingdom rated No. 1 for appeal to adults.

With the Zagat’s first-ever “Walt Disney World Insider’s Guide,” Zagat Survey — which is known for its restaurant and hospitality guides — made its foray into rating theme parks, asking 4,841 frequent visitors to Disney World to pick the things they like best about the Disney complex near Orlando.

Among the other survey leaders were:

– Most popular restaurant: California Grill at the Contemporary Resort in Magic Kingdom area.

– Top food rating: Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian in the Magic Kingdom area.

– Most popular shopping: World of Disney at Downtown Disney.

– Most popular hotel: Animal Kingdom Lodge in the Animal Kingdom area.

– Top hotel: Grand Floridian Resort/Spa in the Magic Kingdom area.

– Most popular nightlife: Adventurers Club in Downtown Disney.

– Top appeal nightlife: Raglan Road in Downtown Disney.

Other findings:

– Favorite park: While 48 percent of surveyors say the Magic Kingdom is their favorite park, Epcot ran a strong second, with 36 percent of the vote.

– Visiting without kids: Eighty-six percent of surveyors said they’ve visited Disney World at least once as an adult without children.

– Favorite character: Thirty-seven percent said Mickey Mouse; 11 percent said Goofy.

“Back about two years ago, we had our U.S. family travel guide, and it listed some of the more popular and more well-received destinations across United States, and the No. 1 destination was Walt Disney World,” said Michael Mahle, manager of corporate communications for Zagat Survey. “Millions of people go there and go there more than once, and that’s what our surveyors — our voters — are all about. The people who participate are those who enjoy something quite a bit, and they have the interest in sharing their thoughts.”

A Disney spokesman said Disney is pleased by Zagat’s focus on its Orlando theme parks.

“Obviously, when somebody such as Zagat chooses to do a guide that is specifically about our ‘world,’ as opposed to a larger geographic area, that really is a testament to the amount of interest people have in Walt Disney World, and that’s a good thing,” Walt Disney World Dave Herbst spokesman said.

Typically, to put together a guide, either on various destinations or restaurant reviews, Zagat Survey will recruit enthusiastic participants based on a number of demographic attributes and resources such as mailing lists.

“With Walt Disney World, we put out an announcement, and looked at a mailing list, and reached out to certain blogs, for example, to get some attention,” Mahle said. “We pitched the media to get the people to give their opinions on their overall Disney stay, and how they liked the rides and attractions.”

The survey asked adults — because of legality issues in polling children online — what they thought of certain rides, restaurants and hotels for children, resulting in the “all age” categories of the survey.

“We asked adults to tell us what was best and worst for the children,” Mahle said. “So we leave it to the household decision-maker to tell us where they’re going to go, where they will eat and what rides they’ll go on.”

Mahle said the guide gives special tips on how to save extra money and time, as well as tips on how to avoid lines at the parks.

“It’s a nice compilation and does the homework,” Mahle said.

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