Best of … Theme Park Attractions

We have theme parks in Australia, but they are not the same as Disneyland. There are differences between theme park rides and attractions.

The disney parks are an experience. You enter another world and become a kid again. Even if you have been before, there is still more to see.

I prefer California to Florida, it is much more chilled and and you can see much more.

Best theme park attraction
Haunted Mansion is my favourite attraction. It is fun for all ages, not at all scary and very sweet. The attraction uses simple and old fashioned illusions which do not date. The theme song is catchy and the cast members always perform perfectly.

Best theme park show
World of colour is amazing, some of the songs are a little silly, but it is like Disney has created whole new colours that you have never seen. The intensity of the colours is spectacular and it has lots of fire effects.

Best attraction utilising new technology
Spider-man at Universal studios is fantastic. The technology creates a flawless effect, the story is fun and the movement of the ride genuinely exciting.

Best live show
Finding Nemo in Animal Kingdom is worth the price of admission. The performers are fantastic and do an amazing job of telling the story in under an hour.

Best singing
Pochahantas and Mulan who sung in the new Disneyland show, Mickey and the Magical Map were spectacular. They really deserve a standing ovation.

Best children’s themed area
Suess landing in Universal Studios Florida is for the very young, but is still fun for the young at heart. Why shouldn’t adults go through the children’s play area?

Best themed area overall
Carsland is the newest and easily best themed area in any park. Not only was the cars movie a great representation of Route 66, Carsland in Disneyland resort is a spectacular way to bring the world of carsland to life. You absolutely have to see this at night!

Best tool for the themeparks
Omni Freeze zero by Columbia uses new technology to cool when you sweat. It makes a hot and uncomfortable day into a fun and bearable one.

Weirdest Ride
ET. I still don’t understand what that was. The story made no sense, the ride itself was weird and the whole name card this was silly.

Best roller coaster
I’m nit much of a roller coaster. Yield, however I am assured that Hulk at Universal Studios does all the right things. My favourite coaster is the ever cute, Big Thunder.

Best water ride
Splash mountain. Great old-fashioned dark ride finishing with a drop. Great laughin’ place.


Best of … the outdoors

Most unforgettable outdoor vista
Snow machining to a glacier in Alaska was incredible, the colour of the glacier was amazing and the endless whiteness itself an awesome sight. Everyone should have the chance to experience Alaska and appreciate the final frontier.

Best Place to pretend you are in a movie
Everyone says it – Monument Valley is like photography set to easy. You can not take a bad picture here. The landscape is alien and like no place else on Earth. It is fun to drive around here and you can easily loose hours.

Best cowboy experience
Horse riding in Wyoming is fantastic. You can really feel how it must have been years ago. You can see the mountains and there is a real frontier feel about this place.

Best Beach
Any beach in Hawaii, even ones close to the cities are like post-cards. The sand is soft and the water is calm. Hawaiian beaches are welcoming and inviting.

Best water experience
Whitewater rafting in Wyoming. Wile the white water is fun, it is also fantastic to be able to take a nice ride down the river, to see wildlife and cool rock formations.

Most famous outdoor site
This would have to be the Grand Canyon. Everyone should be able to see and appreciate this. The view changes constantly with the movement of the sun and even amongst all the people you can still find some peace and quiet.

Best Desert
Why not go to the real desert – Death Valley. See the lowest, driest and hottest place in Nirth America.

Best outdoor show
Old faithful is famous for a reason. Come see what millions have seen and appreciate the power of the Earth.

Best experience through half-closed eyes
Airboat on the bayou during a storm. The rain will be physically painful and you will only see half of anything, but even that is great fun and fascinating.

Best of … Live Shows

Best of the Big Shows.
Spider-man: Turn off the Dark is a fantastic broadway show. The songs are catchy, the acting is great and the aerial scenes are awesome. You will not have many chances to see shows with such a high production value.

Best of weirdness.
Sleep No More. I am still not quite sure what this was, but it was remarkable. A story told in dance, set design and crowd participation. If you are in New York, I would definitely not miss this.

Best for Family
Finding Nemo at the Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. I was very impressed with this show. It was something that kids and adults can really enjoy and the quality of the performance is amazing. It is a broadway quality show in a theme park.

Best Delighter
The candy artist, Miyuki at Epcot in Disneyworld is fantastic. Her creations are fantastic and her crowd interaction is wonderful. I could watch her for hours.

Best free show
While it is a little weird, it so definitely worth watching the Sirens of TI in Las Vegas. The show is quite long and includes singing, dancing and pyrotechnics. Maybe ignore the gender roles though.

State Rankings

Well here it is, my rankings of all the states. You may notice that I have changed my initial views on some states, particularly if I rated two states together.  The ratings are my views on what states are best for tourists.   There may be some suprises!

Ranking State Home Comforts Attractions Natural Beauty Culture Value Total
1 Wyoming 10 10 10 7 10 47
2 Alaska 5 9 10 8 9 41
3 Hawaii 8 9 10 8 5 40
4 California 8 9 5 6 7 35
5 Illinois 7 8 7 8 6 36
6 Oklahoma 8 7 7 8 7 37
7 Louisiana 8 7 6 7 7 35
8 New Mexico 7 7 9 7 6 36
9 Pennsylvania 7 7 7 8 7 36
10 New York 7 8 5 7 5 32
11 Washington DC 7 8 7 7 6 35
12 Massachusetts 7 6 5 10 7 35
13 Utah 5 7 8 8 7 35
14 Colorado 7 7 8 7 6 35
15 Florida 8 8 4 4 7 31
16 Arizona 6 7 7 8 5 33
17 Nevada 7 7 6 6 7 33
18 Oregon 6 5 6 7 7 31
19 Montana 7 7 7 6 7 34
20 Michigan 7 6 6 7 8 34
21 West Virginia 7 6 7 6 6 32
22 Arkansas 7 5 8 6 7 33
23 Vermont 7 6 8 6 6 33
24 Tennessee 7 6 6 6 6 31
25 Maryland 6 6 6 6 7 31
26 Connecticut 7 5 7 6 6 31
27 Wisconsin 7 5 7 5 7 31
28 South Dakota 6 6 6 7 6 31
29 Minnesota 7 6 5 5 6 29
30 Missouri 6 7 5 6 6 30
31 Mississippi 8 6 5 4 7 30
32 North Carolina 6 5 7 6 5 29
33 North Dakota 6 5 6 6 7 30
34 Texas 8 5 4 5 8 30
35 Iowa 6 6 6 6 6 30
36 Kentucky 6 6 7 4 6 29
37 Delaware 6 5 5 6 6 28
38 Indiana 5 6 5 5 7 28
39 New Hampshire 5 5 7 6 5 28
40 South Carolina 6 5 5 5 6 27
41 Washington 6 6 7 6 6 31
42 Virginia 4 5 6 6 6 27
43 Kansas 5 5 5 5 6 26
44 Ohio 6 5 5 6 5 27
45 Alabama 6 5 4 4 7 26
46 Rhode Island 5 4 6 5 6 26
47 Georgia 7 3 5 4 6 25
48 Nebraska 4 4 5 5 6 24
49 Idaho 5 4 5 4 6 24
50 Maine 5 2 5 3 6 21
51 New Jersey 2 3 4 4 5 18

Best of … History

We saw lots of historic stuff on the trip. These are the standouts.

Best historic object: the original constitution, bill of rights and deceleration of independence. These are located at the National Archives in DC, along with one of the 4 original Magna Cartas. It is pretty amazing to see these documents. They are well-preserved, but at the same time you can see that they were documents hat were used, displayed and discussed. Awesome things to see.

Best historic place: the old south meeting hall in Boston. the American Revolution basically started here and it is amazing o be ale to stand where debates which decided the fate of the United States were discussed.

Best little known history: The first White House of the confederacy. This building is quite interesting and the objects and design of the house provides great insight into the man that was Jefferson Davis and what life what like for him and his family during the civil war years.

Best battlefield: The battlefield at Gettysburg is fascinating and horrifying. To be able to look on a place where so many men died is truly contemplative. The car tour is very useful and is a good way to see all of the battlefield. The museum is also very good.

Best tour: Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the first parliamentary debates were really held. The tour guides are very helpful and the site well explained.

Best historic town: Harpers Ferry was a key strategic location for birth sides during the civil war and, seeing the town, is very understandable. Great location, good transportation options and workers skilled in arms manufacture. The town is also now well-maintained by the great national parks service.

Best of … Accommodation

Best customer service: The Westin, in Washington DC. The front desk manager, Orlando, spent 20 minutes with us, explaining how to get to various places and what is great to see. It made us even more excited to see the city.

Best historic hotel: This one was a bit of a competition. The Omni Parker Hotel in Boston was fantastic, but the overall winner is the La Posada in Winslow, Arizona. The last of the great railway hotels, it has fantastic rooms and great art.

Best moderate hotel: The quality inn and suites are fantastic. They have great rooms, which are big and well equipped and you can get great rates.

Best non-hotel accommodation: the Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming is awesome. The rooms are comfortable and well-equipped, the environment is great and they have free cookies!

Best cheaper accommodation: La Quinta Inns are quite good. The rooms are clean, customer service is good and they are well located.

Best location: the Anaheim Camelot Inn is located across the road from Disneyland, is affordable and has good rooms.

Best of … Saving money

A trip like this is going to be expensive. It is pretty unavoidable, but there are certainly things that be done to reduce the costs.

Best overall money savings strategy. I know spend a lot of time talking about how much they will save you, but it is true. Don’t be afraid to bid for a hotel. You may not know which specific hotel you will get, but in many respects it doesn’t matter. The star levels are pretty accurate and you can get amazing deals on hotels and cars. I. would recommend not going below 2 1/2 stars though.

Food Savings. You can go to Costco and buy stuff in bulk. This could be things like drink or snacks. You can also get stuff to microwave, many hotels have a microwave. Make sure you like it before you buy it though, otherwise you will end up with a lot of something you don’t like!

petrol. Costs for petrol can vary very widely while driving from one city to another. If you see cheap petrol fill up, particularly in remote areas. It is probably worth the extra time to fill up more often.

attractions try and buy things from groupon or online before you go. You will often save between 10 and 20 % off the prices you will pay at the door. The city passes are also available in specific cities. Not only do they save you money, but they also save you time on waiting in queues.