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By the Charts: Text Mining – What People are Really Saying About Theme Parks

How do you find out what people really think about your attraction or theme park?  

Wonwhee Kim, Partner at Pro Forma Advisors, LLC A Park Database Feature 

By Wonwhee Kim, Founder of The Park Database (left)  

Canvassing good feedback is essential to a sophisticated attraction operation.  There are numerous ways to accomplish this, such as surveys, focus groups, and other feedback mechanisms.

But with the rise of social media tools and sites, there are also very free ways to find out what people are thinking.

In this month’s segment of By the Charts, we scoured a year’s worth of reviews on Tripadvisor, one of the world’s largest travel review sites, to examine feedback left at the four major theme parks in Southern California.

By comparing the words left by visitors at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Magic Mountain, and Knotts Berry Farm, what did we see?

While there are numerous ways of doing a text mining analysis, in this post, we concentrated on finding the most frequently used words in attraction reviews.  For each park, we scoured 1, 000 to 3, 000 of the latest reviews.  Non-english reviews were eliminated for the purposes of analysis, although you will notice that occasional Spanish and German words have crept into the word clouds.



Somewhat surprisingly, the most commonly used word for reviews of Disneyland on Tripadvisor was ‘time’, whether this was used in the context of ‘a good time’, or ‘took too much time’.

Visitors identify Disneyland with their trips to ‘California’, and compare them to parks in ‘Orlando’, and their most frequently used adjective is ‘great’, while their most frequently used verb is ‘get’.  Visitors feel that the park has a sense of ‘place’ and ‘adventure’ for both ‘family’ and ‘kids’.

Disney Trip Advisor Text Mining from ProForma

Top Ten Frequently Used Words in Disneyland Reviews:

  1. Time
  2. Rides
  3. Day
  4. Get
  5. Ride
  6. Great
  7. Can
  8. Para
  9. Just
  10. One

Universal Studios

The most commonly used word for Universal Studios was ‘tour’, in reference to the studio tour.  This was not shocking, but still enlightening that the park’s first-ever ride would be the most-mentioned word – even above mentions of the “mummy”, “jurassic”, “Transformers”, ‘waterworld’, or simpsons’.

Universal Studios Trip Advisor Text Mining Proforma

Top Ten Frequently Used Words for Universal Studios Hollywood Reviews:

  1. Tour
  2. Rides
  3. Day
  4. Ride
  5. Studio
  6. Great
  7. Hollywood
  8. See
  9. Que
  10. Time

Knott’s Berry Farm

It is clear that Knott’s Berry Farm is a ride park, as ‘ride’ in its various permutations accounted for the top 2 mentions.  Although all four parks registered ‘great’ in the top 10 words, visitors to Knotts featured the word in the highest relative position – in the number 3 spot.

Also interesting was that Knott’s was the only park with ‘food’ and ‘kids’ mentioned in the Top 10 words.  Even at Knotts, however, the presence of Disney loomed large, as frequent comparisons and mentions were made of both ‘Disney’ and ‘Disneyland’.

Most interesting was the appearance of the word ‘chicken’ in the wordcloud – does anyone have an explanation?

Knotts Berry Farm Trip Advisor text mining ProfForma

Top Ten Frequently Used Words for Knott’s Berry Farm Reviews:

  1. Rides
  2. Ride
  3. Great
  4. Day
  5. Time
  6. Fun
  7. Kids
  8. One
  9. Food
  10. Good

Magic Mountain

Also clearly a ride park, Magic Mountain’s reviews featured frequent mentions of the various ‘coasters’, such as ‘goliath’, ‘superman’, and ‘tatsu’.

Magic Mountain TripAdvisor Text Mining Proforma

Top Ten Frequently Used Words for Six Flags Magic Mountain Reviews:

  1. Rides
  2. Ride
  3. Time
  4. Day
  5. Get
  6. Pass
  7. Great
  8. Coasters
  9. One
  10. Lines


Overall, what was most interesting were the words that people almost universally used to describe the parks – they were consistently described as ‘great’ experiences, with mentions of the ‘rides’ or a particular ‘ride’, and as experiences that took an entire ‘day’.

The perception of ‘time’ within a theme park is clearly very important, as good or bad experiences tend to have the effect of deepening or souring peoples’ perception of it.  ‘Lines’ and ‘wait’ were mentioned frequently, as were the words ‘long’ and ‘staff’.

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