St. Louis defeats Disney's Magic Kingdom

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- Just in time for the summer tourism season, St. Louis has snagged a plum.

A survey of family attractions by Zagat Survey, best-known for its restaurant surveys, says the St. Louis Zoo is tops among the nation's animal parks. More surprising, the guide crowns The Magic House in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood as the national attraction with the most child appeal -- over Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

The family travel guide, Zagat's new survey of family attractions, restaurants and lodging, says the Magic House is "sure to fascinate all ages" and "makes science fun." The St. Louis Zoo was cited for its "constant improvements" and "excellent Penguin and Puffin Coast exhibit."

The zoo was rated No. 4, and Grant's Farm came in at No. 7 on Zagat's top 10 list for best overall attraction.

"I think this will open some people's minds about St. Louis," Alexa Rudin of Zagat Surveys told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "New York and Orlando and Los Angeles are great, but they are not the only places to go."

Zagat Survey used the same research techniques for its family travel guide that it uses for its restaurant guides. About 11,000 travelers, mostly parents, judged 1,000 family attractions on their child appeal, adult appeal, public facilities and service.

Each place gets one of Zagat's trademark descriptions. The Grant's Farm entry reads: "For a 'relaxing, pastoral' 'getaway,' try this 'super family value.'"

Rudin said Zagat's results are statistically sound.

"You don't have to be the most popular to get a great rating," Rudin said about the Magic House, which was rated 30 and Disneyland, which was rated 29. "So in the case of the Magic House, people said they really had a great experience and the kids really liked it. And with the zoo, it was a very close, close race."

The St. Louis Zoo was rated 27, while the San Diego Zoo came in with a 26.

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