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March 20, 2008

Best Ride in America Tournament: Round one, day five

The favorites all advanced yesterday in the TPI tournament, with Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, IoA's Jurassic Park River Adventure, Expedition Everest and California Screamin' each advancing to the next round.

Here's what's up today:

They're both Disneyland dark rides that send you on boats through rooms of singing dolls. Now, beyond that, they only thing that (6) Splash Mountain and (59) it's a small world have in common is that they're stuck together in this first-round match-up.

How do you like your reality-twisting dark rides? Fast, (14) Revenge of the Mummy (USF), or slow, (51) Alice in Wonderland? (A tea party? Hummph. What does it take to get a cup of coffee around here?)

This match-up absolutely kills me. It might be the toughest one for me to pick in the entire first round: (22) Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges vs. (43) Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Disneyland). Two ridiculously run fun rides. Which is your favorite?

And, finally, today's roller coaster smackdown matches (30) Dueling Dragons - Fire vs. (35) El Toro. Wait a minute! A ride that's not from Disneyland or Universal Orlando? How'd that get on here...?

Meet in the comments for the verbal brawl....

Update: Quote of the tournament so far, from the comments: "El Toro is losing because Fire burns wood."

Readers' Opinions

From Joshua Counsil on March 21, 2008 at 2:26 AM
Tightest round yet.
Popeye and Buzz, especially. It's depressing to choose one over the other.
From James Rao on March 21, 2008 at 5:39 AM
This round was a bit tougher.

I wonder if people will like Dueling Dragons as much next year when it is re-themed to Harry Potter's Dueling Broomsticks, or something like that?

I had a lot of trouble choosing between Popeye and Buzz. Both are very fun, well themed rides deserving of a victory. So, I had to default to my 10 year old for choosing between them....he finally said Buzz.

It might be a very tight race today.

From Sylvain Comeau on March 21, 2008 at 5:45 AM
OK, Robert, I read your explanation and understand your reasoning for the seemingly odd pairings. The system you came up with makes sense.
As for the ratings, I agree that mindlessly giving a 10 to everything is hardly the way to go. But who said Jungle Cruise should get a 3? That's harsh, dude.
From James Rao on March 21, 2008 at 6:15 AM
I'll face the music....I was the one who said Dumbo should get a 2 and Jungle Cruise a 3....

I guess, due to the "classic nature" of those rides, they should be bumped up to a 3 and a 4 respectively! =)

My point is that there should be a lot more separation in the ratings between the "classic" Jungle Cruises and the "modern" Kilimanjaro Safaris, but with everything getting a 7, 8, or 9, it is much more difficult to make a distinction.

Point of view is huge in ratings, though, so I understand the issue. My two year old had a blast on Dumbo, and couldn't care less about the Safaris, but that is where I think we can use "comments" to elaborate.

Hope that makes some sense. But honestly, who wouldn't want to see Jungle Cruise get a modern day update???

From Danny Melillo on March 21, 2008 at 6:44 AM
It's really tough for me between El Toro and Dueling Dragons- Fire. One is my favorite woodie and one is my 2nd favorite suspended coaster. I think I'll go with Fire.
From David Kirby on March 21, 2008 at 6:47 AM
Uh... It's a shame El Toro got paired against Dueling Dragons in the first round. I voted for Popeye because it has an original story and theming whereas BLAB is essentially a clone of another ride. By the time Buzz opened, I believe WDW's version was already 7 years old.
From brian lochridge on March 21, 2008 at 7:19 AM
Great matchups today, Go Buzz Go. I'm so glad that Fire made it's way into this thing. To me the up and over move on Fire with Ice spinning just under your feet is the best move on any ride. Nothing I have ridden comes close to that feeling of flight and excitement.

Where are all the Small World Fans, that ride is the best example of technology and story telling a ride has ever seen. :)

From Robert Niles on March 21, 2008 at 8:23 AM
I was happy to see that TPI fans rated Disneyland's Buzz over Disney World's, which put the newer, west coast version into the tournament. The hand-held guns are key, plus, the flow of the Disneyland Buzz just works better (for me, at least.)
From Marc Ricketts on March 21, 2008 at 8:52 AM
Gotta go Splash, even though it's better at WDW. Brian, the small world fans are all whining on the Disney sites about the rumored changes to come, which is undoubtedly too time consuming to participate in a poll.
From brian lochridge on March 21, 2008 at 9:34 AM
I would like to see Small World go against Spiderman, that would be a better matchup. You would then have two of the most technologically advanced rides ever built. SW with it's mind blowing visuals and ear thumping sound track keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire ride. Spiderman on the other hand leaves you thinking "they could have done more" Both great rides but I have to go with Small World.
From Iris Hernandez on March 21, 2008 at 10:56 AM
I had to pick Popeye's over Buzz Lightyear, even if it was against the WDW version. I just love popeyes because of the great theming and i NEVER come out dry and it has yet to disappoint me. Not to mention my husband is TOO competitive and every time we leave either of the buzz lightyears we come out arguing. He even blames the guns for "supposedly" not working correctly every time I whoop his butt. No problems on popeyes though!
From Justin Spisto on March 21, 2008 at 11:25 AM
UMMMMM. How is EL Toro losing? Its the best wooden coaster on the planet.
From brian lochridge on March 21, 2008 at 11:52 AM
EL Toro is losing because Fire burns wood.

DD to me is very very very underrated, best themeing of any coaster anywhere, unique track layout, 2 rides in 1 and in my experience never a line. Longest I have ever waited was 20 min and that's the first week in July.

From brian lochridge on March 21, 2008 at 2:53 PM
Hey Robert, when this is all said and done could you put up a bracket we could all print out to keep. That way we can look back at the results of the whole tourney.

I don't know why, maybe its because were mixing themeparks and sports my two favorite things, but I can't get enough of this. Thanks again Robert, only problem is your hurting my overall sales numbers cause I can't stop checking the matchups.

From Robert Niles on March 21, 2008 at 3:54 PM
I'm putting up the bracket after the first round ends, on Monday night. And, yes, I'll have a completed bracket, with each match-up's result, at the end of the tournament.
From Derek Potter on March 21, 2008 at 5:00 PM
El Toro is losing because either nobody here has ridden it, or they have the Universal/Disney disease. I'll give Dueling Dragons kudos for the entrance queue, but after that, it's an average B&M inverted coaster. I can quickly name 5 B&M inverted coasters around the country that are better than either of the Dueling Dragons. I went for Toro there.

My other votes were for Popeye, Splash Mountain, and Mummy. It's a Small World (and it's stupid song) can go to you know where. Good Lord I hate that song.

From Danny Melillo on March 21, 2008 at 7:45 PM
Man, how is Buzz beating Popeye, to each is own I guess.
From steve lee on March 21, 2008 at 9:12 PM
You nailed it, Derek. The amount of people who've ridden Fire versus the amount of people who've ridden El Toro isn't remotely equitable. I don't want to be one of those folks complaining about how things aren't fair, but there is a bit of a disparity here. I'm sure my favorite woodie (Thunderhead) will also get the shaft since Dollywood isn't that popular a park outside of its regional crowd.

But give DD credit for more than the queue. The precision of the near misses is quite impressive. But if you removed either of those coasters and dropped them into a Six Flags, you'd have a terribly mediocre B&M coaster (which at least is still better than an SLC).

From Derek Potter on March 22, 2008 at 11:14 AM
Exactly my point. Here is a list.

1)Montu -Busch Gardens FLA
2)Alpengeist-Busch Gardens VA
3)Raptor-Cedar Point
4)Silver Bullet-Knotts
5)Top Gun-Carowinds

All are the same type of coaster made by the same manufacturer of Dueling Dragons. Even with the queue of DD, it's number 6 or even 7 on the list above in terms of track layout and wow factor. My opinion is this...A queue is part of the ride experience, but not part of the ride itself. It is a factor, but not a big one. I walked off of Dueling Dragons thinking this. "The queue was really cool, but the coaster didnt quite stack up to other similar ones I've ridden." In contrast, El Toro is everything a wooden coaster should be, fast,furious and alive with a great layout. I'll take that over a middle ranked inverted anyday.

From James Rao on March 22, 2008 at 8:20 PM
I gotta disagree here a bit. I think the main thing a good theme does is it immerses you into the story. You are no longer Joe Vactioneer from Kansas City, you are a knight in shining armor about to battle a dragon. And the immersion should extend beyond the ride, beyond the queue, and throughout the entire park. The minute you walk into a theme park you should forget about the life you left behind and be immersed into the story of the park.

Escapism. Good movies do it, good music does it, and good theme parks do it. For your $50 you get to leave the world behind and enter a new world as set up by the imaginations of the geniuses who designed the theme park.

If I just wanted to ride thrill rides I could drive 30 minutes to Cedar Fair's Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, MO) and ride coaster's all day long. They have a great wooden coaster, Timber Wolf, a great hyper coaster, Mamba, a top notch B&M inverted, the Patriot, and a family friendly spinner, Spinning Dragons. But you know what, whenever I go to Worlds of Fun, I ride each coaster a couple of times, then I leave. Why? Because there is nothing immersive about the park. It's clean, the rides are nice, the people are nice, but when I am there, I am always just in a stationary carnival off of I-435, 30 minutes from my house. Yippee.

It is all in the immersion. That's why I spend $5000 every couple of years to drag my family back to Orlando. That's why Walt Disney World is the #1 vacation destination in the world. And, that's why Dueling Dragons beat El Toro....because people remember the great time they had in an immersive theme park like IOA. The ride itself is only part of the fun. In a way, the ride is like the icing on the cake. It may be the best part of the cake, but the two combined together make one heck of a delicious treat!

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