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Best Ride in America Tournament: Round two, day four

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Published: March 27, 2008 at 8:58 PM

Yesterday's contest between Griffon and Dueling Dragons - Ice saw the most, uh, aggressive voting in the tournament to date. Wild vote swings tripped my radar early in the voting, but with both sides engaged in heavy GOTV/ballot-stuffing, I decided to accept the results as they stood when I went to close the poll. Congratulations, Dueling Dragons - Ice fans, your coaster is moving on. The other Dragon (Fire) went down quietly to Tower of Terror, though, making me wonder if some Ice voters were not more motivated to drive the last remaining Busch Gardens Europe coaster from the tournament.

SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken and Disney World's Kilimanjaro Safaris also advanced.

Three first-round upset winners are on deck today as the second round wraps up. After today's match-ups, we will take the weekend off from the voting, and start the round of 16 on Monday. The quarterfinals will start Wednesday, the semi-finals on Friday and the championship match-up will happen on Monday, April 7.

Two immersive, addictive dark rides face off in today's marquee contest: (2) Indiana Jones Adventure vs. (34) Men in Black Alien Attack

Do you like a roller coaster with a theme and a story, or a launch of blistering speed? We will find out as (14) Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Orlando) takes on (19) Top Thrill Dragster

Disney fans will have to dismiss one of their own in (6) Splash Mountain (Disneyland) vs. (38) Test Track

Finally, we finish the second round with another all-Florida battle: (10) SheiKra vs. (42) Dinosaur

Thanks for voting, commenting and spreading the word about the tournament! (So... who's final four remains alive?)

Readers' Opinions

From Bradley Robertson on March 27, 2008 at 10:24 PM
It's always interesting to see the initial vote of the first 20 odd people. For the last couple of rounds it seems like the votes seem to come out a lot different. Nevertheless, I'm rooting for RotM and Splash Mountain.
From Joshua Counsil on March 28, 2008 at 12:06 AM
Man, this is getting intense. For the record, I'm pretty sure my final four are still in it! What a sad life I live. Robert - is there a way to check your final four? I can't remember the last one I chose ... Also, where's the bracket?

I've always found Indiana to be overrated. I finally got to go to DisneyLand a few years back and ride this phenomenon, and I was a little disappointed. I mean, it was still a great ride, but after all the hype I was definitely expecting better. I rode a few more times to make sure I wasn't just crazy, but it didn't blow me away. Indiana may make it to the final four (or come close), but I voted against it this round because Men In Black is exceptional and addictive.

Revenge of the Mummy takes Dragster. I was a little disappointed in Mummy, similar to how I felt about Indiana, because of all the hype. A lot of the effects are quite tacky, but it's still better than Dragster, namely because Dragster disappointed me even more (for its size).

Splash Mountain easily takes Test Track. I'm surprised TT even made it to Round 2.

Dinosaur is a shoe-in over Sheikra, in my opinion. Some of the effects are cheap, like the pterodactyl, but it's an exceptional dark ride, and Sheikra is ... a standard coaster.

From Eric Malone on March 28, 2008 at 12:24 AM
I've had a lot of fun voting for my favorites. This just keeps getting better and better, something to look forward to every day.

It'll be a sad day when it's over, as it will inevitably be.

From TH Creative on March 28, 2008 at 2:26 AM
COME ON PEOPLE! Where's the support for MY attraction, MIB?!
From James Rao on March 28, 2008 at 6:54 AM
With only two non-themed attractions in this round, the voting has become appreciably tougher.

Indy and Dinosaur are virtually the same ride with different theming, and both work well, imho. I like loud, bumpy attractions, and they both satisfy in that regard. MIB is a lot of fun, but since I suck at it, it has to go down!

Splash Mt, in a way, is the grand daddy of all flume attractions. There may be others more thrilling, but none come close in theming. While I very much enjoy Test Track, it doesn't stand a chance against this Disney masterpiece.

Revenge of the Mummy is a no brainer. It is a truly great attraction, one that hits you in all the right places on every level of the entertainment scale. Themed to perfection, the ride is equal parts chilling, thrilling, funny, and unique. This is the type of ride that puts the "THEME" in theme park. (That last comment was for you, Jake, cause I know how you love it when I talk about theming!).

Thanks for giving us the weekend off, Mr. Niles, I could use the break, and I am sure you can as well!

From brian lochridge on March 28, 2008 at 7:30 AM
Joshua your killing me, Dinosaur over SheiKra, really? To each his own. Sheikra may be short but the first 10 seconds of that ride are the best of any ride in my opinion. The 90 degree drop and the immelman role are F-ing amazing. I know some will say after those 10 seconds the rides over. I will always take a short great coaster over a longer mediocre one.

Coasters are like Women, Millennium Force, Dragster, there like a really hot blonde. She's great to look at but there isn't a lot of depth. Sheikra, DD, they may not be 5'10 smokin hot models but they look good and there's more to them than just looks. Then you have the Milfs like Beast or Magnum, they may be old but they can still give you a thrill.

My Final 4 is still intact and looking like the right picks. EE, Hulk, Spiderman, Sheikra.

From Justin Spisto on March 28, 2008 at 9:26 AM
Sheikra is a way better ride then Dinosaur. Dinosaur is just a average dark ride. Dinosaur shouldn't made it out of the first round. It's just the Disney and Universal fanboys ruining it for every other ride that is not Disney or Universal.
From Lindsay Murray on March 28, 2008 at 9:55 AM
My vote went for Men In Black simply for the game (even though I suck at it too!) I love an interactive ride!

I picked Mummy over Dragster due to Mummy's unique special effects and stuff like that. I really felt like I was "riding the movies." :)

I hated having to pick between Splash Mountain and Test Track. I had a hard time deciding between one of Disney's most classic rides and one of my Disney faves. But, in the end, my vote went to Test Track.

I also had trouble with Sheikra vs. Dinosaur. I am definitely a coaster person, but I gave the nod to Dino simply for its themeing.

Good match-ups today! This is so much fun!'

From Lynn Reed on March 28, 2008 at 11:53 AM
Kraken, Mummy, and Spiderman are my three best rides. Either Sheikra or MIB would probably be the fourth. I can't wait to see how they all place.
From Kyawt Tin on March 28, 2008 at 12:43 PM
WTF? How is Splash Mountain losing to Test Track? Splash is the best flume ride ever with great theming. Test Track is good but the theming is a bit lackluster. This one shouldn't even be a contest.

Neither Sheikra nor Dinosaur deserve to make it past this round, one of them is just going to get lucky and then crushed in the next round. I voted for Dinosaur for its theming over an unthemed coaster... the first word in this site's domain is "theme" so theme should carry the day when in doubt.

Mummy was an easy choice to advance. The Indy and MIB choice was more difficult but Indy gets the nod since it's a far better movie series and milieu IMO.

From Larry Zimmerman on March 28, 2008 at 1:27 PM
And I'm just a "standard" coaster lover, then...and if you missed the theming, then you had your eyes closed. It's ok...lots of people do...
From Gareth Clarke on March 28, 2008 at 2:05 PM
is Revenge of the Mummy (Universal Orlando) much different from the hollywood one? cos the hollywood one sucks.
From Derek Potter on March 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM
There is one non-themed coaster in this contest. That is Sheikra. I don't know where you get the idea that Dragster isn't themed. The cars are drag cars, there is a start light just like the real race that sends the ride off, there are bleachers for people to watch, the ride is painted to represent. Does that qualify it? If it doesn't, than perhaps we should consider other Florida coasters amusement rides than. Dragster is more themed than Kraken, Sheikra, and just as much as Dueling Dragons and Hulk.

Everest is a themed coaster, Mummy is a themed coaster. In fact, they are more theme than coaster (hence my problem with them, all show and no go). The rest in this field are great thrill rides....some with more visual aide than others.

Anyway, my votes today were for

Indiana Jones- MIB is ok, Indy is a little better. We could have thrown in Kings Islands Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle just the same as MIB. It's the same thing, different theme.

Dragster- Mummy is a great ride for what it is. Good FX, some surprise elements and such. Good immersion, at least for the first couple rides until I know what's coming. I prefer blistering speed and a much higher reride value.

Splash Mountain- Just not that big on test track. Splash Mountain is a great themed flume ride. Not as adventurous as I would like, but still good.

Dinosaur-I have no idea why Shiekra is rated so high here. It's a great ride, but when I see it still in the competition while much better coasters have fallen by the wayside, I can't bring myself to vote for it. Dinosaur is a better attraction.

From Jake Rivers on March 28, 2008 at 2:46 PM
All I can say is that I prefer height and a speed rush over any story. I'll just watch the movie if I wanna enjoy The Mummy! This site is unlike any other sites. TTD would destroy Mummy on any other website. That says alot! And yes Derek, TTD is THEMED to perfection! Don't forget about the song that gets you pumped up to RIDE!!!!
From Robert Niles on March 28, 2008 at 2:45 PM
I rode the LA version of Mummy first, on its premiere night, then rode the Orlando version a couple weeks later.

It absolutely floored me. The LA version is missing huge chunks of the Orlando ride, as well as much of the premise. The LA Mummy is to Orlando's as Orlando's Pirates of the Caribbean is to Anaheim's. It's an abridged version of a classic.

From Robert Niles on March 28, 2008 at 2:48 PM
Derek, how about this for some new vocabulary?

Narrative coasters: Mummy, Everest. Hybrids of coasters and dark rides, with a narrative in addition to a themed environment.

Themed coasters: Dragster. Coasters with a themed environment, but without character-driven narratives.

Then you've got everything else, the unthemed coasters.

Thoughts?

From Justin Spisto on March 28, 2008 at 2:50 PM
^ Alpiengeist was a greatly themed coaster and it loset just because it was pitted against a Disney ride or Universal ride I can't remember.
From James Rao on March 28, 2008 at 4:04 PM
My bad, Derek, you are right, TTD is themed to a certain extent, even down to the grandstand area like at the race track (if I remember correctly). I guess the problem I have with calling TTD themed is that the whole park it sits in is so unthemed. Please don't get me wrong, I liked Cedar Point when I went a few years back (in fact I think it was 2003 or 2004 when I was there, right about the time TTD was added). It was a hoot, as long as I was riding coasters. There just wasn't anything else to do in the park once I rode the dozen or so adult coasters (no Maverick yet). If I lived close to Cedar Point I would definitely get a season pass and go a couple of times a year. I love coasters just a much as the next person.

However, as thrilling as TTD was, ROTM was the complete package for me. It was a very unique experience that combined coaster fun with movie magic. For that reason I gave it the nod over TTD.

And Robert, I like your clarification on narrative vs decorative. My local park, Worlds of Fun, has a B&M coaster called the Patriot that they think is expertly themed just because it has a bunch of US flags around the ride and patriotic tunes blasting out of some speakers. I call that window dressing. A nice ride, but definitely not a themed attraction.

From Jake Rivers on March 28, 2008 at 3:54 PM
Derek, if I hung out with you I would have a blast. If I hung out with James I would be bored and sleepy in 10 minutes! Enuff said
From James Rao on March 28, 2008 at 6:29 PM
When the insults come, you know the argument is won!

And if nothing else, Jake, you do keep me laughing.

From David Kirby on March 28, 2008 at 5:16 PM
I'm surprised Test Track is doing so well. Could that be the Cinderella story of this tournament?
From Scottland Jacobson on March 28, 2008 at 5:22 PM
Woah...my heartburn is in full swing. This one was incredibly tough!! I love MIB, but feel Indiana Jones has that "total experience" thing going. And Splash Mountain is the best flume, but Test Track is just so different and amazing - plus I love the speed at the end.

And I hated to vote out the Mummy (as I ride this 15x + every time I'm in Orlando), but Top Thrill's sheer "thrill" got my vote. Going over that crest and looking down on Millenium Force just takes my breath away.

And the Orlando version of the Mummy is far superior to its Hollywood counterpart. Robert's comparison description is dead-on. Hollywood got the "abridged" version.

Anybody got any Tums??

From Kyawt Tin on March 28, 2008 at 6:18 PM
How the heck is Splash losing to Test Track? That vote pair also has 30+ more votes than the other pairs... is someone voting multiple times? Or is there a bias against flume rides?
From Jake Rivers on March 28, 2008 at 7:32 PM
TTD IS ACTUALLY WORTH WAITING THE 2 HOURS TO RIDE IT AND THERE IS NOTHING IN FLORIDA WORTH WAITING MORE THAN 30 MINUTES TO RIDE. PLAIN AND SIMPLE!
From Derek Potter on March 28, 2008 at 8:12 PM
The disconnect here is everyone's interpretation of themed. The term is used freely here, yet people either differ on the definition or change it when convenient for their argument. If themed means that the ride tells a story and offers a visual and auditory dimension to the experience, than few roller coasters are in that category. If it means that there are set pieces and visual aides, but no real story to tell, than there are now several rides outside the state of Florida that would now be considered themed that weren't necessarily considered that before, because they are in a park that wouldn't be considered a "theme park" by most.

The argument always comes up that such ride is better than another one because it is "themed". Hence, the argument that Mummy is better than Dragster because it is themed doesn't hold water, because both are themed. One is better than the other because that's how the person likes their rides. If they like the super visual experience and a milder coaster with a bit of a storyline (narrative is a decent adjective by the way Robert), than Mummy is their ride. If they like a coaster that takes them higher and faster than they have ever been in a well put together environment that is themed to a raceway, than Dragster is their choice. Perhaps people who've never seen nor ridden Dragster voted for Mummy by default because they know that Mummy is themed, and they didn't know that Dragster actually does a pretty darn good job of both theming and thrilling as well, but perhaps assumed it was a track in the middle of a parking lot because it was at Cedar Point? Just playing devil's advocate....throwing another log on the fire so to speak.

This tournament has been fun, and also educational. A great social experiment in the park industry is in the making. After it's all said and done, I would love to see a survey of those who participated. Where they are from, their age, the extent and frequency of their park travels, gender, their favorite rides, and other factors would be a most interesting thing to look at.

From Kyawt Tin on March 28, 2008 at 8:20 PM
The theming on TTD is pretty bare and the ride is incredibly short. It's not just a matter of theming, it's also about how immersive the theming envelops the rider. Mummy has that immersive theming in spades, and TTD does not. It was an easy choice.
From Jake Rivers on March 28, 2008 at 9:06 PM
Derek us thrill seekers and lively human beings will always know that nothing in florida is any good. Florida is for kids and puts us to sleep!
From Sylvain Comeau on March 28, 2008 at 11:42 PM
I'm a bit upset that one of my favorite dark rides, Dinosaur, lost out. I rode it three times on my trip to WDW, and it scared me every time. For my money, it has the BEST audio animatronics in the business. These dinos look REAL.
From Therese F on March 29, 2008 at 1:09 AM
Derek--well put I totally agree! I also would love to see a breakout of demographics of all who voted.
From Joshua Counsil on March 29, 2008 at 4:07 PM
I'm going to have to disagree with a few people, here.

Robert - I actually like the California Mummy better than the Florida one. Can't remember the exact differences, but I thought the ending of the Cali one was much better (I believe it was a solar eclipse, or something). But good points about the new vocab, as under the previous definitions, I would hardly call Hulk or Dragster themed coasters (though they're both great rides).

Jake - TTD is themed to perfection? It's pretty difficult to theme a ride that is over 400 feet in height. Sure, it has bleachers and a stop-&-go light, but those hardly qualify as theming. I don't feel like I'm in a dragster race because of those things. The ride is still great and very eye-appealing, but definitely not immersive. Under Robert's definitions, though, maybe it could be considered themed. How far does that definition go, though? I mean, is Riddler's Revenge considered themed because it's named after a Batman character and its green?

And I can't believe Splash actually lost to Test Track. How is that possible, especially with all the classic attraction-loving Disney-philes?

From Kyawt Tin on March 29, 2008 at 5:01 PM
Splash maybe lost because the coaster lovers prefer a ride that goes fast for a few seconds to one that just can't due to the nature of a flume ride. But even then Splash has better thrills than Test Track, as the last drop on Splash is classic. That Test Track won is the biggest head scratcher of the tournament so far, it just makes no sense and even among the comments here almost everyone voted for Splash. Bizarre...
From Joshua Counsil on March 29, 2008 at 11:43 PM
Completely senseless ... no idea how that happened - biggest upset yet.

I loved TT back in the day, but the more I ride it, the worse it seems. I like the premise, but the ride has many problems. The thrilling component is barely thrilling (60 mph on curved banks - I drive faster than that through country roads!), the educational component fails to amaze (especially the hokey ABS brakes section), and the ride breaks down so often that lines build and stay idle for periods of time.

Splash Mountain is like a fine wine. Every time I ride it, I find something new, and the final drop really is quite good.

Test Track should be updated (maybe to a hybrid car ride) and sponsored by a reliable company (like Toyota). It's good, but could be great.

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