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Best Ride in America Tournament: The quarterfinals, day two

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Published: April 2, 2008 at 9:50 PM

It's time to set the top four attractions in Theme Park Insider's inaugural 'Best Ride in America' tournament. Yesterday, top seed The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and four seed Pirates of the Caribbean (the original, Disneyland version) punched their tickets. What other two rides will join them today?

Click the attraction names for full descriptions, as well as TPI readers' ratings and reviews. (And feel free to add your own rating, then come back here to vote.)

(2) Indiana Jones Adventure vs.
(26) Dueling Dragons – Ice

(3) Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Disney World) vs.
(11) Kraken

Again, here is the tournament bracket [PDF]. Let's go for another good round of comments, too. Thanks, again, for everyone's participation in this year's tournament!

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on April 2, 2008 at 9:59 PM
FWIW, Everest beat Hulk by one vote... and lost to Pirates by one vote. Clearly, all three are in an excellent tier where riders, collectively, are having a hard time making a choice. As I wrote earlier, once we hit the later rounds, the tournament became, at the very least, a great blueprint for an ultimate theme park itinerary.
From Kyawt Tin on April 2, 2008 at 10:39 PM
I think Indy and ToT will advance pretty easily this round. It will be interesting to see them go head to head in the semifinal, along with PotC vs. Spidey. The final four will be a slugfest and contain rides where theme is paramount.
From Joshua Counsil on April 3, 2008 at 12:23 AM
This contest is an obvious one, but I had a tough time between Dueling Dragons: Ice and Indiana Jones Adventure. I think the Ice coaster is standard, but Indiana didn't wow me to the extent I expected. Nevertheless, Indiana will advance.

Which leaves three Disney attractions (two DisneyLand, one WDW) and one Universal attraction in the finals. Good for Busch, however, for having two attractions in the quarterfinals.

Anybody find it interesting that the most visited theme park in the world only had ONE attraction in the competition (Winnie The Pooh), and it was eliminated in the first round by a 93% margin? Epcot, the third most popular, only had Mission: Space, and it lost to a standard inverted coaster in the first round. I think that really says something about why people go to the parks. It's not solely for the attractions, but for the overall experience. I don't go to Epcot for the rides, myself. Sure, there are a few whoppers, but I like the live entertainment, the music, the food, and the architecture.

Anybody else pick up on anything interesting? One other notable stat that threw me for a loop was that while DisneyLand Resort had a total of 20 rides in the tournament, the ever-popular Walt Disney World only had 10, outnumbered 2:1. To be fair, though, 13 of DisneyLand's attractions have/are clones of those at Walt Disney World (if you count Tower as a clone, etc.)

From Sylvain Comeau on April 3, 2008 at 4:44 AM
Joshua, I've already argued that the Magic Kingdom version of Haunted Mansion should have been picked; Disneyland's version got in because of the slightest difference in the un-rounded ratings on this site. I think it's because not as many people have had a chance to ride Magic Kingdom's newly refurbished Mansion, which only reopened late last year.
From James Rao on April 3, 2008 at 4:47 AM
It can be argued that the Tower of Terror at WDW is quite possibly the best themed and most immersive attraction of all time. Furthermore, were it not so intricately themed, TOT would have been out of this tournament a long time ago. I have no idea why the Florida version is the only version that is fully fleshed out. It is one attraction that Disney should not have cut corners on when installing at other parks outside the World.

On the other hand, I absolutely love the Kraken. It is maybe the smoothest and most thrilling coaster I have ridden, and is definitely my favorite B&M floorless. But at the end of the day, a coaster is still just a coaster, even when it is a great thrill ride. I hate to let Kraken go, but TOT gets my vote.

Dueling Dragons - Ice has to be the Davidson of this tournament, especially since DD - Fire is a better track (imho) and has been out of the tournament for days!

As for Indy, I would take about ten other attractions in this tournament over Indy, including Dinosaur, but not including DD - Ice. What a lucky bracket for Indy, I guess no one saw that coming!

Incidentally, I had expected at least one strongly themed coaster (Everest) to make it to the final four. Furthermore, with the upcoming demise of Kraken, not one coaster will be represented. I find that a bit surprising. Having said that, every attraction in the upcoming final four (presuming TOT and Indy win today) deserves to be part of the action. They are all great attractions and not to be missed at their respective parks.

From Scottland Jacobson on April 3, 2008 at 8:17 AM
I'm an Indy fan. I can ride that thing over and over and over again and I still have a huge grin on my face.

And Kraken vs. TOT? Hard one...but I find myself leaning to Kraken for the same reason I leaned toward Indy. I'll ride it over and over again. TOT is amazingly themed (and I agree that they cut corners on the DCA version), but I still love my Kraken.

As for Disneyland vs. Magic Kingdom - I find Disneyland to be the better park. Disneyland's versions of POTC, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, It's a Small World, Autopia and the Haunted Mansion are superior (although I have not ridden the new MK version of Mansion) + Disneyland has the Matterhorn, Indy and RRCS. However, MK does have a superior Jungle Cruise, Thunder Mountain and Winnie the Pooh.

But...if I had to choose between DisneyWORLD and Disney's California resort (DL and DCA combined), the WORLD wins hands down.

From Eric Ey on April 3, 2008 at 8:24 AM
The corners cut on the DCA version of TOT were ones that really can't be cut. The exterior and interior are great, but why did theyu keep the same ride pattern instead of changing it up like the Florida version? I can count out the drops in TOT at DCA. Budgets. I can't wait for the four year improvements
From Robert Niles on April 3, 2008 at 8:25 AM
For pure laughs, check out this thread on MiceChat (a Disney fan site) and its quote, "Even though the website is 'Theme Park Insider', they are mostly coaster enthusiasts" and then click over to this thread on BGEscape (a Busch Gardens fan site) where they call us "Disney fanbois" and trash us for not supporting coasters enough.
From Lynn Reed on April 3, 2008 at 8:32 AM
I really hate to see Kraken lose out to TOT - it is just my most favorite roller coaster. Tall, smooth, sleek, fast, with fantastic views from all angles. I love how open and long the layout is, how big the loops are, the space between the rows that lets you feel free and not closed in. IMO, the only ride in this tournament that deserves to win over Kraken is Spiderman.
From Jonny Read on April 3, 2008 at 8:49 AM
I'd say out've all the 'Magic Kingdom style' Disney parks the Paris version is by far the best. POTC is almost twice the length of of DL's version, Thunder Mountain is an actual island that the trains reach by an underwater tunnel and Space Mountain: Mission 2, has a pretty intense launch of 0-50mph, corckscrews and loops that kinda make the others seem a bit well, tame.

They've got a TOT there now too, but I havent been and tbh think it'll be similar to DCA's as opposed to WDW's and all the other rides are pretty similar as there North American counterparts. The TWO things that let this park down is the lack of an Indiana Jones Ride (instead they got sum sortve mine coaster, which is good - but not as good!) and the staff, they just dont seem to be as enthusiastic or as helpful as the Americans do. But as far as attractions go, i'd say its alot better!

Anyway, could be thinking a TOT - Spidey final..

From Tim Strickland on April 3, 2008 at 8:50 AM
Hey Robert that is pretty funny about the two different sites. I think its pretty awesome how the tournament is getting around to the different sites. I think by next year we will have a lot more participation, and even though Disney will always be favored, other companies will be represented better. I thought it would be a good idea, but I never knew it would be quiet this big, and fun as well. I know people have put it down on other sites as well as this one, but you did a great job setting this up.
From James Rao on April 3, 2008 at 9:23 AM
A recent discussion thread comparing WDW and DLR...might want to check it out for more on today's debate.
From Joshua Counsil on April 3, 2008 at 9:40 AM
HA. Nice post, Robert.

I mean, they bash us, but I can't take them seriously since their names are "MiceChat" and "BGEscape", and the forum threads are "Vote Pirates and Indy" and "Vote For BGE Rides", respectively. We're Theme Park Insider, and for the most part, I think this is the best kept and best commentated theme park website around.

The MiceChat folks were bitter that Test Track beat Big Tunder and Splash, but even more bitter that it finally lost to Kraken, "an ordinary ... steel on concrete coaster". That's saying something. Also, the fact that the Busch supporters called our site and polls "jokes", yet Busch Gardens Europe has won Best Theme Park two years in a row on this site, also puts to rest any bias we have.

If you look at the 2007 awards, they not only come from four different parks, but four different chains. The previous years are pretty varied, as well.

From Lee Mak on April 3, 2008 at 11:25 AM
I love that other bloggers are blogging about the blogs that we are blogging a-blog. Sometimes I think I am all alone with everybody. Is it really necessary for other site users to try and spoil our good fun? Sure we love coasters, sure we love theme rides, sure we love beer...uh, well I do...and I can safely say if you are a BGE fan, you love all three together from park opening to closing (only in designated areas please).

You can't limit yourself to one park...if you do, you should limit yourself to one site...MiceAge for disney fans, BGEscape for busch fans. If you are both and like good rides, no matter what...TPI is for you, if not...well hit up another board, you blognoramuses

Although I do lean more towards Disney, I have been to many a coaster park on both coasts, and I have tried both of the sites mentioned...but I like the type of people on this site better.

Its not all mommies with too many concerns about their infants on vacation that will remember nothing of the thousands they spent on "baby's first disney trip" alwasy asking where the best change stations are or gheezer coaster buffs who rally in groups with self-printed tee-shirts that say "we loop for looping" sneering at anything that isn't 150 feet high.

TPI readers and other board users hear me now...

This site is for the folks who are just as happy screeeeming with hands up as they are with hands in their laps, taking in the scenery on slower theme rides. Its about the entertainment folks...I have said my peace

well, for today : )

From Donna Tolliver-Walker on April 3, 2008 at 12:11 PM
The tournament has been fun, and it appears to have succeeded wildly in bringing traffic to TPI.

The only thing that dampens my enjoyment is that it seems other motivations besides evaluating the rides have come into play, especially on several of the hotly-contested matchups. It appeared several times pro- or anti- park factions were perhaps more interested in keeping their park alive or downing a rival than in truly casting their votes for the better ride.

I wonder if maybe it would be better in future tournaments to NOT list the vote percentages and number of votes until AFTER the polls have closed, just as we do in public elections? It seems very, very likely that knowing how a contest is going has skewed the outcome.


AN ASIDE NOTE TO ROBERT: Do you generally reply to feedback submitted via the website? I have submitted feedback several times, and I've never gotten a reply, not even a "form" email stating my feedback was received. Is it possible the form is not working? Thanks.

From Robert Niles on April 3, 2008 at 12:32 PM
Send me a test, and we'll see if it gets through. (I'm about to go out, so it'll be later this afternoon.) The forms breaks from time to time, but I also get more than 100 e-mails a day, from my various sites as well as from my USC students, so I do lose track of e-mails from time to time. (I should just post a standing apology on the feedback form....) I'm about 12 hours behind on e-mail right now.

I am also *terrible* about thinking "oh, that's a good message; I want to come up with a thoughtful response to it," then setting it aside to think about... and later forgetting to ever reply. Really, I need someone to invent a prescription that stops me from doing that. Ugh.

From Justin Spisto on April 3, 2008 at 3:56 PM
There goes the last Busch coaster. R.I.P Kracken,well at least Spiderman is still in it to win it!
From James Rao on April 3, 2008 at 7:21 PM
Robert, I would be interested to know (this is something you can tell us in your postmortem), the percentage of entries that picked Spider-Man to win it all.

It has to be in the 85 - 90 percentile....

From Derek Potter on April 3, 2008 at 7:51 PM
No more coasters. Kraken got my vote because it's a good coaster, and as always for me, the stories get old after a bit on themed rides, ending up just a ride. Kraken isn't a better storyteller with more immersion, but it is a better ride. I'm sure it won't win though. Too much Disney love around here.

On the other hand, I can't for the life of me believe that either Dueling Dragons made it past the second round. It's one of the most overrated rides in the tourney. Indiana Jones isn't the best in the world, but Dueling Dragons has slipped through the cracks long enough. Too many weak opponents along the way. It somehow managed to beat Mission Space, and then went against both Busch vertical drop coasters and got by on it's "Universal" status. I really don't think that the best ride is in this matchup, but that's how tournaments go sometimes.

The fanboys crack me up. We should get the biggest baddest Disney and Cedar Point fanboys together and have a debate. It would so eventually end up in the gutter.

From James Rao on April 3, 2008 at 8:04 PM
I probably shouldn't bring it up, Derek, but we had that debate with Jake just a few days ago. Most of his COMMENTS got deleted, but the gist is still there. Go Check it out...we hit the gutter hard and fast! =)
From Robert Niles on April 3, 2008 at 8:29 PM
I have this reflexive reaction to all caps. I see it; I hit the "delete comment" button. ;-)
From Joshua Counsil on April 3, 2008 at 9:08 PM
And I'm glad you do, Robert.

That night, I came back from the bar, only to see this kid Jake razzing me out. Man, I did not take kindly to that. I hate when people talk smack over the internet: it's like punching someone in the dark.

From James Rao on April 3, 2008 at 9:51 PM
You did the right thing, Robert. I take Jake's comments with a grain or two of salt (heck a whole salt mine, usually), but he was way out of control that day.
From Derek Potter on April 6, 2008 at 11:39 AM
I did see the thread with James and Jake. Entertaining, but I'm talking on a grander scale. Open a chat room and invite some of the MiceAge folks, and then some from the Cedar Point fansites. What a train wreck it would be. Let a few of us be moderators or have some bots, so we can boot when people flood, spam, or it gets a little too out of hand.

I'm still a huge fan of Cedar Point. I go every year at least once or twice, and usually spend a couple of days each trip. I'm biased towards them a little, because I love the place. The difference with me is that I like it as a whole. The hotels are good, the location on the lake is unique, and there is a lot to do. The roller coasters are the best and get all of the attention, but there's more to Cedar Point than that.

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