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2009 Best Ride in America Tournament, round one: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man bracket

By Robert Niles
Published: March 23, 2009 at 7:32 AM
Welcome to day seven of the 2009 Best Ride in America tournament on Theme Park Insider.

Yesterday saw another close finish, as eliminated Toy Story Midway Mania from Disney's Hollywood Studios eliminated Kilimanjaro Safaris from Disney's Animal Kingdom. The Ice coaster from Islands of Adventure's Dueling Dragons pulled the day's only upset, eliminating Magic Mountain's Goliath. Universal Studios Florida's Revenge of the Mummy and Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean took care of business, as well, advancing easily.

Today, tournament two-seed The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man from Universal's Islands of Adventure opens its second attempt to capture the 'Best Ride in America' crown against Epcot's refurbished Spaceship Earth.

As always, I ask you to take a look at the comments below *before* casting your votes. (Early voters, get the campaigning going by submitting a comment.) Thoughtful votes help make this a better tournament.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Today we also welcome our first Canadian entry into the tournament, as Behemoth from Canada's Wonderland faces off against Busch Gardens Africa's Montu.

It's an all Universal battle up next, as Islands of Adventure's Dueling Dragons - Fire takes on Universal Studios Hollywood's Jurassic Park - The Ride. [Note: This is the Hollywood version of the ride, not the Islands of Adventure one!]

Finally, how do you like to be tossed and turned? On the back of a sea serpent with SeaWorld's Kraken or inside a Mars capsule on Epcot's Mission: Space?

To the comments!

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on March 23, 2009 at 7:51 AM
Before I comment, I think its terrible that TSM beat KS. I think there are Disney haters throwing the brackets :)


Anyway, I am not going to vote for Fire because I voted for Ice and I think there are more or less the same and suprised they were not packaged into one attraction on the bracket. The others are not too hard today!

While I love Disney, I gotta give it to the other parks today. Spiderman is just great and Krackken is one of the best roller coasters I have ever been on! Perfect!

From Mitchell Botwin on March 23, 2009 at 7:51 AM
It has to be Mission Space. When the ride 1st opened Disney had brought over some astronauts to try it out and they were quoted as saying it was approximately 70% of an actual liftoff.
From Don Neal on March 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM
Some of my favorite rides today with SpiderMan, Kraken, and Dueling Dragons! I respect the competition but these rides bring me back over and over again! As well as the Dragons and SM having some of the best theming out there! And the view from atop Kraken is amazing seeing all of the SW park and surrounging areas.
From W McDougal on March 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM
The Dragon coasters should be listed as one ride. In any case, the Jurassic Park ride is probably the best themed dinosaur attraction out there. The name of this site is THEME park insider so we should vote for the rides with immersive themes as one of our top voting motivations. For that reason, I'm not even sure most of the coasters in the tournament should even qualify since their theming is threadbare at best on most.

Themed rides that tell immersive stories are so fundamentally different from thrill rides with after-thought theming that I'm not even sure they can be compared. Simply spraying red paint everywhere and putting an "S" at the front of the first car doesn't mean much in terms of theming a Superman ride, but it may be a great thrill full of drops and loops. I feel like we're comparing apples and chainsaws.

From Raul Araoz on March 23, 2009 at 9:16 AM
Gee, I thought I did this yesterday. Well, anyway...let's do this.

A couple years ago...this would have been a tougher first pairing. The second iteration of Spaceship Earth was my favorite dark ride that was not the Haunted Mansion or Pirates. The score, script and beautiful use of lights at the finale, actually used to make me think in a philosophical light. Now, I was stunned that a ride could do that to me. However, I am not a fan of the latest refurbishment. The animatronics in the beginning are improved, but the terrible score, cheesy Jib-Jab cartoon and poor ending, have knocked this ride down a few notches.
Spiderman on the otherhand needs no defense. It is the best ride at Universal and still the most advanced ride anywhere. Heck, Imagineers have acknowledged it is the ride to beat.

I have not taken a spin on Behemoth, but Montu is the best inverted coaster I have been on and takes the cake.

I can not vote for both Dragon coasters, plus Ice is the better ride. Jurassic Park in Hollywood is significantly better than its' Orlando cousin with its' two T-Rex attacks and falling jeep. It is also the best big boat flume ride on the planet with a great final drop.

Kraken is a masterpiece of a coaster. The best floorless model I have been on and the best coaster in Orlando. Mission:Space is a solid ride, but it is a glorified simulator attached to a centrifuge. Kraken easily wins.

From Mike Deitz on March 23, 2009 at 9:28 AM
I think Mission: Space should win over the Kraken- Mission: Space has so much more detail, and you really feel like your blasting off from Earth!

I also think Spaceship Earth should beat Spider-Man, but that's just me. I think Spaceship Earth is really cool-the way the whole ride takes place inside the world's largest geoshpere. Go Disney!

From James Rao on March 23, 2009 at 9:34 AM
It really doesn't get any better than The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. It is one of the few attractions that I have given a rating of "Perfection" on this site. Spider-Man sets a standard for escapist entertainment that few outside of Disney have been able to attain. I have Spider-Man going all the way to the top again this year. And deservedly so.

I know Montu is going to win, and it probably deserves it, but I am going with Behemoth today just to make Joshua happy. Besides Behemoth looks like a nice ride.

Jurassic Park is a very fancy, super themed shoot-the-chutes ride. I am not a fan of shoot-the-chutes, but because it is a very good attempt at a narrative attraction, and because the setup for the final drop is so good, I am going to give it my vote today. And DD-Fire, without ICE, is not worthy of advancing.

The Kraken is probably one of the most thrilling coasters I have ever ridden. Maybe my favorite of all time. However, it has no narrative aspects at all, and very minimal decorations (what most folks seem to mistake for theming these days). Oh, but it is so smooth and so AWESOME!

Mission: Space on the other hand is one of the most original rides at any theme park (sure the basis is just a centrifuge, but like the space shot premise of the Tower of Terror, Disney engineers took the centrifuge idea beyond anything anyone else has ever attempted at a theme park). From the detailed queuing area, to the excellent intro movie, to the awesome experience itself, MS is simply one of the best thrill rides at any park. The lift off is just amazing, and the sensation of travel is maybe the best I ever experienced. Additionally, there are three excellent diversions in the post show area to complete the immersion. There is a futuristic play area for the young ones, a FREE video game area where you play the part of an astronaut who jet packs around accomplishing missions, and a team based video game that allows several dozen players, divided into two teams, to race their spaceships back from Mars to base. Very cool stuff all around this attraction. Mission: Space is a very impressive and immersive Disney masterpiece.

Neither of these attractions is going to beat Spider-Man, so my vote is irrelevant, but I think I have to go with Mission: Space today. Or maybe Kraken. Oh, I don't know!

From Todd Houts on March 23, 2009 at 9:52 AM
Well I'm glad TSMM pulled it out yesterday, only because I had that in my Final Four (which I picked as LIKELY winners, not necessarily my favorite rides). For today...

Curse of DarKastle had become my favorite dark ride until I rode Spider-Man for the first time four months later. Wow. As much as I like the improvements on Spaceship Earth (especially the interactivity on the way down) Spider-Man is an easy choice for me.

Behemoth vs. Montu
I predicted on paper that Montu will win easily but I voted for Behemoth. Now let me say that I love Montu. I've ridden every B&M inverted coaster in North America but two, and Montu is by far my favorite. BUT, I had the chance to ride Behemoth last year (with the massive overflow lines that still moved very quickly due to dispatch probably meeting the 1500+/hour capacity) and it was flawless. With the minimal restraints, tilted back seats and v-shaped seating, it was like flying through the air. Folks near King's Island will see what I mean when they get to experience this new seating arrangement with Diamondback soon. (I don't think I'll get there this year, but I would sure love to.)

I voted with what I think will win in the Fire vs Jurassic Park matchup: Fire. I've only ridden the USF version of Jurassic and I was underwhelmed by it. (USH's version was being rehabed when I was last there.) But I found Fire and Ice to be overrated too - especially with Harry Potter Land being built - all you see is construction from those coasters. Still, I figure the Orlando lovers will take Fire to a victory.

Finally Kraken vs. Mission: Space. I love Mission: Space, but it is too intense for most people. (Ok, there is the "green" side now, but that rather defeats the purpose of the ride.) I can ride Kraken over and over. Until recently I had a Busch Platinum Pass (bought 3.5 years ago with the month-to-month billing). And while I live nowhere near a Busch park, it was nice to just pop in whenever I was near one. Last October, on my way to the Orlando airport, I used that pass to drop in, ride Kraken six times (3 waits in line, plus 3 ride-agains with the Platinum pass) and then head on to the airport to fly home. I've since given up the Platinum pass - after learning on TPI I could get it much cheaper from another Busch Entertainment Group property - plus I'm waiting to see what happens with that chain (so Manta may have to wait for me) but Kraken alone was worth the (over)price(d) of admission to SeaWorld: Orlando. Go Kraken!

From Raul Araoz on March 23, 2009 at 9:44 AM
Mr. Rao - TPI's official ambassador to Canada.

Oh, by the way James, vote for Mission:Space. I thought we might have a tie with Toy Story and Kilimanjaro. I want to see if the site implodes when that happens.

From Emily G on March 23, 2009 at 10:26 AM
Firstly, have never been on Kraken, but if I had I think I would prefer it to Mission Space simply because its just my type of ride. As I haven't I didn't vote for either. I rate Mission Space highly, however as it provides a unique experience and feels very real. It is one of the best if not the best ride at Epcot.

Spiderman was an easy decision over Spaceship Earth and may even be my favorite ride ever. The mix of 3D with a dark indoor ride is exciting and different. Spaceship Earth is a nice ride, which is informative but that is it.

I was torn between Duelling Dragons - Fire and Jurassic Park, but voted for the dinosaurs as Ice went through yesterday and I agree with other comments that they are really the same ride. I also was leaning towards Jurassic Park simply becaue of the theme of the ride and and the eeriy climb before the big drop.

From Adrian Walker on March 23, 2009 at 10:29 AM
Spidey vs Spaceship Earth
Spidey is number one. I doubt anything can top it. I'm backing it for the number one spot this time. Sorry Tower of Terror, you won on a mere "technicality"!
Spaceship earth.....meh. Can't say I was impressed with this ride when I first went on it. Spidey wins easy.

Behemoth vs Montu
Havn't ridden Behomoth so I had to go with Montu. A great thrill and some interesting coaster elements (although not such a fan of the butterfly loop though).

DD Fire vs Jurassic Park the ride

Other readers please note - Don't make the mistake I nearly made, the jurassic park ride is the one at HOLLYWOOD, not ORLANDO.

Went with fire, one of the best coasters (when coupled with Ice, should they have entered together? I'll leave that to the editor to decide) that I've ever ridden. Contains an excellent coaster experience that is rare these days (dueling coasters) and one of the best queue lines, although adimttedly, that's usually standard for all IOA attractions.

Kraken vs Mission Space
Unfortunately I haven't ridden Mission Space but I doubt it would beat Kraken. That coaster is one of the smoothest rides I've experienced. Pure enjoyment throughout.

From Robert Niles on March 23, 2009 at 10:39 AM
Kraken is the most delightful roller coaster I've yet ridden. I like Mission: Space, appreciate it and love that Disney built it, but Mission: Space simply doesn't make me giddy the way the thought of riding Kraken does.

I also prefer Hollywood's version of Jurassic Park to Florida's. You get far wetter, with its recent modifications, and the cozier feel of Hollywood's setting better suits the ride, IMHO. So that became an easy call for me, over Fire. The Dueling Dragons are great coasters, but Fire's not as strong an all-around attraction as Hollywood's Jurassic Park.

If y'all don't Spider-Man into at least the final four, I'd seriously consider wiping out the site's registration database, banning everyone here and starting over with a new crop of readers. ;-) Or, at least, inviting only the ones with the good sense to recognize Spidey's greatness.

(Yes, I'm kidding. But don't test me, okay?)

I also went with Behemoth. Haven't ridden either ride, but in that case I'm going with newer B&M over older B&M. Plus, I like encouraging more Canadian readers to get into the mix around here. Not that it appears it will matter, given how badly Montu's crushing Behemoth.

From Joshua Counsil on March 23, 2009 at 10:51 AM
Haha, thanks James. Truthfully, though, I think Montu is superior. Best ride at Busch Gardens Africa (and that's coming from someone who thinks inverted coasters are overrated).

Spidey over Spaceship. Love Spaceship Earth, but come on - Spidey swing to the final four.

I'd love to say Jurassic Park stomps the Dragon, and I would if the tournament happened 6 years ago. Jurassic Park was my favorite Islands of Adventure attraction way back when, but it has become so dilapidated that it's an embarassment. Most of the dinos are off-queue (if working at all) and the whole thing just needs a good coat of paint. Dragons loads slowly and is a pretty standard ride, but it beats JP today.

The first two drops on Kraken are great, but M:S easily takes it for me. I love mostly everything about the ride and only wish it was more intense.

From James Rao on March 23, 2009 at 1:18 PM
I think we can call the following victories: Spider-Man, Montu, and Kraken (Mission: Space needs about 60 unanswered votes to swing things - not gonna happen). DD and Jurassic are fighting it out today. Should come down to the wire. That big drop on JP is amazing, especially the first time you ride it when your attention is fixed "elsewhere" and the plunge is a bit unexpected....

Since it won't matter in the final tally , I think I have to go with Mission: Space today or risk losing my Story-Over-Steel Fan Club card. But I do so love the Kraken...it is almost worth the price of admission to SeaWorld.

Raul/Josh, will my new ambassador status help me get an ADR at Le Cellier?

From Mark Mahoney on March 23, 2009 at 1:24 PM
The Kraken is a fantastic coaster and deserves to beat Mission: Space handily. And do you realize that if Spiderman was at a non-Orlando park (say, oh, I don't know, Dollywood ;), it would probably be losing to Spaceship Earth?
From James Rao on March 23, 2009 at 3:05 PM
Let me just state that I love Dollywood (and Silver Dollar City) and think they do a great job with a much smaller budget than Disney or Universal.

However, the Amazing Adventures of Spider-man is a very unique and expensive ride. How expensive? Rumors abound that it was $100 million or more. For comparison sake, Six Flags as a company is spending $100 million on new stuff across all their parks; Universal spent that much on one ride. Not many parks outside of Disney or Universal can afford to spend $100 million on a single attraction.

So your point is interesting, but also moot. For good or for ill, those types of $100+ million attractions are almost exclusive to Universal and Disney.

From Raul Araoz on March 23, 2009 at 3:37 PM
Spider-man had to cost clear of $100 million given the fact that Indiana Jones cost $100 in 1995 and that Spidey was the next technological step of that ride system. It also came out 6 years later.

Don't look now...Mission: Space is making a late rally. The voting is not finished until all of the chads have been counted.

As official TPI ambassador to Canada, James Rao gets a complementary Chedder Cheese soup and front row seats to Off-Kilter.

From John Jackson on March 23, 2009 at 3:41 PM
Spiderman - This one's a no-brainer...how could anyone vote against the greatest ride on the planet?

Behemoth is very good, but I love Montu because of its intensity.

Dueling Dragons-Fire - To be honest I'm a bit baffled that this race is even close. (Although I must say that I prefer Fire's cooler half.)

Kraken is such a great floorless that I can ride over and over. Mission Space...not so much.

From TH Creative on March 23, 2009 at 3:56 PM
The fact that Spiderman rides on a flat slab and coordinates 3-D film and moving set pieces makes it a miracle of modern theater. The spinning sequence into the steam tunnel is fantastic, as is the final climactic fall and (I absolutely LOVE) the blazing "guitar army" version of the Spidey theme that closes the attraction.

Montu is a great coaster.

Neither of the dragons are a particular favorite but I like Fitre over JP.

Mission Space was ambitious but not nearly as exciting as Kraken.

From James Rao on March 23, 2009 at 7:09 PM
Don't forget, Raul, I also get as many Pretzel breadsticks as I can carry....

$100 mil or $200 mil, it doesn't matter. When most parks are used to spending $10 - $20 mil on a new A-list attraction, I don't think they can fathom spending the money it takes to build something like Spider-Man.

Busch Gardens used Spider-Man technology to build Curse of the DarKastle at what they claimed was a reduced cost (not sure what that cost was, but my guess is it wasn't cheap...$25 mil or more, maybe?). While Curse is an excellent attraction in its own right, it doesn't really hold a candle to its big brother in Orlando....

...and the real money in attractions like Spider-Man is to be first to market, which is very expensive since the technology is usually brand spanking new. After Spider-Man, everything else like it, for good or for ill, will just be a copycat.

From Derek Potter on March 23, 2009 at 5:01 PM
Spiderman wins the first one. Few rides incorporate all of your senses like this one does. Was and still is a groundbreaking ride.

Behemoth appears to be an outstanding coaster, right in line with all the other great B&M megas such as Apollo's Chariot. Montu is one of the best inverts around. This one will come down to personal preference rather than ride quality. I've ridden Montu though, and I'm a sucker for a good inverted coaster, so I'll go with Montu.

As I said yesterday, Dueling Dragons is one of the most overrated coasters in the tournament. Aside from the queue and one near miss during the course of the ride, there's absolutely nothing in this ride that isn't done better on another B&M invert. I really liked Jurassic Park, so it gets my vote.

I'll take a great coaster over a glorified gravitron any day of the week. Kraken wins for me.

From James Rao on March 23, 2009 at 7:13 PM
UPDATE -> I have it on good authority that the cost of Spider-Man was $85 million. While not the $100/$200 mil rumored, the price tag is still 4 - 5 times more than the budget of a new attraction at most amusement parks (10x more than the Prowler being added to my home park, Worlds of Fun).
From Joshua Counsil on March 23, 2009 at 6:34 PM
Of all the attractions today, neither Dueling Dragons nor Jurassic Park deserves to move on. Spaceship Earth and Mission: Space (with its new updates) should both go on instead. I'm not saying SE and M:S should beat Spidey and Kraken, but they are better than Dragons and JP.

Too bad Mission: Space is out. I think it's Epcot's best ride and is much more fun than Kraken. Oh, well - nice to see the underdog company beat the giant.

From Raul Araoz on March 23, 2009 at 7:45 PM
I demand to know your sources, Mr Rao. James Rao.:)

I am interested in the lack of transparency when it comes to divulging the cost of these attractions. You would think they would want to tout their big, expensive new rides instead of playing cloak-and-dagger. According to our sources, that would mean Spider-man cost $15 million less than Indiana Jones. That is impressive.

From James Rao on March 23, 2009 at 7:45 PM
My sources asked to remain anonymous, however, I will cleverly disguise their names so I can provide you a hint to their secret identities: Lan Stee and Deve Stitko are my sources.

Incidentally, I wonder if the original creators of the Spider-Man comic book, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, ever imagined that their comic would one day become one of the greatest theme park attractions in the world?

From TH Creative on March 24, 2009 at 3:19 AM
When people talk about the cost for building these attractions they have to understand it is not really the effects that jack-up the price tag. It is almost always the cost of labor.

While creating a special effect for a new attraction can be expensive, a building still needs air conditioning techs, plumbers, interior and exterior partitions, painters, electricians, steel fabricators, masons and the like to get the job out of the ground. That's where a sizable chunk of the budget goes.

From 173.34.83.50 on March 24, 2009 at 1:21 PM
It was a tough draw for both Behemoth and Montu, I think both deserve to go on. To make it worse, the winner has to play Spidey in the next round, not fun. Atleast one of these two should make it to the 'Sweet 16". Montu has great theming, and it's a great ride. Behemoth is also a good ride, with the unique seatong and all. It was hard, but I picked Montu.

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