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2009 Best Ride in America Tournament: Top 16 round-up and recap

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Published: March 29, 2009 at 12:32 PM

We're down to the final sixteen rides in the 2009 Best Ride in America tournament on Theme Park Insider. The big news in the tournament so far has been the influx of Cedar Point fans, powering Maverick to an upset win over defending champion and top seed Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in the second round.

Yesterday, Universal's Islands of Adventure - the Big East of Theme Park Insider - went three for four, with The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man leading the way into the third round, bring along Incredible Hulk Coaster and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. Only Dueling Dragons - Fire failed to advance, falling to SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken.

So here are our top 16 rides, according to tournament voters (with their pre-tournament seeding):

2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
3. Millennium Force
4. Griffon
5. Apollo's Chariot
6. Expedition Everest
8. Revenge of the Mummy
9. Pirates of the Caribbean
10. Incredible Hulk Coaster
12. Haunted Mansion
13. Space Mountain
16. The Beast
18. Kraken
22. Men in Black Alien Attack
33. Maverick
46. Soarin' Over California
58. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls

So how did TPI readers do in predicting the final four rides in the tournament? Well, here were the four most-selected rides among those who entered the prediction contest:

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
2. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
3. Toy Story Midway Mania
4. Griffon

As my son would say, in his best NASCAR mechanic impersonation: "dem brackets done blowed up reeeeal good."

Will Cedar Point fans return to blow out all other parks' attractions from the tournament? Will Busch Gardens Europe manage to rally enough of its fans, through its Facebook page, to boost Griffon to victory? Will fans of Men in Black Alien Attack join Disney fans angered by Expedition Everest's non-moving Yeti to blast Everest from the tournament?

We'll start finding out tomorrow, as the third round begins. Thanks to everyone who has voted; welcome to all our new Theme Park Insider readers and let's have a great rest of the tournament.

Readers' Opinions

From Adrian Walker on March 29, 2009 at 1:27 PM
I'm really impressed about how this tournament has turned out so far. Props to you Robert for maintaining it throughout!

So far only one of my picks has been eliminated - Tower of Terror. Didn't see that one coming but I've still got three in it to win it!

Spiderman - Should go on to win it now that TOT is out.

Dudley's - One of the best water attractions in the world. Should get to the semi final at least. My most concerned entry seeing as their are quite a few good coasters up against it (Kraken, Hulk etc.)

The Mummy - A masterpiece of an attraction. Pure genius in its design and deserves to go to the final as much as Spidey.

Looking forward to continually adding my two pennies worth throughout the rest of the competition. :)

From W McDougal on March 29, 2009 at 1:31 PM
Actually there's an error: Soarin' took out Sheikra.
From Robert Niles on March 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM
Thanks. Fixed.
From James Rao on March 29, 2009 at 2:27 PM
Robert, correct me if I am wrong, but Monday's ballot should look like this:

Maverick vs. The Beast
Pirates of the Caribbean vs. Revenge of the Mummy
Space Mountain vs. Griffon
Haunted Mansion vs. Apollo’s Chariot.

If so, then I can see Busch Gardens being completely knocked out of this tournament by the end of the day tomorrow unless they show up in force.

The question becomes: if the bulk of the Cedar Fair fans (who were absent from yesterday's voting) show up, will they vote for Maverick or Beast? My guess is Cedar Fair won't link in tomorrow because they don't care which of their two rides wins the vote. However on the 31st, I expect a big influx when Millennium Force faces Soarin', and from that point on I think the contest will come down to which company links the most efficiently to this website. I give the edge to Cedar Fair....Disney won't get involved because they are the 1000 pound gorilla in the industry and don't care about our "silly little contest." Universal thinks they are the 1000 pound gorilla and only acts when Disney does something first. And as I said before, Busch will probably be out of it by Tuesday.

So, my prediction: Millennium Force will be *voted* the best ride in North America. Which is fine, except that the Mamba at my local park offers a similar experience, less about 100 feet on the first drop. Currently, I have MF in my final four, but not winning the championship.

Anyway, stop for a minute and look at those 16 attractions still remaining. If they were the back bone of your home park...wouldn't you be grinning from ear to ear every day from April to September? I would. And I honestly believe Cedar Point fans would too.

Wow, talk about the perfect theme park....jeez!

From Doug Kelley on March 29, 2009 at 6:22 PM
I can't imagine how anyone could vote for Soarin' over Millennium Force. Sure, I ride Soarin' every chance I get and it's fun but the ride experience is only so-so and theming is poor, particularly for Disney.

I wish I were around last year so I could have seen exactly how ToT beat every other ride! Yes, it's a great ride but #1? It's a drop ride with a "randomizer" that doesn't make a bit of difference in the experience! Want random? Ride the Dodgem Cars! Who can really remember from one ride to another exactly how the elevator went up and down? Please. So many other dark rides are more deserving. Now, if Robert creates a category next year for best themed queue, I'll probably vote for ToT!

From Derek Potter on March 29, 2009 at 7:02 PM
I just want to say this. Never was I anticipating that Cedar Point would use their online blog to link up to the site. It is a stroke of genius by them, but I just thought that informing the handful of Cedar Point and Kings Island fansites out there would help to bring a balance to the tournament. Last year's tournament clearly had the cards stacked in Disney's and to an extent, Universal's favor because of the demographic on the site, and I thought that it would only be fair to inform fans from other parks that their favorite rides were in fact, in a tournament for best ride. Sometime during the second round, the news was passed on to Tony and Tyler, the people in charge of Cedar Point's interactive blog, and they posted it...and we know the rest of the story.

Bottom line, if Cedar Point fans continue to visit like they did and Disney/Universal fans remain silent or uninformed, then Millennium Force will in fact win this tournament. I'm sure that some regulars on this site aren't happy about that. Maybe it's because opposing opinions aren't respected by some, or perhaps it's just that they don't like it because it isn't a quaint little tournament in which the outcome is in their favor. Whatever the case, I'm happy that more voters were informed and that this great website got some real exposure.

The changes in store can only mean good things. The new tournament structure matches up similar attractions, and the spotlights on each ride may encourage parks to get more involved. Perhaps the Cedar Point flood got the attention of some of the parks, and not just Disney or Universal.

From James Rao on March 29, 2009 at 7:08 PM
Doug, there are actually some people (we call them weirdos) that don't like roller coasters. They will probably vote for Soarin', which as you say, is a fine attraction, but not something most coaster lovers will pick over a 300 foot drop.
From Dan Babbitt on March 29, 2009 at 7:09 PM
My bracket is shot!!
From James Rao on March 29, 2009 at 8:06 PM
Oh, Doug, as for last year, I think a lot of people were shocked by Tower of Terror winning it all. I know I was. I had picked Spider-Man from the beginning (same thing I picked this year, btw).

Anyway, the way it all went down was similar to what happened with Cedar Fair on Friday (on a smaller scale cause the companies themselves never got involved, that I know of). A Disney fan site linked in which gave ToT an early lead, then I think the Orlando Sentinel picked up the thread and announced Spider-Man was getting creamed. That post lead to a few Universal sites getting involved, and the war began. Last year, I think 300 - 400 votes was a big day for most votes (this year we're averaging about 600 - 700, not including last Friday) but that final contest between ToT and Spider-Man had about 1300 votes with more than half of them coming in the last few hours of the contest.

It just goes to show what can happen when some of these fan sites get involved. It can really mess up a tournament bracket for someone who thinks they have their pulse on this website!

I'm not bitter or anything....heck, it was only $100 that I lost because of some anonymous voters...what's a $100 to a guy like me with three kids and a needy wife? =(

From Doug Kelley on March 29, 2009 at 8:27 PM
Is there a breakdown from last years' voting available somewhere? Not only was I surprised ToT won “best in show,” I was surprised it made it to the last round! On the Disney side alone I would have expected Pirates or HM to beat it.
From James Rao on March 29, 2009 at 10:29 PM
You know...I was cruising some of the Cedar Point fansites, kind of looking for the posters who called us TPI regulars snobbish, and I came across this gem from "Mike" the Executive Editor of The Point Online:

My strategy in voting is to vote for the ride in which one of the CP coasters can beat.

This [tournament] isn't really about the better ride, it is about showing your support for Cedar Point/Cedar Fair.

Today's round has no Cedar Point/Cedar Fair rides, but I vote for the ride which I believe a CP coaster has a better chance of beating. So for all of today's round, I'm voting for the upset.

Nice. "Not about the better ride." Brilliant.

This sentiment was echoed by "Blackout", another poster on the Point's forums:

Did you completely miss the point of Mike's post? You're obviously entitled to do as you'd like/vote as you'd like, but it would be great to have everyone backing CP/CF because of all the support Disney has.

Derek, is that what you were referring to when you wrote: Maybe it's because opposing opinions aren't respected by some...?

In all fairness, Mike's and Blackout's posts were followed by this one from RonAnnArbor, who I think really gets to the heart of the matter:

I certainly didn't "miss the point" of the post.

Personally, I like going to CP, but I take Disney attractions over any other attractions any day -- I wouldn't support a CP coaster just to support a CP coaster, cause frankly, I don't think they are the better rides/attractions.

Now -- you compare Expedition Everest with Maverick -- okay, that's a draw and I might err on the side of Maverick....but you compare much better theme park attractions with plain old roller coasters, no way.

I have a feeling this also has to do with the 17 year old posters in this room, and the 40 year old posters in this room.

That last line was a real *zinger*. I want RonAnnArbor on my team. Imagine standing up for Disney in a Cedar Point forum! Wow! Someone tell RonAnnArbor he is my hero!

Zach also stood up for the tournament:

Agreed, this poll is not about the number of fans each park has, it is about the best ride in America. So, if it is not a CP ride so what. Vote for the best ride, not the park it is in.

But later, more fun from our pal, Mike:

As it appears we locked up the win for Maverick, go get out the vote for Mummy. In the next round, Pirates will be going up against the winner of Dragons/Mummy, and Pirates will dominate Dragons. When that happens, it will be an extremely intense battle between Maverick/Pirates. If Mummy could knock out Pirates next round, a Maverick victory would be even closer.

Ahhhh, that Mike, always a kidder. I am sure he has the best interests of this tournament near and dear to his heart. No way he would want to sabotage it just so Cedar Fair could get a win. He was probably joking.

Maybe not. Maybe he was reading this post I wrote prior to Mummy "pulling it out" at the last second:

Mummy losing is actually a good thing (although it is just flat out wrong). Now the THEME PARK vote won't be split between Pirates and Mummy, so Pirates will skate into the final four with Maverick...

In hindsight, I should have kept my big mouth shut and not given Mike the idea to save the Mummy.

Finally, there was only one complaint I could find about us TPI regulars. It was from Blackout, the one who echoed Mike's earlier sentiments:

I was reading through the comments this evening and I'm shocked and kind of upset with some of the generalizations and overall ridiculous comments being made by people. Granted, I may be a little...emotionally sensitive right now [I guess that's a nice way of putting it?] but really people?

Yeah, Blackout, it does seem kind of thin-skinned and whiny on your part. I mean, after all, you come to our website with the sole intent to rig our tournament, and you expect us to be happy about it?

But, I forgive you.

There was one other poster on that forum I kind of liked, erniebald57....he seems like a poster who we would welcome on this site. Smart, well-rounded, and not out to stick it to anyone. Just a good old boy from Chillicothe, Ohio....

Robert, I'd disqualify everyone and keep your $100 if I were you.

*UPDATE*: here's a link to the Cedar Point Forum from which I pulled my quotes. And Doug, here's a link to the 2008 tournament.

From Doug Kelley on March 29, 2009 at 10:16 PM
James, thanks for the link! I can agree with most of the voting with one exception--Pirates v. Spiderman. I would have had to go Pirates on that one.
From Derek Potter on March 30, 2009 at 8:27 AM
Yeah...that erniebald57...what a guy.

I agree with you about some of the comments on that particular site, but it works both ways. There are biased people on both sides. I'm sure that if I cruised a Disney fan site and pulled posts, there would be no lack of one sided comments when the theme vs amusement park question is raised. I figure that there is a whole bunch of people who probably have never been to Cedar Point that like to vote Disney, so I also figure..why not invite a whole bunch of people that may never have been to Disney who like to vote Cedar Point. My advice to both sides....airfare is cheap, take a trip and see what the other is about.

I think that the majority of brackets are or will be in horrible shape. You should institute a minimum percentage rule for the best brackets.

From James Rao on March 30, 2009 at 9:06 AM
The Disney fan sites, sadly, are not too concerned about this tournament or theme vs thrills. I think they are satisfied that Disney is the #1 theme park company in the world and are not worried about competition between the "lesser mortals."

I posted on a few Disney fan sites myself...and saw one or two people trying to rally the troops, but most just ignored the threads.

Disney is content to let their fan sites fight their battles, and the fan sites are content that Disney is the king of the world. For the soldiers in the TPI trenches, however, we know that kind of malaise is what loses tournaments.

And I am content to let the chips fall where they may. Although I am a little put off by "Mike" and "Blackout". They don't seem interested in picking the best rides at all.

I think next year's format is more conducive to finding the best attractions...this year, despite your comments to the opposite, ernie...err Derek, it is not about the best rides, but Cedar Point vs Disney....and Disney does not seem interested in the battle.

*Sigh*.

From Emily G on March 30, 2009 at 10:20 AM
Overall some of my favourite rides not just in America, but also above the rides I have experienced here in the UK and in Spain are still in the competition, so I'm happy.

However, if Spider man doesn't win this it will certainly be an injustice, I consider this ride to be my favourite ever and in a different league.

From Robert Niles on March 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM
The number of voters coming to TPI from the Cedar Point fans sites is tiny, and they are not influencing the voting. (Yep, I'm checking the log files.)

The only significant referral traffic to the tournament is coming from Cedar Point's official blog, which only linked to the Maverick vote and asked people only to vote for Maverick, and the Busch Gardens Europe Facebook page, which is linking to each of the votes involving BGE rides.

The fan sites simply aren't bringing enough readers to the table, relative to what TPI already delivers, to move the votes. Don't worry about them.

From James Rao on March 30, 2009 at 1:02 PM
There is no direct link on the Cedar Point fan sites that I can find....plus all you have to do is paste a link into another tab and the previous site won't be the one they actually came from to TPI. If that is how you are looking at the logs. Either way, I think we all know what is going on here..and it is irrelevant. May the best coaster win.

Interestingly, the Cedar Point fan site where erniebald57 first started this debacle, is backing off a bit from the only vote for Cedar Point rides stance they took previously...cause I called them out, I guess. In fact their main guy, Mike, posted something that was completely opposite of his original "Cedar Point Only" stance. Glad I am here to keep people honest!

I, too, was so looking forward to Spider-Man pulling it off this year...

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted, and it will be fun again in the future.

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