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2009 Best Ride in America Tournament: final eight round-up and wrap-up

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Published: April 1, 2009 at 7:10 AM

We are down to the final eight rides in Theme Park Insider's annual Best Ride in America tournament. The quarterfinals go tomorrow, with the semi-finals on Friday. Make a mental note and please be there to vote, to comment, and to read what everyone else has to say.

Here are the final eight, from this year's voting:

2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
3. Millennium Force
4. Griffon
5. Apollo's Chariot
6. Expedition Everest
8. Revenge of the Mummy
10. Incredible Hulk Coaster
33. Maverick

For all the supposed chaos in this year's tournament, six of the top eight seeds advanced. (To compare with the NCAAs, that would be as if the elite eight included three number one seeds, three number twos, one number three and a number eight. Hardly 'Upset City.')

For the two top-eight seeds that lost, one was a roller coaster from a thrill park (El Toro) that lost to a themed flume ride from an Orlando park (Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls). The other was a themed drop ride from an Orlando park (Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) that lost to a roller coaster from a thrill park (Maverick). So it all evened out.

Again, we'll be running a different format for the tournament next year, along with a two-month-long lead-in, filled with feature articles about the nominated attractions, rides and shows. I'm excited about that, and hope that you will join us for it (as well as sticking around for the rest of what looks like an exciting year to read about theme parks).

In the meantime, feel free to use the comments to note the silliest, stupidest and occasionally funny April Fool's pranks you read around the Web today.

Readers' Opinions

From brian lochridge on April 1, 2009 at 8:15 AM
The Final 8 looks good, the only one that doesn't belong is Maverick.

I see Spidey being the North Carolina of theme park rides. There always good, make the Final 4 most years and every now and then they win one. Very good, very consistent, and this year there seems to be a resurgence of love for the Web slinger.

From Joshua Counsil on April 1, 2009 at 8:23 AM
2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
3. Millennium Force
4. Griffon
5. Apollo's Chariot
6. Expedition Everest
8. Revenge of the Mummy
10. Incredible Hulk Coaster
33. Maverick

1 Disney
3 Universal
2 Busch
2 Cedar Point

Compare to last year:

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Montu
Pirates of the Caribbean
Expedition Everest
Indiana Jones Adventure
Dueling Dragons - Ice
Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror
Kraken

4 Disney
2 Universal
2 Busch (/SW)

The only two who are still in from last year are Spidey and Everest. Busch and Universal are more or less consistent and Cedar Point kicked in full force. 7 attractions this year are coasters (or have coaster elements), whereas there were only 4 coasters last year. 3 rides are themed this year whereas 5 were themed last year.

Very interesting results ... things are startin' to cook.

From Anthony Murphy on April 1, 2009 at 8:23 AM
Maverick seems a little out of place with its 33rd rank
From Don Neal on April 1, 2009 at 8:36 AM
Tons of fun so far! Looking forward to the finale!
From James Rao on April 1, 2009 at 9:01 AM
Seven coasters and Spider-Man, the best ride in North America, maybe even the world.

I think the sweet 16 had a lot more variety, but I would take every one of the remaining 8 rides at my home park. Furthermore, once I got in that park, I would never leave. I would go for one full day and drop dead from sheer happiness. Then they could sprinkle my ashes in a planter near the entrance turnstiles.

From 139.153.13.59 on April 1, 2009 at 9:11 AM
April Fool:

It was announced this morning that a man had stripped off and climbed into a tank of sharks at the parks new SeaLife attraction -'Sharkbait Reef'.

A very believable story until observers were quoted on saying that the sharks and catfish were focussing on his crotch area and that many of the animals in the tank were being treated for shock from indecent exposure..

From Jessika Towne on April 1, 2009 at 9:12 AM
I agree, that it's a pretty good list. Millenium Force is an amazing ride, totally worth the long wait for it. Mavrick is a pretty good ride as well. Everest is pretty good too, even when the yeti isn't working. I rode it a few times last year, and I really enjoyed it.....can't wait to see who takes it all in the final!!
From Emily G on April 1, 2009 at 9:21 AM
I'm happy that Revenge of the Mummy and Incredible Hulk Coaster made it through, but am especially happy that Spiderman made it into the last 8. I probably would still have voted if it hadn't but would definitely have lost faith in the contest. I am also happy that Soarin’ is out (how on earth did it get so far!).

Am not sure how I feel about Expedition Everest. If in full working order it would deserve its place as it isn't I am not sure what I think.

I have heard good things about the others and have done some research, but not having experienced them myself I can't say I am excited that any of them are still in the contest.

Spiderman just has to win!!

From Robert Niles on April 1, 2009 at 9:37 AM
Here's another interesting fact about this year's eight: the years that they opened:

2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man - 1999
3. Millennium Force - 2000
4. Griffon - 2007
5. Apollo's Chariot - 1999
6. Expedition Everest - 2006
8. Revenge of the Mummy - 2004
10. Incredible Hulk Coaster - 1999
33. Maverick - 2007

Nothing on this list is more than 10 years old. While many people love some of the classics, they are most passionate about rides that are new. And this voting format rewards passion.

From Doug Kelley on April 1, 2009 at 9:44 AM
I would have liked to have seen one or two more dark rides in the line-up (even ToT). But, it's a respectable list.
From Jacob Sundstrom on April 1, 2009 at 11:11 AM
^^ If by passion you mean engaging mob style voting whilst being asked to do so by Cedar Point, then.. sure.
From Robert Niles on April 1, 2009 at 11:22 AM
Hey, the people in the mob had to have care enough to want to join the mob.

You can't incite the apathetic. (The cliche: 'like herding cats.')

From Joshua Counsil on April 1, 2009 at 12:29 PM
I won't be disappointed if one of the following wins:

2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
3. Millennium Force
5. Apollo's Chariot
6. Expedition Everest
10. Incredible Hulk Coaster

I will be quite upset if Mummy or Maverick wins. And, even with its broken Yeti, I still prefer Everest to many of these rides. I'll list my favorites (in order, excluding the BGE coasters since I haven't experienced them):

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
2. Expedition Everest
3. Incredible Hulk Coaster
4. Millennium Force
5. Revenge of the Mummy
6. Maverick

From Raul Araoz on April 1, 2009 at 1:14 PM
Today's matchups are eas... What do you mean there is no tournament round today? Is this some kind of April Fool's joke? What am I supposed to do with myself now?...Get some work done? Why would I want to do that?...Spend time with the family? But, TPI is my REAL family.

I call shenanigans and decree that this tournament is a farce. I blame the Conficker Worm.

From Derek Potter on April 1, 2009 at 1:16 PM
When I look at the list, I'm impressed with it. Maverick is the lowest ranked of the bunch, but it's not as out of place as some may think. Given the amount of steel coasters on the list, the one that is out of place is Griffon. IMHO, Griffon is pretty unoriginal and just plain overrated, should have been gone 2 rounds ago, and does not belong on a list of this caliber. Here are a handful (there are more) of more original, more entertaining attractions that I would have placed in front of Griffon.

Pirates
Haunted Mansion
Thunderhead
Raging Bull
Dudley Do Right (yes, the moustache)
The Beast
MIB

I can't argue too much with the final 8 though. It will be an interesting finish. It's also got me thinking about the fact that the Ohio park season starts in less than a month. I'm so ready to ride.

From 68.142.172.230 on April 1, 2009 at 1:30 PM
I can see the Millennium Force definately in the finals. Expidition Everest did lose some quality without the mooving yeti so i think Everest gets out before the finle. Maverick is a great ride and it could go to the finals but Cedar Point fans will have to step it up like in round 1. Spiderman is a good ride but i think to beat one of the best roller coasters in America you have to be a roller coaster so i dont see Spiderman getting far. Griffin is a great ride and very underrated but i think it could get in the finla four or possibly the finals. I can also see Apollo's Chariot making it in the finals because it's not only a great ride but it has a great view. Also, Revenge of the Mummy has potential but it will need a lot of help from its fans to beat some of the others. I think if the tournament was judged by something other than votes, Hulk could take it all but there are alot of GREAT coasters. This is how i think it wil place

1. Millennium Force
2. Hulk
3. Apollo's Chariot
4. Griffon
5. Maverick
6. Revenge of the Mummy
7. Expidition Everest
8. The Great Adventures of Spider-Man

From Audra Distler on April 1, 2009 at 2:28 PM
Having just been drawn into this craziness, I have to ask, how was Millenium NOT on last year's elite eight? I mean, many of you are saying (and not just CP people!) its one of the best in the country, so how did it not even make the eight last year? to me, that shows that SOME of the people who came to vote did change it for the better.
As far as the previous post to this, that person is obviously ONLY a coaster fan, and not really what this site is about, so... I disagree with the list!
However, I do have to say that I really don't think Maverick will make it to the final four, especially if it comes up against Millenium. I think there are MANY people out there who prefer MF to it, me included, so I don't think it'll make it. Just to calm some minds down! :)
From 67.167.19.246 on April 1, 2009 at 2:51 PM
I totally agree with next year's new structure. There are too many discrepancies this year. I think Maverick totally deserves to be in the final eight. It is truly an unbelievable roller coaster. The only way I'm voting against it is if it's up against the best roller coaster in the world (Millennium Force). Cedar Point deserves this strong presence in the tournament because Cedar Point dominates every park in the nation because of its world class coasters.
From James Rao on April 1, 2009 at 7:07 PM
Audra, last year in the first round Millennium Force destroyed Roger Rabbit (a dark ride at Disneyland). In the second round it annihilated Maverick (not even close). In the sweet 16 it was bested by Spider-Man. No shame in that.

So, that's why MF did not make the elite 8. Without the mother ship, it faced a tough match up on a web site generally geared to reward theme and thrills over thrills alone - no matter how great those thrills.

This year it will probably meet and beat Spider-Man in the final 4...especially if Cedar Point gets involved and Universal does not (I would be shocked if Universal linked in from their web site... more than shocked). To that end, I have named this year's tournament: The Revenge of Derek! ;)

I would vote for Spider-Man over any of these rides as I think it is the most unique and entertaining attraction I have had the pleasure to ride. But, like I said earlier, I love all the rides listed (have not ridden Maverick - yet - but I am sure I would like it!), and any can win without me going through another round of pain and suffering.

We really are down to the cream of the crop here... including Griffon, which is very fun and - for now anyway - still fairly unique.

Robert, did we get that recount on Snidely Whiplash's Ripsaw Falls yet? I think because of his stand-alone mustache, each vote should count double. I really can't believe we have an elite 8 without facial hair (unless you count the Yeti - but he's just a statue anyway!).

From 67.165.77.205 on April 1, 2009 at 6:37 PM
Seriously...Maverick doesn't belong? Thats completely false. Maverick is amazing and the theming and effects as well as the drop and low to the ground twist produce intense positive and negative g's as well as some awesome lats. To say that Maverick shouldn't be there is ridiculous. Come on...
From James Rao on April 1, 2009 at 7:12 PM
Anonymous Poster 67.167.19.246, was that your idea of an April Fool's Day joke, or do you really NOT know that Cedar Point is (attendance wise) barely in the North American Top 20?

Did you see that?! That just happened!!!

Suddenly a series of web based punches lands on James's body, pummeling him to the ground.

Ouch... arrgh... ugh... it was just a harmless jab... come on! I'm sorry!

From Erin B on April 1, 2009 at 7:41 PM
Honestly, I don't understand how Maverick is so under-rated. Granted, I'm a little biased because I prefer coasters to other rides and I am willing to admit this. But anyway, I find Maverick to be a unique, thrilling coaster experience and I would pick it over Millennium 9 times out of 10.
This nearly turned into a coaster-rant which really doesn't belong here, so I'll stop myself. Anyway, my point is that I don't think Maverick gets the appreciation it deserves. I'm in no way saying I think it will or should win this contest, I'm just saying there's more than meets the eye with that coaster. [/steps down from soapbox]
From Derek Potter on April 1, 2009 at 8:57 PM
Come on James, you know Cedar Point is the bestest, most awesomest park on the planet...no seriously guys iz sweeet. It just killz every park everywhere.....how's that.

In all seriousness, Cedar Point has to have done something right to generate a legion of loyal subjects such as theirs. I didn't see a rush of Six Flags, Hersheypark, or Dollywood fans flooding the voting booths. Simply linking up a blog from the website doesn't generate traffic unless people actually read it and respond. Theme vs. Amusement rides debate aside, a lot of parks could take a lesson or two from Cedar Point about developing a fanbase and customer loyalty. I won't go down the attendance debate road, because there are some obvious differences between the Florida operating season and the Ohio operating season.

For those new, the first piece of the post was an obvious parody of everyone's favorite stereotypical Cedar Point fan. I'm one of the biggest CP fans you will ever find and I promise, I don't speak or type in that manner. If the parody hit a little too close to home, don't take it personally...and also learn to type proper English.

After seeing the back and forth from both sides for the past week, a "Disney fan meets Cedar Point fan" SNL type skit is just begging to be made. Perhaps a TPI exclusive video will be in the works soon.

From Jacob Sundstrom on April 2, 2009 at 1:16 AM
Cedar Point does (arguably) Roller Coasters better than anyone else - and that's why they have a huge following. That's what they did right. That's it. Customer service, eh. Theming, eh. Food, eh. Atmosphere, eh. Coasters, holy crap!

Yes, that one thing has inspired legions of coaster starved fanatics, but it would be foolhardy to assume that means anything in a competition where ALL FACTORS of a ride are supposed to be considered, correct?

That's my only beef with the Cedar Point junkies, they see the coasters they love and everything else flies right out the window.

From Mike K on April 2, 2009 at 6:48 AM
I realized the greatness of Cedar Point the day I spent in the park without riding a single coaster. The shows are top par, the average food is ok, but some restaurants are superb, and cheese-on-a-stick is amazing.
From Rob Page on April 2, 2009 at 10:36 AM
Expedition Everest FTW!

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