Published: April 2, 2010 at 10:25 AM
My coaster vs dark ride theory will indeed be tested because it's a Disney dark ride. They are the best (well, they spend the most money) at it, which with creative minds will give them a top notch product.
It comes down to a couple of things for me. This being the best ride in America contest, I want a ride that is capable of anchoring a park, a centerpiece if you will. A star, not a supporting cast member. I want a ride with a high repeat factor, meaning it delivers the intended effect several times. For a coaster, it's gravity induced thrills and fun...Emotional, biological and psychological. For a dark ride, regardless of content, it's all about visuals, storytelling and emotion.
That said, the first time you ride Haunted Mansion, you will be at least somewhat captivated. The visuals will grab you, and you will pay attention to the story. It will have it's intended effect the first few times you ride it. However, as with all stories and movies, when you watch it again, it doesn't quite have the wow factor. The same goes for storytelling rides. Once I know the end, it isn't quite the same anymore. Great ride? Yes....impressive visuals? Yes. Will I ride it again? Maybe.
A coaster like the Voyage has a re-ride factor that's off the charts. Why? Because like any really good coaster, it elicits the same human responses and has the same effect again and again over several rides. People ride it over and over and over, because it does it's job so well and it delivers that effect every time you ride it. The Voyage....Great ride? Yes....Great coaster elements? Yes....will I ride it again? Absolutely without question. In fact the first ride only leaves me wanting to ride it again. I simply can't say the same about Haunted Mansion.
As for park participation in this tournament, once again we see the power of social media. For some reason Cedar Point fans and chose to sit this one out (possibly because of last years questionable result?), and there wasn't much buzz about the tournament on their fan sites. Universal and Busch got involved and took out a lot of good rides that shouldn't have gone so early. Holiday World simply promoted a deserving ride, harnessed the power of their loyal fans via facebook and twitter, and won
I have a little wake up for you about Disney. Disney hasn't promoted their rides much at all. It isn't because they want to "take it easy"..or even that they don't think they need to. It's because they simply don't care that much about this tournament. They are a multibillion dollar corporation that's worshipped by many, with a lion's share of the market. They spend little time promoting outside of their own website, and little time talking to the theme park fan community. In their eyes, people come to them and they don't need to go to the people anymore.
Holiday World in contrast, cares about this contest. How much do they care? Take a look at their facebook page and see the numerous updates. Take a look at the comments lately, and you'll find that some of them belong to Holiday World management. Look at all the glowing reviews on the threads lately, not only for the Voyage, but for the park itself. That tells me they really care for their fans and they don't take a single one for granted, nor do they take for granted an opportunity to promote and market. They've worked to get to this point, not to mention that the ride itself is indeed special.
Visit the park just once, and you'll understand what all the fuss is about. Think about that last paragraph if you need something to tip your vote one way or another.