Introducing the 2012 Theme Park Insider Best Attraction Tournament
Written by Robert Niles
It's time again for the annual Theme Park Insider Best Attraction Tournament!Tweet
The tournament will tip off tomorrow, but today I'd like to lay out the first round for you, and let you know how this year's tournament will run.
Unlike in past years, the first round this year will not be head-to-head match-ups. Instead, we're going to be voting on the "best in class" for several categories of theme park rides and shows. Once those are selected, the winners will face off in head-to-head match-ups to determine our winners.
Yes, winners. As we did the last time we ran a Best Attraction tournament, we're going to declare winners in four brackets: Best Themed Ride, Best Live Show, Best Animation Show and Best Roller Coaster. Attractions were selected for inclusion in the tournament based upon the average reader rating in Theme Park Insider's attraction listings, with editor's discretion as a tie-breaker. Deciding which was a "live" show and which was "animation" was tough. Basically, I went with "is a live actor involved?" to decide, but even that I violated in a couple cases to get more natural match-ups.
Our top seed and first-round bye winner
There's one attraction that didn't fit comfortably in any category, so it gets a first-round bye: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which also happens to be the top-rated attraction on the site. I'd thought about including Forbidden Journey in the "motion base" category, but I already had five candidates for that field, and FJ is such a unique ride that it didn't really feel like a good fit in that category, anyway. (We have a limit of five options per poll because of the vote tool we're using.) Plus, being the top-rated ride on the site ought to come with some privilege, I think.
Because the name of the site is "Theme Park" Insider, we have many more themed attractions listed on the site than roller coasters, so that's going to be our largest bracket. The two show brackets are our smallest, which surprised me a little - I always think of animatronic shows when I think of theme parks, but I was a little taken aback when started ranking attractions and found how few such shows are still in the parks.
No matter, though, we still have 138 attractions in this year's tournament, including all your top favorites on the site. That said, we originally had 139 in the tourney - sorry, Jaws - so any subsequent attraction closing announcements might trim the field further over the next month.
Also, many of the participating attractions exist in multiple parks. Just go with whichever version you consider best when voting - if I want you to consider a specific version, I will let you know on the day of the voting.
Voting in each contest will be open for 24 hours, and anyone who reads the site may vote - you don't need to be a registered member of Theme Park Insider. Fans of various attractions are encouraged to use Facebook, Twitter or whatever else they feel like to encourage other people to come to the site and vote for their favorites.
First-round contests will run each weekday between now and February 16, holidays excepted. On Feb. 17, I'll publish the brackets for additional rounds, taking us up to the tournament championships the last week in March.
I hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Here is the first-round schedule (attractions are listed in no particular order - I was cutting and pasting a lot...):
Jan 4- Themed coaster (Revenge of the Mummy, Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Rock n' Roller Coaster)
Jan 9- Narrated ride (Kilimanjaro Safaris, Jungle Cruise, Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour, Great Movie Ride, Sorry, Jaws)
Jan 17- Arcade dark ride (Men in Black Alien Attack, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, Toy Story Midway Mania, Monsters Inc Ride Go Seek, Lost Kingdom Adventure)
Jan 23- Animal show (Sea Lions Tonight, Pets Ahoy, Clyde and Seamore, Blue Horizons, One Ocean)
Jan 30- B&M Flying (Manta, Tatsu, Air, Superman - Ultimate Flight)
Feb 6- Animal exhibit (Turtle Reef, Maharajah Jungle Trek, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Shark Encounter, Wild Arctic)
Feb 13- Demonstration show (Universal's Horror Make-up Show, Special Effects Stage, Lights, Camera, Action Starring Steven Spielberg)
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