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2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Themed Roller Coaster?

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Published: January 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Welcome to the first contest of the 2012 Theme Park Insider Best Attraction Tournament. Today, we're voting for the Best Themed Roller Coaster.

We're looking for a winner in this category that represents the best blend of thrills with theming and storytelling. The winner - in any category - should be an engaging ride that keeps you thinking about the experience long after you've exited, and wanting to ride again. If you get off a particular ride thinking "meh," or "was something broken?," or "I think I'm broken," pick another contestant.

That said, here are your nominees, selected based on highest average reader ratings in this category. You can click the links for descriptions and readers' reviews of each version of each ride.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Your highest-rated version is at Disneyland Paris, your most-often-rated version is at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Other versions are at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Expedition Everest - at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest

Revenge of the Mummy - Your top-rated and most-rated version is at Universal Studios Florida. Other versions are at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Revenge of the Mummy

Rock n' Roller Coaster - Your top-rated and most-rated version is at Disney's Hollywood Studios. There is also a version at Walt Disney Studios Paris.

Rock n' Roller Coaster

Space Mountain - Your top-rated version is at Disneyland, and your most-rated version is at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Other versions are at Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland.

Space Mountain

Campaign for your favorite in the comments, or by posting to Facebook and Twitter.


Tomorrow: Best Flume Ride

Readers' Opinions

From Tim Odom on January 4, 2012 at 9:22 AM
Lack of a working Yeti = Lack of my vote for Everest. One day, in the far future, the Yeti shall be fixed.
From Paul Jeffs on January 4, 2012 at 9:26 AM
My vote is for Big Thunder.
The lack of a working Yeti stops me voting for the otherwise great EE, and only the Orlando Mummy is any good.
The various Space Mountains vary in quality too much to be counted as a good "whole".
But Big Thunder Paris is one of the best theme/thrill combos available anywhere and the other Big Thunders don't drag it down too much.
From Troy Dilport on January 4, 2012 at 9:31 AM
Man, I love them all, but I'd probably go with the Mummy just because I tend to ride it more times in a row than any of the others. So thankful for single-rider lines!
From Rob P on January 4, 2012 at 9:32 AM
My vote went to Big Thunder. Most of the people I know seem to love one coaster whilst not liking another. But I haven't met anyone who doesn't like Big Thunder.
I like the others on the list too but we always make a beeline for BTMR on any trip. If that's not operating we feel like our visit is incomplete.
From Emily G on January 4, 2012 at 9:41 AM
I had to vote for the mummy. I love Expedition Everest and Big Thunder Railroad, but I find the mummy the scariest and most absorbing of the three of them. Also I may have voted for Expedition Everest if the yeti was working as I think the level of detail from the moment you join the queue is great.
From Denis Del Bianco on January 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM
My vote goes to Expedition Everest. although Mummy in Orlando is quite good, I remember EE quite more often than Mummy when thinking about Top Attractions.
From David Brown on January 4, 2012 at 9:56 AM
Expedition Everest, with or without a functioning Yeti, is by far and away the most completely themed, immersive piece of storytelling out of all of these attractions. It delivers thrills but remains accessible to families, it engages you from the moment you join the line and it looks fantastic! I found it just drew me back again and again to ride it in a way that the others, good though they are, never did.
For me the opening dark ride sequence of Mummy offers diminishing returns as you re-ride it. The first time is great, the second OK, and so on... Stick to generic theming for re-ride-ability. That's what sets a great coaster apart from a merely good one.
Everest - no-brainer.

But I'm already concerned that we will lose 4 great rides so early in the competition...

From Andrew Carrieri on January 4, 2012 at 10:03 AM
Of these rides Everest is my favorite because of the backwards section, and I think it is great even without the Yeti. I went with the Mummy, however, because of all the aspects of the Orlando version. It has a dark ride, a backwards section, a launch, a downward spiral, and the surprising fake unload.
There is a saying "too many cooks spoil the soup." Well, in the Mummy the cooks are the many elements of the ride and they certainly do not hinder the ride experience. To the contrary, they make it great.
From Vickie OConnor on January 4, 2012 at 10:03 AM
They are all great, but my first choice is the Rock N Roller Coaster.
From Scottland Jacobson on January 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM
They are all amazing - I can tell this is going to be a tough race! I went with the Mummy for giving me the most thrilling ride (post launch in Orlando) combined with some fantastic dark ride moments. And who doesn't love the false ending in the Orlando version?
From Dominick D on January 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM
I've only ridden BTMR out of these, so my vote went to that. Here's how I'd rank them:

1.BTMR
2.Mummy (excluding the fail Hollywood version)
3.EE (would pass Mummy if Disco Yeti went away)
4. RNRC and Space (honestly, they are equal to me. RNRC is too short, but Space is too dark.)

From 82.21.58.35 on January 4, 2012 at 10:48 AM
It was between Mummy and Everest for me. Had to go for Mummy based on it being a thrilling ride and the effects are awesome!
From Mike Gallagher on January 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Haven't been on Mummy or Everest. Pretty sure I've been on Thunder, but it really wasn't a candidate for me. Although I have good memories of Space Mountain, and liked it a lot, my vote goes to Rock and Roller. I'm a rock and roll guy (although not an Aerosmith fan) and this is probably my favorite indoor coaster, along with Kennywood's Exterminator (also well themed, but on a much lesser scale.)

I think it's wonderful how a tournament like this brings out some unfamiliar names..TPI members who for whatever reasons, don't post regularly on the discussion forums. Hi folks! Good to see you out and about!

From Rob Pastor on January 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM
I voted for Revenge of the Mummy since it has the best combination & balance of ride elements. Storyline, architectural features, exciting coaster experience,great ending(s) & dark themed areas work well together and put the Mummy in a class unto itself. Expedition Everest & Aerosmith Rock & Roller are my runnerups. Big Thunder Mt. & Space Mt. have great theming but their ride elements are inferior to the other three.
From Brian Emery on January 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Should Big Thunder even be classified as a coaster? Might as well put Woody woodpeckers coaster in this list… Hahahha

This list was easy for me to redo. It was between RNR, Mummy and Everest.
RNR is not getting enough credit. Nice launch, music in your ears and a few loops…

RNR it is… Everest and Mummy tied for second.

From duncan henny on January 4, 2012 at 12:49 PM
i voted the mummy as it's one of my favourites would have voted for expedition everest but they haven't fixed the yeti yet
From Brent Moody on January 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Love all of these coasters almost equally, but if I have to rank them for me it would be.
1. Rock n' roller coaster
2. Revenge of the Mummy
3. Expedition Everest
4. Space Mountain
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
From 74.82.64.144 on January 4, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Hands down big thunder because when it comes to amazing themeing and story telling, this ride is just top notch. Its a great thrill for all young and old. The ride actually has two stories to tell on my book. It has a day time story that's pretty decent, and then it has an amazing night time story. Expedition everest was a big lewas a huged dissapointment for me, and it only got worst when the yeti stopped working. I just feel like EE lacks themeing inside the mountaing while going backward. During the backwards scene, you can look down and see all the steel and rebar. EE also has no backside that u can see perfectly from the parking lot. Its a 100 million dollar coaster and they really couldn't put the detail in the back of the mountain??? Come on now. Now the only reason space mt didn't get it is simply because of one version of it... And that's floridas version. They totally screwed wdw out on the refurb of that attraction. So ashamed when I rode it. It was down for 9 months and that's all that happened??? Rock n roller coaster didn't get it simply because it has a very loose story and its more coaster, BUT I will say judging just by thrill, this would get the vote :). The only reason the mummy doesn't get it simply because of the weak backwards sequences in both of the u.s. Versions. That and I feel like the coaster part is just like rock n roller coaster, nut only with strobes on the cardboard cut outs. Soooooo both thunder all the way around and especially at night wins this vote
From Tyler Cole on January 4, 2012 at 1:07 PM
Wow, surprised by these results. When considering Orlando’s roller coasters from a theming standpoint, Big Thunder Mountain is the only one that I would call “great.” I find every other one to be lackluster in multiple ways.

Here are my scores, followed by flaws/comments:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: 10/10 (a few broken effects today, but the ride’s huge density of details and theming more than makes up for these temporary problems. One of the best themed rides in the world.)

Expedition Everest: 7/10 (visible unthemed interior, cartoonish yeti projection, disco yeti finale)

Revenge of the Mummy: 7/10 (cheesy and poorly acted dialogue, shaky animatronics. As for the storyline… it’s the theme park equivalent of the average Michael Bay film’s plot)

Rock n Roller Coaster: 6/10 (barebones theming, much of the ride takes place in complete darkness)

Space Mountain: 5/10 (see above, but worse)

Just my opinion, though.

From Giovanny Cruz on January 4, 2012 at 1:14 PM
My vote will go to Rock and roller coaster why because it's the thrillest and for me best theme and it's indoor.
From TH Creative on January 4, 2012 at 1:25 PM
The CLASSIC is the KING! The experience of riding in the front seat of 'Space Mountain' at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom should ALWAYS be ranked near the top of the quintessential theme park experiences. In this category, my heart (and my vote) belong to 'Space Mountain.
From Andy Milito on January 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM
Mummy.
From 199.249.176.251 on January 4, 2012 at 2:31 PM
I voted for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. The Mummy has great theming, but I don't feel like it offers the same thrills as RnR. I agree with the group that Everest would be there with a working Yeti. If we were just voting on the Paris versions, both Space Mountain and Big Thunder would have a shot.
From Stuart Henny on January 4, 2012 at 4:05 PM
Sorry Duncan, I had to go for EE, for me it is the most thrilling from all of these and the theming of the queue is much more immersive.
From James Rao on January 4, 2012 at 4:33 PM
Without a doubt Expedition Everest is King of the themed coaster heap! The amazing mountain looming in the distance, the incredibly intricate queue, the unique ride, and the fact that the whole family can share this thrilling experience together are just a few of the reasons why this Disney masterpiece should win in a landslide. Add in the deep, immersive story, the brilliant special effects, and that singular, oh so important narrative moment when that impossibly huge Yeti arm comes sweeping down over your head...and, my goodness, there is NO doubt!!! The Yeti rules!!!

Huh? What's that you say? Disco Yeti is still in place?! Disney continues to ignore the most glaring and embarrassing debacle in Orlando theme park history?!!! Shame on them! How can a company that makes over a billion dollars PROFIT each quarter let this choke continue for going on five years???!!!

Since the #1 themed coaster's #1 narrative element continues to be SBNO, my vote goes to #2, Revenge of the Mummy, clearly the best "working" themed coaster in the tournament.

From Rob Pastor on January 4, 2012 at 7:47 PM
Great comment Mr. Rao. That read like a good story with a twist (twisted) ending...You are so right about the Yeti. I realize that the mechanical & mounting problems are daunting, but Disney should have come up with a solution by now. Without the Yeti, the ride drops a notch or two.
From Curtis Young on January 4, 2012 at 9:50 PM
I know it wouldn't have a chance of winning, but I wish Mystery Mine were on this list!
From 219.76.180.141 on January 4, 2012 at 11:00 PM
The best is going to be Grizzly Gulch at Hong Kong Disneyland when it opens this summer. It is going to be the best for years to come.
From David Sutter on January 5, 2012 at 4:52 AM
Well i stuck with SpaceMtn. For a few reasons, Big thunder Great ride and story, but tame, ROckin Roller Good but short, And showing its age. Everst. Well i thought the theming was great but inside the Mtn. really weres the wind the cold etc. And disco yeti? Fix it. Mummy Good but long in the tooth all versions.
From Kelly Muggleton on January 5, 2012 at 9:15 AM
Had Disney put a few bucks into making the Yeti work, EE would get my vote. (Anandapur is so well put together). But I had to go with the Mummy. Its one of my favourites and is also really well themed...I was totally on edge wondering if anything would jump out at me the first time I got in line. (Wuss)
From Scott B on January 6, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Space Mountain. It is hard for me to separate emotion from an actual thought out opinion. I remember being 9 years old and visiting Magic Kingdom for the first day of my Florida vacation. Our first ride was Space Mountain.

Just....wow. You can't replace an experience like that with any amount of modern wizardry.

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