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2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Arcade Dark Ride?

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Published: January 17, 2012 at 8:52 AM

A ride and a game, all in one? Today's category in the 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament is Best Arcade Dark Ride, honoring those attractions that blend theme park experiences with video games. The winner in this category should be a challenging game that's fun to play and rewarding even for people who've played dozens of times. But it should also be a fully-immersive dark ride, with an engaging ride experience even for people who might not get into the full spirit of the game.

Based on your Theme Park Insider readers' ratings, here are the nominees, in alphabetical order:

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill - at Kings Dominion

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters - at Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland. Other versions include Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast at Disneyland Paris and the original, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Gobbler Getaway - at Holiday World

Gobbler Getaway

Men in Black Alien Attack - at Universal Studios Florida

Men in Black Alien Attack

Toy Story Midway Mania - at Disney California Adventure and at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Toy Story Midway Mania

Yeah, I know I've been asking you to campaign in the comments, but I'm sure everyone would also love to hear your tips, strategy and found easter eggs from each of these rides. (I also want to take a moment to apologize for the lack of good on-ride pictures to post today. I suspect that too many of you are too busy shooting targets to shoot photos?)


Tomorrow: We're voting for the Best Wooden Roller Coaster

Readers' Opinions

From 90.184.27.122 on January 17, 2012 at 8:58 AM
I really like Toy Story, but I have a big problem with it. You have to stand in line for more than 60 min. so I never ride it. It could have gotten my vote, but instead I took MIB ... Its a great ride and a lot of fun :-)
From 63.255.223.58 on January 17, 2012 at 9:01 AM
Men in Black by far. Best theming, best effects, fully-realized AAs. it's a perfect attraction.
From Dan Heaton on January 17, 2012 at 9:06 AM
This was very close. I enjoyed both Gobbler Getaway and Buzz Lightyear, but they're not the best technology anymore. I really like Toy Story Mania, and it's a lot of fun. However, the winner here is definitely Men in Black. The spinning is a bit much, but there's so much theming in this ride that none of the others can compete.
From Manny Rodriguez on January 17, 2012 at 9:13 AM
Oh snap eat it Dom GO! MIB!!!!!!!!!!
From 82.21.58.35 on January 17, 2012 at 9:16 AM
After years of trying finally managed to get max score on Buzz Lightyear in November. Then I was "That guy" on Monsters Inc straight after. What a night!
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM
'Men In Black: Alien Attack' is the Godfather of the gaming attractions. The exterior is extraordinary. The queue maintains the attraction's rock solid theme and storyline.

Those who tout the queue of 'Toy Story Mania' must admit that the interactivity of the office doors, the animation of the Wormy guys and the Twins, the re-creation of the Immigration Room from the film (complete with pre-show film on the Egg-A-Tron) far surpasses one Mr. Potato Head. What's more, the transition into the TSM queue is not explained (How did we all suddenly shrink?) whereas the storyline of guests becoming MIB recruits is air tight.

As for the attraction itself, MIBAA is untouchable in this category. The massive dimensional sets depicting New York, the varied ride experience (both because of the individual track and multiple endings) make each visit unique. The star power (and actual presence) of Will Smith is substantially greater than voiceovers from Tom Hanks and company. The ability to target other vehicles makes it a more enhanced competition.

And then there are the audio-animatronic figures. MIBAA contains the most ambitious use of AA figures in theme park history. This includes the Big Bug -- one of the largest audio animatronic ever constructed.

If Disney's 'Haunted Mansion' is to be regarded as the Godfather of dark rides, the same title should be bestowed upon 'Men In Black: Alien Attack.'

From Dominick D on January 17, 2012 at 9:28 AM
Mib sucks! TSM FTW!
From Terry O'Neal on January 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM
I'm down for Boo Blasters. With 100 people voting and 1% for Kings Dominion's masterpiece, I'm the only one.
From Tim Odom on January 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM
I have to go with Buzz, mainly cause I like the spinning thing. I know, it's simple, but hear me out...

TSM is very simple, shoot repeatedly to beat your friend beside you (and maybe those on the other side of your car.) But, you both have the same shots at everything.

I like everything about MiB except for the cars. I like these 'shooter' rides to be against my friends/family, not against complete strangers (and, for whatever reason, I think I am competing against those in my car, so competing against complete strangers has no apeal to me.)

Buzz, with the smaller car, you just go against the person next to you. Who you can mess up by spinning the car for you. Which is why I like it, the fact that you can completely screw up the person sitting next to you.

As for tips, I got none. I generally suck at these, I have no aim.

From Andrew Carrieri on January 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM
Apologies to Dom but I went with Men in Black because of the theming and sets throughout the ride (including the queue), as well as the strategy involved (the button at the end).
From Dominick D on January 17, 2012 at 9:42 AM
Hakuna Matta, TSM is in the lead now :D UPDATE: Well, a tie, but TSM will most likely win.
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM
Don't apologize to HIM .... He's just a big stupid head ... MIB is right in the thick of things!
From Mike Gallagher on January 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM
I'm in the 2%. Voted for Boo Blasters, mainly because I have only vague memories of MIB and Gobbler. I'm not sure I've been on Boo Blasters at KD, but I know I have at Carowinds, Canada'a Wonderland, and Kings Island (?) It's an oasis from the heat, and it's cute enough. Haven't been on the Toy Story rides. I don't really like shoot-em-ups, but they're fun with a date ;). Guns? Who needs 'em? :)

My REAL choice would be Kennywood's Ghostwood Estate.

Now, I'll steal a page from Dom's book and say that tomorrow's vote is the most important one in the tournament to me, although I have problems with the classifications set forth in Robert's introductory post before the tournament started.

From Dominick D on January 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM
Anyone who vote MiB is a stupid head, how bout that :O)
From Robert Niles on January 17, 2012 at 10:05 AM
TH, might you indulge us with some scoring tips for MIB: AA?

It's a bit out of date now that Disney's changed up one of the games, but here's my blog post on Cracking the Easter Eggs on Disney's Toy Story Midway Mania.

From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM
The only one I recall is once you have hit one of the alien targets with your Zapper, lock in, hold the trigger down and WHALE ON IT.
From David Kirby on January 17, 2012 at 10:15 AM
I think the amazing queue and ride sets give MIB a clear advantage over TSMM. You could even take away the shooting element and still have a lot to look at. Try taking away TSMM's shooting element and your basically just taking a ride through an empty warehouse.
From 217.64.245.106 on January 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Maus au Chocolat at Phantasialand Germany, by far. But ok, it is not in the US so I guess it doesn't exist...Open your eyes! enlarge your world!
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 10:27 AM
We've got another barn-burner!
From Mike Gallagher on January 17, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Hey, I forget, and I can't find the original posting, but is there a category for best Motion Simulator Ride?
From Dominick D on January 17, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Single Screen Simulator is next month which includes:

Star Tours 2
The Simpsons
BTTF
Soarin
Stormrider

From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 11:25 AM
As of this writing, MIB and TSM must be separated by a single vote!
From Rob Pastor on January 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Tight race, but MIB is better themed and more immersive. Universal succeeds in exporting you right into the movie experience.
From Robert Niles on January 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Mike, yes, there will be a single-screen simulator category, as well as a motion-base category.
From James Rao on January 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I've actually ridden all the rides in today's vote. And while all have some merit, I would rank them as follows:

5. Boo Blasters - the name alone knocks this former Scooby Doo attraction out of contention.
4. Gobbler Getaway - unique idea, but cheap looking Sally Corp theatrics can't compete with the likes of Disney and Universal.
3. Buzz Lightyear - a monumental success in its day, this must visit attraction still offers great fun for the entire family.
2. Men In Black - certainly the best looking of these five contenders, and could easily be number one, except for...
1. Toy Story Midway Mania - ...the most addictive shooter on the list. I can ride the others and walk away satisfied, but TSMM grabs the rider and doesn't let go. I could not get enough of this masterpiece during my 2010 visit. A tremendous achievement that balances outstanding whole-family fun with wonderful interactive elements. Further, it is the only ride in the bunch that can easily be updated to keep it fresh as the years go by.

Honorable mention goes to the Flooded Mine at Silver Dollar City. A one-of-a-kind shooter on a modest budget that my family never fails to visit when we go to the park.

From Ashleigh Noad on January 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM
I voted MIB - I think TH Creative's post hits the nail right on the head.

I literally feel as if I've stepped into the movie with MIB. I really enjoy playing TSM but nothing is explained and it just seems as if Disney came up with the technology and coupled it with their top-selling brand. Not a bad technique, but it doesn't make it an immersive experience like MIB.

From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Mr. Rao offers up: "Further, it (Toy Story Mania) is the only ride in the bunch that can easily be updated to keep it fresh as the years go by."

I Respond: You are really hoping they add Johnny Depp to the attraction, aren't you?

From James Rao on January 17, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Yes.
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 12:56 PM
(Chuckle)

As of this writing, MIB is up by (estimating) 11

From Tim Hillman on January 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM
He shoots! He scores! TH Creative nails it with his analysis of MIB, Buzz Lightyear, and Toy Story Midway Mania!
From Brian Emery on January 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM
Toy Story blows away Men in the Back… hahaha – MIB is kinda boring. TS has 3D graphics.. “Count Um” 3D Folks….
From 63.255.223.58 on January 17, 2012 at 1:25 PM
If you think TSMM blows MIB out of the water...you lack the ability to discern and realize thematics and quality.
From 64.121.183.40 on January 17, 2012 at 1:56 PM
I'm sorry, but there's a HUGE difference between the Astro Blaster rides and the solitary Space Ranger Spin in Florida, I think it's kind of unfair to lump them together into one vote.
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 2:03 PM
Voters are showing some love to the black suit.
From Brian Emery on January 17, 2012 at 2:20 PM
What Theme? It’s the same every time…
No 3D = No for me…
What I do not like is the video of Will Smith telling me how great I just did even though I did hit a damn thing…
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM
Mr. Emery writes: "What I do not like is the video of Will Smith telling me how great I just did even though I did hit a damn thing…"

I Respond: Um ...how great you "just did even though I DID hit a damn thing…"? What does that even mean?

From Tim Hillman on January 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM
Let's see, Brian, 3-D movie screen targets are better than actual 3-dimensional targets? I must be missing something.

And for the record, you have now thrown your lot in with Dominick in your dislike of the Will Smith ending. Just saying...

From Rod Whitenack on January 17, 2012 at 2:35 PM
Although I haven't been there personally, the coolest looking dark ride arcade footage/concept I've seen recently is the Labyrinth of the Minotaur Dark Ride in Spain. The Sally Corporation seems to have really outdone themselves for this one, or maybe they were just given a better budget than usual to design this ride. Incredible gigantic animatronic monsters fill the ride, and the video game aspect actually forces you to do well enough to survive the entire experience without "getting killed" early and sent to the exit, so there are three or four different points at which you can be ejected and have a different ending.

As far as the Sally Corp. rides listed here, I like the traditional spookhouse aspect of Boo Blasters (I've only experienced the one at Kings Island), but it's really just a quickie rehab of Scooby Doo. The last couple of times I rode Gobbler Getaway, it had features that weren't working and seems to need some TLC.

From 75.179.190.89 on January 17, 2012 at 3:17 PM
I LOVE Buzz but ended up voting for MIB. It has a better theme and story. I have a big issue with TSMM. All the action takes place while you're sitting in front of a screen.

Beast better win tomorrow, or else!

From Robert Niles on January 17, 2012 at 3:17 PM
Picking up on a thread here:

We rely on readers to help spread the word about worthy attractions outside the Central Florida and SoCal markets, whether that be regional parks across the US, or parks in other countries. So if you've been on a great ride in one of those parks, be sure not only to rate and review it on the site (if it is listed), but also to submit a discussion thread about it, to get other readers excited about it and wanting to talk. You might also help draw out some lurkers who've been thinking the same thing, but haven't taken the initiative to write.

That's how we've gotten behind rides like The Voyage at Holiday World - it's not because I knew anything about them (at least, initially). It's because a few individuals took a moment to bring them to the community's attention.

I have no doubt that there are some great rides around the world that didn't make it into the tournament simply because too few people submitted ratings for them for me to be able to consider them for the field. The best way to address that, though, is to get more readers submitting ratings for more parks and rides listed on the site.

And while I've maintained a "cut off" for including parks in the listings, that's simply because I got sick of looking at a bunch of listed parks that had no ratings submitted for them. I know that the popular parks (from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld), will get rated on the site. For anything else, it's up to readers to make a case, and to drum enough interest in the discussion board that I feel comfortable in knowing that if I add that park to the listings, it won't be ignored.

From 216.248.150.146 on January 17, 2012 at 3:22 PM
First time poster, long time lurker. Promise I will register soon, but I had to chime in on this one since no one has really followed up on Robert's requests for scoring tips :-)

First: MIB rules!

Now that that's out of the way..... My husband and I are both fairly high scorers on MIB. He can almost always get 500,000 or near abouts, and my personal best is just over 300,000 without pushing the "red button".

1. The best side to ride, by far, is the right hand side as you load (which becomes the left side in the ride). It's POSSIBLE to get the suit on the other side, but it's a lot harder. All the advice below will be based on a view from the left side of the attraction.

2. Shoot the heck out of the initial test sequence. You can rack up 20,000-30,000 points here fairly easily.

3. Going through the first street scene after the crash, look for aliens in doorways and windows -- particularly upper windows -- and shoot them as many times as you can.

4. Look for the eyeballs in the trees above the aliens playing chess. Lots of points here.

5. After you go through the "alien detection" sequence, look for eyes in the movie posters on the opposite wall behind the other car. I THINK these are actually worth more points then trying to hit the other car to make it spin.

6. In the last street scene before the big bug, look for eyes again. In parking meters, mail boxes, and especially the big set up on the left hand wall just before you turn the corner towards the big guy.

These are most of our go-to places for points. I think someone on here mentioned that there are a few warts you can aim at on the big bug at the end, but I tried it the last time I was there and it didn't seem to do anything. It also means NOT pushing the red button and I try never to do that :-)

Go MIB!

From 98.21.195.236 on January 17, 2012 at 4:44 PM
Really, I'm not a fan of these type of rides in general. I don't really care to play video games and I guess the majority of the "fun" on these rides seems to revolve around that. I enjoy rides that are made to do the entertaining for me.... call me lazy, but I don't like the idea of waiting in a line to play a video game.
I voted for Toy Story 3 because it does seem to offer a few elements other than just the game.... although even with it if you take away the gaming aspect.... it would be a really expensive pathetic ride with a really really nice que.
From 98.21.195.236 on January 17, 2012 at 4:50 PM
I will say after watching on you tube, Men in Black may have the more entertaining que..... if the question was what is the best que out of these then I might ask to change my vote to MIB..... but since it is what is the Best Dark Ride..... I guess I'd still give it to TS3 mainly based on the spinning carts and 3-D (along with the que).
From 98.21.195.236 on January 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM
TS3..... I meant TSM.
From 198.228.214.174 on January 17, 2012 at 5:02 PM
People voting OFF YOUTUBE CLIPS? Without having ridden the rides? Sheesh.
From 184.88.73.13 on January 17, 2012 at 5:18 PM
This race is CLOSE!
From Andrew Carrieri on January 17, 2012 at 5:25 PM
Poor Gobbler Getaway is getting shut out. Guess this makes sense since everyone is out of the holiday spirit.
From Brandon Mendoza on January 17, 2012 at 5:52 PM
I went with MIB because I'm not really a fan of Arcade Dark Rides. While I'm a huge Disney fan, I can't vote for TSMM. Why? Because I don't like 3D attractions. I prefer AA's. Plus with MIB you feel more like you're part of the MIB world instead of just going through sectioned off screens that display Toy Story characters. To me, TSMM's a glorified Wii game... heck, I even bought the game when it was cheap!
From TH Creative on January 17, 2012 at 6:45 PM
Still clinging to the lead with 13 votes ... I feel like Romney.
From 75.22.65.4 on January 17, 2012 at 7:43 PM
How is it that mania is considered a "fully-immersive dark ride, with an engaging ride experience"? I understand that it is a fun attraction, but the ride is more aptly described as a transporter to video game stations than a themed ride.
From Dominick D on January 17, 2012 at 10:18 PM
What happens if there's a tie?
From TH Creative on January 18, 2012 at 2:40 AM
There won't be ... MIB leads by approximately 16 votes.
From TH Creative on January 18, 2012 at 7:18 AM
As of this writing the vote total is 841 ... Which is the largest total number of votes in the tournament to date.

Oh and MIB is kicking Dom's butt all over the site.

From 65.49.14.76 on January 18, 2012 at 8:27 AM
The title held by me,
MIB
Means what you think you saw,
You didn't see
From Dominick D on January 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Honestly, TSM isn't an arcade dark ride. It's an Arcade Simulator. TSM is a tricky one to put in. Now that I'm over TSM losing, Star Tours 2 better beat BTTF!!!
From 98.21.195.236 on January 18, 2012 at 11:26 PM
To the person who takes issue with those of us who utilize Youtube clips to help educate ourselves on some of the rides that we have not been on..... do you really think everyone who votes has personally ridden every ride in the running?

Also..... this is not the Oscars (it's a lot more fun)..... don't take it so seriously..... Live and let live....

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