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2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best High-Speed Indoor Ride?

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Published: January 31, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Today's category in the 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament honors a new type of hybrid ride, which marries the traditional, narrative-driven "dark" ride with a high-speed thrill experience. On one, the speed simulates the high-pressure launch and weightlessness of flight to Mars. On another, you grab a moment of airtime as you blast from the side of a volcano. And on the third, you're enjoying the wind-in-your-hair joy of pure speed on a racetrack.

Voting is open for 24 hours, and campaigning through Facebook and Twitter is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Journey to the Center of the Earth - at Tokyo DisneySea

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Mission: Space - at Epcot

Mission: Space

Test Track - at Epcot

Test Track

Feel free to campaign in the comments, too. In fact, follow me there as I'm going to jump into full campaign mode on behalf of one of today's nominees. (Opposing viewpoints welcomed, too, of course.) Please take a look before voting.


Tomorrow: We're voting on the best "mega" wooden hybrid coaster.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on January 31, 2012 at 8:54 AM
It's a shame for American audiences that Journey to the Center of the Earth is located at Tokyo DisneySea in Japan, because that means they're missing what might be the world's best theme park thrill ride.

Take a moment and look at one of the YouTube videos of this ride, but keep in mind that no video of Journey to the Center of the Earth does this ride justice. From the steampunk heaven of the Mysterious Island land to the richly detailed queue, to the elevator ride into the belly of the mountain, Journey to the Center of the Earth - like its main rival, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - creates a unique world for you even before you board the attraction itself.

And that ride is a joy, with wonderful scenes, sensory effects and an encounter with one of the most impressive animatronics anywhere. Then there's the speed - the exhilarating blast out of the mountain and around the island.

Trust me, if you'd ridden Journey to the Center of the Earth, there's no way you would consider voting for anything else. This ride needs to be up against Harry Potter in the tournament final. I feel that strongly about it. Please consider giving it your vote today. Thanks.

From Mike Gallagher on January 31, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Haven't been on any, but voted for Mission Space, based simply on what I've read over the years.
From 63.255.223.58 on January 31, 2012 at 8:58 AM
I've never ridden JTTCOTE...but anything is better than M:S and TT.
From 88.104.238.186 on January 31, 2012 at 9:14 AM
Erm, correct me if I'm wrong. But is the high-speed part of Test Track not outdoors?
From 216.199.174.82 on January 31, 2012 at 9:20 AM
I have ridden all three rides, and Journey wins this vote, hands down. A combination of old-school dark ride with contemporary effects, and a end-of-ride thrill that puts Test Track to shame, we need more high-quality big-ticket rides like that here at WDW!
From David Kirby on January 31, 2012 at 9:23 AM
I do love Mission Space and Test Track but with everything I've read/seen about it, Journey to the Center of the Earth seems like the clear winner here.

I'm also curious why Indiana Jones at Disneyland and TDS isn't in this category? Or is my mind deceiving me and we voted on that ride already?

From 75.179.190.89 on January 31, 2012 at 9:45 AM
I've only rode Test Track so ended up voting for that. Journey sounds like an amazing ride, and if I had been on it, it would have easily got my vote.
From Tim Odom on January 31, 2012 at 9:57 AM
I voted for TT, though I am not 100% sold on it. I would rather have voted for Journey to the Center of the Earth, but I don't vote for rides I have not ridden. Youtube clips are one thing, actually riding it is another (this also means, when Harry Potter comes up, I won't vote for that.) Wish Disney would put a version of that in DAK...
From Dominick D on January 31, 2012 at 10:02 AM
I voted Test Track for my love of cars. If JTTCOTE was longer I would of voted for it. Now Robert, if you think JTTCOE not winning doesn't make sense, that's the way I feel about TSM not winning.
From Robert Niles on January 31, 2012 at 10:13 AM
Indy is the motion-base category, which comes up in two weeks.

This was kind of the "left over" category for themed indoor thrill rides, minus the motion base rides, flumes, boat rides and Tower of Terror, which went into those other categories.

From David Brown on January 31, 2012 at 10:20 AM
I voted for Mission Space because, amazingly themed as it is JTTCOTE is, like Test Track, basically just a slow dark ride with a bit of whiz at the end. I recognise it's brilliantly done, and the care and attention lavished on the setting and the whole immersive experience are second to none, but it's still a gentle trundle past some great dark-ride scenery with a very short speed rush at the end.
Mission Space on the other hand totally pushed back the boundaries of what an indoor ride could be. By using the centrifuges it could genuinely recreate the g-forces that would bring the images on the video screen to life and the result was truly original. I would argue that the fact that they had to introduce a tamed-down version of the ride because too many guest riders were experiencing all-too-real nausea proves just how realistic and therefore post-on the ride was/is.
I've not ridden JTTCOTE, and suspect that if I did I'd absolutely adore it. But Mission Space is the true innovator here and the only ride that genuinely made it's riders feel like they had really done what it was simulating.
That's why it got my vote.
As for Test track currently being in the lead... I rember riding it for the first time and thinking, 'oh, is that it?' It's fun, but really, number one guys?.......
From Robert Niles on January 31, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Yeah, Test Track, a ride that's so good... Disney's closing it for months to redesign and rebuild more than half the ride.

Seriously?

From Tim Hillman on January 31, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Having been on Journey to the Center of the Earth like Robert has, I couldn't agree more. Test Track and Mission Space are top-notch rides, but Journey just blows them away. Incredible theming coupled with a fun and immersive ride. The videos don't do it justice.

And that brings me back to an old rant - why isn't DisneySea a third gate in California or a fifth gate in Florida or even the centerpiece of a third resort somewhere in flyover country? It just doesn't make sense why we haven't seen this park in some form in the states.

From Flavio de Souza on January 31, 2012 at 10:40 AM
What did all this folks see in Test Track that I didn't???

For me is just a nice ride, nothing more than that. You may don't like to ride MS, but has to admit that it is a very advanced ride!

And journey to the center of Earth seems to be an amazing ride as well!!!

From Manny Rodriguez on January 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I voted for MS it is awesome and it is a one of a kind ride though JTTCOTE looks cool but MS is my vote
From TH Creative on January 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM
TEST TRACK?!!!! OH COME ON PEOPLE!!!!

First you have Mission: Space, which is one of the most immersive theme park experiences ever designed, and then there's 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' which is a friggin' MASTERPIECE!!!!!!


TEST TRACK?!

Give me a friggin' BREAK!

From 192.136.22.4 on January 31, 2012 at 11:07 AM
I have been on all of these rides. I rode Journey to the Centre of the Earth in July 2003, and both Test Track and Mission: Space in December 2004.

And I must say, JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH is the clear winner here.

Voting for Test Track as the winner in this category would be another strong proof of how unfortunate the Americans are to not get this ground-breaking attraction.

The exterior of the ride is majestic. The symbol of the park, Mount Prometheus covered the whole ride. Inside, it's visually enchanting. And the climax is just... I'm speechless. Probably the best animatronic has ever been created in this entire planet (take that, Yeti).

Without doubt, Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a clear winner. But as the poll shows, looks like Test Track is winning this competition. Well, too bad the attraction can only be enjoyed in Tokyo.

From Daniel Etcheberry on January 31, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Robert, even though I don't have the actual experience of the DisneySea ride, it doesn't look special; it's the same technology used in Test Track (my vote), and the scenery looks generic. I agree that the AA looks VERY impressive, and it looks that there is some nice airtime toward the end, but you may be overselling this ride.
From Rob Pastor on January 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Maybe I expected too much, but Test Track was the biggest dissapointment in a ride on my initial visit to Epcot. I don't even care that it will be down when we visit in late spring.
From James Rao on January 31, 2012 at 4:18 PM
Regarding Test Track, the ending sequence could be a bit longer (and faster), with a more varied course, but I have no real issues with the attraction. It is easily one of the best, most unique attractions at any theme park (at least until Radiator Springs comes along).

As for Mission: Space (Orange), well, it is one of the few attractions I have rated a 10-Perfect. From the detailed queuing area, to the engaging intro movie, to the awesome experience itself, this attraction is simply one of the best thrill rides I have ever ridden. I think Mission: Space is the kind of attraction that sets Disney apart: take a basic spinner premise then dress it up in story and theme to make it an immersive masterpiece. Under normal circumstances, Mission: Space would get my vote....

...but based on Mr. Niles' impassioned plea, I will go with the Tokyo DisneySea attraction, despite the fact that I will NEVER have the opportunity to experience it.

(Cue dramatic music) TH delivered for Jungle Cruise and Men in Black. His archrival, James, did the same for World of Fun's Prowler. Can Robert Niles do the same for his beloved Journey to the Center of the Earth? Find out tomorrow (whoosh!) on Theme Park Insider! (Roll credits)

From Brandon Mendoza on January 31, 2012 at 11:36 AM
I voted for Journey as it's the superior attraction out of these even without going on it. I feel that people are voting only for what they are loyal to, like how Lion King beat Aladdin.

I may love Disneyland over WDW, but even I know that Tomorrowland in WDW is superior to Disneyland's. The Tower of Terror is leaps and bounds better at DHS than it is at DCA. And Tokyo's Monster's Inc. & Pooh Bear are phenomenal compared to the "West's" versions. Or how DLR's Fantasmic! is better than WDW's. I include the last one because the choreography of DLR's is much better than WDW's. If Journey is just another version of Test Track, it's better by far.

From Json Son on January 31, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Space Fantasy The Ride from Universal Japan needs to be in here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp5Cx6ft-nU&noredirect=1

Nemo's Crush Coaster in Disneyland Paris needs some love too.

This site is really Orlando biased.

From steve lee on January 31, 2012 at 1:48 PM
The site is biased towards the city that has 7 of the most popular theme parks in the country. Sorry if that's a bummer for you.

But if you really want to call someone out on being biased, I think Robert may be overstepping a bit. "Test Track, a ride that's so good... Disney's closing it for months to redesign and rebuild more than half the ride." That's harsh, Robert. How much of the closing and redesigning is because of the ride sponsor? That said, I agree that it's a dreadful ride. Like Tomorrowland Speedway, it seems to be really exciting for people who don't have the ability to drive.

From Ashleigh Noad on January 31, 2012 at 1:55 PM
I've always found Test Track to be incredibly overrated. The ride itself is pretty 'meh' and its queue is probably one of the worst queues around. That soundtrack they use over and over in the queue - urgh!

Based on videos and people's comments of Journey, it would be ridiculous for it not to win this round.

From Robert Niles on January 31, 2012 at 1:58 PM
A couple points:

Space Fantasy and Crush are essentially indoor coasters, and we already has a category for them. Those two rides didn't come close to making that cut, unfortunately. While I like to advocate for international rides (see Journey to the Center of the Earth), I didn't feel like I could bring a couple of roller coasters into this category without blurring it up even more than it already is. (As has been noted, Test Track's high-speed part is outside.)

That said, I do want to use this site to draw people's attention to Orlando-caliber-and-better themed attractions throughout the world. That's why I plopped down a big chunk of change to fly to Singapore and Tokyo last month. And why I go on cross-country roadtrips each year, too. But I can't do it all myself. I need help from readers who've been to Tokyo Disney, Universal Japan, Disneyland Paris, Europa Park and other places around the world with attractions that rival and surpass those in Orlando.

So if you've been on a great ride in one of those popular parks outside the U.S., please rate and review them on the site. Jump in on the discussion board and in the blog comments.

It's not just about encouraging people to take trips abroad (which many readers won't be able to afford). It's also about exposing U.S. readers to excellence around the world so that they can demand the same for parks in this country.

Trust me, if Disney sees that a half-baked Test Track consistently can beat Journey to the Center of the Earth in popularity among U.S. visitors, we ain't ever going to see a ride of Journey's quality built in the United States.

From Robert Niles on January 31, 2012 at 2:02 PM
Oh, and saying comparing Test Track favorably to Journey just because it has the same ride system seems to me only a step away from saying Knight's Tournament at Legoland is as good as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey because they're both rides on robot arms. /smack-talk :^)
From Andrew Carrieri on January 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM
I love Test Track but voted for Journey to the Center of the Earth. The ride system seems similar but the theming on the latter appears to be far superior to Test Track's.

I went on Mission: Space once and did not find it (the orange version) very thrilling, and it made me naseaous. For what it's worth, previous editions of the Birnbaum's Official WDW Guide panned the orange version for making them queasy: keep in mind Birnbaum's is basically a big brochure for Disney World. The green version seems like a nice alternative but nothing special.

From David L. on January 31, 2012 at 3:11 PM
Journey all the way!
From Stevo B on January 31, 2012 at 4:56 PM
Although I've never been I went with Journey - I watched the YouTube video a couple of times and it just seems so damn cool. I've done Test Track a bunch of times and aside from the ending, ehh. Mission Space is cool and the ride system is very unique but once was enough for me. I'm one of those who still miss Horizons.
From 98.21.201.170 on January 31, 2012 at 6:15 PM
I almost feel like maybe I should not vote since I have not rode the DisneySea entry (as most people who read this probably have not)..... because I'm going off of youtube clips..... but if the only people who voted had rode every since entry in every category there would be very few people voting.

Having said all that I am really torn between Journey to the Center of the Earth and Test Track. I think I will vote Journey because of how much work and detail is in the mountain...... and the que line area. If we were basing it just on what the ride does I might go with Test Track because it seems to have more spots of high speed fun (Journey has a fast part, but that seems to be the main fast part and then it's over.... the rest of the ride seemed a little slow).... but I am voting for Journey (a ride I have yet to ride) based on the aesthetics of the mountain, and how that not only effects the ride, but the park.

From 98.21.201.170 on January 31, 2012 at 6:22 PM
Okay Robert.... I voted for Journey.... but I still LOVE Test Track. You don't have to blow Test Track's candle out to make Journey's glow brighter!..... lol.
From Mike Gallagher on January 31, 2012 at 7:03 PM
Yeah, David L!! Don't Stop Believin'!

God, I despise that band....

From Rod Whitenack on January 31, 2012 at 7:19 PM
I'm sure I've missed a category somewhere, but I would think Universal Orlando's Mummy ride would fit it this hybrid, high speed indoor attraction category. I really love that ride. Is that in a different area?
From David L. on January 31, 2012 at 7:40 PM
Mike, I was confused at your comment at first, so then I decided to Google what I posted...wasn't really expecting that. Rod, the Mummy won the best themed coaster category. Also, why do people vote for the ride that is obviously subordinate to both of the others? Yes Test Track is a great ride, but compared with Journey? No. Don't vote for a ride just because it's the only one that you have ridden. At least learn more about a ride before just passing it by.
From Dominick D on January 31, 2012 at 7:45 PM
Rod, Mummy won best themed coaster.
From Joshua Counsil on January 31, 2012 at 9:42 PM
Voted for Journey and would also have been happy with Mission: Space.

But Test Track? Really?

Come on, now! I've never seen a smiling face in that section of Epcot.

From Colton McLaughlin on January 31, 2012 at 9:56 PM
I've never been on Journey, but it's getting my vote. I'd rather have Journey in Epcot than both Test Track and Mission: Space.

I am quite surprised that Mission is in third. That's a great ride with a great theme and it's exciting! Journey is brilliantly designed on the inside and outside, and it is also quite thrilling. Test Track is a slow ride through mediocre sets with a burst of speed at the end. Yeah, it's fun but it certainly isn't better than Mission or Journey.

Sometimes, I feel like a lot of people just vote for the first ride that comes to mind and not the ride that deserves to win.

From 74.82.64.144 on January 31, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Test track people???? Really???? Come on. Its an out of date ride in a warehouse when u think about it. Soooooo boring. I've never been to tokyo, but even I know better about journey to the center of the earth. Beautiful and immersive as can be. This ride should be cloned to a u.s. Park. It would work very well at dak. People please ride all the ride on youtube before deciding. Test track is. Really a boring ride these days. It was great when it first came out and for its first 8 years or so, but it just doesn't compare wot what's out there now
From James Anberlin on January 31, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I think the problem is that many people simply aren't comfortable with voting for a ride they haven't ridden. I don't necessarily have a problem with this, but I understand why some people do.
From Mark Kausch on February 1, 2012 at 2:02 AM
Yeah, I didn't have that problem since I haven't been on any of them. Journey got my vote.

I also think that this site is Orlando-biased, but I guess that's because of the majority of its readership. Robert certainly isn't on the right-coast (as opposed to left, OK?) - at least his mailing address isn't.

From James Rao on February 1, 2012 at 4:51 AM
1) Most of the people who vote do not take the time to read our excellent comments.

2) Much of the repeat traffic on this site is US-based (but I think Mr. Niles is doing a lot to try and shake up that dynamic).

3) Getting to Japan and visiting Tokyo DisneySea is pretty much out of the realm of possibility for most US families, making JTTCOTE an unknown commodity among US voters.

4) Mission: Space - Orange (the ONLY version of the attraction that matters) is too intense for the casual visitor (because they are sissies).

5) Test Track is the second most popular attraction at one of the world's most popular theme parks.

I am not surprised at the outcome. Disappointed, but not surprised.

From David Sutter on February 1, 2012 at 6:36 AM
Ok I went with Roberts choice. As for Test Track. It openned during my Epcot cast days there. And belive me when it was in its test phase it was a great ride. the climb up the ramp was quick . And your trip thru the test areas was quick and the areas dimmly lighted. When you came around onto the brake test area and Mt. road tests all you could see was the street lights the head lights being the most light on the course. Thur the doors and the car picked up speed so much so that when you looped around the building the track supports pushed outwards. And then they shut it down and beefed up the supports added more light and slowed the outside run down. a lot. The orgional plans called for it to run around the entire cast parking lot behind it. But Disney being disney ..opps.
From Daniel Etcheberry on February 1, 2012 at 8:40 AM
Journey to the Center of Earth:

Otherworldly scenery with exotic animals and plants; mmmmmm.... I wonder if Disney will make a similar ride in Avatar Land.

From 206.74.245.126 on February 1, 2012 at 8:36 PM
I will say this in defense of Test Track even though I voted for Journey..... Test Track has several speedy elements indoors before it gets to the last high speed climax section that goes outdoors(okay, it's not Kingda Ka speedy.... but for a family ride speedy). Journey seems to pretty much be a dark ride until the Climax take off.... where as Test Track does have some cool higher speed parts where you are going around the curves of the mountain like road parts and brake run tests. My favorite part of the ride is actually probably the higher speed section around the sharpe turns that takes place inside that simulates the mountainous road conditions.

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