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2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Pirates of the Caribbean vs. Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

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Published: March 21, 2012 at 7:50 AM
We've reached the last quarterfinal match-up in 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament, as your vote today will select the fourth semifinalist for the title of Best Themed Ride.

Please keep your hands and arms inside the boat at all times for this face-off between two popular Disney and Universal boat rides: the third-seed Pirates of the Caribbean and the sixth-seed Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges.

Pirates of the Caribbean - at Disneyland, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris

Pirates of the Caribbean

Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges - at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

Voting is open for 24 hours. Please tell us in the comments why you voted the way you did, and if you'd like to drum up some more votes for your favorite, feel free to link to this post on Facebook and Twitter.


Thursday: The Best Theme Park Show semifinals get underway as upstart ninth-seed Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular takes on fifth-seed Soarin' Over California.

Readers' Opinions

From 63.255.223.58 on March 21, 2012 at 8:16 AM
Since I've only been on the Florida version of Pirates, which I find to be incredibly overrated, I had to vote for Popeye.

I am headed to DLP in a few weeks to ride their Pirates though!

From Mark Hollamon on March 21, 2012 at 8:19 AM
I love Pirates, but I voted Popeye for one reason only:

I have never laughed so hard nor begged the attendant (on slow days they can be persuaded) for a ride again until my wife and I experienced Popeye!

Total, chaotic, mind drenching hilarity! You can literally ride Popeye every year, know what's coming, and it still takes your breath away.

On a 95��° July day pounding the pavement at IOA, Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges' is your best friend!

From Joseph Catlett on March 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM
I'm not sure how this one is even up for debate. Although Popeye is one of the best soaker rides ever made, its up against THE GODFATHER Part 2 of Theme Park attractions. Pirates is the pinnacle of WDI's (known at the time as MAPO, if I'm not mistaken)storytelling ability. It holds up to infinite re-rides and I know of many people who say if they visit Disneyland when Pirates is down for rehab, that their visit seems somehow incomplete.
No contest...Pirates.
From Tyler Stover on March 21, 2012 at 8:34 AM
Joseph, I think MAPO was the manufacturing division of WED enterprises, which is now known as WDI.
From Duncan Henny on March 21, 2012 at 8:36 AM
it's a hard choice today i love them both, but i had to vote with which one i find the most fun and that was popeye :)
From 167.181.12.111 on March 21, 2012 at 8:37 AM
Aaaaaand Pirates in a blowout, me-thinks.

Really, it's no contest, and I feel a bit sorry for Popeye.

From Mike Gallagher on March 21, 2012 at 8:48 AM
Pirates. No contest.
From James Rao on March 21, 2012 at 8:49 AM
Disneyland's PotC is simply the greatest theme park attraction ever built (and the last one overseen by Walt himself). It is a true whole-family experience, a masterpiece of animatronics, story, and song, and a ride that transcends age, gender, nationality, and theme park bias. Of all the attractions still in this tournament, PotC is the only one that I am sure will still be standing in 2067 (its 100th anniversary). If you look up the word "classic" in the dictionary, PotC is used as an example.

Popeye is a fun ride, but #comeonman, it is not even close to the brilliance of the original Pirates of the Caribbean.

From Dominick D on March 21, 2012 at 9:07 AM
Pirates is in my Disney's top 3 rides list, so of course I voted for it. POTC is a classic ride that I've ridden over 10 times (most recent ride was Sunday in the front row) and never gets old. I can see something new every time (same with my 2 other Disney favorites Star Tours and Haunted Mansion) and notice a new detail in both thee ride and queue. Popeye can't stand a chance against one of Uncle Walt's classics.
From Melanie Howe on March 21, 2012 at 9:12 AM
I absolutely love Popeye (the only raft ride I can say that about...), but I had to go with Pirates. I've only experienced the WDW version, which I know pales in comparison to DL's -- one of these days I'll get out there to see it! But even still, I've always loved the atmosphere of Pirates.... Entering the chilly fort building, the creepy loading area, the plunge after the shipwrecked skeletons and one of the most awesome ride songs ever written.... not to mention seriously cool shirts in the gift shop :-) I could have done without the Jack Sparrow additions, but at least they didn't overdo it. There's no question Pirates will take this one!
From Dominick D on March 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM
TO everyone who voted POTC: Drink up me harties yo ho! Yo ho yo ho a Pirates life for me!
From Mike Gallagher on March 21, 2012 at 9:37 AM
OK, we'll make up for you Dom, since you're too young to drink :) I think I have a bit of SoCo at home..and some orange juice..life is good.
From Mark Fairleigh on March 21, 2012 at 9:56 AM
Mark, I'm totally with you on this one. We always go on hoping the crowds are light enough and the staff are nice enough to let us just stay on! Our record so far is 4 or 5 rides in a row. :)

This was a tough one though...really tough. Love both, but based on pure fun factor had to go with Popeye. Pirates is a classic no doubt, but in it's own way so is Popeye and it's so much fun, especially with newbies on board!

From Rob P on March 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Difficult because they are such different experiences........apart from that mini water-drop on Pirates and the fact that they're all sailors....oh well maybe they do have a lot in common after all !

Anyway I think Popeye is a fantastic water ride with all the thrills, spills and humour you could possibly hope for but Pirates is such an iconic Disney attraction it would be almost criminal to vote against it at this stage of the competition. Although I
must say that I'm not very comfortable with some of the changes it has gone through recently like the addition of Jack Sparrow. I have a "thing" about rides spawning movies that then come back to bite it's parent. It produces the sort of fundamental problem that might give Sigmund Freud sleepless nights.
In the end , though, I voted with my heart and not my head and decided that it's a Pirates life for me.

From Will Chilcote on March 21, 2012 at 10:46 AM
As much as I love Popeye, I had to give it up to Walt's Best ride!!!
From AJ Hummel on March 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM
I do not think there is a river rapids ride in existence that is better than Pirates of the Caribbean (at least the full Disneyland version, not the abridged Florida version). It takes a dark ride of extremely high quality to beat this one, and the insanely high capacity of Pirates means that you can often ride one of Disney's best rides (and the best one Walt actually worked on) without an excessive wait. Pirates wins, hands down.
From robert morris on March 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM
This should've been a close vote between a great classic themed attraction in PotC and the definitive rapid ride in Popeye (which is probably the most superior to its contempories of any ride genre). But alas Disneyphile's have spoken. This isn't as bad as Indiana Jones beatin WaterWorld and Horror Make Up Show. But really if you only go to Disney Parks imagine Grizzly Run and then Kali Rapids put together (actual length) , add a great line theme with high capacity,animatronics throughout the ride (that work) and a flume portion that would probably put it in the top five if it was counted that way.

But I guess if we called it Disney's Popeye it would have won easy

From James Rao on March 21, 2012 at 1:51 PM
Conversely, if it was Universal's PotC, the Universal fan boys would be all over it.

So much for my notion that the greatness of DL's PotC would transcend theme park bias. It was too much to hope for, I guess.

From Skipper Adam on March 21, 2012 at 2:01 PM
If I voted on what was just fun, then carnival rides would be getting votes too. If I picked a ride that was fun AND was visually overwhelming and stunning with special effects and amazing technology, that's a little different. I don't understand the "More Fun" vote sometimes.
From Mark Fairleigh on March 21, 2012 at 2:46 PM
Oh so everyone should automatically vote for Pirates because it's Pirates?? How's that not bias towards Disney? Yes, it's a classic, but it doesn't mean it's the best ride for everyone. Popeye makes me happy, Pirates not quite as much. If Pirates were at Universal and Popeye at Disney, I'd still vote for Popeye. I love Buzz Lightyear more than MIB, so there's that.
From Sylvain Comeau on March 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM
I voted for Pirates at Disneyland. That one is a masterpiece. The one at the MK is fun, but it's an abridged version of a masterpiece.
From 166.137.13.90 on March 21, 2012 at 2:58 PM
I used to love pirates but is has changed so much from the version of my youth. They took out the long drops and the animatronic talking skull. I honestly had more fun on popeye this January when I was in Florida.
From James Rao on March 21, 2012 at 3:37 PM
Mark, you should vote for Pirates because it is a significantly better attraction than the barges, but what you wrote is spot on: vote for the attraction you like best.

I think the phrase "whatever floats your boat" is doubly appropriate today! Let the fan boys verbally duke it out from their basements, the rest of us will just have "more fun".

From 72.81.197.140 on March 21, 2012 at 8:33 PM
Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges' is my favorite water ride anywhere. That ride never gets old to me and is great on a hot, hot summer day. So it's get my vote over Pirates of the Carribean!
From Mark Fairleigh on March 22, 2012 at 7:26 AM
James, Thank you for reaching across the aisle with your fair-minded comments. Yes, let the rest of us have "more fun". Hooaaaa!

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