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2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Theme Park Ride Final - Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey vs. Haunted Mansion

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Published: March 30, 2012 at 9:50 AM

We're finally here. The final vote in the 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament. And it's the biggie - the World's Best Theme Park Ride.

Your finalists are your top two seeds - the challenger is a former tournament bracket winner, Disney's Haunted Mansion, and the top seed is the 2010 Theme Park Insider Award winner for Best New Attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal's Islands of Adventure. So who will wear the crown this year? You'll help decide that by your vote below.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Haunted Mansion - at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and at Disneyland Paris as Phantom Manor

Haunted Mansion

Voting is open for 24 hours. If you'd like to rally support for your favorite, please link to this post on Facebook and Twitter and encourage your friends and followers to vote.


Thank you for participating in this year's tournament and congratulations to all the winners! If you're new to Theme Park Insider, I'd like to invite you to like us on Facebook to get the latest news and fun photos from the world's top theme parks. Thanks.

Readers' Opinions

From Duncan Henny on March 30, 2012 at 10:02 AM
never done any of these rides yet (always seemed to miss HM) will do them both in sept so i voted for the one i'm most looking forward too and that's Potter :)
From 76.195.87.210 on March 30, 2012 at 10:26 AM
If Haunted Mansion wins this...I have lost faith in ALL of theme park humanity. I LOVE haunted mansion, but c'mon! HP is the most unique themed/ride experience EVER!!! This vote reflects Disney lovers/HP haters...not true, honest ride lovers!

Tom Walljasper

From 141.117.162.99 on March 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM
HM in the lead? Seriously? I only picked HM over PotC because I didn't like sitting on a wet bench. The narrative is okay but the conveyance is utilitarian. HPFJ offers a superior queue, narrative that likely means more to HP fans than to me, and an interesting physical experience.
From 128.61.21.9 on March 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Harry Potter is not that good of a ride. Yes, it's a cool use of the technology and I LOVE the queue theming, but the lazy dementor scene gets me angry every time.
From 166.205.11.206 on March 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Usually HP is highly regarded on this site, but Mansion is also really good. I think people have had time to digest the idea that FJ is different but not necessarily better.
From 12.227.121.19 on March 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM
I voted Haunted Mansion. And oldie-but-goodie...
From AJ Hummel on March 30, 2012 at 11:20 AM
I voted for Haunted Mansion since I haven't been on Harry Potter, but I honestly don't know if that would change my opinion. To me, a dark ride needs to feel real, even if it is not. On Haunted Mansion, it definitely feels like you are inside a creepy old mansion inhabited by ghosts. Harry Potter sounds like a good part of it is based on screens, and while I don't mind those types of attractions I have yet to go on one that didn't feel like I was watching a movie. Harry Potter may be one of the most technologically advanced and thrilling dark rides, but Haunted Mansion is one that has truly stood the test of time and shown that attractions don't need high tech effects in order to be popular.
From 63.255.223.58 on March 30, 2012 at 11:27 AM
No way, no how should Haunted Mansion win this vote.

But I'm sure the Disney Mafia will be out in full force and it will.

From Jay R. on March 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM
I think also we have to remember, people use different critiria when voting for a particular attraction. There isn't a "one size fits all" stance when voting, & that's why many times the results may seem crazy to some.

Nostalgia, theme, thrill (or lack there of) most recent experience, techical advancement, etc. are all reasons people may vote for or against a certain attraction, including ones that might seem like a slam dunk to win.

From Jake Mappes on March 30, 2012 at 11:51 AM
HP should definitely have this one. Yes, HM is a great ride, but HP has everything over it. The queue, thrill, and reality of HP is amazing. HM has these things as well, but HP is still a much more modern ride that definitely deserves this title.
From Caroline Davis on March 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Both have extra-ordinary exteriors and queue lines. I think the story could be improved on both rides.

Forbidden Journey has more impressive technology and has the perfect amount of thrill for the context of the ride. So Forbidden Journey got my vote.

From David Brown on March 30, 2012 at 12:03 PM
This has got nothing to do with 'Disney Mafia' (which I'm not), or any Disney bias. What people have to remember is that this is just a poll amongst a group of theme park geeks, (yes I count myself within that term), voting for whatever attraction moves them or presses the appropriative buttons for them. It's not a poll for the most technologically progressive attraction. It's a poll for 'best' attraction and that has so many different meanings that it's almost meaning-less... For some 'best' is indeed the most progressive, but for others it's the attraction they loved as a kid, or the attraction that made them cry or laugh when they weren't expecting it, or the attraction that their kids couldn't stop talking about for 6 weeks, or the attraction that they proposed to their spouse whilst riding, or.... You get the point.

'Best' is subjective. Totally subjective. It's why, at the end of the day, this is just a bit of fun and matters not the least little bit. We all have our favourites and most of us are going to be disappointed. We just have to play the game the way it's been configured and vote as we feel at the time of voting. And the result really won't shake the world whichever way it goes... (sorry Robert!)

I haven't ridden Harry Potter yet - I'm looking forward to it immensely in November. But I'd bet any amount of money that, impressive as I'm sure it is going to be - (I'm certain it will be a major 'wow') - HP isn't going to worm its way into people's affection as much as some of these supposedly 'inferior' attractions. Disney has succeeded so well over the decades precisely because it creates attractions that people fall in love with. It's irrational, it's emotional, it's totally counter-intuitive sometimes, (Carousel of Progress I'm looking at you), but no one can predict the human heart, except perhaps a Disney Imagineer. The most impressive attractions I've experienced have been outside of Disney parks, but as I head for Orlando for the third time in my life I know that once again I'm going to fall for whatever magic Disney sprinkles on it's parks. That's why I voted Haunted Mansion - because I think it remains loved in a way that I don't think Harry Potter will. And there's a world of difference between admiration and love.

From 144.96.120.147 on March 30, 2012 at 12:04 PM
To adress a few of the comments

As the stories of the rides go...Forbidden Journey (which is neither really forbidden or a journey) is a clash of all the monsters of Harry Potter at once, during a quiditch game durring an "open house" showing of Hogwarts. It's not a great story. The Haunted Mansion has one that makes more sense but istn't obvious, but by no means needs to be and adds to the atomosphere by just having weird things happen.

As for the technology, both WDW HM and FJ feature some current technology.

As for the ride vehicles. FJ vehicles are cool, but not new. What they do do is make medoicre effects look cooler. HM has slow vehicles that really block out any sense of other riders and give the chance for guest to have a good look a some spectacular effects.

The big breaker for me is how FJ uses so much screen time that breaks the sense of realism and jerks the guest into remembering that it is a ride. If it were intergrated screens like Spider-man, that's one thing, but to have half the ride a plain ole motion simulator is weak.

Mansion gets my vote.

From Eric Malone on March 30, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I love both rides equally, but putting personal biases aside, I feel that Potter should win it this year. Other, smarter people have outlined all the reasons why already.
From Mike Gallagher on March 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Despite all I've read, I simply can't bring myself to vote for a ride I haven't been on over one I not only have, but liked a ton. HM got my vote, despite my love of the Potter novels.
From robert morris on March 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM
While Haunted Mansion does bring the most character ready staff of any attraction, HP's are pretty good.

While entering to the dead center of the room is possibly Disney's best pre show and the facade is excellent, it pales to HP's with the interactive paintings, snow in the dark arts room or lighting, and the sorting hat giving safety instructions. Only grievance is the absence of moving staircases. Also single riders enjoy it too and I appreciate that detail.

As rides go Haunted Mansion is a twice a day ride once in the AM and again at dark (it seems different). HP also creates a different mood at night but not as stark. But while HP does use screens what many leave out is the animatronics are first rate and on a grand scale from the dragon, spider, demontors, trees and everything else.

As regards to "best" I enjoy HM more but HP is better.

My analogy is this: While I "like" the Orlando Magic more as a team, I do have to accept the Miami Heat have a better team.

From Mark Hollamon on March 30, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Well said David Brown! It is for that reason I too voted Haunted Mansion.

These rides come from two totally different worlds.

As I stated in HM's previous round, I can remember going on the ride with my father back in 1975. I was in awe. I couldn't wait to be able to try and explain this crazy cool thing to my friends. I had never seen ANYTHING like it in my life!

I still have a vivid memory of that first ride with my dad and it brings tears to my eyes from the memories of the greatest vacation in my life.

Oh, I've been chasing that feeling ever since to the extreme of actually moving to Orlando because it was cheaper to live here than vacation as many times a year as my wife and I have.

We are here for all the new rides. The next BIG thing! It is so exciting and FJ was much anticipated. I've gone on it a few times. Took me a couple just to figure out how they got all the different parts incorporated to the ride.

It's a good ride. I can't dog it, but I can't say it is even better than Spider-Man.

From 24.153.172.213 on March 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM
The thing about HM is that its really cool, but everytime I get on it it breaks down. Most of the time it breaks down i'm sitting there for like five minutes. Not to mention it happens like twice a ride.

Its fun. But its not better than potter.

From Rob Pastor on March 30, 2012 at 1:16 PM
I've been on both. If I'm voting for the best nostalgia and a classic ride that is very good, I would have voted for HM. Of course, using that logic, the old rides would always beat out the newer rides. But, the vote is for BEST ATTRACTION. And until I experience the new Spider-Man, Transformers or whatever comes along, the Best Attraction, in my opinion, is Harry Potter And the Forbidden Journey. First of all, I was completely blown away by the queue. If that was all there was to the attraction, it would rank on my top attractions list. Then, I was completely blown away by the ride. This an an awesome 1, 2 punch that cries out for a vote for Best Attraction. My vote was for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
From 76.106.244.248 on March 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM
Theres a reason The haunted Mansion has been around for decades lets see if the harry potter ride will stand the test of time or will it just become another ride ie: Back to the future----poof-----The Simpsons!!!
From 71.226.87.42 on March 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM
This is a shame. The Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite classic rides whether it be Disney or not. But to see it beating out the greatest theme park attraction created is a blatant showing of Disney fan boys who are still angry nothing they have created in the last two decades has even beat Spiderman let alone the FJ. I cannot wait until Gringotts and the Hogwarts express open at the Studios. Maybe by then, fingers crossed, Disney will finally have to pull there head out of there rear and be creative again.

Also, after reading some of these comments I nearly hurt myself laughing so hard. Someone has never "made it" to the Haunted Mansion through all of there visits over the years but yet they pick it over the FJ? Avada Kedavra

From Jack Curley on March 30, 2012 at 2:08 PM
ATTENTION POTTER FANS: YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY YOU HAVE A RIDE (and a themed land) INSTEAD OF BEING NIT-PICKY ABOUT THE DETAILS TO SHOW HOW MUCH MORE YOU KNOW THAN EVERYONE ELSE.

ATTENTION DISNEY FANS: A VOTE FOR POTTER IS A VOTE FOR DISNEY ACTUALLY HAVING TO TRY HARDER INSTEAD OF RESTING ON THEIR LAURELS.

From Jack Curley on March 30, 2012 at 2:09 PM
SPOILER ALERT: MY CAPS LOCK SEEMS TO BE STUCK.
From N B on March 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM
It almost seems this has turned into Universal vs Disney instead of voting for the actual ride experience. I have been on both. HM is great, but not better than Tower of Terror, yet it is neck and neck with Forbidden Journey, which beat ToT by a super slim margin?
From Colton McLaughlin on March 30, 2012 at 2:24 PM
Before I continue, let me say that I love Haunted Mansion. I love the ride, I love the scenes, I love the effects. With that said, I don't think HM can even hold a candle to what Tower of Terror does, and I think ToT is about as good as Forbidden Journey.

Neither Haunted Mansion nor Forbidden Journey have good story lines. Does Haunted Mansion even have one? It supposedly does, but as far as I can tell, that "plot" is only in one scene and on of the key aspects of the "plot" never even worked. Forbidden Journey has a lot of coincidences; so many, in fact, it makes a lot of the ride very hard to believe. Then it throws everything from every HP movie ever at you, and that's a little off putting. I can't vote for either of these rides based on plot alone, because neither have a strong enough plot to support it.

However, I've never ridden Haunted Mansion and thought to myself "Holey moley! That was an amazingly thrilling, technologically advanced ride, I need to get in line again!" Because Haunted Mansion is not thrilling, nor is it technologically advanced. It has great special effects, yes, but it's not a ride that can be considered Best Attraction. HM is replaceable with any omnimover. Like it or not, they are all the same vehicle moving slowly in a circle.

I'd rather have Pirates, Tower of Terror, or Spiderman win over Haunted Mansion. They all offered something new and exciting that set the bar for theme parks. HM offers nostalgia.

I agree with Jack. A vote for a 43 year old attraction, that admittedly, has stood the test of time, is a vote for Disney to let another year go by without "upping the ante", as it were.

From N B on March 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM
Well said Colton.
From Manny Barron on March 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM
The Haunted Mansion is beyond awesome. But c'mon folks...HP and the Forbidden Journey is crazy good. 50/50 is too close folks, seems like some people are voting for company vs company, as opposed to ride vs ride.
From James Rao on March 30, 2012 at 2:57 PM
Haunted Mansion is an amazingly revered attraction. It is beloved in ways that the Wizarding World will probably never experience during the ten year shelf life of most Universal Orlando attractions. However, I once again voted for the renaissance in themed entertainment started by the Wizarding World (check my comments in the FJ vs. ToT vote for more info). Almost all the expansions we are currently anticipating at major parks around the world have been influenced by IOA's Potter fetish.

Now, if Disneyland's Pirates had beaten HM in the last round, I'd be singing a different song!

From Chris Hill on March 30, 2012 at 3:15 PM
Love the comments and will add my two cents. I loved the Harry Potter queue, but that was as far as I made it. When I got to the ride portion I was not able to ride due to my size. Yes, I am big, but at 6' 5" I end up having issues on many of the over the shoulder rides.

For that reason and the fact that in 20 years who knows if Harry Potter will hold up, I voted for Haunted Mansion. But I will add, the HM queue addition is a joke compared to the far superior Harry Potter one.

From 74.82.64.160 on March 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM
Kind of confused by the complaint that "everything happens at once/wrong" in Harry Potter

Isn't that the premise of almost every theme pakr ride

The ghost happen to be having a party? Every villian for Spiderman shows up at once? Donald loses mickey's hat and ends up in every disney movie? The raptors and T rex both get loose on the same day? Mickey gets attacked in his dreams by every villian (even ones he's never met spanning real, myth, fairy tale and others), you show up when the carribean town is being pillaged not the day before?

Chaos is pretty much the theme of every ride with exception to Small World

So curious if anyone who didn't vote Harry Potter due to "chaos", how did you reconcile a vote for Fantasmic

From Randall Peek on March 30, 2012 at 3:40 PM
The Haunted Mansion can be ridden by anyone. Harry Potter has size limitations. Given that there are members of my family who would not be able to go on HP, and that I would not want to go on the ride without them, I find it very easy to cast my vote for the Haunted Mansion. It is, and always has been, an equal opportunity crowd-pleaser. Over forty years after its debut, it still stands as an epic achievement in ride design.
From Mark Kausch on March 30, 2012 at 3:48 PM
"Holey moley! That was an amazingly thrilling, technologically advanced ride, I need to get in line again!"

That's right. I've never thought that about Haunted Mansion. But I've never been on Potter (loved the books, loved the movies) so I've never thought that about Forbidden Journey, either. Nor have I ever thought the above was the definition of "best".

So, I'm voting for HM. I'm not a Disney Fan Boy (OK, I am, but I've never thought of myself that way), but I've gotta go for what I know. And a vote for HP is not necessarily a vote for Diz to get going - it's a vote for WDW to move up. Cali's doing just fine, thank you.

BTW, I've voted for HP in every round except this one, something I can't say for HM. However, something that *might* have swayed me if I didn't have my own mind, is so many of the posters for HP had to resort to name calling justify their votes.

From TROY DAVIDSON on March 30, 2012 at 3:57 PM
All I can say is I would love a "Haunted House" attraction that's maybe PG-13 at Universal with a unique ride system like Harry Potter. The Kuka robotic arms have a really unlimited amount of range of motion and could do some really cool things. I vote for Harry Potter because of the innovation, but, my heart belongs to the Haunted Mansion!
From José María Sandoval on March 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM
HM it's for the whole family
From Giovanny Cruz on March 30, 2012 at 4:03 PM
By accident I voted for Haunted mansion but my vote was going to FJ because the tech is better and I don't see my family falling asleep
From Colton McLaughlin on March 30, 2012 at 4:07 PM
Thanks, N B. I agree with you and everyone else who has said that this has more or less turned into Disney V. Universal.

@Mark: My definition for best is a ride that sets the bar for theme parks. That was just my first reaction to FJ...
I don't believe I did any name calling, either...

From Mark Kausch on March 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM
@Colton: Nope, I understood your meaning quite well and it was well thought out. Just used the quote as a jumping off point for my definition of "best" which really does differ from person to person.

And I didn't mean to imply that you were name calling; terms like Disney Fan Boys/Mafia/etc by others just kinda got my goat.

From James Rao on March 30, 2012 at 4:59 PM
Hey, I'm a Disney fan boy (can't you tell by the Sleeping Beauty heart shaped locket I wear?), and I voted for Universal's Boy Wonder. What do you mean Disney vs. Universal? Rubbish.
From TH Creative on March 30, 2012 at 5:02 PM
Voting for Potter over the Haunted Mansion is the theme park equivalent of voting for Justin Bieber over The Beatles. Haunted Mansion is the Godfather of dark rides. Potter should feel humbled and blessed to place second.
From TH Creative on March 30, 2012 at 5:02 PM
And for the record ... I voted for the Jungle Cruise.
From 71.224.78.0 on March 30, 2012 at 5:06 PM
@Mark: Ah, I see. I agree with the name calling, it's pretty ridiculous. Can't people like something without being called a name?
From James Rao on March 30, 2012 at 5:12 PM
I voted for the removal of the Jungle Snooze from all parks, foreign and domestic.
From Brad Schuster on March 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM
If it wasnt for so many people voting for HM who havent even been on HP, this vote wouldnt even be close. I think thats kind of sad and I dont think people should vote unless they have been on both, but thats the end of my brief rant. HM will ALWAYS be a classic and it is one of the best, most atmosphereic and immersive theme park rides ever, but HP is not only every bit as immersive, it is also a cutting edge masterpiece with thrills, storytelling, and eye popping special effects galore. It seemlessly bends simulator elements with terrific full size props and effects and it feels like you are really flying around with Harry. The ride system is also unique and pushes the boundries of creativity for a dark ride even beyond what Disney did with Indy. The whomping willow sequence is especially memorable. It also strives to do things that no other theme park ride, including any at Disney, has ever done. I was wowed by the fact that the ride takes your picture and when the dementors suck out your "soul", your actual picture hovers in front of you. That is an ingenious touch and Disney should take note of creative thinking like that. Also, while HM is immersive and has a great pre-show, HP's walk through Hogwarts castle is nearly as breathtaking as the actual ride. Everything about it screams top notch from start to finish. It is more than a ride it is a pure HP experience and it should be recognized for its greatness regardless of what company was behind it.
From Brad Schuster on March 30, 2012 at 5:43 PM
Speaking of innovation, what if Disney used the robo arm ride system and built Horizons2 at epcot. Can you imagine the Possibilities ? Well a fan can dream cant he...
From Mark Fairleigh on March 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM
I can't speak for anyone else, but I've been on both FJ and HM and I voted Haunted Mansion. Not because I'm a Disney-maniac, I'm not. For a long time I was a die-hard Universal fanatic who looked at Disney mainly as the enemy. Thankfully, I gave up that way of thinking and have come to embrace and love both. That being said, I love Forbidden Journey and it's many innovations, including the wonderful queue area. But I LOVE Haunted Mansion. I'm a Halloween nut so I'm partial to it.

We can easily argue the technical wizardry of FJ, but there are also technical touches to be marveled at in HM. The revamped M.C. Escheresque staircase for example. And the revamped Hitchhiking Ghosts sequence. As good as any technical touch on FJ imho. So I don't see the gulf between the two being so wide a valid case can't be made for HM. Again my opinion. They both have unique touches, but HM is for me the better overall attraction. And not because it's "classic"...it's insulting to assume everyone who votes for HM is simply voting for that reason or because of company-bias.

Bottom line, it's personal taste. I have no faults with someone voting for FJ for their own reasons. The name-calling and calling out, by some, of people who don't vote the way you do is simply immature on both sides of the vote. Can't we just respect one another?

From 75.184.4.64 on March 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM
Harry Potter was really good..the castle itself was someing to see but The Haunted Mansion is classic hands down.
From N B on March 30, 2012 at 7:16 PM
I think TH is trolling for an argument.... Since I am too lazy to debate and dont have the where-with-all to defend myself right now, I'll pass.

Mark, we made the switch, but the other way around. I don't see Disney as "evil" by any means, I just find it impossible to relax at the particular time we go every year due to massive crowds and long waits.

Both rides are great, whichever comes out on top is fine with me. But Haunted Mansion being ranked higher than Tower of Terror anywhere is a travesty. I can't help but wonder if the voting is in response to ToT losing to FJ a couple days ago.

I think the Disney fans are voting in droves for anything to take over the number one spot purely for the need to appear at the top of a list somewhere for bragging rights.

From 98.21.223.225 on March 30, 2012 at 7:29 PM
I don't really want you to explain it to me..... but how did it come down to these two? I know Harry Potter is what a lot of readers on this site are ga ga over..... but out of all the competitors..... how did it end up battling Haunted Mansion for the best attraction of 2012? Wierd....
From Skipper Adam on March 30, 2012 at 8:01 PM
FJ is over rated. Fun, but too much credit is given too it. Haunted Mansion is fun to, and I simply think it is better. That's it, it's not complicated, I think it is more fun to ride. I'm sorry if that confuses the Potter people.
From Dominick D on March 30, 2012 at 8:21 PM
TH nailed it on the head.
From travis traymoore on March 30, 2012 at 11:29 PM
reason haunted mansion should win: it's an ORIGINAL storyline! HP was made from an a pre-made idea while the imagineers started from scratch
From 173.169.76.99 on March 31, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Haunted Mansion forever FTW!!!! :)
From Caroline Davis on March 31, 2012 at 1:28 AM
Well at least Soarin' didn't win...
From 71.68.65.122 on March 31, 2012 at 4:42 AM
The video gamer kids will vote HP, because most of the visual impact comes from a video. The Haunted Mansion was created in the same era that the 'theme park' was invented. Both are innovative, but if I'm going to watch a Harry Potter movie, I'd prefer some popcorn, and not to have to wear full body restraints...
From Joseph Catlett on March 31, 2012 at 5:10 AM
Another argument for Potter...there is an unprecedented phenomenon in which people who hate motion simuator style rides actually wait in the hour plus queue simply to experience just that, the QUEUE and then leave NOT to ride.
In terms of full experience, taking you to another reality, nothing else comes quite as close.
From Beth Olliges on March 31, 2012 at 6:12 AM
I voted for HM for a very simple reason: I enjoy it. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, and was really looking forward to my visit this past December, but I left the ride feeling rather disappointed (not to mention disoriented and nauseated). The ride itself just isn't an experience I'd call "enjoyable."
From 69.155.124.6 on March 31, 2012 at 6:29 AM
I love all things Harry Potter, but the Haunted Mansion is what makes me a theme park nut. I will not go to Disney if the Haunted Mansion is down. It is a favorite of our entire family, and it is the first and last ride we ride on our trips (with a few exceptions). I feel like the HM will never be repeated, and it should never be substantially altered like adding movie characters or changing the voice of the narrator. It perfectly captures the wonder and fear of childhood, and cannot be equaled.
From Mark Hollamon on March 31, 2012 at 6:36 AM
I wanted to chime in again on this because of all the banter back and forth over this final showdown.

I LOVE the theming of the queue on FJ. One of if not the best queue's I have ever seen with regard to technology, but even with that is the queue anymore spectacular than that of Expedition Everest? I surely don't think so! Take a look at some pictures from the region of the Himalayas and then look at the ride area and WOW.

I digress.....

When you talk storyline, FJ had all these movies already in the can for the most part and a storyline was already in place for the ride and I think IOA missed the mark by putting too many elements in the ride. It is too cluttered and each time I have been on it certain features of the ride were not operating.

Now look at HM. The attraction AND it's story were created at once from scratch. This attraction was state of the art then and even though newer technology is out there, HM still entertains MILLIONS of people annually after being in service for DECADES. Let's see if FJ still has that kind of pop in 40 years or so.

It's not about Disney vs. USF to me. Very different parks. I must commend USF for designing a new area of the park that TOTALLY immerses you in HP. That is very cool. On the negative side of that the HP area of IOA is so tight that it is uncomfortable to walk through most of the time. That takes away from my overall enjoyment factor.

I give FJ a 10 for the theme and architecture, but only a 5 for the ride itself.

From James Tacey on March 31, 2012 at 7:57 AM
Normally I abstain from votes where I haven't been on both. Just because there's a poll, doesn't mean I MUST vote, and just because I've only been on one, doesn't mean that the ride I've been on deserves a vote. This time though, since there are so many people saying "I haven't been on FJ, so I'm voting for HM" I thought I'd do the right thing and vote for FJ, even though I haven't been on it. I'm perfectly willing to accept that there are rides out that I haven't been on, that are better than some of the ones I have been on.

For the record I really like HM, and am pretty well convinced that everything about Universal parks (from the layout to crowd control to the staff to the hotels to food to the way riders are accommodated) is miles behind what Disney do. I'm in no way a Universal fan-boy. But to say HM is better because that's the one you've been on is insane. What if you've only been to Tom Sawyer's Island? Both are in the same bracket for this tournament, if they came up against each other, would you really vote for it over FJ? Even though most people who have been on both say FJ is better like the case here??

Anyway, I think I've said quite enough, carry on with your day :)

*Quietly sits back down wondering if it was really a good idea to piss off both Disney and Universal fans*

From Rob Pastor on March 31, 2012 at 8:40 AM
James: Good evaluation. I was basically thinking the same thing, though in my mind it was Snow White (classic nostalgic dark ride) instead of Tom Sawyer beating Harry Potter. Harry Potter has a tough road to climb since it's new and not many people have experienced the queue and ride. If everything was equal on number of voters who were on both attractions, I don't think the race would be anywhere this close. I would guess that the vast majority of HM votes were from voters that had not been on Harry Potter yet & have no desire to attend a Universal Park .Harry Potter has come from way behind and now the championship is up for grabs. There is no way the vote should have been as lopsided as it was Friday evening. People are so resistant to what is new & different sometimes. I am no fan of the Harry Potter books or movies, but, in my opinion, the Harry Potter ride & village is an innovative attraction that is a big plus for the future of theme parks everywhere. And as Robert Niles has said, it pushes Disney to get more innovative & expansive. That's a plus plus for everyone.
From Rob Pastor on March 31, 2012 at 9:09 AM
Dom: I have a post coming up that I forgot to log in on, so this is it again...On last year's Disney vacation we rode HM once. There were at least twenty other attractions we rode numerous times. Pirates, Splash, TOT, RRC we rode at least 5 times each. In my opinion, HM is a very good ride but it is not anywhere near my favorite Disney ride, let alone The Best Attraction.
From 74.82.64.144 on March 31, 2012 at 9:14 AM
Still impressed Harry Potter may beat the Gauntlet of 8 Disney rides in two rounds.

As one FJ in a slower, granted still busy 365 park is beating/tied a ride represented in four incarnations worldwide is impressive.

Include that many Universal fans aren't Potter fans...see any Jaws Ride website or blog for proof

From Rod Whitenack on March 31, 2012 at 9:42 AM
This is a confrontation for the ages. It's a battle of old VS new; the best themed attraction from a bygone era VS the best themed attraction using the best modern technology that money can buy. Do you fall on the side of nostalgia or do you get more excited about the advancement of technology? It's also a battle of Disney VS Universal, the seasoned knights of old VS the upstart, new kids. I don't think there's a correct opinion here. These two attractions represent the best of the best in this industry and either one will make a fine champion. My heart has no choice but to pick the Haunted Mansion because it changed my life at just the right age, but that's not a vote against Forbidden Journey which may have done the exact same thing had I been growing up now.
From robert morris on March 31, 2012 at 9:59 AM
So when can we start the worst theme park attraction tournament?

#1 Seed: Sounds Dangerous
#2 Seed: Triceratops Trail
#3 Seed: Turtle Point
#4 Seed: Stichs Great Escape

From Rob Pastor on March 31, 2012 at 10:10 AM
#5 Seed: Tricera Top Spin
#6 Seed: Forgetfully gone...Jimmy Neutron
From Joshua Counsil on March 31, 2012 at 10:17 AM
I disagree with your analogy, TH. Voting for Haunted Mansion over Forbidden Journey without having experienced the latter is like voting for classic rock over new-age music just because it's what you grew up with. I love classic rock, but when it becomes so saturated within our society that you begin hearing it at grocery stores and pharmacies, it no longer has the impact it once had.

Haunted Mansion is a beautiful attraction, but it comes from an era where essentially three types of rides existed: cycle rides, dark track rides, and roller coasters. Disney and its contemporaries have capitalized on the success of dark track rides and saturated the market such that the Mansion is nothing out of the ordinary. Conversely, Forbidden Journey takes advantage of several innovative attraction technologies to create something cutting edge and wicked fun, and really, that's all a theme park attraction needs to be. Unlike good music, good theme park rides are not going to provoke deep thoughts or social change, so why make a comparative analogy, anyway?

From Rob Pastor on March 31, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Robert Niles: A possible idea for next year's tournament. A seperate category for BEST CLASSIC ATTRACTION (25? years or older).
From 92.20.114.227 on March 31, 2012 at 1:29 PM
I firmly believe the only reason HM has done so well in this vote is due to the amount of "Disney vs Universal" atmosphere that is apparent on websites like this.
From Mike Seary on March 31, 2012 at 3:27 PM
"You didn't vote for the same thing I did, OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE WRONG AND I AM RIGHT".

...are we seriously getting that butthurt about the results? Name calling? Disney Mafia/fanboys and Video-game generation nerds?


...simmer down. I like them both and refuse to say which one I voted for, for fear of being drawn into a 20-reply convo arguing about and defending my choice, and I am pretty sure that's not the intent of this competition.

For the select few who are really getting worked up over this, CHILL OUT.

From James Koehl on March 31, 2012 at 3:42 PM
Well said, Mike. That is the problem with any sort of competition like this, where there is no way to have an apple-to-apple comparison. There is not a maximum amount of fun available, so that if I enjoy Haunted Mansion I can't enjoy Harry Potter. I can like both of them- both have outstanding features that make them unique.
From James Rao on March 31, 2012 at 4:15 PM
I like them both, but I voted for the winner cause I am smarter than 49% of you! Especially Koehl! Anyone with a first name like his has to be a moron! ;p
From James Koehl on March 31, 2012 at 6:12 PM
I'm sorry James- were you talking about me? I was busy watching a POV video on YouTube of next year's best attraction winner, "Jungle Cruise".
From James Rao on March 31, 2012 at 6:46 PM
Grrrrrrr.....
From Manny Barron on March 31, 2012 at 9:55 PM
HP and the Forbidden Journey is the winner....but if Back to the Future the Ride would have been in this tournament it would have been a different result.
From Randall Peek on April 1, 2012 at 1:49 AM
Color me confused... I thought next year's winner will be Rocket Rods. Yeah, it hasn't been in existence for over ten years now, but why let a little thing like that keep us from voting for it? Oh, and it may not have been much fun, and it may have had more downtime than uptime during its short life, but hey, can't we all just agree to put it through to the finals?

Just kidding, there...

From James Koehl on April 1, 2012 at 6:00 AM
Randall, I forgot about Rocket Rods! OK, Rocket Rods for next year's best coaster and Jungle Cruise for best attraction. Who get's the win for Best Show of 2013? Come on, James Rao, you must have an opinion on this?
From James Rao on April 1, 2012 at 10:46 AM
For best show I am somewhat partial to Worlds of Fun's Hoof-N-Woof Roundup. Those crazy canines can do some amazing tricks!
From Mike Gallagher on April 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM
^If I DO make it out there this summer, I think I'll skip that...
From robert morris on April 1, 2012 at 1:51 PM
If Soarin can be the runner up for Show, I'm thinking Rip Rockit has a shot for Best Show next year since it features music.
From Manny Barron on April 1, 2012 at 9:41 PM
Dominick, yeah I know BTTF was in the tourney and lost to Soarin I believe. I meant to put what if BTTF was in the finals against Forbidden Journey, my bad...Anyway next year will be interesting to see how Radiator Springs Racers does as well as Transformers, now that it will reach a wider audience here in America.
From Sylvain Comeau on April 1, 2012 at 11:44 PM
For the record, there is no "story" to Mansion, there never was, and it doesn't need one. It's a trip through various areas of a haunted mansion, and creepy things happen. Who needs a story for that?

Story has to be the most overrated concept in theme park rides. The fixation on story was Eisner's "innovation". Walt, who set the template for modern theme parks, knew intuitively that most rides don't need a story. That's why Jungle Cruise, Pirates (the original version) and HM have little or no story. Walt didn't bother with that, and those rides have stood the test of time.

Most rides have only the flimsiest storyline, basically an excuse or framework for a series of loosely connected scenes and/or experiences for the rider. That's as it should be, because experience is what a ride is all about.

FJ is a good example, too; riding with Harry through various experiences drawn from the books/movies is a rail-thin "story" -- and it works.

If you want a story or plot, read a book (if anyone even reads anymore).

From 98.21.209.217 on April 2, 2012 at 5:45 PM
Atleast now that this is a wrap we can focus on what is new for the year and things that are news to the industry more now. I hope to see more coverage of some of the new things to come this year..... like the soon to open Verbolton coaster in Busch Gardens. Can I get a POV soon please?!??

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