2013 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Radiator Springs Racers vs. Splash Mountain
Written by Robert Niles
Disney loves big fake rocks, doesn't it?
Blessed with the budgets that being the worldwide market leader in theme parks delivers, Disney's Imagineers don't always limit themselves to working with the land where their parks sit. They sometimes create massive new vistas -- mountains, cliffs and plateaus to provide homes for their thrill ride creations.
Radiator Springs Racers takes visitors through the world of Pixar's Cars movies, as you ride inside one of the eponymous vehicles for a tour of Radiator Springs, followed by a high speed race around Ornament Valley. Radiator Springs Racers is the highlight of Cars Land, which was itself the centerpiece of Disney's $1 billion-plus revamp of the California Adventure park. Framed by the multi-stories tall rockwork of the Cadillac Range, Racers uses the ride system theme park fans first saw on Epcot's Test Track to create an engaging themed ride that blend character-driven storytelling with a fun touch of high-speed thrill. It's all very comforting -- one of the few major attractions where nothing "goes terribly wrong."
With the Magic Kingdom's Splash Mountain down for a much-needed refurbishment until later this month, we're going today with the Disneyland version, which has looked better than its east coast sibling in recent years.
Splash Mountain debuted at Disneyland in 1989, the first of three installations of the ride around the world. (The third is at Tokyo Disneyland.) Inspired by Knott's iconic Timber Mountain Log Ride, Splash Mountain provided Disney with a place to feature its "Song of the South" characters and the Academy Award-winning song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" after Disney deep-sixed the film. Facing the Rivers of America, Splash's 50-foot drop has become one of the great photo ops in any Disney theme park, and the musical sections within the mountain have become a beloved part of a Disney theme park visit for millions.
And yet… only one of these rides is moving on to the quarterfinals of this year's tournament. Racers or Splash? If you're standing in the Disneyland Resort esplanade, to which ride do you run first?
Thanks for a great first week of this year's tournament. We'll continue Monday with another first-round match-up, this time of popular rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey vs. Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges.
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