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2013 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey vs. Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

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Published: March 11, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Let's recap the 2013 Theme Park Insider Tournament to date:

  • Haunted Mansion defeated Pirates of the Caribbean 62%-38%
  • Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man defeated Revenge of the Mummy 60%-40%
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth defeated Sindbad's Storybook Voyage 88%-12%
  • Transformers: The Ride defeated Men in Black Alien Attack 53%-47%
  • Splash Mountain defeated Radiator Springs Racers 52%-48%

We've got three more first-round match-ups this week before we start the quarterfinal match-ups on Thursday. Today's first-round contest features two popular rides from Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure theme park.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is your defending tournament champion, and the winner of the 2010 Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction. The highlight of Universal's acclaimed Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Forbidden Journey has helped Universal to win new fans and earn record revenue, fueling an expansion of Universal theme parks around the world.

Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

Harry Potter's success might cause some to forget that Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges once was part of a game-changer for Universal, too. Rapids rides existed long before Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, but Popeye took them to new level, with immersive theming and more ways to soak passengers than a rapids ride had ever thrown at them before. For fans who can't handle the topsy turbulence of Harry Potter, but are looking for a way to cool off on a hot Orlando day, Popeye offers an attractive alternative.

So let's vote:


Campaign for your favorite, in the comments.

Tomorrow: Pooh's Hunny Hunt vs. Kilimanjaro Safaris

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Readers' Opinions

From Kelly Muggleton on March 11, 2013 at 9:55 AM
Hmmm...a ride where you have to buy new clothes when you exit, or the best themed ride in years. Tough call :-)
From Dominick D on March 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Easy choice, FJ.
From Robert Niles on March 11, 2013 at 10:01 AM
I don't know, Kelly, I think FJ is selling plenty of new clothes at its exit, too! :^)
From Tony Webb on March 11, 2013 at 10:11 AM
i wonder how many people will vote for Popeyes because they re really voting against HP
From Daniel Etcheberry on March 11, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Today's tournament is a no brainer. Butterbeer wins over spinach by a landslide.
From Troy Dilport on March 11, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Yeah, this one was a no-brainer. Popeye is fun, but Forbidden Journey is completely amazing.
From Rod Whitenack on March 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM
This pairing seems a bit unfair. It's the biggest, most high tech ride based on a currently poular franchise VS a hundred year old comic strip based water flume? These two rides aren't even in the same ride genre, since anyone who dislikes getting wet will vote against anyting other than a water flume. Since there are likely one Popeye fan out there for every 10,000 Harry Potter fans, the results here are a foregone conclusion.
From Rob Pastor on March 11, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Popeye & Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges is the best pure water soaking ride in theme parks . Excellent theming, especially the boat wash. But it's not in the same class as Harry Potter. This is an easy vote for Harry Potter.
From Rod Whitenack on March 11, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Unlike the cutthroat (pun intended) Pirates VS Haunted Mansion nailbiter, this is just a free pass for Harry Potter to jump to Round Two! If Potter had to face The Mummy or, say, The Transformers or Spider-man, this would be a whole different Round One.
From James Rao on March 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM
In honor of TH Creative (who has been eerily silent in this tournament so far - watcha working on in your RL, TH?), I voted for the Jungle Snooze...err...I mean, Jungle Cruise.
From robert morris on March 11, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Heck Popeye is doing better than I thought...

Interesting side note that most people miss is that Popeye is actually a mini land of Sweet Haven with it's own restaurant(albeit normally closed) Wimpy's and a children's play area along with a nicely themed walkway along the lagoon.

Even the best water ride in the world can't beat potter today

Would have been curious to see Popeye against Splash, curious if that was almost a matchup Mr. Niles

From Jack Curley on March 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM
It's only been warm enough to go on water rides one of the times I've gone to IOA, and I didn't even go on Popeye then. So I think I might know who I'm voting for.
From 141.117.27.104 on March 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Well, I thought SM vs RSR was a no brainer too, but vote-what-you-know won.
I am glad to see enough people have been on FJ.
Disappointed not to see RSR go at least another round.
From robert morris on March 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM
So looks like Popeye will secure 15th place right in front of Sinbad's Journey
From Mike Brilhart on March 11, 2013 at 1:35 PM
This should be ruled a no contest; it isn't even a fair fight...
From David L. on March 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM
Popeye. Now before you start thinking I'm crazy (ok, I am), let me explain. Potter is better themed (the queue is incredible!) and has a far more impressive exterior, but it is far from the best dark ride in my opinion. It's kind of like a flexible Soarin' in a way with less impressive screens. Popeye is my favorite raft ride out there. The theme is great. It's without a doubt more thrilling than Potter. It gets you wet (always a plus). It's more of a fun ride. I personally enjoy my time on Popeye more than Potter, despite my love of the Potter books and the fact that I've never seen/read Popeye.
From Bryce McGibeny on March 11, 2013 at 2:45 PM
Kind of sad. Popeye is such a great attraction, but obviously Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is better. It's a ground breaking attraction that is really unlike anything else in the world. Popeye just can't compete.
From David L. on March 11, 2013 at 3:04 PM
By the way, I'm going to start campaigning for Pooh so hopefully people will actually see this before they vote.

I haven't ridden Pooh, and I love Kilimanjaro. However, Pooh consistently gets rave reviews not only for a unique exterior and an incredibly detailed queue, but for the immersive theme and sophisticated ride system. Both rides take you to another world with impressive visuals, but Pooh has incorperated scenes from a sotry that never fails to impress. Kilimanjaro lacks the gaurunteed joy ride that Pooh offers. The time of day, the driver, and the whims of the animals can all affect the quality of the ride. Pooh is different in a good way each ride. I'd much rather ride Pooh, and I hope you would too.

From Matt Babiak on March 11, 2013 at 3:10 PM
I am a little disappointed at todays results. I personally hated FJ. I'm a huge HP fan (All books, all movies), and the que was FAR more impressive than the actual ride. Also, I disagree to whoever says that upsets make the tournament boring. Rather, it's exciting to see how far they go. I couldn't name one person on earth who wouldn't be excited to see Indiana lose in the first round, so why should RSR or a potential FJ loss make anyone less willing to follow this?
From 92.237.20.57 on March 11, 2013 at 3:23 PM
Totally unfair comparison. All of the previous ones have been fair as ride for ride comparisons were very similar. Totally different dynamics, and totally different budget. Shame this competition has been ruined with this one as Popeye rightly deserves to progress, but you really cant compare it to HP. I dont like HP as much as i should as its too fast and the action is too close to your face meaning you lose a lot of the amazing action scenes, but its undoubtedly an amazing ride
From Jay R. on March 11, 2013 at 6:05 PM
Still a little bummed about RSR not making it through.....(it coulda been a contenda) Or maybe just shocked it got eliminated in the first round :-(

But looks like FJ is going to go far in this

From AJ Hummel on March 11, 2013 at 7:34 PM
I haven't been on either, so I voted using these criteria:

1. Which do I prefer, a high-tech dark ride or an average rapids ride?
2. Which property am I more interested in, Harry Potter or Popeye?
3. If I could only ride one or the other, which would I choose?

Harry Potter wins all three, so that's my vote. Given the incredible reception that attraction has, I'd be surprised if anything other than Journey to the Center of the Earth is able to dethrone it (although I personally think Harry Potter looks ever so slightly better than Journey).

From Bryce McGibeny on March 11, 2013 at 7:51 PM
^Popeye is far more than your "average" rapids ride in terms of theming, speed, fun and overall wetness. Just sayin'.
From Anthony Murphy on March 11, 2013 at 8:44 PM
While it is a longshot, I voted for Popeye's which I believe is the best water ride I have ever been on (yes, Splash Mountain too).
From AJ Hummel on March 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Yes, Bryce, you're right, but I was just comparing the ride system itself and not the overall attraction. Standard would have probably been a better word to use, as I don't doubt that Popeye is probably the best rapids ride in North America. Unfortunately, that doesn't help me as I'm not the biggest fan of rapids rides (I do like water rides, but prefer log flumes or boat rides and a moderate amount of wetness versus a drenching). I'll still ride them, but they are rarely a priority for me.
From Kelly Muggleton on March 12, 2013 at 3:42 AM
Hahaha Robert is so right... from a (previously) non-HP fan, to the proud owner of a Muggle t-shirt. But it was really more for my name! :-)
As Banksy named his film - Exit through the (highly themed) gift shop!
From Brandon Townsend on March 12, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Popeye produces way more laughter and pure joy. You always interact with people you don't know and everyone is smiling and screaming. HP is one of the greatest themed rides ever produced, but Popeye has the magic.

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