One of our goals with the annual Theme Park Insider Tournament is to draw your attention to some of the great attractions at theme parks around the world you might not know from a personal visit. Unfortunately, many of those great attractions end up as sacrificial lambs, knocked out of the first round by more familiar attractions in the United States.
We've been running tournaments each March since 2008, so you've had plenty of opportunities to vote for attractions in the United States. So this year, we're going to help ensure that the spotlight remains on those other great attractions outside the U.S. by limiting the field to those rides.
We have selected eight dark rides and eight roller coasters from theme parks outside the United States for this year's Theme Park Insider Tournament field. They include some of the world's top-rated rides, as judged by Theme Park Insider readers. Since we're trying to focus on unique attractions, they do not include dark rides that share the same name or substantially similar ride experience as "sister" attractions in the United States, even if they might be different than the U.S. versions.
So you won't find Disneyland Paris' version of Pirates of the Caribbean or Tokyo Disney Sea's Indiana Jones - Temple of the Crystal Skull in this year's field. But you will find some wonderfully unique attractions that, we hope, might inspire you to dream about — or perhaps even begin to plan — a trip abroad to visit some of these gems.
Concerned that you don't know enough about these rides to make a decision? Don't be. Each day, we'll post links to those rides' Theme Park Insider attraction listing pages, so you can read more about them and see what other Theme Park Insider readers have said. We'll also try to provide on-ride video for the rides, too, so you can take at least a virtual trip on each ride before voting. Then just pick the one you'd want to go on first if both that day's rides magically appeared at your nearest theme park.
We'll start the tournament today on the dark ride side of the field. Since I'm late posting this today, we'll open the voting on this match-up for 48 hours,
though we will limit balloting to 24 hours for each subsequent vote in the tournament. (*Oh, what the heck? We'll leave all votes open for 48 hours.) The attractions getting the most votes advance to the next round. After the first round, we'll seed the winners for each following round, based on the the overall votes cast in their previous match-up.
Here are the first-round votes, and when they'll appear. We will alternate each day between the dark ride and roller coaster brackets. The winners of each bracket will face off at the end for the overall title of best theme park attraction outside the United States.
So let's get the tournament started, shall we? Today's match-up features two dark rides aimed at kids, but with plenty of appeal for grown-ups, too.
Universal Studios Singapore's Sesame Street: Spaghetti Space Chase offers a wacky hurtle through space, where you will help Elmo, Big Bird, and their Muppet friends to defeat the evil Macaroni the Merciless as he plots to steal the world's spaghetti reserves. Now, if you're wondering why the Sesame Street characters are in a Universal Studios theme park, let's note that SeaWorld/Busch Gardens only has the U.S. rights to the Sesame Workshop characters. In Asia, those rights belong to Universal, which is why you'll find Sesame Street in Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan.
And the opponent?
Tokyo DisneySea's Sindbad's Storybook Voyage takes you on a gentle musical adventure through the legendary character's epic voyage, from his home port to Mermaid Rocks, to Rukh Island, the Cave of the Giant, Palace of the Sultan, Land of the Monkeys, Whale Straits and back home. This indoor boat ride is based on the Persian legend and includes a theme song composed by Disney Legend Alan Menken, "Compass of your Heart."
Time to vote!
Please use the social media buttons below to campaign for your favorites, and let us know what you think about these rides, in the comments. Thanks for joining us for this year's tournament. We hope you'll enjoy it!
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