The 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Journey to the Center of the Earth versus 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Written by Robert Niles
We're halfway through the first round of the 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament, and we hope that you've enjoyed this opportunity to learn a little more about some of the world's top theme park attractions located outside the United States. Before we get to today's match-up of two popular dark rides from the world's best theme park, let's review the results to date:Tweet
Dark ride bracket:
Roller coaster bracket:
Today, we're back in the dark ride bracket to feature two amazing attractions from the Mysterious Island land at Tokyo DisneySea. Dominated by the iconic Mount Prometheus, Mysterious Island is the literal centerpiece of DisneySea, the park Theme Park Insider fans have selected as the world's best for the past two years. Inspired by Jules Verne novels and sharing a steampunk-inspired look, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea might be the two rides in the tournament most poorly represented by online videos.
Before we go any further, let's clarify that Tokyo DisneySea's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is not a clone of the submarine ride that ran for many years at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. You'll find a duplicate of one of the old Nautilus ride vehicles moored in the lagoon at the center of Mysterious Island, but the ride itself is a dry dark ride that simulates an underwater adventure in a deep sea diving bell.
On board, you're sitting on one of three two-person benches inside the submersible, each with its own window. Using your joystick, you can control the lights that illuminate some of the mysteries awaiting your discovery in the deep. You're searching for the lost continent of Atlantis, and along the way, you will encounter a ship's graveyard in "Kraken Reef" and a surprise encounter in "Lucifer's Trench." Hey, with a name like that, nothing possibly could go wrong, right?
We mentioned that online POV videos don't do today's rides justice. That's because both are exceptionally dark, relying upon lighting effects and the element of surprise for much of their appeal. Anything less than top-quality professional video equipment fails to capture adequately the lighting contrast on these rides. (My attempt to film 20K was rubbish.) And you'd need some really slick editing to deliver the full effect of the ride's surprises. So we'll offer a short promotional video of 20K from DisneySea, which includes a bonus of rare off-ride footage that reveals a bit more about the attraction's ride system.
Journey to the Center of the Earth has stood atop the Theme Park Insider rankings as the world's top attraction for several months now. Like 20K, the attraction is a masterpiece of stagecraft, using light, sound, heat, and motion to create a multi-sensory experience. If in 20K you explored the depths of the sea, in this attraction you will explore the depths of the Earth.
Traveling through caverns within Mount Prometheus, walking past oozing lava in the queue, you come to Captain Nemo's underground laboratories, where you can see the sketches of the wonders that await you even deeper inside the Earth.
You'll then board a "Terravator" to descend to the expedition's base station, where you will board an eight-passenger mining vehicle to travel through the tunnels bored by previous explorers. You'll descend into crystal caverns and encounter a giant mushroom forests filled with bizarre creatures before an earthquake knocks you off course. A lightning storm nearly finished you before you emerge into the heart of the volcano, where a giant lava monster awaits.
Imagine if Expedition Everest's Yeti not only worked, and it was a freakin' ninja of a monster. The encounter of with the monster provides the highlight of the ride, a rapid-fire combination punch of effects that culminates with the volcano's eruption launching you out of the mountain for a high-speed ride around the caldera of the ancient volcano.
Sure, it's the same ride system as Test Track and Radiator Springs Racers, but Journey to the Center of the Earth feels nothing like those tame experiences. Again, here's the park's promo video, which omits the encounter with the monster.
You can't go wrong with either of these attractions, of course. But it's time to vote.
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