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The 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars vs. Formula Rossa

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Published: March 13, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Before we get to the final first-round match-up in our 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament, let's take a moment to honor another roller coaster that would have made the field, had it not (apparently) closed permanently last summer.

Battlestar Galactica at Universal Studios Singapore twisted Vekoma inverted and sit-down coasters into a dueling battle in the park's Sci-Fi City, over the shore of the park's central lagoon. The sit-down "Human" side was one of my favorite coasters anywhere, a quick, twisty delight with abundant airtime and wicked visuals not only of the park but of the dueling "Cylon" inverted coaster train whizzing by, seemingly within reach at times.

Battlestar Galactica

Technical problems plagued this coaster from its birth, and the ride closed again last summer. It has not reopened. Universal Studios Singapore has removed it from the park's map and list of attractions, and taken down its signage. So, I guess this is farewell, Battlestar Galactica. You will be missed.

Our two contestants today represent the opposite ends of the thrill scale. But they both illustrate how the roller coaster form often is used to represent other forms of transport. The other coasters in our tournament this year are just coasters — they don't pretend to be anything else. Our featured coasters today, though, show the use of coasters to fit a particular theme, whether it be a runaway mine train in the old American West or a high-speed race car on a modern Formula 1 track.

When Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars opened at Hong Kong Disneyland in 2012, theme park fans around the world began to take more favorable notice of a park that, until then, had been considered the runt of the Disney litter, along with Walt Disney Studios Paris.

Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars

A mashup of Big Thunder Mountain and Expedition Everest (thanks to a backward section), Big Grizzly Mountain is the centerpiece of the park's Grizzly Gulch land, part of the expansion that set the stage for debut last year of Mystic Point and the Theme Park Insider Award-winning Mystic Manor. Let's take a ride:

While Big Grizzly Mountain offers a family-friendly ride experience, Ferrari World's Formula Rossa can be considered "family friendly" only if your family name is Andretti.

Formula Rossa

Launching into a blistering top speed of 149 miles per hour, this Intamin creation, styled to suggest a Ferrari F1 car, actually requires you to wear safety goggles to ride, to protect your eyes from the blowing sand in the Arabian desert that surrounds the park. While the rest of Ferrari World is contained within the park's massive Abu Dhabi building, Formula Rossa's track extends outside of the park building. Here are F1 drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso riding:

Time to vote!


The vote is open for 48 hours. Campaign in the comments.

With this vote, we're ready to move on to the next round of the 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament, honoring top attractions outside the United States. We'll post semi-final votes in the Dark Ride and Roller Coaster brackets on Monday and Tuesday, with the finals in each bracket on next Thursday afternoon. Thanks for being part of this year's tournament, and we hope that you're enjoying this look at some of the wonderful theme park attractions to be found in parks around the world.

Readers' Opinions

From 86.153.28.96 on March 13, 2014 at 10:44 AM
I'll go for good theming and family-friendly fun over 'ooo look at me I'm the fastest' any day :) Easy call - Grizzlies.
From James Rao on March 13, 2014 at 11:02 AM
No contest. I will take story + thrills over just thrills any day of the week.
From Bobbie Butterfield on March 13, 2014 at 11:16 AM
Rather an odd matchup and I see that thus far I'm in the vast minority, having voted for Formula Rossa. I like to go fast, fast, fast! A coaster that goes 21mph faster than Kingda Ka must be quite an experience. And no, going at tremendous speeds doesn't make a great coaster but it sure as hell gives a shot a adrenaline.
From Terry O'Neal on March 13, 2014 at 11:20 AM
James, remind me where the Grizzly Mountain thrills are...
From 199.184.238.196 on March 13, 2014 at 11:24 AM
I'm sad that video wasn't shot this year with Raikkonen instead of Massa, sitting there completely expressionless, eating an ice cream cone during the ride. Best on-ride photo ever.

That sadness is partially offset by Alonso's face pulling a Clarkson.

From Rob Pastor on March 13, 2014 at 11:53 AM
Theme is always a major criteria for me. I voted for Big Grizzly.
From 70.29.14.30 on March 13, 2014 at 12:06 PM
Battlestar Galactica will be missed. Glad I had the chance to ride it (apparently, not long before its closure.)
From James Rao on March 13, 2014 at 12:49 PM
@Terry While there is no microderm abrasion going on, BGMRMC certainly looks peppy enough to get your heart pumping.
From James Trexen on March 13, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Formula Rossa looks to be the better coaster, but there is no doubt about it: Mine Cars is the better ride overall. Plus, being forced to wear goggles on FR is a major put-off.
From AJ Hummel on March 13, 2014 at 3:44 PM
This is a tough one because the two coasters are so drastically different. Personally, while I think Big Grizzly Mountain looks like a fun ride, I have to go with Formula Rossa due to the extreme speed and high intensity of the ride. When it comes to coasters, theming can make the ride better but the coaster should be able to stand on its own as well, and Grizzly Mountain just looks like it would be somewhat dull without the theming.
From 128.240.225.120 on March 14, 2014 at 7:19 AM
That's a real shame about Battlestar Galactica. Personally I preferred the Cylon side, but they were both really good. Sad that I won't be able to ride it again, but happy that I had a chance to ride it (several times) in the first place.

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