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Disney Releases New 'Avatar' Concept Art The Return of the King Disney World Tops $100 a Day The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Robert Niles
Editor

Weekly Top 10: The World's Best Motion Base Rides and Shows

Published: March 2, 2015 at 11:53 AM

For generations, theme park fans faced a choice between narrative and thrills. You could go on a dark ride to enjoy characters and story, or go on something like a roller coaster to twist, turn and scream. But in the 1980s, Disney brought narrative and thrills together like never before by introducing "Star Tours," a Star Wars-themed movie show where the theater was actually a flight simulator. Fans now could experience thrills and narrative together, as their theater became a spaceship where passengers felt themselves flying through the battles they saw on screen.

After Disney's success with "Star Tours," motion simulator rides became a fad in the themed amusement industry, eventually ending up in just about every mall and arcade you'd visit. But as motion simulators spread across the world, top theme parks kept developing the technology, eventually creating motion base rides where vehicles using motion simulator technology moved through a dark ride space. Disney's "Indiana Jones Adventure" showed the way, and in the last decade Universal took the next steps, using robot arms as a new kind of motion system for ride vehicles, and embedding motion bases in roller coaster track.

Today, we honor the theme park industry's top 10 motion base shows and rides, as rated by Theme Park Insider readers.

10. Dinosaur
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Dinosaur

Using the same ride vehicles and track layout as Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure, Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur (originally "Countdown to Extinction") takes its theme from the 2000 animated Disney movie, Dinosaur.

9. The Simpsons Ride
Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood

The Simpsons Ride

Universal in 2008 refurbished its "Back to the Future" shows with a new "Simpsons" theme, creating a wild ride through the "Krustyland," where everything that can go wrong, does.

8. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Disneyland, Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

In 2011, Disney replaced its original "Star Tours" film with a new attraction that randomly spliced together new scenes in 55 different possible combinations.

7. Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Universal's first motion base ride took riders through a Hanna Barbera cartoon. Later, Universal replaced the film with Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron, and in 20132, Despicable Me's Gru moved in with his Minions, inviting riders into an adventure where they, too, can become Minions.

6. Back to the Future: The Ride
Universal Studios Japan

Back to the Future: The Ride

Universal left "Back to the Future" alone in Japan, where it continues to entertain fans. Sure, it's 2015 outside the theater as well as in the ride now, but this franchise remains beloved, and "Back to the Future" remains the top Universal ride that fans would like to bring back from the past.

5. Indiana Jones Adventure
Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea

Indiana Jones Adventure

Disney's original motion base ride remains a fan favorite, as visitors follow Indy through many of his classic trials from the Indiana Jones movies. (In Tokyo, the ride is called "Indiana Jones - Temple of the Crystal Skull.")

4. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Universal Studios Florida

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Escape from Gringotts is as much roller coaster as motion base ride, as a traditional coaster takes riders in between scenes. But at several points along the track, the coaster trains transition onto motion bases that coordinate with on-screen action to create a wild new experience.

3. Transformers: The Ride
Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida

Transformers: The Ride

Michael Bay's Transformers movies become the thrill ride they were always meant to be in this adventure that debuted in 2011 in Universal's Singapore park.

2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Japan

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Using a Kuka robot arm rather than the more traditional motion base platform that drives rides such as Transformers, Forbidden Journey delivers a wider range of motion than other motion base rides. The experience can be too much for some riders, but other Harry Potter fans adore this chance to fly with Harry and Ron around Hogwarts Castle.

1. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Japan

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Spider-Man was the hit of Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park when it debuted in 1999, winning our top award for theme park rides for many years in a row. Universal refurbished the ride with a new film in 2012, today, Spider-Man looks, and feels, even better than ever.

What is your favorite motion base ride or show? Tell us in the comments!

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