Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
Based on ride enjoyment, suiting the area it is built in, thrills, originality, theming (very important to me) and re-rideability, here is my list.
1. Tower of Terror
This has been a personal favourite since I was 10 years old and I highly doubt that anything will ever overtake it. Technically there are better rides in Orlando but for its theming, originality (as I haven't been on the other versions) and amazing attention to detail, this is always my first choice. Totally plays on your mind throughout and the scenery is brilliant. Pre-show is loads of fun and the ride is never the same twice. Probably for nostalgic reasons it is number 1 but I don't care. This for me, is the best ride in the world, not just Orlando.
2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
A new entry for me, and this ride simply couldn't be anywhere lower than 2nd in my list. Only ride I can think of where I was speechless afterwards. I mean Spiderman is fantastic but this simply blows it out of the water. The castle is unbelievable and the interior is picture perfect. But its the actual ride that left me speechless. Only negative would be the ride length as it was so good, I didn't want to get off. Brilliantly made and genuinely frightening in parts. Almost perfect!
3. Toy Story Mania
Negative - Queue length and Fastpass distribution (sometimes runs out at 10am) But this is no ones fault.
Positives - The most fun on a theme park attraction anyone can get. Never likely to get the same score twice and a massive range of games you can play. I got the monthly high score on one ride which added to the re-rideability. Brilliantly inventive and so much fun for all ages, not just kids. I love this and would choose to go on this over a rollercoaster.
4. The Mummys Revenge
Best indoor coaster in Orlando, better than Rock n Roller Coaster for its diversity and theming. Brilliant queue line and information inside is interesting. Very dark and mysterious once on board and the special effects are superb. Projections on the mist in the ride are a very nice touch and its the best ride at Universal Studios just pipping Jaws. Not the fastest ride, but because its in the dark, it makes it very thrilling.
Many people may not agree with the positioning of this ride but since the emergence of Harry Potter this now comes second best. Not to say that the ride is not good, as I wouldn't have put it in my top 5 if I thought so. Before Harry Potter, this would have been in my top 3 without question. Still fantastic and brilliantly invented, the screens look amazing when you come to them. Unique again, and so much to see during the ride. The levitation part is the best bit and the queue through the Daily Bugle is good fun.
6. Expedition Everest
Very good rollercoaster and very different, which is why I like it so much. Not the bog standard coaster everyone stereotypes as this has a twist to it and its built inside a very well designed 'mountain'. The main drop is fantastic and the twist is real good fun. Unique ride.
7. Popeye & Blutos Bilge Rat Barges
Not the obvious choice in anyones top 10 but it is in mine purely because of personal enjoyment. The best rapids ride in the world and the longest too. We get absolutely drenched after 30 seconds, and expect the ride to end reasonably soon after ... but no! What comes is about 6 minutes of laughter and chaos in a round boat where we are all dripping wet, and constantly trying to avoid more splashes. This really is a rapid ride compared to Thorpe Park and Alton Towers in the UK. But I suppose in Florida you can afford to get soaked.
Again another one that wouldn't usually be in the top ten for most, but its in there for me because of a fond memory. In 2003, we went on this ride for the first time as a family and got the best on ride photo I have ever seen. As avid theme park goers, we usually pull faces for the camera and none look genuine. On this however, genuine shock is spread on our faces and the look on my mums face was worth the price alone. Similar to Spiderman without the 3D and obviously about Dinosaurs, but this bumpy exciting ride has a good story and really does make you jump. Very good ride and again, quite unique.
Excellent coaster, and a fantastic first drop that makes your insides feel strange. Very much an upgrade of Air in Alton Towers, this is a smoother, longer and more enjoyable ride. Scenery is great and the queue line is amongst the best in the world. My personal favourite outdoor coaster in Orlando.
10. Mission Space
When this first opened, I was a lucky one to ride it in the previews and the whole family loved it. Another unique ride in which you feel as though you are taking off and flying into space. The G forces are enough to make you feel dizzy or sick if you have a weak stomach, but that is why this ride is quite special. Unfortunately though the build up is a tad too long and as soon as the initial launch is over, it becomes another motion simulator, but still enough to get into my top ten.
Just missed out - Hulk, Dragon Challenge, Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, Jaws, Kilamanjaro Safari, Jurassic Park.
As you can see, I am not the biggest Rollercoaster fan. I love rollercoasters, but unless they have something truly unique about them, or there really isn't anything better in the park, then I can't say they're a favourite ride of mine.
So whats your top ten and why??
1. Tower of Terror- Disney's best version and an attaction that combines thrills, story, and setting in a way Disney only can!
2. Spiderman- It suprises me that Disney hasn't copied it. While its showing it age a bit, its a very cleverly done ride.
3. Kilmanjaro Safaris- Weak Story aside, the animals are the real show.
4. Haunted Mansion- One of the best DIsney rides ever made, it gives great visuals and a very good example of crowd control with its ride system (you can get ALOT of guests through there!)
5. Rock n Roller Coaster- A full blown roller coaster with a storyline? Wow!
6. Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challange- I like the concept
7. Popeye's Bilge Barges- The Best water ride in Orlando, but in a close second...
8. Spash Mountain- Shows how a recyling animal animatronics and a storyline from a mostly forgotten and contriversal cartoon can come together for a great ride!
9. Carosel of Progress- I just love this ride. I believe its the most underrated attaction in all of Orlando
10. Dinosaur- One of the few rides that remains scary no matter how many times I have been on it!
2) Forbidden Journey (Incredible queue, ride and effects but no 3D glasses. The curved screens work very well however) Has conveyer style loading, so the line never stops moving.
3) Tower of Terror (Theming, plus a great ride) Even though it's in Lake Buena Vista.
4) Hulk (Favorite Launch coaster, plus it "roars". Never rode Rock n Rollercoaster, I heard it is just as good or better)
5) MIB - Alien Attack (Competitive immersive and different every time)
6) Dragon Challenge (Fast and fun inverted coaster with two options)
7) Revenge of the Mummy (Fast, dark, loud and a lot of fun)
8) Rip Ride Rockit (Like riding in an iPod, much better at night. The queue is like a giant dance party) Also, conveyer style loading, the line moves constantly, so you don't feel stuck for minutes at a time.
9) Disaster! (Had to add this one, my daughter was in the production film at the end, not one, but twice!)
10) Twister (Excellent at recreating the scene in the movie, with some cheesy effects "Flying cow" on huge ropes for laughs)
Superman: Ultimate Flight would be on the list if it were in Orlando and so would Raging Bull. Never rode Manta, but I'm sure it is awesome.
I know the list is a tad Universal biased, but they do have a lot more thrill rides than Disney and Sea World. We couldn't get on most of the rides at the Disney parks every time we went, it was insanely hot and packed to capacity.
We have gone to Universal every year since 2004 and stay on-site, so there is no wait for almost everything and WWOHP let's us in a hour early. The Mouse won't see me again until I have grandchilren....
Walt Disney World
Tokyo Disney Resort