What Are the Top 25 Dark Rides in the World?

Edited: October 20, 2015, 10:51 AM

The Los Angeles Times has posted its picks for the Top 25 dark rides in the world, and I gotta say, it's, uh, curious.

The list seems heavy on shooter rides, especially ones at smaller European parks. But it neglects what might be the best shooter ride in the world, Universal Orlando's Men in Black Alien Attack. And it ignore some classic Disney attractions, most notably Pirates of the Caribbean, in favor of rather mediocre ones, such as Buzz Lightyear.

Anyway, I went through our reader ratings to pull a list of the Top 10 dark rides, as rated by Theme Park Insider readers, that did not make the LAT's list. And here it is:

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Tokyo DisneySea)
Hogwarts Express (Universal Orlando)
Pirates of the Caribbean (Multiple Disney parks)
Radiator Springs Racers (Disney California Adventure)
Fata Morgana (Efteling)
Sindbad's Storybook Voyage (Tokyo DisneySea)
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida)
Splash Mountain (Multiple Disney parks)
Calico Mine Ride (Knott's Berry Farm)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Tokyo DisneySea)

What do you think?

Also, I'm gonna make a pitch for our Insiders' subscription here, which allows you to see our real-time Top 10 rankings of rides, hotels and restaurants in more than a dozen categories: Theme Park Insider's Insiders Page. Thank you to everyone who is supporting the site with an Insider's subscription!

Replies (11)

Edited: October 20, 2015, 12:32 PM

I'm surprised no Forbidden Journey. Or my favorite ride ever Spider-Man.

October 20, 2015, 3:42 PM

While it's lovely to see so many European attractions on the list (not to brag, but we do have some brilliant dark rides) I'm wondering which ones Brady's actually been on. Carnival Festival is... well... to quote Tony Baxter in Robert's interview with him, "they're kind of embarrassed by an attraction that is very Small World-like, but not Efteling-like." Especially weird given it's in the same park as the knockout Fata Morgana.

October 20, 2015, 4:53 PM

Dave Cobb posed the thought, on Facebook, that the LAT list included no water-based dark rides, suggesting that they were using a definition of "dark ride" that excluded anything involving a boat as a ride vehicle.

In addition, none of the LAT's picks had any outdoor elements, which would explain the omissions of Radiator Springs Racers, Calico Mine Ride, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. And Hogwarts Express, as well, which is an outdoor ride functionally, though a dark ride experience for its guests.

October 20, 2015, 5:54 PM

Robert and Dave are correct, I purposely left out water rides (and coasters).

As I noted in my story: "For our purposes, we will be excluding water rides and themed or indoor coasters." I'm guessing some readers skipped over that part - and a few other things as well. Jaiden missed Forbidden Journey at #1 and Spider-Man at #7.

I recently did a list of the best water rides in the world that included Pirates, Splash & Sinbad (but not 20,000 Leagues or Fata Morgana). And I left Gringotts off my list because I consider it a coaster (as does RCDB).

That doesn't mean those attractions aren't great dark rides, I just chose to exclude water rides and coasters to focus on more traditional dark rides.

I did miss the Test Track-style dark rides - Radiator Springs and Journey to the Center of the Earth - and now wish that I'd included them. And I totally forgot about Calico Mine Ride (which is right in my backyard).

I'm not sure I consider Hogwarts Express a dark ride, but at the end of the day that was the point of my Top 25 list: To stir conversation and debate.

Thanks to Theme Park Insider for continuing the discussion.

- Brady MacDonald
Los Angeles Times
Theme park blogger

October 20, 2015, 7:25 PM

Thank you Brandy Macdonald for your clarifacation

October 24, 2015, 7:24 AM

I've been to Europa Park and ridden both Universe of Energy and Atlantis Adventure, and I'm shocked that either of those rides made the top 25 list over MIB. While they are fun rides, they certainly aren't up to work class quality or even as impressive as a few of the other dark rides at Europa Park. However, I think that the emphasis on European parks that many people from the United States may not have heard of is fantastic.

Edited: November 2, 2015, 3:52 AM

What's with the Pooh ride at #5? That looks like a well lighted indoor ride, not a dark ride at all. Eliminating dark rides with coaster elements seem a bit discriminatory as it just favors simulators. It's a clear bias that won't give proper respect to well themed dark rides that are also coasters as well as themed dark water rides like Journey to Atlantis, which for whatever reason they removed the vocals of the laughing mermaid and the mean Medusa lady. The large Medusa doesn't move down anymore. SeaWorld has let many good things go, but the worse was getting rid of their mimes. Anyhow, I just like to see all dark rides get respect given for theming and overall enjoyment, not just only the simulator types so this list is too biased to only Universal type of attractions. Also note that #1 is Harry Potter's forbidden Journey which in many ways reminds me of an inverted coaster like Montu and Dragons! The seats are identical.

Edited: November 3, 2015, 2:05 PM

"Also note that #1 is Harry Potter's forbidden Journey which in many ways reminds me of an inverted coaster like Montu and Dragons! The seats are identical."

In a way it's similar, but it's vastly different. Some may actually categorize it as a roller coaster, and in fact, the company that makes the ride vehicles, Kuka, calls it a "robo-coaster" and formed a subsidiary called Robocoaster to sell the technology to theme parks just like Oceaneering does with their ride vehicles. Guests are riding in seats mounted on the end of a robotic arm that travels on a track through the show building. If you ever wanted to see the vehicles in action in a stationary setting, you can at Sum of All Thrills in EPCOT and Knight's Tournament in Legoland California. Also, if you've ridden Forbidden Journey many times, take a ride on an end seat (pretty easy to do through the single rider line), and instead of looking at what's in front of you, take a look around and down at the track to see how the vehicles move, particularly when they lock into the parabolic screens - very clever stuff going on that most people are completely oblivious to.

Edited: November 10, 2015, 6:00 PM

Dr. Niles writes: "But it neglects what might be the best shooter ride in the world, Universal Orlando's Men in Black Alien Attack."

I Respond: Um ... "Might be?"

Edited: November 11, 2015, 11:51 AM

1. Journey to the Center of the Earth (Tokyo Disney Sea)
2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Universal Studios Florida/Hollywood)
3. Pooh's Hunny Hunt (Tokyo Disneyland)
4. Mystic Manor (Hong Kong Disneyland)
5. Radiator Spring Racers (Disney California Adventure)
6. Haunted Mansion (Multiple Disney Parks)
7. Pirates of the Caribbean (Disneyland version)
8. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman (Universal Studios Orland)
9. Indiana Jones Adventure (Disneyland)
10. Ratatouille: Remy's Totally Zany Adventure (Disneyland Paris)

November 13, 2015, 9:42 AM

First off...They put DarKastle on that list!? DarKastle!? Holy crap what a terrible ride.

My Top 10 list:

1)The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure)
2)Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida)
3)Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)
4)Pooh's Hunny Hunt (Tokyo Disneyland
5)Indiana Jones Adventure (Tokyo DisneySea)
6)Pirates of the Caribbean (Disneyland/Disneyland Paris)
7)Haunted Mansion (Magic Kingdom)
8)Men in Black: Alien Attack (Universal Studios Florida)
9)Monsters Inc: Ride and Go Seek (Tokyo Disneyland)
10)Transformers the Ride

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