2009 Best Ride in America Tournament, round one, day one: Griffon bracket

March 17, 2009, 8:14 AM · It's day one of the 2009 Best Ride in America tournament on Theme Park Insider.

We've got four match-ups a day for the next eight days, as we work our way through Round One of this 64 ride single-elimination tournament. Your votes will decide which rides move on in the tournament, and which rides don't. Here's the complete tournament bracket and schedule. [PDF]


Today's action kicks off with the fourth seed in the tournament, Busch Gardens Europe's floorless dive coaster Griffon, going up against Hersheypark's Fahrenheit.

Hersheypark's on the board again today, this time with the favorite as the 29 seed, Storm Runner: Vertical Horsepower!, taking on Six Flags Magic Mountain's revamped 4D coaster, X2.

We go all Disney in our next match-up, with two favorites from Disneyland's Tomorrowland facing off: the 13 seed, Space Mountain, against Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.

We wrap up day one of the tournament with our first (of many) Disney vs. Universal match-ups. How do you want to get wet on a hot Central Florida summer day? On the 20 seed Splash Mountain at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, or on Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal's Islands of Adventure?

Votes are open for just one day, so don't wait to vote, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next four match-ups. And, please, tell us in the comments why you voted how you did.

Replies (25)

March 17, 2009 at 8:25 AM · Now that the contest is closed, here are my semifinal picks:

Tower of Terror
Splash Mountain
Expedition Everest

With... Everest winning it all.

A potential second-round match between Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story Midway Mania appears to be the key bracket-maker/breaker, given the predictions I've seen so far.

March 17, 2009 at 8:42 AM · I don't understand the lack of early love for Buzz. I have more fun on that ride that just about any other ride in Disneyland. Their Space Mountain is great, but just doesn't have the re-ride appeal that DL's Buzz does.
March 17, 2009 at 8:48 AM · If Im interested in getting wet, Ill pick Bluto's any day, but Splash has my vote for an overall better ride.
March 17, 2009 at 9:15 AM · It's a shame about the "no clones" dealio. I like the MK Space Mountain trains much more than the DL trains.
March 17, 2009 at 9:38 AM · I went with Space Mountain over Buzz Lightyear for nostalgic value. There are plenty of shoot em up dark rides out there, and this one isn't really any different. I rode Space Mountain as a kid and still remember that first ride.

X got the vote over Storm Runner for me. After all this time, X is still unique. Storm Runner is a blast, but so are the other several launch coasters out there.

I chose Farenheit over Griffon. This is one of those matchups that turns voters into theme park homers. Farenheit packs more punch, has more continuity, and a steeper drop. Griffon has a large first drop, but you come to a complete stop after the first loop, only to do the same exact thing again...so it's a one trick pony that does the trick twice.

Popeye over Splash Mountain for me. No real reason, I liked Popeye, and am sure that Splash will win anyway.

March 17, 2009 at 9:57 AM · In looking at your picks, Robert, the one I most disagree with is Expedition Everest. While I think the coaster is tops in theming and narrative, I am taking a step back from it this year due to issues with the Yeti animatronic. Without a working Yeti, Everest is like Luke Skywalker never turning on his lightsaber, or Babe Ruth never swinging his bat, or THE MATRIX without CGI, or John Holmes without...well, you get my drift. It just seems like half of a ride. I can see Everest getting though a round or two, but with the Yeti down for the count, I fear Expedition Everest will be an early casualty.

As for today's vote: Let's get this out of the way right now...I will vote even if I have not ridden. Sorry, but there are plenty of resources available to make an informed decision and advance my bracket hopefuls. Besides, I pick teams in my NCAA bracket without ever having seen them play, so there is not much difference here. I need that $100 like the desert needs the rain, so I will do whatever it takes to advance my claim!

I will go with Griffon, which is an excellent ride, and deserving of much praise. It is my "theme park homer" pick of the day.

I have not ridden Stormrunner or X2, but I will go with X2 cause it just looks like an awesome experience.

I would take any version of Space Mountain over Buzz Lightyear just because I want to see Space versus Splash in the next round.

And I have already given away my last choice: Splash Mountain. While Popeye is an excellent white water ride, maybe the best, Splash is absolutely the best overall flume ride at any theme park (Ripsaw Falls may be more thrilling, but Splash rules in theming and narrative).

Whew...day one is in the books! Kick out the jams! (hmmmm....do people even say "kick out the jams" anymore?)

March 17, 2009 at 10:05 AM · They do in the bar when your band is about to take the stage. There's always some drunk who yells it out...it's usually followed by....the rest of the phrase.
March 17, 2009 at 10:16 AM · Derek, should I log off and post the "rest of the phrase" anonymously? Robert will never catch me!! ;)
March 17, 2009 at 10:20 AM · I voted for Buzz and Bluto's as underdogs. I love both rides!

And I agree with the Yeti comment which is why Everest didn't make my final four. Woo hoo the fun begins!

March 17, 2009 at 10:22 AM · Griffon is a clear winner, in my mind.

I think coaster love and nostalgia will propel Space Mountain to win over Buzz, but when it comes time, I'll be voting for Toy Story Mania. I love that ride.

March 17, 2009 at 10:28 AM · X2 + Strormrunner = Barn Burner!
March 17, 2009 at 10:30 AM · I am definitely going to agree with James with this one on Everest. I remember going on it when they had the cast member previews the first time i did the college program. Nothing prepared me for the awesomeness of that Yeti in the light. The strobes are just plain lazy and awful. Very upset with the condition of a ride that actually made me scream WTF (the full phrase) when i first rode it cuz i couldnt believe what i had seen.

Other picks:
Griffon: living near DC gives me great access to both BGE and Hershey and Griffon wins hands down.

Storm Runner: Great air time and that launch just shifts my contents.

Space Mountain: Only ridden the WDW versions of those. But ive ridden Space with the lights on and am always afraid of a decapitation now. Quite thrilling

Splash Mountain: Worked there last summer for second college program and was able to do test rides every night at closing and knowing the other CMs on my day off saved me some time and lines. The best at MK.

March 17, 2009 at 10:39 AM · Well first my picks for the finals were:

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Millennium Force
Toy Story Midway Mania
Haunted Mansion
---(which knocked out Splash Mountain for me a tough choice to predict the outcome)

...with Toy Story taking it all. (The non-working Yeti made EE disappointing for me - have never been there when it was working...) As to my winner prediction - after the hype, I didn't expect TSMM to impress me - and I was wrong. Written descriptions can't convey just how innovative and awesome it is. Truly reinvents a genre.

For today...
Rode Griffon for the first time last year; gotta give it props.

I voted for Storm Runner as I've always found X (haven't ridden rework as X2) to be rough, unpleasant and disorienting - in a bad way.

The rework of DL's Space Mountain (can't wait to see what MK does...) bumped that back up as great ride to me.

Splash Mountain - theming to the max.

March 17, 2009 at 11:23 AM · I always thought Everest was overrated. I don't think it has a particularly unique or interesting layout and has many missed opportunities for increased theming. It seems to me, that the sudden dissatisfaction previous fans of the ride have with it now that the Yeti isn't working, proves that the ride is a one-trick-pony. If the only reason for a ride is a fleeting 3-second glimpse of a robot, it wasn't especially good to begin with. I agree that it will fall early.

My picks:

Final Four

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
Apollo's Chariot
Indiana Jones Adventure


Griffon - Adore it. Few coasters make me feel like I am flying without fear of death and this is the best.

Storm Runner - I am a sucker for launches and X2 also makes me a little sick.

Space Mountain - This is a classic and Buzz has been improved upon with Men in Black and Toy Story

Splash Mountain - Popeye is the best rapids in the country, but Splash is wonderfully themed and is the best flume in the world. Best ride at MK.

March 17, 2009 at 12:00 PM · We'll talk about the Yeti more when the time comes, but for today: the first time that mammoth animatronic swung his beefy arm down on me and my son, well, let's just say it was a "change of clothes life event". I was impressed. But the Yeti was just the icing on the cake of what I thought was the most impressive, immersive, themed coaster I had ever ridden. My only point in detracting from the ride now is this: we all like good cake, but who doesn't like cake BETTER when it has really good icing?
March 17, 2009 at 10:55 AM · Hey, the anonymous comments don't go up automatically. I do have to approve them, so don't get any ideas....

Also, to clarify, my picks aren't the ride I want to win, they are the rides that I think will win, but the more I do think about it, the more I suspect that a Yeti backlash might depress the Disney vote enough to keep from getting past Indiana Jones. If that's the case, Spidey beats Jones in the semi, setting up a rematch of last year. ToT defends.

March 17, 2009 at 12:05 PM · I vote for Buzz due to Space Mountain being changed from its good ol self a few years back.

Anyway, I think the toughest on the list is Popeye vs Splash Mountain. They are my two favorite water rides!

March 17, 2009 at 12:15 PM · Im kind of a Cedar Point Biased since I live 2 hours away so I say 1.Raptor 2. TTD 3. Millennium Force 4.Superman Ultimate Flight with Millennium Force winning it all.
March 17, 2009 at 12:46 PM · Lower seeded X2 is hanging in there!
March 17, 2009 at 1:38 PM · I've only been on Griffon and Stormrunner... I hope they win. Anyway, I'm going to Hershey 2 maybe 3 times this year, so that's a new one for this year!!!
March 17, 2009 at 2:25 PM · Popeye and Bluto is the best tubular raft ride ever. And I actually think Dudley Doright is superior to Splash Mountain (blasphemy, I know). But, Splash Mountain will win because more people have ridden it and, it's a really well done ride. I believe it was the first to do the "false drop" in the middle (where you go back up instead of just splash into water).
March 17, 2009 at 5:48 PM · I can only vote on 2 match-ups today:

Space over Buzz - Buzz is so much weaker than M.I.B. I'd rather re-ride Space than Buzz.

Splash over Dudley - although Dudley is the best raft ride, Splash is so much better. No time to explain why. If you want to debate, leave a comment.

Meanwhile, gotta get back to the Patty's Day celebrations!

March 17, 2009 at 6:15 PM · Although Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges is definitely worth riding--- especially if you want to get wet--- I had to pick Splash Mountain over Popeye, because Disney did the theming for Splash Mountain really well. A great theme park ride (in my opinion) is one that has a storyline that envelopes ride-goers, and throws in some thrills. Splash Mountain delivers on that.
March 17, 2009 at 7:37 PM · Agreed, anonymous poster Theming and story will carry a lot of weight with me, too.

Josh, remember there is nothing in the rules that says you cannot vote on attractions you have not ridden. It is up to you. By now I am sure you know enough about most of these rides, and have been on enough similar ones, to make some educated guesses.

Do want you need to do (without cheating, of course) to advance your winners! ;)

March 17, 2009 at 8:30 PM · I really like shooting gallery dark rides, especially ones with lots of hidden targets and tricks. I'm really surprised they're not more popular, because they one of the few rides that can be completely different EVERY time you ride.

I see X2 as a bit of a dark horse, and for me is probably one of the best rides at a Six Flags park right now.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive