2009 Best Ride in America Tournament, round one: El Toro bracket

March 24, 2009, 7:27 AM · Welcome to the final day of the first round of the 2009 Best Ride in America tournament on Theme Park Insider.

Yesterday, Busch Gardens Africa's Montu pulled the upset, easily dispatching Behemoth from Canada's Wonderland. The other three high seeds held, as Islands of Adventure favorites The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Dueling Dragons - Fire joined SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken in advancing to the second round, which begins tomorrow.

Today, Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro's favorite roller coaster, El Toro, leads the field, with the Six Flags Great Adventure woodie taking on Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls from Universal's Islands of Adventure.

As always, I ask you to take a look at the comments below *before* casting your votes. (Early voters, get the campaigning going by submitting a comment.) Thoughtful votes help make this a better tournament.

El Toro

No matter what happens with El Toro today, Six Flags will get at least one more ride into the second round, joining X2. That's because Six Flags Great America's Raging Bull takes on Superman: Ultimate Flight from the same park.

A couple of popular Central Florida coasters go at it in our next-to-last match-up: Islands of Adventure's Incredible Hulk Coaster versus Busch Gardens Africa's Kumba.

The final match-up of the first round is, to me, the most intriguing of the bunch. It matches two former winners of the Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction: last year's winner, Universal Studios Florida's The Simpsons Ride, against the 2005 winner, Busch Gardens Europe's Curse of DarKastle.

Thanks to everyone who voted in Round One. Let's keep the chatter going in the comments, but save time today to recruit some friends to visit Theme Park Insider tomorrow for round two!

Replies (32)

March 24, 2009 at 7:40 AM · I am glad to see my home park be represented by two roller coasters. I would go for Raging Bull if you are not sure about the two. While Superman is really really cool since you actually lay down to ride this roller coaster, it is very short compared. Raging Bull is just an amazing roller coaster with big drops and sweeping and smooth lifts and drops. Very similar to Kracken, but doesn't go upside down and is a hyper coaster.

Also, I loathe Dudley Do Right Ripsaw Falls. Far worse than Splash Mountain, Popeye, Kali River Rapids, and Grizzly Run

March 24, 2009 at 7:51 AM · Go Curse of DarKastle. I am glad to see it in the tournament this year.
March 24, 2009 at 8:45 AM · Dudley over El Toro?!


And if The Simpsons gets bumped in the first round I will (in fact) "have a cow."

March 24, 2009 at 8:10 AM · Please don't even tell me that Curse of DarKastle is going to beat Simpsons...come on people, get out there and vote. The Simpsons is vastly superior to DarKastle. If you haven't had the opportunity to ride it yet, take my word or the word of any of the others who have. From the theming outside the ride, to the queue line to the ride itself - Simpsons is just flat out superior IMHO.
March 24, 2009 at 8:44 AM · The Simpsons is a ripoff of Back to the Future the Ride (same concept). Also, it took the place of BTTF. I think Universal really dropped the ball on this.

Also, people are going to say that Spiderman is fantastic, but not Darkcastle? They are both probably the most unique rides out there!

Why is Superman pulling ahead? Those two attractions I probably have the greatest knowledge of, but just curious what is making people want Superman of Raging Bull.

March 24, 2009 at 8:51 AM · Claiming that "The Simpsons is a ripoff of Back to the Future the Ride (same concept)" is like claiming The Hulk is a rip-off of the Montu because they are both coasters.
March 24, 2009 at 9:06 AM · El Toro over Dudley Do Right. I don't hate Dudley Do Right. In fact, I don't mind it at all, but the last time I rode it I was stuck in a boat for 20 minutes with a lightning storm rolling in, and I felt claustrophobic in a queue for the first time ever.

Went with Raging Bull in the second one. The Superman coaster is more of a prototypical ride that doesn't seem to have a beginning, middle, and end.

Kumba and Hulk have very similar layouts. The difference is the launch, which puts Hulk at the top of the B&M looper class.

The last one is a tough one. I'll have to go with The Simpsons. DarKastle is a great attraction, I just prefer the zaniness of the Simpsons, even though the ride wasn't quite as politically incorrect as the show.

March 24, 2009 at 9:11 AM · Well alright, looks like we may have some upsets today. Good, this contest was getting a little predictable and shall i say, boring. This is the first round of voting that I'm gonna be checking up on regularly.

my picks: Dudley Do Right: hate woodies and this flume ride is actually very fun and lengthy.

Raging Bull: flipped a coin

Incredible Hulk: Kumba gave me a splitting headache while incredible hulk is very smooth and just plain awesome.

DarKastle: I know right. According to some of these comments I should be burned at the stake. But come on, Simpsons has a fantastic que but thats about it. Another simulator? oh boy. and the animation sucks. not simpsons animation. should have just kept/updated BTTF. DarKastle actually has a decent que and a great ride. It had some sound flaws in the beginning but that was eventually corrected. It was just a on overall better experience on DarKastle than The Simpsons.

March 24, 2009 at 10:11 AM · On paper I voted for what I thought would win: but today I'm voting for what I would prefer to win.

Although I've not had a chance to ride El Toro (last visit to that park was during the down time of Kingda Ka's initial season [due to extensive damage during a test launch]) so El Toro didn't exist. However, I've heard very, very good things about this coaster, so I gave it my vote. Looks like this match-up may be the final battle of the first round.

Raging Bull is a better ride than Superman Ultimate Flight, especially since Six Flags eliminated the dual loading station at SFGA (to save money from the original design used at SFOG.) As a result, due to very slow loading, at the end of the ride, you often hang in a very uncomfortable position for a very long time before getting off the ride. The dual station allows for someplace for the incoming coaster to go and improves the overall loading/dispatch time. Raging Bull is an extremely long, smooth B&M. It has a unique layout. I appreciate coasters that are not simply clones. And it loads fast so the even long lines move quick. (But you do not want to be on it if it starts raining - trust me.)

I found the Hulk vs. Kumba a tough choice, but I went with Kumba. Yes the launch is great on Hulk, but I like that Kumba is buried in a natural environment so you're zooming above and around the trees that survived the installation. So many parks completely clear land when they build a coaster - this one leaves much mystery that can't be viewed anywhere but on the ride (much like the Beast is at King's Island and Prowler promises to be at Worlds of Fun).

I was a fan of the original Back to the Future ride but I think I enjoyed the Simpsons reboot even more, but when you come down to it, it's a simulator ride on steroids. However, like Spider-Man before it, DarKastle provides the only other 4-D story-driven traveling ride in the country, and it is near perfection. DarKastle for me.

FYI: on paper I predicted that El Toro, Superman, Hulk and Simpsons would move forward from this round. Looks like I'm going to wrong on a couple of those. But nothing from this round made my final four, so I may still be OK in the end.

March 24, 2009 at 10:26 AM · Anthony - you put a stake in my heart dissing my absolute favorite flume ride. I LOVE Dudley! I ride it multiple times. Yes, Splash Mountain is awesome, but there's something about Dudley that makes it a 5x a day ride for me when visiting Universal Orlando. I've heard good things about El Toro, but the only woodies I like are Thunderhead (it should have won!) and The Beast. Sounds like Terminator at SFMM may join in my favorite woodies due to it's planned construction. GO DUDLEY!!!

However, I must absolutely agree with Anthony on Raging Bull. Probably a top 5 coaster for me in the nation and one that I ride at least 10x when visiting SFGA. It is far, far, far superior to Superman. Great dips, great, comfy seating - wonderful until the very end. Superman is painful, short, not that thrilling - and the most exciting part is the loop that has so many positive g's, it's just not very enjoyable. VOTE RAGING BULL!!!

Hulk vs. Kumba is interesting. Since I frequent both parks, I weighed how many times I ride each coaster when visiting. Hulk wins hands down.

And Simpsons vs. Dark Kastle? Yes, Simpsons is a blast, but Dark Kastle is so all-immersive. It should take the cake here.


March 24, 2009 at 1:30 PM · My vote went to the Incredible Hulk, the ride is smooth and the launch is brilliant. The queuing area is also well themed. The Kumba is a cool ride too, although not as smooth.

I really hope that Dudley Do-rights Ripsaw Falls goes through. This ride is so fun, the only time I have been wetter is when I came off the Bildge Rat Barges. There are several small drops before the big one and various other devices to ensure not one bit of you isn't wet. Don't know anything about the ride it is up against so cant comment on its superiority, but consider it to be an exceptional water ride and don't see what the negative comments are about!

March 24, 2009 at 10:48 AM · Interesting comments today...very feisty! Nice!

I will add some fuel to the fire if I can.

El Toro V. Ripsaw Falls: I have never ridden El Toro, however, I have ridden The Voyage which is widely regarded as the best wooden coaster in the world. I love the Voyage. In fact, I think it may be the best coaster I have ever ridden, of any type (sorry, Kraken). So, if El Toro is as good as The Voyage, the question becomes, if I had to choose one ride to add to my home park would it be El Toro/The Voyage, or Ripsaw Falls? Well, Ripsaw Falls is not quite up to the level of Splash Mountain when it comes to the theme or music, however, the ride definitely matches and even surpasses Disney's masterpiece when it comes to thrills. Which means it is clearly one of the two best flume rides in the world. So, do I want the best wooden coaster at my park, or the best flume ride? I need a tie breaker for this vote...and for that tie breaker I need look no further than Snidely Whiplash. How can I not vote for a villain brazen enough to showcase one of the best stand alone mustaches in the world? So, Ripsaw Falls gets my vote. You could say it wins by a hair.

I have not ridden Raging Bull or Superman, so I will vote for Raging Bull based on Anthony's recommendation.

I think The Hulk coaster is...well...incredible. An excellently conceived and executed coaster. Even the theme of the coaster is decently supported, with sights, sounds, and a constantly playing cartoon (in the rider swap waiting area) adding to the thrills. The initial launch uphill is phenomenal especially when combined with Bruce Banner's cries as he changes into the green beast. The Hulk is just a great ride at a great park.

Curse of DarKastle is an excellent attraction. As far as I know, BGE is the only US theme park that has dared to replicate IOA's Spider-Man. Kudos for the attempt! I do think DarKastle plays a distant second fiddle to Spider-Man, but the ride is well done, fun, and worth your time. And because I have never been much of a Simpsons fan, and because I am still sore about BTTF being replaced, DarKastle gets my vote. Sorry, TH, maybe after the pain of losing BTTF fades away, I will be more receptive to the Simpsons.

There you have it....the drive to the final four marches on!!!

March 24, 2009 at 10:51 AM · El Toro vs Dudley

Never ridden El Toro, but I would still go Dudley's anyway. One of the best flume rides in the world.

Sorry Anthony, Splash Mountain is rubbish when compared to this magnificent creation of genius!

Hulk vs Kumba

Between the two, I went with Hulk. Montu isn't bad in any respect, it just doesn't have anything special going for, other than its pure intensity. Hulk is one of the best coasters I've ever ridden, and it has great scenary to boot (although it does have the worse queue line video of all the parks I've visited. Those queue line TV's will give you migraine within 2 minutes).

Simpsons vs Darkastle

Not ridden Darkcastle so I went with the Simpsons. I atually think this is less rough than Back to the future and yet it has somehow managed to become more nauseating. However, the jokes in this through out deserve to push Simpsons into the next round.

March 24, 2009 at 11:05 AM · Time to judge the next batch of attractions that cost somewhere between $1 and $200 million.

El Toro is a good woodie, but is not my favorite. Dudley is not as good a flume as Splash Mountain. Like Everest and Atlantis, there are blatant moments of black walls where theming would have helped immensely. However, like James pointed out, there isn't a more exciting flume out there with as great a final drop. So, Dudley wins this pair.

Superman is too short and Raging Bull is too good. Easy win for the Bull.

I am not a huge fan of the Hulk. The launch has been done better in other coasters, including Aerosmith. It is a good coaster, but Kumba has a special place in my heart. I enjoy the layout of the Kumba more and feel that it has stood the test of time. Kumba wins for me.

The BTTF/Simpsons simulator is the best ever. The scope and sense of immersion can't be beat.(Hint: ask the attendant for the front of the two middle rows for the best ride). However, while I adore the Simpsons, the theme doesn't work for me like Back to the Future did. I never understood why they didn't just commission two new films for the ride instead of retheming it. The re-ride ability of multiple films would have been great. Since this is not the case, I have to give it to DarKastle. Yes, it is a rip-off of Spider-man, but it is a great rip-off.

March 24, 2009 at 12:21 PM · Same as last year - your comparisons and setups are odious. You still need to match attraction/ride style with style - and not go jumping all aroundthe board with your subject matter.
March 24, 2009 at 1:47 PM · I find it amazing that the best coaster in the world is losing to an only slightly above-average log flume ride(especially when compared with its next-door neighbor, Splash Mountain.) El Toro got my vote.

SFGA is my home park, so I get to ride Superman and Raging Bull all the time, and Raging Bull is waaaay better. Superman is a short, slow-loading one trick coaster, the only redeeming quality being the type of coaster itself, because it is a flying coaster. However, when compared to other flying coasters, this ride seems like a kiddy ride. On the other hand, Raging Bull is the only hyper twister on the planet and the smoothest and most comfortable B and M I have ever ridden (and that's saying something.) Raging Bull FTW.

Hulk vs. Kumba. Both great coasters, but Hulk's world-class launch got my vote.

DarKastle vs. Simpsons- I haven't ridden the Simpson's ride yet, it was just about to open on my last visit. However, DarKastle was one of the most immersive rides I've ridden, and I don't see a simulator based on a cartoon surpassing that, even with the well-themed queue.

There's my 2 cents, vote for Raging Bull!

March 24, 2009 at 1:58 PM · Hulk was a no-brainer. I always felt that Kumba looks great (could use some paint, however) but doesn't deliver.

Can't say I've been to SFGA, so no vote for Bull or Superman.

I'm shocked Dudley is beating El Toro. Really? Dudley, like many of IOA's attractions, has become so dilapidated over the last few years that I can't possibly vote for it. The paint is peeling. There are too many non-themed sections (where mechanical components, stucko, and other elements reside that should not be seen). The animated sequences are jerky as all hell. It's like riding around a downsized Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in a boat. Not to mention the loading scheme is beyond stupid. Even with the loading platform in view, the wait will average 20 or more minutes. I see more empty seats in those boats than on any other ride around (maybe Sheikra beats it here). The drop is the best I've experienced on a water ride, but that still doesn't excuse the terrible state the ride is in. Go El Toro. At least it's fresh.

I'll take The Simpsons over Darkastle. I was a skeptic when I heard of BTTF closing, but The Simpsons surprised me. Very well done ride. Not that Darkastle isn't, but I gotta give my vote to my favorite show.

This bracket was a major throw-off for me. If things continue as is, I will only have guessed one of the four matchings correctly (Hulk takes Kumba).

March 24, 2009 at 2:04 PM · KD YOUNGER, is that you? That was the name of the poster who said the tournament was odious last year! Twice! (Check the comments).

We've had this argument before, and while Robert has tuned the tournament as much as it can be tuned, I think the old argument still stands: great attraction versus great attraction, regardless of the category. At some point attractions of different categories will have to face off in the race to number one. Might as well be in the first round, if you ask me. Weed out the pretenders, just like in the NCAA tournament.

I, for one, have been real pleased with the brackets and individual match-ups this year.

March 24, 2009 at 2:02 PM · Oh, and regardless of what happens here, Hulk will take any of these in Rounds 2 and 3. It will then likely face Spidey. Now that's a match-up.
March 24, 2009 at 2:36 PM · El Toro and Thunderhead got jobbed. People, you've got to get out more.
March 24, 2009 at 2:56 PM · Folks, if you read all of these comments, you will see that Raging Bull is a superior coaster to Superman.

So why, oh why, is Superman winning by a long shot???

It makes no sense!!

Anonymous voters - go away!!!

(And I like the match-ups. It's attraction vs. attraction. Which do you like best? I'm a coaster freak, but I'll take Haunted Mansion over many coasters out there - and that says something!).


March 24, 2009 at 3:10 PM · Robert, I think you have discounted the Snidely Whiplash Factor I mentioned in my original post today. Never underestimate the power of a stand alone mustache (or moustashe, if you prefer).
March 24, 2009 at 4:02 PM · What on Earth is Ripsaw Falls doing leading El Toro?? Does Beelzebub suddenly need a parka? If people haven't ridden El Toro but are voting against it just because they don't like wooden coasters, please simply do not vote. Intamin woodies are not like other wooden coasters. El Toro is a great and smooth ride with amazing air time!

I had to take Raging Bull over (yawn) Superman. Superman is fun the first time, but after that...not so much.

Incredible Hulk is, well...incredible!

Curse of DarKastle is pretty darn great. It's no Spiderman by any means, but pretty cool for what it is.

March 24, 2009 at 4:11 PM · Has everyone noticed how the number of people voting has jumped?

Disney and Universal employees are starting to pay attention

March 24, 2009 at 4:38 PM · Sad soon-to-be losses for Raging Bull and El Toro.

What's funny is how so many people last year blamed Expedition Everest's success on its newness, yet The Simpsons is getting creamed. To be fair, though, it's getting creamed by something that's still relatively new.

March 24, 2009 at 6:36 PM · Yeah, the counts are way up today, TH Creative. Wonder what is up?

And for those questioning some of the votes, please read the comments from earlier today as many have posted their thoughts on why they went one way or another.

The only thing that seems unexplainable in today's voting is Raging Bull losing. Almost every comment has petitioned on behalf of Raging Bull, and yet the voting public does not seem to care.

Anthony & Scottland, if I could, I would vote twice for Raging Bull! You two need to remember how I supported you in your campaign for Raging Bull when I petition you to vote AGAINST Expedition Everest and its broken Yeti in the next round....

Simpsons is getting beat by BTTF fans who can't let go...me being one of them.

"You made a Simpsons ride....out of a DeLorean???!"

Ahhhhh, us theme park geeks are so petty sometimes!

Michael J. Fox Rules!!!


March 24, 2009 at 5:46 PM · Actually, much of the increase is due to Facebook. FB is now placing Fan Page updates in people's story feeds. So everyone who became of fan of TPI on Facebook got the update to come vote this morning.
March 24, 2009 at 7:38 PM · Raging Bull vs. Superman:

Superman is the easy pick here. I grew up on these rides before moving to Orlando (SFGA) There is no other ride I have been on in the world that has the same sensation of doing a flip on your back. Simply awesome.

March 24, 2009 at 9:17 PM · James - we've got your back!

But good ole' Jeffrey there likes Superman.

Life is so unfair...*sigh*

March 24, 2009 at 10:40 PM · Three upsets today. This was my worst day for gambling.
March 25, 2009 at 4:28 AM · Dudley over El Toro. Theme + thrills beats thrills alone any day. Go Dudley!

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