2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal's Islands of Adventure

December 29, 2009, 10:35 PM · Bring a change of dry clothes: Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges from Universal' Islands of Adventure joins the Best Theme Park Attraction tournament as the 14th seed in the Best Themed Ride bracket.

Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges

Step into the floating tub for a ride through these cartoon rapids. Our nemesis, Bluto, throws a switch and, sure enough, mayhem ensues as we float down the wrong stream with cartoon cliches hurtling toward us, spewing and gushing water at the raft. The kids playing on the Olive ship playground aim their water cannons at us, too, soaking whomever manages to slip through the rapids undrenched.

The Bilge-Rat Barges opened with Islands of Adventure in 1999 and remain a visitor favorite, as one of the nation's most elaborately themed versions of this staple attraction. But, seriously, unless it's 90+ degrees with the sun remaining high in a clear sky when you visit, you really should have a change of clothes ready. Smart visitors hit Popeye & Bluto's back-to-back with the nearby Dudley Do-Right's flume ride, to get thoroughly soaked before hitting the lockers (or hotel room) for fresh, dry clothes.

Here's a promotional snippet:

Will readers vote Bilge-Rat Barges into the second round? We'll find out when voting begins in the Best Theme Park Attraction Tournament, in March. In the meantime, please share your thoughts about Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges, in the comments.

Replies (15)

December 29, 2009 at 10:46 PM · Simply the best raft ride around, I hope it does well.
December 29, 2009 at 11:29 PM · I like it! One of my favs at IOA!
December 30, 2009 at 5:17 AM · I absolyely LOVE this ride! It's the most wonderful raft ride ever!!!


December 30, 2009 at 5:28 AM · ... and here comes Debbie Downer!

I've never understood the fun in getting wet in a ride. I live in Orlando, I know how hot and muggy it gets, but if there is something that I hate even more than the summer heat and humidity, it is to get my clothes wet in a ride. Even if I bring a change of clothes. I've tried, I really have. Now I just wait for my friends outside and a good time is had by all.

December 30, 2009 at 5:33 AM · Definitely one of the best, if not THE best, of it's type.
The theming is excellent. It has great thrills and spills and you DO get wet.
December 30, 2009 at 5:36 AM · One of the best, if not THE best, of it's type.
Excellent theming and great thrills and spills.
You DO get wet and you DO have bucketloads of fun.
Brilliant ride.
December 30, 2009 at 6:38 AM · This has to be the WETTEST ride i have ever been on.. It was fun but sadly the day we went wasnt all that hot so we didnt dry off too well.

Very good ride but my goodness, i didnt realise you could get that wet !!

December 30, 2009 at 8:15 AM · Yes this is the best river rapid ride I have ever been on….

Getting wet is great fun for me since I am a 42 year old kid. If you are on vacation, it’s great fun and excitement. But I can see how it could get old after a while if you are a season ticket holder… Walking around with a wet crotch, Priceless!

December 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM · Beware the Orlando chafe.

I usually save this one for last at IOA, but it's well worth the wait. This ride really provides bang-for-your-buck. Not only does it pack on as many gags as a classic cartoon, it feels about the same length as one. Just as your raft begins losing momentum and tricks you into thinking the ride is over, you're hit with a lift hill and more rapids.

This is the Mecca of raft rides.

December 30, 2009 at 10:44 AM · Water attraction second only to Splash Mountain!

Stiff competition for sure if this is lower in the bracket!

December 30, 2009 at 10:46 AM · This ride surely does what it's supposed to do, which is to say soak the rider. IOA pulls off the theme really well too. The only reason I hesitate to vote this one is for the same reason it's good. A water ride like this isn't one I'm going to ride unless it's hot outside. While the Orlando sun does provide plenty of those days, it also provides plenty of rain and cooler days too. Theme aside, I just don't want to get soaked every time I go to the park. I'll ride the coasters, dark rides, thrill and theme rides everytime, but not always the water rides.

This ride is one of the best of it's kind, However, taking absolutely nothing away from this ride's quality and fun factor, I nevertheless cannot see this one winning over so many great coasters and themed rides.

December 30, 2009 at 12:11 PM · Apologies for double post.
December 30, 2009 at 1:11 PM · The absolute best raft ride in existence. Tops in theming, length and excitement. Include Jurassic Park and Dudley for the ultimate water ride trilogy.
December 30, 2009 at 2:10 PM · Yeah I agree with all the comments, this is by far the best theme park raft ride and the Wettest! by far. This ride has it all with the nice sight gags and the length of the ride is satisfying. Poor Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom pales in comparision to Popeye. As for this tourney it won't advance but it's nice to see it ranked.
December 31, 2009 at 8:41 AM · In a true rarity, P&B Bilge-Rat Barges is one of the few white water attractions that actually gets riders wet due to the rapids and motion of the raft, as opposed to just turning on a shower at the end (although the ride does have PLENTY of showers!).

However, I would argue that the Grizzly River Run at DCA is at least a comparable ride, though I give the nod to the Barges for theming.

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