2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Narrated Ride?

January 9, 2012, 8:31 AM · Today in the fifth annual Theme Park Insider Best Attraction Tournament, we're voting for the world's best narrated ride. These are theme park rides where a real, live cast member/team member/employee serves as host for your journey, spieling through your tour.

While quality of spieling is important, that shouldn't be the only factor in your decision which attraction to vote for in this category. We're still looking for the best in overall theme, setting, visuals and narration. If you haven't been on all the attractions in today's vote, please click through the links for descriptions and other readers' ratings, or read the comments first.

The vote is open for 24 hours. Please feel free to campaign in the comments, and to spread the word about the vote via Facebook and Twitter. Hear are your nominees:

The Great Movie Ride - at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride

Jungle Cruise - Your top-rated version is the Jungle River Cruise at Hong Kong Disneyland, but the most-voted-upon version is at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Jungle Cruise

Kilimanjaro Safaris - at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Studio Tour - at Universal Studios Hollywood

Studio Tour

Tomorrow: We vote for the best theme park playground.

Replies (50)

January 9, 2012 at 8:33 AM · This should be no contest. The Jungle Cruise is a CLASSIC theme park attraction. The first production was up and operating on the day that Disneyland opened in 1955. There are productions running in Anaheim, Tokyo, Orlando and Hong Kong. Over the years (decades) the Jungle Cruise has been performed for more than a billion guests. At any given moment of the Earth’s day, a Jungle Cruise boat is pulling away from the dock to begin its voyage down the world’s rivers of adventure.

One of the principle considerations in this specific poll involves the “Narrative” element. The locked in scripted speeches of the other attractions fall well short of the Jungle Cruise. The skipper’s banter and ad-libs make every ride unique. At the attraction’s unload dock the omnipresence of applause affirms the quality of the show. The content of the ride is so renowned that a “Skipper Stand Up” comedy show – featuring Jungle Cruise humor – that takes place at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton, California. In the years since it opened, the attraction and its skippers have found a permanent place in place in pop culture (going so far as to inspire a song and video by Weird Al Yankovich). Pixar creative chief John Lasseter and film actor Kevin Costner were both Jungle Cruise skippers.

The Jungle Cruise is the creation of Imaginers Bill Evans, Harper Goff and (the LEGENDARY) Marc Davis. While the other attractions in this poll are worthy of praise, the Jungle Cruise stands out as an iconographic piece of theme park history – a Disney legend on par with the Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or the Pirates of the Caribbean. None of the other attractions listed on this poll come even close to such a distinction.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Having said all that … Jungle Cruise skippers … On my command: UNLEASH HELL!

January 9, 2012 at 8:37 AM · I want to know how long TH was hitting "reload" on the site this morning to ensure he got that vote and comment in within seconds of me launching this post. :^)
January 9, 2012 at 8:38 AM · Jungle Cruise is the only acceptable answer.
January 9, 2012 at 8:41 AM · My index finger is sore :o)
January 9, 2012 at 8:42 AM · I'm a bit baffled why "Jaws" at Universal Studios Florida was not included in this contest. Although, yes, it has now closed for good, this contest looks back at the best attractions from 2011 -- not new attractions opening this year. So why not include "Jaws" as a choice? It's certainly a classic worthy of at least some love from its many fans.
January 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM · I had to vote with TH here. Plus, I love awful, awful, awful jokes. Which Jungle Cruise has en masse.
January 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM · Usually these are hit or miss with me. However, Jungle Cruise has probably some of the best narrators. The last time I was at the Studios, we probably had the most boring, ho-hum narrator that we have ever had. She was terribly boring, unenthusiastic, and unconvincing.
January 9, 2012 at 9:02 AM · I love Kilimanjaro Safaris - it is one of my favorite WDW attractions. I especially love watching folks vainly try to take photos while the ride vehicle lurches and bounces along. Very funny! However, the "storyline" (even though it has been minimized over time) is still a significant distraction.

The Great Movie Ride is a grand achievement, but it is also in dire need of an update.

As for the Jungle Cruise, I agree with TH that the skipper is a key element that has to be factored into the vote. He or she can make or break the ride experience, for sure. Sadly, no matter who you get, this attraction is still pretty lame. It needs... something. Th has called for the addition of Hippos with lazers and natives who sport Jack Sparrow guyliner, both of which might help, but I doubt it. People don't call it the JUNGLE SNOOZE for nothing. Zzzzzzzzzz....

As for the Universal Studios Tour, I have not ridden it for over 20 years. However, it is the centerpiece of USH and one of the longest attractions at any American theme park. It is like experiencing 4 - 5 top notch attractions with only one wait. Hard to beat.

Ultimately, I decided to vote for the longest "actual" tour (Universal Studios Tour), not the longest "feeling" tour (Jungle Snooze).

January 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM · I like Kilimanjaro Safaris, it is a great attraction and I have never seen anything like it at other parks. Also it has real animals as opposed to AA's.
January 9, 2012 at 9:16 AM · I went with Kilo. Safaris. Many want the speil to be eliminated and the attraction to just be for animal watching, but I actually enjoy the poacher story. The narration is more important and funnier on the Jungle Cruise but the setting and theming of the AK Safari blows those on the Magic Kingdom attraction away.
January 9, 2012 at 9:17 AM · I would never risk incurring the wrath of TH Creative.
January 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Jungle Cruise without a doubt. It's a classic and should never leave (looking at you Universal).
January 9, 2012 at 9:25 AM · Well even though it probably won't win, I love it anyway because of my love of movies and disney anamatronics... HORAY for HOLLYWOOD!!! GMR all the way. Even though I know whoever wins this one will probably get eliminated in the next round
January 9, 2012 at 9:32 AM · Atta boy, Jack!
January 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM · To add a little variety here, I voted Great Movie Ride. I am a huge movie fan and I adore some of those sets, even if they are a little outdated and rusty nowadays.

I'll have to make it a target to ride Jungle Cruise next time at Disneyworld. Haven't been on it again in any recent trips, it might just be too cringey for our family!

Jaws would have got my vote.. if.. if...!

January 9, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Jungle cruise is live and off the Cuff humor with quick witted adlibbed additions..

The Safari ride is great but it is scripted and never changes…

January 9, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Has to be the Jungle Cruise. Cheesy humour delivered with tongues firmly in cheeks. Just waiting in line brings a smile to your face as you hear the applause and inevitable groans of laughter as the boats pull away from the dock.

Anyone who says that they don't love it must be in...................

January 9, 2012 at 9:46 AM · Well, I already know Jungle Cruise is going to win, since a ton of you old-timers have this strange love affair with the ride, but I voted for Great Movie Ride. It's been a personal favorite of mine for years.

Anyway, grats to Jungle Cruise early.

January 9, 2012 at 9:48 AM · This is gonna be a long 24 hours ... :o)
January 9, 2012 at 10:03 AM · not even close for me..ill take the real live animals
January 9, 2012 at 10:16 AM · i went for Kilimanjaro safaris as it has real hippo's and animals. my favourite pre-recorded ride has to be living with the land.
January 9, 2012 at 10:21 AM · I always loved the Jaws narration.

Especially this one time when I went on it in college during spring break with lots of friends (and my future wife). There was this girl from Japan who was our guide. Her English was passable, but it clearly wasn't her first language. She was tiny (she could not have been more than 5 feet even) and she smiled through every line and even laughed when Jaws attacked us. When Jaws came at us, she yelled, "OH NO, ITS A JAWS." When she started shooting the grenade launcher, she was pointing it in a different direction than the explosions, which was just so funny. The mistakes she was making actually added to the fun and the utter enthusiasm she had for being the tour guide was so infectious that it made us cheer extra loud when we burned the shark to a crisp.

It was one of my favorite theme park memories.

January 9, 2012 at 11:00 AM · I voted for the Great Movie Ride. Although it's been some years since my last ride, I remember it being long, relaxing, and visually impressive (important with my hearing loss.) The only other choice I've been on..and not since the mid-90's..is the Jungle Cruise, which was my Mom's favorite attraction. And my Mom was most assuredly NOT big on amusement/theme parks.

The photo contained here-in of the Wizard of Oz scene was icing on the proverbial cake.

January 9, 2012 at 11:06 AM · But the animals on Jungle Cruise are real, too!

That's what Disney's commercials tell me. :^)

January 9, 2012 at 11:09 AM · FYI - Jaws was slated for this vote, until Universal announced it was closing. Only current attractions are eligible for TPI tournaments.
January 9, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Besides being a "classic", Jungle Cruise got stuck in the past. Jokes are ok if you are lucky, but most of the unlucky would never ride it again. Needs refurbishment. I agree with the comment that whoever wins this poll will get out soon. Weak bracket. BTW voted for Great Movie Ride for the best participation of a human narrator.
January 9, 2012 at 2:13 PM · The list is so varied that I can't exactly compare them. In terms of length and the ability to see a lot, Universal Studios tram ride is the best.

However, I should mention that I think Disney's the Haunted Mansion has a narrative in the ride that sort of places it in the same category if not for the fact that its is all tape.

January 9, 2012 at 2:41 PM · Where's Living with the Land at EPCOT? I had to go with my second choice of The Great Movie Ride 8o(
January 9, 2012 at 3:15 PM · I just recently got to ride three of these four. I had a new appreciation for the great movie ride narration (which got my vote).... especially when your guide switches out briefly (interesting touch)..... and the Jungle Cruise is a classic ride.... but I say this: While I really enjoy the safari ride at Animal Kingdom.... some parts of the "narration" of the ride actually took away from the experience or were annoying (whichever way you want to look at it). The whole thing with the guy who keeps "radioing" the jeep to tell us about possible poachers does not work for me. I want to enjoy the animal experience..... to be able to look at the animals.... and I may appreciate some animal or plant information given to me by the driver..... but the scripted poacher bit does not really do it for me..... and I actually think the ride might be better without it. Just keep it simple.... the ride is about the animals / safari.
January 9, 2012 at 3:51 PM · I imagine TH is having a fine time driving around town searching for free wi-fi access to vote for Jungle Cruise over and over again... Not to mention all the cold calling he's been doing to get voters to the polls!!

Hey, more power to ya, TH, that's what being a fan(atic) is all about!

January 9, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Interesting so far...

This should be no contest. The Jungle Cruise is a CLASSIC theme park attraction. The ride is the only non-unique ride in this competition as there are 4 around the world(TH points them out nicely). The Jungle Cruise has a script with skipper ad-libs to make every ride unique, Just like 3 other rides... Many famous people were involved with the Jungle Cruise, eerily similar to 3 other rides. (btw, Jack, why wouldn't you risk it?) However, the other three rides are far superior to the Jungle Cruise(which is fun though). I will focus on the one true narrated ride king: Kilimanjaro Safaris(The Facebook Campaigns have already started though I still can't quite figure out Twitter). The Safaris take the Jungle Cruise to the next level. The animals are real this time. The ride has a mild thrill that all enjoy (cowering in fear from plastic natives shaking spears at you fails to thrill). By the way, did you know the Jungle Cruise animals are fake? There were too many complaints about not seeing real animals so Disney came up with a commercial to convince people. The Safaris lets guests actually feel as if they in the heart of Africa(100 acres of mock Africa works much better than 25 acres of hippo-shaped pieces of plastic rising out of the water and dipping back in) with open spaces, hundreds of REAL animals, high speed chases, and African landscape as far as the eye can see. Walt Disney originally wanted an attraction with REAL animals, but couldn't, so the Jungle Cruise was built as a mediocre substitute. Please vote for the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Additional notes:
-Jungle Cruise is on a track, Safaris? Nope.
-Jungle Cruise uses a fake spider that shakes every 5 minutes as an excuse for an AA.
-The Safaris Combines a great story with an amazing animal experience.
-Animals(most of them) can actually walk up to your vehicle for up close views. The Cruise excuses stay in one spot.

January 9, 2012 at 4:22 PM · Also Robert, Why isn't the Monster Mansion in the Indoor Boat Ride Category?
January 9, 2012 at 4:25 PM · The thing with Jungle Cruise is that... well it's dated. It's like the first season of Seinfeld. Great Movie ride gets me vote!
January 9, 2012 at 5:18 PM · The Jungle Cruise was never meant to be a science exhibit. It is meant to be an adventure. An almost satirical production. And the key element identified in the category is "Narrative". The spiel. The Jungle Cruise skippers are second to none when it comes to entertaining on a "Narrative" ride. From the traditional gags ("They're only dangerous when they are wiggling their ears.") to the more contemporary, topical ad-libs ("I don't know what's on the other side of this tunnel. Since this is Disney, it's probably a gift shop") the Jungle Cruise skippers lead the charge.

When it comes to a "Narrative" ride, Kilimanjaro Safaris is ... well, adequate. Guests seated at the back of the train of cars never see the guide. The importance of the spiel (narrative) is secondary at best. Heck, the narrative on Kilimanjaro Safaris may as well be a pre-recorded tape.

And the animals at Kilimanjaro Safaris are great ... when they're in sight and not asleep. On the Jungle Cruise you see the back side of water. On Kilimanjaro Safaris you get to see the back side of an elephant. Not very attractive.

That's why the Jungle Cruise is, was and always will be the "Best Narrative Ride."

January 9, 2012 at 4:47 PM · I think that the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour should be the best, because it really gives depth to what how movies are made, sitting for 45 minutes is worth it. The Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour is famous World Wide, besides that stupid Jungle Cruise Ride.
January 9, 2012 at 5:25 PM · I agree, JAWS should have been included. Silly rules.
January 9, 2012 at 5:26 PM · Rao Rao-ites: "I imagine TH is having a fine time driving around town searching for free wi-fi access to vote for Jungle Cruise over and over again."

I Respond: Actually I got a temp job at a call center with 275 terminals ... And for the record, the weather in West Bengal is quite temperate this time of year.

January 9, 2012 at 5:53 PM · David L., Monster Mansion didn't crack the top five in that category for average TPI reader rating when I put together the brackets.
January 9, 2012 at 5:59 PM ·
January 9, 2012 at 5:59 PM · "We found Little Red! He was out looking for a WiFi connection."
January 9, 2012 at 6:23 PM · Hell hath been unleashed! (upon TH's request)

Jungle Cruise FTW! duh.

And as for Jaws not being on the list for current attractions . . . as far as I know, it's still open in Japan, right? And you did have a couple attractions from Japan, ToT, Journey . . . just sayin'

January 9, 2012 at 6:16 PM · Finally a competitive, roller coaster round. Can the animotronic animals hold off the real ones?
January 9, 2012 at 6:30 PM · @Albino Pygmy ... Attaboy!
January 9, 2012 at 7:03 PM · Hands down the Jungle Cruise! Nothing beats the jokes and scenes. Last August while down at WDW we rode it over and over again after taking a guided tour of the park to hear the "I like disco!" at the beginning of the cannibal scene. Taking the tour defiantly my liking of the ride. I have never been too impressed with Kilimanjaro Safaris. It moves too fast through the animals and the story line is rather annoying, plus from my personal experience in traveling to Africa, the scenes don't match to well with the actual landscapes, the names shouldn't be the Americanized versions (impala not gazelle), and distinctions as to the exact type of Kudu has always urched me. Jungle Cruise feels a lot more personable too.
January 9, 2012 at 8:09 PM · ROFL... TH and Niles!. I wish the jokes on the Jungle Snooze were half as funny as you two! Genius!!! =D
January 9, 2012 at 8:57 PM · The Jungle Cruise is great, and the fact that it does not change from one ride to the next allows it to be very tightly scripted. If we are voting on the script alone, then the Jungle Cruise wins, hands down.
But this isn't just the script, but the entire ride experience, and for that, Kilimanjaro Safaris is the clear and obvious winner. The show changes due to the animals being (gasp) REAL animals, and therefore not subject to scripted behavior. The ride operators must be well-versed in the lore and behaviors of dozens of types of animals, and must be able to improvise through those portions of the show where the animals have gone decidedly off-script. It is more challenging, but also more rewarding.
Each time I have gone on the Jungle Cruise was basically more of the same. The rides varied little, and the ride hardly at all. This has cut down on my desire to ride it in recent years when I visited WDW, when I could see REAL animals in an even more immersive environment on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Each ride on KS has been memorable due to the unpredictable nature of Nature.
KS, absolutely, unequivocally.
January 10, 2012 at 1:56 AM · Mr. Peek writes: "KS, absolutely, unequivocally."

I Respond: But (apparently) not quantitatively.

January 10, 2012 at 4:43 AM · Although I already voted for Jungle Cruise I couldn't help thinking that we may have missed an opportunity to pay homage to a "ride" that can be found at nearly all the Parks.
Yes....I'm talking about the parking lot trams. Witty repartee........."keep your hands, arms , legs and anything else inside the car at all times". and " Don't forget where you parked your vehicle, moron". That sort of thing.
Can't we give them a lifetime achievement award or something ?
January 10, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Why would I never risk incurring the wrath of TH Creative?

He has an army of animatronic hippos ready to do his bidding.

Also, because Jungle Cruise is the best of those rides. When I think of my first time visiting Walt Disney World in December of 1984, I think of Jungle Cruise. It defines that trip for me (along with the classic version of Journey into Imagination).

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a fun ride. I could see why some people would root (and vote) for it, but honestly I think the narrative aspect of the ride feels tacked on and takes away from the experience of being surrounded by hundreds of exotic animals.

The Universal Studios Tour can't compare with either of those rides.

The Great Movie Ride hasn't been staffed with adequate talent in years (I haven't experienced a decent Mugsy in years), and deserves to have the word "Great" stripped from its name until they can bring it back up to snuff. Anyone who voted for this probably hasn't ridden it since shortly after it opened.

January 10, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Annnnnnnnd .... exhale.

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