2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Motion Base Ride?

February 15, 2012, 8:42 AM · I just had to save this one for the final ride category in the 2012 Theme Park Insider Tournament. Today, we've got five of the most technologically advanced, thematically complete and totally immersive theme park experiences for your consideration. These are the top five reader-rated "motion base" rides, theme park attractions that deploy flight-simulator technology on ride vehicles that move through immersive themed environments to tell action-packed stories.

Find one of these rides, and you know you're visiting a world-class theme park. Honestly, it's hard for me to choose from among these winners, but that's your task. Voting will be open for 24 hours, and full-on campaigning in the comments, on Facebook and on Twitter, is encouraged.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man - at Universal's Islands of Adventure *and Universal Studios Japan

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Curse of DarKastle - at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Curse of DarKastle

Dinosaur - at Disney's Animal Kingdom


Indiana Jones Adventure - at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea (as Indiana Jones - Temple of the Crystal Skull)

Transformers: The Ride - at Universal Studios Singapore

Transformers: The Ride

Tomorrow: Round one concludes with, what else? Nighttime spectaculars.

Replies (33)

February 15, 2012 at 8:49 AM · As great as Indy is, I have to go with Spider-man. The portions of Indy that are merely black-light cutouts drop it down on my list.
February 15, 2012 at 9:05 AM · Spiderman hands down. If you think that any Dark Ride better than Spiderman (excluding HM, Pirates, and TSM, but they are equal with Spidey), then as Jameson would say, Shut up, get out.
February 15, 2012 at 9:05 AM · Dinosaur was a close second for me, but Spidey is still the best. Can't wait to see the revamped version.
February 15, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Where's Harry?

Seriously, doesn't Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey qualify as a "motion base" ride? Sure, it uses a different ride mechanism.

But it certainly delivers an experience much like the other attractions listed in this round of the tournament.

- Brian

February 15, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Curse of DarKastle is a wannabe clone of Spiderman. The Castle is excellent, a look similar to Hogwarts. The queu though is unimaginative. The ride is very good but the storyline is difficult to follow. Dinosaur also is very good, but not in the class of Spider-Man. I haven't been on Indiana Jones, but since it has a ride system similar to Dinosaur, I would imagine it is somewhat similar in effect. Transformers looks great in the preview shots, but I haven't experienced it. Spider-Man set the industry standard in excellence & innovation.It's such a fun ride & I can ride it repeatedly. And I'm sure the HD upgrade will make it even better. Plus, I always have a soft heart for Marvel since I still have about 3000 Marvels from the 60's and 70's, including the early Spider-Mans. So my vote goes to Spiderman in a very strong category.
February 15, 2012 at 9:09 AM · I've been on all of these except Transformers. My rankings:
1)Indy Jones Adventure-I was really impressed by the sets, and I really love that classic song they play throughout the attraction. Robert has said that some of the effects are broken but I didn't notice these as a one time visitor.
2)Spiderman-A groundbreaking simulator and great ride. I'll echo what Dom's been saying lately though-the use of screens downgrades this to second but still immersive and a great attraction.
3)Dinosaur-Not nearly as detailed as Indy Jones but at least it scares the heck out of me, something no other Disney attraction can do.
4)Transformers-Have read that it's impressive but just a rethemed Spiderman.
5) Curse of Darkastle-This was basically a "poor-man's" Spiderman/Transformers.
February 15, 2012 at 9:11 AM · Brian,

We explained at the start of the tournament that Harry Potter - being the top-rated attraction on the site - has a first-round bye.

February 15, 2012 at 9:13 AM · FWIW, I have been on all five of these and, based upon that experience, I can say with confidence:

You really want to be able to say you've ridden all five of these. ;^)

Then I voted for Transformers. If you're a US fan of these rides, you're gonna love Transformers when it opens in LA this May.

February 15, 2012 at 9:16 AM · spiderman definatly!
February 15, 2012 at 10:06 AM · Curse of Darkastle was great the first year it opened. It had a pulse queue with a neat way of telling the background story through what looked like an animated tapestry. There were cool lighting effects in the line and the ride ran very well. Unfortunately, the ride is not synced up right more often than not and the queue just breezes past the tapestry now. They did add some under seat affects a few years back, but it still isn't as good as it was 5 years ago.

I will say that they have done a good job with upkeep of the physical property, whereas the last time I rode Spiderman ([sic] the whole superhero section of IOA) was feeling a bit run down.

That said, Darkastle isn't the greatest ride on this list, but I wouldn't go so far as to say its the poor man's Spiderman. At least BG is pushing to have highly themed technologically advanced rides. Unfortunately, they don't have the expertise in story telling that movie based companies like Universal and Disney do. And, I would go so far as to say that Busch Gardens does a better job keeping their parks in top shape compared to USF/IOA. Not that this has anything to do with the tournament, just wanted to stick up for my home park.

February 15, 2012 at 11:13 AM · Spider-Man was a groundbreaking and original dark ride (the first of its kind) when it landed years ago. Since then, there have been several attempts to top it, but even the best attempts (with maybe the exception of Bench: The Ride at Hogwarts) are still just knock-offs. Maybe Transformers is the next gen version of this attraction, but I still give the nod to Spidey as I much prefer the ol' web head to a collection of robots in disguise. Having said that, I will make every effort to try out Transformers this fall during my SoCal vacation....

So, today I will vote for Spider-Man without reservation. It is my favorite theme park attraction, bar none. And despite it being over a decade old, it is still immersive, amazingly well themed, fun, repeatable, and one of the few rides that receives across-the-board praise from coaster boys, dark ride enthusiasts, and casual visitors. I also love the fact that because Disney owns Marvel, they get free advertising at a Universal park!! =)

February 15, 2012 at 11:07 AM · poor Transformers is low on this list because only a few people have experienced the ride. and this isn't a spidey rip off its something new. TRANSFORMERS should definitely be on next years list too.
February 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM · I haven´t done them all but exclude Dino because the ride is to bumpy I can´t enjoy the scenery (is there any?).

I ended up voting for Spidy. It´s more intance then a rollercoaster and is the best ride I´ve ever done.
Can´t wait to see the update.

February 15, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Technically, all Marvel rides are Disney rides now :)
February 15, 2012 at 1:07 PM · I voted for the Spider-Man Ride because it's totally out of this world.
February 15, 2012 at 1:16 PM · Voted Spiderman. Only other one I've been on was DarKastle, and I was severely under-whelmed.
February 15, 2012 at 1:51 PM · where is harry potter and the forbidden journey?
February 15, 2012 at 2:00 PM · In addition to its groundbreaking ride system, Spider-Man once again demonstrates how the presence of Disney characters is the cornerstone of the world's greatest theme park attractions.

Congratulations Disney!

February 15, 2012 at 2:41 PM · I voted for Dinosaur. Granted I can't speak for Indiana Jones Adventure or Transformers: The Ride because I haven't ridden either of those 2, but between the other 3, I'll pick Dinosaur. Between Spiderman and DarKastle i'd choose DarKastle simply cause I like the haunted castle theme as opposed to marvel super heroes considering the actual ride system is exactly the same. Dinosaur to me is just more intense throughout. I love the preshow that introduces you to the attraction and what to expect. I notice a lot of people complain about the roughness of the ride, but given the theme/story of the attraction, I personally like the rough feeling which I feel adds to the intensity. I will however say I miss when the ride was called Countdown To Extinction. I'm just glad they didn't over "Disneyfy" it when it changed to Dinosaur unlike changing Alien Encounter to Stitch's Escape which completely softened the attraction for the little ones(as if there aren't enough disney character specific attractions at Magic Kingdom already).
February 15, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Javy, did you read any of the posts above before asking your question?
February 15, 2012 at 4:00 PM · To random person: HOW, COULD YOU, RANK SPIDERMAN, AS THE WORST, OF THE 5?!!!?!?! Curse of DarKastle is a poor man's Spiderman. You must be cawazy!
February 15, 2012 at 4:13 PM · The use of movie projections in Spiderman is a huge factor, which leads some people to love it, while others would rank it at the bottom of the list. In my opinion, it shouldn't really be in the same category with the rides that don't use movie projections.

For some people, projections will never seem in any way "real", not even with 3D glasses. There's nothing actually there except for a flat screen. Even when there is some real scenery, like in the Spiderman attraction, the screens keep reminding you that everything is fake. So for those people, rides that rely exclusively on physical scenery and animatronics will always seem more "real" and much more fun.

For some people, projections seem more "real" because they allow for faster, more natural movements than animatronics will ever be capable of.

So in my mind, these are totally different categories of rides. You have projector rides like Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours and Spiderman, and you have physical rides like Indiana Jones, Men in Black and the Haunted Mansion. Every theme park should have a mix of both, since people are very split as to what seems most "real" to them.

February 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM · The HD refurb is gonna be pretty ******* amazing though :P Also Robert, Spidey is in Japan too.
February 15, 2012 at 4:43 PM · TH, your comment actually made me laugh out loud during the bus ride home. Well done!

And, no, I did not "snort" when I laughed!

February 15, 2012 at 9:28 PM · The professor takes this one and easily. Spiderman is good but viewscreens and 3D glasses take me out of the experience. I never really feel like I'm in the Spiderman milieu because the technology is so obvious and gets in the way. I actually would prefer Dinosaur over Spiderman for that reason. Transformers as a property holds no interest for me. Indiana Jones all the way, but unfortunately it will lose to viewscreens and glasses. I shake my head in disbelief...
February 15, 2012 at 10:43 PM · I think we are comparing apples to oranges when we talk about these rides. I voted for Spiderman just because it still is an industry standard, but I have to give it to Dinosaur as one of the few rides out there that I still find a bit scary! Lighting and sound go far with me!
February 15, 2012 at 11:11 PM · These are awesome rides. I was really interested to see what Robert Niles had to say as he has been on all five rides. He voted Transformers which goes to say that it is going to be absolutely fantastic come May when this ride opens in Hollywood.

I would estimate to say that less than 1 percent of the people who voted has been to Singapore and experienced Transformers.

February 16, 2012 at 12:39 AM · I went with the Indiana Jones Adventure. It's based on a movie that I consider one of my five all-time favorites, and the ride itself was incredibly innovative when it opened, and still stands up well even now.

I strongly suspected that the Wizarding World was going to take the prize here, due to its use of the Kuka arm and the whiz-bang effects, so I was very surprised to see that Spider-Man is currently the front-runner. I've never been that big a fan of Spidey himself, and have never visited the Islands of Adventure, so it was never even a consideration for me.

Dinosaur, well, the less said the better. While it shares much with Indy, it just fails to thrill or build up a convincing story like its predecessor. I just don't care for it, probably my least favorite ride in Animal Kingdom, and it doesn't really have that much competition now, does it?

February 16, 2012 at 12:41 AM · I did not make one of my points very well, but here goes. Shouldn't the Wizarding World be considered a candidate in this category? The Kuka arm certainly is the spiritual and technological descendant of the earlier motion-base rides.
February 16, 2012 at 12:42 AM · I voted for Spidey, but Indy would have gotten my vote if the ride was at full strength. It needs a refurb.

Forbidden Journey would have run away with this category if it hadn't gotten a first round bye.

February 16, 2012 at 1:38 AM · I'm gonna start a petition against Robert Niles because he did not include Forbidden Journey in this poll. And then I'm gonna gather all of my friends (Scooter and that Hobo who lives behind the LA Fitness) and we are gonna travel to Theme Park Insider World Headquarters and start picketing!

Occupy TPI! Occupy TPI!

And then we are gonna protest people who post on threads without actually reading the content of those threads.

(By the way, could some of you Sketch-Up artists invest the time to create a concept design about what Theme Park Insider World Headquarters would look like. I suggest placing Mr. Niles' office at the top of a HUGE ivory tower, allowing him to survey all of the TPI kingdom).

Occupy TPI! Occupy TPI!

February 16, 2012 at 7:02 AM · You are totally insane, THC! Rao had to snort on that last post.

chuckle + snort = chortle

February 17, 2012 at 6:58 PM · very tough choice here. Indiana Jones is my favorite. Its a shame that Indy is only at Disneyland if it was in Florida I think it would get a lot more votes. I feel that Spiderman loses something after the first ride.

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