We've got a former champion of the tournament vying with the top-seed and a former winner of the Theme Park Insider Award for Best New Attraction. But only one of these award-winning attractions will make it to this year's final. So which will it be - Universal's Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Voting is open for 24 hours. Please tell us in the comments why you voted the way you did, and if you'd like to drum up some more votes for your favorite, feel free to link to this post on Facebook and Twitter.
Tuesday: 2. It's Tough to Be a Bug! vs. 6. Fantasmic! compete to take on Soarin's Over California in the Best Theme Park Show final.
Theme = Tie. Both attractions raise the bar
Ride delivery system = ToT: While FJ is an incredible ride, I never got the "HOLY COW" feeling the first time I rode it like I did ToT.
Storyline = I'm calling them equal because FJ has millions of followers and it's a new story while ToT's storyline is part of the fabric of my generation and I grew up watching that show. It's timeless and still on regular TV rotation today just as the HP flix will be 50 years from now.
Final tally: ToT 51- FJ 49
Apart from the Wizarding World, the Universal parks are sparsely themed, poorly maintained, and provide spotty customer service and line management. Furthermore, the success of the Wizarding World brought significantly higher prices and larger crowds (at least in the "new" area of IOA) which nearly eliminated USO from the "add on to a Disney vacation" category. Now, forced with choosing between Disney OR Universal during an Orlando visit, I tend to choose Disney simply because they continue to offer the best, whole-family theme park vacation.
However, when Universal implemented their Harry Potter expansion, they showed the world that Disney quality and immersion can be achieved and even improved upon at parks outside of Disney. They proved that if you spend the money, and spend it right, people will come, regardless of the brand name on the park. They illustrated that high quality food, beverage, and snack choices can lead to big profits, even if the margin on those profits is smaller because of the increased quality. They grabbed headlines and took the limelight away from a slumbering Disney company, creating a ripple effect that is leading to major improvements at many of the US Disney parks. Furthermore, instead of Disney releasing big expansion plans and then cutting budgets and corners as they have done in the past, all their current plans have seen increased budgets and even more detailing and plussing thrown in for good measure. In short, Universal finally woke up a company that has been very much resting on its laurels for more than a decade.
Above all, Universal proved that Disney does not hold exclusive rights on fully realized, immersive, narrative themed lands - any company can build them (and profit from them) if they are willing to spend the money. This example is something that other theme park companies are beginning to follow, which is great news for themed entertainment fans everywhere. Just take a look at the increased level of detail in new and upcoming attractions like Verbolten, Wild Eagle, Turtle Trek, Manta (California), and especially the Antarctica land being constructed at SeaWorld Orlando. The renaissance in themed entertainment that Universal started with the Wizarding World is something very exciting to see and parks that aren't on board with plussing attractions are being left in the dust. Even chains like Six Flags and Cedar Fair are starting to realize that improved lands, better ride queues, and higher immersion levels can lead to big profits. In other words, everyone is starting to understand something that Disney has known all along: if you offer visitors something more than common midway experiences, they will visit more often, stay longer, and spend more money!
Now, in regard to this vote today, let me state that I love the Tower of Terror. In my mind it is a perfect example of what Disney does best: take a standard midway experience (the drop ride) and turn it into an immersive masterpiece of sight, sounds, and thrills that is unmatched across the expanse of the theme park industry. It was and is my favorite attraction at WDW. Not only did the Tower of Terror shape the entire Sunset Blvd area at DHS, but it rendered all other drop rides obsolete, and set a new standard for themed entertainment.
In 2010, 16 years after the Tower of Terror was introduced, the Wizarding World upped the ante and set a new standard. For that reason alone its signature attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, will get my vote today. In my mind if the Tower of Terror wins this vote, theme park fans are giving Disney permission to rest on its laurels for another 16 years, and I personally don't ever want to see that happen again.
That said, anyone else just linger for several moments just looking at the pictures of these two rides on the page today? Now that is what great theme park attractions look like!
+1 to James. Well said.
My scared-of-everything daughter overcame many fears by riding FJ. I explained it in great detail, showed her videos, assured her the decision was entirely up to her whether or not to ride it. She was very apprehensive, and for a good hour afterward, still unsure what she thought of it. Then she asked if we could go again, and waited patiently for nearly 2 hours. We managed to fit in 4 rides during our 2 days at IoA. She also decided to try Spiderman, since I assured her it was somewhat similar to FJ, which she also absolutely loved. She may never share her mama's love of coasters, but FJ helped her overcome some fears and connect to her HP-loving brothers. This coupled with the sheer amazingness of FJ, earns it my vote.
TOT most certainly holds a special place in my heart though!
The big let down for me with Potter is the screens, if it was purely themeing and animatronics I would be voting for it today, but I really think the too blurry, too dark screens really take away from the experience and is also the only ride that makes me (and a few of my friends) nauseous.
FJ also lacks a big finale or epic climax in my opinion. Unlike ToT with one of the most satisfying and thrilling 30 seconds in theme park history.
But the Potter ride is better.
I've never read a Potter novel or seen a Potter movie, but that is one heck of a ride. I have no idea who anyone is or what they're talking about, but that is an A+ attraction.
Tower of Terror is a near-perfect ride, but Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is ever-so slightly nearer to perfect.
But I have to go for FJ as even its line would probably get enough votes to qualify for this tourney.
While ToT's line creates a great ambience but not the same level and extra credit for FJ having a beer cart incorporated into the line.
May main compliant has always been that Hogwarts should have been a "haunted mansion" style ride that incorporated even more rooms and the moving staircases. And then building a quidtich pitch facade to house the FJ ride with a simlar themed experience to what we see now.
But alas hindsight is 20/20 and WWoHP has exceeded expectations regardlessm
@126.96.36.199, I have read a lot of threads and heard several podcasters report that FJ is having a myriad of technical difficulties. If so, I am concerned as it continues to show that Universal does not do a good job of maintaining its attractions. I have heard JK Rowling has some pretty strict verbiage in her agreement with Universal about things working in "her park". If the ride's effects are already breaking down maybe we need to petition Rowling to get involved?
Forbidden Journey on the other hand is such a completely amazing experience, I can't imagine a ride coming close to it anytime soon. Both have amazing queues and incredible atmosphere, but the entire ride experince of HPFJ is just too jaw droppingly amazing to vote for anything else.
KUDOS Mr. Niles for another great job and it's not even over yet!
We've had multiple discussions about that. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that the seats move during the CoP show, but they don't move during the Soarin' show. But both blur the lines between ride and show.
Since these are two of my favorites, I wouldn't have cared if it went either way, but congrats to USO and FJ. I hope the (more than likely) upcoming Gringott's ride is just as good or better and can take a place in the top 5 someday.
I think it is 50.308 to 49.692 to be exact.
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