The 2014 Theme Park Insider Tournament: Sesame Street: Spaghetti Space Chase vs. Sindbad's Storybook Voyage

March 4, 2014, 3:57 PM · It's March, which means that it is once again tournament time!

One of our goals with the annual Theme Park Insider Tournament is to draw your attention to some of the great attractions at theme parks around the world you might not know from a personal visit. Unfortunately, many of those great attractions end up as sacrificial lambs, knocked out of the first round by more familiar attractions in the United States.

We've been running tournaments each March since 2008, so you've had plenty of opportunities to vote for attractions in the United States. So this year, we're going to help ensure that the spotlight remains on those other great attractions outside the U.S. by limiting the field to those rides.

We have selected eight dark rides and eight roller coasters from theme parks outside the United States for this year's Theme Park Insider Tournament field. They include some of the world's top-rated rides, as judged by Theme Park Insider readers. Since we're trying to focus on unique attractions, they do not include dark rides that share the same name or substantially similar ride experience as "sister" attractions in the United States, even if they might be different than the U.S. versions.

So you won't find Disneyland Paris' version of Pirates of the Caribbean or Tokyo Disney Sea's Indiana Jones - Temple of the Crystal Skull in this year's field. But you will find some wonderfully unique attractions that, we hope, might inspire you to dream about — or perhaps even begin to plan — a trip abroad to visit some of these gems.

Concerned that you don't know enough about these rides to make a decision? Don't be. Each day, we'll post links to those rides' Theme Park Insider attraction listing pages, so you can read more about them and see what other Theme Park Insider readers have said. We'll also try to provide on-ride video for the rides, too, so you can take at least a virtual trip on each ride before voting. Then just pick the one you'd want to go on first if both that day's rides magically appeared at your nearest theme park.

We'll start the tournament today on the dark ride side of the field. Since I'm late posting this today, we'll open the voting on this match-up for 48 hours, though we will limit balloting to 24 hours for each subsequent vote in the tournament. (*Oh, what the heck? We'll leave all votes open for 48 hours.) The attractions getting the most votes advance to the next round. After the first round, we'll seed the winners for each following round, based on the the overall votes cast in their previous match-up.

Here are the first-round votes, and when they'll appear. We will alternate each day between the dark ride and roller coaster brackets. The winners of each bracket will face off at the end for the overall title of best theme park attraction outside the United States.

Wednesday: Behemoth versus Leviathan

Thursday: Mystic Manor versus Pooh's Hunny Hunt

Friday: Blue Fire versus Silver Star

Next Monday (March 10): Journey to the Center of the Earth versus 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Next Tuesday (March 11): Nemesis versus Shambhala

Next Wednesday (March 12): Droomvlucht versus Fata Morgana

Next Thursday (March 13): Big Grizzly Mountain versus Formula Rossa

So let's get the tournament started, shall we? Today's match-up features two dark rides aimed at kids, but with plenty of appeal for grown-ups, too.

Sesame Street: Spaghetti Space Chase

Universal Studios Singapore's Sesame Street: Spaghetti Space Chase offers a wacky hurtle through space, where you will help Elmo, Big Bird, and their Muppet friends to defeat the evil Macaroni the Merciless as he plots to steal the world's spaghetti reserves. Now, if you're wondering why the Sesame Street characters are in a Universal Studios theme park, let's note that SeaWorld/Busch Gardens only has the U.S. rights to the Sesame Workshop characters. In Asia, those rights belong to Universal, which is why you'll find Sesame Street in Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan.

And the opponent?

Sindbad's Storybook Voyage

Tokyo DisneySea's Sindbad's Storybook Voyage takes you on a gentle musical adventure through the legendary character's epic voyage, from his home port to Mermaid Rocks, to Rukh Island, the Cave of the Giant, Palace of the Sultan, Land of the Monkeys, Whale Straits and back home. This indoor boat ride is based on the Persian legend and includes a theme song composed by Disney Legend Alan Menken, "Compass of your Heart."

Time to vote!

Please use the social media buttons below to campaign for your favorites, and let us know what you think about these rides, in the comments. Thanks for joining us for this year's tournament. We hope you'll enjoy it!

Replies (11)

March 4, 2014 at 4:17 PM · Love the idea for this year's tournament, Robert. I think it will be a lot of fun and will expand our Orlando/SoCal/Ohio-centric perspective a bit!

I look forward to experiencing two new attractions every evening for the next couple of weeks.

For today's vote, both attractions would be most welcomed at my home park, Worlds of Fun, here in KC (which has one dark ride - a Wipeout spinner in a barn - ugh). But once these two rides were added to WoF, I would make a beeline for Sinbad's Storybook Voyage. While Sindbad mostly seems like It's A Small World, it also has a bit of that "Pirates of the Caribbean" feel, and I love me some PotC fo' sho'! Plus, Sinbad is 10 minutes long! Nice A/C break!

March 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM · I have to give credit to a reader for suggesting this format during last year's tournament, but I'm afraid I've forgotten who it was! So, kudos to whoever suggested the outside-the-US-only tournament. Thank you.

Update: Jim Koehl! Thanks, Jim.

March 4, 2014 at 5:35 PM · This is a good idea. Last year's tournament got a little rough. This should be a kinder gentler tournament. It's refreshing.
March 4, 2014 at 5:47 PM · Alright, this is the time where I make my campaign to bring more trackless rides to the US by bringing Mystic Manor to victory (although some wind has been taken out of the opposition by keeping this a fully international tournament; still, a welcome change Robert). For this vote, and other ones where I can't lean one way or the other, I'll go with the following criteria: if you had to pick a ride to go on all day, which would be more tolerable?

By that method, I chose Sinbad.

March 4, 2014 at 7:39 PM · I'm such a sucker for the Muppets. I had to vote for the Sesame Street ride, even though I found it to be a tad boring from the POV video. They are the only characters that come remotely close to rivaling Mickey Mouse for my affections, though those Minions are awfully adorable.

Sinbad...meh. I'd say it's a more impressive ride, but the characters and theming just don't do anything for me.

March 4, 2014 at 11:37 PM · Great idea for a different version of this tournament. It will be interesting to see how many of these attractions do, especially the ones that aren't at Disney/Universal parks.

For this round, I'll put it this way: If Sesame Street showed up at USH, I'd give it a ride next time I happen to visit the park, but probably wouldn't care specifically about re-riding it. If Sindbad opened at Disneyland, I'd go visit the park to try it and would probably ride it on every visit. In my opinion, Sindbad is the better of these two attractions by a significant margin.

March 5, 2014 at 8:43 AM · Poor Sesame, never had a chance. A) I had never heard of this ride prior to today. B) when a dark ride is that dark, the POV video is kind of pointless.

So based on the videos alone, Sinbad takes the cake. Especially with the patron saint of Disney music on the soundtrack (Alan Menken, genius!)

I'd be more impressed if the parent companies were reversed. Disney does the water omni-mover all the time, but Universal never does. And Disney rarely does an overhead track like this.

I'm not blown away by either but Sinbad seems like the better story and details. But like I said, its hard to appreciate the Sesame ride based on the video alone.

March 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM · Sesame Street, for two reasons. 1) Puppets are less creepy than dolls. 2) I like spaghetti.
March 5, 2014 at 11:21 AM · That last anonymous comment made me happy because if some readers now have heard of some great rides that they'd never heard of before, we've done our job here, regardless of which rides "win." ;^)
March 5, 2014 at 7:05 PM · I picked Spaghetti Space Chase because I have a fascination with space. Also, my favorite scene in the Disneyland Peter Pan's Flight is when you are traveling through the stars. Inverted track dark rides are always great in my opinion as well because they offer an alternative perspective and I enjoy being able to see theming on three sides vs two. You never see a dark ride with a themed ceiling, but the inversion allows for a themed floor. And of course Space Mountain is my favorite ride despite it being a rather tame rollercoaster because of all the stars swirling around. They have great special effects and the ride seems re-ridable to me.
Sinbad looks great, but a tad boring in my opinion. Maybe that is because all they music and dialogues are in a foreign language. I read people comparing it to Pirates, but Pirates has drops and is far more realistic. Your not venturing into a cartoon world. It reminded me of It's a Small World with a different song and the same character appearing in the various scenes. I would ride and and take any first timers on it. BUT, I definitely don't make it a must visit each time I'm in the park.
So for me, Spaghetti Space Chase is the definite winner. Hopefully I will be able to ride it in the next couple years.
March 6, 2014 at 3:32 PM · Great idea!!

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