Ranking the world's top theme park rides

January 7, 2020, 3:26 PM · Today we present the 2020 Theme Park Insider Award for Best Attraction, based upon our readers' ratings over the past year. But we're not just giving you one top ride today — we're listing our readers' top 10 from the past year.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disneyland (Opens Jan. 17) — Disney's amazing new Star Wars ride won our Best New Attraction award this year and now tops our overall list, too.

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle of the Sunken Treasure

2. Pirates of the Caribbean Battle of the Sunken Treasure

Shanghai Disneyland — Last year's winner comes in a very close second by continuing to wow fans with its immersive sets and non-stop action.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

3. Journey to the Center of the Earth

Tokyo DisneySea — Another former winner in this category, this adventure through the park's iconic volcano delights visitors with its surprises within.

Flight of Passage

4. Flight of Passage

Disney's Animal Kingdom — The 2017 winner for Best New Attraction, the anchor in Disney's Pandora - The World of Avatar land brings James Cameron's movie to life with an experience that is as emotional as it is thrilling.

Steel Vengeance

5. Steel Vengeance

Cedar Point — Our Best New Attraction in 2018 is also our top roller coaster, a Rocky Mountain Construction reimagining of the former Mean Streak wooden coaster.

Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

6. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Universal's Islands of Adventure — This year's winner for Best New Roller Coaster challenges the definition of "roller coaster" with a unique experience that brings Harry Potter fans face-to-face with Hagrid and the creatures of the Forbidden Forest.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

7. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Japan — A four-time winner of our Best Attraction award, this wild ride through Marvel's New York City remains a favorite of many fans.

Mystic Manor

8. Mystic Manor

Hong Kong Disneyland — The 2013 Best New Attraction winner reimagines Disney's Haunted Mansion experience as an all-new adventure on a trackless ride system.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

9. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Japan — Enter Hogwarts Castle and climb aboard an enchanted classroom bench for a flight around the school grounds on our Best New Attraction winner from 2010.

Radiator Springs Racers

10. Radiator Springs Racers

Disney's California Adventure — Based upon the same ride system as our number three pick, this Cars-themed ride offers the almost opposite experience — a comforting adventure where nothing goes wrong, but we all make some new friends.

2020 Theme Park Insider Awards:

About Theme Park Insider: Theme Park Insider is a consumer's guide to the world's best theme park resorts, reaching more than five million unique readers via its website annually and winning multiple honors for its reporting, including from the Online Journalism Association and the Webby Awards. Winners of the Theme Park Insider Awards are those locations that received the highest average reader rating, with a minimum number of votes, in their categories over the past year.

Replies (9)

January 7, 2020 at 9:27 PM

BOOM! Congratulations RotR, the best theme park attraction in the world! Congratulations to Disney Imagineering with 6 of the top 10 attractions listed, and congratulations to IOA with 3 of the top 10 attractions, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, a 20-year old attraction still ahead of its time. Very impressive!
Looking forward to this year’s Best Theme Park award announcement.

January 7, 2020 at 9:30 PM

I've done 2, 7, 8, and 9.

That's exciting, as I have 6 incredible attractions still left to do on my bucket list. And once I've done them, there will certainly be new, amazing attractions in the meantime.

It's a Mario!

January 8, 2020 at 1:27 AM

While I don't necessarily agree with everything on this list (especially given what was omitted), I do think all of the above can rightfully be called a top tier theme park attraction. I have experienced five rides on the list, and will be getting to at least one more (and possibly two) at some point in 2020. One thing is for sure...immersive dark rides with some degree of thrill seem to be the most popular among theme park goers, and while screens may be beneficial in some implementations a ride needs more than that to truly be world class.

I'm curious to know what the top couple European attractions are, as nothing from that continent made it on this list despite several world class parks (Disneyland Paris, Efteling, and Europe Park to name a few).

January 8, 2020 at 7:32 AM

I'm lucky enough to have ridden almost all of these and I'm sorry, Forbidden Journey is still better than almost every ride ahead of it. Flight of Passage is the single most disappointing experience of my theme park life. I'm ok never setting foot into Pandora again and I'm certainly never riding that glorified IMAX again

January 8, 2020 at 8:38 AM

This is a great list. I have done 1, 4, 7, 9, and 10, and only Flight of Passage doesn't rank in my personal top 5 (though Spider-Man and Potter would not if roller coasters are eligible, as they are for this list). Pirates Shanghai and Mystic Manor are my top two bucket list rides as well. Rise of the Resistance is a deserving #1 and it's difficult to see anything knocking it off the top perch for a long time, unless Mario Kart is blowaway great.

January 8, 2020 at 9:24 AM

nrainone... my first take-away from this was the complete opposite! I've never understood the overwhelming love for Forbidden Journey, but always chalked that up to having no interest myself in Potter - a prerequisite I think for having an emotional engagement with that ride. But I was surprised to see FoP only in 4th. Not my personal favourite (#Spidey4Life) but deserving a place about Journey and Pirates at least, for my money. The fun of differing opinions!

AJ - I'd guess that, given the make-up of visitors to TPI, the top rankings would presumably be a DLP wash-out with perhaps Symolica a token nod to other parks. A shame, because Shambhala would definitely deserve a top 5 spot. And possibly one or two of Alton's entries, and/or Helix. I'm not sure anything at Europa Park would legitimately crack the list, though; the park's strength is more in the fullness of its "cover all bases" line-up.

That said, I don't think there's anything in Europe I'd put above Mystic Manor. So - my own feelings about Forbidden Journey aside - I wouldn't say the rides here have been especially short-changed. Parks here compete with those in the US better on the beauty and intricacies of their environments, rather than brilliance of individual artractions.

But yeah. I too would be interested in seeing what a Euro top 5 at least would have looked like!

January 9, 2020 at 8:58 AM

I haven't ridden RotR yet (less than 4 weeks away from my chance), but I don't agree with anointing an attraction that has operated for less than a month as the best in the world. I think an attraction should be at least 6-8 months old before it can claim such an honor. Now, everything seems to suggest that RotR is probably one of the best experiences on the planet, but let's allow guests to have a chance to ride it and evaluate it before vaulting it to the top of this list.

January 9, 2020 at 6:49 PM

I would LOVE to see more stateside clones of the best attractions in the world. Why keep cloning rides that are available in Cali or Florida when you can give people the chance to ride Mystic Manor, Center of the Earth, Hunny Hunt, or Sunken Treasure? Let`s face it, most of us will never get a chance to go halfway around the world to experience those. And they would all be HUGE draws, by the way.

Yes, the stateside parks already have Pirates rides. So what? They also have three Star Wars rides, two Avatar rides, etc.

January 10, 2020 at 9:02 AM

@Still a fan - Aren't they doing that? Ratatouille is a clone of a popular DSP attraction, while Tron Lightcycle Run is a clone of one of the most popular rides in China.

While it took a while, US parks are finally getting adaptations of the trackless dark rides that have found popularity in overseas parks (MMRR, RotR, and Ratatouille). MMRR and RotR might not be direct clones of Mystic Manor or Pooh, but they implement similar trackless technology. Journey to the Center of the Earth would never work in a US park with RSR in DCA and TestTrack in EPCOT. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney eventually creates a US-based attraction using the Sunken Treasure ride system, but I doubt it will be Pirates themed (might be a good system for a Moana ride or maybe a completely new IP).

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