Please weigh in by sharing your picks for the decade's best rides.
Just squeaking in at number 10 (and just qualifying by debuting in 2000), Men in Black Alien Attack raised the bar for interactive shoot-em-up rides. Issued laser guns, passengers travel in ultra-sophisticated vehicles through an alien-infested New York City streetscape and rack up points by blasting the otherworldly bugs. The bugs, however, blast back. It's zap or be zapped time.
9. Turtle Talk with Crush
Some might find it odd to choose the under-the-radar "Finding Nemo"-themed show on a top-10 list of best theme park attractions. But Turtle Talk with Crush, in which the surfer dude interacts with audience members via real-time animation, is an astonishing Imagineering breakthrough. Between laughs, adults scratch their heads in bewilderment, while young kids nonchalantly, if delightedly, chat with the witty reptile. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for, dude?
As a roller coaster, Expedition Everest is just OK. And as a themed dark ride, the attraction would be just OK without the coaster elements. But by combining the coaster, which is integral to the ride's story, with the attraction's lavish, immersive environment, the Imagineers have created another Disney E-ticket must-ride and a welcome addition to Disney's Animal Kingdom. Expedition Everest would have ranked higher, but it ended the decade with its humungous animatronic Yeti finale not operating as intended.
Note that Hard Rock Park closed in 2008 and reopened in 2009 as Freestyle Music Park. The new owners changed the dark ride, and Nights in White Satin- The Trip only operated for one season.
With its groundbreaking melding of classical and rock music, its evocative imagery, its haunting and plaintive melody, and its iconic station in the rock canon, the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" was ideally suited to be reinterpreted as a dark ride. The Sally Corporation did a masterful job creating an immersive, dream-like soundscape that brought the song to life. With its eye-popping visuals and stunning effects, Nights in White Satin- The Trip was quite trippy.
The next generation in interactive theme park attractions, Toy Story Mania takes ultra-flashy video game technology, embellishes it with 3-D graphics (yep, riders wear dorky 3-D glasses), presents a game play experience that appeals to everyone from toddlers to the most experienced gamers, and wraps it all together using the engaging characters from the Toy Story films. The result is a giddy and highly addictive attraction that has nearly maniacal guests hell-bent on beating their ride-mates and jumping back in line to trounce them again and again.
OK, this isn't exactly a "new" ride from the Aughties, but it was significantly revised. With its Finding Nemo overlay, the classic ride appeals to today's Pixar-lated kids as well as their nostalgia-fueled parents. The combination of deft storytelling and Imagineering magic makes the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage an alluring, sea-worthy E-Ticket attraction.
A captivating Disney E-ticket ride that incorporates technology in a new and exciting way, Soarin' Over California is a charming and giddy adventure up, over, and through the sights of the Golden State. It will engage your senses and figuratively, if not damn near literally, send you soarin'. The Epcot version is known simply as "Soarin'."
Think of a traditional amusement park dark ride. On steroids. It is a 20th-Century-style romp through a haunted, Gothic, 15th-Century castle using cutting-edge 21st-Century technology. Like Spider-Man, Curse uses 3-D CGI animation, roving motion-base vehicles, "4-D" sensory enhancements, onboard audio, and other new-age features. It's an incredible achievement, particularly for a seasonal park like Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Universal incorporates so many innovations into its utterly unique dark ride/coaster, it has coined a new label for Revenge of the Mummy: psychological thrill ride. But the ride also unleashes physical thrills, including a surprisingly potent coaster experience, to produce a wild, kinetic, frenetic attraction. The Florida version is better than the Hollywood one.
A groundbreaking, awe-inspiring attraction that delivers sensations unlike any you have ever felt (unless you're an astronaut) and replicates space travel with an astonishing degree of reality. It figuratively--and literally-- takes your breath away.