search

Best Non-Roller Coaster Ride (2015)

Advertisement

Amusement park thrills and chills don't always come in the form of a roller coaster. Sometimes the most memorable and immersive ride experiences take the form of dark rides, 3D simulators, log flumes or drop towers. We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to help us name the best non-roller coaster ride in the nation, and after four weeks of voting, the results are in.

  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

    Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
    Disney's Hollywood Studios - Lake Buena Vista, Fla

    Based on the eponymous Rod Serling TV series of the 1960s, this attraction recalls an episode where famed Hollywood stars disappear at the Hollywood Tower Hotel in 1939. Modern-day guests tour the creepy hotel and ride the service elevator into the “fifth dimension” and total darkness. The fright factor mounts on the way to the 13th floor, where a free fall and an unexpected change of direction ensue and terrify.
    Photo courtesy of Garth Vaughan, photographer

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

    Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
    Universal's Islands of Adventure - Orlando

    The enchanting world of wizards and magic introduced by Harry Potter books and films comes to life as guests pass through Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry before soaring on enchanted benches with Harry and friends above the school grounds. The dark, motion-based ride visits all of the iconic venues at the Hogwarts campus while facing mythical and magical creatures that spit, swat and spook.
    Photo courtesy of 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

  • Soarin'

    Soarin'
    Disney California Adventure & Epcot

    A virtual adventure extravaganza, this attraction starts visitors with five massive video games before they begin their hang-gliding simulation. It takes guests high above the Pacific waves, ski slopes, redwood forests, orange groves and famed landmarks of California. The 180-degree IMAX projection dome is the closest sensory experience – including the sense of smell – there is to the reality of gliding 40 feet in the air.
    Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

    Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
    Univsersal Studios Florida - Orlando

    Gringotts Bank lies beneath the massive fire-breathing dragon in the world of Harry Potter. Mere mortals can at last visit this fantasy landmark and take a thrilling 3D ride through its cavernous passageways and dangerous vaults. The conveyance is a roller coaster, but the special effects make it a hybrid thrill ride with highly detailed sets, motion-based cars and evil villains.
    Photo courtesy of 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

  • Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

    Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
    Universal's Islands of Adventure - Orlando

    Riders on this classic adventure at Universal's Islands of Adventure meet “Spidey” first hand and in 3D on a simulator ride that encompasses 1.5 acres and climaxes in a 400-foot free fall. High definition animation, high-tech 3D glasses and state-of-the-art audio and lighting effects mean vivid, crystal clear graphics and sensory overload. Participants feel as though they are actually slinging webs, careening above streets, scaling skyscrapers and plummeting down, down, down alongside Spider-Man.
    Photo courtesy of 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

  • Haunted Mansion

    Haunted Mansion
    Disneyland Park & Magic Kingdom Park

    One of Disney’s oldest and most enchanting rides, Haunted Mansion never fails to amaze visitors with its spooky and intricate audio-animatronic figures and special effects. Doom Buggies transport guests about the eerie estate to meet ghostly, singling and giggling ghouls – 999 specters in all, some of whom end up hitchhiking along with riders. The labyrinth of haunted chambers include a casket-clogged conservatory, candlelit séance room and ghostly graveyard.
    Photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort

  • Jurassic Park: The Ride & River Adventure

    Jurassic Park: The Ride & River Adventure
    Universal Studios Hollywood & Islands of Adventure

    What begins as a serene river raft ride past docile baby and gigantic dinosaurs soon – just like the movies – turns crazy. A bump off course takes rafters into Jurassic Park’s Raptor Containment Area, and that’s when it all goes south. The lights go off as raptors stalk riders’ progress downstream. Only an 85-foot drop in total darkness can save them from T-Rex, who towers over the river to frighten even the most jaded thrill rider.
    Photo courtesy of 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

  • Timber Mountain Log Ride

    Timber Mountain Log Ride
    Knott's Berry Farm - Buena Park, Calif.

    Knott's Berry Farm, an erstwhile jelly stand, expanded steadily from the 1920s to become a family theme park in 1940. The park’s Timber Mountain Log Ride has been a favorite get-wet amusement since it opened in 1969. The elaborate log flume takes riders through an 85-foot-high and 330-foot-long mountain range and a set modeled after a 19th-century lumber camp. Renovated in 2013, the ride retained its classic log-like vehicles and classic scenery while adding new special effects.
    Photo courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm

  • Splash Mountain

    Splash Mountain
    Disneyland Park & Magic Kingdom Park

    This Disney take on the popular log flume ride carries the theme of its classic Song of the South movie, starring such timeless characters as Br’er Rabbit, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear. Go “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” past rock caves and swamps, down three dips and ultimately a five-story waterfall. Sit in the front of the hollow log for the wettest plunge possible.
    Photo courtesy of Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

  • Pirates of the Caribbean

    Pirates of the Caribbean
    Disneyland Park & Magic Kingdom Park

    Many theme park rides have been inspired by movies, but Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom Parks is perhaps the only ride to have inspired movies of its own. The beloved attraction opened first in Disneyland in 1967, and thrills thousands each year at both parks with its realistic, bawdy, loud and action-packed scripting, set in highly detailed environments with unforgettable characters. Guests ride boats through the nine-minute adventure into a Spanish fort and pirate-conquered colonial Caribbean port.
    Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, an old classic at Disney's Hollywood Studios, took top honors, proving that newer isn't always better. This accelerated drop ride opened in 1994 and has been thrilling Orlando visitors ever since.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Non-Roller Coaster Ride are as follows:

  1. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - Disney's Hollywood Studios
  2. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - Universal's Islands of Adventure
  3. Soarin' - Disney California Adventure & Epcot
  4. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts - Universal Studios Florida
  5. Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man - Universal's Islands of Adventure
  6. Haunted Mansion - Disneyland & Magic Kingdom
  7. Jurassic Park: The Ride & River Adventure - Universal Studios Hollywood & Islands of Adventure
  8. Timber Mountain Log Ride - Knott's Berry Farm
  9. Splash Mountain - Disneyland & Magic Kingdom
  10. Pirates of the Caribbean - Disneyland & Magic Kingdom

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Joel Bullock (The Coaster Critic), Lance Hart (Screamscape), Steve Kalkofen (RollerCoasterPro), Arthur Levine (About.com Theme Park Expert) and Robert Niles (Theme Park Insider) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of American amusement parks.

Additional nominees for Best Non-Roller Coaster Ride included Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Hollywood & Florida, Mission: SPACE at Epcot, Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios, Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood & Florida, Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando Resort, The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood & Florida and MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners. The contest was promoted on 10Best and USA TODAY.

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

 

Advertisement

AlertThe Experts

Joel Bullock

Joel Bullock

Joel Bullock

Lance Hart

Lance Hart

Lance Hart

Steve Kalkofen

Steve Kalkofen

Steve Kalkofen

Arthur Levine

Arthur Levine

Arthur Levine

Robert Niles

Robert Niles

Robert Niles
×

×