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What are your favourite non-coaster attractions?

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. In a theme park, roller coasters are typically seen as the star attraction, the ride type that most people rush to and the ride type that most people seem to love most (myself included, for sure!). So my question to you today is; what are some of your favourite rides that aren’t roller coasters?

As for my very favourite, my answer is easy. The non-coaster that sticks in my mind most in terms of how much I enjoyed it is by far Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now, I must admit that I found quite a few notable bits of Disney didn’t really live up to the hype for me, but I’m glad to say that Tower of Terror was one of the bits that most definitely lived up to its huge hype, and in some ways, even exceeded expectations! It was by far my favourite ride at Disney World, as well as being my favourite new ride I rode last year, and I will quite happily sing its praises! Now, as an attraction, I think Tower of Terror has a huge amount going for it. For starters, the atmosphere built up from the second you enter the queue line to the second you walk out the exit is nothing short of wonderful; the theming is absolutely fantastic, and the whole tone of the attraction is incredibly eerie. Walt Disney Imagineering did a fantastic job of building up a really eerie, mysterious atmosphere, in my opinion, and I must admit, walking through the various rooms of the queue line, especially the Boiler Room, genuinely sent shivers down my spine; definitely a good sign of fantastic theming & atmosphere! When you’re on the ride itself, some of the effects are also quite clever; I really liked the effect where the long corridor faded to a sky of stars, and the Fifth Dimension scene is very clever as well. However, as good as the ambience & theme of the ride is, and how much it adds to the overall package, it’s definitely not the main reason why I rate Tower of Terror so highly. The reason I rate Tower of Terror so highly is because of the actual drop tower portion itself; if it had the same theming, but a weaker drop tower section, I definitely wouldn’t rate it as highly as I do. Now, with this being Disney, who typically build quite family-orientated rides, I was expecting the drop tower section of the attraction to be quite tame, especially given I’d heard that the drops were quite small. Oh how wrong was I! Despite the drops themselves being relatively small, they produce a stunning amount of force, and due to Tower of Terror’s restraint system, which is... shall we say minimal, to say the least, they produced some of the strongest airtime I’ve ever felt in my entire life! I genuinely felt like I was going to fly out of the building, and the ride certainly lives up to its name, as the first time I felt that dropping sensation, it is perhaps the most scared I’ve ever been on a theme park ride! As the ride went on, I just found myself having such a wonderful time; the airtime and raw vigour of the drops was absolutely sensational, and when I got off, I felt a feeling of raw euphoria, fun, laughter and shock like I hadn’t felt for some time. That first ride on ToT was probably up there with my first ride on Mako in 2016 as one of my favourite theme park experiences of all time, and if I was pushed, I’d say it was my #2 ride overall behind only Mako, maybe #3 behind Mako & Icon at very worst. Frankly, I was absolutely gutted that I could only ride it once while I was in Florida; had I had the chance, I would have ridden it over and over and over again, because I can’t imagine it ever getting old! One of the most common cliches people often talk about with Walt Disney World is the “Disney magic”, and trust me, my first ride on Tower of Terror was by far the most magical thing I experienced while at Disney World!

While ToT is my definite #1 non-coaster, a few of my other favourite non-coasters include (this is in no particular order, by the way):
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure - This is almost definitely my favourite dark ride I’ve ever been on (even though some class ToT as a dark ride, I’d be a bit hesitant to say it was my favourite dark ride because as I mentioned above, it wasn’t really the dark ride elements that made me love it). The blend of screens and physical set pieces is nothing short of stunning, and there’s some absolutely fantastic effects, too; there’s a great fireball at one point, and the effect of the car being supposedly lifted up and then freefalling without you moving at all is absolutely superb, in my opinion; it’s incredibly convincing, and I still can’t work out how it’s done, despite having ridden Spider-Man quite a few times now! Another thing I really like about it is that it manages to feel like a really exhilarating experience; I really like a sense of thrill and exhilaration in my dark rides, and I think this is something that Universal does very well on the whole! Overall, Spider-Man is an absolutely fantastic dark ride, in my opinion, and it’s even more mind-blowing to think that it was built in 1999!
  • Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal’s Islands of Adventure - Popeye has garnered a reputation as being one of the most insane water rides of all time, and that’s definitely well deserved, in my opinion! From start to finish, this rapids ride is an absolute riot, and in a variety of ways, it ensures that no one on that boat comes off dry! One thing I’ve always liked about rapids rides is the element of chance, and I think Popeye offers this very well; only some in the boat get hit by a certain effect or a certain wave (although due to how Popeye is, fate will almost definitely see that everyone in the boat gets hit at least once!). The ride has a plethora of fantastic effects, and I think the theme is wonderfully cohesive as well; I particularly like things like the themed trough & the well-themed boats, and there’s always something to look at on Popeye! The rapids sections themselves are also really good fun, particularly the one after the lift hill! While it is insanely wet, I also think that it often manages to pull off just toeing the line of what’s an acceptable level of wetness; while something like Valhalla was way too wet for me, and I didn’t overly enjoy it, Popeye was far more enjoyable for me because it’s a little more within that boundary of acceptable wetness for me, and I think that the ways in which it gets you wet are far more fun & enjoyable, personally. Overall, I absolutely love Popeye as far as water rides go, and I often have trouble deciding between it and another water ride at IOA for which water ride is my all-time favourite water ride...
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure - Jurassic Park is the other IOA water ride to which I was referring, and I absolutely love it! For the most part, the attraction itself is quite nice and sedate, with some very nice animatronics and an absolutely sublime atmosphere and themed environment created! I think that on the whole, JPRA is a very feel-good attraction, with the brilliant musical score from the Jurassic Park films and the lovely dinosaur animatronics as well as the lovely themed environment making me feel quite warm and fuzzy on the inside! Things take a turn once you enter the building, but I like this bit just as much because I think it does a brilliant job at building up a really tense atmosphere, and some of the animatronics & theming in there are absolutely fantastic; the t-rex in particular is an absolutely phenomenal animatronic, in my opinion! In terms of the actual wet part of the ride, the drop is decently thrilling, and I think that while I said about Popeye being just within the boundary of acceptable wetness, Jurassic Park perhaps strikes the best balance between wet and dry of any water ride I’ve been on; wet enough that you feel satisfied with the experience, but dry enough that you don’t need to take measures like bringing a change of clothes! On the whole, JPRA and Popeye are two very different water rides, but I think they are both fantastic in their own ways and are easily my two favourite water rides!
  • Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Florida - While I don’t enjoy Transformers quite as much as Spider-Man, I still think that it’s an absolutely fantastic dark ride in its own right! As with Spider-Man, I really like that Universal managed to make the attraction feel really exhilarating and thrilling, and I think the screen quality and 4D effects are fantastic! While I’ve never watched any of the Transformers films, I also think that the storyline is very clearly told (I think the same of SpiderMan, but I forgot to mention it up there!) and combined with the stunning 4D effects, it really immerses you into the world of Transformers! Overall, I think Transformers, while I don’t enjoy it quite as much as SpiderMan over in IOA, is a tremendous dark ride!
  • Rush at Thorpe Park - While I don’t really tend to rate flat rides as highly as some on the whole, I must admit I thoroughly enjoy Rush! I absolutely love that feeling of flying through the sky, and it provides a simply lovely feeling of weightlessness at the top of each swing! On the whole, I think Rush ticks all of the right boxes for me as far as flat rides go; fun, thrilling without inducing nausea and really rerideable! If I had to pick, it’s probably my favourite flat ride, just slightly ahead of another Thorpe flat...
  • Detonator at Thorpe Park - Now Detonator may seem fairly cute and innocent compared to other, taller drop towers, but don’t be fooled, because Detonator is a wolf in sheep’s clothing! That drop is absolutely incredible, and packs a phenomenal amount of force for something so little (in relative terms), in my opinion! It staggers me that Fabbri didn’t sell more drop towers, personally, because Detonator is a rush that delivers every time; definitely my favourite traditional (aka non-Tower of Terror) drop tower!
  • Test Track at Epcot - The ride system for Test Track is such a unique one that I really love! In many ways, it feels almost like a roller coaster, and it also functions really effectively as a dark ride, in my opinion! I absolutely love the really modern, sleek vibe of Test Track, and I think the different ways that the ride system moves for different elements of car production during the dark ride section is very clever! I also really love the outdoor section, and with it reaching speeds of over 60mph, it’s probably one of the most thrilling attractions on Disney property! On the whole, I really enjoyed Test Track, and it was one of my favourite rides within Disney World for sure!
But what are some of your favourite non-coaster rides?


Strata Poster
Oh man, I absolutely love the Flyers at Knoebels. It's honestly better than I'd say 85% of my coaster count. Once you figure out how to snap them, it's wild, but addicting. The way your carriage suddenly lurches while shaking the whole structure is hilarious. And it might even have better near misses than wingrider keyholes, as your convinced you might crash into the surrounding trees when you soar high and wide. One of the only, if not only, rides where I'm kinda terrified while riding it, but I have a huge grin on my face the entire time.

I'd love to try out it with a group of people, and I think that would be a riot if everything were snapping!
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Mega Poster
There are so many

All the predictable Disney ones

Pirates, Phantom Manor, Indiana Jones Adventure

I would say Tower of Terror at WDW is the greatest theme park attraction of all time

Outside of Disney

Symbolica is probably my favourite

Followed by Jurassic Park River Adventure at IOA


Giga Poster
Chiapas is my absolute favourite attraction. Just everything about it is perfect frankly.

I've got a real soft spot for interactive (shooting) dark rides, with Maus au Chocolat and Popcorn Revenge being real highlights. Would throw Bazyliszek at Legnedia in the mix as that is brilliant too.

I love River Quest at Phantasialand too, because of the sheer amount of terror it brings me. Few rides manage that.

I'm not a big flat ride person I guess. I love traditional drop towers, with Detonator being my favourite. I enjoy Screaming Swings too, a la Rush, but sometimes cycles on them can be disappointing, so they're a bit hit and miss. Also, Dragon Riders at Legendia: as someone who hates spinning rides, I hated every second of it, but it was so ridiculous I loved it. Thank goodness it's no longer there so I'm never tempted by it..

Since we're going for attractions, not just rides, may as well put The Clinic at Walibi Holland out there too. Pure theatrical brilliance.


Mega Poster
Oh man, I absolutely love the Flyers at Knoebels. It's honestly better than I'd say 85% of my coaster count. Once you figure out how to snap them, it's wild, but addicting. The way your carriage suddenly lurches while shaking the whole structure is hilarious. And it might even have better near misses than wingrider keyholes, as your convinced you might crash into the surrounding trees when you soar high and wide. One of the only, if not only, rides where I'm kinda terrified while riding it, but I have a huge grin on my face the entire time.

I'd love to try out it with a group of people, and I think that would be a riot if a everything were snapping!

OMG are you actually meant to do that? If I came across that Id think it was malfunctioning and that person was in trouble! thats so 'never in America' I can't believe it's actually in America haha!


Strata Poster
OMG are you actually meant to do that? If I came across that Id think it was malfunctioning and that person was in trouble! thats so 'never in America' I can't believe it's actually in America haha!
It varies among parks and the ride model. I've snapped the one at Knoebels over multiple visits and both times the ride op didn't seem to care. From my experience, same deal at Lake Compounce, in fact the one time I did theirs the ride op actually encouraged snapping!

Some parks definitely have rules against snapping, though I imagine it's also down to whether the ride op cares or not. I'd say if there's no indication that bans snapping, go for it.

Some of the newer Flyer models are typically quite difficult to snap as well. It's usually the older models that are much more "loose" and pretty easy to snap (like the one at Knoebels).

It's perfectly safe... I think...


Hyper Poster
River Quest
Mystery Castle
Test Track
Jaws ( :( )
Monsunen (Tivoli Gardens)
Fritt Fall (Gröna Lund)


Mega Poster
any immersive, themed attraction is going to fit this bill for me. In fact, I'd say that both Journey and HP:forbidden journey may be my favorite attractions full stop. They're just so goddamned good, I feel like a child again. No other theme park rides give me that sense of wonder, adventure, and mystery. So for me that would be

Indiana Jones darkride
HP:forbidden journey
log flume at MoA
jurassic park (yeah its a bit dated and cheesy but I still think its an incredible attraction, the one in japan is my choice)

I really like the good trackless dark rides, like mystic manor, pooh's hunny hunt, etc, but they're just a little low on the thrill level and not as good on a reride. universal studios needs to get off its ass and build some good dark rides again, I was really disappointed in the florida studios when I went recently.
I could probably name most rides at Disney and Universal, so I'll start with rides that aren't located there (in no order).

Splash UFO- Yumiuriland- I love rapid rides and this was just pure WTF. Riding around in a noodle bowl in a water ride about noodles. Only in Japan.
Nagashima Maska- Fuji Q- This was deceiving because it looked so lame and I got soaked to the bone. Any ride that causes me to come off laughing hysterically is going to be an automatic favourite.
Mountain Slidewinder- Dollywood- So bummed out they removed it but it was so fun and unique.
Darkastle- Busch Gardens Williamsburg- RIP you fabulous, campy piece of crap. It wasn't great but it was fun and I always made sure to ride it every time I went to Busch.
Drop Zone- Kings Island- I have been on taller ones but for some reason this one just always seems absolutely massive and causes me to **** myself.
Texas Twister- Geauga Lake- This thing was so wild! I don't see these rides often but the ones I have seen are nowhere near the awesome cycle that this thing was on. I haven't been on one of these in a hot minute so I'm not sure how I would handle it now.
Shockwave- Canada's Wonderland- This and Samurai at Thorpe are both awesome. The ride type is just a hoot and I always come off laughing. Again though it has been a few years so I don't know if I would like it anymore.
I Corsari- Gardaland- I don't remember a ton about it but I remember certain parts and being blown away at what a hidden gem it was!

Now for the Disney/Universal ones.

Forbidden Journey- This thing just blows my mind every time I ride it. I was very close to speechless the first time!
Pirates of the Caribbean- Haven't been on the Shanghai one but I adore the classic version. It's not particularly thrilling but it's so entertaining and visually there is a lot to look at.
Transformers- Of the screen rides, it's probably my favourite and the one I find most believable.
Jaws- Cheesy and amazing, and was something I remembered fondly from my childhood trip that didn't let me down when I rode it so many years later in Japan.
Jurassic River Ride- I'm a bit surprised at how many water rides I have listed given that I was too vain to enjoy them back in the day but I have always loooved this. I haven't been on the updated version yet but I am interested to see how it stacks up.
Bilge Rat Barges- A rapid ride with a fabulous and colourful theme!
Mystic Manor- It really does live up to the hype!
Journey to the Centre of the Earth- I had no idea what this was before I went on my Japan trip and even up until the day I went to Disney so to say I was surprised was an understatement.
Indiana Jones- This would be a top three for me I think. It never ceases to amaze me and is one of Disney's most immersive rides IMO.

Okay that's enough before I start naming every Disney/Universal attraction.


Strata Poster
Pretty much anything that swings is always a winner, love swinging, me (giggedy)! Pirate ships, gyro swings, speed swings, pendulums, afterburners - all that kinda stuff.

Drop Towers. They still scare me, see, which is something coasters seldom do these days, so I always try to squeeze 'em in if there is one.
Of course, the absolute pinnacle of both swing rides and drop towers can be found at Glenwood Caverns - the Giant Canyon Swing and the Haunted Mine Drop. Been there I have, did I mention it? ?

Anything with fire and explosions. Can't beat a bit of pyro! Templo del Fuego at Port Aventura is still the best, but the Tram Tour/Catastrophe Canyon type stuff in Florida and Hollywood is all great. Shout outs to some of the retired classics too, like Jaws, Twister, Earthquake, Poseidon's Fury etc...

The Clinic. Walibi Holland's flagship, award winning scare experience. I'm not normally into scare attractions and all that Halloween nonsense - but this is some next-level sh*t going on right here. Forget 'horror mazes' as you know them, this is scenes from your own demise played out through immersive theatre... all while strapped to a gurney with absolutely no control.
Oh, and you're barefoot. Just let that sink in for a moment... why would you have to do it barefoot??
Terrifying, surreal, profound but also quite emotional. Still one of my best theme park experiences to date.
Templo del Fuego at Port Aventura is still the best

@Howie HOW?! WHY?! I know Ian likes it as well but I stood there like, waiting for something to happen and not understanding the dialogue the entire time. Between that and Poseidon at Islands, I am not sure which I found worse.

I was also standing next to/underneath someone's armpits that had horrendous B.O. but it was still a **** attraction :p


Strata Poster
Ha ha, that's cos my boy @Ian knows his onions! How could anyone not like Templo del Fuego? Did you not see all the fire and explosions? Was it working properly when you went? I mean, how do you set fire to water?? Skeletons on sticks springing up everywhere, loud music and.. did I mention the fire and explosions?
Was there a bloody donkey in a hat there too?


Giga Poster
Soaring Fantastic Flight, huge improvement on the other soarins with the magical preshow, much better queue theming , and the way the load area is actually themed like a terrace balcony you take off from.