October 1, 2010

Best Ride in the Park

One way to stand out in terms of customer service is to ensure associates aim to provide guests with the best ride in the park, an experience so memorable that it compares with the best ride at any amusement park. So for the last six days, I've been doing some serious research on what the best ride in the park actually means as my wife and I dragged our four children to six different theme parks: Universal Studios, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and the four Disney World parks (EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and, of course, Magic Kingdom).

So here's my complete ranking of the best ten rides from those six parks:

1. THE HULK > With the force equal to a jet taking off an aircraft carrier, the Hulk launches you up 150 feet and reaches speeds of 67 mph. With seven inversions, it feels like you spend a third of the ride up-side-down. (BEST RIDE at Islands of Adventure)

2. EXPEDITION EVEREST > The details - both waiting in line and on the ride - are incredible, and it's a fun thrill ride as you plunge backwards in the dark. (BEST RIDE at Animal Kingdom)

3. TOY STORY'S MIDWAY MANIA > You get spun around to pause in front of several large screens that depict realistic 3-D carnival games. The cannon you fire converts from throwing pies, to firing darts, to tossing rings. Engaging, fun, and competitive! (BEST RIDE at Hollywood Studios)

4. THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY > Wow! I would love to see the behind the scenes of how the flight tansitions from video projected dragon chases to animatronic dungeons. Heck of a journey especially for Potter fans. Wash it down with a butterbeer.

5. LAUGH FLOOR AND TURTLE TALK WITH CRUSH > I know, they're not really rides. And it's two instead of one, but these shows are "ride worthy" and they are very similar. They consist of interactive video presentations. In Laugh Floor (the better of the two), monsters deliver stand-up and have amazing interactions with the audience. In Turtle Talk, Crush comes to the front of a giant aquarium and takes questions from kids. Both are worth seeing at least twice, because it's never the same show. (BEST RIDE at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom)

6. DISASTER > Christopher Walken in person! Well, actually in an unbelievably realistic projection. The live host he interacts with is hilarious, and you should volunteer when she asks for one. (BEST RIDE at Universal Studios)

7. KILIMANJARO SAFARI > Real animals close and in authentic settings. We had a young giraffe stop us by licking the front of the truck.

8. DRAGON CHALLENGE > You know what's cool? Dueling inverted roller coasters. Dueling inverted roller coasters are cool.

9. TWILIGHT ZONE TOWER OF TERROR > You leave your seat as the ride falls faster-than-gravity, and you get a brief, but grand view of the rest of the park. My son asked the bellman if he would ride with us, to which he quickly replied, "No, I always take the stairs."

10. ROCK 'N' ROLLER COASTER > Zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds and Aerosmith!

Agree or disagree? What's the best ride in the park to you?

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