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Best Movie-Themed Rides

Updated on March 28, 2010

What do movies and amusement rides have in common? Nothing much unless the ride is modeled after the movie (or vice versa in the case of Pirates of the Caribbean). A great movie-themed ride is made up first and foremost of a blockbuster movie. Add in a themed roller coaster or dark ride (or both), outstanding special effects and the ability to bring the rider into the movie, so to speak, and you have a blockbuster ride.

The masters of movie-themed rides are Disney and Universal, no surprise with either. Disney was literally the creator and technological leader in animatronics and animation. Universal, well, it’s a movie studio. This is what they do for a living.

So, what are the best blockbuster movie rides? Take a look. Some may surprise, some are not open yet but show great promise, and some are tourist favorites. They are excellent rides and worth the lines.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Universal Studios' Revenge of the Mummy entrance
Universal Studios' Revenge of the Mummy entrance

Revenge of the Mummy

Voted 2009 Best Attraction Ride by Theme Park Insider readers

The ride begins in the queue line where video clips show a mock documentary and a video interview with Brendan Fraser. The ride is a combination of dark ride in the beginning taking the rider through a mummy-infested tomb, Imhotep’s chamber, and a room full of flesh-eating scarabs. The ride ends as a roller coaster ride with great airtime and a fast ride. Great presentation, use of graphics and a thrilling roller coaster ride make this one of the best (if not, the best) themed rides in the country.

The Amazing Adventures Spider Man

4-time winner Best Attraction Ride – Theme Park Insider Awards

2006 Best Themed Ride or Attraction – Theme Parks Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards

2005 Favorite Dark Ride – Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiast Awards

A 3-D adventure high above the city streets. Your spidey sense will be tingling as this innovative ride takes you on the “roving motion based simulator” ride of your life. The 3-D filmed images and live special effects such as flames and water totally immerse the rider in the action-packed story. Spiderman saves the day at the end, catching each falling car in his web.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Hulk Rollercoaster in Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.
Hulk Rollercoaster in Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.

The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster

This awesome roller coaster may not be the fastest or tallest in the world, but sure packs a heck of a punch of for a movie-themed ride. It made 2009’s final four for the Best Attraction – Theme Ride Insider Awards. The ride starts with a 0-40 mph in 2 seconds launch. The train climbs 150 feet before launching into a zero-G roll and plunging towards the Islands of Adventure lake. The ride reaches a top speed of 67 mph and has seven inversions and two underground tunnels. It lasts a thrilling 2 minutes 15 seconds.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Men In Black Alien Attack

One of the best parts of this ride is the ending.  That alone keeps riders coming back for more time after time.  The start of the ride takes riders through the MIB headquarters, faithfully recreated here.  After boarding training vehicles, riders are instantly thrown into an alien gunfight on the streets of New York. The ride is part video game with every seat equipped with a laser gun and gaming system to record every agent’s score throughout the gunfight.  The ending is based on your score so no two rides are the same as there are multiple endings.  The ride features 120 different alien species, many created just for this ride.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Artist's representation of the Hogsmeade's Village attraction.
Artist's representation of the Hogsmeade's Village attraction.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Not yet open, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be a park unto itself.  With a replica of Hogwarts Castle to explore, Hogsmeade’s street full of shopping and dining, and three great rides, this addition to Universal Florida will delight Harry Potter fans.  Rides will include two roller coasters – Dragon Challege (formerly Dueling Dragons) and Flight of the Hippogriff – as well Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a tour of Hogwarts Castle and soaring ride using state-of-the-art technology to create a new ride experience.  Muggles around the world are buying tickets and making their vacation plans to visit Harry Potter in his Wizarding World.

Other great movie rides at Universal Studios are, well, most of them.  Check out Jurassic Park, Jaws, The Simpsons, Terminator 2 and The Adventures of Curious George.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

The 'Wenches Auction' scene at Pirates of The Caribbean.
The 'Wenches Auction' scene at Pirates of The Caribbean.

Pirates of the Caribbean - California

Though this dark ride can be considered movie-themed, the 40 year old was actually the basis for the original movie and not the other way around.  Still, it’s such a favorite it deserves inclusion for its long-standing fame and popularity.  Pirates takes riders on a 15-minute ride through the Blue Bayou, a burning city, down two waterfalls and in to Davy Jones’ misty realm.  The ride was updated in 2007 to include elements from the wildly popular Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Additions include Davy Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Actual late 1930s Mercedes-Benz 2.5 ton diesel truck used in the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark and now on permanent display at the exit queue of the "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye" attraction at Disneyland, Anaheim, Californi
Actual late 1930s Mercedes-Benz 2.5 ton diesel truck used in the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark and now on permanent display at the exit queue of the "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye" attraction at Disneyland, Anaheim, Californi

Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye - California

This ride takes a journey back to 1935 into the ruins lost deep in the jungles of India’s Lost Delta.  The queue line takes riders through much of the temple and then the ride begins past various pitfalls such as poisonous darts, screaming mummies, and a lava-filled Cavern of Bubbling Death.  Every rider receives a decoder card to decode the Mara-glyphs (named after the ride’s ancient nemesis deity, Mara).  Each ride is different with several endings including three potential rewards from Mara.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Entrance to Toy Story Midway Mania! at Disney's California Adventure.
Entrance to Toy Story Midway Mania! at Disney's California Adventure.

Toy Story Midway Mania - California

A fantastic family ride, Toy Story Mania is never the same.  The ride winds through a Toy Story-inspired midway where riders play midway games and compete for the high score.  Games include shooters and some targets trigger surprises.  Oh! And it’s all done wearing 3-D glasses for 4-D fun. 

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, try the Star Wars Simulator or The American Idol Experience, both family-friendly but especially appropriate for teens and pre-teens.  The little ones will delight in Jim Henson’s Muppetview 4-D Movie and Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  For the thrill seekers, don’t miss Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (if your heart can handle it!) and Rock N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.

~Warner Bros. Movie World~

This movie-themed park is located in Australia and is the only movie-themed park on that continent. 

Batman Adventure:  The Ride 2

This dark ride starts visitors (as Gotham City police cadets) on a tour of Wayne Manor when they find out there is trouble in Gotham City.  Animatronics and computer-generated imagery on the videos take riders through a mission to retrieve the Whitney diamond.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

 Superman Escape

A roller coaster modeled after a Metropolis Rapid Transit subway with special effects.  The ride features a Top Hat, several banked turns and camel humps.  A gift shop located at the exit of the ride offers riders Superman merchandise and photos from the ride.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

Wild West Log Flume
Wild West Log Flume

Wild West Adventure Ride

This raft ride is modeled after Wild Wild West starring Will Smith.  It features geysers, mine shafts, a ghost town and the largest drop in Australia as its finale.  Expect to get wet, as most riders do on water rides.

Younger children will enjoy the Kids WB Fun Zone featuring Road Runner Roller Coaster, Looney Tunes River Ride and Yosemite Sam’s Railroad, among other kid-friendly rides.  With nothing but movie-themed rides, Warner Bros. Movie World brings the magic of Hollywood to Australia in a big way.

Best Movie-Themed Rides

~Six Flags Great Adventure~

The water park giant got in on the movie action with Movie Town at its New Jersey location.  Movie Town is themed as a Hollywood backlot and offers several rides.  Roller coaster fans will enjoy Batman: The Ride, an inverted outside-looping coaster, Nitro, a 230-foot tall hyper-coaster rated the 3rd best steel coaster in the world, and The Dark Knight Coaster, and indoor wild-mouse coaster.  Great Adventure also offers Looney Tunes Seaport and Bugs Bunny National Park for kids.

Movie-themed parks have popped up around the world, and have gained popularity for family vacations.  For movie buffs, nothing quite compares with riding right into a favorite movie and becoming a part of the action and magic.   


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