Hogwarts Castle

If you're a regular reader of Theme Park Tourist, you'll know that we recently launched the TPT100, a constantly-updated list of the top 100 theme park rides and attractions in the world. The list is based on your ratings of the 3,500+ rides listed in our extensive park guides, so you if you think your favourite ride should be ranked near the top, be sure to review it! The TPT100 also enables us to narrow our focus and look at which rides in a specific category are the most popular. And that's exactly what we'll do in this article, running down the list of the top 10 dark rides in the world, as rated by TPT readers. Disagree? Get rating! By the time you read this, the rankings will probably already have changed... Note: Sometimes a dark ride can be hard to define. We've tried to stick with what "traditionally" be considered a dark ride - so, for example, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror doesn't feature as it is primarily a drop tower. Similarly, Revenge of the Mummyis excluded as it features a lengthy roller coaster section.

10. Journey to the Center of the Earth (Tokyo DisneySea)

Journey to the Center of the EarthWidely regarded as one of the world's top theme park attractions, Journey to the Center of the Earth reuses the ride system from Epcot's Test Track in a new and intentive way. In order to reach the station inside a mock volcano, guests must board a "Terravator" - a retro-futuristic version of a standard elevator. Once inside, riders board "steam-powered" mine vehicles, which carry them on a trip to the Earth's core. We think Journey to the Center of the Earth deserves to be higher in this list - but perhaps not enough of our readers have had the chance to experience it, given that Disney has never brought the concept over to the US or Europe.

9. Valhalla (Blackpool Pleasure Beach)

Housed inside a building fronted by an enormous waterfall, Valhalla is the major water ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It is the most expensive ride ever built by the park, at a total cost of £15 million, and has drawn large crowds since its opening in 2000. Even taken just as a plain old water ride (we actually consider it to be a dark ride), Valhalla is the best ride of its kind in the UK. The two drops are impressive, and the backwards section is inventive and bewildering in equal measure. Put this right at the top of your list of rides to experience at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

8. Test Track - Presented by Chevrolet (Epcot)

Image © Disney

Image: DisneyGiven a complete overhaul in 2012, Test Track is all the better for it. Before putting a prototype vehicle through a series of tests, guests are now able to design their own car and pit it against those of other riders. An Epcot classic - and a look into the future of interactive Disney rides.

7. The Curse of DarKastle (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)

Image: Busch GardensLong ago, the mad King Ludwig massacred his mother and the nobility who fought against his totalitarian regime. Now, gifted with eternal life so long as he never steps outside the walls of his haunted castle, this outstanding 21st century dark ride follows in the steps of Universal's Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Transformers - The Ride with out-of-this-world effects.

6. Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye (Disneyland)

Indiana Jones Adventure

Image: Disney

A dark ride affixed to a motion simulator base, the Indiana Jones Adventure carries guests into the darkness of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, an ancient lost Bengalese temple that has become the new vacation hotspot for would-be adventurers in 1935. Despite being 18 years old, it remains a masterpiece and the technology behind it still feels cutting-edge (you can learn more about how the ride works here).

5. Radiator Springs Racers (Disney California Adventure)

Image: DisneyUsing the technology behind Epcot's Test Track, this off-roading, fast-paced adventure ride places guests behind the wheel of their own Cars character and through a dark ride past the movie's most well-loved scenes. An outdoor finale race caps off the exhilarating experience.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean (Disneyland Paris)

Image: Disney Located right at the back of Adventureland, Pirates of the Caribbean is closely based on the original dark ride of the same name at California’s Disneyland. After a long, winding queue through the dungeons of a “fortress”, riders board boats and head off on a lengthy 15-minute adventure. A rare case of the original notbeing the best - Disneyland Paris' version of Pirates is the only one not to have been updated with characters from the movies, and is all the better for it.

3. Transformers: The Ride - 3D (Universal Studios Hollywood, Florida and Singapore)

 The Ride - 3D

Image: Universal

When Transformers: The Ride - 3D originally debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood and Singapore, it seemed unlikely that Universal would bring it to its Florida resort as well. After all, it is almost identical in design to The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure. However, it proved to be such a hit at both of its original homes that Universal caved, bringing a version to Orlando in double-quick time to tide over guests while it extends its range of Harry Potter attractions.

2. The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Japan)

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Image: Universal

When it debuted alongside the rest of Islands of Adventure back in 1999, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man simply blew guests away. Now updated with high-resolution 3D technology, it still features the same combination of immersive video footage and real-world effects. Not to be missed.

1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)

Hogwarts Castle

Image: Universal

The reinvention of the dark ride began here. Located in the depths of Hogwarts Castle, this mile-a-minute, out-of-control sensory dark ride pits riders against the dark forces of Harry's world as familiar characters appear to help. Making use of revolutionary robo-arm technology, Forbidden Journey once again saw Universal redefining what is possible in a theme park attraction.


Remember, if you think there's a better dark ride out there than Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, head on over to our park guides section and rate it yourself! Brian Krosnick contributed to this article.


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