Tuesday, November 21, 2017

YouTube Tuesday #20: Ultimate 10 Thrill Rides (2000)

Top 10 lists are REALLY fickle. Especially when we’re focusing on the theme park industry, which has a new “best thing” du jour every year and twice on Sundays. This little gem comes to us from the far-off land of the Year 2000. These were the coolest thrill rides (well, at least according to TLC) in the world at the time.

It’s interesting to see which ones would still make a Top 10 list today (I’m thinking probably the top 2, maybe still #4 as well) now that we’ve been privy to the flowing sands of time and a thousand new paint jobs. It’s also interesting to play Joe’s favorite game with specials like this, “guess which rides are still standing!” Or at the very least, which rides are still in their original incarnations. Some rides have been taken down. Some have been moved to other locations, some have new paint jobs, some kind of run backwards or whatever. It’s another worthwhile nostalgic look at the past.

In all seriousness, how would you structure a Top 10 thrill ride special? The structure presented here is not bad: they try to have as much variety as possible, so there’s one stand-up, one water coaster, two inverted (both very different), one flyer, one hyper, one giga, one Woodie, one freefall, and one reverse freefall. Besides being a Rollercoaster Tycoon fan’s wet dream, that’s a good amount of variety for a Top 10 list.

Or, would you stack your favorite rides on it, regardless of what kind? I’m sure there would be more than one giga or Woodie, right? But then you have to push out some quirky rides that might bear mentioning. Would you include themed non-coasters like Spider-Man or Tower of Terror? Certainly they would qualify as thrill rides, yes? And what’s the deal with having Buzzsaw Falls rather than Atlantis? I guess Buzzsaw is more roller coaster-y, but it wasn’t really that interesting of a ride.

This special is also noteworthy for the whacked-out elements it has to try and keep the material entertaining, as if the Top 10 thrill rides on the planet weren’t interesting enough. Among the more bizarro elements are the insane desire to have the feature riders be as random as humanly possible (we go from a team of ACE-ers in the first segment to, I’m not kidding here, the American Superstars female dance troupe. Aesthetics?) as well as the straight-out inexplicable tags and adjectives they give to each ride (Volcano is dubbed the “ultimate hot coaster.” Not sure how big the field is in that category). (Thinking more about the feature riders, I have this hilarious image in my head where all the feature riders come together at the end of the show and perform a finale number, Country Bears style, with Ric Turner doing a chorus line with the American Superstar dance girls). Also, take a shot every time the narrator makes a terrible pun. Here’s the hit parade:

“The Riddler STANDS for Revenge!”
“This water ride delivers a helping of H2-WHOA”
“Volcano is the hottest ride in Virginia”
“If you don’t roll with this ride, you’ll come up snake eyes”
“This is the coaster you’ll love the most-er”

It’s unfortunate that TLC went through a cringing “hip and edgy” phase at the same time that Disney decided to flog that horse. Seldom it works. But next time, how about letting the “ultimate 10 thrill rides” speak for themselves, huh TLC?

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