Friday, April 02 2010
SANTA CLAUS, Ind. — Just like tiny Hickory in “Hoosiers” or the current crop of Butler Bulldogs, the Voyage roller coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari is trying to pull a David & Goliath upset.
Only this single-elimination tournament — while patterned after this weekend’s NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis — isn’t being played on a basketball court but on the nation’s computers as theme park fans decide the “Best Attraction in America.”
The Voyage has made the Final Four and voting continues through 6 p.m. today to see which two attractions meet for overall bragging rights Monday, according to Holiday World spokeswoman Paula Werne.
You can vote today (just once) by going to www.themeparkinsider.com/tournament.
“We’re the Cinderella,” Werne chuckled, “but I guess I better be careful using that term since we’re going up against the Big Mouse (Disney).”
Theme Park Insider — a Pasadena, Calif., Web site popular among families and others planning vacations — began the contest March 18 with 64 attractions divided into four brackets: Roller Coasters, Best Themed Ride, Best Live Show and Best Movie or Animated Show.
What was different for the Voyage — which has ruled the wooden coaster world — was in this contest it was pitted against the big steel coasters from major parks such as Cedar Point in Ohio, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
This week the Voyage defeated Cedar Point’s top-seeded Millennium Force (winning 63 percent of votes cast), then won a majority of the 2,000 votes cast Thursday to oust Apollo’s Chariot from Busch Gardens-Williamsburg to reach the Final Four.
Just like Butler, the Voyage had been seeded fifth.
Today’s Final Four voting — between the Voyage and Best Themed Ride winner Haunted Mansion of Disneyland — will determine the favorite theme park ride.
The other two brackets (for live or animated shows) pit Fantasmic! from Disney’s Hollywood Studios against Mickey’s PhilharMagic from Walt Disney World.
On Monday, the best ride and best show winners will face off in voting to determine the overall attraction champion.
Earlier this morning, the Voyage was ahead of Haunted Mansion, with 55 percent of the vote.
“It’s been an amazing couple of weeks for us,” said Werne, “as each matchup was with a steel coaster from a huge corporate park. When I took this job (public relations) 19 years ago, I would never have thought we’d be going head to head with a Disney park for bragging rights. We’re the smallest park in this competition.”
Holiday World, which draws about 1 million customers a year, begins its 64th season in early May and will debut the world’s longest water coaster, the Wildebeest, on May 14.