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PRIVATE LIVES : THEME PARKS : Summer’s Stand-Ins: Hot Rides

<i> Carroll Lachnit is a free-lance writer</i>

Go. And stay. That’s the lure of the “motion-based simulator” attractions that are drawing crowds at theme parks this summer. But from Valencia to Anaheim, it’s still popular to loop and swoop the old-fashioned way--on a speeding roller coaster.

Here’s a rundown of what’s in vogue this summer, compared to what was hot a year ago:

Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park. The top ride is the new Mystery Lodge. The “advanced technology theater” creates the illusion of motion and has a Native American theme. No. 2 is Bigfoot Rapids, where riders are drenched with water. Boomerang, No. 3, takes riders upside down six times in less than a minute.

Last year’s top three: The “Jurassic Park” dinosaur craze boosted Kingdom of the Dinosaurs to the No. 1 spot. Bigfoot Rapids and Boomerang were No. 2 and 3.

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Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia. The park’s new Batman: The Ride, swooped into the No. 1 spot. Riders are suspended from the track, their feet flapping in the wind. Viper, which the park bills as the world’s largest looping roller coaster, is No. 2. At No. 3 is Colossus, the park’s huge wooden roller coaster. Last summer’s lineup: Viper, Colossus and Ninja, a suspended roller coaster.

Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City. No. 1 is Back to the Future, a motion-based simulator that sends riders careening through time. Earthquake: The Big One is No. 2. Visitors experience an 8.3 earthquake. In third place: Backdraft re-creates the movie’s final conflagration. The rides’ popularity ranking is unchanged from last summer.

Disneyland, Anaheim. The park has no stats on this summer’s top rides. But the park says its Lion King Celebration parade is packing them in. Last summer, No. 1 was a surprise: the low-tech Disneyland Railroad. No. 2 was Pirates of the Carribean. No. 3 was Space Mountain.*


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