We rate the movie-themed thrills now playing at a park near you

By Jamie Reno and Steve Daly
June 17, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Any kid will tell you there’s nothing like the white-knuckle, pulse-pounding thrill of a careening roller coaster to kick summer into high gear. Put a child on a coaster named after a blockbuster movie, and you’ve got some super- hot fun. So it’s no surprise that Hollywood tie-in rides are popping up at amusement parks everywhere (and it’s no coincidence that Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., and Paramount own the major parks).

Many children dream of starring in their favorite film, and movie-themed attractions put them at the center of the action. But which rides get the thumbs-up? And the thumbs-down? KIDS EXTRA reports from the fast tracks and grades the group.

Where It’s Playing: Universal Studios Florida, Orlando.
How Do They Pull It Off? This big fish tries to take a bite out of you. And keeps trying. The performance is effective, but if you’ve seen one killer-shark attack, you’ve seen ’em all.
Fright Factor: The chase might be a bit much for younger kids. Also, there’s a gory roasted shark carcass to think about.
Typical Wait: 60 minutes or more.
Height Requirement: None, though ride operators may use their discretion.
Kid Commentary: “It was really cool because you got wet,” says Thomas Welch, 11, of New Orleans. “It scared me,” says Onjel Pitts, 3, of Sunrise, Fla. “And I got wet.” B-

Where It’s Playing: Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Ill.; also at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J., and Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, Calif.
How Do They Pull It Off? Strapped into a car that looks like a chairlift Bruce Wayne would design if he were a ski bum, you soar through superheroic twists, turns, and loops. What’s fiendishly wild is that your feet dangle free. But best of all may be the waiting line: You walk by a smashed-up Gotham City police car, through an alley of graffiti, and into a drainpipe.
Fright Factor: This is an intense ride, but it only seems to make kids giddy.
Typical Wait: 60 minutes.
Height Requirement: 54 inches.
Kid Commentary: “I was drooling! The ride was great,” says Johanne Edelberg, 13, of Evanston, Ill. A

Where It’s Playing: Paramount’s Great America, Santa Clara, Calif.; there’s another version at Paramount’s Kings Island, Cincinnati.
How Do They Pull It Off? Surrounded by control decks and jet-engine sound effects, you are harnessed into a car suspended in midair and launched amid a cloud of smoke.
Fright Factor: A top speed of 50 mph can take your breath away, especially because your feet are hanging out the bottom.
Typical Wait: 30 to 90 minutes.
Height Requirement: 54 inches.
Kid Commentary: “It tickles your stomach when you go down the big hills,” says George Fleming, 9, of South San Francisco. A

Where It’s Playing: Universal Studios Florida, Orlando.
How Do They Pull It Off? In this simulated rocket-ship ride, you blast off in hot pursuit of the kidnapped boy Elroy, moving in synch with a Jetsons cartoon playing on screen in front of you. Then the chase catapults you through cartoonland (which includes the Flintstones’ town of Bedrock).
Fright Factor: Slim to none.
Typical Wait: 30 minutes.
Height Requirement: 40 inches.
Kid Commentary: “It was good,” says 5-year-old Jed Sylsewski of Reading, Pa. “Capturing the bad guys was the most fun.” A