Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride vs Earthquake The Ride: Which Attraction Is Worse?

earthquake the ride and jurassic jungle boat ride with a creepy looking mannequin

Earthquake the Ride and Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride are two of the most notorious attractions in the Smoky Mountains. In this article, we compare the two and declare a winner (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

As someone who remembers when cheesiness was half the point for a Smoky Mountain tourist trap, I can attest that when it comes to underwhelming attractions, there are two that are head and shoulders above the rest. They both feature animatronics that would make Chuck E. Cheese seem cutting-edge. They both feature beat-up, under-cared-for scenery that makes you wonder if Sevier County even HAS codes to violate. They both will make you question your sanity. Ladies and gentlemen, little kids, it’s time to decide what is the worst attraction in the Smokies, Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride or Earthquake The Ride

In the Smokies, an area with a long-famed tradition of separating tourists from their dollars with cheesy detritus, come two attractions that are the best of the worst. These attractions are so bad, they don’t even get the back door. A so bad it’s kinda good reputation. The Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride and Earthquake the Ride have so few redeeming qualities the people behind them ought to be ashamed. 

Some Dinosaurs Inside the Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride
The dinosaurs are surprisingly boring at Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Why people hate on Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride

Since William Buckland, the first geology professor at Oxford University, found and named the first-known dinosaur in 1824, scientists have wondered one seemingly unanswerable question: Is it possible to make dinosaurs boring?

For generations, the answer seemed to be no. Even in the ’50s when Hollywood was making B-movies with iguanas standing in for the mighty ancient beasts, they still managed to squeeze some entertainment out of force-perspective lizards doing battle. But then along came Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride and the question was answered for generations. (PS: If you want to see more photos of this hilarious attraction check out our full-length review here).

It’s not the idea of traveling back in time for a boat cruise through a jungle infested with dinosaurs from a variety of ancient periods. But Jurassic – hardly, and it is bad. It certainly should be a license to print money. Invest in some upkeep. Get some animatronics with post-1960 tech and you could have something. A floating journey through a decent approximation of a natural history museum? Count me in. 

But that’s not what we get. What do you see on the cruise? Well, the Jurassic Jungle Boat Cruise sums it up very scientifically on its website. Flying dinosaurs. Walking dinosaurs. Fighting dinosaurs. Baby dinosaurs. Sea monsters and much, much more. My friends, I understand all advertising is some measure of hyperbole but much, much more. Some liberties are being taken. For $19 for adults, you get a roughly 10-to-15-minute boat ride through a variety of scenes featuring various dinosaurs that move like they’re popping and locking. Each scene is punctuated by a variety of growls, roars and noises that indicate the dinos are having gastrointestinal issues. Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride is located at 2806 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.

“Since William Buckland, the first geology professor at Oxford University, found and named the first-known dinosaur in 1824, scientists have wondered one seemingly unanswerable question: Is it possible to make dinosaurs boring?”

– John Gullion, Contributor, TheSmokies.com
The Gorilla Cage at Earthquake the Ride
Earthquake the Ride is anything but high tech (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Why people hate on Earthquake the Ride

Earthquake promises gut-wrenching high-tech professional effects but only delivers on the gut or maybe wallet wrenching part. From mangled mannequins that are two levels beyond disturbing to an inexplicable ride story, Earthquake is possibly the farthest thing you’ll ever see from high tech. You load onto a prop subway train when it announces another train – represented by a big flashlight – is coming right for you. So, it’s a disaster even before the earthquake starts. (PS: If you want to see more photos of this strange attraction check out our full-length review here).

As the other “train” approaches things start shaking, a strobe light flashes and the ceiling collapses. You’re saved from the train collision but thrust into an underground hellscape of dangers including flood waters, an animatronic gorilla that escaped from its transport cage, rats and quite a few alligators. Where in the country you get a subway near a lot of alligators eludes me, but there they are. The whole thing – which costs in the ballpark of $15 though pricing varies – lasts about four minutes. It’s not a great bang-for-your-buck ratio. Earthquake the Ride is located at 653 Parkway in Gatlinburg.

A Prehistoric Dinosaur Replica at Jurassic Boat Ride
Despite the lack of realism, the small kids may find Jurassic Boat Ride entertaining (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Which attraction is worse?

Neither is great or good or even average. They’re bad. But which is worse? I think it’s got to be Earthquake. As bad as it Is, the Jurassic Jungle ride can appeal to small children – especially those with an interest in dinosaurs. You get to ride a boat. There are only a couple of malformed mannequins to haunt your dreams for eternity. It even lasts longer – though in this contest maybe mercifully ending quickly is better than the alternative. At double the length, at least you feel Jurassic gave you a bit more of your money’s worth.

I can think of nothing redeemable about the Earthquake attraction. The effects are bad. The ride is janky and the story makes no sense. Should we be thanking the Earthquake for saving us from the train crash even though it delivered us into an escaped underground zoo of deranged animals? It’s a lot to process in four minutes. Ultimately, I think Earthquake takes the cake as the worst attraction in the Smokies. 

Are you planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains? Be sure to check out our coupons page for area promos.

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