Sit the saddle, fasten your seatbelts, and remember the magic word, we’re about to travel by ways and means that science would keep from us. Thankfully, we have magic on our side to make the going easier, faster, and way cooler than any lame road-bound car or some stupid horse…
Actually horses are ok, but this is a list of magical rides, magical horses from here only, and only if they are worthy of our rigorous Top 10 standards.
10) General Atta-Kai’s Dragon – Lair
I mean magical in the sense that dragon’s aren’t really normal beings, they’re often depicted as vaguely magical in their very essence. This particular one isn’t the most well known, nor do I think it’s worth going way out of your way for it, but it fit this list pretty well, so we thought we’d give it a little nod. But what is Lair and who is General Atta-Kai and why did he have a dragon?
Lair was a fairly ambitious game for its time, trying to make full use of the PlayStation 3’s motion controls. The game featured a lot of aerial combat, in which you controlled the dragon as you flew around playing as Rohn Partridge, a Sky Guard who defects from the rich faction to the poor. A fun premise, with excellent graphics for its time, Lair was fantastic to look at, but one of the late 00’s oft-forgotten titles.
However, don’t let Sony know that you didn’t like the game’s control schemes. They’ll send you a guide on how to enjoy the game. Oops, did I just say that?
9) Pumpkin Carriage – Cinderella
A brief ride, but it may be the most magical on the list. When desperation and heartbreak are powerful enough to summon semi-divine entities to deliver your every desire you know you’re in a tough spot. Cinderella’s fairy god-mother takes what materials are around her as vessels to make a fantasy reality, rats, rags, and insects to make wondrous robes and servants, and for transport, a mutated gourd.
It may be as iconic a symbol to Disney as the castle or the mouse, that ornate carriage that bears the faintest hint of the pumpkin it used to be. There are far older iterations of the tale, in one of which the gourd is where Cinderella is born, not much of a ride but… well it’s a hell of a journey, and the pumpkin makes for a far more dynamic getaway.
8) Magic Carpet – Aladdin
Of course when we think of magic carpets, we immediately think of Aladdin. There was also a game by Bullfrog Productions under the title of Magic Carpet, which I thought was bloody amazing. Aladdin however tells the more traditional tale of a magic carpet, as well as being way more well known. Aladdin therefore is arguably one of the more obvious picks for this list… But it doesn’t score too well for our metrics.
See, Aladdin and Abu befriends gets the magic carpet after entering the Cave of Wonders. There’s speculation that the carpet wasn’t part of the cave’s treasures, as Abu was able to interact with the carpet prior to the Genie being freed from his magic lamp. Upon making some new friends, the Persian rug decides it would like to hang out with Aladdin and Abu more, also probably helped by the fact the Genie goes with them too.
7) End of Ages – Myst III: Exile
The third installment in the legendary puzzle series sees the unnamed stranger mopping up another mess in Atrus’ family, a scorned resident of one of many Ages ravaged by Sirrus and Achenar. The vengeful Saavedro arranges that Atrus should go through the lessons he tried once to teach his sons, doctored to suit a tale of tragedy and loss.
These being lessons for children, they turn out to be both interesting challenges, and culminate in short rides. Voltaic is a peaceful airship ride to a floating tower, Edanna takes you flying in a wicker cage borne by one of the native giant birds, and Amateria takes you on one hell of a rollercoaster. Ultimately they lead you to a hard decision and possible death, but it’s fun while it lasts.
6) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
How could we not?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you! Hey, ho, c–
Sorry, I’ll stop singing now. A film classic, first being released in 1968, the story revolves entirely around a car called… Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There’s not too much we can tell you here that needs to be said, so I’ll try not to keep you all too long on this entry, as it’s pretty self explanatory.
The car is magical. It’s able to fly, it’s able to make the group of them burst out into song. Basically, it’s a car destined for a road trip, where roads cannot go. Apparently, if you were to drive off a cliff, Chitty knows how to burst out some wings and get your airborne in no time. A jolly romp, a lot of fun, very silly.
5) Motorbike – Ghost Rider
The devil chooses a rider, a spirit of vengeance who will go into the world condemning and casting souls into hell. Through generations they have tended to ride horses… at least one mammoth, most modern Riders tend toward modern mounts, the occasional car, I think there’s a kid on rollerblades somewhere, but for the most part it’s motorbikes, low to the ground, raised handlebar choppers, the kind that eat up straight roads but don’t corner so well.
At least until you set their wheels on fire with hellish power, then they’re capable of some pretty extraordinary feats of maneuverability, including but not limited to travelling vertical surfaces, flight, and teleportation into distant and far flung universes where required. Notably, it seems Robbie Reyes and his car are capable of things that Blaze and his bike are not, but there’s simply no denying that the classic bike is far more iconic.
4) Nimbus 2000 – Harry Potter
The Nimbus 2000, the very same model that Harry Potter himself rode. A fast, broom that on its release was the fastest model, until the Nimbus 2001 was released. Let’s not talk about the Firebolt, nor Ron’s Flying Ford Anglia, let’s just talk about the original broomstick that got Harry to be playing Quidditch – Genuinely endearing, a great broom for a beginner to use (apparently) and just damn fast.
Now, we couldn’t put any of Harry Potter’s other rides any higher on this list. The Nimbus 2000 was the original broomstick that made him such an important Seeker for Hogwarts. The other magical rides didn’t have quite the charm, with the exception perhaps of that (now whomped) Flying Ford Anglia.
Damn it, Whomping Willow! You ruined a beautiful joyride..?
3) Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle, most people will remember for the Japanese animated film. However, the film was loosely based off a novel by the same name. The novel was written by British author Diana Wynne Jones, who was asked by a young boy to write a book called The Moving Castle. Diana was so happy about this, she wrote it down and got on with writing this wonderful adventure.
Howl’s castle is large, black and is likely made out of coal. The castle contains a fire demon, hosts four doors which harbours portals to different places. The castle moves about to the beck and whim of Howl, a wizard with a bad reputation, one made of his own volition. Howl himself is actually a kind man, but he chooses to have a bad reputation (and to live in the moving castle) to get away from the responsibilities that may otherwise inundate him.
2) Dragons – How to Train Your Dragon
The second dragon rider on our list, the viking village of Berk goes from quaint and dismal little hamlet on a rainswept island to a vibrant and bustling port town once the populus accept that dragons have the intelligence of dogs and the emotional complexity of people, in some cases more so. Dragons and riders become some of the most feared military forces on the sea, able to thwart the many ranks of dragon hunters through the mutual bond shared between the two.
Nowhere better exemplified than the bond between Hiccup and Toothless, who are not only connected as friends but are incapable of flying without one another. Toothless’ damaged tail requires a miniature wing that must be manipulated at all times by a skilled rider, and Hiccup’s skill seemed to grow with the loss of his foot in place of his own specialist prosthetic.
1) Polar Express
Number one on this list had to go to the Polar Express; a train ride that takes place on Christmas Eve. A young boy boards the Polar Express, a magical train that will take them to the North Pole. The boy was initially skeptical about the existence of Santa Claus, in which the journey sets out to let the children who board it knows more about the magic of the season. The ultimate Christmas movie is our number one entry on the weekend prior to Christmas.
Nevertheless, the Polar Express gets on as first of all, it’s a train that can pull up to the end of your street. That’s a good enough reason. Next, it takes you on a ride of self-reflection and education, along with extreme hallucinations apparently. Finally, it takes you from wherever you live to the North Pole. Look, I don’t care what you say, but if I could get a train that was that reliable here in the UK, damn it, I would go on that ride, even if I have to put up with other brats!
Ahem. Merry Christmas.
We’re near the end of the line, and while we’ve hit the thrills and spills pretty hard, there’s just a bit of time to hit the brakes so that you can find your legs again before disembarking. Here are our honourable mentions.
Colossi – Shadow of the Colossus
Is this cheating? It feels like this is cheating.
The Colossi from Shadow of the Colossus are literal giants made up of stone and moss. I say they’re literal giants, but not all of them are the same. Some of them are more beast-like, but in all cases, they’re much larger than your average human.
The game gets you to go and find the weak spots on sixteen different colossi. These beasts have to be climbed all over as they move around and make it difficult for you. So, in a weird way, these creatures are a genuinely cool magical ride, but they’re probably going to try to kill you in the process, all to stop you from destroying the magical wards that make up their sentience.
Well it’s Christmas, and the magic sleigh has escorted many a young adventurer on the task of saving the festive season for all. It’s also a vehicle capable Mach 3000 drawn only by a team of reindeer capable of flight, while towing a sack that is either already full of presents to entertain a vast majority of the world’s children, or harbours a portal that moves items from the workshop to a moving point, which in itself would weigh incredibly heavily, not to mention the size of the pilot.
We busted the famous sleigh down to the honourables list for the lower geek-credits that we prefer to reserve for our entries, even Disney is less commercial than Christmas these days. That’s not to say that Santa doesn’t keep finding a way onto the Top 10, especially at this time of year, and so much maths has gone into that Mach 3000 figure that we can’t honestly dismiss it completely.
Well, it’s been fun to have you along for the ride, one might even say it was magical. Not me. I would not say that. I would, however, give you one last chance to decide on a geeky Top 10 to close our journey.
Did you enjoy this list, have you enjoyed the others? Well you can correct and criticise, you can offer suggestions and alterations, and while it changes nothing for the list, we still love to hear your thoughts and ideas, in the comments, on Facebook, and Twitter.