Attack of the clones: New rides are similar to previous models

Posted Friday, April 30, 2004 9:05 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A number of new rides this year will be copies or outright clones of existing rides. Parks are saving money by recycling themes and stock models.

Read more from USA Today.

Friday, April 30, 2004 9:14 AM
I say if USAToday approached Jeff about it, someone other than "whiny enthusiasts" are starting to catch on about cloning. While I won't refuse to ride a clone, I do think parks are taking the easy way out rather than trying to be creative and unique. Then again, that trend applies to many more businesses and sectors of life than amusement parks.
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Friday, April 30, 2004 9:18 AM
I don't see clones as such a bad thing, they're a proven thrills. When a park can get a cheaper proven ride why not? Why gamble a lot of money on a prototype that can have unforeseen problems. Although for us enthusiasts it may suck but we're only a small percentage of the ridding public.
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Friday, April 30, 2004 9:22 AM
He was actually researching another story about new rides, and he realized that suddenly many of them were similar and asked why. That's a perspective you wouldn't get from a local paper. Like USA Today, enthusiasts think more in terms of the national (or global) inventory of rides.
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Friday, April 30, 2004 9:34 AM
Yea, I thought it was an interesting article, and it didn't really take one stance or the other. I'm not saying that parks should go out on a limb and make like a 5D or 6D or whatever else you can think of, I'm just saying instead of cloning Batman: The Ride 12 times, put the elements in a slightly different order, twist the track a slightly different way, just make the ride experience a little different so you can truly call it "your own" instead of just someone else's recycled good idea (usually called plagarism in the "non-business" world)
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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:21 AM
Why? What benefit is it to the park to make something slightly different and thus require a total redesign of the ride when it can get the same old thing (which only .001% of their audience will know about) for a significantly smaller price?
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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:31 AM
Not to mention, the B:TR clones (which I know you used for familiarity's sake) are near perfection for the B&M inverted design.
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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:35 AM
I wonder how much a park actually saves. Does anyone have an idea of what the savings really is? Say a ride that initially cost $15 million to design and install in one park. How much does it cost to make an exact clone of that ride in a different park?
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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:38 AM
In terms of adapting an existing style, like a B&M inverter for example, I doubt there's that much more cost, but I wouldn't really know. I think R&D for new systems is where you'd spend a lot of money (like the elevator system for Tower of Terror, or car/train/boat design, etc.).
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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:39 AM
Hey, I'm a rare breed that believes if you're going to put forth the effort to do something, to do it well and do it uniquely "you". I know very few other people operate this way, which is why I'm sort of a "closet" clone-hater because I know that my feelings on the matter are not widespread.

And yea, I know that the BTR clones are near-perfection but Dorney's compact-B&M-inverter is also near-perfection and isn't a BTR clone, so there are other ways than the exact same way to do something.

I just think it's laziness on the part of the parks and a lack of pride in the product they're putting forth to not design something new, even if no one knows about it. And just to note, I'm not talking shuttle coasters here, I realize that those almost by necessity should be cloned.

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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:55 AM
I really REALLY loathe the way people through the word *lazy* around on boards like these. I feel that they do not have a true grasp of the totality of the situation I believe that when you understand all of the factors, you would not consider parks *lazy*. A pet peeve of mine, but I digress..

Anyway, I dont necessarily see cloned rides as showing "a lack of pride". On the contrary, I think that in many instances, it shows great pride: pride in their achievements. In the instant example of ToT, Disney *knew* they had a great attraction down there in gatorland. So bringing it to Cali is almost like 'showing off'. Hey, they know not everyone is going to go to FL, so why *not* put it in Cali so that more people can see the type of work they do?

I guess it all depends on perspective.

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Friday, April 30, 2004 10:56 AM
I'm going to throw out a *guess* as to what you might save by purchasing a "pre-engineered" ride...and I'll say about 10-15% of the overall cost.

Remember, a CHAIN might be able to negotiate another discount for buying multiples at once...(Rockin' Tug, Disk'O)...and when looking at *costs* listed for rides, there's inflation to take into account AND the fact that parks generally include ALL associated costs with a new ride, such as landscaping, earth-moving (land prep), the cost of a station, etc.,etc. The ride manufacturer gets only the cost of the RIDE mechanism itself...;)

I don't have any problem with clones, if they're clones of GOOD rides...

gator, hasn't stopped begging for a S:RoS clone YET....and probably never WILL.....;)

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Friday, April 30, 2004 12:35 PM
Well what's lazy about the parks cloning rides is that if they're gonna clone it in 5 or 6 parks(B:TR) then they should go ahead & replace the existing SLC's with the same exact ride.

In the case of B:TR for example it seems to have become a signature staple of the SF chain,the only problem is not enough have been built yet but the original idea was probably because at the time SFI had only a few parks so they wanted to give each one the same exact ride....much like Premiere parks did with the SLC's when they first came out on the market.

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Friday, April 30, 2004 12:35 PM
If it weren't for cloning, I wouldn't have had the chance to experience S:RoS at SFA (I haven't been to SFDL yet), B:TR at SFGAdv (I haven't had the chance to visit SFG, SFGA, SFMM, ect.), Batwing (I refused to go back to SFWoA before they built their Vecoma), and more.

BUT, What if something with a more unique layout was built instead of these rides? I don't know that it would make much of a difference to me. The clones were still fun and unique to me. I guess that my opinion isn't strong either way.

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Friday, April 30, 2004 12:59 PM
I think dexter's last post hits the obvious point here. Other than enthusiasts (and even many of them) who will actually visit 20+ Six Flags parks, or all of the Paramounts or Cedar Fairs?

Cloning gives a wide audience to (hopefully) proven thrills. There is nothing lazy or cheap or underhanded about it.

*** This post was edited by CoasterDad64 4/30/2004 1:00:49 PM ***

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Friday, April 30, 2004 1:21 PM
I fully agree, CoasterDad. Bottom line is accessibility. And the even more "bottom line" is the dollar. It's smart business. Let's go with 'gator's guess of 10-15%.

RCDB has Steel Venom @ ValleyFair listed at 8.5 mil.

15% of that is 1.275 mil. That's a quite significant savings over the span of a few parks. By saving that 1.275 mil for each ride (presumably from R&D), Six Flags (or any other chain), could invest that in some other rides... Flats, or other coasters at their smaller market parks.

So, you build a clone, and have the opportunity to invest in other areas, making their parks more marketable and accessible to the local market. Makes good business sense to me. A Six Flags park's biggest draw is the local market. That's why you don't see SFGAm commercials in Orlando. I agree with all who've said that the local non-enthusiasts most likely don't realize that there's another S:UF somewhere else. Nor do they care.

d8

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Friday, April 30, 2004 1:28 PM
I just want to add that "regular" people *are* noticing the cloning.

Just a few weeks ago at Six Flags New Orleans, when my brother-in-law saw B:TR, he said, "Oh, I already rode this one in L.A. and Chicago." He is far from being an enthusiast, he just happened to go to SFMM and SFGAm when he lived in those cities. All it took was one glance for him to tell it was a clone.

And when Wicked Twister opened, I heard a lot of talk from the "GP" about how it's "identical" to that "Superman ride."

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Friday, April 30, 2004 1:28 PM
In other news, water is found in the Pacific Ocean. :)

I agree with most of you that cloning does not necessarily appeal to our enthusiast side, as we would much rather ride a unique ride than a copied one. However, to the general parkgoer, a new ride is a new ride, and they could probably care less whether or not there is another one at a park across the country. Us enthusiasts have every right to be somewhat dissapointed when a park chooses to clone a ride rather than build a unique one, but I don't think we should be angry or surprised by such an action.

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Friday, April 30, 2004 1:30 PM
But Den, your b-i-l was wrong - it is not the one he rode at SFMM and SFGAm...it's a "RT:B" ;)
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Friday, April 30, 2004 1:45 PM
I think the parks should consider the recent decline in attendance. Fewer people, enthusiast or not, will make a trip to a park if they have the same rides as other parks. The season pass selling point of use at other parks in a chain is mute if you are using it to go to the same park that is in your own area.
Again though, this is not a problem with theme parks alone. All aspects of bussines are about pushing aside creativity in the interest of saving time, money and trouble. It's sad, it's pathetic and, for me personally, it's enraging. However, it's not likely to change. People in all walks of life are becoming more about convinience and they can't fairly demand a seperate standard for others.
I was born and raised around SFGAm and used to beam with pride when we'd get a world's tallest, fastest and or first of it's kind coaster. This has fast become a thing of the past. And it makes me sadder every year.
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