More dark rides, please.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 1:32 PM

I've been thinking about this for a while. It seems to me that many parks are missing a terrific opportunity to diversify their attractions, bring in new/underserved customer demographics, and expand their ride lists for significantly less money than putting up a new coaster.

Also, I really like 'em a lot. So, you know, that carries a lot of weight.

Many larger parks are now approaching what can only be described as 'coaster saturation'. Honestly, when a park has 12, 14, 15 or more coasters in its lineup, how many more dive-y/twisty/swervy sets of wheels on tracks does it really need? And keep in mind, this is coming from a dyed-in-the-wool coaster nerd.

By the time a park gets up into its coaster teens, it seems to me that ROI is going to begin leveling off eventually. Not to say that there isn't an enormous amount of creativity and engineering cleverness in the coasters coming out today -- it's truly amazing to see the new incarnations of the midway classic that are springing up. But maybe -- just maybe -- it's time for some of these parks to focus on something a little different?

So, why not a new dark ride? They can cost far less than coasters, certainly steelies. And I'm not talking about the kind of crazy investments drenched in dollars that Uncle Walt and Aunt, um, Universal like to make. A dark ride of the caliber of Kennywood's Ghostwood Estates can run about $3 million or so, compared to $10 - $20 million + for a new, major steel coaster. They take up far smaller footprints than their behemoth rivals, and they require very little downtime. And although they can be maintenance-heavy to replace motors on animatrons and so forth, much of this work isn't essential for the operation of the ride. That is to say, you can let a few things slide and then (at the park's leisure) fix them all at once.

Having been to a fairly large number of parks now, I can say that this is an underserved area, and one that I think would help bring in that most treasured of all demographics -- families. Anyone from a tot to a grandma can ride most of these, and have a wonderful time doing so.

As you may tell, I'm trying to make this appeal from logic and reasoned arguments, not sheer emotion. But the fact is, I can't get enough of these rides. I never met a dark ride I didn't like, from the dingiest old four room dungeon to the mightiest of them all, Spiderman. They just fill me with magic and turn me into that inner child from the Disney commercials.

Maybe I'm from a relatively small niche of people that love both coasters and dark rides, but it seems to me the two types of rides complement each other perfectly. Coasters for thrills, speed, wind in the face, a sort of hyper-reality distilled into a two minute, 30 second period. Dark rides are more about magic, being transported out of this reality and into a story. Putting more of these attractions into a park can help balance the roster of attractions, fleshing out the experience for patrons and attracting new customers in the process.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 1:59 PM

Download and skip forward to the 43:02 mark. :)

In summary, generally agreed that we could use more dark rides, but not the old school, goofy stunts-in-the-dark crap that no one outside of nostalgics really care for - and isn't it the 'nostaligia' factor that holds any value on those? Like creating a new one from scratch wouldn't be anything special...in fact, it'd probably be incredibly lame.

Also wearing thin are the shooters. A few parks that lack a dark ride could probably get away with it for now. They seem spotty in consistency too. Some are fun. Others less so.

The dark ride needs to evolve further to remain relevant. If I knew what I meant or how to do it, I'd be a rich man. I do think Disney is on to the right idea with the "I'm in a video game!" feeling of Toy Story Mania and the lines prove it, however I do understand that the idea here is to not spend $80 million.

I think the larger audience is beyond the purely passive experience and that the guns-and-targets rides are old hat...or at least the Atari 2600 version of the best of the best dark rides.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 3:50 PM

The solution is easy: add porn.

;)

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 4:00 PM

Less QQ please, Ensign. :)

I kid. I do enjoy a good dark ride, or 30. 3 weeks till Disney for me. :-D

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 4:20 PM

I was gonna type a bunch of crap, but Gonch already did, and linked to that conversation anyway.

I did like Ghostwood Estates, and Gobbler isn't bad either. I suspect that a lot of larger parks have issues with the capacity. In a big and busy park, these things would come up inadequate I think, unless they're built like Haunted Mansion or something, and that's probably not realistic.

Of course, there's the hybrid approach that Gravity Group has been pitching, and I wonder if anyone has jumped on that.

I'm not sure dark rides can impress without the shooty stuff, which is a shame, but a reality I'm afraid. Most of them don't tell a story, or they tell a weak story at best. I mean, I love Spiderman at IOA, but no one is gonna spend $100 million on a ride like that.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 5:26 PM

Something I thought of recently was product placement in dark rides. I would think Shapiro would have bottle of Coke and slices of Papa Johns all throughout Monster Mansion (or even the Dark Knight). I guess the Choclate Ride is one big product placement too.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 5:34 PM

Nostalgists will tell you that dark rides were for trying to score-- and we're not talking about shooting at peanut butter cup targets.

Personally, I think someone should create a dark ride with an inversion. Like the JJ on Hydra.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 5:43 PM

I think the future of dark rides is moving towards a more interactive experience. While I don't expect Spidermans to pop up everywhere, I really don't see why some regional parks have not added one after BGE's success.

There are still plenty of parks with out shoot up dark rides and I have yet to see one that is not an instant hit. The old omimover track system and a Sally Dark Ride already coexist at KI. That thing moves people, even if the whole queue is full its still only 30 min, and more often then not that queue is full. Im really suprised that more of those have not popped up around the country, they completly destroy the low capacity problems that plague some dark rides.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 7:27 PM

Overseas, the idea is starting to become that you had a dark ride portion on a coaster. Blue Fire at Europa Park has a dark ride portion, Superman: Escape at Movie World Australia has an elaborate dark ride simulating an earthquake before the launch, etc. Those are interesting, because it potentially allow for more trains to run on the track and it makes them unique.

The trackless cars used on Ghostwood Estates have been used already a few times in Europe, on Sally dark rides. Labyrinth of the Minotaur at Terra Mitica is an amazing shooting dark ride and no one can really believe Six Flags was responsible for ordering Challenge of Tuttankhamon for Six Flags (now Walibi) Belgium. The result was an amazing dark ride with fire effects, tons of animatronics, the car giving different results and just an all around Disney style dark ride.

Over in Asia, Intamin sold to two parks a copy of the Disney EMV and while I saw no details on the western themed Leofoo version, the one at Lotte World is amazing. Problem here is cost! Lotte World dropped 50 millions US for theirs, including only 5 cars.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 7:39 PM

I agree that you don't need a Disney budget to have near-Disney capacity on a dark ride. Anyway, if themed correctly the queues for these attractions are half the fun. So longer lines aren't necessarily as bad as if you were broiling in the middle of a coaster cattlepin.

Many parks don't even have one dark ride, and for many of their customers the first one they ride will be the first one the park installs. (Extra points for most convoluted sentence!) So although we may find shooters passe, most of the GP won't think so.

But I do believe that innovation -- some already glimpsed, much yet to be dreamed -- will pull the classic dark ride into the future. What happens when holographic generators (they're coming) drop in cost to the point they can be used in a Sally ride? This doesn't even count the existing palette of effects that will be used in new and creative ways.

I do think Jeff is right that the difference between a bad dark ride and a good dark is often the use or misuse of story. Story adds a level to any attraction and deepens the immersion of the experience.

Anyone else think Holiday World needs a second dark ride? For years I've felt they need a Santa Clause-themed dark ride. Even better, see how expensive it would be to acquire the license for the old Rankin & Bass Christmas specials. Now that could be a great ride. Paula?

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:11 PM

Ensign Smith said:


What happens when holographic generators (they're coming) drop in cost to the point they can be used in a Sally ride?

What? Garfield's Nightmare isn't good enough for you?!? Whatever. :)

I think the key to dark ride success will be to make the experience different each time or at least each year. How many times can you sit through the same experience and story and still find it exciting? As someone said above, making them interactive would be key, too. But if not interactive, at least change up the experience from time to time.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:27 PM

I like to see more rides like the Moody Blues Dark ride.. DisneyLand did a great job with Toy Story as did Kennywood with Ghostwood Estates. Does all those Peter Pan and Mr Toads count as Dark Rides? But I bet Dafe would love to see this Happen!!

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:29 PM

Carrie, would this be the right time to mention I saw Star Wars 42 times in the theater? (I refer to the original 1977 release.) :)

Last edited by Ensign Smith, Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:30 PM
+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:37 PM

Did you at least sit in different areas of the theater... you know, to see it from various angles? :)

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:28 PM

Of course! My favorite showing was when there was a thunderstorm raging outside during the entire Rebel attack on the Death Star . . . :)

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:22 PM

Awesome. :)

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:32 PM

Ensign Smith said:
Many parks don't even have one dark ride, and for many of their customers the first one they ride will be the first one the park installs. (Extra points for most convoluted sentence!) So although we may find shooters passe, most of the GP won't think so.

Agreed. Which is why I said:

"A few parks that lack a dark ride could probably get away with it for now."

:)

Carrie M. said:
I think the key to dark ride success will be to make the experience different each time or at least each year. How many times can you sit through the same experience and story and still find it exciting? As someone said above, making them interactive would be key, too. But if not interactive, at least change up the experience from time to time.

Seems to go back to Disney's mastering of the "I'm in a video game!" thing.

Toy Story Manis is as interactive as any Wii game (and those sell like hotcakes) and every bit as replayable. Take into consideration the number of times the average visitor samples the ride and it should be no problem.

Plus, I believe one of the big benefits of what they did with TSM is that they have the ability to swap out any of the 'games' for newer or different ones.

Again, I don't expect anyone outside of Orlando to drop $80 million - but that concept needs scaled down and the technology only gets cheaper with time.

Maybe an more realistic advancement for the average regional park would come in the area of the ride vehicle. Something that moves up and down or in and out or back and forth or in a 360 or whatever. Take it a step further and let the riders 'drive' while they shoot. (Again, Disney has this cornered with Buzz Lightyear and it adds a bit of decision making to the "what do I shoot" process)

You gotta make the dark ride more than a snooze...then you make more dark rides.

+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:43 PM

Since Shapiro got on board with SF, I am still surprised that he hasn't installed some Scooby Doo Sally dark rides to more of the parks.

He has the licensing, the rides are family friendly, and they don't cost like a major coaster and seem to appeal to everyone.

I always enjoy the one at SFSTl and I am sure the one at SFFT does quite well also.

I say, bring them on. He updated Monster Mansion at SFOG so he knows they are an asset even though that one doesn't have a shooting platform.

Last edited by Chitown, Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:44 PM
+0
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:44 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
generally agreed that we could use more dark rides, but not the oldschool, goofy stunts-in-the-dark crap that no one outside of nostalgicsreally care for

Ever been to Knoebels?

Ensign Smith said:


I do think Jeff is right that the difference between a bad darkride and a good dark is often the use or misuse of story. Story adds alevel to any attraction and deepens the immersion of the experience.

While I strongly agree, there is this little dark ride at a park in PA called Knoebels that I keep thinking about.


Carrie M. said:


I think the key to dark ride success will be to make the experience different each time or at least each year. How many times can you sit through the same experience and story and still find it exciting?

I once rode a really fun dark ride that was the same from year to year at a wonderful family amusement park called...Knoebels.

:)

While I still agree with a lot that has been said here, one thing that makes a dark ride successful or not is if it is well though out. I personally like the cheesiest of dark rides. Their goofyness makes me laugh.

+0
Thursday, March 5, 2009 1:11 AM

LostKause said:
Ever been to Knoebels?

Yup...

...and I stand by my statement. :)

+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2018, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...