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Dark Rides


LupinLives
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I was looking at the pics posted in the RCT 3 thread and started thinking about how theme parks have changed over the years. It seems to me that the dark ride (indoor theme type ride) has been disappearing from the amusement landscape. We live near Busch Gardens and I don't think they have one dark ride left. As a matter of fact with the exception of the big guys (Disney, Universal) I can't think of many places that have a lot of these rides.

 

Do you think the dark ride/thrill combo (The Mummy at Universal, Orlando) will help bring back the genre? Or have video games and VR rides knocked my favorite attractions off the map?

 

BTW Disnye killed my all-time favorite dark ride, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride a few years ago....thanks a lot Disney.

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I know at six flags Great Adventure in the late 80's the haunted house burned down killing 7 people. It took them almost 20 years to put up a new one.

 

Honestly I think as a society we're thrilled/scarred by more extreme rides now a days. Just look at how high the coasters are going.

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The best dark rides, like Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, and esspecially Splash Mountain (which does have a thrill element, but is essentially a dark ride also) at the Disney parks are still among the most popular and loved attractions.

 

While the thrill ride does seem to be taking all the glory lately, there is still room for a top quality dark ride without the thrills as they can provide a different function than a roller coaster.

 

Thrill rides, even the most tame ones, almost always have some sort of height restriction which limits the people who can go on it, as well some people, like my mother, just do not like thrill rides, so they need attractions to keep them occupied as well.

 

The really big dark rides have a per hour load capacity that no other attration can touch also.

 

While I'm certainly no expert, it seems to me that, in America at least, nobody has even tried to build a great new dark ride lately. They've all been combination thrill ride/dark rides like Indiana Jones at DL, The Mummy, and Spiderman.

 

In Japan though, the most popular ride in the park is a fairly new Winnie the Pooh dark ride. Now the Japanese are crazy about Winnie the Pooh, so that's part of it.... but I've seen video of the ride and it is incredible. The trackless ride technology that it uses really allows for a completely different type of dark ride experience, it's got some great visual and lighting effects, and top notch animitronics throughout.

 

They've also got a new Pirates like dark ride in Sinbad and the Seven Seas in Disney Seas, 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas (rumoured to be built at one of the US parks), and the Dark/thrill Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

 

The US could change though, at least at Disney. The new Disneyland management is looking to get some more family oriented, Pirates type of attraction built for the struggling California Adventure, as well as get the Submarines going again in Tomorrowland. And at Disney World, Buzz Lightyears Astro blasters has proved to be popular enough to be ported to both Disneyland and Tokyo.

 

The thrill rides get all the attention, but there will always be a place for the rides that cater to the entire family, at least at the parks that try to do that.

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I think dark rides are the hardest ride designers have to pull off really, as they need to find that fine line between being fun for a variety of ages, but genuinely thrilling at the same time.

 

I'm not sure if the Mummy ride in Orlando and LA will make a difference, as the Indiana Jones Adventure in Anaheim didn't seem to fuel imagination in other parks designs ten years ago.

 

Alton Towers is, I suppose, the UKs biggest theme park. I've not been there in ten years, but to the best of my knowledge their haunted house is now something quite different and rather lame, and their emphasis too is on more exterior coaster based rides now. It's a big reason Disney and Universal create parks that are such a big attraction to me as they juggle both interior and exterior ride designs very well I think.

 

In the case of Disney, they are responsible for my favourite ride of all time, which is an indoor ride. The Haunted Mansion. Indiana Jones Adventure is also stunning too, and I am still in new of Pirates of the Caribbean every time I have the pleasure to ride it. The scale of that ride is just astounding, so yeah I am sad not to see more rides with that sort of vision anymore. Disney thanks to Eisner?s budget cuts to the parks isn?t looking toward more rides like that either?

 

Even Splash Mountain has a nice dark sequence as Graeme says. When you reach the bit with the bunnies mixing honey basically singing about how you're going to die, that's actually pretty crazy stuff to have in a ride. That whole bit before the drop is just great. I think it is a little different in Orlando than it is in Anaheim mind you. It's been ten years since I was last at the Orlando park so my memory is hazy. Funny thing, I am listening to my soundtrack CD from Disneyland right now, and the Splash Mountain recording is 8 mins and that dark bit REALLY is great in the music/dialogue... :green:

 

A funny thing with the RCT community is that gamers are as demanding for indoor/roofed rides as they are for coasters, especially in the case of RCT3. I know with my parks in RCT I end up with about three or four coasters, and the rest are water rides and more indoor/roofed themed attractions, and even with some of the coasters and log flumes I tend to create roofed/underground sequences.

 

 

 

BTW Disney killed my all-time favorite dark ride, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride a few years ago....thanks a lot Disney.

 

Mr Toads Wild Ride freaked me out when I was younger?. I loved it. :) That bit where the car stalls on the railroad track just terrified me when I was seven. It was a shame to see it go. Does it still exist at the Florida park?

 

Dan

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Ah I'm a big fan of Dark Rides and you know there cannot be a thread that mentions Disney World without my .02 :)

 

First things first:

 

There is an excellent site on dark rides including virtual ridethroughs located at:

http://www.laffinthedark.com/

 

Also occassionally Discovery channel or TLC has a very interesting show on dark rides ocassionally - I'll try to track down the title so you can watch for it.

 

 

 

To me dark rides are the heart of Walt Disney World and one of the primary reasons I love it so. When people talk about WDW most people think Haunted Mansion, Pirates, etc. - not the thrill rides that are a dime a dozen these days.

 

The problem with thrill rides is there is always a bigger/better/faster one just on the horizon so this multi-million dollar investment will be worthless in just a short time. But if you build a ride based off of a classic character or theme - the results can be timeless. Take for example Peter Pan - the whole ride is over in less than 5 minutes - but the sense of joy and wonder it delivers has people waiting over an hour on most days (equivalent times of Space Mountain typically).

 

The attempts to build thrill dark rides have been hit or miss (hit = Splash Mountain, miss = Dinosaur/Countdown to Extinction) but I think that they are probably the only new dark rides we will get for some time - until Disney realizes that they are not a Six Flags.

 

One interesting fact about Mr. Toads Wild Ride - in its replacement - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when you pass through owls house if you look to your left you can see a painting of Mr. Toad handing the deed to Owl. Honestly I enjoy the Pooh ride as it really is a classic dark ride and as long as they keep the original Mr. Toad intact in Disneyland.

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....or for that matter why they got rid of Capt. Nemo's ride. There was nothing cooler than climbing in that submarine.

 

Well they are FINALLY starting to look into what to do with it now apparently. There's a lot of rumours going around from Finding Nemo themes to a take on the 'dry for wet' ride they have at DisneySea in Tokyo, where the sub windows are filled with water giving the illusion you are under the sea (think that is how it worked anyway).

 

 

Toad still lives on at Disneyland BTW

 

Thank God for that. I was thinking he'd gone from Anaheim too. There is no Wild Ride at the Paris park it seems, though Toad Hall does exist at the park as a restaurant. :)

 

Dan

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They have finally begun the process of draining/clearing out the 20k Leagues area. I'm glad as it was very sad to see it there unused, track and everything as if they could just flip a switch and have it up and running.

 

Speaking of things not long for the world - if you are heading to WDW anytime soon be sure to ride Spaceship Earth, Timekeeper and Carousel of Progress (the last two are "seasonal" now and Timekeeper is definately on the chopping block - I've heard every rumor imagineable on CoP but ride it to be on the safe side)

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Originally posted by Daniel Brecher@Aug 10 2004, 08:56 PM

Alton Towers is, I suppose, the UKs biggest theme park. I've not been there in ten years, but to the best of my knowledge their haunted house is now something quite different and rather lame, and their emphasis too is on more exterior coaster based rides now.

While I'd certainly agree that they place the emphasis on the Bigger, Harder, Faster thrill rides at Alton these days, the new Haunted House replacement was one of my personal highlights of my last trip.

 

Basically, what they've done is completely re-brand it as a historical factual thing about the history of part of the castle (Alton Towers is actually an old Country Estate, which many don't know). They've done it really well, and packed it with genuine historical detail, so when it all goes Blair Witch on you at the end you get a much better 'scare' than your normal 'look at the animatronic zombies' Haunted House method.

 

I'm not really spoiling it much, as they've obviously had to put little warnings and disclaimers on the signs for parents, but the walk-and-talk bit is long enough for you to let your guard down again. I mention Blair Witch specifically, because its the same premise - that can be a load of rubbish too if you're not prepared to let them suspend your disbelief first, but if you can, then its brilliant.

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....or for that matter why they got rid of Capt. Nemo's ride.

 

The reason given is the costs involved in operating the desiel subs (and probably maintaining the tanks) vs it's ridership (and probably poll scores).

 

And I think that's probably the case with the Pressler regime of the parks, and Eisner breathing down every divisions necks to increase profits by 20%, or whatever it was.

 

At least at DL the tank is still there and the subs are still sitting in the holding pen, so there's the chance of bringing them back. I'm not big on the Nemo idea, as it'll practically turn Tomorrowland into Pixar corner (which they've almost already got going in DCA). Aparently one of the stumbling blocks now is that the subs don't meet California polution restrictions.

 

I'm glad as it was very sad to see it there unused, track and everything as if they could just flip a switch and have it up and running.

 

I heard the water in the attraction was pretty much toxic, which is why it took so long for them to drain it. I don't know if it's even remotely close to true, but a refurbishment probably would have cost quite a bit.

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Basically, what they've done is completely re-brand it as a historical factual thing about the history of part of the castle (Alton Towers is actually an old Country Estate, which many don't know). They've done it really well, and packed it with genuine historical detail, so when it all goes Blair Witch on you at the end you get a much better 'scare' than your normal 'look at the animatronic zombies' Haunted House method.

 

I'm not really spoiling it much, as they've obviously had to put little warnings and disclaimers on the signs for parents, but the walk-and-talk bit is long enough for you to let your guard down again. I mention Blair Witch specifically, because its the same premise - that can be a load of rubbish too if you're not prepared to let them suspend your disbelief first, but if you can, then its brilliant.

 

Interesting. I was actually on about the Haunted House ride in Gloomy Wood that they added around the time Nemesis made its debut all those years ago. It was very much inspired by Disney's mansion. It's now become, or becomming, a more thrill based interactive shoot em up haunted mansion.... :? Zombies with laser guns......... ugh...

 

 

That thing you described ('Hex' isn't it?) sounds great from the way you talk about it. I never read up on it in any depth, I just remember not much liking the idea of taking part of the historical tower and making a ?4million attraction out of it. It's been so long since I was last there.... (it's too expensive!)

 

 

I'm not big on the Nemo idea, as it'll practically turn Tomorrowland into Pixar corner (which they've almost already got going in DCA).

 

I'm not TOO against a Finding Nemo themed ride, though that's a good point it must be said. Of course, I'd most like the Imagineers to be allowed to sit and dream up an original ride with an original backstory as it's been a while since they have had a lot of freedom to do that. Even this coaster they are building at Animal Kingdom is a scaled down version of what they originally dreamed up.

 

Dan

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Has anyone been to this fantastic 20,000 Leagues ride fan site before?

 

http://www.20kride.com/home.html

 

It is a wonderful loving tribute to the ride with a lot of behind the scenes stuff including blue-prints, lots of images I'd never seen before, interviews and so on. Although visually not as striking as Doombuggies.com (the superb mansion fan site), it is just as jam packed with valuable content for fans.

 

I take it back. I don't want finding nemo, I don't want a new idea... I just want an updated take on the 20,000 Leagues theme of the original ride. :) I really miss it. :?

 

Dan

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Originally posted by Daniel Brecher@Aug 13 2004, 10:07 AM

I take it back. I don't want finding nemo, I don't want a new idea... I just want an updated take on the 20,000 Leagues theme of the original ride. :) I really miss it. :?

You mean like the one they have already done in Tokyo:

 

http://www.mouseplanet.com/tokyo/tdstour/tdsrides20k01.htm

 

Tokyo Disney Seas - what our parks would be like if they spent money and let the imagineers run with an idea.

 

Edit: oh and no problem PoisonJam - hope you enjoy your trip. Have you done your homework about the parks yet or have you been before? If you haven't been before keep in mind they are huge and a little planning can go a long way in making the difference between a great vacation and a frustrating one :) If you have any WDW questions feel free to PM me (that goes for anyone).

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I didn't know the subs in WDW has the Nautilus theming on it. They looked awesome.

 

They were. Absolutely huge things. I first went to Disney World when I was about seven, and the Nautilus replicas both inside and out just rendered me absolutely speechless.

 

 

You mean like the one they have already done in Tokyo

 

Exactly. As I noted earlier, ALLEGEDLY this is a possibility they are considering (that's the 'dry for wet' trick I was talking about). The theming out in Tokyo is just unreal. Every image I see, even of the restaurant next to the Leagues attraction is just incredible.

 

Dan

 

PS: I REALLY want to go to DisneySea in general. I am one of the few big BIG fans of Epcot as it is a park full of such incredible potential for evolving... That said, Disney Sea seems to be the best secondary park they have ever thought up. I wish they'd done something like that in Paris instead of the Disney Stdudios they built.

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I've heard another rumor that they are/were considering building a copy of TDS King Tritons Castle there - which would be great for the kiddies and be a nice addition to Fantasyland. I would be all for the new 20k because it does make a nice transition point from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland.

 

Fronteirland really needs a ride these days though - maybe a tall tales dark ride feautruring Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyon etc.

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I would be all for the new 20k because it does make a nice transition point from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland.

 

Mmm. I'm a fan of the movie as well, so anything to keep interest in the movie alive amongst new generations actually gets a big vote from me.

 

 

Fronteirland really needs a ride these days though - maybe a tall tales dark ride feautruring Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyon etc.

 

Interesting idea. I agree, Frontierland has really always revolved around Big Thunder hasn't it?... Paris is really the only park to expand by having the Haunted Mansion as part of Frontierland. Wasn't there an article at Jim Hill Media last year about a gigantic Frontierland attraction the imagineers once thought up? It was not that unlike Pirates of the Caribbean if memory serves. This was an idea thought up years and years ago though....

 

Dan

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