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How Much Longer For Boo Blasters On Boo Hill?


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Just for posterity.

Enchanted Voyage - 1972 until 1983.  Operated 12 seasons.

Smurfs Enchanted Voyage - 1984 until 1991.  Operated 8 seasons.

Phantom Theater - 1992 until 2002.  Operated 11 seasons.

Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle - 2003 until 2009.  Operated 7 seasons.

Boo Blasters - 2010 and counting.  (This will be it's 11th season of operation.)

It woudn't surprise me to see the ride "refreshed" in the next few seasons.  The conveyance unit seems to still be very dependable - but it's heading into it's 29th season of use.  The guns seem very temperamental to me... but they always have, even when it was "Scooby new." 

What Boo Blasters has going for it, that most of the others didnt... is that the theme doesnt "wear out."   What I mean is, its generic enough that it hasn't stagnated with kids.  More about that in a minute...

Just to take folks back - by the time Enchanted Voyage was converted to Smurfs, the Hanna-Barbera characters featured in the ride were (for the most part) irrelevant.  Young children of the 80's weren't that familiar with the predominance of them because most of the cartoons the attraction was based on were long cancelled by then.  The ride was in DESPERATE need of a re-do in its latter years.

The Smurfs rolled in and breathed a new (albeit annoying) life into the ride.  However, in a handful of years the Smurf craze died and the cartoon wore itself out.  Kids that watched the cartoon grew up and lost interest by the late 1980's.  (You have to remember that back then, there was no Cartoon Network, or DVD collections etc.  Once a cartoon was removed from Saturday morning TV... it was virtually removed from the minds and interest of new generations of children.)    "Smurfs Enchanted Voyage" was very popular for about the first 4-5 years that it operated.  It kept a steady crowd in it's later years... but frankly the ride sort of became a joke and people made fun of its "trite" and "uncool" theme once the Smurf fad died out.  Lets also not forget that its conveyance device was, a water trough... which at that point was 20 years old.

I think the parks (the other KECO Managed parks all had Smurfs too) as a whole learned from this after realizing the novelty of a popular cartoon character had a shelf life (on average) around 4 years.  SEV lasted roughly 2 or 3 seasons longer than it probably should have.

Then along came Phantom Theater. 

Phantom Theater was kind of an anomaly.  It was, IMO, one of the boldest and most unique things Kings Island ever installed.  This may shock some... but I actually rank it second only to "The Beast" as far as originality and uniqueness to Kings Island.  It really was a superb attraction - especially when it first opened - a real gem.  Frankly, its my personal belief that the decision to add something so unique was probably due, in large part, by what they learned with the Smurfs.  The KI executives probably didn't want to install another specific,  pop culture character-driven ride that would become old hat in a handful of years.

I first rode Phantom Theater in June of 1992.  I remember waiting well over an hour to ride it. (The line stretched through HB Land.)  I was amazed by it when I first rode - it definitely had a VERY similar vibe akin to Disney's Haunted Mansion (on a lesser scale - complete with its own take on the "Doom Buggies.")  Actually, it was terrifying to many kids when it opened, and there were LOTS of crying and screaming children.  The problem with Phantom Theater was, with time, the ride's figures wore themselves out.  Many don't know this, but year after year the rubber masks and hands had to be replaced.  They would break down, melt and deteriorate because of the constant movement and heat from the hydraulics.  There was a whole shop inside the building (actually located just behind the cars as they faced the "Hilda Bovine" mirror-breaking scene) that housed spare parts for the ride/characters.  When they needed replacements, they called up AVG Inc (who did the animations and theming) and ordered the parts by a catalog number.  AVG had molds in storage and they'd re-pour the necessary rubber mask or hand.  Once the rubber was spread in the mold, they filled it with spray foam insulation - this created a sort of "form" inside the mask or hand.  They then had their coloring/facial accents hand painted by artists according to the original detailed design specs.  They were shipped to KI on the foam heads and hand forms.  When I toured the ride after it's closure and before it was converted to Scooby, I personally saw a whole bin of those heads & hand forms obtained from ordering replacement masks over the years. I asked if I could have one - but no dice.  They felt like the equivalent of a nerf football.

Frankly, the park HATED to lose Phantom Theater.  But the ride's animatronics and effects had virtually worn themselves out.  Being Paramount at the time, they already had worked with Sally rides at two other parks - and Sally came on board having already secured the Scooby licensing.  And as we all know, Scooby is arguably the most time-enduring and most famous Hanna-Barbera character.  

Had CF not opted to drop the (no doubt) hefty licensing fee required to continue with the Scooby theming, I have no doubt the ride would still exist and be as popular today.  When the licensing was dropped, that forced a generic overlay.  Although very basic... and quite frankly, flat... the "Boo Blasters" theme is not one that's necessarily going to wear itself out theme-wise.  Its not based on specific characters or being driven by a specific cartoon entity.  In other words, kids dont know any of the "characters," so they aren't emotionally invested enough to get tired of them.

Should it change to a Peanuts themed dark ride - which it could - it might breathe new life into the ride.  But again, it would likely stagnate since it would be a very specific theme that is, IMO, already lost on kids...and adults... today.

It will eventually change.  It'll have to.  The effects, animatronics and technology will wear/age out.  When it does, the park will make the determination of where to take it. 

I cant imagine KI without a dark ride... but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  I pray for something unique and bold again.... so future generations will have something to discuss as passionately as we do "Phantom Theater."

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Just for posterity. Enchanted Voyage - 1972 until 1983.  Operated 12 seasons. Smurfs Enchanted Voyage - 1984 until 1991.  Operated 8 seasons. Phantom Theater - 1992 until 2002.  Operate

I always thought if they ever brought back Phantom Theater that they could hire Mark Hamil to do the voices.  

It needs a Fortnight theme desperately.

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@Shaggy I agree with you

I don't know if the park would ever bring back Phantom Theater to its former glory; albeit in a way that's more family-friendly and has more modern affects.

To me, the great thing about Phantom Theater was that it wasn't stagnant. The theme was original and the ride was exclusive to Kings Island. While they took inspiration from Disney and other properties, it still felt like something the park could call their own. Characters like the Maestro, Garbonzo, Houdelini, etc are to Kings Island as the Hitchhiking Ghosts are Disney.

I don't know if Kings Island would completely restore the attraction with modern animatronics and props, or if they'd op to add them in, keep the guns and go the route Knott's is going with their Bear-y Tales. Either way I think there's enough nostalgia, as well as original content, for people young and old to enjoy. Boo Blasters is indeed basic enough for people to not get attatched, however Phantom Theater is too original of an idea to go to waste.

My two cents

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  • 5 months later...
On 3/11/2020 at 1:10 AM, SonofBaconator said:

I don't know if Kings Island would completely restore the attraction with modern animatronics and props, or if they'd op to add them in, keep the guns and go the route Knott's is going with their Bear-y Tales. Either way I think there's enough nostalgia, as well as original content, for people young and old to enjoy. Boo Blasters is indeed basic enough for people to not get attatched, however Phantom Theater is too original of an idea to go to waste.

Sadly, I don't see animatronics remotely comparable to those of the Phantom Theater returning to the building. The operating and repair costs of the complex mechanical components required for such an installation are quite intensive. It's a shame, but the era of animatronics is pretty much over.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe they could take away interactive stuff and re theme it back to The Phantom Theater. Especially since the park's 50th anniversary is coming up soon in 2022.

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On 3/11/2020 at 12:12 AM, Shaggy said:

And as we all know, Scooby is arguably the most time-enduring and most famous Hanna-Barbera character.

What about Fred from The Flinstones?

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On 10/22/2018 at 1:15 PM, fyrfyter said:

 


No. Phantom Theater had original characters and isn’t even in the same realm as haunted mansion.

In haunted mansion the ghosts are meant to look like real people. Phantom theater didn’t have that.

 

There's a website I found that talks about the making of the attraction. Here's something it says.

"Even though Smurfs Enchanted Voyage was a boat ride, Kings Island decided it was too much upkeep and maintenance to keep a boat flume attraction running properly. Once the Phantom Theater concept was agreed upon, the building was gutted and it was decided they would use an omnimover-style system similar to Disney’s Haunted Mansion, which was also developed by Morgan Manufacturing."

It also says, “Kings Island wanted something to replace the Smurfs Enchanted Voyage at the end of the 2001 season,” recalls Bastrup. “We discussed several ideas, but ultimately decided on the Phantom Theater. A lot of that had to do with the popularity of the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical ‘Phantom of the Opera’ which was extremely popular.” 

Here's the website:The making of Kings Island's Phantom Theater

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On 3/11/2020 at 12:12 AM, Shaggy said:

Phantom Theater - 1992 until 2002.  Operated 11 seasons.

I'm pretty sure it was 10 years. Just like us, attractions don't turn one they open.

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On 11/18/2018 at 11:22 AM, fyrfyter said:

I like Boo blasters- it’s original

If it's original, then why is there another Boo Blasters ride at Carowinds?

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill - Interactive Dark Ride | Carowinds

Canada's Wonderland?

Canada's Wonderland - Boo Blasters on Boo Hill

And Kings Dominion?

Kings Dominion - Boo Blasters on Boo Hill

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Okay, here's my SUMMARIZED description of Boo Blasters on Boo Hill: It's a Scooby Doo ride, but with no Scooby Doo characters from the TV show, or any mentioning of Scooby Doo. Right now, the ride, to me, just looks outdated. It's an eyesore. Whenever I'm on the left side of the parking lot, I look over at Woodstock Express and see this wacky cartoon castle behind it. Every time I see it that, it looks weird and out of place. Another thing is that the black lighting used in the attraction makes me think of those small low-budget dark rides usually found at the small road side amusement parks. Also, the blasters aren't always very reliable. One time my friend told me that there was a glitch where if you were to point and shoot your "Boo Blaster" at the ceiling, it would give you a lot of points. Sometimes that usually isn't a good thing for an interactive dark ride. So, do I think Boo Blasters will be leaving soon? No. But do I think it's okay that Boo Blasters might not be leaving soon? No. I think Kings Island has kept Boo Blasters is because it has a high attendance. What I think Kings Island isn't doing is looking at WHY the ride has had the attendance it's been getting. I think one the reasons for the ride's high attendance is because it's an indoor attraction and it has air conditioning. So, I think Kings Island should close Boo Blasters and maybe replace it with a Phantom Theater 2.0, or maybe a new interactive attraction that's more reliable.

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On 3/11/2020 at 12:12 AM, Shaggy said:

Then along came Phantom Theater. 

Phantom Theater was kind of an anomaly.  It was, IMO, one of the boldest and most unique things Kings Island ever installed.  This may shock some... but I actually rank it second only to "The Beast" as far as originality and uniqueness to Kings Island.  It really was a superb attraction - especially when it first opened - a real gem.  Frankly, its my personal belief that the decision to add something so unique was probably due, in large part, by what they learned with the Smurfs.  The KI executives probably didn't want to install another specific,  pop culture character-driven ride that would become old hat in a handful of years.

I first rode Phantom Theater in June of 1992.  I remember waiting well over an hour to ride it. (The line stretched through HB Land.)  I was amazed by it when I first rode - it definitely had a VERY similar vibe akin to Disney's Haunted Mansion (on a lesser scale - complete with its own take on the "Doom Buggies.")  Actually, it was terrifying to many kids when it opened, and there were LOTS of crying and screaming children.  The problem with Phantom Theater was, with time, the ride's figures wore themselves out.  Many don't know this, but year after year the rubber masks and hands had to be replaced.  They would break down, melt and deteriorate because of the constant movement and heat from the hydraulics.  There was a whole shop inside the building (actually located just behind the cars as they faced the "Hilda Bovine" mirror-breaking scene) that housed spare parts for the ride/characters.  When they needed replacements, they called up AVG Inc (who did the animations and theming) and ordered the parts by a catalog number.  AVG had molds in storage and they'd re-pour the necessary rubber mask or hand.  Once the rubber was spread in the mold, they filled it with spray foam insulation - this created a sort of "form" inside the mask or hand.  They then had their coloring/facial accents hand painted by artists according to the original detailed design specs.  They were shipped to KI on the foam heads and hand forms.  When I toured the ride after it's closure and before it was converted to Scooby, I personally saw a whole bin of those heads & hand forms obtained from ordering replacement masks over the years. I asked if I could have one - but no dice.  They felt like the equivalent of a nerf football.

Frankly, the park HATED to lose Phantom Theater.  But the ride's animatronics and effects had virtually worn themselves out.  Being Paramount at the time, they already had worked with Sally rides at two other parks - and Sally came on board having already secured the Scooby licensing.  And as we all know, Scooby is arguably the most time-enduring and most famous Hanna-Barbera character.  

Had CF not opted to drop the (no doubt) hefty licensing fee required to continue with the Scooby theming, I have no doubt the ride would still exist and be as popular today.  When the licensing was dropped, that forced a generic overlay.  Although very basic... and quite frankly, flat... the "Boo Blasters" theme is not one that's necessarily going to wear itself out theme-wise.  Its not based on specific characters or being driven by a specific cartoon entity.  In other words, kids dont know any of the "characters," so they aren't emotionally invested enough to get tired of them.

Should it change to a Peanuts themed dark ride - which it could - it might breathe new life into the ride.  But again, it would likely stagnate since it would be a very specific theme that is, IMO, already lost on kids...and adults... today.

It will eventually change.  It'll have to.  The effects, animatronics and technology will wear/age out.  When it does, the park will make the determination of where to take it. 

I cant imagine KI without a dark ride... but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  I pray for something unique and bold again.... so future generations will have something to discuss as passionately as we do "Phantom Theater."

This was a fantastic read -- thank you! I can't believe I missed it in March. I definitely agree that PT was one of the boldest and most unique rides KI ever had. Haunted attractions are a dying breed, and even though I was very young when PT was removed, I still knew that KI had lost something very cool and unique. I hope to see a haunted attraction go back into that building sometime, but I don't believe that will ever happen. The omnimover system is definitely not made with shooting style dark rides in mind. It is very slow and the cars are so close together, its obvious it is meant for a dark ride with sets and characters with a story. 

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I can't imagine Boo Blasters cost a large amount of money when it debuted. If anything I assume it was the least expensive renovation since all they needed to do was remove the Scooby Doo theming replace the ghosts and the audio to something simple.

I'd love to see it updated but I don't know if its an immediate priority at this point. If anything I think they'd have Triotech screen the whole ride experience like what they did for Knott's.

 

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11 minutes ago, SonofBaconator said:

I can't imagine Boo Blasters cost a large amount of money when it debuted. If anything I assume it was the least expensive renovation since all they needed to do was remove the Scooby Doo theming replace the ghosts and the audio to something simple.

I'd love to see it updated but I don't know if its an immediate priority at this point. If anything I think they'd have Triotech screen the whole ride experience like what they did for Knott's.

 

Did this ride (Voyage To The Iron Reef) replace anything?

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1 minute ago, Dj325 said:

Did this ride (Voyage To The Iron Reef) replace anything?

A dinosaurs ride I believe. Voyage to the Iron Reef had since been replaced by Bear-y Tales which is an old Knott's IP. I figure they have to keep things fresh and update them when people get bored since they have to compete with higher budget parks like Disney and Universal.

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1 minute ago, SonofBaconator said:

I don't see why they would... 

Both companies are in competing markets. So it doesn't make a lot of sense for them to work together in any capacity

True.

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At some point, they'll have to, since Uni owns most of the Marvel rights in FL.  That's assuming Disney ever wants to bring more Marvel into WDW.

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13 minutes ago, Gabe said:

At some point, they'll have to, since Uni owns most of the Marvel rights in FL.  That's assuming Disney ever wants to bring more Marvel into WDW.

That might not be entirely true.

"Universal Studios had already secured the rights to Marvel for its Orlando theme parks, and Disney CEO Bob Iger at the time acknowledged that Universal retained those rights as long as they continued to pay royalty checks to Marvel. And there's no sign of Universal giving up that golden ticket."

https://www.tampabay.com/fun/heres-why-walt-disney-world-will-likely-never-get-a-marvel-theme-park-20190614/#:~:text=Universal Studios had already secured,giving up that golden ticket.

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Pre-Covid, when Disney was swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, there were strong indications that Iger/Chapek were in discussions to cut Uni a big, fat check to give up that ticket.  Now? Likely Uni continues to hold onto those rights for the foreseeable future.  I would suspect at some point once EPCOT is done, Disney will seek to bring more Marvel into the Studios park.

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6 minutes ago, Gabe said:

Pre-Covid, when Disney was swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, there were strong indications that Iger/Chapek were in discussions to cut Uni a big, fat check to give up that ticket.  Now? Likely Uni continues to hold onto those rights for the foreseeable future.  I would suspect at some point once EPCOT is done, Disney will seek to bring more Marvel into the Studios park.

In Disney's eyes, they're making money from another park just to use their IP. They're already making good strides with their Avengers campus out in California. I'm sure if that becomes a success Disney will want to duplicate that for Orlando. For now though I think they're happy to collect money from another park where they don't have to do any work.

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2 hours ago, Gabe said:

Pre-Covid, when Disney was swimming in cash like Scrooge McDuck, there were strong indications that Iger/Chapek were in discussions to cut Uni a big, fat check to give up that ticket.  Now? Likely Uni continues to hold onto those rights for the foreseeable future.  I would suspect at some point once EPCOT is done, Disney will seek to bring more Marvel into the Studios park.

2 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

In Disney's eyes, they're making money from another park just to use their IP. They're already making good strides with their Avengers campus out in California. I'm sure if that becomes a success Disney will want to duplicate that for Orlando. For now though I think they're happy to collect money from another park where they don't have to do any work.

I highly doubt Universal will EVER give up their Marvel properties, no matter how big the check is. WDW cannot use any of the properties that Universal uses. Those properties are Spider-man, Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four, and the Marvel name (which can't be used in any attraction name, WDW or Disneyland). Disney is free to use any other Marvel properties, such as Guardians of the Galaxy, which I believe they are installing at one of the WDW parks. 

Losing Marvel Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure would be a huge blow for Universal Orlando, especially since Spider-man is probably one of Universal greatest rides and would make the transition to Toon Lagoon awkward. Unless they have an IP as strong as Marvel to fill it with (Lord of the Rings??), I think Universal will hold that contract very close to them for a long time.

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34 minutes ago, Phantom Theater said:

Those properties are Spider-man, Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four, and the Marvel name (which can't be used in any attraction name, WDW or Disneyland). 

I believe all these attractions feature some of those names though.

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2 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

I believe all these attractions feature some of those names though.

I meant just the name Marvel. Disney can't use the Marvel name at WDW or Disneyland, that's why the new Marvel complex at California Adventure is called Avengers Campus. 

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