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Are Dark Rides Worth the Investment?


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I just hope we don't get a Plants vs Zombies type of thing if they redo Action Theatre.  My opinion of that mess was not good.  But then again, the people who like it can have it and keep the lines down for other things. ;)

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The park needs more total family rides.  Ones that EVERYONE can ride.   Right now this category includes  the train, helicopters, antique cars, the very Boo Blasters and the Carrousel.    Plus the Eif

I have listened to many podcasts with park officials as well as design firms and it seem that the biggest challenge with a dark ride is the story.  If you have a familiar intellectual property such as

There has to be somewhat of a balance between thrill rides and family attractions. There are some parks that do this well and others that don't. Cedar Point, for example, does a good job of incorporat

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It wouldn't be my top choice but it woudl be better than an empty building. Considering how much our theater was gutted not sure it'd be any easier for them to do versus just something completely new though.

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I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately...

So, it seems like dark rides require extra money and time from maintenance staff to keep running well. By "well," I mean consistently throughout the year and in the same state it was when it opened. It seems like most seasonal parks want to put in the initial investment without needing to continually invest, or at least not invest on the scale needed to run well.

At parks like Six Flags over Georgia, people at the top of the chain of command have decided to make their dark rides a priority. The Interpreter once pointed to Melinda Ashcroft as the reason why Monster Mansion runs as well as it does. I'd speculate that Holiday World does the same thing with Gobbler Getaway.

When Cedar Fair was doing the whole Amusement Dark thing, it seemed like they were making a point to put in dark rides that they were willing to care for if people took to them. Admittedly, that was by having zero animatronics, but still, it was something. But it seems like both Wonder Mountain's Guardian and Voyage to the Iron Reef landed without making much of a splash, so we didn't see any more dark rides from that initiative. The last time I rode WMG, the screens were out of focus, and the guns were poorly calibrated. VttIR is already being rethemed less than a decade later.

I'm curious to see how the Justice League dark rides hold up at Six Flags. They seem like they had a not-insubstantial budget put into them, and it seems like they're going to need some bucks to keep running well. They almost feel like SIX's version of Tomb Raider: The Ride, which is to say that they pursued a big concept that looks awesome at first but isn't sustainable for a seasonal park. I'd surely think they'd have kept that in mind when designing it, but...

Would I love to see more parks get dark rides? Absolutely. Dark rides are often my favorite thing about a park, and especially when they're original IPs. But it seems like a lot of major parks aren't committed to them in the long term, and I'd rather have a few good rides than a bunch of rides operating half as well as they could.

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I also came up with the idea of low maintenance dark rides. Disney Land Disney World are known for their dark rides and themed attractions but if you really look at some of them, they don't require a ton of maintenance.

Look at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride at Disneyland. Yes there's a lot of detail and moving figures but a lot of the detail was painted and or projected and that actual figures don't move like traditional animatronics. You'll occasionally see an arm move but for the most part the props are stationary in are fixated on a moving object. For example if you look at Piglet in the wind seen you just see that he's fixated on the broom but the broom is spitting 360° to give it more animation. 

I think a park-like Kings Island could mimic this and really hit home with it. Yes they did have to use their own IP, but other than that the rest of the ride seems very simple. Now I know that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride isn't necessarily the most popular attraction at the Disney parks and doesn't have as much elaborate animation that you would see in say the Haunted Mansion but gets the job done. 

What I'm saying is I think that dark rides can be done in a way where there still effort put in but doesn't wreak havoc for the maintenance team who has to service it on a daily basis. Boo Blasters is very similar in terms of animation to TMAOWTP but you can still see a noticable difference when it comes to the small things. 

Also sound, timing, and light projection go a long way. There is a lot of attractions at Universal Studios Horror Nights where there's sound and lighting affects that go off instead of a scareactor jumping out. The same can be said for dark rides- adding additional audio and lighting can really enhance the mood of a ride

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2 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

I also came up with the idea of low maintenance dark rides. Disney Land Disney World are known for their dark rides and themed attractions but if you really look at some of them, they don't require a ton of maintenance.

Look at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride at Disneyland. Yes there's a lot of detail and moving figures but a lot of the detail was painted and or projected and that actual figures don't move like traditional animatronics. You'll occasionally see an arm move but for the most part the props are stationary in are fixated on a moving object. For example if you look at Piglet in the wind seen you just see that he's fixated on the broom but the broom is spitting 360° to give it more animation. 

I think a park-like Kings Island could mimic this and really hit home with it. Yes they did have to use their own IP, but other than that the rest of the ride seems very simple. Now I know that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride isn't necessarily the most popular attraction at the Disney parks and doesn't have as much elaborate animation that you would see in say the Haunted Mansion but gets the job done. 

What I'm saying is I think that dark rides can be done in a way where there still effort put in but doesn't wreak havoc for the maintenance team who has to service it on a daily basis. Boo Blasters is very similar in terms of animation to TMAOWTP but you can still see a noticable difference when it comes to the small things. 

Also sound, timing, and light projection go a long way. There is a lot of attractions at Universal Studios Horror Nights where there's sound and lighting affects that go off instead of a scareactor jumping out. The same can be said for dark rides- adding additional audio and lighting can really enhance the mood of a ride

I like eore the best of all they gonna bring this in to snoopy land. Boo bladers terrible

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Are dark rides worth the investment? Yes and no. 
 

are they going to bring in the necessary amount of people to the park to pay for the initial cost? Probably not. 
 

but what they are going to do is on a hot day keep people at the park. Today at Dollywood I was ready to leave with the lack of an indoor ride. (Blazing fury is indoor but it didn’t have air conditioning). Finally I found a nice indoor eating area and sat down and decided to stay longer. Had I not done this I would have for sure left. I ended up staying and purchasing another meal. The air conditioning improved my mood a lot as well which lead me to purchase more things. I think it’s absolutely worth the investment. 

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I think dark rides can be worth the investment if they are well done and use the appropriate ride system.  I think one of the biggest problems with Wonder Mountain's Guardian is that the ride system has such a low throughput that it doesn't make a lot of sense.  They have also had problems with the 3D animation screens which were supposed to switch to 2D animation this year to help with the graininess of the video quality (per the ACE event I attended last September).  

The other problem is that dark rides in a regional park atmosphere either need to use an Omnimover system or the boat-type system that Enchanted Voyage used to be really effective.  Monster Mansion (as mentioned earlier in the thread) at SFOG is a great example of what can be done when the system is at its best.  Original IP and a great way to get out of the sun for a few minutes.  The problem with the shoot-em-up type rides are that the blasters are so finicky.  That is not just a KI problem, it happens everywhere.  I do think CF should go to a company like Sally and have them work up some Peanuts-themed dark ride ideas and then update all of the various Boo Blasters rides with the same overlay. 

The other major benefit with dark rides are they give another ride that can be open year-round which gives another ride that can be opened during Winterfest.  Dark rides are probably never going to be headliners in a regional park atmosphere but they do a good job of filling out the overall line-up.

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On 7/4/2020 at 4:54 PM, Rivertown Rider said:

The other major benefit with dark rides are they give another ride that can be open year-round which gives another ride that can be opened during Winterfest.

That's another argument I have- if there are more dark rides in a park, there's more of an incentive to go/stay during less than optimal conditions. They could also give a park good excuse to close a coaster or thrill ride down early for off season maintenance if needed. I know coasters are reasons why people go to parks, heck they talked about that in this documentary, but I think dark rides are good insurance. Dark rides provide shorter lines for other attractions, comfort, shelter, something the grandparents can ride, and the ability to operate without worrying about bad weather.

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On 6/9/2020 at 1:24 PM, XjoshhyX said:

I'd love to have a modern reimagination of Phantom Theater back around. I get that Peanuts theme's would take the priority there, but the hit of nostalgia with some upgrades would be extra cool.

I think perhaps the key to bringing back Phantom Theater would be to break the formula of using the same building. Surely a dark ride would be possible somewhere around The Bat and Banshee. Perhaps the old SoB station could be integrated in some way, no?

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I don't see SoB's old area being suitable for it, especially utilizing the station. A dark ride is going to need a strong, solid foundation so to build up enough of a platform around it would take a lot. A flat surface would be much better for it. I still think the ideal spot right now woul be the old Action Theatre.

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The park needs more total family rides.  Ones that EVERYONE can ride.   Right now this category includes  the train, helicopters, antique cars, the very Boo Blasters and the Carrousel.    Plus the Eiffel Tower attraction. 
 

Gone are the Turnpike, Skyway, Monorail, Rub-a-Dub, the Zodiac and 2nd Antique car ride.  All were nice slow rides that everyone could ride ( unless fear of heights on a couple) 
 

There is a reason that Disney is so well attended. It’s because everyone can do a high number of the attractions together regardless of their age, ride tolerance, etc.    Regional theme parks really miss out on a lot of potential customers by concentrating on thrill rides and kiddy  rides. 
 

It was such a shame that Enchamted Voage was removed and also a shame that Phantom Theatre was removed. Both were top class dark rides.   Boo Blasters is a 2D embarrassment.  

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There has to be somewhat of a balance between thrill rides and family attractions. There are some parks that do this well and others that don't. Cedar Point, for example, does a good job of incorporating family attractions in with their coasters and thrill rides. You have the train, the Cedar Creek Mine Ride, 2 antique car rides, three kids areas, and a whole bunch of other things. Disney does it a little differently where some parks are more thrilling while others are more mild and tame.

I like to think Kings Island is more family driven but the rides don't always reflect on that. I think having "The World's Best Kid's Area" for nearly 2 decades didn't really show a need to add more family styled attractions. Other than Planet Snoopy we only have other family style attractions like the Miami Valley Railroad, Antique Autos, Adventure Express, Backlot, Boo Blasters, and some of the Coney Mall attractions. I think it would be in KI's best interest to add more mild family rides that the grandparents can ride- not a lot of grandparents can ride Adventure Express or Backlot. Adding more dark rides and walk through attractions would help with this in my opinion. If you look at KI's layout, there's the ability for a dark ride or walk through to be added to almost every section. With Cincinnati's climate situation, it would be nice if the park had more attractions that they didn't have to close down due to weather.

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2 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

There has to be somewhat of a balance between thrill rides and family attractions. There are some parks that do this well and others that don't. Cedar Point, for example, does a good job of incorporating family attractions in with their coasters and thrill rides. You have the train, the Cedar Creek Mine Ride, 2 antique car rides, three kids areas, and a whole bunch of other things. Disney does it a little differently where some parks are more thrilling while others are more mild and tame.

I like to think Kings Island is more family driven but the rides don't always reflect on that. I think having "The World's Best Kid's Area" for nearly 2 decades didn't really show a need to add more family styled attractions. Other than Planet Snoopy we only have other family style attractions like the Miami Valley Railroad, Antique Autos, Adventure Express, Backlot, Boo Blasters, and some of the Coney Mall attractions. I think it would be in KI's best interest to add more mild family rides that the grandparents can ride- not a lot of grandparents can ride Adventure Express or Backlot. Adding more dark rides and walk through attractions would help with this in my opinion. If you look at KI's layout, there's the ability for a dark ride or walk through to be added to almost every section. With Cincinnati's climate situation, it would be nice if the park had more attractions that they didn't have to close down due to weather.

Honestly I feel like KI getting that Golden Ticket for nearly 20 years is mostly due to what Paramount set up. I don't think I can recall CF adding just about anything to the kids/family area since they got bought (my timeline might be messed up). I always just figure they keep coasting (*lol) but no parks have caught up yet so they keep winning.

I'd love to see Boo Blasters re-done, and maybe 1-2 more mid-range full family rides. Honestly a teacup style ride would work well, and maybe something else. Then for the love of airtime, upgrade some of the older rides. That helicopter ride is terrible, I know why kids like it but jeez it is 15 years old and feels like 30? It is slow, comically bumpy for how slow it is, and the lack of air flow makes the whole thing feel super stuffy while hilariously being up where most of the wind should be and trying to mimic a helicopter. The Peanuts 500 and small train ride just needs to have some of the track repaved. On the tiny coaster (Scooby Zoom), what is going on with that monsters hiccup on the hill, sort it out, you don't even need a ladder!

Enough about my rants of the kids area. I like dark rides, I think they are fun, they are a nice place to cool off, and offers something potentially more interactive and for history sake something a bit "spoopy" for kids to do all year.

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On July 21, 2020 at 2:26 PM, Stoan said:

That helicopter ride is terrible, I know why kids like it but jeez it is 15 years old and feels like 30?

Woodstock Whirlybirds? It has been there since the 80s and originally opened as a Yogi Bear attraction. 

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26 minutes ago, Stoan said:

That's the one, but I don't remember it being there before Nickelodeon's Splat City. KICs ride list says 1998 https://KICentral.com/rides/woodstock-whirlybirds/

Err, you're right. It did open in 1998 

https://www.visitkingsisland.com/blog/2017/july/jinkeez-yabba-dabba-doo-and-zoinks

Quote

In 1998, Hanna-Barbera Land received its final facelift. The park bid farewell to the familiar rainbow entrance arch which had existed in various forms since the opening season and they repainted, relocated or re-named virtually every existing HB ride. Three new rides were added including “Yogi’s Sky Tours”, “Adam Ant Skyway” and “Scooby’s Ghoster Coaster.” 

Strange, I remember it being there when I was a kid. Still, I guess 22 years isn't too far off from 30. 

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19 hours ago, Joshua said:

Err, you're right. It did open in 1998 

https://www.visitkingsisland.com/blog/2017/july/jinkeez-yabba-dabba-doo-and-zoinks

Strange, I remember it being there when I was a kid. Still, I guess 22 years isn't too far off from 30. 

Not trusting the KIC information on our main pages is an automatic one week ban from the forums. Just kidding!! :P

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On 7/21/2020 at 2:26 PM, Stoan said:

Honestly I feel like KI getting that Golden Ticket for nearly 20 years is mostly due to what Paramount set up. I don't think I can recall CF adding just about anything to the kids/family area since they got bought (my timeline might be messed up). I always just figure they keep coasting (*lol) but no parks have caught up yet so they keep winning.

I'd love to see Boo Blasters re-done, and maybe 1-2 more mid-range full family rides. Honestly a teacup style ride would work well, and maybe something else. Then for the love of airtime, upgrade some of the older rides. That helicopter ride is terrible, I know why kids like it but jeez it is 15 years old and feels like 30? It is slow, comically bumpy for how slow it is, and the lack of air flow makes the whole thing feel super stuffy while hilariously being up where most of the wind should be and trying to mimic a helicopter. The Peanuts 500 and small train ride just needs to have some of the track repaved. On the tiny coaster (Scooby Zoom), what is going on with that monsters hiccup on the hill, sort it out, you don't even need a ladder!

Enough about my rants of the kids area. I like dark rides, I think they are fun, they are a nice place to cool off, and offers something potentially more interactive and for history sake something a bit "spoopy" for kids to do all year.

I feel like that's half true about Cedar Fair just riding the success they had with the kid's area. However, it had just received 3 new attractions the year they acquired it (Linus Launchers, Surf Dog, and Kite Eating Tree), And they did add 3 new attractions in 2015 (Woodstock Gliders, Snoopy's Space Buggies, and the petting zoo). Given what they already had there, including 3 roller coasters, a log flume, family rides mixed in with kiddie rides, and occasional shows, (Plus essentially a dark ride. Boo Blasters is IS but the entrance is basically in PS), I'm not sure what real additions they could really add to build it up a lot more. They have most of the staples and extra stuff. There's only a handful of rides (that aren't elsewhere in the park) that I can think of they don't already have that would fit there. The main thing I could see for an "addition" would be a retheme of Boo Blasters to Peanuts. And unless they take out the stage and barnyard, there isn't a lot of room for expansion. Which might not be a bad thing. Maybe they could add a big Ferris wheel there, a Woodstock tea cup ride (full family size), and a tilt-a-whirl themed to Peanuts. This would also add 3 new attractions that the whole family could enjoy together as well.

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14 hours ago, SonofBaconator said:

@purdude86 I'd still like to see a 50ft Kentucky Flyer style Gravity Group woodie where the stage and the barnyard currently reside. So the question is, would you rather want more flats or another kid's coaster?

Honestly it'd be a toss up for me. I think a coaster like that would be great and fit in well with the area and working for younger kids with the height while still thrilling enough for the whole family. I also feel it would attract more people and give the park a bigger return on investment.

However I do feel the a flat ride/ferris wheel package would offer more variety and expand the offerings of the park as a whole. We already have two good children's/family coasters in PS (though a KF style one would blow them out of the water) and a similar style offering on a bigger scale with Mystic Timbers next to it in Rivertown.

So overall I don't think they'd go wrong with either option. Better variety with flats, bigger draw/ROI with coaster.

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@purdude86 one of the bigger complaints I would have from family and friends who have little kids is that they're often stuck in Planet Snoopy because their kids aren't quite brave enough to ride bigger family oriented attractions like Adventure Express and BLSC. I think having a 50ft woodie would be a perfect transitioning point for kids who want to try their hand at the bigger rides. Plus it would give the park another woodie, add to the total track length, and give younget guests something new. I completely agree that it would draw in more people; along with a Peanuts dark ride.

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That's a good point about build up coasters as well. I do think it would look great in that spot too. They could possibly even fit the coaster and a couple small flats like the teacups and tilt-a-whirl and get the best of both then. 

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Imagine if they really went for it with dark rides. I think they have an opportunity to set them apart from the other regional parks in ways that their coaster collection doesn't. And they have a perfect market for it. I know they're expensive to maintain, but they bring so much uniqueness and character and if around long enough, nostalgia for older guests. Coasters are great, and fun, and flashy, they don't age gracefully, in general (the almighty Beast notwithstanding).  If they had one or two rides even half as elaborate as this Piraten rebuild at Europapark, I think they could eventually start to edge into more of a destination park, especially for families. They would just have to really commit to it, which will never happen under Cedar Fair. But I think whichever regional park starts down this path could really benefit.

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I have always viewed darks rides as something that are an essential attraction for a park, but not something that a park needs to be deep on. One decent dark ride per park should be enough, but it is important to have one. They are  something that the entire family can do together, give guest a chance to cool off, and add to the overall variety of the park experience.

If a park does not have a dark ride (looking at you Cedar Point), it would certainly be a good investment to add in, but I am not sure that adding multiple dark rides would have as much of a ROI as other attractions would be.

Family rides like the antique cars cost less, and accomplish many of the same goals dark ride would accomplish.

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I agree that a dark ride is essential to a park for the overall park experience. Not ever going to be a primary attraction but needs to be there. Like a carousel, Not a primary attraction but needs to be there. All these add up to a really good park. 

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On the Planet Snoopy thread, I think it would also be good to spread the flats and family experiences out more. Dollywood has done a good job of having (essentially now 2 with wildwood grove) family/kid areas, but then providing similar or related experiences for the Littles close to big thrills. Lightning rod is balanced by rockin roadway. Thunderhead and drop line are balanced by whistle punk chaser and lumberjack lifts. These placements provide milder experiences and thrill throughout the park and don’t make parents feel “trapped” in just a kiddie area all day. And a tether to camp snoopy would go a long way to strengthening rivertown and softening that whole area of the park with a more natural vibe. Our area has no cohesive theme other than concrete. 

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Probably not worth the cost to the park but would love to see Planet Snoopy rethemed to Camp Snoopy. This would add more trees and shade as well as transition better from Rivertown to a wooded/camp theme versus the generic theme now.

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