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  • My scandalous affair with dark rides

    So I was just watching a video of Kingdom of the Dinosaurs on YouTube. (It was a dark ride that was removed from Knott's Berry Farm a few years back, for those who don't know.) I was pretty young the last time I rode it, a long time ago. My siblings and I loved it. Even then, I could sense it wasn't exactly the benchmark of high quality in dark rides...but it was great, you know? I love re-watching the video.

    That got me thinking about the profound impact dark rides can have. KotD obviously wasn't the best example of this, but it was a catalyst for thought. Oy, if I'm not careful, this post is gonna get way too long.

    Basically, I'm worried that WDI is straying from the area in which, IMO, its greatest achievements have been and surely will continue to be. Perhaps the term "dark ride" isn't quite inclusive enough...let's extend it for now to environments like BTMRR, Splash Mountain, Indy, etc. Elaborately themed indoor environments through which you move on a controlled path.

    These profoundly real environments have a certain emotional latch on people. They strike some nice chords inside, I think. There's something about being carried through this storytelling space where a lot is shown and a lot is left to the imagination, where you're not sure exactly what everything means, and so you find a meaning in it that is most meaningful to you, where you see things that feel almost like a dream, where you can be instantly taken back to by just a single sound or smell. Is WDI moving away from that sort of thing? I don't know. It's obviously never been their sole aspiration for theme parks, but I can't help but fear that their interest is waning.

    Goodness, this is probably the most useless thread I've ever posted. Not sure what I'm expecting to hear back, if anything.

    While I'm at it: thank you, WDI, for not ripping out any of the great Disneyland dark-ride-like environments. Okay, Country Bears kinda counts. But mostly because it was replaced with an inferior attraction that shows how not to do a dark ride. But I digress.


  • #2
    Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

    I remember the dinosaur ride!...it like, became the "makeout ride" so they attached all the cars and put a worker with a flashlight on the back. One of the kids in my choir went on with a stuffed animal and pretended 2 kiss it and she got yelled at. TOO funny!

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    • #3
      Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

      I remember the Dino ride mainly because I always wished the Primeval World was more interactive. For some reason the glass Dioramas remind me of museums... where the displays at Knotts (Kingdom of Dinos and Log Ride) have an interactive quality because you are immersed in the environment.
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      • #4
        Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

        For some reason the glass Dioramas remind me of museums... where the displays at Knotts (Kingdom of Dinos and Log Ride) have an interactive quality because you are immersed in the environment.
        It's that interactive quality--that real quality--that I'm talking about. There's something so undeniably good about passing through a three-dimensional themed space like that.

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        • #5
          Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

          Why does Disney have glass up in front of the Primeval World section? Is it simply fear of people throwing garbage into the diorama or something else?

          And, yes, there is a great emotional connection riding through a physical, three dimensional narrative space that cannot be replicated with a 3-D movie or simulator.

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          • #6
            Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

            Originally posted by techskip View Post
            I remember the Dino ride mainly because I always wished the Primeval World was more interactive. For some reason the glass Dioramas remind me of museums... where the displays at Knotts (Kingdom of Dinos and Log Ride) have an interactive quality because you are immersed in the environment.
            I keep wishing that they'd open up a second Dino-diorama on the other side so that instead of being along the edge of the Primeval World we were going right through the middle of this. But a) there's a building right there and b) it's only useful for the few front-facing passenger cars. But that would HELP that feel more like we're going through an adventure, and not along side of it.

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            • #7
              Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

              Originally posted by Datameister View Post
              These profoundly real environments have a certain emotional latch on people. They strike some nice chords inside, I think. There's something about being carried through this storytelling space where a lot is shown and a lot is left to the imagination, where you're not sure exactly what everything means, and so you find a meaning in it that is most meaningful to you, where you see things that feel almost like a dream, where you can be instantly taken back to by just a single sound or smell. Is WDI moving away from that sort of thing? I don't know. It's obviously never been their sole aspiration for theme parks, but I can't help but fear that their interest is waning.
              Do you think that portions of the new Cars attraction, which is supposed to have great outdoor theming as well as a detailed show building, may reverse this trend?

              (I hope this doesn't veer the conversation onto a rant about Pixar vs. classic Disney characters in attractions, or how animated film based attractions are escaping from the realms of Mickey's Toontown and Fantasyland.)

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              • #8
                Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                Do you think that portions of the new Cars attraction, which is supposed to have great outdoor theming as well as a detailed show building, may reverse this trend?
                I think it may. I'm keeping my hopes high. Purportedly, this one'll pull out all the stops and give us a true E-ticket, the likes of which we DLRers haven't seen since Indy. There's definitely the opportunity there, and there's plenty of money being invested in it...and we must keep in mind that it's not as if WDI has gone stupid. Their output in this country hasn't been fantastic of late, but when you look at the Tokyo resort, you realize that if given enough money and enough creative control, WDI is perfectly capable of churning out amazing stuff, just as they always have.

                (I will say, however, that the movie tie-in makes it impossible to achieve exactly what I was originally talking about--that abstraction, that sense that there's more going on than you know about, that openness to different interpretations. With the Cars tie-in...well, yeah, "Hey, there's Lightning McQueen!" is about the highest level interpretation I would think is possible. But the attraction could still be freaking amazing if it's handled right. And like I said, I'm remaining hopeful. )

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                • #9
                  Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                  Originally posted by Datameister View Post
                  I think it may. I'm keeping my hopes high. Purportedly, this one'll pull out all the stops and give us a true E-ticket, the likes of which we DLRers haven't seen since Indy. There's definitely the opportunity there, and there's plenty of money being invested in it...and we must keep in mind that it's not as if WDI has gone stupid. Their output in this country hasn't been fantastic of late, but when you look at the Tokyo resort, you realize that if given enough money and enough creative control, WDI is perfectly capable of churning out amazing stuff, just as they always have.

                  (I will say, however, that the movie tie-in makes it impossible to achieve exactly what I was originally talking about--that abstraction, that sense that there's more going on than you know about, that openness to different interpretations. With the Cars tie-in...well, yeah, "Hey, there's Lightning McQueen!" is about the highest level interpretation I would think is possible. But the attraction could still be freaking amazing if it's handled right. And like I said, I'm remaining hopeful. )
                  I keep my hopes fairly low. That way, something like "ooh, they finally flipped over that mask at the entrance of Adventureland that was upside down for 5 years" makes me thrilled.

                  On the attraction and theming end, the Cars attraction really does feel like the next step in the progression we last saw back with the Indiana Jones Adventure. The characters give it that rounded soft "nothing can hurt us" feeling that pulls us away from an actual impression of realism... but it's a step back in the right direction.

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                  • #10
                    Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                    I keep my hopes fairly low. That way, something like "ooh, they finally flipped over that mask at the entrance of Adventureland that was upside down for 5 years" makes me thrilled.
                    I know what you mean. There's a lot to be said for not being disappointed when things go wrong and for seeing one's hopes fulfilled when things go right, so I wander on both sides of the fence with this sort of thing. At the moment, optimism feels like the right route with the Cars racing attraction.

                    What is it about dark rides that tickle our fancies so? There's such a mystique to the partially-lit spaces. You wonder what's around each bend. You see stuff that you know isn't real, and in many cases, it's only moderately convincing. But you accept it as its own strange reality. Anyway, just streaming my consciousness here...

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                    • #11
                      Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                      What is it about dark rides that tickle our fancies so?
                      off the top of my head id say that it's about being in the story. i love the fact that im racing thru the temple with indy or getting to go to "nowhere in perticular" with mister toad, in a way i guess you could say thats what makes disneyland stand so proudly above the other parks
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                      • #12
                        Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                        We love dark rides for the same reasons we love the movies. It gives us a chance to experience something that isn't always within reach. Something fantastic. Something unimaginable. But dark rides are much better than movies because it allows us to feel, experience, see, even smell a new world. And what makes it fun is that we know that we're gonna come out alive (pretend this was still true ok?).

                        Walt Disney was a filmmaker and Disneyland was bringing us into the movies. The entire park is a show and there's something great about these rides that take us to another place.

                        Lately, this hasn't happened as much, but I still hope for new things that will blow us away like they did years ago.


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                        • #13
                          Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                          So do Disneyland's Pirates or Haunted take the prize for best dark ride around the world?

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                          • #14
                            Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                            Originally posted by Tool View Post
                            So do Disneyland's Pirates or Haunted take the prize for best dark ride around the world?
                            Yes.

                            Disney took a form of entertainment that looked like this when he found it...




                            ...and raised it to this level, never equalled:

                            "My mental facilities are twice what yours are, pea brain!"

                            The conversation continues at Long-Forgotten, the blog.



                            ......... .....May April March!.....................

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                            • #15
                              Re: My scandalous affair with dark rides

                              I don't know if we can say that the amazingness of a good dark ride is due wholly to the same reasons we like a movie, or because we like being put into the story. Obviously, those things are true, but I think there's something hardwired into the brain that just loves the enclosed, cavelike environments of the smaller scenes. Then there are larger scenes, such as the HM ballroom or the battle between the Wicked Wench and Isla Tesoro, which are just epic and of course we love 'em.

                              I dunno. Still rambling. Suffice it to say, it's an art form I love when it's done right and despise when it's not.

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