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Two Kinds of Rides

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  • [Idea] Two Kinds of Rides

    I believe that for WDW, there are two fundamental types of rides: Permanent and Temporary. There are some rides, classics, that could be there for a hundred years and still draw crowds and be entertaining. Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Tower of Terror, etc. The Big Ones. The rides you'll want your grandkids to ride.

    Other rides and nearly all shows should be temporary. Temporary meaning they should have a definite lifespan, even if it's long. Snow White's Scary Adventures can go, rides at EPCOT need to be updated or gutted, and shows are cheap enough that they should be built knowing they're not eternal (with a few exceptions; hoop-dee-doo and luau...)

    Some rides, Ellen's Energy Adventure for example, are fine and fun, but no one should expect will be around forever, even from its inception. I think WDW would do well to build this type of ride with an eye on how long it can realistically last before the space it's in can be put to better use.

    I do get frustrated when I see rides that could have been eternal get shut down rather than updated. Superstar TV, I remember from my childhood, was a great premise; Pull up audience volunteers and recreate the hit TV of the day with a combination of theme-park goers and taped footage. They could build new sets every 3-4 years and maintain a good mix of classics and new shows. As long as there's TV, that could exist.

    It's also surprising to see attractions who's heyday has long since past still running. Stitch's Alien Encounter thing, for one.

    Disney would get a lot more mileage and more frequent visitors if they made steps to keep the permanent, timeless classics that might have time-sensitive material updated, and shuffled out the temporary stuff. It's cheaper to update an old ride than to build a new one. Cranium Command could have just had some new effects and film if it was too clearly 80's for modern crowds. The temporary stuff tends to be cheaper to build, and the idea of "there's a new ride" is a powerful draw, ESPECIALLY if people are being surprised by new experiences on familiar rides.

    This has been a bit rambly, but what do you think? What rides have vanished that should have been timeless, what temporary rides have stuck past their expiration date? Is this too simplistic of a category system?

  • #2
    Re: Two Kinds of Rides

    First of all, welcome to Micechat, and I agree with what you said.
    The new Star Wars plot summery:

    Episode 7: Luke discovers that Darth Vader is not his father, and goes on a search for his real father

    Episode 8: Darth Vader is resurrected and goes on Jerry Springer, claiming he is Luke and Leia's father

    Episode 9: Princes Leia is not Luke's sister, making him furious (we all know why...).


    • #4
      Re: Two Kinds of Rides

      great post, i think an example of this that people are arguably the most upset about is Horizons. the problem with it though would be the expense in the long term of consistently updating it, which unlike some of the other rides you mentioned above, would have been very expensive.


      • #5
        Re: Two Kinds of Rides

        Originally posted by RexSaucy View Post
        I believe that for WDW, there are two fundamental types of rides: Permanent and Temporary. There are some rides, classics, that could be there for a hundred years and still draw crowds and be entertaining.


        Snow White's Scary Adventures can go... *snip* Superstar TV, I remember from my childhood, was a great premise...
        Here lies the flaw in your premise. Who decides what is an "eternal" ride and what is not? I personally think SWSA is a classic that could be there for a hundred years. After all, Snow White was the Mouse's first princess.

        Much of what is classic and eternal is based on when you first experienced a Disney park. Now, if new rides/attractions were designed from the start to be temporary or to change with the times, that is a totally different thing. I love that idea!
        “That's the way a lot of things happen... You think one person did something
        but he was just the one to put the color on it." – Ken Anderson
        ​I'm blogging here again!


        • #6
          Re: Two Kinds of Rides

          Attractions that rely heavily on film like Cranium Command and Superstar Television are easy to update and can be kept fresh fairly easily. Cranium Command could easily keep much of its original script with new actors representing the different organs. The other option for this situation would be to to not lean on star power at all and try to make the show more timeless. Either way could work.

          Superstar Television would have to rely on stars and current trends and also be at the mercy of the strength of ABC's program schedule or hope that there are other shows they can work out inexpensive short term rights for.

          I think leaning too heavily on popular trends is a danger. Given the Orlando management teams tendency to not want to spend money, if you base an attraction around the idea that it will get frequent updates to keep it fresh, or will be replaced in a decade or so, you might be shooting yourself in the foot when the budget for the replacement doesn't show up. This is how you end up with things like the Carousel of Progress mentioning virtual reality and car phones in its final scene. It's also why the pop culture references in Ellen's Energy adventure no longer work.

          Most attractions should be planned to be timeless. Designers should want there attraction to stand for 40 years and plan it so it can without the need for major renovation. This seemed to be done to some extent with many of the original Future World attractions. They used relatively minimalistic sets or film projections to represent the future so that these scenes could be updated for relatively little cost. The only problem with that is what you see happening with the carousel of progress. They forgot to account for the fact that the present becomes a part of history and wound up with some awkward gaps. Spaceship Earth was able to work the rise of the computer into its history but that took the kind of renovation you are hoping to avoid.

          That was the flaw of Horizons. Quick disclaimer, Horizons is the greatest theme park attraction ever built. That said, about a third of it took place in the future. The script was solid and ambiguous enough that it still holds up if you jest listen to it. However, the sets and costumes would need to be updated every few decades or so. There's also no space to look back at the future between the 50s and the present. Personally, I think since it is the greatest theme park attraction ever built, it would be worth it to redecorate a few sets and give the characters some updated clothes, but I guess that's just me and tearing down the whole structure to build a simulator of a simulator that kills people makes better business sense.

          Any time you deal with popular culture or the future you are committing yourself to hitting a constantly moving target. If you only intend for the attraction to be temporary, you aren't going to want to spend a lot on building it in the first place and that lack of commitment always shows. We see this in the Dinorama where the park just needed more rides quickly and the roadside carnival sprung up without expending too much time and resources. Should the day come when that park has enough rides to make that section unnecessary, it could disappear just as fast.

          Those are the true temporary rides and they are either quick fixes or something thrown together to promote a new film. I think they are more of something the park designers have to do, not something they should want to do. Then again, when the Pirates of the Caribbean was being designed, Walt figured it would only last about 10 years or so before they replaced it with something else. That's probably because Walt was crazy and was not the least bit reluctant to pour money into the park to make it better.
          It bothers me when people selectively edit quotes to support whatever point they are trying to prove.


          • #7
            Re: Two Kinds of Rides

            Interesting point. I wonder how many attractions are designed in one category but fall into the other?

            for example most of the late Epcot rides must have been designed as permanent shows but we're stripped out in a relatively short time to make way for thril rides while temporary shows like lion king at animal kingdom and beauty and the beast at the studios appear to have become permanent!


            • #8
              Re: Two Kinds of Rides

              As 3D and Musion technology is now becoming much better and the wrinkles are getting ironed out, you're going to see a lot more attractions that are designed to be updated every few years, or periodically.

              I was about to say that no attraction was ever designed with the thought of being temporary, but I caught myself. That's not entirely correct. Innoventions exhibits, and a few attractions that are heavily reliant on sponsorship have been designed with a less than 10 year lifespan. But this is far from normal.

              Like any business, theme parks look to maximize profit, and they do this by squeezing the life out of every investment. While some never pan out (Mission Space), some become gold mines (Monsters Inc, DCA) where the ridership and lifespan far exceed the financial investment in the attraction.

              What you're going to see now is theme parks trying to force this equation. First, they're only going to pick IPs that are guaranteed, no risk successes to build attractions off of. Second, the trend will continue to build less sets and animatronics, and more video screens and easily updatable media. The thing that theme park fans don't realize is that it still costs a lot of money to make media, so that is why every attraction isn't being ripped out right now to be replaced with movie screens. But media is becoming cheaper to produce each year, so you will see it being used more and more.

              Also, there is such a crisis as far as corporate enthusiasm in designing attractions as is. If the end result was determined to be temporary, for any length of time, it would be written off as "not as important" by the bean counters and suits. The greatness and integrity of the ride would most surely suffer.

              It would be cool and awesome to have some sort of theme park with ephemeral rides that are more like art installations that come and go with the wind, but no company trying to be a profitable business is going to spend $50 million on temporary ride experience. If you want that now, go to Burning Man.