In this month’s Big Question, we asked park operators if they were to operate a park with only five rides, what would they be and why? I like that question so much, I decided to try to answer it myself. I’m doing so before seeing what those who responded to our question said. There’s no right or wrong answers, just opinions. Here’s my list.
My first ride, perhaps surprising to those who know me, would be a train ride. Whenever I visit parks I ride their train, just to see where it goes and what I might see along the way. Everyone who visits the park rides the train. It’s something grandparents can enjoy with their grandchildren. Most parks have a single train ride, but I know of at least one with two.
Second, I would want a roller coaster in my park. Surprised? Of course not. Wood or steel? It doesn’t much matter. Like many others, I just like to go fast and be thrilled. My love of roller coasters is somehow related to my love of train rides. Namely, a fascination with trackage. You travel a predetermined course, following the track. Many parks have more than one coaster – Six Flags Magic Mountain has 19.
Third, a personal favourite, something I ride whenever I find them. A dark ride. Specifically, I want a dark ride with gags that jump out at me. I know, these seem to be old school now with newer interactive dark rides enjoying recent success. My dark ride transportation can be in a vehicle, a boat in a small canal, or even my feet taking me into a dark walk-through, where I can find a distorting mirror that makes me look thin, as pictured here. I crave the mystery of what lurks inside the darkened building. But it’s a mystery to me why all parks don’t have at least one dark ride.
Fourth has to be a carousel. These are classic and every park should have one. Many are filled with horses, although I have a slight preference for a menagerie ride. Then there are one-of-a-kind carousels like the fish-themed SeaGlass Carousel in New York’s Battery Park or Universal’s Islands of Adventure’s Caro-Seuss-el in Orlando. I like carousels where one can catch a brass ring, although I understand the cost of replacing lost brass rings is rising. I have two on my desk.
Fifth is bumper cars. Bumper cars are now as essential to a park as a carousel or roller coaster, although not quite as old. They only trace their origins back 128 years. For many youngsters it is their first time behind the wheel, and the results are predictable. At any park I visit there is always a line for the bu
mper car pavilion.
Next on my list, if I weren’t limited to five, would be either a chair swing, a Ferris wheel, or a tower drop ride. Maybe something that turns riders upside-down. Going upside-down is fun. But we’re limited to five. So what’s on your list?