New dark ride at Kennywood
Want a Disney or Universal-style dark ride for your park but don’t have the budget? Ghostwood Estate at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, is a state-of-the-art interactive attraction and it cost just US$2 million (€1.3m) to create.
Designed by Halloween Productions, the ride replaces the park’s old Gold Rusher, retired last August, and comes equipped with a “trackless” ride system by ETF of the Netherlands. The attraction’s massive four-sided façade, meanwhiule, was realised by the Design Alliance of nearby Pittsburgh.
“Ghostwood Estate is an indication of Kennywood’s commitment to dark rides,” explains the park’s general manager, Jerome Gibas. “It combines numerous interactive targets with computer generated images (CGI) and a trackless conveyance system featuring computer-controlled cars.”
“It is the first dark ride of its kind in the country,” adds Halloween Productions’ president, Larry Kirchner. “The attraction is a hybrid of Disney’s Haunted Mansion combined with a typical blacklight shooting game. The ghosts, ghouls and special effects can only be activated by the riders. The game aspect makes it a lot of fun and takes the spooky edge off the ride.”
The experience begins with a pre-show in which Lord Kenneth Ghostwood (Kennywood’s “silent partner”) tells guests about the spirits lurking inside the building. As riders travel through the Estate’s 10 scenes they encounter special effects including computer-generated ghosts, a talking head that tells jokes, over 250 animated targets, detailed sets and eerie smells. Armed with blasters by LaserStar, passengers must shoot at as many targets as possible while competing with others in the same car. Each vehicle is equipped with four scoreboards.
As a way of explaining the wireless ride system, Kennywood’s marketing department came up with the idea that the spirit of Lord Ghostwood is pulling the cars through. Barcodes embedded in the concrete floor allow operators to stop, spin, turn, or take the cars on another route if there’s a fork in the road or a dead-end.