John Wardley, ride consultant (pictured): Don’t be afraid of dark rides! Just because Disney and Universal spend tens of millions of dollars on elaborate hi-tech dark rides it doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for small, well-designed and imaginative rides.
A dark ride can differentiate your attraction from that of your competitors, they are not planning-contentious, you can create much of it with local contractors, and they can charm, intrigue, thrill or scare according to what your guests want. You can license-in an IP (intellectual property) or create one yourself. River Caves, Laff in the Dark, Haunted Houses, Whacky Shacks, cartoon black-light adventures …let’s start a dark ride renaissance!
John Winkler, Six Flags New England: There are a lot of ride concepts that are morphing and modernising. I see wooden coasters making a resurgence with the new iron-horse steel track technology that provides gravity defying thrills that previous physics would not allow. Toboggan concepts are being modernised to match rollercoaster footprints with multiple lift hills and fly-throughs. I see many famous flat rides going vertical like the recent surge in Wave-Swingers taken flight hundreds of feet in the air, such as Six Flags’ Sky Screamer (Star Flyer) rides. Can you imagine if a carousel could take that kind of flight? A carousel horse becomes a pegasus! The creativity has been exciting in recent years and is moving quickly. This industry will always evolve and should continue to focus on safe thrills for everyone.
Dick Chance, Chance Rides: Our current range of giant observation wheels are modelled after the first Ferris Wheel that made its debut at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. While the R60 is an impressive 175ft (60m) construction, the R80 matches the height of the original Ferris Wheel at 250ft (80m). Luxury is really where all the improvements have come from in recent years. The cabins on this new generation of rides are now enclosed with heating and air, speakers, and floor to ceiling windows. VIP cabins even have leather seats and a TV. Of course television hadn’t been invented in Ferris’s day, but I still feel we have come a long way into terms of passenger comfort, not just on the Ferris Wheel but many other rides too.