The Theme Park Thread


#1

One of the things I like to do when I want to unwind is watch videos about theme park attractions. From POV videos to quick history lessons about a rides evolution, I enjoy watching them. They’re fun to watch and are filled with some interesting facts. It’s also probably the only way I will experience these rides. If you’re on the Discord, y’all know this is my shit.
Anyway, I thought I would bring this over to the forums and share some of my favorite videos and discuss some of our favorite theme park rides and attractions.

Defunctland is an ongoing series about the history of extinct rides, as well as covering the general history of some parks including Action Park and Disneyland Paris. They’re now in their second season and are regularly uploading episodes. You can check out their YouTube channel here.

One of the rides I keep coming back to is the Haunted Mansion and the many iterations that exist around the world. While most videos are about 10 to 15 minutes long, one video stands out from the rest. It’s a one hour long video of the Walt Disney World version of the ride. After watching the first 10 minutes, you can tell that the folks behind this video wanted to capture every animatronic, every detail, and get every possible angle that they could get. If you can watch it, it’s worth it. You can tell a lot of love and passion went into this project.


#2

Wow that video is very cool and I can totally see how watching these is relaxing for you! Its meticulousness really reminds me of those tiny food and set assembly videos that are sort of asmr-adjacent and good for chilling out with.

I personally really love rollercoasters! I’m an anxious person and genuinely terrified of heights, and rollercoasters are a fun controlled way to experience two things that would usually be a pretty miserable experience for me.

Imaginary rollercoasters are also really compelling… I think they really draw into focus how Completely Wild it is that we as animals make big metal structures to zoom around and expose ourselves to g-forces on just for fun, which isn’t a thing I’m deriding! Human absurdity is value neutral! This short (fictional) film about imaginary/impossible rides is neat and funny and also gives me the heebie jeebies in the same way that thinking about black holes for a little too long does.


#3

I love theme parks and I’m always a sucker for a well themed roller coaster like Taron at Phantasialand


#4

Yeah good theming is so key in rides. Alton Towers’ Wicker Man is a great coaster with a solid theme.


CW for flashing lights on this one.

Alton Towers is on my bucket list.


#5

When I was a teen, some then-friends of mine who lived in CA had me visit for a while, and we spent some time at Disneyland. Being teens, we were inscrutable and intolerable, so we rode Haunted Mansion over 20 times, always developing new and terrible inside jokes to repeat loudly and ruin the ride for anyone nearby. We also had the gallery monologue memorized, and were delighted the one time we found ourselves in a group with other people who recited it with us. It was some of the most fun I had that trip, and when I came back to Disneyland with my family some years later, I couldn’t understand why none of them seemed to think Haunted Mansion was fun. Like, I sang the Luigi’s Mansion theme, wasn’t that great? No? Alright, I guess…

So when I first saw this Haunted Mansion video, it was definitely a strange experience, even without the CA-FL dissonance; an adoring look at everything there is to see on a ride I love that captures absolutely nothing about why I loved it. It’s a really great video though.


#6

Another thing about the Haunted Mansion, is that despite most of the attractions being similar, Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris is very different.
The flow of the ride in Disneyland, WDW, and Tokyo are very similar, they start off through the mansion with a general spooky atmosphere, ending with a very cartoonish and jovial ride through the graveyard. Phantom Manor does two things differently. The first part is that the story focuses primarily on the bride and the phantom characters. The second part is that it ties into the story of Big Thunder Mountain next door. Supposedly, the ride goes underneath the mountain to show the old mining town that used to be there before an earthquake destroyed and buried the town. This was due to a curse of some sort. I’m sure there’s an article somewhere that goes into more detail.


#7

I always found the sortof “split” in theme parks between feats of engineering and roller coaster making and immersive attractions where the decoration, design and vibe take precedence. Though I suppose that gap is closing a little bit.

I think I personally prefer the latter stuff a lot more. Largely because until recently, coasters scared me a lot. But also, it’s reallt amazing to delve into the details in the queue or to pay attention to all the work put into the theming. I also love the feeling of being immersed through practical effects, even if there’s no suspension of disbelief.


#8

Yeah, I was the same too. I preferred Dark Rides over coasters for a long time. But yeah, I enjoy the immersion of those rides with practical effects. I still remember riding the original Journey into Imagination at Epcot and that ride was amazing. I loved everything about it. It’s a shame Disney decided to change it.


#9

Here’s a video where Tony Baxter gives a tour of Disneyland Paris.


#10

I love both the dark rides and coasters, but the recent trend that I’m not as much a fan of are the style like the Escape from Gringotts ride at Universal Studios in Florida. I feel like when they try to merge dark rides and coasters too much, sometimes they lose what makes each of them fun. The incorporation of a large screen in that ride without adequate movement kind of halts the momentum of the experience. I remember it being a big bummer when I went on it the first time.


#11

Yeah, I watched a video of Escape from Gringotts and it feels like they lean into the screens a whole lot. But also I feel like that’s what Universal Studios does now. Like, whenever they get a big movie property they need to cash in on, they make a movie ride.
Like, when Back to the Future Ride came out it was huge. It’s different and exciting a lot of people loved it, now it feels outdated in a way and not as exciting as it used to be. I think the Harry Potter rides were hybrids, but also when I watched that video, it was hard to tell when the people were actually moving. Didn’t look really interesting at all.


#12

I hope whatever they build to replace Dueling Dragons/Dragon Challenge isn’t at all like Escape from Gringotts.


#13

I can’t believe they are replacing my probably favorite coaster at Universal!

@video_gh0st The Hogwarts ride is probably the best version of that type of ride, but the range of motion allowed by the design of the seats is much better.


#14

Weirdly, I actually started watching Defunctland recently after all the Planet Coaster videos I was watching. I think Google’s youtube algorithm got me there, because I had been watching alot of those. Thery’re fantastic videos. I love theme parks but am also fascinated by them, just in how they look to create a world, what that world says about the times and culture they were created in. Also how this applies to video games, like a ride is basically a virtual experience, like a game or movie but made real. Also how theme park design is utilised in design of open worlds - incorporating sight lines that are designed to pull the player/visitor in. I think Austin mentioned an essay on how Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule is inspired by Disney’s method of park building. Wish I knew what the name of that essay was…

Incidentally, if you like theme parks and you like video games you should have a look at Planet Coaster - the creative tools it has that allows you to effectively build whatever the hell you want. There is a thriving community creating things for it, most of which you can download into your own game.


#15

I love Defunctland! Unfortunately Perj’s least favorite theme park happens to be the one closest in location to me, Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri (and it is a very mediocre theme park, a lot of solid rides but in terms of actual theming is very little


#16

Speaking of Defunctland, new episode just went up.
This time, it’s Six Flags Astroworld in Houston, Texas


It think this is my favorite intro so far.

#17

Just the title of that series reminds me of the abandoned theme park that is Six Flags New Orleans/Jazz Land. It was always the closest them park to me growing up, but they never put the money back in after Katrina pretty much destroyed the park. Tank and the Bangas has a song called Rollercoasters where she talks pretty extensively about the park, and it gets me emotional every time.


#18

They’re spending months this year renovating the ride. I first went on it on new year’s day this year and I’m super curious what they do.

I was really impressed with Disneyland Paris’ attractions over all.

When I was young our go to theme park was Chessington World of Adventures and there’s a decent documentary series on the dark rides that they used to have there.

I remember going on them all so it’s a real nostalgia trip for me


#19

I’ve been to Disneyland twice, once I was fairly young and it was kind of overwhelming, the second time, I was a cynical teenager who was real down on the whole thing. a cynicism which lasted about five minutes at most once we got to the park. I also decided that year I was going to do all the rollercoasters which I had previously been a bit scared of. turns out I love rollercoasters and Disneyland. now one of my pie in the sky dreams is to manage to make it to all the different Disney theme parks around the world, in the meantime I will just compare and contrast all the Jungle Cruises on Youtube.


#20

Alton Towers is my nearest theme park and probably my favourite. When I was 13/14 - a bunch of my friends managed to get hold of season passes. We’d go to Alton Towers again and again. I now know it like the back of my hand. Definitely need to go back and try out the Wicker Man. The park got lots of negative press following the crash on the Smiler and got unfairly dunked on by the press. I grew up in the area and Alton Towers was one of the few places that put Staffordshire on the map. Incidentally I think all parks owned by Merlin took a hit, I remember going to Thorpe Park and they were only letting one train for each coaster go round the track.

I didn’t realised how much of a commercial struggle Disneyland Paris was before watching those Defuntland videos. It’s kind of amazing. I went a few years back. A lot of the attractions, haunted mansion, big thunder mountain, the Aerosmith rock and rollercoaster and star tours were all ‘closed’ for refurbishment. Felt a little short changed back then. I was still impressed by the park however, the level of detail in the theming in every aspect of the park - it’s impossible not to feel like a child again. There’s just a magic about the place.

The park adjacent to the magic kingdom in Paris, Disney studios did feel a little dated by comparison. We went on the Armageddon ride and when you get in, there’s a video presented by Michael Clarke Duncan. I think everyone let out a collected sigh of sadness… Then you walk onto the ride and it kind of sucks. Then there was the studio tour, which kind of just showed relics of the Dinotopia and Reign of Fire set. There was just something so tragic about it all. Like everything was rooted in the early 2000s. I guess there was no money to update any of the rides, so it’s perpetually stuck in the past. It’s inspired me to build a semi-tragic theme park in Planet Coaster with rides themed only after movies released in 1997. Remember Dante’s Peak? Anaconda? Well now experience the rides.