So this might be a controversial topic, Rides that might have missed their potential, however, this is not how these rides are bad as all on this list are considered some of the top rides in the world, but looking back at design plans, concept art, story narrative and promotion these are the 5 that we felt although they are amazing rides with the extra time and effort they could have been even more than what they currently are. Like I said before we are not slating these attractions and we hope our views why we picked them might justify the reasoning. So in no particular order, we start with…
Starting the list in Florida, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is one of Disneys more innovative coasters, But after experiencing the ride in all its magic it left me feeling somewhat lacking. This set in during the queue line process.
Disney has created some amazing queue spaces just look at Tower of Terror and Space Mountain, But Seven Dwarfs Mine Train queue area feels like a queue area which, compared to Disney standard, this is not something you expect from the masters of immersion. The other point that placed It on this list was its length. Now we know length isn’t everything but on such a new style coaster being showcased by Disney you end up hoping for more. What you do get is not bad a ride by any means but by the time it’s starting to come into its own pace the break run sits dead ahead, alongside this the swinging motion of the cars is only really noticeable if the weight distribution is in your favour. As a slender man riding with another of equal proportion sadly the swing was hardly noticeable. So with reasons stated we move on to the next closer to home… The Smiler
Ok trying not to let the fanboys light torches and pitchforks here but I think I have some valid reasoning. When The Smiler was announced it was a turning point for Alton Towers and fans alike. For years we never thought we would get a multilooper of such proportions. Alongside The Sanctuary and the youtube 4part promotion “Smile.Always” what we seemed set to get was the darkest and most twisted ride Towers ever gave us, maybe even knocking Nemesis off the top spot. But then the opening day came… I felt let down by the indoor “experience”. Projection mapping might have seen new and fancy but it’s not always reliable which a 404 Error screen soon proves. Having such a love of The Sanctuary and the Ministry of Joy brand created by the promotions it felt saddening that so little Ministry of Joy paraphernalia was to be found throughout the experience. I remember talking to another guest and they honestly had no idea who or what TMOJ even was. In my honest opinion, everyone who entered The Smiler and the correction process should have been made very clear who the organisation was who was trying to control them. The Second or third, I’ve lost count now reason to why I feel The Smiler missed its potential is when you look back at the concept art of the “darker” Smiler theme, Something that was taking the Sanctuary route rather than a white box with some nice lighting. Finally, the space between exiting the station and first lift was such a letdown, Dark is not a theme! Occasionally working strobes but this area could have been so much more, A full-on sensory assault with colours, illusions, sound and smells. The Smiler will always be a top coaster for me no questions asked but its just a shame it could have been so much more and let’s not mention the profiling of the exit of the cobra roll but that’s on Gerstlauer, not Towers.
So leaving the Towers we go back over the pond to Florida for Rip Ride Rocket. No one can deny that the Universal Studios skyline would ever be the same without seeing those flashing lights flying through the night sky on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit’s trains, One of its redeeming features alongside the non-inverting loop and welcoming big boy restraints the Maurer X-Car uses. But is that where it ends… Let’s discuss… Looking back at the promotional imagery it did look to be something unique and special, From the giant screen that would sit next to the lift, to the breakthrough element just below, Flying within close proximity to the crowd below and a full-on music theme. But let’s face it, I know some music can be bland but the theming on It is in areas fully non-existent. If the Ghostbusters building hadn’t been in place, do we really think USF would have put that cut through feature in. The finale of the ride although provides some good air and some fun twists utilise grass as a theme as much as Six Flags uses carparks. The addition of choosing your music for your ride was a great input but alot of the time you don’t have enough time to pick so end up with “ZZTOP- Gimme all your lovin”, Now I know there is a secret list but honestly how many people really know about this and its hundreds of potential tunes or even how to access them correctly. I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad ride on H:RRR but damn it could have been so much more.
Staying in the USA we move on to Six Flags Magic Mountain with X2. When I think back to my first trip to SFMM back in 2007 the one coaster I was so looking forward to, bar Tatsu, was X, I remember going up the gate road and seeing X in all of its Pink and Yellow glory waiting to see it testing because I made sure we were at the entrance 2hours before the park opened. X and SFMM were first shown to me through the wonder that was Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. Finally, the time came at the gates and I ran with my Dad to the entrance getting lost in Baja Ridge along the way. I knew the station would be nothing special and the whole emphasis of the ride was the experience and what an experience it was, A few weeks later and back at home a Promo was shown, X was becoming X2 with light effects, smoke, music and mechanical/volcanic theme, I knew they couldn’t change the rotations of the ride so eagerly anticipated what the X2 change would be… Sadly this is where X2 really could have shined. So what was the X2 Changes?
-New trains -New colour scheme -Onboard audio -A pair of Flamethrower towers. -Occasional misty areas
Compared to the concept art, the promotion and planned description X2 was not so far from is predecessor. Yes, the new trains addressed some of X’s rattle but the music is very rarely heard anywhere from the first drop to the final raven turn and the fire is very hit and miss that it operates. Had X2 been honestly true to its thematic vision of dark twisted metal creatures and apocalyptic backdrop it could have been something phenomenal, Sadly once again Six Flags using concrete as a theme strikes again, Will I ride X2 again, ABSOLUTELY the ride is insane, I just wish the coaster didn’t remind me of a paint warehouse.
Next we leave the USA for Spain or should we say Mexico for Hurakan Condor. Before Shambhala, Dragon Khan ruled the skyline of PortAventura. In 2005 this was to change with the addition of a monster drop tower provided by Intamin under the name Hurakan Condor. The advertising was clear and to point, A dark Mexican theme of ritual sacrifice. The theming of the ride its self in person is beautiful, but there is a feeling of something missing. The promotional imagery and videos showed a dark tale of a priest and vengeful god destroying the area with the powers of the storm which in contrast of the jungle/Mexico area it resides in this story seems to mislead. Now we were not saying that the themeing is bad, not at all, I just feel that the area could have been used to more advantage of telling the story. Back during its opening, Hurakan Condor did have the nighttime Hurakan Condor show, which through fire dancers and narrative ” all in Spanish” but this can be forgiven as it is in Spain, which ended with a select group of riders taking part in the finale of the sacrifice part of the show. To our knowledge, this show is no longer in operation. When you look at the theme of Hurakan Condor it gives vibes of Tomb Raider which when in comparison with Tomb Raider: The Ride “past attraction at Kings Island” It really shows how far they could have taken the narrative on a full dark adventure story, The downside of the theme sadly is on the ride experience itself. The loading area is bland and bare with again no connection to any part of the story other than the building you are in and the bright and bold seats really seemed to have missed the mark and could have been something spectacular, maybe themed to wings of the priest? As the ascent through the top layers of the temple commences, again the potential for something memorable was left out, Just stones and skulls where so much more could have been featured, Just look at Talocan for full implementation of a Mexican Mythical theme. The final bug bare that always rears its ugly head is the batching method that Hurakan Condor uses, Like many Intamin multi-side drop towers it offers different modes to complete the deed, 2Sit Down and 3 Stand Up Floorless. But unlike our smaller counterpart Apocalypse , Hurakan Condor removes the choice as you are designated a seat rather than going through queue separation system which surely can’t have been that hard to implement. But like we said at the beginning this is not a slating of good rides as rest assured given the chance we would be happy to be back at the top of that 330ft Tower waiting for the 71mph fall!
The final one is more of an honourable mention as the ride no longer exists except in our memories. Dueling Dragons was one of the original coasters that opened when USF debuted its sister park Islands of Adventure, One of the best Adventures of the Island “See what I did there” was the trip to the Lost Continent and furthermore into Merlinwood where the Dueling Dragons called home. Fire and Ice to most but those In the know knew them as their true names Pyrock and Blizzrock. The queue to the loading bays of the dragons was a true story led experience, Learning of Merlin though animated stained glass and books to when the dragons appeared and the disastrous tole of their devastation on the castle and the failed knights sent to vanquish. One section filled with soot-silhouettes and charred beams where the flames took lives, another covered in ice and frozen would-be heroes to the ceiling rafters. Following this area the catacombs, Lined with skulls, cobwebs and near pitch-black areas before “Choosing Thy Fate”, Finally with the unintentional pun given on the loading floor “Fire is Clear-Ice IS CLEAR” this always made me smile. Like many I was disheartened when DD was changed to Dragon Challenge, For me when this change happened the soul of the castle and the queue line experience was lost, It was nice to see the goblet of fire and the dragons flying ahead over the station on the ceiling swags but in the end, I just kept feeling “I really miss Dueling Dragons” and no ride should make me miss the old one.
So we hope you don’t hate us all now but we thought it would be an interesting project to look back at what could have been. But all things considered, we hope these rides are round for a long time to come even during these uncertain circumstances. From PSG to all, Stay Safe.