What's the biggest mistake ever made by a theme park?
What's the biggest mistake you've ever seen by a theme park?
With The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror closing this week at Disney California Adventure, I'm sure that many fans would cite Disney's decision to replace that attraction with a new Guardians of the Galaxy theme as their pick for biggest theme park blunder. Taking it back several more years, I'm sure some fans continue to insist that Disney blew it by building California Adventure in the first place, instead of going with competing plans for Westcot or even a Long Beach DisneySea.
I'm on the record as supporting Disney's call to swap The Twilight Zone for Guardians of the Galaxy on DCA's Tower of Terror. But that doesn't mean I agree with everything Disney decides. (I'll wait a moment for long-time Theme Park Insider readers to stop laughing.... We good now? Okay, let's move on.) In my Orange County Register column this week, I list a few of the attractions removals from the Disneyland Resort that I think turned out to be actual mistakes for the company.
It's too early to tell if The Twilight Zone removal will turn out to be a mistake or not. After all, we can't honestly make that decision until we see the Guardians of the Galaxy version of the ride. Let's face it — sometimes when fans complain about an attraction's removal, their complaints end up being drowned out by the cheers of other fans who fall in love with that attraction's replacement. (Heck, sometimes, even the people who complain about a removal end up flipping when they see the new ride.) Epcot's Frozen Ever After provides the most recent example. Even though many fans decried the removal of Maelstrom for a Frozen-themed makeover, the much longer lines and higher ratings for the replacement demonstrate that the majority of Disney visitors are not only just fine with the switch, they prefer the new version.
You can see the same thing up the road at Universal Orlando, too, with some fans continuing to insist that Universal made a mistake removing its Jaws ride, despite the wild popularity of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, which replaced it. No one who has responsibility for Disney's or Universal's bottom lines would argue that replacing Maelstrom or Jaws was a mistake. But some fans still do.
I suspect that we'll see the same thing happen with Guardians of the Galaxy in a few months. As long as the wait times got for Tower of Terror since the announcement its closing, I'll bet you a TPI button that the wait times for the Guardians ride will exceed that when it opens this summer. Disney's replacing a pretty-much forgotten old television franchise with one of the most popular movie franchises in the world right now. Throw in a more coherent storyline and a company that's much more in the mood to invest in its theme parks than it was back when the ToT opened at DCA in 2004, and I'm very hopeful that Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout will over fans the way that Frozen Ever After did at Epcot.
But that doesn't excuse the fact that getting rid of the PeopleMover for Rocket Rods at Disneyland really was a mistake. ;^)
So let's get back to the question I asked at the start of this post. What's the biggest mistake you've ever seen by a theme park?
Read Robert's column:
I am still upset they replaced Ghostbuster at Universal Studios Florida with Twister: Ride it Out. Replacing a show/ride based on a timeless classic for a movie that clearly was not going to be remembered beyond the five years it came out was a critical mistake. Especially now with the the Ghostbusters reboot, the park missed out on having that access again. What will currently be in that building -- The Jimmy Fallon ride -- probably will not have the same lasting power either. In five years, everyone will be antsy to see it replaced.
WDW getting rid of Mr Toad for Pooh, 20000 Leagues for that cheap little mermaid ride or replacing a ride with a forced photo spot like Snow White to Photopass princess hall
I still say Disney closing down the Pleasure Island clubs was a terrible move. Comedy Warehouse and Adventurer's Club were institutions, a huge fanbase that should have been kept on and terrible to see them go for something not nearly as fun.
While not maybe the biggest mistake ever,the replacements for "Journey into Imagination" at EPCOT have been major steps backwards. I would go a step further than your great example of Rocket Rods replacing the PeopleMover. The entire Tomorrowland makeover during the Rocket Rods era was a disaster. Would like to see Disneyland have a comprehensive plan to "fix" Tomorrowland. Starcade - even yet another meet and greet is better than boarded up walls!
Epcot's Wonders of Life replaced with nothing.
1st incarnation of DCA. Though I like what's it turning into now over Westcot. DL has never been the same to me since they closed Tahitian Terrace; ditto Country Bear Jamboree.
All upgrades/re-fittings/changes for Epcot's Future World where not very successful. Not to say attractions need to stay forever or shouldn't be changed but these weren't a improvement: Nemo in The Living Seas, Ellen in Universe of Energy, Soarin, the whole Imagination! pavilion, the replacement of Horizon/World of Motion, the update for Test Track, replacement of the planters for gravestones at the entrance, change of the narrator's voice in Space Ship Earth.
There are far worse rides they've replaced or shut down over the years than the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Just off hand, I can think of several: Horizons, Imagination, Wonders of Life, Alien Encounter, the People Mover over at Disneyland, Back Lot Tour, Timekeeper, 20,000 Leagues.. I could go on and on, but I won't.
I still think the ToT removal is the worst. I hate Frozen ever after, but at least Disney can claim that Malestrom wasn't popular and had to go. ToT was one of the more popular attractions.
As regards DLR; the end of the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show - it was a regular stop for us during every visit and with the comdey show in front of the Golden Horseshoe it was a complete package. The closing of the Country Bear Jamboree and the closing of the music shop on Main Street where you could get CDs custom burned with music from the shows past and present that were one-of-a-kind. I'm glad I got my Country Bears CD when I did.
You guys in the States are probably less familiar with this, but I actually think a more regrettable change than Mission: Breakout was the permanent re-theme of Space Mountain in Paris replacing the original story, "De La terre à la lune" (heavily integrated with the building and Discoveryland itself), with the much more generic "Mission 2". Even the name of Mission 2 sucks. De La terre à la lune is a name that sounds inspirational and whimsical (even translated to English it has an adventurous charm). "Mission 2" could not be a more generic and less evocative name for its followup. Some of the changes to the ride experience itself are pretty good, but overall Mission 2 just lacks the magic of De La terre à la lune. To the point that the imminent overlay of Hyperspace Mountain (which sounds like it may be essentially permanent in Paris) could wind up being a marked improvement, even though it diverges from the steampunk Jules Verne aesthetic, just by virtue of the cultural resonance of the Star Wars saga.
One reason that Frozen Ever After has such long lines is the limited capacity of the attraction. Sure, it's more popular that Maelstrom. However, I'm not sure it's really as big of a hit as it seems. If they were drawing those lines with 2,000 riders an hour, that would be different.
THE REMOVAL OF OPRYLAND USA TO BUILD THE GAYLORD HOTEL IN NASHVILLE
"Also, the Twilight Zone is not a forgotten franchise. It's an iconic TV show that fit in DCA and DHS."
Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical, anyone? How about Superstar Limo?
Son of Beast
I can forgive them for shutting down the submarine ride for they brought it back. They could bring back the People Mover if they wish to invest the money. Another classic ride to bring back is the Rocket Jets on the PM platform. Maybe one day. Classic Tomorrowland will be what can save the land.
I still stand by the fact that replacing Maelstrom with Frozen was a mistake, I think these lines die down over time when more is added to the park and the craze dies down when the younger generation grows out of the movie. Maelstrom was a disney classic like The Three Caballeros or the Jungle cruise.
I think what we look at as mistakes may actually be common sense though. 20000 leagues was a great ride, an icon. It also had a lot of down time, a small capacity and had an outdated IP (but a really cool one - look at Disneysea to show that Verne can still rock it). Replacing that ride made sense. Little Mermaid is not nearly as good, but still very popular and reliable, with a much bigger through-put.
From what I understand, Florida's water tables made 20000 Leagues both an operational and potentially hazardous nightmare.
Here's a shout out to "Under New Management" a Tiki Room replacement so bad that Disney actually returned the classic version.
Yes to losing the People Mover... such a tragedy. I really miss the loss of Universal's original Kongfrontation... that was a blast! And of course the loss of Horizons and World of Motion is still devastating. I'm all for new rides, but I hate losing classics to make room for them.
It's tough to say it was a mistake due to the popularity of the attraction, but in my opinion replacing Terminator 2: 3-D with Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at USH was the most disappointing change. The old show was one of the best 3D presentations in any theme park (and the only one that incorporated live actors in a significant role), while the new ride is just a standard simulator that is inferior to Simpsons Ride. The attraction may make more sense in Florida, but in California it just reduces diversity among the park's attractions in favor of an additional IP.
Six Flags over Georgia replaced its stately columns, gardens and fountains entry plaza back in the mid 1990s with an abbreviated version of a Main Street USA concept. It added shopping opportunities at the entrance, but took away a stately entryway that set a pleasant tone.
The awesome, amazing, and wonderful Alien ExtraTERRORetrial Encounter for Stitch. Please bring it back.
Original Soarin in DCA and Epcot... RIP
Stitch for Extraterrorestrial - wow, what an awful decision.
Peoplemover -> Rocket Rods
Anyone that truly LOVES "The Twilight Zone" cannot be sad to see this travesty go away. Besides the fact that the ride makes ZERO sense, it's disgusting how Disney uses Rod Serling without his permission. Especially since there's about a 95% chance that Serling would've HATED this ride.
Continuing AJs point, Universal has lost so many great live action shows: Wild West, Conan and Miami Vice. Losing something real for something 3D is never a good thing imo.
Runner up (Disney): Miscalculating the support system necessary to maintain an "A Mode" Yeti on Expedition Everest.
Biggest theme park mistakes? Shanghai Disney, Disneyland Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris. Disney's overseas parks are a bleeding ulcer; they will never turn a profit, no matter how much Disney invests.
I'll offer a couple big mistakes from DCA. First and worst is replacing Aladdin with the Frozen show. I saw Frozen on my last trip, and it is a good show, with some nice visual effects. But it still pales, very badly, compared to the greatness of Aladdin. Aladdin was incredible, and its popularity never diminished.
The biggest mistake is Disneyland Paris overbuilding the resort at its opening and causing 25 years of financial burden that prevented the right amount of investments
adventurers club closure
Gaylord Entertainment closing Opryland because of fake profit and loss numbers. A few years afterwards new management revisited those calculations and admitted they could not explain why it was closed as it actually was making money not loosing it. This is a case of not just a ride but an entire park.
The entire Hong Kong Disneyland in its 2005 opening form was the biggest mistake ever. It was a disaster that Disney is still working on fixing.
Biggest mistake made by theme parks ever?
California Adventure 1.0 is obviously the biggest blunder Disney has ever made. Next would have to be the 1998 "New Tomorrowland." Without question the biggest mistake made at an existing park. There was not one redeeming thing about it. (Replacing the outdoor Space Stage with the enclosed Magic Eye Theater was actually the beginning of the decline.) After Eisner, Harriss and Pressler left a lot of improvements were made to the resort. But even though Tomorrowland looks better it's never been quite the same. I think what's worst than closing the PM is leaving the tracks in place. At this point, with the Star Wars Land and Marvel Land coming I'd be OK with them replacing T-land entirely with a new land and different theme.
The Original Soarin and Test Track rides were much better than their new versions at WDW.
The original Journey Into Imagination refurb as well as the one that followed....so sad at the loss of my purple dragon pal Figment. :(
As much as I feel the pain of my fellow readers, I'm thinking the topic has once again veered to that venerable favorite, Which Attractions Do You Miss Most? Believe me, the mere mention of the late, lamented 20,000 LEAGUES breaks my heart, but I'm going to take a different tack and say incorporating non-Disney properties, such as McDonald's and the Power Rangers, into Disney Parks. These outside world intrusions into our beloved, carefully crafted themed environments destroyed the atmosphere and really "took you out of" the Parks. The incorporation of Starbucks has been handled better and less obtrusively, and at least Disney OWNS Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. But the best tasting chocolate covered raisins I ever had weren't Rasinettes from my local movie theater-they were Disney Parks-branded, bought on Main Street special, and were an enjoyable reminder of my trip after I got home.
Disney's entire overseas misadventure has been, on the whole, a colossal disaster. Besides the aforementioned Paris and Hong Kong DL, they did a great job on Shanghai and it's only a middling success. Imagine if they had built something like that as a fifth gate at WDW, or a third gate at DLR? Mobs would be busting the doors down daily. The new Pirates ride alone would have people building a trip around it. They could have replaced WDW's Pirates, and that would have satisfied fans' hunger for a new E Ticket for the next 5-10 years.
They should totally put the New POTC in Magic Kingdom! Disneyland already has the original, and better, version! Better yet, put Tron in Magic Kingdoms Autopia space (again Disneyland has the better version) and Lost River Delta where Jungle Cruise is (again a copycat of Disneyland) and maybe even Mystic Manor in HM!! I've always said let Disneyland have the nostalgia, Disney World should always get the newest and best WDI has to offer. Unfortunately for the last 16 years that has been going to Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Great Adventure demolishing Rolling Thunder in lieu of giving it a RMC makeover. If the old Cyclone - one of the dullest rides imaginable - at Six Flags New England could be RMC'd into something exciting, so could Rolling Thunder.
Easy, the biggest mistake is Disney using gobs of money to "refurb" stuff rather than build new all the way.
Disney will spend gobs of money despite a refurb. Old attractions get refurbs all the time and nothing is changed. Building new will costs lots more money and take even longer. There's nothing new beyond the tech behind Test Track, Tower of Terror, Soarin' and Frozen. They are constantly duplicating the same tech in other ways. Test Track ride vehicles are used in Carsland, Indiana Jones, Dinosaur, Journey to the Center of the Earth in Tokyo. What's the difference?
A real problem is a botched makeover. I'm glad to see that this was mainly in the Eisner era and he is gone.
Re: Anon Mouse
Letting the Yeti at Expedition Everest rot. The one unique thing about the ride and it just sits there in a disco.
my vote would have to be up there somewhere with "Frozen Ever After" -not because it isn't popular, but because of what it does to the theming, which is what keeps disney head and shoulders above the rest. Frozen Ever After breaks the story. It isn't that it shouldn't have been built. Much like Mission Space - it just could have been built elsewhere. EPCOT as a whole has seen a lot of this, and I will continue to think it's a mistake as Disney continues to rake in the dollars - which seems to be the intent, rather than storytelling, in many cases as of late.
I think the biggest mistakes have to be the overseas parks. Paris was a mistake from the start, and just caused a huge financial hole. This lead to DCA 1.0, the worst Disney Park in the United States. Hong Kong is a good little park, however, it has very few unique attractions and only one or two worth riding. It fails to draw tourists and is getting beaten by parks from small corporations in Hong Kong. Shanghai was a masterfully built park and well built. And yet attendance continues to underwhelm. Disney invests so much money in overseas parks, yet Tokyo is the only one that matches the caliber of the US Parks. Also, California Adventure completed a successful redesign that saw attendance increase with great new ips. But now Disney is removing or rebranding the classics. Soarin over California is gone, Aladdin has been replaced by Frozen, and now Tower of Terror is turning into Guardians of the Galaxy. They replace timeless greats with IPs that have already gone cold.
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