However this land (as far as I'm aware) use little to no intellectual property. It doesn't take intellectual property to make a good attraction, tell a good story, or be engaging.
I think the bigger distinction occurs with theming vs. full immersion. I would argue that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is both themed and immersive, unlike Maverick that is simply themed.
But then you said the SeaWorld parks were big into storytelling.
And while I have always thought the Busch Garden's parks were well-themed, I can't for the life of me figure out what intellectual property Seaworld licenses, or how they tell a story. They have cool, quirky shows, and penguins and other animals, and an occasional ride scattered around that remind us of how they have animals.
Of course, in a perfect world, someone would build a great story-driven, 4-D coaster, with amazing animatronics, a 500 ft drop, a top speed of 200 mph, and 17 inversions. But who said this world is perfect? As long as it remains imperfect give me story, narrative, and immersion over decoration and thrills fo' sho'!!!
I would like to note that props, decor, and IP are not necessarily needed to tell a story. For example, the most successful unthemed roller coasters (no decor or IP) have dynamic layouts with a clear beginning, middle, and end that tells their story. Simular to a way that a symphony piece of music can tell a story without words, so can some thrill rides!
3-10 years old - Theme - A good story mixed with the imagination of a child makes for a great experience.
11-25 - Thrills - Slap on a Batman logo on a coaster and that's all the theme needed. We just want to go fast, high, and upside-down.
25-50 - Both - The escape from reality is part of a day at the parks for this age bracket. We want the adrenaline rush as well as theme that takes away from our every day life.
50+ - Theme - I can't speak for myself but I know when I go with my Dad to parks he points out all the little details that I've missed.
Someone already did. Then I woke up.
For story, the ride's the most boring few minutes I've ever spent - and I'm trapped on the ride.
For physical, the ride's the most boring few, etc. - but I'm NOT on the ride and therefore free to pick another that is more to my liking.
And @ O T - you said you liked Splash Mountain and didn't like Little Mermaid (I assume you're talking about the one at DCA, but I guess it could apply to DHS as well) for the same reason - a retelling of the story. The only difference is that you've seen the Little Mermaid and haven't seen Song of the South. Doesn't quite compute.
The reason why Six Flags doesn't deck out their rides is fairly simple...money. Stories and decor have to be done right and maintained over time, and if the initial concept is bad or done half heartedly with the penny pinching mindset, it's a waste from the start. In short, all the extras cost a lot, and parks who don't charge a hundred bucks at the gate generally don't have the resources to design build and create 100 million dollar attractions. That doesn't mean that they should ignore decor though. The coaster on a concrete pad concept always puzzled me. If you have 25 million to build a coaster, why not an extra few hundred thousand to do something to make it look good...or at least landscape the thing if nothing else. It's kind of like buying the big flat screen 3D TV and then not spending the money on the proper cables or the cable service to maximize its performance.
I think the perfect ride is Story AND Sensation. Splash Mountain to me is a perfect example. We get a story that evolves and the mood of the ride noticeably changes as our rabbit friend gets deeper into hot water...then BOOM! Sensation...upbeat ending...scene.
An example of the opposite for me would be SFGA's BATMAN The Ride. Here's a coaster with some similar Batman color scheming and a Batman logo. That's really it and although it seemed pretty cool when it first went into operation, it really is nothing more than a mediocre coaster with a trademarked logo.
Pure thrill rides tell stories all their own in a different way. Just look at the people exiting the ride....
Huh? This is a huh question.
Clearly, the Six Flags executive discussed IP from the beginning. The reporter decided to change the question to be about theming rather than the issue of IP.
Six Flags seems to have problems with both (1) the lack of theming, and (2) not using IP to the fullest extent.
Their rides uses the bare minimum of theming and their use of comic book theming is barely there like slap on some color, use some decor, and call it a Batman ride.