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Imagineering & You: The Future of On-Ride Photos

On-ride photography has long been a staple in roller coasters. What does the future hold?

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 31, 2010 at 3:08 PM
On-ride photos are widely available for most roller coasters. The cameras are relatively cheap to install and maintain, and provide an extra source of income to the parks.

However, with the advent of digital cameras, photography has become more versatile and compact. Many guests don't see the point of purchasing a grainy, out-of-focus, expensive picture of themselves on a ride when they can snag their own picture for free.

To combat this problem, parks have gotten creative with their on-ride photography. Roller coasters such as Top Thrill Dragster and Maverick include two photographs of the rider at different ride intervals. Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit includes a full music video of the ride with a synchronized song of the guest's choosing.

What does the future hold for on-ride photography? HD photos? High-speed cameras (see video below)? 3D videography recreating the ride experience with you on it? They could include a pair of 3D glasses so that you could enjoy the ride experience and relive the memory from the comfort of your couch.

How would you improve on-ride photography to prevent it from becoming obsolete?

Example of high-speed camera:


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Hermione Potter
Posted August 31, 2010 at 3:33 PM
The hulk has on-ride video too similar to rockit. I think the video is going to be the next big thing, but digitally. By that I mean you will preview the video after exiting the ride and then purchase it after which it's sent to your phone, facebook account, an email...I just think it's all going to end up being online somehow whether it's pictures or video.

From Bob Miller
Posted August 31, 2010 at 5:57 PM
Correct me if im wrong but doesn't Raptor hveone too

From Nick Markham
Posted August 31, 2010 at 6:14 PM
Xcelerator at Knotts takes video.

From Rob P
Posted September 1, 2010 at 12:43 AM
Like Joshua says : the on-ride photo / video is a revenue source. Maybe their first response to attract more purchasers might be in the pricing. $ 20 plus is expensive for a photo. I would guess that a lot of people simply view them and move on without buying. Particularly if you've already got one from a previous visit.

The high speed camera option ( excellent video of the owl by the way ) is possibly a good way to go. But at what cost ?

They might even decide to examine ways of prohibiting the use of personal cameras on rides if the sales drop But as that would mean handcuffing riders or positioning nets to limit how far you can raise your arms up then I'm sure that's a non-starter.

I'd be happy to buy into the slo-mo video footage but only at a realistic price.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 1, 2010 at 8:53 AM
The unrealistic prices are what deter me from buying. That, and the picture quality always seems to be sub-par. Since most photos are taken at high speeds and outdoors, the subjects are usually overexposed.

Still, the parks make money because most people want one photo of the group on a good ride and, therefore, will settle with buying a $10-20 photo package.

I wouldn't pay more than $5 for the photo technology they currently use. Until they update or innovate the on-ride photo, I'm sticking with off-ride digital memories.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 1, 2010 at 3:05 PM
^Joshua, you have a little bit high expectations for your buck. All of the on-ride photos and videos (with the exception of the one I got on HRRR, but that was because it was filmed in the dark)have been very nice quality.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 1, 2010 at 9:39 PM
@Nick -
"Joshua, you have a little bit high expectations for your buck."

That seems to be the general consensus to every theme park problem I encounter these days (other than the Yeti) - my expectations are too high. I don't see how they could be considered too high. I paid $10 for an overexposed, improperly centred photo last weekend at Cedar Point. $10? For $10, you should expect something of higher quality than the pictures I take myself with my own camera. The only reason we bought it was because my friend demanded one and we all chipped in for it.

Requesting a multi-million dollar coaster every year from your local amusement park is having high expectations. Asking Disney to build another Orlando park now is having high expectations. Getting a reasonable value on your dollar for things like food, lockers, and photos is not a high expectation.

From Rob P
Posted September 2, 2010 at 1:24 AM
I'm with Joshua on this one.
Expectations too high because you want a photo of decent quality for $ 10 ??
I think that , all too often, these are the areas where the customer is expected to accept poor value for money and it shouldn't be that way.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 7, 2010 at 2:30 PM
I visited several parks this summer, each of which was very good overall but had many minor flaws that can add up to major upset. We've talked a lot on this site recently about lockers, food, parking, souvenirs, and other theme park necessities and amenities. Rarely, however, does anyone take the time to offer constructive criticism to the parks regarding their prices and policies. With the exception of food, everything aforementioned could be improved relatively easily. Parks may not think their guests will complain about or even notice something like a locker policy as it is commonplace. However, we notice it as we've had the privilege to visit many parks. Therefore, we get upset when visiting Cedar Point after Disney, for example, because we feel we're getting screwed out of locker money. Or we get upset that Disney has parking costs but Holiday World doesn't. Or we feel ripped off about Holiday World's poor on-ride photos when we paid the same price for a high-def photo at Cedar Point.

When you pay for a vacation at a theme park, ideally, you shouldn't feel annoyed at any point. Yet I find myself constantly filled with minor disappointment because of rip-offs like lockers, poor food, parking, and poor on-ride photos.

From Rob P
Posted September 8, 2010 at 2:09 AM
You're right Joshua but , in some ways, I prefer overt charges for parking etc rather than the "stealth " charges that other places may levy.
I don't think for a minute that were Disney or Universal etc to allow free parking that they wouldn't make up that shortfall in the entrance ticket prices or something.
At least , I suppose, you feel like you've got a choice now....even if, in truth, you probably haven't.

From Brandon Mendoza
Posted September 8, 2010 at 10:50 AM
I'm with Joshua on having high expectations. I mean, even some of the photos that the CM's at Disney take are mediocre despite using dSLR cameras. I don't think they really give much training to the staff, or at least I haven't run into a photographer that made me say "I gotta have that shot!".

Back on topic, ride photos need to be upgraded so much. Yes, they're usually overexposed or for some reason end up being really out of focus.

The photos are way over-priced even more than the beverages and food that we buy in Theme Parks. Most food is at least decent, and the water/ sodas are standard due to the brands used. But the photos just look like you could have set up a cheap Point & Shoot from Wal-mart and just take a pic as you go by whatever section of a ride.

So maybe my expectations as well as Joshua's are higher than most people. But we're not getting the value we expect out of those photos based on the money spent to purchase them.

As for 3D video to take home, I'm totally against that as I'm not a fan of 3D movies in the theater or at home. I enjoy the short 3D... er "4D" stuff in theme parks, but a full length movie? It doesn't add much to the experience.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 8, 2010 at 12:28 PM
I think many guests would be thrilled to see themselves filmed with a 3D camera. Sure, the technology will get tiresome (for many, it already is), but they could capitalize on it while its big.

I think a high-speed camera video would be great. Guests wouldn't necessarily purchase the video itself, but would rather have an opportunity to scroll through the slow-mo video after the ride at a podium and be able to manually select a digital frame of their choosing for printing.

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