Vote of the week: Which ride most needs a refurb?

December 11, 2009, 8:27 AM · Our discussions about the most overrated and underrated theme park attractions revealed one bit of consensus:

Several of what could be the nation's top theme park attractions really could use some TLC. Poor show quality is ruining what could be some fabulous rides. But which is the most egregious example? What's the top show maintenance problem at a major U.S. theme park attraction?

Fixing the light levels on Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur?

Getting the Yeti fully functional on Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest?

Restoring all the show effects on Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure?

Repairing the audio and restoring the decor on SeaWorld Orlando's Journey to Atlantis?

Smoothing the ride and freshening the theme of Disney Hollywood Studios' Rock n' Roller Coaster?

You tell us:

Let's hear your argument, in the comments. And, as always, have a great weekend and thanks for reading Theme Park Insider!

Replies (53)

December 11, 2009 at 8:34 AM · All valid candidates, but my vote goes to JTA as the others have only one aspect of the ride that needs looking at urgently.
(Although the Yeti is a pretty big ride element to leave faulty for so long.)
Seaworld needs to rehab Journey To Alantis from top to bottom - no major changes, just freshen it all. I remember being wowed by it's flume/coaster combo but now it just looks shabby.
December 11, 2009 at 8:39 AM · I'm going for one of my favourite Disney attractions Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. RnRC at DHS looks fantastic on the outside, but the theme when on the coaster isn't great. I like the fact that the route actually follows the route you would take to the concert but your average Joe isn't going to pick up on that.

What I'd suggest is that RnRC in DHS gets a refurb to have a similar on-ride experience to it's brother over in Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. The Paris theme is very similar, the only difference is that instead of going to the concert you're in it. The attraction features lots of lasers and other cool special effects that would really enhance the ride experience over at Walt Disney World.

December 11, 2009 at 8:46 AM · Atlantis got my vote because there is many more multiple problems than the other ones.

As for the Yeti, they should get around to fixing it, but if you have never been on it before, you could swear that that Yeti is moving. I actually am impressed with the Disco Yeti, still scary!

I also think fixing the Yeti will bring the attraction down for awhile, something AK I gather can't afford since people are coming for, well, Everest.

I also very much disagree with Paris's version of RnRC. I personally hated that version and liked going through stylized CA. Personally, I think it should have been put at DCA instead of Superstar Limo

December 11, 2009 at 8:55 AM · I miss the moving Yeti. I noticed some updates to Indy when I rode it last month, including the new AA figure. The only element that really sticks out like a sore thumb is the rat section. The Imagineers were able to create a realistic smokescreen for Davy Jones on POTC, so why not use that technology to bring the rats back? That's all it really was - a film projection.

I have never had any problems with the light levels on Dinosaur. Is this a recent thing?

December 11, 2009 at 9:20 AM · I think Expedition Everest is one of the best Disney thrill rides ever. You can call me what you will, but I don't see the problem with the Yeti. The ride is moving so fast that just seeing the Yeti adds excitement to the ride. I have not noticed the problem. I was just there this past June. DON'T SEE THE PROBLEM.
December 11, 2009 at 9:24 AM · The thing about that though is that once you've seen the Yeti the way it's supposed to work, nothing comes close to it. It's not the same. Instead of it looking like a puppet just standing there with a strobe light, it looks like a living monster is reaching for you, attempting to grab your skull and rib your guts out (...or something like that)
December 11, 2009 at 9:51 AM · Must fix Yeti!
December 11, 2009 at 11:48 AM · Corbin has the Yeti thing down perfectly!

I also never noticed the lighting problem for Dinosaur. The only problem I see, which is a design flaw of both it and Indy is that you can sometimes see the car in front of you. I find it less of a problem on Dinosaur than Indy.

December 11, 2009 at 11:34 AM · The fixing of the light levels in CTX/Dinosaur is not really an option unless Disney actually adds elements to those scenes. For budgetary reasons they were kept dark because scenery and animations did not need to be built and placed in there.

voted for fixing Indy in DL. It is such an awesome ride, but sad to see so many effects not working.

December 11, 2009 at 11:46 AM · Expedition Everest - rode it 2 years ago with a working yeti and it was a mild thrill but fab. Without a working yeti it just isn't the same.
December 11, 2009 at 12:04 PM · Dinosaur won't get much better if restored. A few good animatronics (love the lunging Carnotaurus), but by and large it's dark for a reason. Lots of empty space.

Expedition Everest is a lost cause -- they'd have to completely dismantle the Yeti, rehab him outside the building, do some major reconstruction on its foundation, and then re-install him to make him work again. I've heard rumor that it would require a 4-6 month downtime (or more), which I doubt WDW would be willing to do, ever.

Indiana Jones Adventure gets my vote. The environment and ride experience still hold up after all these years -- yet it's a shame to see so many show effects not working, turned off, or never completed (like the first "levitation" room, right before the gates of doom -- saw them work once pre-opening, then never again due to HVAC/LN2 issues). It's a classic in the true sense of the word, and has NEVER gone down for a major rehab -- a few small ones, but nothing significant.

Journey to Atlantis (Orlando) is a great ride, and would probably be second on my list. Lots of fun gags that have been left dormant.

Rock n' Roller Coaster wouldn't benefit from a show rehab at all -- it's the coaster that's the problem. Those Vekoma launch loopers aren't aging well -- the last time I rode them in Paris and WDW last year, they were surprisingly (and very uncomfortably) rough, much rougher than they've ever been in the past. And the Paris one had *most* of the concert lighting FX turned off. This might be third on my list, but it would involve some major ride rehab too -- although I fear it's the track that's the problem, not the cars themselves.

December 11, 2009 at 12:12 PM · Have to vote for Everest. I think they should take it down for a month if that is what it takes to get the YETI fixed. It is just not the same. I know that is easy to say if you are not going to be there that month, but they have to get it back to A mode!!!

Dinosaur - one of my favorites and have never had an issue with the light levels.

Are you going to complain that Space Mountain is too dark now???

My honorable mention refurb would go to Star Tours - totally outdated, but sounds like they have a plan in place.

December 11, 2009 at 12:33 PM · Time to resurrect that old standard for this vote:

Turn your strobe lights on…
Get your disco balls spinning…
Raise you hands high above your head and put them together for… The Dance Club Yeti!!!

Tonight’s special guest will be singing his classic rendition of an old favorite, The YMCA.

Y - E - T - I
You have to vote for the Y - E - T - I

Give the techies a call
Or the Yeti will fall
And the lawyers will have a ba-all

Y - E - T - I
We have to vote for the Y - E - T - I

I know he’s a load
Just ask Disney’s Joe Rohde
That’s why he's always in B Mo-ode

Y - E - T - I
We all must vote for the Y - E - T - I

He’s been standing all day
Just cause Disney won’t pay
What else do I have to say-ay

Y - E - T - I
Please all vote for the Y - E - T - I

Thanks, DCY, you DA MAN...err..SNOW-MAN!

(Shame on Disney for letting this problem continue for going on three years without a solution.)

December 11, 2009 at 3:12 PM · Dinosaur was in good shape when I rode it last May, and no I don't think that the lighting needs to be "fixed". As I've said before, I think the lighting increases the realism of the AAs. However, there are a few effects that have been off since the ride's opening, for example the Terydactyl (sp?) that actually flew over the ride vehicles.

I voted for Indiana Jones, although that ride is receiving some ongoing TLC during off hours. A close second would be Everest. If they have to take the Yeti out in order to fix him, then why not substitute another, static yeti while they work on the AA? That way, they don't have to close the ride at all until they're ready to work on the foundation, maybe as part of a general refurb? I remember how awesome the yeti was in A mode, that roaring beast swiping at you as you passed. Disney please please make it happen again!

As for Rock n' Roller, I didn't find it too rough at all when I rode it multiple times (5-6 times in one day!) last May.

December 11, 2009 at 1:04 PM · Very amusing, James.
December 11, 2009 at 1:07 PM · Thanks...that spoof is basically all I have to hang my hat on after several years of dedicated posting.

Besides, Robert loves it when I copy and paste from my old posts. He calls it paying homage.

December 11, 2009 at 1:25 PM · I've got to add my two cents to the minority picking Rockin' Roller Coaster for the sole reason that the roughness of the ride takes away from the overall experience much more than the problems with those others listed. Everest, Dinosaur, etc. have a lot more going for them than RnR, so when a major thing is wrong with RnR it makes it a much worse overall ride, where the others have more to make up for something that's lacking. I much rather get off a ride and say "the Yeti could have looked better" than "gee, the Rockin Roller Coaster injured me."
December 11, 2009 at 1:32 PM · I guess I just never thought that RnRC was all that rough. Seemed pretty smooth to me. Has it really gone that far down hill since my last visit in 2007?
December 11, 2009 at 1:38 PM · And The Grammy goes to.....James Rao!
December 11, 2009 at 2:00 PM · I humbly accept this prestigious award on behalf of oppressed, duct taped Abominable Snowmen everywhere.
December 11, 2009 at 3:13 PM · Actually, on my last trip (which I will remind everyone was only last May) I found Everest to be a bit rough (although I still love the ride) but had no problem with RNR. For me, the Orlando Rough Coaster Award goes to the Incredible Hulk, for rattling and shaking all the way, and treating my cranium like a drum set. That, combined with the extreme nature of the ride, is too rough for me. How about a Hulk refurb?
December 11, 2009 at 3:32 PM · Sylvain, I think that Hulk refurb will probably come along once they get Potter up and running (especially if they have to close Dragons to finish up - they couldn't possibly expect people to pay to get in if all the coasters are down).

Can someone give some details on what Journey to Atlantis is supposed to be? I haven't ridden it for a few years, but I was decidedly unimpressed with the storyline (the ride itself is solid). What's not functioning there and how is it affecting the attraction? I see comments about it, but no one is really going into what's been lost.

Oh, and how the heck did Great Movie Ride miss the cut on this poll? That ride needs an enormous amount of help before I'll ever bother getting on again.

December 11, 2009 at 4:13 PM · I voted for Atlantis because it has lots of potential for more story/sound elements and it's overall a fairly fun ride.

I think that Dinosaur is a bit of a write-off. I find the motion too jerky and annoying. It doesn't feel one bit like a jeep driving through a landscape. The movement doesn't seem logical but feels more like random computerized lurching from point to point. I would scrap it and either build a big, sprawling, high-speed type of ride like Test Track, or else go small, low-speed and atmospheric like Haunted Mansion. Either one could work very well with the theme.

Incidentally, I think that a similar problem exists on the Simpsons ride at USF which always makes me nauseous. Simulated motion has to look and feel Newtonian, if you know what I mean. A coaster feels "real" because it obviously has to conform to the ordinary laws of physics and these happen to be what one's eyes and brain expect. When you have computerized servo-thingies capable of moving a ride in any direction, the designers should be more disciplined and should try harder to keep people's inner ears from being disoriented. It's not just for wusses with weak stomachs, but it's the difference between a satisfying and thrilling illusion and a jerky, phony "experience".

And speaking of coasters ... could RnR be fixed up to give more of an illusion of traveling down a highway? Other than the initial takeoff it never really felt like a road trip to me. Maybe they could bring up the light levels or add more roadside lights/props or something. That would improve it for me. But they're highly constrained by the compact layout and tight curves. Revenge of the Mummy is a better approach because the combo of slow and fast sections gives a longer and more satisfying ride and allows a much more elaborate story to be told. And a very cool queue too!

December 11, 2009 at 4:31 PM · I knew we couldn't have an Expedition Everest topic without James Rao breaking into song.

There seems to be a pattern here... Animal Kingdom animatronic malfunctions. The Yeti is frozen. The pterodactyl in Dinosaur is frozen. Perhaps it's easier to model humans than mythical creatures or prehistoric animals?

December 11, 2009 at 7:23 PM · If you are prone to motion sickness, then rides like Dinosaur and the Simpsons are definitely not for you...

Are they perfect in simulating the movement appropriate for the situation? No, but I feel that they do a good job, especially the Simpsons ride. The technology behind motion simulation only continues to improve.

I certainly feel that putting a ride like Dinosaur on an omnimover would be a huge mistake; it's supposed to be a wild ride through a prehistoric jungle, not a leisurely sightseeing tour. A Test Track kind of system wouldn't make much sense, either.

December 11, 2009 at 8:11 PM · If a major overhaul to JTA is going to happen I would love to see Blackstone add what BEC cut from their original... having the ride go through a large aquarium with live fish! It would be expensive but awesome.
December 12, 2009 at 12:33 AM · I don't have anything substantive to add to the discussion. Just wanted to say I love being part of a board where people use words like "Newtonian" and "alacrity"! And compose song parodies worthy of Weird Al! (Or at least Dr. Demento...)

TPI rocks!!

December 12, 2009 at 4:54 AM · I vote for Hulk. OK, its not on the list, but it should be.
Its very rough now, the track need a good clean up. Give me a Brillo Pad (Not sure what the US version of a Brillo pad is ;) ) and I'll get it started. The track is orange now. I walk past the exterior of IOA at least twice a week and almost sob when I see how bad it is now.

Can I also vote for Six Flags over Georgia.
90% of those coasters need a tear down and rebuild for being too old, unmaintained and too rough.

Rock'N'Rollercoaster has a great launch, but after that the atmosphere and effect are laking.

JTA is a great ride, but many times I've seen elements down & audio too low. With the "Cold" season coming up here in Fl it would be a great time to fix those, especially as Manta is now up and running.

Dinosaur is a great ride, I've never seen an issue with it. I like that its very dark and certainly adds to the effects.

Yeti is great ride. For anyone whos not seen the Yeti move, it doesn't matter, but for us who have seen it, it certainly adds to the thrill level.

December 12, 2009 at 8:12 AM · I vote for Yeti -- I was just at AK last week -- My daughter and I did the single rider line but ended up on the same train -- we both looked at each other when we got off and asked "what happened to the YETI?"

We went back on again a couple of hours later -- and all you could see was the lights of his eyes. I rode with people who had never ridden it before, and told them that they missed an important part of that ride.

I never noticed anything different with Dinosaur - was scary as every -- and Rock N Roller Coaster actually seemed fairly smooth this time around!

December 12, 2009 at 11:14 AM · I am suprised that Everest is winning. While it needs help, I would think that Atlantis would need the biggest help out of the mentioned canidates.
December 12, 2009 at 12:18 PM · Even in a pristine state, JTA will never be half the ride that Everest is when the Yeti is operating in A-mode. I think that is why everyone is leaning toward Everest, Anthony.

Face it, that much ballyhooed Yeti lunge is like a thick layer of rich chocolate icing on a moist and delectable cake. Without that icing, Everest is a severely diminished attraction.

December 12, 2009 at 12:47 PM · I think the Rivers of America in Florida, and in California, are in severe need of an upgrade. More show. It's boring.
December 12, 2009 at 1:15 PM · Gareth, does the Hulk give you a headache, too? This could be a great coaster, but somehow I don't think you're supposed to feel like you went a couple rounds with the big green guy himself!
December 12, 2009 at 1:45 PM · Sylvain, yes, exactly that. I much prefer Hulk at the back, so the last time I went on and noticed it, I was at the very back.

I'd just got back for SFOG too, so maybe I noticed how rough it was because SFOG is a rib cracker of a park!

December 12, 2009 at 3:56 PM · Voted for Everest.

Indy is my favorite ride... Period. The best combination of theme and thrills that has ever been made. Even in its' reduced state, there is still much to savor. Nevertheless, it is sad that significant portions of the ride have deteriorated. Now why didn't I choose this ride. Current rumors say that not only is a refurbishment planned for Indy, but a full-blown update. So, Indy looks like it will be getting some tender loving care very soon.

I have only been on Atlantis twice since it opened. I think it is a terrific attraction as is. I do agree that, like Dudley, it has some softly themed spots. Particularly on the lift in the back where you can see the cars driving by. Can't speak for any changes since it opened, but I do enjoy it the way it is.

I've been on both RnRC and Dinosaur dozens of times throughout the years and can't discern any major differences since they both opened. Dinosaur has always been dark and RnRC still is a very smooth ride to me. Love them both the way they are.

My disappointment in Everest has been expressed on here before. It is my least favorite of the Disney coasters. The coaster itself is quite basic and the on-ride theming is minimal. I would love to see an update on top of fixing the Yeti. Both helixes could stand to have some visuals implemented. Unfortunately, like someone above said, don't expect refurbishment for sometime. The Animal Kingdom has a dearth of attractions and their headliner will not go down for months until the Beastly Kingdom opens. It is going to be awhile folks.

December 12, 2009 at 6:04 PM · What about the Jungle Cruise at WDW Magic Kingdom? It is a classic ride, but it is older and now that they have real Animals at a park in the same resort maybe there is opportunity to just have a real Jungle Cruise (less animatronics) but still with some sort of mild adventure elements (like the waterfall and tunnel).
Maybe they could move Jungle Cruise to Animal Kingdom and do something else in that spot that fits in with the area.... maybe they could put the Jungle Cruise in Animal Kingdom and update it and then give us a better rapid ride at Magic Kingdom since the one at AK I think seems short (it's one of the few Disney Rides that I get off of thinking...... that was it?).
December 12, 2009 at 6:09 PM · Maybe there are some opportunities with the Autotopia (is that it's name) at WDW. The car ride that kids like, but some adults not so much. Maybe there are opportunities to do stuff with the scenery or update it to make it a little more interesting.
December 12, 2009 at 9:55 PM · Autopia at Disneyland, Tomorrowland Speedway at Magic Kingdom. Either way, you are right: they both suck! =)

At MK they could rip out the Speedway and have all kinds of prime real estate for an uber new attraction (Space Mountain 2: The Inverted Voyage!). I wouldn't miss that midway cars-on-a-rail experience one bit.

December 13, 2009 at 12:05 AM · Gareth, you're saying that the Hulk feels a lot smoother in the back? When you ride anywhere else, do you feel like you might pass out halfway through the ride?

Sorry for all the questions, but I've only braved that bad boy twice. I'd like to get some idea on whether I dare ride it again in the future, and whether some seats are less head jarring than others. Thanks!

December 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM · As far as those who want to badmouth Tomorrowland Speedway and Autopia are concerned. What is you problem? Adults aren't the only ones who go to the Disney parks. There are children who like to ride those rides and adults who like to take their children on those rides. The whole idea of the Disney parks is for adults and children to enjoy the parks together. There are legitemate problems with some of the rides and attractions, but if it aint broke don't fix it. As they say.
December 13, 2009 at 2:46 PM · If I want to ride a common cars-on-a-rail ride, I can go to my local Six Flags or Cedar Fair park. I expect a little more creativity from the #1 themed destination in the world (check out the DCA Cars Land expansion for examples of what I expect from the brilliant minds at Walt Disney Imagineering).

Besides, those Tomorrowland "race cars" poke along pathetically providing a pretty ho-hum experience for most participants (how 'bout that alliteration!). Furthermore, the ride's 54" height requirement excludes the small children you mentioned who might actually enjoy the chance to "drive". Heck, Test Track is a much better version of a cars-on-a-rail ride, and it only has a 40" height requirement. Now, there's an E-ticket attraction parents can enjoy along with their kids!

December 13, 2009 at 4:19 PM · I think I'm the only one that feels that Dinosaur's darkness 'adds' to the experience. But I'm also weird and think it's better than Indy.

I also voted for Indy. It's just become half of what it used to be.

December 13, 2009 at 6:44 PM · I picked Journey To Atlantis for a few reasons. 1) Unlike the other attractions, JTA doesn't present a story. Sure the attraction states "Journey" to Atlantis, but when you get there you encounter a magical seahorse, then a "medusa-like" sea-witch. Why is she there, why is she angry at you. I just never know the story behind the theming inside the ride. 2) The music. The music at the beginning fits the ride perfectly, the second half of the ride you hear the same music from the film "Beetlejuice" and I wonder, did SeaWorld get permission to use this music as I believe Beetlejuice is made by Universal. So if SeaWorld were to do a major refurb on this ride, I would suggest a pre-show to introduce the story to the riders, and I would also change the music on the second half of the ride. If the "Sea-witch" is indeed out to get you, I would suggest some music thats a little more sinister/adventurous.
December 13, 2009 at 6:57 PM · The cyclone in Brooklyn it needs to be smoothed out and a lot more lights. also the astrotower should get a new cabin and should also have more lights. The wonderwheel cars should be fixed and lights should be added.
December 14, 2009 at 12:29 AM · No, you're not the only one who feels that darkness adds to the experience on Dinosaur. I think it builds up atmosphere and ambience, not to mention make the AAs look more lifelike and realistic.
December 14, 2009 at 12:33 AM · It isn't on your list, but I would suggest that Disneyland's Toontown needs a good refurb. All sorts of fun things there, but most seem to have had better days. Also visited Tomorrowland's Starcade recently which seems less Mickey Mouse and more Chuck E. Cheese -- Disney can do better.
December 14, 2009 at 4:32 AM · Unlike the Disneyland version of the area, the Magic Kingdom's Toontown is getting the ultimate makeover: it is going away as part of the Fantasyland makeover announced at the D23 Expo a few months back.

Perhaps some of the props/scenery/buildings/parts can be shipped to DLR for their use?

December 14, 2009 at 7:21 AM · Personally, I think that Everest really would be improved with the Yeti working because honestly it's a pretty tame/lame ride otherwise. Go forward then backwards... It is really rough though!!!! I think that the attraction that really needs a refurb is the Magic Kingdom Railroad. Think about it, the scenery that was so great 30 years ago is dated, it could use better animatronics and honestly could someone put a cleanup crew on picking up trash beside the tracks. Now don't get me wrong I understand that this is low priority, but you can see packaging that hasn't been used in over a decade on the ground. It's like a marketing trip back in time on rails.
December 14, 2009 at 10:32 AM · I was not thinking that Tommorowland Speedway needed to be removed, I think a lot of family's enjoy the ride, I was mainly saying it is a great candidate for refurbishment. Driving a car is not very tommorowland anyway, so maybe it should be fitted in with fantasyland now. I was thinking they could possibly do something to make the scenery more interesting while driving. Maybe change it so that you drive through scenery of some sort.... maybe a mountain area with some tunnels or a fake city or something. Maybe they can play with the idea of driving though different weather. I just think they have a lot of opportunity to do something different with that ride without losing the driving a car aspect.
December 14, 2009 at 12:18 PM · Rock n Roller coaster, plain and simple. I don't think that Aerosmith really fits in with Disney. The way I see it, they can go one of two ways.
1) They can get a newer band, which I think would also be problematic because most "rock" bands wouldn't go out of their way to associate themselves with Disney.
2) They can get a bigger band. Unfortunately. there aren't a lot of options for bigger bands. I doubt U2 would sign up for this. HOWEVER, Disney used Keith Richards in Pirates 3, perhaps opening up a door to get the Rolling Stones in. Now, I don't really see that making a big difference to kids, but who cares? Aerosmith is cheesy.
December 14, 2009 at 4:26 PM · Maybe our next vote could be which song / artist could be used during a rock n' roller coaster refurb.
Here are some suggestions of fairly big artist and songs who are well known by the mainstreem music audience and would be probably be rock enough for the ride (some bands I don't think would allow thier song to be on the Disney ride or would not be mainstreem enough so I did not include them in my suggestions.... although riding it to a Megadeth song would make for an intense experience.... lol). These song all have parts I think they could tie in with the acceleration / take off also.

U2 - Where the Streets Have No Name
The Beatles - Helter Skelter
Bon Jovi - You give love a bad name
The Who - Won't get fooled again
Journey - Anyway you won't it

your welcome to add to the list or criticize (this not a list of my personal favorite songs so I won't be offended..... but I'd choose the U2 song out of these. I think Where the Streets have no name would be awesome as it hits it's peak in the opening if it took off then).

December 14, 2009 at 9:19 PM · The only time I rode Everest I am assuming the Yeti was not functioning the way it originally did since it was less than a year ago. When I rode the ride I was impressed by the overall ride so the Yeti was not a big deal, Howeverm I guess I need to experience this ride with the originally functioning Yeti because the way some of you talk the original Yeti mode must have been pretty cool!
December 15, 2009 at 8:28 AM · I think Revenge of the Mummy at Florida needs a rehab, but only at one part. The first mummy animatronic you see. It looks terrible. And the soul effect he uses on the kid. That was pretty bad too. I bet they could fix those 2 problems very quickly.

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