An 'Amazing Race' around the world of theme parks?

October 2, 2013, 12:20 PM · We shared this idea on Twitter last night, and many fans immediately embraced it: Imagine an all-theme park version of the TV reality show, The Amazing Race.

Tokyo Disneyland
Let's get ready to race!

This show should be the cool, fly-around-the-world version of the race, not the lame, drive-around-country family-edition version. So we're talking about international theme parks here. Like the original, this theme park race would start and end in the United States, and make no intermediate stops inside the country. Since it's easier on your body clock to fly west, we'd also start on the west coast, fly around the world to Asia then to Europe, and end on the east coast. The obvious choices for starting and ending points are Los Angeles and Orlando, since those are the top two theme park markets in the United States.

It's unlikely that both Disney and Universal would agree to cooperate with a show that also featured the others' theme parks, so we're looking at including one or the other. But neither chain offers enough destinations to provide the 10 or so stops that the show would need, so parks from other owners would need to be included, too.

Here are a couple of potential 10-stop itineraries that come to mind:

Season "D": Disneyland, Tokyo Disney, Lotte World, Hong Kong Disneyland, Ferrari World, Europa Park, De Efteling, Disneyland Paris, Alton Towers, Walt Disney World

Season "U": Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Japan, Ocean Park Hong Kong, Universal Studios Singapore, Ferrari World, Port Aventura, Europa Park, De Efteling, Alton Towers, Universal Orlando

The idea is to feature the world's most popular theme parks, at least for the initial go. So that would put the show's stops in the Far East and Europe, since those are where the popular parks are. To break up a long travel leg, let's throw in an intermediate stop on the Arabian peninsula, which is developing some interesting parks, too. (Abu Dhabi's Ferrari World is included in both itineraries above.)

Each episode should play in three acts: a travel leg to get to the park, then a first, followed by a second, challenge within the park. At the end of the each episode, the final contestant to complete the second task would be eliminated. But there should be some drama in the first two acts of each episode, too.

Challenges in a theme park race show shouldn't simply involve riding rides. Ideally, the should require more complicated tasks that the various contestants need different amounts of time to complete. Maybe they have to do some job in the park: driving rafts, performing in a parade, filling buckets of popcorn, feeding the dolphins, etc. Or they could require some guest-focused task: finding "hidden Mickeys," scavenger hunts, and the like. Whatever the challenges, they should include a mix of those that require the demonstration of skill, and those that require the endurance of some good ole public humiliation. And the focus should remain on showing the most interesting and unique elements of the park being visited in that episode. This is, at its heart, a travelogue as much as it is a game show.

One of fans' frustrations with The Amazing Race is that as many eliminations as not seem to be determined by who gets the bad cabbie. That certainly seemed to be the deciding factor in this week's Season 23 premiere episode, when a bad cab ride put the team that ultimately was eliminated so far behind that it couldn't catch up. (I don't think that constitutes a spoiler for anyone who hasn't watched the episode yet, since it describes roughly half the episodes in the freaking series.)

Placing the show inside theme parks eliminates much of the need for taxis, as there won't be any driving around in cities. But contestants still would need to move between the parks and the local airports. To put more of the competition in the contestants' control, let's propose that they use public transportation wherever possible. Only when there is no reliable mass transit or airport shuttle option should contestants be told it's okay to use cabs on this leg of the trip. (I'm thinking Ferrari World here. Or maybe getting from Disneyland to LAX.)

One of the fascinating behind-the-scenes elements of The Amazing Race is timing the flights between cities. Ideally, you want contestants to have options on when and through which connecting airports to fly, so that some contestants can get a time advantage over the others. But you don't want the time advantage to become so extreme that those other contestants are effectively eliminated before they even get to the destination. Producers earn their money devising a procession of destinations that satisfies both needs.

When I flew from Singapore to Tokyo nearly two years ago, I hustled off the plane and through customs, catching a shuttle bus from Narita Airport to Tokyo Disneyland with just about one minute to spare. If I hadn't hustled so quickly to get off the plane and into the customs queue, I would have had to wait an extra hour for the next shuttle, or tried to navigate the Japan Railway system to get to Tokyo Disneyland. That is exactly the type of situation you'd want to arrange to create drama for an episode's first act, as contestants hurry to get to the park first.

The first challenge in the park would be the "second act" of each episode. Since elimination's not on the table, we'd need some other way to create drama in this act. (On Survivor, the winner of the first challenge usually gets some reward.) Here, perhaps the winner of the first challenge could get the opportunity to influence the other contestants.

Here's my idea, one that further reinforces the "theme park" theme of the show: Each contestant is given one "line skip" and one "breakdown" pass at the beginning of the game. The contestant who wins the first challenge in a particular park can play one of those passes. If he or she plays the "line skip," that contestant can select another contestant to "skip the line" and immediately join him or her in starting the next task. If he or she plays the "breakdown," that contestant selects another contestant who will have to serve a time penalty at the end of that task. If the winner of the task has already played his or her passes, the second-place finisher gets the chance to play a pass, and so on. (But you can't play a breakdown pass on someone who's already completed that task and moved on.)

Imagine the possibilities for mischief with that scheme in play!

Finally, to further differentiate this from The Amazing Race, instead of ripping open envelopes at clue boxes, contestants in our theme park race could get their clues by tapping an NFC-enabled cell phone to a check-in stanchion. The clue would then appear on their phones. (Product placement opportunity!)

I could see the show with individual contestants, or with teams. The show could be produced with parks' cooperation, but if parks didn't play along, perhaps if enough people contributed to a Kickstarter or watched ads on the show, it could happen as a (very expensive) guerilla Web production.

Hey, I'd watch this. (Let's not kid ourselves. I'd love even more to host!) What about you? Would you like to see an all-theme park Amazing Race? What destinations, challenges, and other elements would you like to see in such a show?

Replies (12)

October 2, 2013 at 12:57 PM · I know its not strictly all theme park... But you could do a version owned by merlin Entertainment.

So you'd have all of the Legolands (Denmark, Germany, Malaysia, UK and the two US parks, plus a Japanese and Korean park to come), Alton Towers Thorpe park and Chessington in the UK, Gardaland Resort in Italy and Hide park in Gemrany

spacing it out you have a huge number of extra attractions that you can focus on...

The Sea Life Centre brand is in 18 different countries, with many countries home to more than one of those.

Madame Tussards is in 9 countries, with three to follow soon. The Historic London site could be a finnisher...

There are "Dungeons" in three countries (Uk, Netherlands and Germany), and "Eye" attractions in both Australia and the UK (The Iconic Sydney and Blackpool Towers), and treetop adventures and Ski resorts in Australia.

Must be enough content there to sell a few annual passes...

October 2, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Are you kidding me??? OMG - I would almost kill to be part of a game that brings two of my favorite things - theme parks and The Amazing Race - together! Not to mention the exciting travel element. What an awesome idea you have come up with. Are you sure you couldn't just sell this idea directly to the Amazing Race people? Ya never know...

Anyway, in answer to your question, YES. I would love to see this (if I couldn't somehow manage to be a contestant, that is.

I'll leave the brilliant ideas for destinations and challenges to everybody else, as I don't get around to different parks anywhere near as much as most of your readers clearly do (or nearly as much as I would like to, for that matter). But the possibilities are mind-boggling.

Thanks for tossing out such an exciting idea. Can't wait to see others' responses.

October 2, 2013 at 2:34 PM · Off topic, but similar.

When we werewas flying home from Hong Kong Disney a few years back, we had a idea for a crazy challenge or possibly a charity event.

Would it be possible to visit all the Disney parks in one day?

Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Orlando,L.A, from sunrise to sunset.

I can never remember if there's a common ride at all of the,pm but you would need to ride that ride in each park.

Rough calculations say its possible.


You would need your own plane, something big that can fly a long way fast! Sponsorship by an airline would help (Richard Branson, if you're reading)

Disney would need to let you in by a back door and push you to the front of the queue.

More dofficult. You'd need assistance from border control and the airports in 4 countries. Buses meeting planes, fast routes to and from the park and most importantly government that will let yu skip the border control or process everyone as a batch.

If you could arrange that I think it would be an experience that 300 odd Disney fans would give an arm and a leg for, and if it's all for charity, then it helps someone else.

If anyone what's to have a go at organising me give me a call and I'll give you a hand

October 2, 2013 at 6:07 PM · Searching flights on Orbitz, I found how much time you'd need "on the clock" flying between each of the cities with a Disney theme park. These aren't flights time (those are much longer), but the flight times minus the time changes as you fly west, which minimizes your lost time on the clock while you are in the air. All flights are non-stop.

Tokyo -> Hong Kong ~ 4 hours (5 hours flight time minus 1 time zone)
Hong Kong -> Paris ~ 6 hours (13 hours minus 7 time zones)
Paris -> Orlando ~ 6 hours (6 hours minus 6 time zones)
Orlando -> Los Angeles ~ 2 hours (5 hours minus 3 time zones)

So that's 18 hours of the day just in the air, not including time for getting to and from airports, security checks, etc. If you had a private plane and could skip the security checks and minimize customs while flying between the cities at will (instead of meeting a commercial airline's schedule), you might be able to get to each of the parks in one 24-hour period. But there's no guarantee that they'd be open when you got there, and you certainly wouldn't have the time to go in and do anything.

On a commercial flight schedule, I'd suggest you could do all 11 parks in one week without too much scheduling hassle, though you might never want to travel anywhere else for a very long time after that haul. (Not to mention paying the cost.)

October 2, 2013 at 9:25 PM · That... is one very cool idea! C'mon now CBS get it done!
October 3, 2013 at 1:15 AM · If The Amazing Race won't come on could always make some modifications and turn it into something for the the Travel Channel -- either network should be eager to develop this idea! And why not? People have been doing this in thier own families (on much MUCH smaller scales) forever! :)

Great idea -- let us know when the premiere is!!!

October 3, 2013 at 3:06 AM · By parks I meant resorts not gates.

You would probably need Tokyo and Hong Kong to open up and let you in a bit early.

A "private" plane would be a requisit. Preferbly something pretty big.

I never said it would be easy or even physically possible, but it's a fun concept and I'd love to give it a try

October 3, 2013 at 5:20 AM · I'd watch it and don't usually watch TV.....
October 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM · I will defined want to be part of this race! International people can join the race too! What about Africa! There are few theme parks to in South Africa alone. Maybe not as big as in the other countries.

So how can I join in & when is this race starting!


October 4, 2013 at 12:40 PM · Kudos Robert, that is an awesome idea. Contact the producer Bertram Van Munster and pitch the idea. FYI,Amazing Race Productions and ABC studios are the authors of the program. Myself, have been thru the rigorous casting process of The Amazing Race, and making it to L.A. as a finalist, but being cut at the last minute and not getting on the show, would love to see this spin on the main show idea. I can speak for my teammate when I say, I(we)would love to get involved in this version if it happens.
October 4, 2013 at 6:32 PM · Awesome! Awesome! Awesome!
If any of you TV development people are reading this and you also think this is an idea... then.... SIGN ME UP!!!
Whatever tear-jerking or bizarre backstory you want me to somehow extract from my life, I will do... but no matter what, I WANT TO BE A CONTESTANT OF THIS SHOW!!!

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program...

October 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM · This is a cool idea, and I'll admit that I've thought about it a lot over the years. What's odd is that when The Amazing Race goes to parks in other countries, the tasks are usually lame and easy. So it would take some cool planning for this race to be challenging yet still fun and not impossible.

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