What do Star Wars land and the Incredicoaster have in common?

May 28, 2018, 11:54 AM · Conflict drives narrative, across all entertainment platforms. That's why, on theme park rides, fans have come to expect that something will go terribly wrong. We need that mishap to create a conflict that will give us the opportunity to either become (or ride along with) the hero. So, ultimately, a lot of theme park attractions hit the same story beats.

But sometimes, rides hit those beats in ways that are ridiculously similar, if not identical, to previous attractions. Some of the industry's most anticipated new lands and rides are, at their heart, callbacks to well-established older attractions (whether intentional or not). We've talked about a couple of those examples recently here on Theme Park Insider, and I'd like to invite you to share others.

First, let's consider Disney's upcoming Star Wars land: Galaxy's Edge. Described by Disney as "off the beaten path, this outpost has become a haven for the galaxy’s most colorful — and notorious — characters," the Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu sounds suspiciously like the setting of another popular Disney theme park land: Radiator Springs, the setting of Cars Land.

Isn't Radiator Springs "off the beaten path," and a have for "colorful" characters, too?

A previous Disney press release description of Galaxy's Edge makes the comparison even more apt: "Once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but its prominence was bypassed by the rise of hyperspace travel." Hmmm... sounds a bit like Route 66 being bypassed by the Interstate highway system, doesn't it?

(And if we want to dive deeper into the rabbit hole, there's a recurring argument out there that Cars was just an animated remake of the 1991 Michael J. Fox comedy, Doc Hollywood. Never let it be said that the entertainment industry isn't committed to recycling!)

Star Wars and Cars Land is hardly the only example of a recycled concept in theme park attractions. A commentator this week pointed out the similarity between Disney's upcoming Incredicoaster and an existing attraction from Disney's leading rival.

On the new Incredibles-themed reskin of the former California Screamin' roller coaster, the thing that "goes terribly wrong" is Jack-Jack running away when he's denied boarding for being to short, forced to wait for the rest of the family with Edna Mode.

Where have we seen that set-up before? How about when Maggie Simpson can't go on the Thrilltacular roller coaster, so she has to sit out with Grandpa Simpson on Universal's The Simpsons Ride? Of course, she gets away, too, forcing the family to try to get her back, just like the Parr family from The Incredibles will be going after Jack-Jack on the Incredicoaster.

My favorite low-key example is Legoland's The Dragon coaster. It starts with slow trek through stone-walled rooms in an ancient structure, before emerging into a treasure-filled chamber, guarded by a fearsome creature. The creature roars at us and a spell is cast, sending us up the coaster's lift into the thrill ride portion of the experience.

Where have we seen that before? Yup. Legoland's Dragon coaster is the kiddie version of Universal's Revenge of the Mummy. Or, since the first version of The Dragon coaster opened in 1997, perhaps we should say that Revenge of the Mummy is just the PG-13 version of The Dragon.

None of these examples seems to be intentional spoofs or homages, such as Shrek 4-D quoting Star Tours or the Jurassic Park franchise tweaking the Disney theme parks. But neither are they generic similarities, such as reusing the same ride system or archetypal setting. Have you seen other examples such as these in theme park attractions you've ridden? Please share those with us, in the comments.

Replies (4)

May 28, 2018 at 1:06 PM

Here's one - BTMR vs ToT:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: A mountain that has a mining operation is haunted by ghosts that mysteriously take over the train. The workers flee. But now you get to ride this haunted train!

Tower of Terror: A hotel is haunted by ghosts (after a lightening storm) that mysteriously takes over the elevator. Hotel guests and staff flee. But now you get to ride the haunted elevator!

May 28, 2018 at 2:04 PM

“Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess....”

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

May 29, 2018 at 7:56 AM

I love the old reliable attraction story....

"We are going to do (insert theme) then something goes horribly wrong!"

May 29, 2018 at 8:14 AM

Brad Bird worked on the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons. Maybe Bird came up with the idea for The Simpsons Ride while he was working on the show, Universal brought the idea to life 10 years later, and 10 more years later he came up with the same idea for the coaster re-theme, forgetting his idea was already was used by Universal.

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