What ride system do you most want to see at more theme parks?

October 5, 2018, 1:24 PM · As regional theme parks wind down their operations for the season, the industry's focus begins to shift toward next year. Dozens of parks have announced their new attractions for 2019 and beyond. But, trust me, parks are already thinking about the next wave of new attractions beyond that. Theme parks are a capital-driven business, and parks that aren't expanding or refreshing their attraction line-up are parks that are going to watching their attendance slide.

So let's help them out, shall we? As parks look ahead to design new attractions line-ups, what would you most like to see them add?

For many fans, the answer is going to vary by park. You want your favorite park to plug whatever hole now exists in its line-up, right? It's all about finding that magical balance between rides and shows, thrill and story, wet and dry, and indoor and outdoor experiences.

So let's assume that your favorite theme park already has that ideal balance in place and that's not a consideration. Of several "hot" ride systems dominating the market right now, which one gets you most excited to book a trip?

Slinky Dog Dash

Here are our candidates for this week's vote:

Motion base dark ride — From Indiana Jones to Spider-Man to Transformers, motion base dark rides hit that sweet spot between thrill ride and story-driven dark ride.

Trackless dark ride — This is the alternative for parks looking for a milder experience while still offering a next generation dark ride experience. Think Mystic Manor, Ratatouille, and Scooby-Doo here.

Interactive shooter ride — For parks that want to appeal to the video game generation, rides such as Buzz Lightyear, Men in Black, Toy Story Midway Mania and AniMayhem keep bringing back guests for re-rides, as they chase higher scores.

Flying theater — Disney's Soarin' kicked off this trend in attraction design, where media shows get a little extra kick from seats that leave fans hanging.

Family coaster — Future coaster fans have to start somewhere, and family coasters provide the entry to a lifetime of chasing thrills. But the best family coasters now offer quite a bit of theming even story, as well.

Extreme thrill coaster — There's nothing like extreme drops, launches, inversions and G-forces to make a day at a theme park unlike any other entertainment experience.

What's going to be the hot new ride system in 2020 and beyond? And which of these ride systems is getting played out by this point? Let's get this debate going in the comments.

Replies (16)

October 5, 2018 at 2:36 PM

I voted for Interactive Shooter Ride but I did so with the idea it would just be "Interactive Ride". I think there is a lot of potential here we could explore. I do like to shoot at things and score points on some rides, but i also like the idea of changing the direction of a story on a ride. I like the idea of a meta theme park game where I get points or whatever for visiting rides, shows, etc... I think interactivity has the potential to give park visitors the sense of ownership that some crave, without placing a burden on the casual vacationer who is focused on relaxing.

October 5, 2018 at 3:02 PM

Because the focus on this seems to be regional parks, I voted for family coasters. What I'd really like is trackless dark rides, but without HUGE budgets and enduring IPs I'm not sure many regional parks have the bucks or the stories to make something really good happen. What those parks could do a whole lot better is build family focused roller coasters. Not kids rides, but rides the entire family can go on together.

October 5, 2018 at 3:05 PM

I voted for a trackless dark ride. Ratatouille, Mystic Manor, and Pooh’s Hunny Hunt, are some of the best rides in the world. I would like to see Disneyland add a trackless dark ride someday. The trackless rides make you feel like you’re “almost there.” You feel like you’re part of the story, and is closer to the action.

October 5, 2018 at 3:22 PM

I voted for "Throw in the Towel and Convert the Park to Condos".

Thanks go out to Elitches for giving me my wish.

October 5, 2018 at 3:26 PM

It's really too dependent on the specific park to pick one in general. For a park like Disney or Universal, I'd go dark ride almost any time. At a regional park like Six Flags or Cedar Fair, however, shooters and coasters are a much better option than trying to build a high-tech dark ride. The one thing I will say is that flying theaters are the least impressive of the six options to me, and I think they are better used as stand-alone tourist attractions than as rides inside a theme park.

If we assume the theming quality is identical to the best examples of each type, I'd probably rank these ride systems as follows in terms of travelworthiness:

1. Trackless Dark Ride
2. Motion Base Dark Ride
3. Extreme Thrill Coaster
4. Interactive Shooter Ride
5. Family Coaster
6. Flying Theater

October 5, 2018 at 3:55 PM

I hope we see more hybrid rides instead of just one or the other.

October 5, 2018 at 5:13 PM

I agree with AJ....it depends on the park.

Motion based or trackless dark rides are the ones I'm most excited about experiencing.....but classic thrill coasters are always welcome.

I'm hoping DCA gets a solid trackless dark ride for their Marvel (I mean superhero) land.

October 5, 2018 at 11:29 PM

None of the above, dark ride/log flume hybrids are what I want to see more of in my favourite parks.

October 6, 2018 at 4:02 AM

Real flying coasters (where you're face down) are by far the most thrilling rides ever offered. Sadly, Kings Island is removing one of the best, Firehawk. Only SeaWorld has built a good new one lately.

October 6, 2018 at 3:49 PM

Anything with audio-animatronic figures. NOT those with projected faces.

October 6, 2018 at 4:35 PM

Does the Kuka arm fit in here? I heard that Universal had a ten year exclusive on using it, but I think it's been more than ten years, so I've been waiting for Disney to use it. Also, IMO Knott's Voyage to the Iron Reef is better than Toy Story Mania. It's more immersive and disorienting, which makes me buy the deceit that it's supposed to be underwater. Toy Story to me could be any video game, but in 3D.

October 6, 2018 at 5:36 PM

Trackless dark ride. Everyday we of the week. We've got almost none of these outside Disney and they have so much potential!

October 7, 2018 at 4:02 PM

I may be in the minority (and don't care if I am) but I don't love shooters.

They can be fun, but a lot of them aren't and don't have a huge re-ride potential for me.

I will do them at some parks once a visit, others I won't bother with after the first couple of times. (once to try it, and once or twice more with low expectations to see if I still feel the same about it)

The only one I like less from this group is the flying theatre, I really don't like them, never been on a good one.

October 8, 2018 at 8:40 AM

I will have to second the Kuka Arm. I think that the Harry Potter ride is tremendous. However, I would like to see it combined with more animatronics and less video screen.

October 8, 2018 at 11:51 AM

The Incredicoater has captured my (little) kids' attention like no other ride. They love that it's a big-kids coaster they can ride on, and the theming/story gives the ride the substance that no other coaster has. I'd really like to see more like that.

October 9, 2018 at 1:36 PM

Well now that we have new option. How about a Kuka arm dueling wild mouse that is a shooter ride. Sounds overly complex and will never run by hey why not.

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