Which rides would most improve their park by going away?

July 24, 2019, 1:36 PM · With Hersheypark's announcement of its 2020 hyper coaster this morning, many theme park fans no doubt are getting excited to hear more about what's coming to their favorite parks next year. But as readers have noted on our Discussion Board, not every park has room for seven-acre new developments. Sometimes, parks have to remove attractions to make room for new ones.

Of course, this isn't always a bad thing. As much as some parks — and fans — might hate to admit it, some attractions just didn't work... or their time has passed. It's rare that an old attraction is so bad that its removal by itself improves a park. But many attractions are taking space that better could be used by a fresh experience.

Which attractions are the leading candidates for this type of addition by subtraction? Which attractions would create the most value for their parks not by continuing to operate but by going away and making space for something new?

I would like to kick off this discussion by nominating candidates from the top 10 most attended theme parks in the United States. These are not necessarily the "worst" attractions at these parks, in either my view of the collective judgment of Theme Park Insider readers. Poor perceived quality is just one criterion to consider here. Others include the amount of space that removing the attraction would free, as well as the current attraction's impact upon the park's skyline, its position within the park, its cohesiveness (or lack of it) with surrounding themes, plus the hassle and expense of maintaining and operating the attraction.

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom: Tomorrowland Speedway

Many of us thought that Disney would close the Speedway to build the Magic Kingdom's new Tron roller coaster. But Imagineers found a way to shoehorn an installation of the Shanghai Disneyland hit between the Speedway and Space Mountain. I've dogged on the Speedway before as a relic from a dying era of transportation that doesn't measure up to Legoland's competing Driving School in fulfilling the grown-up wishes of young visitors. The world's most popular theme park simply cannot afford to waste this amount of space on a sub-par attraction. Especially one that doesn't promote any of Disney's IP, given Disney management's obsession with synergy.

Disneyland: Star Wars Launch Bay

Not just the Launch Bay, but the entire building that once housed the Carousel of Progress. Disneyland hasn't found a good use for this space since America Sings closed more than 30 years ago. But it is prime real estate in the park's Tomorrowland, which desperately needs another major overhaul. Now that Galaxy's Edge is open across the park, Disney simply has too much other great IP at its disposal not to use this space for something else.

Disney's Animal Kingdom: Dino-Rama

I get what Disney's Imagineers were going for here — a fun tribute to the kitsch of roadside Americana, tied to the Dinosaur ride next door. Frankly, I think they did an outstanding job of delivering that. But why is Disney trying to recreate the mediocre roadside attractions that its theme parks helped put out of business? Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of the world's great theme parks and deserves to have its weakest section brought up to the rest of the park. Use this space to knock us out with wonder, the way everything else in DAK does.

Epcot: Imagination pavilion

This one wins on a technicality, in that Disney has committed already to removing the previous leading candidate for "addition by subtraction" in Epcot — the Innoventions buildings. So let's look ahead to what the next step might be. Frankly, we're being greedy here, as the additions and changes that Disney has planned already for Epcot should do wonders for this park, including a new entrance, the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, and the Ratatouille dark ride. But long-time fans remember how cool the Imagination pavilion was when it opened. After this round of improvements to the park, it will remain Epcot's weakest link.

Disney's Hollywood Studios: Studios in front of Commissary Place

Disney's ripped out so much from Hollywood Studios over the past decade that I loathe to suggest removing anything else. The building that originally housed SuperStar Television and the Monster Sound Show is the park's last remaining link to its days as a studio-themed park, before its transformation into a collection of IP-driven lands. Why not complete that transformation by redeveloping this space?

Universal Studios Florida: Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit

This might be the top candidate on my list that would improve its park simply with its removal. Painfully rough at times, Rip, Ride, Rockit looks worse with each new amazing coaster that Universal commissions. And the on-board music doesn't even work all the time anymore, either. USF deserves a better visual weenie at its entrance than a roller coaster track that could stand at any Six Flags or Cedar Fair park.

Disney California Adventure: The empty space in Hollywood Land

Okay, asking to remove empty space is a cop-out, but with A Bug's Land gone, there's no space in the park that's a more obvious choice for improvement that the under-utilized area around the Monsters Inc. ride in Hollywood Land. Disney has used the faux soundstage buildings here for a variety of pop-up experiences (Flynn's Arcade remains my favorite), but when nothing occupies them, this becomes the Disneyland Resort's saddest forgotten space. And Mickey's Philharmagic ain't exactly packing in the crowds, so why not make this whole area into Monstropolis?

Islands of Adventure: Poseidon's Fury

Heck, if Universal Creative just wanted to redevelop this walk-through adventure using modern theater technology, I'd endorse that 100 percent. A new Poseidon's Fury with projection mapping and maybe some escape room elements could amaze fans again. But if Universal isn't going to update the tired, cheesy animation, it would do better to close the last remaining attraction in The Lost Continent and redevelop its space. Of course, we're still waiting for Universal to do something with the old Sindbad theater next door, so perhaps this could become a package deal.

Universal Studios Hollywood: Animal Actors

Universal's done wonders with this park over the past decade, with a new Secret Life of Pets ride coming to the former Globe Theatre site next year, followed by Super Nintendo World on the Lower Lot after that. With those changes, WaterWorld and Animal Actors will remain the oldest attractions in the park, save the ever-changing Studio Tour. WaterWorld is a classic that ought to endure, but Animal Actors is not. Plus, removing the last live animals from the park should help streamline operations.

SeaWorld Orlando: Redo Antarctica

I'm taking all the park's marine mammal facilities off the table here, as they're part of a much larger discussion than one about redeveloping theme park attractions. (The animals have to live somewhere, and releasing animals born and raised in captivity into the wild is a death sentence.) So just looking at SeaWorld's existing rides and non-animal shows, my top candidate for redevelopment would be its much-maligned Antarctica. Penguins are a great draw, and the animal environment here offers much to educate and entertain guests. But the ride is a mess. Between this and the days-seem-to-be-numbered Wild Arctic, SeaWorld would do better by finding a way — any way — to improve its "polar" experiences.

Your picks?

Replies (30)

July 24, 2019 at 2:12 PM

Have to agree on Lost Continent. With Dueling Dragons gone, the entire area really is just something folks walk past between Potter and Dr. Seuss so Universal could use it more fun.

Totally agree on Dino Rama as the entire area just seems off too and robbing the land of some fun.

For Speedway, part of me agrees but I can see a huge outrage from people over removing it as it's still popular with the kids so that's a bit tricky.

July 24, 2019 at 2:36 PM

Mount Prometheus in Tokyo DisneySea takes up an area about 600' by 700'. Tomorrowland Speedway alone takes up an area around 500' by 600'. Throw in the Teacups and a little bit of Tomorrowland around Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe and you have an awesome transition between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

I don't think too many people would object to getting Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Fortress Explorations, Vulcania, and Magellan's in exchange for the Speedway, the Teacups, and Cosmic Ray's.

July 24, 2019 at 2:55 PM

Poseidon's Fury is a very call although it would also have to incorporate Mythos and Sinbad to abolish Lost Continent for good. I am positively salivating at the options.

Robert, please be my Fairy Godfather and waft your wand!

July 24, 2019 at 2:57 PM

I love RockIt so much, especially the songs coupled with the coaster experience.
And with typically long lines, I don't feel like Universal has any plans to remove it.
HOWEVER, I dream of an overlay. In fact, remake that coaster, just like they did with the Hulk, add a different/updated theme, include more and newer music (perhaps continuously uptaded playlist?), and there you have it.

July 24, 2019 at 3:03 PM

Fast & Furious, no brainer!

July 24, 2019 at 3:43 PM

+1 to Fast & Furious: Supercharged. One of their biggest IPs of all time, and that's what they deliver? Raze it and start over. Heck, keep most of the queue as a walk through while you redo the rest.

July 24, 2019 at 3:46 PM

I was thinking more of Disney but yeah, have to agree on Fast and Furious, that was a huge waste of space when the original "Disaster" ride was still a fun romp.

July 24, 2019 at 4:29 PM

Absolutely Fast and Furious over RRR, any day!

July 24, 2019 at 4:36 PM

Magic Carpets of Aladdin in Magic Kingdom. It clogs up guest traffic and the park already two other spinner rides.

July 24, 2019 at 4:50 PM

Spot on list although I think 80% of Epcot could and should be changed. My once most beloved park is a sad shadow of it's former past. A timeless theme and making the festival crap in World Showcase permanent or remove it forever (make a choice Disney) and add quality rides would go a long way.

July 24, 2019 at 5:09 PM

True, F&F is so obvious that I didn't even think of it. Not a single soul in the entire planet enjoys that in any way.

July 24, 2019 at 5:59 PM

Our entire family loves Rip Ride Rocket. Can’t imagine why it is on the list. Play Kickstart my Heart and you are set. Lost Continent and Dino-Rama I can get behind (as long as they keep and fix up the Dinosaur ride- it needs some love). Poseidon’s Fury is like one big queue with no ride at the end.

July 24, 2019 at 7:30 PM

You got 9 out of 10, Robert, but Rip Ride Rock-It doesn’t belong in that list. Certainly not the best coaster in the world (or even Orlando, for that matter) but still garners long lines and I’ll hit it a few times at rope drop while everyone else rushes to Harry Potter.

July 24, 2019 at 7:37 PM

Rockit can can be very unpleasant but I’ve heard it has great satisfaction scores which would make sense given it’s long lines and prominent placement in commercials and practically any show that films at that park.

I think re theming Lost Continent (also Toon Lagoon) would be logistically impossible given the park’s layout and IOA’s post Potter attendance.

July 24, 2019 at 7:44 PM

I totally agree with removing MK's Grand Prix! Smelly, and the pollution put out by all those cars when they could at least go electric. It would be cool to see them enclose the area, put in EV race cars and a trackless ride system. Do projections on the walls to give the guests a feeling of speed (and fantastic locations). And the winner is randomly decided.

July 24, 2019 at 9:06 PM

Making the Speedway electric cars would be a gigantic waste of money for Disney. First of all it would be hugely expensive and wouldn't make the ride any better, second it's clearly not in the parks long term plans to keep it there, otherwise they would have spent money on it during that long closure other than narrowing a turn a little bit and painting the queue white.

July 24, 2019 at 10:04 PM

Yessssss......let's kick RRR, Dino-whatever, and Speedway to the curb

July 24, 2019 at 10:33 PM

I completely disagree with Hollywood Rip, Ride Rockit. Yes, it's not a particularly great ride, but if you're only removing one attraction there are far better options in USF. I'd pull Fast and Furious, Jimmy Fallon, or Shrek 4D first. I'd probably concur with the others listed.

For the So Cal parks not mentioned above, I'd nominate the following...

Knott's: Coast Rider, which is horribly uncomfortable with the current restraints and not a particularly inspired family coaster
SFMM: Whistle Stop Park, an unnecessary expansion to the main kids area that would clear up enough space for a mid-size coaster or several flat rides
SWSD: The entire area containing Wild Arctic, Pets Rule, and Penguin Encounter, which could be redeveloped into a cohesive polar area with more interesting exhibits and attractions.

July 24, 2019 at 10:54 PM

The Wild Arctic simulator in San Diego can go, but would hate to lose the elaborately themed animal viewing areas in the attraction. Really a well designed immersive walkthrough.

July 25, 2019 at 7:42 AM

RRR is one of m favorite coasters in the country. I'm glad there are a few pure thrill rides, as much as I love detailed themes.

July 25, 2019 at 9:06 AM

Hollywood Blvd. in DCA is pretty clearly going to be changed over to fill in Marvel Land...The old Bug’s area is pretty much just a phase 1 for the area at this point...

If that means Monster’s and the couple theater spaces re-locate or get removed all together is the real question at this point...

July 25, 2019 at 9:34 AM

Like many others have said I agree with pretty much everything on there except for Rip Ride. I love that coaster and it really doesn't take up much space so they should definitely keep it. I'd agree that maybe a Hulk style refresh would be nice but it's so much fun I'd hate to loose it.

The biggest waste of a ride is of course Fast & Furious. They need to completely demolish and start over on that. Also a huge waste is Fear Factor. Please can we have an actually good show! If Universal can't think of another great show then they should just bring back Waterworld.

July 25, 2019 at 11:45 AM

I think USH needs to keep the Animal Actors show. My family goes to it every time we visit and the show has good attendance. My mom gets motion sick on the screen rides, so the shows are something she can enjoy, besides Hogsmeade which is her favorite part of the park. :)
As far as Epcot, Walt expected it be get updated over the years and I agree it needs updating in some areas. However, I don't like that Disney characters are being added to rides etc in World Showcase. Epcot is unique and I'd like it to stay that way. If it turns into another MK, they'll lose my family's interest in visiting that park.

July 25, 2019 at 12:25 PM

I'm breaking the CaliFlorida theme park concept of this post. Rougarou at Cedar Point. Hands Down the worst coaster in the park- violent, ear-bashing, and it reminds me of a bad face lift on a once attractive person.

July 25, 2019 at 2:40 PM

I’ll add on MOST old wooden coasters. After a decade or two, they get so rough the ride is extremely unpleasant. Timberwolf at World of Fun in Kansas City is one of the worst! The only thing that Cedar Fair can do to fix that ride involves a tanker of gasoline and a match.

July 25, 2019 at 10:43 PM

It's funny you say old wooden coasters, because I just read Sea World San Antonio is getting a new wooden coaster.

Then I started thinking...San Antonio. They have a pretty great Six Flags park AND a Sea World park. If Disney or Universal ever wanted to open a third park in the U.S outside of L.A and Orlando, that'd be one heckuva great location that'd be attractive to Central Time Zone folks, and the weather is good enough that it'd be easy to be a 365 day park.

San Antonio should stop trying to lure an NFL team and start trying to lure Universal or Disney.

July 26, 2019 at 6:35 AM

ive said this before rip ride rocket is a decent roller coaster bit it looks tired like its been left. music needs updating more choices, the DVD and photos part i dont think has been turned on for about 5 years and the cartoon we watch while Q-ing is terrible (HASTA) apart from that its a good roller coaster and still popular. i also agree with getting rid of Poseidon's Fury. really old hat terrible video when the gods are fighting with fire and water

July 26, 2019 at 6:35 AM

ive said this before rip ride rocket is a decent roller coaster bit it looks tired like its been left. music needs updating more choices, the DVD and photos part i dont think has been turned on for about 5 years and the cartoon we watch while Q-ing is terrible (HASTA) apart from that its a good roller coaster and still popular. i also agree with getting rid of Poseidon's Fury. really old hat terrible video when the gods are fighting with fire and water

July 26, 2019 at 7:18 AM

Hollywood Rip Ride Ragdoll … it is so rough in the back that I will ask for a different row if I end up assigned to row 6.

July 29, 2019 at 9:46 AM

Speedway in MK, The Seas in EPCOT, Kil Safari in AK, Rockin' Roller Coaster (needs a retheme) in HS, Animal Actors in Universal Florida and Hollywood, Poseidon's Fury in IOA, Safari in Six Flags Great Adventure, Possessed in Dorney Park, Iron Dragon in Cedar Point, Butterfield Stage Coach in Knott's Berry Farm, Bald Eagle Habitat in Knoebels. Replace them all with dark rides or good coasters!

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