If you ever wanted a simple illustration of how creative decoration can improve even a standard theme park ride, we've got one for you today.
England's Chessington World of Adventures today revealed its new attraction for 2021 - Croc Drop. At its heart, this is a pretty simple 25 meter (82 foot) drop tower ride. That's hardly worth noting, given the much taller drop towers out there. But it's what Chessington has done with this drop tower that made me exclaim, "I have got to ride that!"
Behold the power of effective decoration.
A drop tower into a giant crocodile's mouth? That's a yes from me. Here is the park's backstory for the new attraction:
"Sobek, the ancient Egyptian Crocodile God and protector of the Nile... has been possessed by evil spirits, transforming him into a cruel deity. With the once fertile Nile laying stagnant, riders must take part in a ceremony to banish the evil spirits from Sobek, plunging into the crocodile’s soul and freeing the waters back into the Nile."
New attractions do not have to be record-breakers to inspire fans' imaginations. Nor do parks need to rely on often-expensive IP to grab visitors' attention. But they do need to more than install an off-the-shelf carnival ride on an unthemed midway. With its inspiring decoration for Croc Drop, Chessington World of Adventures has taken that extra creative step that can help even smaller parks connect with a larger audience.
The park has not yet announced an opening date for the ride. Chessington World of Adventures is currently closed, along with other English theme parks, due to national pandemic restrictions.
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So simple that it's brilliant.
I've always felt that the best theme parks can turn a cheap flat ride into a completely unique experience when they put just a little bit of effort into it.
The ride that always comes to mind for me is Davinci's Cradle at BGW. At its heart, the ride is a stock flying carpet flat ride you would find at a traveling carnival or seaside amusement park. However, BGW prettied it up by installing a bunch of pulleys and wood frames to give it the look of a 15th century Italian contraption from the famous artist/inventor. None of the theming is practical to the operation of the ride, even though there are a few moving parts (that do have to be maintained). But it turn a run of the mill attraction into something unique.
In the end, adding just a little bit of theming to a stock attraction probably costs may 20-30% more. The problem is that so few parks are willing to go that extra mile, and would rather go with a "coaster in a parking lot" than to actually give their rides some style and story to integrate them into the park. It's especially hard when parks are so driven by financials, and it's difficult to quantify the affect of $400k worth of design and theming to add to a $2 million ride, so only parks that have established a bar for theming and storytelling bother taking these extra steps. For the Six Flags and Cedar Fairs of the world, a paragraph in a press release and a stylized sign with a quirky name is all they're willing to do.
Chessington is a family park, so this ride (along with all the others) will be geared towards the tamer rider. If you want to see it in action, here you go...
Well that is a strong no from me... only because I hate drop rides. But I love the themeing... simple not expensive IP.... amazing
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That is SO cool! I’m not a huge fan of drop towers, but the theming of this one would definitely pull me in. A perfect example of what a difference a little extra thought and care (and investment!) can make.