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View Full Version : Theme park rides based on movies...


Ash Ketchum
05-21-12, 06:09 PM
We've all seen hundred-million-dollar+ movies based on theme park rides (HAUNTED MANSION, the POTC films), but how many of us have been to rides based on movies? Actually, quite a few of us, I'm sure, because Disney and Universal are spending AVATAR-caliber budgets on rides based on...AVATAR and a host of other big-budget movies! There's an article on this phenomenon in today's New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/business/universal-armed-with-cash-from-comcast-takes-aim-at-disney.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

What struck me about it is the huge amount of money being spent to make these things:
$100 million on a TRANSFORMERS ride (Universal)
$450 million on a CARS ride (Disney)
$500 million on an AVATAR ride (Disney)

It makes sense, I suppose. Movies get released and make all their money in one fell swoop, while rides are built and then operate for years and keep on making money. Universal and Disney have had big-budget flops this year but their theme park business is booming.

I wonder, though, how many months (years?) a ride like this has to function before it makes back its budget. Is there anyone in the theme park business here who has some idea how that works?

Shannon Nutt
05-21-12, 06:29 PM
The Men In Black ride at Universal is one of my favorites. One of the few "based on movies" rides that really hold up. Never cared much for the Back To The Future ride (now closed) or Star Tours (at MGM-Disney).

Solid Snake
05-21-12, 06:52 PM
I've never understood this but....in teh case of a ride..like for example..let us use teh Transformers one we see from Ash. How long till it actually makes back the cost? I don't understand how it works out.

Supermallet
05-21-12, 07:13 PM
I loved the BTTF ride! The Simpsons one is fun but it's not BTTF.

As for how they make their money back on the rides, they do it with increased ticket and concession sales. New rides attract more customers.

The Cow
05-21-12, 07:18 PM
I've never understood this but....in teh case of a ride..like for example..let us use teh Transformers one we see from Ash. How long till it actually makes back the cost? I don't understand how it works out.

Paging reggieray to thread 601780, we need a translation!

mhg83
05-21-12, 07:49 PM
The Batman ride at Six Flags is pretty cool.

Mabuse
05-21-12, 07:56 PM
The Batman ride at Six Flags is pretty cool.

Which Batman ride at which Six Flags? The one in California sucks.

Defiant1
05-21-12, 08:01 PM
Before Paramount sold it to Cedar Fair, many of the coasters at Canada's Wonderland were based on their movies (Top Gun, Tomb Raider, and The Italian Job off the top of my head). The Top Gun ride, now renamed Flight Deck, still has extensive theme decoration with aircraft hangars and other military paraphenalia.

PopcornTreeCt
05-21-12, 08:05 PM
No mention of the greatest theme park ride ever? Harry Potter.

FRwL
05-21-12, 08:26 PM
They should spend a couple hundred mil on a Jigsaw's Puzzle Palace ride.

SterlingBen
05-21-12, 09:21 PM
We've all seen hundred-million-dollar+ movies based on theme park rides (HAUNTED MANSION, the POTC films), but how many of us have been to rides based on movies?

Everyone because those came first. Who starts an article like that, makes me not want to read the rest.

fumanstan
05-21-12, 09:36 PM
I loved the BTTF ride at Universal here in California.

I also enjoyed the Mummy ride, and I liked the Batman and Riddler rides at Six Flags. They're showing their age now though.

mhg83
05-21-12, 09:53 PM
Which Batman ride at which Six Flags? The one in California sucks.

Illinois. It was the Burton Batman ride.

Matthew Chmiel
05-21-12, 10:23 PM
Some numbers to think about:


Disneyland usually averages closes to 15 million visitors a year.
With a one-day adult ticket at $87, Disney makes close to, if not more than, $1.3 billion a year based upon admissions alone.
If each visitor spends at least $20 in the park during their visit there, Disney makes an additional $300 million a year based upon visitor spending.

Of course, not everyone pays $87 a ticket. Some go for the park hopper ticket which costs $125 for a day. Some go for the cheaper two-or-three day ticket options. Others have annual passes that start at $469. And again, a lot of those visitors probably spend way more than $20 during the day they're there.

I would say before one considers overhead costs and profit, Disneyland's theme parks alone probably make close to $2 billion a year, if not (significantly) more.

Universal Studios Hollywood, on the other hand, blows compared to Disneyland so who the fuck goes there? ;)

whoopdido
05-22-12, 12:03 AM
New rides are just how they update and keep the place modern. Don't think of it as spending $500 million on an Avatar ride. Think of it as spending $500 million to update the park and keep it fresh. I doubt too many people are going to make a specific trip to Disney JUST so they can ride Avatar but if Disney never updated their rides people would just stop coming.

Kinda like a sports bar upgrading their tvs from old shitty tubes to lcds or plasmas. Most people won't go to a specific bar JUST because it has plasma tvs but if the bar never upgraded the tvs and just kept fixing the tubes eventually people would stop coming because other places DID upgrade and they would just go there instead.

Nick Danger
05-22-12, 12:25 AM
I liked the Groundhog Day ride. You come back to the platform, and then a park employee rechecks your seat belt and sends you off again.

bluetoast
05-22-12, 12:28 AM
Seeing the commercials for Universal Studios and flying above the park with E.T. seemed awesome. But the actual ride is enclosed indoors on a track, and only the front row of each car gets to have E.T. with them. That was disappointing.

And the huge costs for the ride make sense, they have to hire the engineers, test, design, do all that safety stuff, landscaping, promotion, maintenance, decommission the previous ride or buy new property, make sure it'll last for years both physically and commercially.

I remember seeing something on TV about the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. They talked about both the movies and the ride. For the ride, they were saying that it was more challenging than the movies in a sense, because for the movies you only see the animatronics from one angle, so you don't necessarily have to build the whole body or whatever, but for the rides, the dinosaurs have to look good from every angle.

Mondo Kane
05-22-12, 01:07 AM
Backdraft :thumbsup:

gp1086
05-22-12, 10:54 AM
I'm bummed Universal Studios Florida got rid of Jaws at the beginning this year. At least we get the BD release in August.

See a video of the final voyage here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwlKgc-aiw4

Shannon Nutt
05-22-12, 11:06 AM
I'm bummed Universal Studios Florida got rid of Jaws at the beginning this year. At least we get the BD release in August.

See a video of the final voyage here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwlKgc-aiw4

Yeah, I liked the Jaws ride too...the Jurassic Park one is "just okay" in my book...not really as movie-based as I'd like.

The Infidel
05-22-12, 11:06 AM
I like the Total Recall ride. You don't actually go on anything, but somehow at the end of the day you seem to remember riding something, and you find a souvenir picture in your pocket of you and some weird baby-looking mutant waving at the camera.

TomOpus
05-22-12, 11:09 AM
Universal Studios Hollywood, on the other hand, blows compared to Disneyland so who the fuck goes there? ;)I've heard the King Kong 3D ride is pretty awesome. Never been on it, though.

Mabuse
05-22-12, 01:23 PM
I'm bummed Universal Studios Florida got rid of Jaws at the beginning this year. At least we get the BD release in August.

See a video of the final voyage here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwlKgc-aiw4

They got rid of Jaws jumping out of the water? Are they crazy?

Also, like Bluetoast said, a lot of these costs are R&D. If the new Cars ride costs $400 million dollars that is incredibly expensive, but you must realize that a big part of that money is the R&D to basicly "invent" a new ride system. Once that has been invented the ride can be reporduced (at Disney China or somewhere else) for half that cost.

Goat3001
05-22-12, 02:05 PM
No mention of the greatest theme park ride ever? Harry Potter.

Probably no mention because it's still fairly new. I'm looking forward to checking for the first time later this year.

It's worth the theme parks money to tag their new rides with labels of big movies/franchises. Say that Harry Potter ride just had a generic name, I probably wouldn't have heard about it and wouldn't make sure I went to it when I was in Orlando.

Dan
05-22-12, 02:29 PM
I loved the BTTF ride at Universal here in California.

Backdraft :thumbsup:

These are the two that stuck out from my trip to Universal/Disneyland with friends when I was 18 or 19. Although I remember seeing vomit at the bottom of BTTF's giant screen.

I remember being disappointed in the Jurassic Park ride.

brainee
05-22-12, 02:34 PM
New rides are just how they update and keep the place modern. Don't think of it as spending $500 million on an Avatar ride. Think of it as spending $500 million to update the park and keep it fresh. I doubt too many people are going to make a specific trip to Disney JUST so they can ride Avatar but if Disney never updated their rides people would just stop coming.

Kinda like a sports bar upgrading their tvs from old shitty tubes to lcds or plasmas. Most people won't go to a specific bar JUST because it has plasma tvs but if the bar never upgraded the tvs and just kept fixing the tubes eventually people would stop coming because other places DID upgrade and they would just go there instead.

That's a good explanation. You can't measure the profits from these rides directly (like you can with a movie, based on box office and home video sales) since people pay attendance for the whole park. Though in Harry Potter's case there was a noticeable jump in attendance (something like 30% ... which can attributed to the new area). Turnover/updating is something that goes on every theme park. Disney/Universal just do things at such a huge scale that the costs jump out at you.

Disney does get away with less updating than any major park I've seen. I suppose they can get away with having a steady stream of visitors regardless. Every years they'll have a major new thing. Which sounds like a lot until you figure how many separate parks they have (4 in Orlando, not counting the water parks). I was just there in December, and there are lots of things that are still there from the 80s (and earlier). Compare that to Universal Studios Orlando. Now that Jaws is gone, hardly anything from their 1990 opening remains (I think ET and maybe some shows/exhibits). Then again, they don't have the name brand of Disney (at least as far as parks are concerned) so they probably figure they have to try harder.

Mabuse
05-22-12, 03:58 PM
I was just there in December, and there are lots of things that are still there from the 80s (and earlier).Out here in Anaheim they have things that date back to 1955! -eek-

This is actually a good thing. The only good rides at Disneyland are the ones that predate 1980. All their new rides suck and/or are dated. Strange that new rides feel dated already but old rides like the Jungle Cruise and Storybook Land are still awesome.

DRG
05-22-12, 04:32 PM
Also, while not so much a ride but a theme park attraction, the Halloween Horror Nights events at the Universal Studios parks often have attractions based on popular horror franchises. One of the houses last year at Orlando was based on The Thing and I know they've had Friday the 13th, Saw, and others in the past.

asianxcore
05-22-12, 05:25 PM
Backdraft, Jurassic Park and Back To The Future are all awesome at Universal. I remember liking the E.T ride as well, but that was back when I was a kid.

Also as mentioned the Top Gun ride at both Paramount's Great America (CA) & Kings Island (OH), before the name change, were fun.

Not based on a movie, but King's Island for a while also had Outer Limits: Flight Of Fear. Outside of completely destroying your neck, it was an awesome ride.

I've only been on it once, but I liked the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.

whoopdido
05-22-12, 07:04 PM
That's a good explanation. You can't measure the profits from these rides directly (like you can with a movie, based on box office and home video sales) since people pay attendance for the whole park. Though in Harry Potter's case there was a noticeable jump in attendance (something like 30% ... which can attributed to the new area). Turnover/updating is something that goes on every theme park. Disney/Universal just do things at such a huge scale that the costs jump out at you.

Disney does get away with less updating than any major park I've seen. I suppose they can get away with having a steady stream of visitors regardless. Every years they'll have a major new thing. Which sounds like a lot until you figure how many separate parks they have (4 in Orlando, not counting the water parks). I was just there in December, and there are lots of things that are still there from the 80s (and earlier). Compare that to Universal Studios Orlando. Now that Jaws is gone, hardly anything from their 1990 opening remains (I think ET and maybe some shows/exhibits). Then again, they don't have the name brand of Disney (at least as far as parks are concerned) so they probably figure they have to try harder.

I read that the Harry Potter world cost somewhere between $200 and $300 million. If the park really got a 30% bump in attendance because of Potter World then that has to be one of the quickest paybacks of all time. Goes against my theory that people don't go just because of one specific thing. Potter is kind of a different animal though.

FRwL
05-22-12, 10:12 PM
Of all those rides i still like the classic carnival wooden ones like The Goliath.

Matthew Chmiel
05-22-12, 10:22 PM
This is actually a good thing. The only good rides at Disneyland are the ones that predate 1980. All their new rides suck and/or are dated. Strange that new rides feel dated already but old rides like the Jungle Cruise and Storybook Land are still awesome.
California Screamin' and Tower of Terror are a fucking blast, so you shut your whore mouth! :D