Themed rollercoasters (really good ones)

Laura

TS Member
Favourite Ride
blue fire Megacoaster
I've been delving further into madness by looking at rollercoasters in countries I'd never even thought of visiting. But I noticed...I can't find many really, REALLY immersive ones.
Obviously there has been much complaint about The Smiler, The Swarm, and so on, and lack of themeing or coherent storyline. From my adventures on tumblr, people outside the UK seem really impressed with The Smiler's theme and themeing. Even the dispatch sequence has impressed some people.

So I was wondering if we could make a list of really immersive, well themed rollercoasters.

My immediete thought is Wodan - which has great themeing but as far as I'm aware, no coherent storyline. Well - it might do, there was no queue so we whizzed past a lot of stuff and while I understood the Norse theme, I didn't understand the 'story' of what it was all about.

I actually think SAW is OK - if you have an understanding of the movies. I vaguely get it's about a crazy dude hurting people who supposedly deserve it. Unfortunately I think a lot more could be done to explain this in the queue, and once the indoor section is over, it loses the thread of what's going on. My friend (a non-enthusiast who likes SAW) even remarked on this.

I've heard Raptor is the best themed wing-coaster out there - I've not experienced it.

Rides like Space Mountain and Rock'n'Rollercoaster, and also Thunder Mountain and The Mummy, are almost dark ride/coaster hybrids, but they aren't big thrill machines like The Smiler.

Is there a ride out there that provides both?
What would The Smiler have to do to provide a satisfying experience on both a story and thrill level?

I don't type this imagining it will ever happen - I've been going to parks with non-enthusiasts for a while now and they simply aren't watching the queueline videos, they aren't looking at the themeing, they are just looking at how many times it goes upside down.

Comment from my last trip 'Is this ride supposed to have a story?' - about The Swarm.
 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
I suppose the obvious example relatively near to home of a thrill coaster with really immersive theming is Black Mamba at Phantasialand. The theming is quite incredible.

I personally think that Expedition Everest is one of if not the best themed coaster in the world. It's just stunning. It has its fair amount of thrills also.

Crystal Wing at Happy Valley is also amazingly themed:

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They recently painted it yellow though which I don't think looks quite as good:

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There are other examples, like Blue Fire, but those are the three that really stand out for me.

:)
 

smudge

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
Hulk at IOA is excellently themed and definitely could be also classed as a 'thrill machine.'

The story is also coherent and well executed.

"Everything looks good...I think...I think this time it's...going to work!"

Of course, also echoing the above with Expedition Everest, although maybe not quite a thrill machine albeit still providing thrills.

Maybe Manta, Sea World Orlando, could be classed as excellently themed, it just doesn't really possess a story as such.
 

Bob

TS Member
smudge said:
Hulk at IOA is excellently themed and definitely could be also classed as a 'thrill machine.'

The story is also coherent and well executed.

"Everything looks good...I think...I think this time it's...going to work!"

Of course, also echoing the above with Expedition Everest, although maybe not quite a thrill machine albeit still providing thrills.

Maybe Manta, Sea World Orlando, could be classed as excellently themed, it just doesn't really possess a story as such.

Ah see this is it really. Hulk has a great storyline but its theming isn't well.. erm...
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Thanks to RCDB.

I can't think of many rides that are completely themed, top to bottom with a story. Even Nemesis doesn't exactly tell you it's story. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Oz'Iris, Thunder Mountain and Everest
 

smudge

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Nemesis
See your point about Hulk, but even Oz'Iris also has 'unthemed' sections...

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Again from RCDB.

Bob said:
I can't think of many rides that are completely themed, top to bottom with a story. Even Nemesis doesn't exactly tell you it's story. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Oz'Iris, Thunder Mountain and Everest

I think you are right, excluding Disneys $300m odd one-offs, there perhaps isn't a trully completely immersive 'thrill machine.'
 

jon81uk

TS Member
I think generally for coasters that tell a "story" Disney and Universal have some of the best examples. Look at Expedition Everest & the Seven Dwarves Mine at DisneyWorld or Crush's Coasters at WDS Paris. Then there is The Mummy at Universal and of course we are yet to see what the Gringotts Bank coaster will be like.
Some coasters have a great set-up but don't tell a story really all the way through, these include, Hulk at IoA, Rock'n'Rollercoaster at DisneyWorld and Thirteen at AT.
I think as good as Space Mountain is, there isn't really a story.

Apocolypse at Magic Mountain you could tell was meant to have a set-up but we went through as there was no queue so don't know what it was!
 

CGM

TS Member
For me, Big Grizzly Mountain Minecarts at HKDL is the best implementation of a theme and story on a rollercoaster. Okay, it's not the most thrilling coaster ever but because all of the elements gel together so well, it's one of the most fun. You can't help but ride it with a massive grin on your face. As a family coaster, it's almost perfect.

I think the reason it works so well is that there's little suspension of disbelief required to appreciate the story. The mine cart theme justifies the rollercoaster ride system and the trick track elements are clearly explained by the events that surround the riders. The story is also simple enough to be easily digestible in a few minutes even with the excitement of the ride acting as a distraction.

Also, the ride is so technically good that there's nothing to break the fourth wall. The theming is beautifully detailed and totally immersive, there's no chance of peeking round a rock and seeing scaffolding propping it up. The animatronics, although heavily stylised, move realistically and fluidly, there's never a sense that you're looking at a machine. Perhaps most importantly, the trick track elements are instantaneous and don't interrupt the flow at all. Everything happens smoothly and in perfect sequence. Vekoma have done a terrific job. It's glass smooth too.

Big Grizzly Mountain is a masterclass in how to create a themed coaster with a proper story. I hope that Disney builds on its success and continues to create immersive coasters like it.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
I haven't seen Big Grizzly minecarts before but it looks very similar trains and technical theory to Expedition Everest? I assume the storyline elements work even better than Everest though?
 

Laura

TS Member
Favourite Ride
blue fire Megacoaster
The Hulk I agree with even if it does suffer terribly from paint fading and dirt build up! If you experience the queueline videos it does build things up nicely.

I totally forgot about OzIris - it does to a certain extent depend on if you are familiar with the stories of the Twelve Tasks of Asterix and Asterix and Cleopatra (The hypnotist Iris, Edifis and his ramshackle buildings, etc) to understand that you're going to his 'clinic' to be hypnotised into flying. I don't think the unthemed bits really matter here as you're just supposed to be 'a bird' and Iris's 'work is done' (I was brought up on Asterix by my dad!) If there is a bit of a queue you can see the story being told in the Egyptian murals.

The other rides are all really great examples but they're family coasters. I think that's what Alton were trying to do with Th13teen but the budget ran out or they thought people wouldn't care, maybe? I still hear people saying 'oh they're still building it/working on it' when they see the scaffold!

Edit: Spelling :(
 

CGM

TS Member
jon81uk said:
I haven't seen Big Grizzly minecarts before but it looks very similar trains and technical theory to Expedition Everest? I assume the storyline elements work even better than Everest though?

I can't really form a fair comparison as I've never been on Expedition Everest. The impression I get from reviews and discussion is that on EE, the technology is a bit less refined. The pauses whilst the switch tracks re-align interrupt the flow of the ride and there are fewer storyline elements. It's still a coaster I'd very much like to ride though.
 

BigAl

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Forbidden Journey
Tivoli Gardens' Rutschebanen is the very last properly presented Scenic Railway on Earth. As many now know, it underwent a transformation to have its mountain restored entirely for the 2014 season:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79X72LHF_Qs#

This example is still nothing compared to some of the others already posted and discussed here, and even Scenic Railway's which are no longer with us, but the heavily themed Scenic Railway is pretty much one of, if not the first kind of fully-themed rides in history.



Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Big Bad Wolf was a pretty heavily-themed Arrow Suspended Swinging coaster:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znqsTLS5FVE#

Gorgeous. :(



There are some pretty heavily-themed Wild Mouse coasters out there too! Many take on a Wild Western image as the car size is perfect to disguise as an old mine train, but Scooby Doo at Movie World in Australia is probably the best example. It's dark ride meets fun indoor coaster:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwLtwrUL7PI#ws



If people think Swarm has a decent theme / amount to it, Apocalypse at Six Flags America (formerly Iron Wolf - B&M's first ever coaster) is the stand-up equivalent to it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbP2HUI1CeY#ws



Gardaland's Raptor is probably the best themed coaster that Merlin has ever done (with Saw closely behind it):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L07YyTsl7m8#ws

If only Merlin could continue that kind of standard further afield! :( Even Gardaland's Mammut is impressive!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_YzF45QxCo#ws
 

AstroDan

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point
Some rides, like Die Vliegende Hollander, Wodan and Fluch von Novgorod have truly outstanding queue line experiences.
 

Ian

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Dizz, Bobby’s Yarn Land 🧶
Those white lines really add so much character to the ride! Sorry Mamba and Everest, you're not *quite* there yet!
 

Tuggerz

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Taron
Sam said:
Scream! at Six Flags Magic Mountain is breathtaking.
Beats Nemesis anyday!

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The Demon at Tivoli Gardens, I think looks quite gorgeous. Albeit the themeing not being directly related to the coaster it just looks so impressive in this setting. More oriental themes please!

(I won't show the other side of the coaster though ;) )
 

Adam

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
Laura said:
I've heard Raptor is the best themed wing-coaster out there - I've not experienced it.

I want on Raptor a couple years ago, I thought the rides theming is immense, definitely one of the best themed rides I've ever been on. Though Katun at Italy's other major theme park Miribilandia is also quite impressively themed, as is it's surrounding area (and is also my second favourite rollercoaster, behind The Smiler).

katun33fq.jpg


katun2.jpg
 

Islander

TS Member
Fluch Von Novgorod at Hansa really should get a mention - brilliant queue line (...and it has to be, the throughput is dire!), really immersive theme, and a fantastic story.

The dispatch sequence for me is hands-down the best for any coaster I've ridden, and the effects/surprises during the ride are sublime :)
 
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