How does a great and well designed theme make all the difference when it comes to experiencing some of your favourite rides and attractions?!
If we’re completely honest here, when it comes to the success of any ride or attraction there is always one thing which is an absolute dead cert, and that’s the fact that when it comes to the design and concept of the ride or attraction in question the devil really is in the detail!
It’s definitely true that in today’s industry there are a large amount of very successful rides and attractions out there that despite having a very loose theme have still managed to rise to fame when it comes to visiting your favourite parks and attractions.
This is none better signified than with Icon at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Despite this ride having a very loosely fitted japanese theme this unique and very entertaining ride has become the first port of call when it comes to all who visit the park, however there are also those attractions that just wouldn’t be the same without the high level of attention to detail they command when it comes to the theme that they each possess.
To better understand how this is so we first have to take a much closer look at what a great and well designed theme can offer all of those who choose to experience it
What does a well designed theme offer?
If there is one thing which is truly evident when it comes to experiencing a great theme it’s simply this! It offers immersion!
There is nothing better in our opinion that being thrown feet first into the storyline when it comes to experiencing your favourite ride and attraction, and for us here at Theme Park Insanity there is one ride which stands out for us above all others when it comes to doing just this!
Wicker Man – Alton Tower’s 2018 GCI Wooden Coaster offers the perfect and unrivalled mix of thrills, chills and immersiveness. With everything from a stand out soundtrack to some of the most detailed themeing elements on resort Wicker Man (and good old Big Bob) offer a real one of a kind experience which is definitely not soon forgotten.
We feel that this is extremely important as when you are thrown into another world entirely (albeit a rather smokey and primal one at that) your brain starts to home in on the smaller details savouring every little detail and element the experience of this attraction will offer.
Through doing this you are forced to create visual memories which will stay with you forever an these are further cemented in place through the use of scent which as we all know is extremely prevalent in Wicker Man’s station building (especially in the pre-show area).
There are however many other different types of rides and attractions within the UK alone which offer a very similar and tantalizing experience and they aren’t all necessarily roller coasters.
When it comes to a great theme for us the one type of theme that stands out above all others is horror.
There is nothing better than being scared out of your wits, feeling isolated in an entirely different world as you traverse the halls and corridors of a haunted house ever fearful of what you will likely find around the next corner.
This therefore brings us onto taking a closer look at how this is achieved, and although we recently touched on it with Wicker Man there are so many more aspects that go into bringing a fantastically well designed theme to life!
How is a great theme achieved?
When it comes to bringing a well designed theme to life there are so many contributing factors that get thrown into the mix!
With everything from the obvious such as sound and lighting, to the way the attraction is designed and laid out each individual aspect plays a pivotal role in creating the desired end product and helping to leave all those who visit with lasting memories of their experience.
Now, let’s take a look to start with at the typical horror based attraction.
What’s the one major feature that each attraction of this type possesses when it comes to the layout and the overall experience? They are tightly packed, claustrophobic and overall very dark.
They also usually possess a lot of different style of prop pieces and these again serve as visual catalyst when it comes to creating fear, however the way the attraction is laid out can usually also play just as bigger part in the overall experience as the props, sound effects and lighting do also.
The one attraction in our opinion really helps to show just how well this is achieved is The Haunting at Drayton Manor.
The Haunting plays it’s role perfectly in creeping you out from the minute you enter the queue line to the moment you exit the attraction, and although this may not be the longest of attractions it still keeps us coming back for more time and time again each and every time we visit.
This Vekoma Madhouse chills you, thrills you and leaves you feeling claustrophobic from start to finish as you embark upon a paranormal ghost hunt in the old Drayton Vicarage in search of answers after the reports have circulated within the local area that there is something extremely wrong with this once happy place.
The Haunting uses a mixture of moving prop pieces, lighting, projection mapping and sound to really help set the story and as you enter the first room after narrowly escaping a very tight corridor you are confronted by the house’s resident spectre!
You then proceed through the rest of the house which again is narrow and packed full of jump scares and into the ‘chapel’ (the main climax to your experience) which is of course the Vekoma Madhouse itself (and also the first of it’s kind here in the UK).
Throughout your experience your senses are bombarded with an onslaught of physical effects (tilting mirrors, pulsating floor and air cannons) and visual effects (lighting, projection mapping and animated aspects) which all help to create the lasting effect the attraction is going for, however sound also plays an extremely important part in the overall process as well due to the fact music is known to have the power to illicit emotional responses if done in the correct manner.
Overall The Haunting presents a very good example of how a theme is done to it’s very best, and although some of the attraction’s effects may be outdated and tacky looking nowadays they still help to achieve their goal in scaring the hell out of all who visit.
There are however also those attractions which don’t necessarily need a theme to help deliver a great experience. We therefore ask how is this the case and what makes them just as successful as those rides and attractions that do sport a great theme.
When having no theme is just as effective!
Sometimes you don’t necessarily need a great theme in order to achieve success. This is shown none better than by a certain 1994 hyper coaster based in Blackpool!
The Pepsi Max Big One (or The Big One as it’s now known) opened back with absolutely no theme what so ever and relies on the experience it gives alone to pull in the crowds (which it still continues to do to this day, even 26 years down the line).
The one main draw this ride has is the sheer height and intensity it possesses. Standing at over 200 ft in height and reaching speeds of up to 70 mph The Big One continues to be a firm fan favourite to this very day.
This is due to the way the ride has been designed, however in this instance the fact that this ride has no theme (other than a sponsorship deal) makes absolutely no difference in drawing in the crowds what so ever.
credit – Luke Houldsworth of Coaster Gen
This is shown by the fact that even on a busy day this ride can still achieve a queue time of up to and including a 2 hour wait which considering the age of the ride stands as strong evidence this attraction has stood the test of time.
So how do the two stances compare?
In reality if you want to be sucked into a different world entirely and leave with some truly fantastic lasting memories then we strongly feel that a great and well designed theme can achieve just that.
As we mentioned earlier in this article visual catalysts play a very strong part in helping this happen, however the sense of smell can be just as powerful and that’s why we feel that Wicker Man is the best example of a great theme done to perfection.
In reality however the attractions we love or hate will always come own to personal preference and for this reason alone we can see why rides with no theme can in some cases be just as successful as those with the most immersive themeing ever devised.
Overall we feel that if you want to leave feeling blown away (or even scared out of your wits for that matter) then one thing is an absolute dead certain – this just simply wouldn’t happen without the presence of great themeing and an immersive storyline.
However if you want to leave your day feeling thrilled and excited then rides and attractions sporting no themeing can achieve just that as well!
What’s your preference when it comes to your favourite type of ride or attraction? Do you preference being immersed into the world the ride or attraction is set? Or are you happy just to be thrilled and entertained? Let us know below!