Parks are run by humans – which means that sometimes (although rarely) they will make mistakes. It’s human nature, after all. Sometimes, taking a risk on a prototype pays off. (Look at how well Magnum XL-200 did!) However, in these cases, things didn’t quite work out as well as the parks had hoped.
That being said, let’s take a look back at five of some of the biggest “not-so-stellar” moves made by amusement and theme parks. Got one you think should be added to the list/ Tell us on social media, or leave a comment below!
When park fans first saw this mammoth attraction, complete with it’s programmable ride sequence, many of us shouted, “…shut up and take my money!” Unfortunately, stress cracks that were discovered in the models and a snapped pillar in Ohio led the attraction to completely disappear to almost as little fanfare as it debuted to.
4.) Silver Bullet, Knott’s Berry Farm
Talk about a more appropriate name – many park fans will argue that the addition of this custom B&M inverted coaster nearly killed the charm from “America’s 1st Theme Park.” Plopped right in the middle of the park, the ride straddles several themed areas, and necessitated the moving of a church on the property as well as the original Berry Stand and vines that made Knott’s famous.
Built in an apparent attempt to compete with Six Flags Magic Mountain, Silver Bullet was the second to last major attraction built / purchased under the Kinzel-era of Cedar Fair’s management. Since then, the company has shifted, to re-investing in the parks’ classic attractions, bringing back the nostalgia and charm that made Knott’s the friendlier and less-crowded alternative to nearby Disneyland.
3.) Stealth – Paramount’s Great America
Announced in 1999 to much fanfare, this expensive, $17 million prototype attraction gave riders the sensation of flying…if they were willing to wait up to three hours on a GOOD day.
However, the ride was removed after only three years of operation, due to high maintenance needs, large amounts of downtime and that very low throughput / capacity. The second station was never built to completion, which allowed riders to bake in the sun for up to ten minutes while another train was dispatched. Quite simply, the ride never lived up to nor operated at it’s original potential.
Originally committed to several models of the ride for their parks, Paramount Parks allegedly pulled the contract on Vekoma after the disappointing results from Stealth. The area the ride sat on became the “Boomerang Bay Waterpark” but sharp eyes can still spot footers for Stealth in the Yankee Harbor area of the park.
2.) The Bat – Kings Island
Even the masters have their mistakes. For years, Anton Schwarzkopf had been designing a swinging, suspended coaster. Unfortunately, Anton’s skills with fabrication and design didn’t translate to running a business, and the company went bankrupt before “The Bat” could be finished. In stepped Arrow Development, who finished the ride.
However, high bank forces contributed to very high track maintenance, which eventually shut the ride down. It was replaced by another Arrow creation, the multi-loop “Vortex.”
Arrow would go on to build several suspended coasters of their own, one of which made a return to Kings Island, named “Top Gun.” Ironically, the park renamed and rebranded it to “the Bat” in 2014.
1.) Son of Beast – Paramount’s Kings Island
The looping wooden coaster. Once the holy grail of coaster-dom; now, it’s the “next big thing” when it comes to parks. But back in 2000, it was still a “work in progress.” True, the ride worked fine, but the heavy trains custom designed to transition between the steel loop and wooden track tore up the 7,000+ feet of track on the ride, to the point it became unbearable to ride.
Removing the loop and adding lighter, Gerstlauer trains didn’t help, either. The coaster was shuttered for several years and then eventually torn down in favor of a custom, record breaking B&M inverted coaster, “Banshee.”
What do you think? Are there other “not-so-great” moves that are worth noting? Tell us what you think on our social media feeds or leave a comment with video clip below!
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Theme and amusement parks tend to be great backdrops for films – unfortunately, so many of them are well, lackluster.
This is one of them.
Shortly after the production wrapped up on “Beverly Hills Cop III,” then Paramount’s Great America took a second swing at being in the movies, with the Macaulay Culkin comedy, “Getting Even With Dad.”
At the time, Culkin was the hottest thing in Hollywood. His “Home Alone” series made him an instant sensation. Literally every studio was willing to pay big bucks to have him appear for them.
They probably should have thought about that a little bit harder…
Fun fact: “Fiddler’s Fling” at the park was renamed and rethemed to “Centrifuge” for the film – and the theme has stuck to this day.
Unfortunately, just like it’s counterpart filmed at the same park, “Beverly Hills Cop III,” this film was also a commercial bomb at the box office, losing nearly $12 million for MGM back in 1994 (That’s nearly $20 million today). On Rotten Tomatoes, it’s overall rating reflects that.
So the next time you ride Centrifuge, know you’re riding a piece of Hollywood – at least a small piece of it. Just don’t expect Macaulay Culkin to be riding next to you…
The mid-nineties were awesome. Nickelodeon was just hitting its stride. The Soviet Union was no more. And a movie studio had just purchased the entire Kings Entertainment amusement park empire – with the intention of turning them into THEME parks.
With Paramount at the helm, the former Kings parks became valuable assets in terms of new shooting locations for films. Considering the advertising slogan at the time, “Where the magic of the movies meets the thrills of a lifetime” – it would only make sense that a feature film would eventually be made inside one of Paramount’s parks.
And in 1994, that’s exactly what happened at Great America. Coincidentally, a film was being pitched to the major L.A. studios at the same time. Essentially, it was “Die Hard,” but at an amusement park. Paramount looked to their stable of franchises to see if the concept would work, and they found their answer with, “Beverly Hills Cop 3.”
The film is all but forgettable when it comes to plot – and its effect on the cinema landscape is minimal at best. In fact, it only has a 10% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also a flop at the box office, losing $8 million domestically. It eventually made money after being released worldwide – but was still the least successful of the three “Beverly Hills Cop” films.
However, if you’re a fan of California’s Great America…it’s a literal time capsule into the Santa Clara park at the beginning of the Paramount-era. The scenic railway is still there, Vortex is still green! But arguably, the most memorable scene in the film features one of the most beloved attractions to ever grace the Great American skyline.
In it, Axel attempts to escape pursuing Wonder World security guards by jumping onto “the Spider” a large, three-armed Ferris Wheel that us locals know better as the “Triple Wheel.” (Gurnee fans know it as the “Sky Whirl”) However, one of the ride cabins begins to come loose, with two young children trapped inside.
Axel somehow exits his locked cabin, (through the magic of Hollywood) and slides down to the hub of the ride. From there, he ascends up the other arm, rescues the children and rappels down to the ground, just moments before the cabin smashes down.
Sharp eyed viewers will spot famous film director, George Lucas in this scene as well.
As for the Triple Wheel, the constant starts and stops required to get these exciting scenes may have contributed to the ride’s early demise. The attraction was designed to run continuously throughout the day – and the necessary re-takes and repositions were hard on both the hydraulics and motors. The Triple Wheel was dismantled after the 1997 season, to make way for Invertigo, which itself was removed after the 2011 season.
Currently, the site of the ride remains empty, however it is used for “Friday Night Flicks” during the summer.
While the rumor mill is always churning out stories about new attractions coming to this area – long-time fans of both Great Americas always hold out hope that someday, they’ll round Hometown Square and hear that unmistakable whine in the park once again: