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Gazza

Thoughts on theming.

12 posts in this topic

I was just wondering what peoples views on theming rides are. Do you think its worth it? How much does it add to the ride? What makes the theming of a certain ride effective or ineffective? What looks good and what ruins it? How much should there be? How much of the budget? What are the textbook examples of good our bad theming? Its a pretty opened ended topic, write what you want on it, I just put those questions at the top as a few starting points, you dont even have to address them at all.

Edited by Gazza

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I was just wondering what peoples views on theming rides are. Do you think its worth it? How much does it add to the ride? What makes the theming of a certain ride effective or ineffective? What looks good and what ruins it? How much should there be? How much of the budget? What are the textbook examples of good our bad theming? Its a pretty opened ended topic, write what you want on it, I just put those questions at the top as a few starting points.
  • Yes, it is very much worth it, as it makes the ride much more visually appealing, enjoyable and interesting.
  • It adds a great deal to the ride, because of reasons specified above.
  • The theming must be visually appealing, flowing, interesting and if possible, have a sort of story to it.
  • What makes it look good is a continuous flow of theming that corresponds to the ride's atmosphere. A stroyline to accompany the theming also makes it great.Theming that has had little effort/money put into it and has been hastily and poorly done.
  • I think that theming should be quite sunstantial, but not so much that it is ridiculous or inconveniences customers.
  • I'm not sure on the budget one. I guess enough to meet the standards that i have pointed out...
  • Good Theming: SDSC, beggining of Batman Ride (very good as well as it has a story as well as good theming), WWF, Gold Rush Country and rides (yet they have slightly decreased in the past years). Bad: Cyclone (what is with this theming...what are they trying to do with that turbine??? If they had made all those weather things actually point towards something, then maybe), Batwing (could've been better, quite minimal), Dreamwolrd's Main Street and various other areas of the park that are slowly going downhill and Tower of Terror (some bits are alright but they really could've done more with it.

Even when I was a little kid I have enjoyed good theming accompanying rides. There have been some really great examples of theming in the past and some even today. But theming these days just seems to be really a let-down with most rides. Theming should all be about creating something that will give you a a really good in-depth setting and make you feel like you're actualy in a different place from the park. Anyway, I won't blab on anymore, but I just hope that theming on rides to come improves.

Edited by Swanny

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Theming is not about placing a few fibreglass fixtures around a ride. That is perhaps the most pertinent issue when it comes to ride theming. It is about creating a mood and atmosphere that accentuates the ride experience. No matter how good they may appear, they're not adding anything and just come off as a token effort if they're not contributing anything to the overall ride. If there's no room in the budget for theming a ride properly, then it shouldn't be done at all. When it comes to a regular outdoor roller coaster, going for a low-key unobtrusive and low-maintenance visual effect wins nearly every time. Those few coasters I've been on that do pull off theming are all at parks which have given them the proper budget to make it work, not just while queuing, but for the entire ride. There's not a single coaster in Australia I feel that has theming that lives up to the ride or vice versa. Brand affiliation is also not theming. The most visually attractive park in Australia is hands down Sea World. It works by creating a cohesive atmosphere for the overall park, while allowing individual attractions to be very much themed in their own unique way, all adding to the overall feel of the park. Movie World is OK but they've become too disjointed in recent years with the Scooby-Doo area being a prime example; you have in the space of about 30 metres the typical "Hollywood" theming of the main street, San Francisco, Gotham City, Scooby-Doo, Harry Potter and wild west. As a result the effectiveness of each is watered down significantly. For instance there's no way anyone eating at Dirty Harry's at Movie World feels like they're in San Francisco, which means the whole purpose is lost. Eating in Universal Studios Orlando's expansive San Francisco area meanwhile is as close to the real thing as you'll ever get, and it genuinely does feel the same. It might as well be not themed at all, seeing as it's not really serving any thematic purpose. Take this comparison between the real San Francisco and Universal's: post-1-1184836721_thumb.jpgpost-1-1184836728_thumb.jpg I don't have one of Dirty Harry's to throw into the mix, but I'm sure most people see how it falls well short.

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^Which one is the real San Fransisco? I'm guessing the second one since the boat has a radar. First of all, for me theming is very important, theme parks are meant to be escapist places so they should make the effort to theme their rides. IMO it is possible for any ride to be themed well, it just depends on the creativity of the designer. Also, if I were a park I would have a smaller ride with better theming than a large ride with poor theming, so for instance I would prefer a small highly themed ride like Black Mamba over something large but sparsely themed like Sliver Bullet. Needless to say, Universal and Disney are my favourite parks. I think that theming the queue area and station is most important for starters as this is where riders will spend most of their time and would have the time to appreciate it. For the ride itself, perhaps theme the low to the ground areas, but landscaping should be done in the remaining areas as it is a waste of time otherwise. I think also, if the park didnt have the budget to theme and entire queue then they should perhaps theme the latter section, but leave the first part plain so there is a clear transition into the themed section, and have some sort of portal that signifies this transition. Space mountain sort of does this, it's just a regular outdoor waiting area at the start, but once you enter the building the rest of the park fades away. But with theming, it should be go hard or go home. First of all, the theming should make sense, it shouldnt be about just 'flavouring' a ride with a few disjointed objects that somehow relate to the theme. GD is an example of this, the outside walls of the building seem to just have random foam signs and fixtures everywhere that dont really mean anything. It would be better for instance if they had fixtures, then had the signs relevant to them right beside. Batwing does this too as the theming around the ride is a few batman related objects, but nothing cohesive. Realism is the key and if a park is going to theme a ride, they should do plenty of research to ensure it looks the part. Wild west falls is a bit guilty of the random objects method in the queue too, but at least they have used real looking items. However once on the ride the progression through each zone works well since a central idea is retained in each area. Flat rides are a challenge to theme, so for them the focus should be more on making the ride look appeal to bystanders as well as those in the queue. The two main DW flats do this nicely, but of course you could always go further. Sometimes, with the minimal theming approach, such as in WWW it can be OK if the thematic elements look good in their own right. Take the BRO, while the big shade structure doesn't make it feel like you are in an octopus, to bystanders it is a cheeky visual gag which makes it OK. IMO WWW isn't themed at all as you always feel as if you are in a waterpark, but the few beachy things they have around provide some nice photo ops and "oh look at that" type moments.

There's not a single coaster in Australia I feel that has theming that lives up to the ride or vice versa.
I think SDSC comes close, but the laser room, while impressive, is incohesive with the rest of the ride. Actually, the ride with the best balance is the humble little Roadrunner Roller-coaster, it retains the look of the cartoon and all the elements complement each other well and seem well thought out. Im not a fan the painted backdrop. In fact I dont think they should be used at all. I think one place where it ruins the feel is on Indiana Jones Adventure, there were a few walls where they had painted vines or skeletons and lit it with UV lights, which looked totally unconvincing when compared with the rest of the ride. Edited by Gazza

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It's been many years since I rode it, but in 1999 I went to Wonderland as part of a school excursion. The one ride I felt was properly themed was Space Probe 7. We walked down the corridors which made you feel like you were inside a futuristic building. Screens in the wall showing the problem and that evacuation was needed were great. Being only 13 I didn't know what to expect, and finding a shaking floor (I think it was) was strange to me, and I remember stopping before realising and continuing on. Lining up for the individual "escape pods" was good. The thing it lacked, besides the fact the screens inside the bubble weren't working, was a conclusion. You dropped back to earth, and then they just opened the back door and out you go.. I think the conclusion to the story, which if you're going to theme to a story, you really should do, is lacking in almost every ride. Exclusions to this would be Wild West Falls and to a small extent Loony Tunes River Ride

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As if, Never ever compare Superman Escapes theming to WWF, Superman escape is horrible compared to WWF. With superman they could have at least made the entrance look more like a city because it IS supposed to be a city.

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Really? I would have rated WWF far ahead of SE, WWF seems more elaborate and has more details to notice, and lacks any major unthemed sections.
Well the story for Superman Is what I tended to like, i mean For wild west, Why are you going up into the mountain? <_<

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^Yeah true, SE definitely does have a well thought out story, but 'theming' is different to story, theming is more talking about the fixtures within the ride (scenery, textures, objects etc), though the two are related. That's why I think WWF wins out in that department because the "look" of the ride is unbeaten here in Australia. Even if there isnt a real reason why you are doing the stuff you do in WWF, it sure does give the wild west "feel".

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^Yeah true, SE definitely does have a well thought out story, but 'theming' is different to story, theming is more talking about the fixtures within the ride (scenery, textures, objects etc), though the two are related. That's why I think WWF wins out in that department because the "look" of the ride is unbeaten here in Australia. Even if there isnt a real reason why you are doing the stuff you do in WWF, it sure does give the wild west "feel".
I guess your right. ;)

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