5 Movie Franchises That Would Make Great Theme Park Rides

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The impact of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure has proven once again that movies can inspire incredible theme park attractions. Disney, which has been basing rides and shows around its own movies for decades, is seeking to counter its rival’s success by building a new land based on James Cameron’s Avatar at its Animal Kingdom park in Florida.

While there are already a huge number of rides that draw upon popular films for their storylines, there is still a veritable goldmine of Hollywood blockbusters that remains untapped by theme park ride designers. Here are 5 smash-hit movie franchises that would be a great fit with an amusement park near you.

5. James Bond

Few movie series have managed shown the longevity of James Bond, which will celebrate 50 years since the release of Dr. No when Skyfall hits theaters in 2012. Given that the films are packed with gadgets, car chases and even the occasional trip into outer space, it seems surprising that the only theme park attraction based on them to date was a short-lived stunt show at California’s Great America in the 1990s. Theme parks are big business in the UK, which manages to support nearly 30 parks despite its often-bleak weather conditions. Surely Bond, a national treasure, would pull in the crowds at Alton Towers or Thorpe Park?

Top concept: A hybrid roller coaster-water ride, based around one of Bond’s many transforming vehicles. The queue would be set in Q’s laboratory, with a pre-show video hosted by MI6 boss M.

4. The Fast and the Furious

Few could have predicted when The Fast and the Furious was released in 2001 that it would go on to inspire no fewer than four sequels within a decade. Given that the franchise’s focus on high-speed car chases continues to draw in movie-goers, surely it could do the same at a major theme park?

Top concept: A variation on the Test Track attraction at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, in which riders would first "pimp their ride" before racing it against another car around an outdoor circuit.

3. Speed

OK, so 1994’s Speed is hardly flying off the Blu-Ray shelves, and Speed 2 was dreadful. The core concept, though – a bus can’t slow down beyond 50 miles per hour or it will explode – would make an intriguing concept for a theme park ride. Watching a speedometer slowly clicking down towards destruction would add an extra dimension to any roller coaster.

Top concept: A multi-launch coaster, in which the speed subsides down to near-fatal levels on several occasions before some ingenious method triggers another launch.

2. The Incredibles

It’s almost certain that Disney’s Imagineers have several ideas up their sleeves for rides based on Pixar’s The Incredibles, waiting to break them out in case the company ever decides to produce a sequel. The range of super-powers that the film’s stars employ could be blended to produce an almost limitless combination of experiences, and it’s certain that Disney could cash-in on merchandise from the inevitable post-ride shop.

Top concept: The Star Wars-inspired speeder bike chase sequence seen in the movie could work well with an indoor, heavily-themed version of one of Vekoma’s motorbike coasters.

1. The Avengers

Marvel has been building up to 2012’s The Avengers movie for some time, bringing together a number of franchises including Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor. The company is now fully-owned by Disney, although the situation is complicated by Universal Orlando’s pre-existing licensing deal (which includes the rights to use a variety of characters). Surely it’s only a matter of time, though, before we see The Avengers gracing an attraction at one of Disney’s non-Florida theme parks?

Top concept: It’s time for Disney to prove that it can make dark rides based on its own Marvel characters every bit as good as Universal’s Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. Employing the latest technical wizardry and "4D" effects, it should see guests soaring to the skies and racing along the surface alongside The Avengers.

With Hollywood developing its next blockbuster franchise, and theme parks in need of regular new additions to keep guests flocking through the gates, it’s certain that we’ll see a number of new Hollywood-inspired rides in the next few years. With hundreds of millions of dollars likely to be invested, expect to be amazed.

About the author:

Nick Sim is a movie and amusement park fanatic based in Ipswich, England. He is dedicated to producing the web’s most extensive theme park guide over at Theme Park Tourist.

Image credits:

Wizarding World of Harry Potter.jpg – Joe Gauder


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Updated: February 7, 2012 — 1:59 pm