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5 Insanely Expensive Theme Park Rides That Literally Didn't Work

3. Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines (Islands of Adventure)


Image: Universal

As it planned the Universal Orlando Resort's second theme park, Islands of Adventure, Universal was determined to include attractions that would appeal to younger children. "In the early days of this project," recalls Universal Creative's Mark Woodbury, "we were looking for something that would appeal to kids. You’re nowhere without Dr. Seuss. So very early on we looked at bringing to life the works and writings of Dr. Seuss." The result was Seuss Landing, a whimsical land that does not feature a single straight line. To create the curvy, Seussian facades, Universal employed a material more usually employed for thermal insulation purposes: Styrofoam. Almost everything was made of the material, with artists taking large chunks, attaching them to the fronts of the buildings, and then carving them with chainsaws initially and then with dull knives to create the final image. To offer an aerial tour of the area, allowing guests to really appreciate the theming, Universal installed the monorail-style Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines. In a park filled with prototype, cutting-edge attractions, this would surely be one of the simplest to get up-and-running, right? Wrong. The monorail was the only one of the park's attractions not ready for its opening day.


In the original design for Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Very Unusual Driving Machines, riders would be able to control the speed of their vehicles, to the extent that they could even gently bump the other cars. Universal refused to be drawn on the reasons for the delayed opening, with some reports suggesting that the ride lacked a convenient escape route in the event of a breakdown. As a result, its 15-foot-high track stood empty for some seven years. When it did finally open as the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, the bumper-car effect was no more.

2. Son of Beast (Kings Island)

Image: Chris Hagerman , Wikipedia (license)


After opening in 1979, The Beast became one Kings Island's most iconic attractions. At the time, it was the longest, tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. It was only natural then, for the park to attempt to repeat its success with a "sequel" ride two decade later. Announced on May 11, 1999, Son of Beast would become the world's first wooden hypercoaster, boasting a 214-foot first drop. It would also become the world's fastest wooden roller coaster, hitting a top speed of more than 78 miles per hour. On top of that, it would be the only wooden roller coaster in the world to feature a vertical loop. Kings Island planned to spend more than $20 million working with the Roller Coaster Corporation of America to build this truly monstrous creation. Things started to go wrong even before Son of Beast opened, with Kings Island's then-owner, Paramount Parks, firing RCCA before construction was completed. It did open in May 2000, though, complete with its 118-foot loop - making it the first modern wooden coaster to incorporate such an inversion. Unfortunately, guests were discovering that riding Son of Beast was more painful than fun, and it soon built a fearsome reputation. Kings Island was forced to make several design corrections during its opening year - but much worse was to come. The ride was closed in July 2006 when a part of its structure failed, creating a fault in the track that led to a train coming to a sudden stop. As a result, the ride's trains were replaced with lighter versions to reduce stress on the track, and the loop - one of Son of Beast's signature elements - was removed.


In 2009, a second incident led to Son of Beast closing once again. A woman claimed that the intensity of the coaster had caused a blood vessel in her brain to burst. Ohio state investigators later ruled that the ride design was not at fault for the injury, but Kings Island opted to keep the ride closed while it considered options for its future. In the end, it decided that Son of Beast hadno future. Instead, it was finally dismantled and removed from the park in 2012.

1. Jaws (Universal Studios Florida)

Jaws With the original movie having pulled in an incredible $470 million at the box office and being one of Universal Pictures’ best-known productions, the decision to bring Jaws to Universal Studios Florida for its opening in 1990 was not a difficult one. However, even before work started, it was recognized that developing the Jaws attraction would be a hugely complicated undertaking – perhaps more so than any other attraction at Universal Studios Florida. True to Universal’s aim of placing guests “inside the movies”, Jaws would feature a live actor playing the role of the boat’s skipper (leading many to compare it to a white-knuckle version of Disney’s famous Jungle Cruise attraction). After boarding their tour boats, guests would be whisked around the waterfront in the town of Amity (seen in the Jaws movies) to explore the sites where the shark had previously attacked. Of course, things would soon go awry, with the shark appearing on the scene, menacing riders and even grabbing the boat with its razor-sharp teeth. In total, MCA spent more than $30 million to produce the Jaws ride, making it one of Universal Studios Florida’s most expensive attractions. However, persuading its mechanical predators to perform for guests on a day-by-day basis was to prove to be an even bigger challenge than the ride’s initial construction. On the park's opening day, Jaws operated sporadically for just two hours before thunderstorms in the afternoon forced it to be shut down for the day. Director Steven Spielberg and his family were reported to have been among those trapped on the ride. It reopened for "technical rehearsals" a few days later. At one point, a boat’s skipper was forced to say: “Imagine explosions over there.” Timing the gyrations of the pontoon boats such that they matched the shark’s actions was proving to be immensely difficult. If the timing was off, Jaws simply appeared to be thrashing around in the water for no reason – making the experience unintentionally hilarious, rather than terrifying. Making adjustments was complicated by the location of the ride’s machinery, much of which was 20 feet below the surface of the lagoon. Jaws poster

By mid-August – just two-and-half months after opening – Universal Studios Florida admitted defeat. Jaws was closed completely to undergo an overhaul that took three years to complete and essentially involved rebuilding the entire attraction from scratch. The rebuild cost even more than the original construction, at an eye-watering $40 million.

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There are 31 comments.

I remember when Déjà Vu opened at Six Flags over Georgia. It broke down with riders stuck on the first lift tower and was closed the rest of the day.

How can you call Jaws a failure when it has been a park staple forever! I have risen it many times over the years and never had a single problem. It is well made a definitely realistic enough to give my family and me a real fright!

I always loved jaws too! I was so sad to hear when they closed it down. I wish they would bring it back :(

I loved Jaws. We were at universal when it opened and thru the years the ride would go down. People would leave the que and it only pushed us up. We sat and waited and of course it would go up again. Very upset that they closed it just like I was very upset when they closed back to the future

same here loved both rides.

Did you read the article? It opened for a bit, then shut down for three years to be re-built entirely from scratch. Every scene was changed, and the physical ride itself was completely removed and built brand new.

Jaws is gone as of January 2012. The new Diagon Alley area is opening right now in its spot. I went there specifically that December to ride it one last time & buy some merchandise. I get pretty sentimental about this stuff! :(

Go to Universal Studios in Hollywood, they have a Jaws ride there.

They do not have a Jaws ride at Universal Hollywood, however Jaws features as part of the backlot studio trolley tour.

Universal Studios Japan, went there in Jan 2015. Saw the Attavk on Titan exhibition too.

I think what they're saying is the ORIGINAL "Jaws" ride failed big time and they had to pull it and reboot it to the cost of an ADDITIONAL $40 million dollars. THAT reboot was the ride you enjoyed.

Jaws in your opinion and experiences may have been a success. But sadly, it had many troubles leading up to its opening, from its many technical/structural issues that were encountered upon opening. Everything the author of this article discussed was much more than valid. Jaws did goes through a lot in its past, but later after many repairs became better.

Um it had to be completely redone and closed right after it opened, for three years.

thats why I said after many repairs. I knew that!!!

Jaws was an active ride at Universal in 1994. I know because my high school band went there that year and I rode that ride. I think your facts are a little off...and it was spectacular then!

It opened and closed in 1990, then re-opened in 1993 (as noted in the ad in the article).

The info on the People mover in Disney World isn't accurate. I was at Disney last summer. It was working and running just fine. It has always been a favorite of ours. A way to relax for a few mins and see the other attraction in the area.

You realize that Disneyland and Disney World are two different parks on separate coasts, right?

They are referring to the People Mover in DisneyLand, which has been gone for many years. My husband were some of the few that got to ride on Rocket Rods before it shut down completely. We were even on it once when it broke down and they had to escort us back to the ride beginning. We kept hoping it would be up and running again later, but alas, it was not meant to be.

No I think it is right the people mover ride has been closed for a while now cause we were there in march of last year and it was closed down

It was being refurbished and is running even as I type this.

They were talking about DisneyLAND in Anaheim, CA, that attraction(sorry, I used to work there from 2001-2005, you can take the cast member out of Disney but you can't take the Disney out of the cast member) was permanently closed before I even started there. The only attractions that underwent a major overhaul were Space Mountain and Star Tours, the former being gutted out and being completely redone while the latter had new locations and 3D

I remember MANY years ago when Charlie Dinn and Curtis Summers told Kings Island a loop in a woodie was dangerous.They also told Fiesta Texas(standing at the edge of the quarry) That the rattler would hurt people and they would not build it.So these parks turned to RCCA because they said it could be done. There is a reason RCCA is gone. Kuddos to the builder of current rides for building safe ones.

there was a double roller coaster of a 2kms track that never functioned. it costed around 6.000.000 u$s and its still there, just disturbing the park. It was named ''Vertigorama''

This may sound easy/obvious/dumb - but if the Rocket Rod things didn't work and the PeopleMover track is still there, why didn't they just put the PeopleMover back?

I have thought the very same thing for years. Would love to know the answer.

Because it isn't ADA compliant.

In a different article I've read it said that the rocket rods destroyed parts of the track of the people mover(in addition to not being ADA compliant). Seeing the empty track at DisneyLand is so sad while you wait for the monorail in the original park.

What about Drachen Fire?

That's a great one! Loved that coaster but in the end it was a failure too.


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