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


Major new theme park rides are big investments for the operators that pay for them. Generally speaking, they are expected to boost attendance levels in their debut year, and to continue to entertain guests for years (and possibly decades) after that. Most new rides, even the more innovative ones, build upon what has come before them. The ground-breaking Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure, for example, incorporated proven elements from Terminator 2 3-D and Back to the Future: The Ride. The experience gained from those existing attractions helped to ensure that the new one was a success. Inevitably, though, theme parks can't get it right every time, particularly if they are trying to do something that really breaks the mould. Every now and then, a ride fails so catastrophically that they are forced to write off their entireinvestment and simply shut it down or rebuild it from scratch. And it can happen to the best of them - even market leaders Disney and Universal. Let's take a look at 5 examples.

5. X (Six Flags Magic Mountain)

Image: ElisaSizzle, Wikipedia (license)


The word "prototype" probably sends shivers down the spines of theme park executives, carrying as it does notions of products that are untested and unproven. But when Six Flags Magic Mountain decided to install a prototype roller coaster from Arrow Dynamics for the 2001 season, it must have felt pretty confident. This, after all, was the company that had worked with Disney to produce the Matterhorn Bobsleds, the world's first tubular steel coaster. The company that had built the world's first double-looping corkscrew coaster for Knott's Berry Farm. The company that had built the world's first log flume ride, for the first Six Flags park in Texas. What could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, just about everything. The construction and opening of X turned out to be such a disaster that it led to the demise of Arrow as an independent company, and left Six Flags thoroughly embarrassed in the process. It's easy to see howSix Flags was seduced into working with Arrow, which was already in severe financial distress at the time. It was offering the chain the chance to install the world's first "fourth dimension" roller coaster, with the train's seats able to rotate 360 degrees during the ride. As the "coaster wars" raged with rival Cedar Fair, this was a chance for Six Flags to get a leg up. Unfortunately, Arrow's mind-blowing concept had one flaw: it didn't work. The ride's opening was delayed from summer 2001 until January 2002, when X did finally open to generally positive reviews. It was a false dawn, though: the coaster was closed again in June 2002 to allow Arrow to make modifications to the trains. It finally reopened in August of that year.


The delays to the opening of the prototype coaster, along with subsequent modifications that were required to its trains, were simply to much for Arrow to cope with. Combined with the failure of the company's next prototype, the Pipeline Coaster, the fiasco led to the company filing for bankruptcy and eventually being acquired by S&S. Despite Arrow's collapse, X does live on. The coaster underwent a major refurbishment by S&S Arrow in 2008, adding new trains, special effects and paint, and received its new name of X2.

4. Rocket Rods (Disneyland)

Rocket Rods

Tomorrowland has always been the most difficult of Disneyland's themed areas to maintain. After all, it is meant to depict the future, and any attractions that attempt to do this are doomed to seem dated eventually. That's why the area has undergone a number of major overhauls since the park opened in 1955. During the 1990s, Disney's Imagineers planned perhaps the most ambitious update to Tomorrowland yet undertaken, one that would transform it into "Tomorrowland 2055". However, the disastrous financial performance of the Euro Disney Resort following its debut in 1992 put an end to those plans. Instead, then-CEO Michael Eisner instructed the Imagineers to revive the area without breaking the bank. Ironically, in order to stay within the budgetary restraints forced upon them by the Euro Disney Resort disaster, the Imagineers decided to lift a concept from the Parisian park. Tomorrowland would be given a new "steampunk" look, inspired by the retro-futuristic Discoveryland at Euro Disneyland. The entire land was repainted in bronze, with rocks bursting from the ground. The budget didn't stretch to adding many new rides, but an expensive update to the aging PeopleMover ride would create a new headliner ride for Tomorrowland. Or at least, that was the plan. Rocket Rods (2)

Image: Rabit, Wikipedia

The moderately-paced PeopleMover vehicles were replaced by the Rocket Rods, a high-speed thrill ride that operated on the same track. After boarding a 5-seat Rocket Rod, riders raced around the circuit at a much faster pace than the old WEDway vehicles. Unfortunately, the attempt to bolt the new attraction onto the existing PeopleMover infrastructure proved to be catastrophic. The unbanked turns weren't suited to high speeds, so the Rocket Rods had to slow down to a crawl on each bend. Tires wore out quickly, and the entire attraction was shuttered in September 2000. It's still standing but not operating today.

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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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