5. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Disneyland)
Estimated cost: $150-170 million (source)
What is it? A submarine ride past a host of characters from Pixar's Finding Nemo. The ride is an update of the classic Submarine Voyage attraction, which first opened in 1959, operating until September 9, 1998. Although Disney initially promised that it would reopen in 2003, it actually remained shuttered until 2007 before reopening with its new theme.
Image © Disney
Why was it so expensive? Ostensibly, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage doesn't belong on this list, being as it is an update to an existing attraction. We have to wonder whether the cost estimates thrown around for the ride are a little high, but at the same time it is often true that it can be more difficult and costly to update an existing ride than to build one from scratch - particularly when that ride has sat idle for nearly a decade. More than 30 tons of recycled glass were used in the recreation of the ride's lagoon, with 40 unique colors being used to decorate the surrounding area.
4. Tower of Terror (Tokyo DisneySea)
Estimated cost: $191 million (source)
What is it? While it offers a ride experience that is similar to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios, Tokyo DisneySea's version dispenses with the Twilight Zone tie-in. The elaborate backstory revolves around Harrison Hightower, a famous adventurer who has collected a variety of artefacts inside a New York hotel.
Why was it so expensive? Although it features a less complicated ride system than the Florida original, Tokyo's Tower of Terror also features a ludicrously detailed ride building, the Hotel Hightower. It also adds an effect-laden pre-show, as guests take a "tour" of the hotel.
3. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Walt Disney Studios, Paris)
Estimated cost: $250 million (source)
What is it? Opened just in time for Christmas 2007, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror visually dominates Walt Disney Studios. It is housed in a full-scale recreation of a 1930s-era Los Angeles hotel, dubbed the Hollywood Tower Hotel, and places guests into the middle of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Why was it so expensive? It's basically a clone of the Disney California Adventure version of the Tower of Terror, so why was the Walt Disney Studios version so much costlier? The French version of the Hollywood Tower Hotel had to be built using solid concrete rather than concrete around a steel frame due to French construction guidelines and standards.
2. Test Track (Epcot)
What is it? Visitors strap into electric cars, to be whisked away into an experimental facility where they become the test dummies. The finale sees the cars accelerate up to a top speed of 65 miles per hour.
Why was it so expensive? Finding out accurate information about the true cost of Test Track is near-impossible. Why? Because, whatever the original budget (much of which was covered by a huge sponsorship deal with General Motors), costs overran massively and the ride opened more than a year-and-a-half late. Problems during testing led to extensive changes to the ride design, and this is likely to have been vastly expensive - but maybe not quite as expensive as the $300 million that is often reported.
The ride has since been refurbished to become Test Track - Presented by Chevrolet, at a rumored cost of $60 million.
1. Radiator Springs Racers (Disney California Adventure)
Estimated cost: $200 million+ (source)
What is it? Using the technology behind Epcot's Test Track, this off-roading, fast-paced adventure ride places guests behind the wheel of their own Cars character and through a dark ride past the movie's most well-loved scenes. An outdoor finale race caps off the exhilarating experience, which is the headline attraction in the Cars Land expansion.
Why was it so expensive? In addition to the Test Track-style ride system, Radiator Springs Racers also brings its cars to life as actual characters. On top of that, it races around the impressive Cadillac Mountain Range, which consists of Cadillac tail fins that are are 125 feet high and cover 300,000 square feet.
There are a number of other attractions that very nearly made this list. For example:
- Toy Story Midway Mania is estimated to have cost around $80 million to build, but some of that cost was spread across two parks (Disney California Adventure and Disney's Hollywood Studios).
- Mystic Manor and Big Grizzly Runaway Mine Cars at Hong Kong Disneyland were both part of a $500 million expansion, but no credible figures (or even estimates) of the individual cost for each ride are available.
- Rides such as Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea helped consume a large part of the park's $4 billion construction budget - but, again, no breakdowns are available for individual rides.
- Taking account of inflation, the likes of Star Tours, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain would probably make this list, too.
Are our numbers correct?
Do you have any information about the cost of Disney rides that affects the order of the list above? Let us know in the comments!