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11 Infamously Flubbed and Failed Theme Park Attractions


Everyone makes mistakes… But multi-million dollar ones?! When a theme park decides to invest in a new attraction, there’s very little they can do to guarantee that ride’s success. No amount of money or branding can promise you’ll make a fan favorite. Whether it’s risky technology, a questionable theme, or living in the shadow of a grander predecessor, we’ve collected eleven of the most famous flubs in the theme park industry, along with dates, costs, and even video evidence that they existed. Most are gone, but a few are still around, “delighting” visitors today.

Not all were bad! Some were just victims of their cirumstances. But, have you had a go on any of these flubbed additions? Were we wrong? Were some of these great attractions judged too harshly or even taken too soon? Tell us in the comments. And for select attractions, don't forget to check out our "In-Depth" coverage for the details and lore behind some of these unique attractions.

11. Son of Beast

Image: WillMcC , Wikipedia (license)

Location: Kings Island (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Cost: $20 million (+ $10 - 15 million in renovations)
Lifetime: 2000 - July 2006; 2007 - June 2009 (8 years)
Video EvidencePoint-of-view video
Full Story: Lost Legends: Son of Beast

The Story: In 1979, Kings Island in Ohio took the world by storm, unveiling the massive roller coaster, The Beast. Covering 35 acres, the twisting, terrain-riding wooden coaster is infamous for the way it snakes through the Ohio park's forests. In fact, you famously can't see any more of The Beast than the track you're currently on - it's all hidden below the tree line and within tunnels. Even today, The Beast remains the longest wooden roller coaster on Earth at a staggering 7,359 feet and a ride time over four minutes.

When movie studio Paramount bought Kings Island in 1992, they brought a penchant for cinematic attractions (one of which is further along on this list) and that most dreaded feature of the entertainment industry: sequels. Sure enough, the new millennium brought a new kind of creature when the park announced Son of Beast, which would be the world's tallest, fastest, second longest (leaving the length record to his father) and only looping wooden roller coaster in the world. Sound good?

Why It Failed: Plagued even during construction by broken contracts, bad press, and a time or two when portions of the coaster... well... fell over, Son of Beast was off to a rotten start. When the ride opened, it was the first (and so far, only) wooden coaster to top the 200 foot height level, clocking in at nearly 80 miles per hour. And yes, this is before manufacturers began developing those new smooth-as-glass hybrid wooden coasters that top the popularity charts today. Son of Beast was an aggressive thrill ride with unstoppable force and deafening fury. Its signature wooden loop proved to be the sturdiest and smoothest moment of the truly intense two-and-a-half minute ride.

In July 2006, a structural failure in the ride's massive double-helix allegedly sent a jolt down the track, injuring 27 riders. The attraction was closed for the rest of 2006, re-opening in 2007 with new, lighter trains and without the signature loop (whose removal had more to do with the new trains than the safety of the loop itself). The ride continued to hammer away at guests until 2009, when a woman claimed to have suffered a burst blood vessel in her brain from the ride's violent experience. It was shuttered once again, leaving the roller coaster community to speculate as to its future. Some expected the ride to re-open as is, while others believed new trains and serious re-tracking could do the job. By 2009, super-smooth conversions to old wooden coasters were in the pipeline for Six Flags' roughest rides, so rumors of a similar treatment for Son of Beast ran rampant.

Image via @KingsIslandPR on Twitter.

Ultimately, the ride never re-opened. It was standing but not operating from 2009 - late 2012 when it was knocked down for good. Its spot is currently occupied by the highly praised Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coaster, Banshee. The coaster itself may not be well-loved or remembered, but it set a new standard for what a wooden roller coaster could do, and was sincerely an engineering marvel. The story of Son of Beast is so awesome, we wrote a complete in-depth feature on its unbelievable rise and staggering fall – Lost Legends: Son of Beast. Lesson to be learned: the sequel is never better than the original. No matter how big its budget.

10. Light Magic

Location: Disneyland Park (Anaheim, California)
Cost: $20 million
Lifetime: May – September 1997 (4 months)
Video Evidence: YouTube 

The Story: What exactly was wrong with Disney’s follow-up to the fabled and beloved Main Street Electrical Parade? Well, there’s half the answer – no parade could ever fill the shoes of the Disney classic, so Light Magic wasn’t a parade. It was a “streetacular,” made up of four huge float-like stages, which would glide down Disneyland’s parade corridor in total darkness. At key points along the route, the stages would stop and magically light up revealing classic Disney characters, projection, twinkling fiber-optics, music, and dancing fairies.

Why It Failed: The idea of stages that suddenly burst into light was clever, but choose the wrong spot and you’d see nothing but dark, motionless floats moving by. The fairy costumes made specifically for the “streetacular” had upturned noses, pointed ears, and harsh eyes that scared children.

And perhaps most egregiously, a very special “exclusive premiere” presented to Disneyland’s rabid annual pass holder population (costing $25 per person) turned out to be nothing more than a dress rehearsal for a parade that was not quite ready. Poor word of mouth meant Light Magic ran for only a few months, becoming a “$20-million dud” in the eyes of the Los Angeles Times. It lasted through the summer, promised to return in 2000. It never did.

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There are 25 comments.

I think you forgot the expensive failure of Buzz Saw Falls at Silver Dollar City in Branson Mo!

Islands of Adventure's Poseidon's Fury was a fantastic experience when it originally opened, with a breath-taking surprise ending that left you wondering, "How in the world did they DO that?!" Subsequent re-writes and theme changes left us with a neutered, unsurprising show stripped of a lot of its initial wow-factor. Too bad...

Thank you...I was the senior production designer on Poseidon's Fury. We rented the giant dirigible hangar at El Toro Marine Base to mock up the transition finale. It was a fun project...and there were some very innovative effects, from the "water tunnel" to the bronze "Poseidon Time Lock" and, of course, the seamless transition from the Temple scene back to the first scene. My concern was how long our live actors could keep their characters fresh and on point. I haven't seen the show in years and I heard it had been through some changes. We had a great team on Poseidon's Fury and I enjoyed working on it.

So cool! It's incredibly odd now... You walk from the second chamber, through the water tunnel and... back into the second chamber? Makes for a cool transition when the lights go out and the giant temple appears around you, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Poseidon's Fury was one of my favorite "adventure" at IOA when it opened. In fact for my very first time, I was so mesmerized by the Time Lock that I thought the water tunnel was some type of projection and not real. And in addition to the cool transition at the end, it was impressive you could feel the blast of heat from the Fire Balls. I'm an architect and was just amazed how quick and soundless the transition occurred. Big Kudos for creating something that took my breath away!

Avalanche Run/Disaster Transport at Cedar Point. Avalanche Run's big gimmick was that it was a bobsled. It was a coaster with no track! So as you flew around curves and such it would feel more dangerous. Only, to make sure it wasn't dangerous it was slow. Very slow. And sometimes it would come to a full halt. I remember getting in the ride so excited and almost immediately realizing it was bad. And this was after the excruciatingly long "new ride" line. Go back to the park another season and Avalanch Run is "gone", replaced by Disater Transport. DP was fully enclosed inside a giant building and promised to take you on a dangerous sci-fi ride. So I was expecting an indoor coaster in the dark with maybe some filmed or mechanical dramatic "boo" moments. Wait in a huge long line which featured an okay animatronic setup of the ride's story. Get to the end of the line, get on and immediately realize, hey, this is that godawful Avalanch Run coaster. They just built a building over it so it would be in the dark and added some flashing lights and such. It was still horrible just horrible in the dark with strobe lights. It still sucked. I spent THAT whole ride bored and angry as hell I had been tricked into waiting in line and then riding that piece of garbage a second time when I swore I'd never set foot on it again.

it's a shame what they did the alien encounter... A crying shame!! The ride clearly had intensity warnings throughout,although ridiculous overbearing parents had to spoil yet another great staple in the World of Disney! "Parents just don't understand"!!

it's a shame what they did the alien encounter... A crying shame!! The ride clearly had intensity warnings throughout,although ridiculous overbearing parents had to spoil yet another great staple in the World of Disney! "Parents just don't understand"!!

you didn't mention Britannia park in the uk ,

If Alien Encounter would have opened at Disney Hollywood Studios instead of the Magic Kingdom, it probably would still be here today in its original format. I realize that they re-incorporated the Mission to Mars theaters and that is why it was built at the MK, but the concept was much too "mature" for the family friendly Magic Kingdom crowd.

Windjammer Surf Racers at Knott's Berry Farm.

I have to laugh at mention of the alien ride. My dad forced me on it when I was 7, nearly 8. I'm not sure if it was he that wanted to go or my older brother. But he thought it was riskier to leave me in the park alone than to drag me onto the ride.

That was one of the most terrifying moments in my life. I vaguely remember the warning signs, but dear dad didn't seem to take them seriously. That warm breath on my neck nearly gave me nightmares for months.

As far as I recall, I was not the only kid crying after that ride, which is obviously why it became a problem. Several parents seemed to be consoling their kids. I really think they should've had more of an age limit. The warning signs couldn't really explain how and why it was terrifying without spoiling the ride. It came across as simply "Ooo this will be terrifying!" like you see before a cheesy haunted house.

Very interesting read. Thanks!

I'm surprised Dollywood's Timber Tower was not listed. That ride was a mess. It was shut down more than it ran and riders were stuck on the ride, high up in the air frequently. Even when it was working properly (which was a rarity) it wasn't thrilling at all. Now, where the ride once sat, is a patio with picnic tables.

I remember ExtraTERRORestrial and I do miss it but I am a HUGE Stitch fan. Though a newly created dark ride would have fit him better I am glad he has an attraction at Disney. I enjoy it regardless.

You can't forget the epic fail that was Deja Vu at Six Flags Great America.

For sure! I only saw it open once but was too afraid to ride it because it was always broke down.

I've often thought that if stitch had been the original attraction like that, it would do better. The problem is it is a near replication of the previous attraction minus one compnent with nothing new or different. Taking out the scary component and not really replacing it with something new is what ruins it for many. But like I said, most everyone I know that experienced stitch for the first time and didn't know about alien encounter actually loved it.

I enjoy it and make sure to go on it everytime I go to Walt Disney World. I have taken 2 Disney newbies on it and both loved it as well.

Does anyone remember that terrible Stitch's Superstupid--err--- "Supersonic" Celebration stage show at the Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland that lasted a whopping TWO MONTHS? Where that ugly "Tomorrowland Stage" is now?

Yep. Didn't think so.

Oh my Gosh, I remember Skippy! I forgot completely that I had ever been on this ride. It must have been so traumatic I blocked it out the past 15 years. X_X

I don't know why you guys hate on Stitch so much. I think Stitch's escape is a fine replacement for ExtraTERRORestial. The original wasn't even around that long and replaced an unknown alien for a beloved Disney character. I agree it feels shoehorned in but worst update ever? Certainly not. That definitely belongs to Journey into YOUR imagination. To totally gut such a beloved and iconic ride into a half a ride filled with cheap optical illusions was an absolute disaster. It's ironic how it is named Journey into Your imagination as the imagineers put absolutely no imagination into the update. I don't even know how this ride was greenlit.

"The Bat" @ kings Island. It was suppose to be the greatest coaster ever. It lasted one year.

I rode or experienced all of these. I still hold out hope for Walt Disney Studios Paris. As it is, I think of it as an add-on to Disneyland Paris.

What about Hard Rock Park and Celebration City? Both were short-lived parks with lots of potential.

No mention of Vertigo at Walibi Belgium? It was intended to open in 2006, but was delayed for a year. In 2007 it ran from mid-June to late July, so troubled by technical problems that it was closed more often than not. At the end of July, it was closed for overhauls for the entire rest of the season. In 2008, Vertigo once again opened to great fanfare on May 5 - and closed forever on May 19, as the technical problems were back with a vengeance. It was torn down in December 2008, and Walibi Belgium has not built a proper coaster ever since. 3.8 million Euros down the drain, the ride was experienced by a couple thousand riders at the highest estimate.

I think The Bat should be on here instead of Tomb Raider/The Crypt. They both failed, but The Bat was so much more of a ride that I feel it deserved a mention (and I never even got to ride it, since it was built a year before I was born and only lasted one year, I believe).
I rode Son of Beast twice and swore off it after that. We expected a wooden coaster to be rough, but this was ridiculous. The loop was the only smooth thing about it, and it left me with massive headaches that no amount of ibuprofen could touch. If it had been smooth and built differently, I think it would have made for an amazing ride.


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