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6 Budget-Blowing Attractions With Price Tags Higher Than You Can Imagine

4. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror - $216 million

Tower of Terror

Image: Disney

We could fill out a whole list with variations of this same attraction. Four versions exist, and the net cost of them is more than half a billion dollars. Determining which one cost the most to build comes down to which estimate you believe. The generally accepted price tag for the original version at Hollywood Studios is $150 million in 1994, which is almost exactly $240 million today. The Tower of Terror at Tokyo DisneySea cost more money in theory. The financial outlay on it was $191 million in 2006, but that’s “only” $225 million today. The cheapest Tower of Terror was built at Disney California Adventure. It came in right at $100 million in 2004, which is $125 million today.

While the numbers above are all huge, Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris surpasses them all. The $240 million investment in 2007 is the equivalent of $275 million today. That brings the overall price tag on Disney’s Towers of Terror to $865 million, or $216 million per tower. This is a good time to mention that an amusement park can build a decent drop tower for about $5 million today. Consider this $210 million difference in cost the high price of atmosphere. Disney would never build a generic drop tower when they craft an entire fake hotel instead.

5. Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy - $270 million

Ratatouille ride

Image: Disney

Ratatouille is one of the most underrated Pixar films to date. It’s a masterpiece of storytelling that focuses on how eating unites people and creatures alike. The title reflects the celebration of peasant food, and Disney cleverly capitalized on the concept at Disneyland Paris. In 2014, they built another Hunny-type of attraction, a trackless ride through Gusteau's restaurant. Guests shrink down to rat size for it, then they grow back in time to exit the attraction right by Bistrot Chez Rémy, which is perfect since they’ve thought about nothing but food during the entire ride.

Disney invested this much on Ratatouille for a couple of reasons. The first is that local position system-based trackless rides are expensive to build and operate. The second is that the place the world knows as Euro Disney needed a hit. Since their movie was set in Paris and celebrated French cuisine, it was a perfect fit. The ride’s popularity speaks to this fact. One of the recurring themes on this list is that when Disney wants to expand, they like to tie together a great ride technology with an iconic character.

6. Test Track - $290 million

Test Track

Image: Disney

More than any other attraction listed here, Test Track requires some guesstimating. That’s because the initial reports of the construction cost indicated Disney authorized $300 million toward the project. Upon its release, a lot of reporters decided that $100 million of that went to the ride itself. Since the World of Motion building already existed, it’s difficult to explain the thought process there. Even splitting the difference with a $200 million outlay in 1998, that’s still the equivalent of $290 million today. Plus, Test Track received major renovations in 2012 that cost tens of millions more, so it’s unquestionably the only theme park attraction to date that cost more than $300 million in current dollars.

The expense of Test Track includes several factors. General Motors, the original sponsor for the ride, wanted World of Motion to highlight their brand and products. When Disney shuttered World of Motion, their idea for building the fastest roller coaster in Orlando sputtered a bit. The technology for Test Track proved too challenging at first, which forced them to miss their initial 1997 deadline. Since project delays inevitably spike the manufacturing cost of a product, the turn of events makes the later price-lowering of Test Track all the stranger. Whatever the explanation, Test Track is likely either your favorite or second favorite ride at Epcot. Even at its record-setting price tag, that’s money well spent by Disney.

The future champions      

Tron Lightcycle Image: Disney

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts didn’t quite make this list. The explanation is that it doesn’t benefit from inflation adjustment. There also isn’t a hard figure about its cost. All that’s certain is that Universal invested somewhere between $250 and $300 million on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion. So, it’s neck and neck with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey as far as anyone knows right now.

The next record-setter will come from Shanghai Disney. Disney’s spent $5.5 billion on their latest theme park, and they’re trumpeting three of their attractions as technologically innovative. Pirates of the Caribbean will enter the 21st century thanks to projection mapping technology and a story tied to the movie franchise, which does extremely well in China. The ride that might top them all in terms of cost is from a different franchise, though. TRON Lightcycle Power Run looks spectacular and EXTREMELY expensive. You can learn a lot more about Shanghai Disney in this video

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There is 1 comment.

I really love Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy !! You can actually feel the money floating around you while riding it! That ride alone is worth a trip to disneyland paris!


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