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Behind the Ride: The Incredicoaster

The Experience: Entering the world of the Parr family

The Trick: Telling a story worthy of The Incredibles franchise

Image: DisneyIn the summer of 2018 The Incredibles 2 scored the box office record for the largest Pixar opening weekend ever, the most popular Pixar domestic release ever, AND the most popular animated movie of all time in North America. Alas, Disney didn’t know any of this back in 2017 when they started plotted out the plans for the Incredicoaster. They had seen early footage of the film, however, and they knew that the concept was terrific. To a larger point, they believed in the Parrs.

The Parr family is the backbone of The Incredibles. It’s a husband-and-wife super-team that agrees to stop fighting crime and raise a family. What they should have expected is that people born with super powers tend to have children who have super powers. Violet Parr, the oldest child, has the powers of invisibility and force field generation. Dashiell Parr aka The Dash is lightning fast. Both of their abilities pale in comparison to the baby of the family.

Jack-Jack Parr, the youngest of the three children in the film, is the most extreme example. He doesn’t have a single superpower. He has more than 15 of them! And this surprise reveal is the impetus for the attraction.

On the Incredicoaster, you’re trying to catch Jack-Jack. Disney has themed the entire attraction around the idea that Jack-Jack has escaped from his babysitter. From the moment that you hear the voice of Edna Mode lamenting the missing baby, the attraction engulfs you in Incredibles theming. The covered sections that blocked the sun on California Screamin’ have added new features now. They’re an organic part of the storytelling!

This particular Imagineering trick is one that exemplifies Disney’s creative solutions. With California Screamin’, they had a set piece of track and an inability to modify the ride structure. They looked at the attraction with fresh eyes and had an epiphany. The tunnels had modest utility in their current forum. With a few clever changes, however, they could become set pieces that revealed the story sequentially.

Yes, Disney has introduced new set pieces within the tunnels of the Incredicoaster. In the first section, the ceiling has laser beams on it! They’re not randomly positioned there. They indicate that Jack-Jack has discharged laser beams from his eyes. For the Parr family, these lasers operate as a tracking device. They know that the baby went thataway! From a rider perspective, they’re a colorful addition that jazzes up the tunnel interiors.

Other tunnels similarly advance the plot. Bob Parr punches through a wall in a failed attempt to retrieve his youngest son. Helen Parr stretches more than 60 feet as she tries to grab Jack-Jack. This set piece is the longest of its kind that Disney has ever designed. Alas, Jack-Jack goes gooey, another fun visual. It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” image, though. Later, Violet tries to project a force shield around her brother. Again, the family’s attempt is unsuccessful.

Every section of the old California Screamin’ is now an integral part of the story of the Incredicoaster. Once you exit the coasters, the tone will change into something more playful. Jack-Jack has displayed his last trick. He can turn into multiple Jack-Jacks! Several of him will pop up as you streak through the bunny hops toward the end of the roller coaster.

The Experience: Trying to catch a super-baby at 55 MPH

The Trick: Simulating a high-speed chase in a controlled environment

The sensations of the twists and turns of California Screamin’ were delightful on their own. With the Incredicoaster upgrades, they add to the feeling of urgency that you must grab Jack-Jack before something unfortunate happens to him or, more likely, someone else.

From the moment that Dash begins the countdown to start the chase, you feel like you’re on a timer. You have a set amount of time to catch the baby. The catch is that the baby can defend himself in many, many ways. By switching the ride to this simple premise, the roller coaster swaps from pointless, glorious fun to a thrilling, purposeful mission. You’re a hero trying to save a baby!

The lingering tracks from the old ride are now the path that takes you to Jack-Jack. You encounter him multiple times on the ride, narrowly missing during each one. You have him in sight throughout the Incredicoaster, but he’s devilishly clever at picking the perfect superpower to escape you.

The theming fundamentally alters the dynamic of the repurposed coaster. And that’s what makes it such a triumphant feat of Imagineering. They’ve enhanced an already exceptional thrill ride into a themed masterpiece. You’ll feel the intensity of both the ride and the mission as you pursue the world’s most powerful baby. Somehow, it’s an adrenaline rush AND a story about family. That’s precisely what a ride based on The Incredibles franchise should be.

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