Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? $14 billion says you know the answer... 

After all, since its 1999 launch on Nickelodeon, SpongeBob Squarepants has become one of the most recognizable characters in media history... and more to the point, the star of one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time...! And because a vast majority of SpongeBob's revenue is derived from merchandising (versus the box office or video games that power most media franchises), SpongeBob is everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

Image: Nickelodeon

Because you may have noticed that despite his intergenerational success and the obvious "theme-park-ability" of his world of Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob Squarepants is not a theme park staple. Sure, when Nickelodeon's parent company owned a chain of regional parks in the '90s and 2000s,  SpongeBob got a few "label-slapped" rides in kids areas; and today, the standalone Nickelodeon Universe parks (inside the Mall of America in Minnesota and the American Dream mall in New Jersey) have rides bearing SpongeBob's name... but somehow, SpongeBob hasn't ever had a real, true theme park ride... Till now.

It's all set to happen in a place you may not associate with dark rides: Las Vegas. But remember, Vegas spend the 1990s in a period of "family focus," with hotels all down the strip racing to build over-the-top themed entertainment and attractions aimed precisely at steamrolling Las Vegas' "adults only" reputation. While many of those vestiges of a family-focused Vegas have disappeared, at least a few remain. 

Among them is the Adventuredome – a five acre amusement park enclosed in a pink glass dome at Vegas' historic Circus Circus. Despite the clown motif, the Adventuredome is no joke. It's got two substantial roller coasters, a swirling Disk-O coaster, a new NebulaZ, a launch tower, and a 4D motion simulator among its anchors... 

And soon, it'll be home to the first ever SpongeBob Squarepants dark ride: Spongebob's Crazy Carnival Ride. Designed by Sally Dark Rides (a company we've profiled as a shaper in the industry), SpongeBob's Crazy Carnival ride will finally insert guests into the world of SpongeBob. Here's what we know...

Image: Sally / Nickelodeon

The attraction will begin with guests deciding to "step right up!" to an exciting new opportunity to participate in a lucrative side business for the always-scheming proprietor of the Krusty Krab, Mr. Krabs himself. Krabs' newest side business is a collection of classic carnival games designed to wring your wallet – er, ring the bottle.

And just as in the midway games of old, no invitation to join would be complete without a shrewd "carnival barker" standing on the midway and luring guests in. In this case, it'll be Mr. Krabs himself – the first SpongeBob character brought to life as an animatronic. We're lucky that Sally gave guests a sneak peek at this animated figure at the IAAPA Expo conference in 2023:

For those drawn in by Krabs' midway offer, what awaits will see guests pass through a glowing carnival queue en route to Sponge-style carts. Guests will climb aboard and grab a carnival blaster, unaware that – behind the scenes – SpongeBob and Patrick have mistaken Mr. Krabs' demands and brought Krabby Patty ingredients to the carnival instead of the darts, plastic rings, and balls the games need.

Image: Sally / Nickelodeon

Guests will follow one step behind Spongebob and Patrick, arriving to each carnival game just as they unload the last of the patties, pickle slices, cheese, and more, turning this interactive underwater adventure into a comical game of splattering tomatoes, swirling buns, and squirting secret sauce. 

Of course, it turns out that their piecemeal use of Krabby Patty ingredients also attracts the nefarious Plankton, who sees his opportunity to grab the components and finally unlock the Secret Formula to the burger himself... 

Image: Sally / Nickelodeon

Sally promises fifteen scenes to this dark ride experience, and while there's no doubt that "Toy Story Midway Mania" style interactive games will serve as the core of the experience, we also expect physical props, sets, and six animatronics throughout to add to the carnival chaos. 

While we don't yet have a final opening date for SpongeBob's Crazy Carnival Ride, Sally's last update suggested that they're aiming for "the first quarter of 2024," likely meaning this spring. As for the price to ride? Adventuredome has long utilized a "free admission" system, with individual rides requiring a number of credits or a ride-all-day wristband for one price. In 2023, the park switched to only having wristbands available at a pretty high cost – $60 for adults. That'll be a bummer for those who just want to pop in to try this new dark ride. However, we also know that SpongeBob's Crazy Carnival Ride was initially marketed as being built specifically so that the public could access it without necessarily needing to visit the Adventuredome... So we'll have to see...

Image: Sally / Nickelodeon

Until then, how do you feel about the world's first SpongeBob Squarepants dark ride? If you found yourself in Las Vegas, would you make your way to the Circus Circus to try this interactive experience? Are you tired of the "Midway Mania" style interactive ride? Or is this treatment the perfect, compact, comical setup for a SpongeBob adventure? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page!


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