The Tomorrow’s World Today team had a wild ride this week when George took a trip to visit Sally Corporation, which specializes in building animatronics for dark rides. For those who aren’t theme park experts, dark rides are indoor amusement park rides where passengers ride aboard guided vehicles through specially lit scenes that typically contain animation, sound, music, and special effects. George and the TWT team then use what they’ve seen as an inspiration to start creating the Treehouse for The Park of the Future. They plan to make the interior of the treehouse a dark ride, with special effects, lighting, and storytelling. Similar to what we saw at Sally Corporation, there are several incredibly popular dark rides that we can learn from. Here we take a look at a few of the most popular dark rides:
Harry Potter World
Over the past few years, Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida has now expanded to encompass two parks. When it first opened, it solely included a portion in Islands of Adventure containing Hogsmeade Village, but now you can take the Hogwarts Express over to Universal where they also have Diagon Alley. These two parks contain two separate dark rides, the first being Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This dark ride is set at Hogwarts and involves accompanying Harry as he battles his various foes- giant spiders, dementors, the Whomping Willow, etc. The second HP-themed dark ride is called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. This ride is set in the Wizarding Bank called Gringotts and takes fans through a different version of Harry’s journey through Gringotts in book seven. Both rides combine animatronics with specialized lighting and 3D screens to make the experience feel incredibly realistic.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
This ride was installed at Universal Orlando in 2016 and takes fans on an epic journey in which King Kong saves them from various dinosaurs and giant spiders. Again, in this ride, we see a very interesting blend between high definition 3D screens and animatronics. The ride mostly utilizes 3D screens that make the riders feel as though they’re moving using additional sensory effects like wind, and sprays of water. At the very end of the ride, after Kong has defeated all of the opponents, you round the corner to see a giant incredibly realistic animatronic Kong staring down at you. Because you’ve been viewing the screen view the entire time and because of the way the figure is lit, for a split second you think you’re looking at another screen- it’s very startling when your brain registers that it’s not a screen after all.
Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
This Universal Studios ride has been around much longer than the previous ones so it’s no longer considered the most cutting edge of technology, but when it was installed back in 1999 it was fairly incredible. Essentially the story puts you in the place of the press and you get caught up in spiderman’s latest adventure which features several of his classic villains including Doctor Octopus, Electro, Hydro-Man, and the HobGoblin. The combination of the dim lighting and 3D screens coupled with real sets and special effects like water, fire, and air make you feel like you’re really swinging from webs.