What’s refreshed is new again

AT: Tim Baldwin

While the old adage, “What’s old is new again,” quite often refers to style and trends, there is something very encouraging when a park reinvests in an established — or even aging — attraction to keep it not only running but give it new life.

Tim Baldwin

Europa-Park comes to mind. In 2018, its big investment was a major overhaul of its indoor EuroSat coaster, but management didn’t stop there. Two other attractions, a dated dark ride and a children’s outdoor electric car ride, got a wonderful refresh. Where once was a tired dark ride about the age of dinosaurs is now a delightfully rethemed adventure called Madame Freudenriech – Curiosités, about an elderly woman raising dinosaurs in her backyard. Elsewhere in the park, a children’s simple electric rail outdoor ride has had scenes and sets added along the way and now tells another children’s story, Jim Button – Journey Through Morrowland.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas introduced a first-of-its-kind single-rail roller coaster, Wonder Woman Steel Lasso Coaster, but in so doing had to relocate the park’s carousel. The move prompted a total revamp of a sleepy area of the park and refurbishment of the carousel, along with added embellishments to the area that truly enhance its atmosphere. With the release of an older IP theme for its dark ride, instead of simply retiring the attraction, the park opted to exercise some creativity and keep it by adding an original storyline. The in-house team came up with the designs and built many sets themselves, reworking the ride into Pirates of the Deep Sea. 

In the past, Schlitterbahn took an unpopular lazy river and, with moderate expense, turned it into a marketable powerhouse called Congo River Expedition by adding themed scenes. And this summer, Knott’s Berry Farm will debut Calico River Rapids — a refresh, accomplished through a themed overlay and animatronics, that will add new guest appeal and marketability to a 30-year-old rapids ride. (See page 11.)

In years when parks can’t afford to install a massive new ride, there are certainly opportunities to upgrade an existing attraction — a train, a car ride, a log flume — and add promotional clout while invigorating an old favorite for generations to come. It’s an idea worth pondering when taking a daily stroll through the park.