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Are newer rides maintaining greater appeal over time compared to older rides?

Matt N

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Hi guys. The new year is upon us (happy 2022, everybody!), and as the new year is ushered in, rides around the world are getting another year older. And to be truthful, the ages certain rides are hitting… scares me a little. The Smiler, a ride I remember riding in its opening year? 9 years old! The Swarm, a ride I remember feeling incredibly cutting edge and modern when I first rode it? Hitting double digits this year, at 10 years old!



But that’s besides the point. The new year being upon us got me thinking; when I first got into theme parks, rides of certain ages seemed old, yet rides that are the same age now still seem pretty new to me. For instance, I remember that one of the first projects I discovered was the RMC conversion of Medusa at Six Flags Mexico, which was midway through construction when I first found out about it. Medusa was 13 years old when it closed, and at the time, I thought of 13 years old as pretty old, and it seemed as though many 13 year old rides simply weren’t living up to what’s popular today.



But now? The rides that are currently 13 years old are rides that opened in 2009; I always think of 2009 rides as being fairly new! There are many rides of that sort of age range that are still ranking pretty highly, and even through the sphere of woodies, I can’t think of a single 2009 woodie that I would think of as being ripe for removal in the way Medusa was in 2013. As a wooden coaster case study, Troy at Toverland is turning 15 this year (2 years older than Medusa was when it shut) and is still one of the most highly regarded woodies in Europe; no one’s getting their chainsaws out to remove or RMC that one any time soon!



I could think of tons of case studies to fit this argument. Gwazi was 16 years old when it was removed, and many thought its removal was a long time coming. But the wooden rides that are 16 years old now are things like Voyage and El Toro, which both still rank comfortably among the top woodies in the world in polls! Corkscrew at Alton Towers was 28 years old when it closed, and at the time, I gather that it was thought of as pretty terrible; rough and generally not very exciting. But now? The Alton Towers coaster hitting 28 in 2022 is the almighty Nemesis, a ride that most still love and consider among their favourite UK coasters, if not their favourite; I can sense that no one will be thrusting the bulldozer upon Nemesis any time soon, in spite of the fact that Corkscrew, which was in many ways equally iconic, met its end at the same age. And while I know Nemesis is a pretty unique case, I can think of similarly aged rides that are still really, really well liked in a similar way.



Before I ramble too much, my point is; is innovation in quality slowing in the industry? Are rides seeming to age less quickly, and are they maintaining greater longevity? Or do you think that’s just my own perception?



From my perspective, I do think innovation in quality seems to be slowing, as it seems like newer rides are staying highly rated and relevant for longer than the rides that came before them, and more rides that are now getting on a bit age-wise are still ranking really highly compared to a few years ago, but what are your thoughts?

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