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Will VelociCoaster push Disney to build more thrilling rides?

Matt N

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Hi guys. Disney and Universal are arguably the two biggest names in the theme park industry, and their brand of park is quite a different product to any others on Earth. While many parks seem to have the big coasters as their main selling point, the big 2 aim for a more holistic experience, with the coasters often being sidelined in favour of a greater emphasis on different elements, such as dark rides, shows, and immersive themed environments. As such, these premium parks often don’t tend to build especially extreme coasters, particularly in the case of Disney and particularly in more recent years. Don’t get me wrong, the big players have built thrill rides, but they often don’t tend to be absolute monsters like you’d find in other theme parks, and many of these thrill rides were built some time ago.


However, a new for 2021 ride bucked this trend in quite a big way. Last year, VelociCoaster opened at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida, and it has seemed to go down a real treat thus far. Guests are loving it, and from what I can tell, it packs the lavish theming and experience factors that you’d expect from a premium tier park. However, in a notable departure from other recent coasters built in Disney & Universal parks, it looks to be a pretty extreme ride from a hardware perspective too. It has the dynamic elements, high forces and fast pacing that many more traditional theme park rides have, and at 155ft tall and 70mph, it’s hardly an insignificant ride in terms of size! Guests seem to be loving it thus far, and having such an extreme ride arguably gives Universal a key advantage over Disney, and opens them up to a greater range of guests.


So with that in mind, my question to you today is; do you think that VelociCoaster’s success will push Disney to build more thrilling rides in order to keep up?


Personally, I’m undecided. I could see arguments for both sides of the coin; I see very valid reasons as to why Disney might be spurred to up the thrills a bit, but I can also see very valid arguments for them not bothering and sticking to what they’re doing now.


In terms of why I could see them building more thrilling rides in response to VelociCoaster; even though Disney has gained a reputation among many for being the more family-friendly of the big 2, their previous record suggests that they are not as averse to building thrill rides as you might think. While they haven’t built any massive monsters, I’d argue that the likes of Rock’n’Rollercoaster prove that Disney are not averse to building coasters with elements like intense launches and inversions, and even recent Disney coasters like Guardians and Tron are hardly kiddie coasters; those two look like a notable step up from your Big Thunder Mountains and Seven Dwarfs Mine Trains, for sure. As such, Disney installing something a bit more thrilling to combat VelociCoaster isn’t out of the realms of possibility, in my opinion.


On the flip side, however, Universal has always seemed a bit “edgier” than Disney (for lack of a better word), and has always seemed a fair amount more interested in the thrill seeker market than Disney has ever been. So with that in mind, one does have to wonder whether Disney would be interested in building more thrilling rides. Their current paradigm of mostly appealing to younger families is seemingly working very well for them, so why deviate from it?


But what are your thoughts?

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I aint too sure. The thrill market as a niche is far smaller than the family audience. Disney will most likely always be the biggest family draw in the world so I cant see them rushing to put in thrill coasters purely because Universal have done so.


They would have moved to do that back when IOA first opened with Hulk and the Dragons.

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I don't think it would take Velocicoaster to cause a significant shift though. All of the Disney investment points at interactive family rides and I think thats how it will continue. It would take a severe drop in attendance that is unrelated to covid-19 restrictions that may force Disney to alter slightly. Right now though, no. 

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Disney won't build anything like Velocicoaster.


The most thrilling coasters they've built are Space Mountain at DLP and Rock n Roller Coaster. They've never been interested in the out and out thrill market even when IoA first opened with Hulk and Duelling Dragons in Florida. Whilst California has Knotts and Magic Mountain nearby.


The newer coasters look firmly in the family thrill category (if Tron rides like the other Booster Bikes thrill would be a stretch anyway), which is Disney's demographic. Never been afraid to have a number of "bigger" attractions. The likes of Tower of Terror or Test Track for example are great examples of the type of ride Disney go for. 

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No, can’t honestly see this happening for the reasons largely mentioned above. 

Disney World is ‘primarily’ aimed at families, hence why most attractions are in the medium-family thrill category as the new additions in Star Wars Land and Avatar Land for example have proven. 

Pretty much all the other Disney resorts have ‘thrill based’ parks not particularly far away and they are all able to generally operate successfully without this affecting their product and demographic.

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