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What is your favourite Merlin-created dark ride or dark ride retheme?

Matt N

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Hi guys. With the recent announcement that Duel at Alton Towers is closing on 6th September, and the ever snowballing rumours about it being rethemed, a lot of discussion has taken place recently about Merlin and dark rides. And rightly or wrongly, Merlin appears to have somewhat of a poor reputation among enthusiasts when it comes to dark rides; most of the ground-up dark rides and dark ride rethemes they’ve done have not been particularly well received at all. So with that in mind, I’d be keen to know; of all the dark ride projects Merlin have undertaken, which is your favourite? I’m including both ground-up dark rides and rethemes here.


Personally, I don’t think Merlin’s poor reputation with dark rides is entirely deserved. Yes, some of their dark ride projects haven’t gone down brilliantly, but all of the Merlin-created dark rides I’ve personally done have actually been pretty decently executed attractions for what they are, in my view. Although I must preface that I’m somewhat more tolerant of screens than most enthusiasts…


But if I were to pick a favourite, I’d probably go for Flight of the Sky Lion at Legoland Windsor. It was a tough choice between Sky Lion and Ninjago in the same park, as I thought that both were excellent, and definitely two of my favourite UK dark rides, but I think Sky Lion just clinches it because Ninjago, while very fun, can get a touch tiring for the arms… in terms of Sky Lion, though, I think it comes together as a very nice experience! The smells are really good, the film is great, and it just overall has a really nice, feel good vibe!


But what is your favourite Merlin-created dark ride or dark ride retheme? And do you feel that Merlin’s reputation on dark rides is deserved?

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Think I’m going to have to go with Skylion.


I mean yes, ok it is basically “Lego Avatar Flight Of Passage”, which I haven’t ridden (yet) at time of writing, but I personally love it. 

The attraction is thrilling, immersive and really puts you into a whole different world. I’m so glad they went for this setting than the Lego Movie one. The facade looks great and reminds me a little of Vogel Rock at Efteling and the queue line ain’t too shabby either. 

Honourable mention goes to Gruffalo River Adventure, which is fun and a decent rethrme of Professor Drunk’s Bubbleworks. Monster Party is another one to shout at too. 

Some Merlin dark rides are definitely better then others. The likes of DBGT are generally poorly executed. I’m yet to ride the ones at Garda and Heide.

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In general I would say the offering by Merlin for dark rides isn’t great but I LOVE Hex.  Also really like Flight of The Sky Lion and Bubbleworks (not so keen on Gruffalo).  I wish there were more dark rides to chose from - something like Symbolica at Efteling would be pretty cool to have 

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I think they don’t really deserve the bad rep when it comes to dark rides.

Not anymore at least.


They have clearly tried hard recently to improve the situation. 

- Hex is still absolutely brilliant.

- Skylion is outstanding.

- Griffalo holds up really well.

- Walking Dead, although a bit meh, was an improvement and fairly well done considering it was only a minor project.

- Duel is going to be improved soon.


I think one problem is that Merlin very publicly s*** themselves with DBGT though.  A lot of effort and money wasted on a white elephant.  It was however done with good intentions - they set out to achieve a truly great dark ride, but unfortunately missed the mark horribly.


I think the reputation is improving tbh.

It’s a lot of the older rides that have been letting the side down.

Duel and Tomb Blaster for example.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The dark rides are pretty alright. Never perfect, never outrageously awful. 


Of the newer era, Gruffalo is probably my favourite as it ticks all the targets of what it sets out to do and I find it disarmingly charming.


Naturally, rides like Professor Burps Bubbleworks & Hex will always be my favourite dark rides the UK has ever had, purely from a rose tinted glasses position.

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