Cedar Fair Planning to Add Interactive Dark Rides to Every Park

In an interview with the LA Times released today Cedar Fair president and CEO Matt Ouimet let it be known that the park chain is planning to bring dark rides to all 11 of their parks under the over-arching plan they’re calling “Amusement Dark.”  The company already introduced it’s first new dark ride when Canada’s Wonderland opened Wonder Mountain’s Guardian back in 2014, and Knott’s Berry Farm is set to open one with Voyage to the Iron Reef in exactly one month on May 15.

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Wonder Mountain’s Guardian, the first “Amusement Dark” Cedar Fair dark ride.

Cedar Fair parks have never been particularly known for their dark ride attractions, with the possible exception of Knott’s Berry Farm, which recently saw the refurbishment of two classic dark rides, the Timber Mountain Log Ride and the Calico Mine Ride, but Ouimet does have a Disney background.  In the article he broke down his plan for the “Amusement Dark” portfolio to focus on strategy, story-telling, and social interactions.  The idea is to focus on traditional story ideas that don’t require expensive licenses, like the sea monster theme in Voyage to the Iron Reef and the dragon’s treasure theme at Wonder Mountain’s Guardian.  On the strategy and social side, the plan is for interactive rides with a digital platform that allows for upgrades and changes to the ride experiences, while also creating a competitive game between friends and families.

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Voyage to the Iron Reef, opening 5/15/15 at Knott’s Berry Farm, will be the second interactive dark ride among the Cedar Fair parks.

The goal is to have unique stories for each park, and in-house design teams are being given freedom to dream up creatures and stories for the different parks.  “We’re not going to do a bunch of rides at once and put them at every park,” said Ouimet.

One benefit of making each ride a custom design is that new technology that develops between installations can be included in new rides.  For example, Iron Reef is expected to feature improved cameras and lighting compared to Guardian, even though it’s only a year newer.  Ouimet also commented on the ability to have multiple stories in each ride, allowing for seasonal theming.  “You can literally hit a switch and change the story,” Ouimet said.

The story of Iron Reef features mechanical sea monsters living under the park boardwalk.  Each park will have unique fantastical creatures and stories.

The story of Iron Reef features mechanical sea monsters living under the park boardwalk. Each park will have unique fantastical creatures and stories.

One other interesting note, while Guardian and Iron Reef don’t feature much in the way of animatronics, Ouimet said that he expects to work in the future with the company that did the refurbishments of the historic Knott’s dark rides, Garner Holt Productions.  The work on those two rides received high praise, so that’s a good sign for future dark rides.

There aren’t any more specific “Amusement Dark” attractions currently in the pipeline (that we know of), but Ouimet did say “We have blank spaces and empty boxes at every park.”  There is a good chance that if not in 2016, 2017 could feature one or more new Amusement Dark rides at Cedar Fair parks.

Check out the original article here, and you can learn more about Voyage to the Iron Reef and Wonder Mountain’s Guardian at their respective park sites, here and here.

Do you have a home Cedar Fair park?  Think there’s a good spot for a new dark ride somewhere, and would you be excited if a new dark ride were built there?

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