Top 8 Best Ride Rethemes In The World


With the economy being the way its...been for the last 10-15 years, in a compromised effort to provide something new to entice guests to return to the park without breaking the bank by investing in big, shiny new things we've seen a fair few rethemes come to our beloved theme parks. The retheme is by no means anything new, it's something the Disney parks for example have been doing pretty much since their first park opened and although you'll see many a theme park enthusiast kicking and screaming because they'd prefer something entirely new, I think rethemes are a pretty smart way to get the best of both worlds. 

I think the perception that the retheme of an existing attraction is immediately deemed bad by a very vocal bunch on forums and social media before they've even had a chance to ride the damn thing or even see past the stage of one initial piece of concept art (*ahem*SplashMountain*ahem*). Whilst I get that it can be hard if it's a beloved childhood attraction of yours set for the retheme wagon, I'm very much an activist for theme parks to be ever developing, adapting and changing in order to survive and thrive, and whilst I too have suffered the overwhelming dread of the nostalgia-goggles from time to time I've largely trained myself to be optimistic when a new retheme is proposed. One way I do this is by thinking of all the awesome rethemes we've seen over the years and whilst every retheme is not necessarily a successful one, I do think that they're largely more good than bad. 

So on that note, I wanted to chat through my top eight ride rethemes today. Couple of disclaimers here. Firstly, I've specifically gone for things that I have ridden the 'before' and 'after' of as I think they're the only ones I can properly comment on the 'success' of the retheme for, so you won't find the likes of the CanCan Coaster or Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout here. Secondly, there's most likely going to be some things on this list you disagree with. And that's OK, I promise you, it will all be fine. This is my list, we're not going to agree on everything, and if we did the world would be a pretty boring place wouldn't it? Let's get stuck in. 


I can hear the eye-rolls from here, but hear me out. X:\No Way Out was iconic, there's no denying that. I remember visiting Thorpe Park as a ten year old with my friend and queueing for the thing, having heard all the terrifying urban legends about the 'rollercoaster that goes backwards! IN THE DARK!' The bewildering and bizarre queueline and very of it's time computer hacker theme is etched into my mind and I had a blast. Truthfully for me the changes of the coaster to 'X' with the music in a largely dark/empty tin shed left a lot to be desired for me, especially as lord knows I'm not lover of that kind of music. 

But what I AM a lover of is horror, and indeed The Walking Dead TV show. Given that personally I felt the only way was up with X I still think the changes the ride saw were vast improvements on what the coaster had become, and reintroduced a story with a real narrative and sense of urgency and dread - like a horror maze crossed with a dark ride crossed with a roller coaster. Being a bit of a horror fanatic myself I don't particularly find it scary but I'm yet to experience the ride without the accompanying screams of many terrified riders and I absolutely adore the pacing of the action once you get into the ride portion - especially the gunshots and the final swoop down into the explosion. 


This was a weird one for me because I'm a huge EPCOT fan and love the weird and wonderful rides found throughout the World Showcase. I always really enjoyed Maelstrom as there was something of a dark fairytale vibe to it - scary troll animatronics accompanying weird meandering water-based dark ride very much ticks a lot of boxes for me in what I personally enjoy in an attraction and I remember being a little sad when Frozen Ever After was announced that yet another piece of the weird EPCOT I so love was being lost to the archives of pining nostalgic YouTube videos forever. 

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I don't dislike Frozen, nor do I love it. I think it's fine. But when I tell you I almost cried watching a POV of this ride when they first appeared online. The animatronics were wonderful - HOW IS OLAF WALKING? MAGIC! And the way the songs flow seamlessly along with the boats. Seeing Elsa in her beautiful ice palace! The giant scary snowman dude! Urgh, it all just flows together so perfectly and whilst I personally miss the stanky old troll animatronics there's no arguing with the fact that this ride was the first stepping stone in putting EPCOT back on people's radars and encouraging some further much needed investment.  


As a child growing up in London in the 90s, you can bet I was as big a fan of Professor Burp and his legendary Bubbleworks as the next kid. Like many of you, I have a cloudy section in the back of my memory filled with the smells of fizzy pop, fart jokes and the magical water fountain finale. It truly was a wonderful attraction and I count myself so lucky that I got to visit the park when Professor Burp's Bubbleworks was at its best. However between a branded sponsorship and the general wear and tear of the decades I think even the most nostalgia-blinded among us would have a hard time arguing that the Bubbleworks that left us in 2016 was even a smidge as magical as the Gruffalo River Ride Adventure. 

This is a ride I go out of my way to experience every time I visit Chessington, and living ten minutes around the corner from the park I do visit a fair bit. Despite not really being familiar with the IP, that doesn't stop be being entirely entranced from the second I step into the show building and into the deep, dark, wood, lulled forwards by the twinkling harp accompanied with the hum of woodland creatures. Aside from the newly refreshed fountain finale, which is still as glittering and wonderful smelling as ever, I think my favourite room is the very first where we see Mouse surrounded by sparkling dandelions. It's enchanting. 


It's amazing what a change in lighting and soundtrack can do but Psyk√© Underground is proof that those seemingly small things can have a big impact! The coaster itself has always been fun, a classic Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop coaster which, despite opening in the 80s, still packed a hell of a punch when launching. The issue was the inside was kind of drab, like a youth club community centre - bland, white/beige walls and strange fluorescent lighting. The exterior wasn't much better either - I appreciate the attempt to incite some intrigue about the coaster by enclosing it but the building was so boxy and lifeless it ended up being more of an eyesore than a mysterious focal point. 

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Fast-forward to 2013 and Psyk√© Underground came along with an insane Electro-Euro-Pop soundtrack and an equally as insane lighting and theming package to match. The drab, uninspiring building was decked out head to toe with cartoonish graffiti/urban theming and a bright neon colour scheme to compliment the new audio. Don't ask me what the coaster is themed to, I couldn't begin to try and tell you (and to be honest I think even if I understood the language I still wouldn't have a clue what was going on) but the ride is such an adrenaline rush and the lighting, theming and soundtrack carry that adrenaline through from the second you enter the queueline to the second you exit the coaster. 


Y'all know I love a janky, stanky old dark ride and you really don't get jankier or stankier than the Gold Mine at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The dark ride took riders through scenes of an Old West style mine shaft, complete with explosions, a ton of quite elaborately themed scenes and even some restaurant/other ride interaction. Truly a unique attraction even in a park as full of weird and wonderfully unique attractions as Blackpool Pleasure Beach is. But any opportunity for a park to develop and thrive and attract new audiences for a new era is fine by me, and honestly who could be mad at Wallace & Gromit?

I'm no proud British patriot but honestly flying alongside Gromit in his little plane as Dambusters plays brings a tear to my eye pretty much every time. Wallace & Gromit are obviously a British national treasure but I didn't realise how much I loved them until going on this ride. I grew up, like I'm sure many of us Brits did, watching the Wallace & Gromit shorts every bank holiday and as such found myself squealing with glee as we turned every corner of the ride into another of my favourite classic scenes from the iconic animated films. Through the retheme the attraction became a Pleasure Beach must-ride for me and I went from a ride I went to to enjoy ironically with Gold Mine to a ride I genuinely adore in W&G. 


I first visited Walibi Holland in 2009 when it was still in its weird Six Flags hangover state. Xpress, as it was called when I first rode it, used to be themed to Superman and as such featured a queueline meandering through the Daily Planet offices (eerily similar to the queueline for The Amazing Adventures Of Spiderman dark ride at Universal Islands of Adventure but we'll put that down to coincidence and move on...) As Xpress I couldn't even tell you what this was now meant to be, other than a poorly disguised office that clearly used to be Superman themed. It was...strange. Particularly because as a clone of Disney's Rock n Roller Coaster attraction you know what can be done with this ride so it's extra disconcerting to see it in such a state. 

For, from what I can tell, literally no reason other than they thought it'd be cool and they could (because it fits in with no other theme anywhere in the area), Walibi Holland decided to retheme the attraction to a kind of ghost train, complete with absolutely terrifying queueline. I'll be honest, the queueline is what makes this ride great and is essentially an attraction in itself. The theming is really great, very German Expressionistic with purposely painted on shadows and warped walls to make everything feel slightly off kilter and some amazing use of ghost train gags to get the jump scares out of you and get your heart racing before you're even on the coaster itself. It's really well done and took the coaster from shoddy to excellent.


Why do I feel like an angry mob of retro-Universal fanboys are going to come knocking on my door any moment now baying for blood? I'll say it, Back to the Future was kind of...lame? Look I've seen the film, I think it's fine, I'm no huge fan by any means but I think it's a fun ride. I couldn't tell you the first time I rode BTTF but I feel like it was probably around the year 2000. I don't remember that one too clearly but I DO remember riding the ride's Japanese counterpart in 2015 and my god was the screen blurry. That and the ride system didn't calibrate as nicely as it should have so I came off feeling real queasy. Not a cute look. And the problem with time travel narratives that are set in the not too distant future is that eventually that future catches up on you and eventually becomes the past. Which is what happened with BTTF, and despite being a beloved classic its time was soon done to make way for what is probably my favourite classic 'simulator' style attraction in the world. 

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The Simpsons Ride is a ride I always forget I enjoy as much as I do. To be clear, I am a HUGE Simpsons nerd. I grew up watching it pretty much every day and could probably recite Seasons 2-10 line for line. It's the best. So to combine that favourite thing of mine with another favourite thing of mine (theme park rides) it's obviously going to be a match made in heaven for me. But the thing with The Simpsons Ride isn't the ride itself, it's the jokes. I scream my ass off the second I enter Krusty's grotesque mouth into the queueline. I love me a Simpsons theme park gag and they go HARD on these here. Much like the episodes themselves, every scene, every place you look is so crammed with gags there's something new to laugh at with each reride. Oh and they updated the tech so it doesn't make me feel sicky anymore, yay. 


Technically cheating with this one since the ride was essentially replaced but it's pretty similar so I'm allowing it. Honestly I don't have *too* great a memory of what this was like before but I'm almost certain it basically had no theme and was very much the bog-standard electricity powered Bobkart style situation. This was 2009 Toverland when the park had some theming but nothing like the park today, little shoots of what the place would grow to be were sprouting here and there but for the most part things were pretty bare. I enjoyed this ride but it's not something I would have gone out of my way to experience had they not drastically changed it. 

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The original Bobkart Woudracer closed at the end of 2014 and in 2015 Toverland introduced the new and improved Maximus Blitz Bahn. The ride themed in what I'd call typical European style - in that it's utterly bonkers. It has an alpine/ski theme and you enter through Maximus' lodge which in itself is stacked full of fun house style gags like telephones with silly voices at the end and toilets with fart sound effects. There's something slightly steampunk to the whole thing too, especially the room full of pipes with the giant wacky face that emits a giant ball bearing once everyone now and then to keep queuers entertained. It's all very whimsical and compliments the silliness of a ride that begins with an echoing yodel perfectly. 

I'm sure given what COVID-19 has done to the industry we'll be seeing a fair few more rethemes in the years to come and I for one am excited to see what changes the future might bring, even if it does mean swallowing some nostalgia-rage first. 

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But what do you think? Is there a retheme I missed off of this list? Are there any on here that you disagree with? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Talk later xoxo,

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