Defunct Dark Rides I Wish I Could Have Ridden

After roller coasters, I would say dark rides are my number two priority of attractions to check out whenever I visit a new theme park. I love all kinds of dark rides, from high-tech, multi-million dollar affairs to crappy end-of-the-pier tin sheds full of janky animatronics, there's just something so alluring about them. And in my opinion they're a type of ride that you really must experience in person - I've never seen a POV of a dark ride that does even a smidge of justice to portraying the true ride experience, with all the music, lighting cues, smells and other sense trickery at play in these kinds of attractions. You really do need to try it for yourself to understand. 

Hence why I find it quite so heartbreaking when I find out about incredible, insane looking dark rides that no longer exist anymore and I can therefore never try for myself even if I were to travel to the park. All I can do is read into them as much as possible, talk to people who have been lucky enough to ride them themselves and watch videos with my imagination at maximum functionality. So in an ode to the dark rides that got away, this is five dark rides I wish I could have ridden!


OK, so Hard Rock Park is definitely up there as a defunct theme park I wish I could have visited, but that's a different blog post for another day.  Themed after the song of the same name by British prog rockers The Moody Blues, as you can probably tell by the name the intention of this ride was to make you feel like you were tripping on acid. Yep. The Moody Blues were prevalent in the 60-70s and their music is very much associated with the psychedelic drug culture of the time. Whilst not the most family-friendly of themes, there's no doubting that the trippy visuals associated with such activities certainly makes for a unique and sensory-overloading experience. 

The attraction itself was developed by American dark ride company Sally Corporation and featured intensely coloured projections, kaleidoscopic moving designs in each room adorned in an avant garde style in an attempt to emulate the music as opposed to take us on an adventure or tell a story. This was all set to on-board audio system pumping out the sounds of The Moody Blues. It certainly looks very strange, with nothing else like it in the world, and whilst the POVs online don't seem too exciting, apparently the real life experience of this ride is as close to tripping on acid as one could get (so I'm told!)


OK so yes technically I have ridden the track of this ride in various iterations as Terror Tomb and Tomb Blaster at Chessington World of Adventures, but there's something eerily nostalgic about this attraction's debut as The 5th Dimension. Having only operated for six short years, the ride was designed and produced by Madame Tussauds Studios with a ride system by Mack specifically designed with rotating cars that could turn and face the action and stop so riders could focus on a particular scene. 

The narrative of this ride is painfully late 80s/early 90s, which is why I think it tickles my nostalgia bone so much. On a journey into TV-land to defeat the evil Gorg, riders were shrunk Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style down to 'TV-size" to team up with the now iconic Zappomatic to take on the quest. The design of the scenes feels very immersive and imaginative, but with a dark edge as was common for this time period. It has a very Terry Gilliam-esque Fisher King/Time Bandits feel to it in my opinion, with really memorable character designs for the lead characters as well as a unique soundtrack. It's one of those rides we still hear fans talk about to this day, and I'm sad I didn't get to experience it for myself to see what all the fuss is about. 

I still remember to this day finding out that there once existed not one but TWO Gremlins dark rides, but that one of them inexplicably also features Beetlejuice? So naturally this had to be on my list! Located at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia and operating until 2001, the ride starts off with guests watching a short reel of movie classics before, as per the famous scene from the movie, the screen is suddenly invaded by Gremlins, prompting an escape attempt through the archives. Oh and yh, you're intermittently interrupted by a random Beetlejuice animatronic at various points throughout too. 

It all just feels so chaotic and fun, exactly what a Gremlins dark ride should be. Gremlins themselves are mischievous, slightly terrifying but ultimately a fun romp just with a bit of a twisted side - perfect dark ride fodder! Beetlejuice feels a little uncalled for and not fitting with the overall feel of the ride but it's so weird that I do quite like it, old school dark rides/ghost trains are full of these inexplicable mash-ups and random animatronics popping up out of nowhere so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and say it's an ode to the classics and not look into it too much more - it's a ride at a 90s movie-themed park, we have to allow for some nonsense. Regardless, as a fan of both of these movies I'm simply gutted I didn't get to ride it for myself but also ashamed that I only became aware of its existence in recent years. And as Gremlins is very much a timeless classic now as far as I'm concerned, I say it's high time they got immortalised in dark ride form once more for a new generation to enjoy. I'm sure the nostalgia-goggles will make it all the more enjoyable too!


I visited California Adventure for my first and so far only time back in 2012 and it was kind of *just* finishing up with the first stage of its transformation into a better, less cheap-y park, so clearly I was ten years too late to experience the now legendary Superstar Limo ride. Often referred to as one of the worst rides Disney have ever made, Superstar Limo was originally intended to be a high speed chase through Hollywood as we, the celebrities, are pursued by paparazzi. Following the death of Princess Diana this was deemed tasteless and some quick changes were made leading to, ironically, an absolute car crash of a dark ride, with poorly mis-timed jokes and odd celebrity cameos feeling totally void of the usually Disney stamp of excellence.

So why the hell do I want to ride this thing? I just really want to see for myself if it really is as bad as people say. It's bizarre to me that Disney would ever create something this universally canned and as a huge Disney parks fan it's a piece of history I yearn to have had to opportunity to have experienced in the flesh. There's something particularly seedy and vulgar about the whole thing from what I've seen and read, feeling very much of its time in California in the noughties, and something about that oddly appeals to me!


OK technically cheating here as I guess this is more of a flat ride in a shed situation BUT if we're counting HEX at Alton Towers as a dark ride then I most certainly am claiming Tomb Raider: The Ride at Kings Island as one too. For those who aren't aware, Tomb Raider: The Ride, later renamed The Crypt after the licensing expired, was a Huss giant top spin in the dark, complete with fire, music and special effects to heighten the already extreme ride cycle of your standard top spin. Complete with pre-shows, video screens and a themed queue line, this was quite the complete ride experience and the perfect way to tart up your everyday flat ride to elevate it into a truly world class experience. 

I'm a little bit fascinated when parks decide to add some theatrics to flat rides to give them a little extra oomph. It perfectly encapsulates the magic of themed attraction design and how various elements combined with the physical feeling of being on the ride can come together to create a truly 'wow' experience. I love Talocan and Mystery Castle at Phantasialand for this reason - if these rides were just the hardware you can guarantee I wouldn't bother riding with every single visit but for me these are unmissable rides and from what I've seen I reckon I would feel the same about Tomb Raider: The Ride. I'm not fan of the games or movies but everything about this ride just feels MASSIVE and epic, and especially for a regional park like Kings Island that's just something really special and unusual so I'm gutted it doesn't exist anymore.


I count myself lucky that I have managed to actually ride so many incredible, iconic dark rides in my time, but that doesn't mean I can't be a brat and cry about the few that I have missed! There's always going to be an element of looking back with rose-tinted glasses with now-defunct attractions, those who have been lucky enough to ride often exaggerating just how good the ride experience actually was at the time, but regardless it does seem a shame to have lost these for whatever reason. 

What about you? Are you a dark ride fan? What are some dark rides you wish you got a chance to experience? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,


  1. I actually rode Tomb Raider in 2003.

    My family thought it was a log flume. They were surprised.

  2. No offense, But on Twitter, You said Top 6 and you only posted 5.