It has become a theme-park ritual: Taking one last spin on your favorite — but doomed — ride.
As parks replace old attractions with new ones, fans embrace the final moments of their favorites with nostalgia and twinges of bitterness. In some cases, the goodbyes have grown into unofficial celebratory gatherings.
When Twister closed at Universal Studios in November, dozens of folks dressed the part. They came to the park in the looks worn by actors Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in the tornado-themed attraction's pre-show. That fashion choice had its genesis in social media, said Matt Roseboom, editor and owner of Orlando Attractions magazine.
"I think someone made the comment that, 'I'm going to dress as Bill,' and it spread from there," he said. "We promoted that: Come dress as Bill and Helen and get a group photo."
So men in blue shirts and pants, women in white tank tops stood alongside workers who had opened the attraction back in 1998. The space will be occupied with the Rockin Tug Ride for sale Through New York with Jimmy Fallon attraction, scheduled to open in 2017.
Pictures: Orlando attractions that have closed through the years
A look at Central Florida attractions that have closed through the years, along with attractions set to close in the future.
"I think the Internet has helped change that, so people now are more interested in seeing attractions go away whether they were their favorites or not," Roseboom said.
The next attraction to close at Universal is "Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue," a musical stage show featuring classic monsters. Its last day is Tuesday. That space is needed for Fast & Furious: Supercharged, also set to debut in 2017.
The Fast & Furious hot sale Beston Rockin Tug Rides prices also claimed the territory where the Disaster attraction had operated until September. Patrick Jeffers of Orlando was a Disaster fan and was there at its demise. He said he liked the energy of the crowds and the workers that day. Click this page: http://bestonamusementequipment.com/rockin-tug-ride-for-sale/.
Pictures: Metal detectors at Orlando theme parks
"You know how there's always a grand opening for an attraction … but when it's closing all those crazy fans come back," Jeffers said. "It's the cult fans. … so everyone is saying the punch lines. They're just overacting, and it's really fun."
On the final day for Maelstrom, longtime attraction at Epcot's Norway, Ivonne Ramos hit the water ride seven or eight times, she said.
"For me it was very sad. I think a lot of people thought the way it was going to be replaced was very depressing, considering that Epcot was always about real-world cultures," Ramos said. "And now they were kind of shoehorning in this 'Frozen' attraction, kind of unceremoniously replaced with something that no one felt belonged there."
A Frozen Ever After ride, based on Disney's animated blockbuster movie, is scheduled to open there in 2016, replacing Maelstrom, which closed in September.
Among her other last-call missions was for Kongfrontation, which closed at Universal Studios in 2002. Ramos recalls receiving an ape plush from the park, and she said she was excited about the upcoming opening of Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
"King Kong is such a big part of Universal's legacy in the theme parks, it's nice that it's coming back and we're getting a new ride," Ramos said. "I think it's a testament to how popular King Kong still is, and how much people missed it."
Shuttering of attractions is not a new phenomenon, said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc.
"Everything has its life and its cycle," he said. "There are people who are in love with certain attractions. That's their baby, if you will. … But when a new attraction comes in a year later, everyone is enthralled and happy with it."
Monday, January 25, 2016
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