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Most effective gimmick on an attraction?

Matt N

Strata Poster
Hi guys. Often when talking about attractions, gimmicks are generally seen in a very negative light by enthusiasts. Terms like “gimmicky” and “one-trick pony”, amongst other similar phrases, are nowadays often used as criticisms when reviewing an attraction. But here’s a good question for you; can a gimmick ever be so amazing that it really makes an attraction, regardless of its other elements (or lack of, in some cases)? Have you ever ridden a “gimmicky” attraction, or a “one-trick pony”, and had its gimmick completely floor you? Has the gimmick ever been so good that it’s completely overruled the “one-trick pony” status and made the ride a hit in your books?

I’ll get the ball rolling with some of my choices for this...
  • Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa - You might think that taking a drop tower and tilting the seats 90 degrees doesn’t make too much difference to the ride experience, and that they (Busch Gardens) should have just built a regular drop tower, but in my opinion, this trick is what really makes Falcon’s Fury shine. It’s so different to any other drop tower I’ve ridden, and even though most attractions don’t really scare me anymore (I do it for the enjoyment as opposed to the fear these days), I’ll admit that I was genuinely quite terrified when that ride vehicle tilted...
  • Stealth at Thorpe Park (and you could probably say the same about the other, similar Intamin Accelerator Coasters like Kingda Ka and TTD, even though I’ve never ridden them) - Stealth and the other large Accelerators may be all about the launch, but my goodness, that launch is quite a sensation! Even though LSM launches are growing more popular, and I love them in their own way, there’s very few elements that incite pure thrill and enjoyment quite like a good old hydraulic launch! People may dismiss rides like Stealth as one-trick ponies, but riding Stealth, especially the front row ride I had in 2020, really is a rush I’ll never forget!
That’s just two I can think of at the moment; I may have more at another time, for all I know!

But what are some of your favourite gimmicks on attractions? Or gimmicky attractions/“one-trick ponies”?
 

CrashCoaster

Strata Poster
I'm gonna have to bring up Smiler. It executes the inversion gimmick much better than the likes of the Colossus clones since the inversions are back to back and all the track wraps around itself, which in my opinion leads to an intense, disorientating ride experience and I love it. Proves inversions can make a good ride (if you can get past the jank, pentagonal wheels and thigh-crushing restraints (basically just the fact it's a Gerstlauer)). It's one of the reasons why there seems to be a decent split between this and Nemesis for the best coaster at Towers.
 
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Matt N

Strata Poster
I'd gonna have to bring up Smiler. It executes the inversion gimmick much better than the likes of the Colossus clones since the inversions are back to back and all the track wraps around itself, which in my opinion leads to an intense, disorientating ride experience and I love it. Proves inversions can make a good ride (if you can get past the jank, pentagonal wheels and thigh-crushing restraints (basically just the fact it's a Gerstlauer)). It's one of the reasons why there seems to be a decent split between this and Nemesis for the best coaster at Towers.
That’s quite a good shout, actually! As much as I’m not personally a huge Smiler fan (I find it a bit too rough and not really rerideable enough for it to be one of my all-time favourites), I think the layout is incredibly creative for a coaster with 14 inversions; it always feels interesting, and I almost think that the ride is long and varied enough that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick at all to me!
 

ChristianPalsson

Mega Poster
Great post topic idea! The gimmicks that come to my are:
  • Twisted Colossus duelling. Twisted Colossus is an average RMC when it doesn't duel. An average RMC is still an elite coaster overall but for RMCs it's just average. When Twisted Colossus duels it becomes an elite RMC. It is such a great feeling to have a complete stranger in the other train that you try to high five, touch and hug. Incredible feeling, just wish that SFMM would duel it more often.
  • The "special" at the end of Winjas. This is again a very unique and quirky feature but it instantly turns it from a good coaster to a great coaster.
  • Brakeman on Rutschebanen at Tivoli. I don't know if you ever have ridden an airtime filled coaster with a guy standing up throughout the whole ride barely having any restraints. This is just so cool and unique and an incredible thing to watch, the coaster would be less fun without it.
  • Fire and sound effects on Talocan at Phantasialand. This is a flat ride but really it is a show. The ride brings takes you on some ancient Mayan ritual and there is an incredible voice, water and fire. Hearing the evil laugh while feeling the heat of the fire is something unique. That is what turns this from a normal top spin to the best flat ride in the world. Or maybe mystery castle is better?
 

Gazza

Giga Poster
I'm surprised people still rave about Winjas ending, yeah maybe in the day it was good, but today it's a boneless version of Th13teen, try and change my mind.
I do reckon its funny how the ending of Th13teen is universally known, but some chatty little track dip/tilt on Winjas is some massive state secret that you mustn't spoil.


*****

My favourite gimmick is the dollys humps on Lightning Rod, the first hump gives a bit of air and some what of a fake out, the 2nd is so much stronger and invokes the feeling of needing to hold on for dear life as you go down the drop.
 
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ChristianPalsson

Mega Poster
I'm surprised people still rave about Winjas ending, yeah maybe in the day it was good, but today it's a boneless version of Th13teen, try and change my mind.
I do reckon its funny how the ending of Th13teen is universally known, but some chatty little track dip/tilt on Winjas is some massive state secret that you mustn't spoil.

Free falls are way more common nowadays than whatever Winjas does. The Winjas ending is a closely guarded German state secret.
 

JoshC.

Giga Poster
Proves inversions can make a good ride (if you can get past the jank, pentagonal wheels and thigh-crushing restraints (basically just the fact it's a Gerstlauer)).
I get the point you're trying to make, but I couldn't help but laugh a little at the fact you've effectively said 'proves inversions can make a good ride if you ignore the bad stuff'.

---

For me, Pulsar is probably the stand out coaster choice. Effectively the ride system is just a stretched out half pipe, but the whole experience, particularly the splash, make it such a fun gimmick, whilst keeping it re-rideable.


Also, The Clinic at Walibi Holland is a gimmick attraction, right? That deserves a mention here too.
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
In terms of how much the ride would be spoiled if it hadn't been for the gimmick, I guess every iteration of Space Mountain is a contender. Without the dome - or just with the lights turned on - it's a relatively mediocre little coaster with square turns. But in the total darkness, it really becomes an experience.
 

Howie

Giga Poster
Define 'gimmick' tho?
If a gimmick is successful enough it can, over time, become an amusement park staple. 30 years ago, for example, B&M's crazy idea for an 'inverted rollercoaster' might have been considered a gimmick by some. Many manufacturers at the time thought it was impossible, that the physics simply wouldn't work. And even if you could make it work, why would you want to?
Now look at 'em. They're everywhere. Is a park even a park if it doesn't have some sort of invert nowadays?

Perhaps not quite as prolific, but the same goes for B&M's Dive Machine. 'Oblivion - the world's first vertical drop roller coaster' is possibly one of the biggest gimmick coasters out there. It doesn't even do anything apart from the gimmick - the gimmick itself is literally the entire ride.
But it's awesome, and that gimmick has spawned a whole new ride type based upon it.
The other obvious contender in this category, as Matt said, is Intamin's top hat launchers, Stealth, Dragster, KK etc..
One trick ponies for sure - but when the one trick is that good, why bother trying to pad it out with unnecessary filler?

In conclusion then, the best gimmicks are those that are no longer considered gimmicks, but essential ingredients of any park's line up.

Also, The Clinic at Walibi Holland is a gimmick attraction, right? That deserves a mention here too.

Knowing nod. 😉
 
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nadroJ

CF Legend
River Quest - elevator lift hill and drop reveal. Fantastic gimmick.

Any drop track coaster, but mostly Thirteen and Verbolten.

Any attraction with an 'OMG WE'RE GOING BACKWARDS?!' moment (Chiapas springs to mind most prevalently).

Ghosts following you home on Haunted Mansion. A classic but a goody.
 

CoasterMOG

Roller Poster
One word...tunnels. Tunnels that go underground or through a wall like iron rattler may not be gimmicky per se as they took a lot of work to construct. When you take a ride that’s hauling quickly out in the open and then quickly enclose it with a tunnel it makes the experience that much more intense. Some of the legendary ground tunnels that come to mind are on beast, voyage, and the aforementioned iron rattler. Two that are particularly gimmicky as you go through what feels like an elongated enclosed corrugated metal shed are the tunnels on both Millennium force and Magnum. They make the ride loud as hell when you go through them and you feel the speed even more so. And the light show at the end Magnum at night is particularly awesome.
 
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Tonkso

Mega Poster
The tunnel section (I know it's just cut and cover) on Vampire is also the best, and most intense (only intense bit?) part of that ride.
 

Gazza

Giga Poster
Oh yeah, what about on the flume at Tripsdrill where the doors open on a turntable but instead of going out the doors you are sent backwards.
 

roomraider

Best Topic Starter
Gravity Max... Sure its almost entirely a gimmick but damn what a gimmick.

Like someone said about Falcons Fury. I don't get the fear about rides anymore but like FF I sure did on the front row of Gravity Max. I cannot wait to see Vekomas new model arrive in the next few years.
 

DelPiero

Strata Poster
The other obvious contender in this category, as Matt said, is Intamin's top hat launchers, Stealth, Dragster, KK etc..
One trick ponies for sure - but when the one trick is that good, why bother trying to pad it out with unnecessary filler?
The best Intamin Accellerator (IMO) is Storm Runner. If done correctly, these padded out rides can take the gimmick and improve on it. But on the other hand you can get a Kanonen situation 🤮
But I get your point, Oblivion, TTD, Drop towers, they all do their gimmick to perfection.
 

CoasterMOG

Roller Poster
As much as I hated the “What’s In The Shed” campaign around Mystic Timbers; by Jove, it actually worked out pretty well. It’s fun, it’s unexpected for new riders, and a nice way to burn time while stacked in the brake run.
Favorite part of the shed is when you pull of a back row ride and you see in front of you everyone’s heads bopping back and forth to the catchy tunes that play through the old school radio. The shed is super cool
 
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