We sign a sort of unseen contract when we go to a theme park. One that says we waive over all rights to get mad about watching people dig into their crotches to retrieve denim shorts that have lodged inside of their body after hitting a few G’s on a coaster. We waive over any responsibility for how we’re about to coat our arteries in deep fry batter and powdered sugar. And, most importantly, we basically waive over any leverage we have to be mad if we get straight-up Mortal Kombat Fatality’d by a ride named after some fuzzy sidekick from a superhero movie.

Though we don’t expect it to happen to us, there’s no denying that some of these coasters are more like Rube Goldberg machines designed to capture the exact moment you get the same level of CTE as a 15-year NFL running back in one photo you can purchase at the end for $29.95. Yet, even though just about every theme park has a ride that makes you wonder how it was ever greenlit in the first place, some go to another level and force you to consider that the person running the place is actually just a villain from an Eli Roth movie ...

Dragon Challenge (Dueling Dragons)

When the whole wildly dangerous concept of rollercoasters just isn’t enough, try making them fight each other:

You know what’s probably not such a good idea? Putting a hunk of steel atop a bunch of other steel and sending it ripping around a track to spin about and zip just inches from the steel that’s keeping the one little steel car barely in place. You know what an even worse idea is? Putting another steel cart on the opposite side of that and having them tango inches from each other like some kind of weird mating ritual you’d see on Planet Earth

But instead of some birds showing off their beautiful bright plumage, we’ve got a set of regretful couples in matching Mickey Mouse t-shirts trying not to puke Butterbeer on each other with each pass by. Nature. Beautiful. 

Shockingly, this design ended up causing some problems, probably partly because it was like letting a destructive nine-year-old treat real-life guests the way he does his action figures, and they eventually decided to just stick with the non-dueling version of high probability vomiting until the ride was shut down for good in 2017.

Alpine Slides

It’s like Mario Kart, except this one can kill you:

Charles Wilgren/Flickr Creative Commons/CC BY 2.0

Let’s be real; any list like this couldn’t leave off Action Park. Though it may be well-covered by now, there’s a reason for that. It’s like the Hitler of amusement parks. We still talk about it because we need to remember the messed-up crap that it did. Though most like to point to Action Park’s human Bull Ring, I think it’s the Alpine Slide that may be the most diabolical of the entire property. Basically, the Alpine Slide is what happens if you take arguably the most critical element of a waterslide away, the water, then before the slide part, you just plugged in, asphaltandconcreteandstuffthatwillliterallyripyoudowntoaskeletonifyousomuchassneezeslide.

Riders would be pushed down the mountain track on a flimsy wheeled cart and were on their own from there. You essentially had to ride this thing with the focus and precision of a big wave surfer, knowing that one little mistake could alter the course of your life forever. You do have to give it to the designers on this, though. The absolute balls to believe that people are dumb enough to line up for a waterless waterslide speaks not only to the brilliance of the modern American scam artist but also of the truly criminal stupidity of the average amusement park goer who’d happily hop in that line.

Living with the Land

Allow me to present the theme park equivalent of missionary:

Some rides can kill you by sending a hunk of steel into your chest. Some can launch you into the goddamn parking lot. And then some, well, some can kill you gradually. Over time. Through absolute, pure, unfiltered boredom. While every other ride on this list features some kind of over-the-top design or diabolical twist, Living With the Land at Epcot is simply a middle school textbook brought to life. Taking riders on a slow, crawling 15-minute tour of agriculture science and what it takes to get food in this country, Living on the Land is more torture than ride. 

Look, I like to learn. It’s fun. It’s good. It’s fine. It’s not what I go to an adventure park for. When I just spent the last four rides actively blasting brain cells from my nose as my head bashed back and forth on an upsidedown loop, it’s probably not the best time to drop me in a Magic Schoolbus episode that was left out of the season for being too boring. And your average episode on that show featured the bus shrinking down and going into an IRS agent’s butthole for 28 minutes. At least the rollercoaster that makes me fight other rollercoasters has the decency to kill me swiftly; this slow drip is just heinous.

Middlemoor Trebuchet

Luc Viatour / https://Lucnix.be via Wiki Commons

Pictured: a real trebuchet. Somehow less dangerous than the theme park version you’re about to read up on.

There’s one pretty reliable test you can run on your theme park ride before you make it to decide if it’s going to mess up a lot of people: does it have the name of a medieval device that killed a lot of goddamn people? If yes, maybe scoot on back to the drawing board. But, over in Middlemoor, England, they went right into the design phase at Middlemoor Water Park. 

The design, you ask? Well, damn, it’s simple, just a big ass cannon that launches people 70 feet into the air, and you just have to close your eyes and pray that the bastard comes down into the net. And a lot of English bastards did go up and come down into that net. Until one didn’t. And that’s what it took to finally shut down this absolutely mental ride. Someone missing the net and dying. 

Not just ONE person, ONE, who might have passed by it and been like, “Ey, bruv, you seen wot they’re doin’ over there at Middlemoor? Launchin’ wankers into the air like Mr. Bean and prayin’ they land in a net and not in one of them phonebooths or big busses or whatever the hell we have because I’m out of English references, innit?” As a general rule of thumb for theme park designers going forward, maybe just take one step back and see if your plans look like some big blue concept sheet Wile E. Coyote would decide against before you strap humans into it.

Thumbnails: Charles Wilgren/Flickr Creative Commons/CC BY 2.0, PXHere

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