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Three rules for creating dark ride attractions

Jora Vision welcomes Pieter Cornelis as Project Strategy Director People on a dark ride at Futuroscope

As themed attraction experts Jora Vision announce new dark ride projects, they explain how best to create the perfect dark ride.

Jora Vision recently partnered with Simworx on a new version of the Immersive Tunnel named The Curse of Blackstorm Bay.

The company also joined with leading supplier of interactive attractions Alterface to provide a new compact interactive spinning dark ride concept, named Popcorn Revenge.

“Designing and building dark rides is one of our core strengths,” says Robin van der Want, Project Development Director at Jora Vision. “We are storytellers and dark rides are the ultimate way to do that.”

Creating dark rides is a very specific art, involving a wide range of disciplines. “Creating dark rides can be a challenging exercise due to the many disciplines involved; more so then “catalogued” rides,” says van der Want.

Simeon van Tellingen, Creative Director at Jora Vision explains the three company rules for creating a successful dark ride.

Dark ride set - Vulcania

Rule One: balance the ingredients

“Developing dark rides can be compared to cooking a meal,” says van Tellingen. “The recipe should be right and the balance of the ingredients makes for success.”

Dark rides have a whole host of ingredients:  décor, theming, music, sound effects, ride vehicles, movement, theming, animatronics, interactivity and special effects.  Van Tellingen warns that adding more technology doesn’t necessarily make a better ride experience.  “When clients are considering purchasing a dark ride, they tend to choose the ride system/technology at first and the other ingredients follow afterwards,” he says.  “In our approach however, we take the concept and story as a leading guide, including a vision on balancing the ingredients. That is why we always advise clients to create the design first.  Then decisions can be made on how to allocate budget to the specific ingredients.”

Dark ride set - Vulcania

Rule Two:  tell a clear story

“Every element designed in the ride should follow the story and concept,” says van Tellingen, pointing out that many dark rides employ overly complicated storylines. “We believe there should always be a clear reason why the visitor is invited to hop on a vehicle and experience a journey.”

He says layers of backstory can always be incorporated into the scenes, but the main reason and main tagline of the attraction should be very clear and understandable by every target group.

Many dark rides simply have messages that are too complicated for the majority of visitors, he warns.

Dark ride track layout - Zhongkui

Rule Three: sync all the senses

The third rule of creating a successful dark ride is syncing what you see in the scenery, elaborate show sets, integrated media content and what the client feels, hears or even smells in the vehicle.

“A dark ride is a theatrical experience and should be considered as such,” says van Tellingen. “Music plays a very important role as well. The better the syncing of the senses the more effective the ride experience.”

Jora Vision has been recognized by the TEA, gaining Thea awards for two of their dark ride projects; Arthur Adventure 4D and the Raving Rabbids Time Machine, both located in French park Futuroscope.  At Vulcania, an educational theme park about volcanos, Jora Vision created a ride that brings visitors up close with mythological stories about volcanoes.

“We are excited to see that more parks are showing interest in dark rides,” says Robin van der Want. “These experiences give parks the opportunity to tell their own unique story and offer an attraction that can be experienced by the entire family together”.

Rendering of a dark ride - Alterface Bazylisek

Jora Vision is currently working on several dark ride projects. The first to open will be Bazyliszek in Poland’s Legendia theme park.

Further projects are currently in the design phase and hence remain under wraps.

For more information on Jora Vision and their dark ride projects visit

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