Welcome to Terminus
How would you like to come face to mutilated face with zombies from The Walking Dead? You'll soon be able to thanks to a partnership between the TV serie's developers, the AMC cable network, and theme park ride manufacturer, Sally Corporation.
At the 2015 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo in Orlando, Sally announced that it is creating The Walking Dead – Battle For Survival, a dark ride that it is pitching to major theme parks. In an About.com exclusive, the ride company has made Battle For Survival concept art available.
Sally is well known for its dark rides and animatronic characters. It has created modest, interactive shooter rides, such as Scooby-Doo Ghostblasters, that have appeared at regional parks. More recently, the Florida-based company stepped up its game and began developing sophisticated, mixed media attractions that have been garnering great reviews as well as high marks from park visitors. In 2015, it designed Justice League: Battle for Metropolis for Six Flags parks in Texas and Missouri.
Combining roving motion base vehicles, 3-D media, 4-D special effects, wonderful animatronics, practical sets, and compelling interactive game play, Battle for Metropolis demonstrates that Sally is capable of crafting an attraction that is nearly on par with today's best E-Ticket attractions such as Universal's Transformers: The Ride-3D. Six Flags was obviously thrilled. It ordered two more Justice League rides for 2016.
An Ideal Alliance
AMC must have been thrilled as well. According to Lauren Wood of Sally, reps from the TV network saw the ride company's booth at the 2014 IAAPA Expo. In addition to Justice League, Sally had a mockup of a zombie ride it was developing. That led to a discussion about partnering on an attraction based on The Walking Dead. "They told us that we were the right people for the concept,” Wood says.
The pair-up would, indeed, seem to be ideal. The Walking Dead is enormously popular, and park fans would clamor to take a ride into its zombie apocalypse world. (In fact, the Universal parks have been featuring the zombified show at Halloween Horror Nights the past few years.) As the Justice League attraction demonstrates, Sally has the chops to, um, do justice to the red-hot property. That the ride company specializes in interactive shooter ride technology seems particularly apt. Who would want to encounter walkers without being properly armed?
According to Wood, no deals have been signed to date with any park companies, but there has been lots of interest. May I make a suggestion? Six Flags Over Georgia would be the logical home for The Walking Dead – Battle For Survival. The TV series is set in Georgia, and the park chain has a solid relationship with Sally.
Like Battle for Metropolis, Wood says that The Walking Dead ride would include 3-D media, animatronics, and many of the other whiz-bang effects and elements that made the Justice League attraction so wonderful. Unlike the Six Flags ride, which uses comic book-like animation, Battle for Survival would feature photorealistic footage. She also says that the show's creators, such as its special effects guru, Greg Nicotero, are working in conjunction with the Sally team. Befitting the tone of the show, The Walking Dead attraction would be more PG-13 than most of Sally's other rides. (The company is describing it as a very dark ride.) But Wood says that it would still be appropriate for a family audience.
So, What's the Ride All About?
As for ride specifics, keep in mind that it is a concept under development. When a park operator (or multiple operators; Wood says that it's possible the ride could eventually appear in more than one location) signs on to bring Battle for Survival to its midway, it would likely want to have some input in its development. It's probable that the ride will evolve over time.
At this time, however, Sally's concept art shows the direction that the ride might take. Above is a rough rendering of the ride's facade. Park guests would enter Terminus, a rail yard that was supposed to be a safe haven on the show but turned into a community that resorted to cannibalism.
In the ride's queue, Wood says that there would be animatronic figures. Guests should expect a chaotic scene with walkers attacking humans and armed guards trying to control the bloodthirsty zombies. To help set up the story, a sign would inform passengers that "Those who arrive must help us survive."
Next up: The Loading Area
Locked and Loaded
In the loading area for the ride, guests would board six-passenger ride vehicles. They would be armed with handheld shooting devices. The devices would be used to both shoot at walkers and gather supplies to help the human survivors.
Among the scenes that passengers would likely encounter would be the West Georgia Correctional Facility and Grady Memorial Hospital. There is also a scene being planned that would show a building under construction with walkers dressed as construction workers. Fans of the program would recognize many of the sets and details.
Next up: Steve's Pharmacy
Cleanup on Aisle Six
A ride through Steve's Pharmacy would give passengers a chance to both collect needed supplies as well as blast walkers.
Most of the scenes would incorporate large screens and use projected media. Because they would be presented in 3-D, guests would feel immersed in the action. There would also be some dimensional, practical sets, however. One scene under consideration would take passengers past a building that is collapsing and threatens to bury them under rubble.
Next up: Woodbury
Feel the Burn
Riders would visit the town of Woodbury, which would be overrun with walkers. They would have to use firepower to blast their way out.
Next up: The Scoreboard
Score One for the Walkers
As with most shooter rides, passengers would rack up points. In the final scene, a scoreboard would tally their points. In this concept art, the riders apparently performed poorly. It's no wonder the zombies are taking over.
Next up: A Walker
A Walker Invades Orlando
At the 2015 IAAPA Expo, Sally had an animatronic walker on display at its booth. The character shows the incredible detail that the company lavishes on its figures. While it didn't lunge after any convention attendees, the walker was clearly agitated. He moved with characteristic jerkiness and made horrific grunting noises.
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