Posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
During the early 1980′s, Bally was developing an interactive Ghostbusters-themed ride called The Hauntington Hotel, for Six Flags theme parks. The modern movie-branded take on Disney’s classic Haunted Mansion attraction would have been the first interactive video game/theme park ride. See some photos and concept art from the development of the Ghostbusters ride and learn more about the never-built attraction after the jump.
These concept art photos come from 2600Connection, which has a good interview with Roger Hector. He managed Atari’s Advanced Products Group, and later worked with Electronic Arts, Walt Disney, Sega, and Namco Bandai. Here is what Hector said about the attraction:
It was another “first” of its kind as it was the first interactive theme park game/ride, giving its riders a ghost busting gun mounted in front of them, and a variety of sophisticated “ghost” targets to shoot at, and receive a score and prizes. In this way, it was a huge game that required many plays to learn and master. The target ghosts were a combination of physical animated props with CG displays that were combined through mirrors, and they reacted/exploded when hit. The guns were a combination of laser pointer and IR emitter that kept track of hits and displayed the player’s score. The whole thing was created, designed, engineered, and prototyped at Sente, and the ride system was in the hands of a prominent roller coaster engineering company, Intamin. But before it could be rolled out in the Six Flags parks (1st one was slated for Texas), Bally sold the Six Flags division in 1987, and the project fell into a corporate black hole, never to be seen again, which is too bad, as it was really pretty cool, even by today’s standards. I hadn’t seen anything like it until 20 years later when Disney installed the Toy Story Midway Mania ride at Disneyland in 2008. I don’t think any of it has ever been seen before outside the company. We had a very strong concept & storyboard artist named Don Carson, and below is some of his work, along with some of my sketches. This is far from complete, but it’s all I could find. The photos below only show some of the many scenes & features. Howie and his team prototyped the technology, and the layouts and sets were all there. At least you can get an idea for it.
Here is a look at the Ghostbusters ride layout, via a photo of an overhead model:
Six Flags guests would climb into a “Ghostmobile”, a track-set ride vehicle with a drop down lap bar with ghost-busting guns mounted on it. Recruited by the Ghostbusters Agency, park guests would be sent on their first job, to take care of the ghosts in a creepy hotel called The Hauntington Hotel. Here is some more concept art from the ride:
The ride was expected to last two and a half minutes and would feature a variety of high-tech and low-tech gags for the scenes. Every target would react to being hit, and guests would get to find out their score when exiting the attraction.
Seems like a really cool ride, and a missed opportunity. Many years later Disney and Universal constructed interactive game rides like Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters and Men in Black Alien Attack. You can read the whole interview with Roger Hector which touches a ton of video game topics as well as features more concept art and some test photos from this Ghostbusters ride concept at 2600Connection.com. Thanks to elguapo1 for the heads up.
Unrelated to Hector’s creation, Universal Studios Florida opened a Ghostbusters Spooktacular Show in 1990, which I loved as a child. The special effects show attraction let you watch human actors as the Ghostbusters fight Gozer on a recreation of the Temple of Gozer featuring live effects that recreated what had been seen in the movie. You can watch a video taped version of the show here:
The Ghostbusters Spooktacular Show closed on November 9th 1996, replaced two years later by Twister…Ride it Out, which is still in operation.