After my family and I gorged ourselves during Thanksgiving, we decided to head out to southern California’s home of US movie-making madness, Universal Studios.? What better way to spend time with family during the holidays then forking out money on theme park tickets, $4 churros, and memories to last through the weekend?? After imprinting my digital fingerprint for a ticket, I was anxious to try out the new Simpsons attraction, which was originally a Back to the Future ride.?? Visitors who once flew through time in the Delorian with Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly now toured Krusty Land.?? The ride was based on computer simulated technology and I felt like I was in the actual Simpsons cartoon!

Krusty Land made me wonder how far have theme parks come.? I found that the Simpsons attraction reportedly uses 662 fewer kilowatts per day than its predecessor by swapping incandescent for LEDs and using a custom computer system to power down motors when idle.? The ride will achieve a power savings of over 55,233 watts per hour and cumulative power savings of 662,796 a day during the busy summer months of operation.? At its parks in Japan, Florida, and California, Universal Studios unveiled Shrek 4-D, a 3-D film shown in a futuristic theater where the seats move with the action on-screen along with air and water effects.

Virtual reality is the new level of entertainment including Disney’s “Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride,” and Orlando parks “Amazing Adventures of Spiderman” which opened in 1999.? It was the first attraction to combine a motion-based ride with 3-D animation. There is also a lot of hidden technology which visitors do not see.? It is now possible to sync sound systems with roller coaster cars that a computer controls a musical score with the ride.?? Another example is the “Twilight Zone Tower of Terror” ride located at Disney-MGM studio which has a 60-foot drop controlled by 2,150 horsepower of electrical energy that takes you up and down making the ride smoother with the ability to position the cars precisely.

In a new green-minded America, theme parks are looking for every opportunity to give a face-lift on rides to be more environmentally friendly.? Disneyland re-launched the submarine ride with engines powered by clean quiet magnetic coils instead of diesel engines. The fake coral reefs are no longer painted, but are splashed with recycled glass and organic epoxy and Disneyland’s trains are now running on 100 percent biodiesel. Universal Studios established new programs including higher recycling initiatives to reduce solid waste, switched to alternative fuels, prints on recycled paper, and conserves water. Hershey Park uses one 30,000 kW-per-year-producing wind turbine and a solar panel combination. Universal Studios Hollywood also offered free parking to clean vehicles on Earth Day only.

The theme park industry is in tune with the rigors of modern times, they are more than just roller coasters.? It is a highly competitive market, increasingly controlled by large corporations and driven by cutting-edge technology. Designers are at a constant push to design better with never-before-seen attractions and rides. The rides they create are great examples of cross-marketing, designed for selling as much as for thrilling. Designers are always dreaming up new ways to wow you and me.