Movie Park Germany has a long history of dark rides and show rides. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the park in Bottrop decided to build a brand new ride paying tribute to its legacy. Since the 23rd of June the new Movie Park Studios Tour, packed with props and items from the archives of the park, has been open to the public. The ride itself, being both a roller coaster and a semi-dark ride, promises to be a wild ride through the rich history of Movie Park Germany and its previous incarnations. One week after opening, the DRdb Team visited the new ride and tried to find as many Easter eggs as we could. Join us on our search in the article below!
The Story of the Studios
We find the brand new ride in one of the studio buildings in the southern part of the park, surrounded by the children’s rides of Nickland and adjacent to the Excalibur semi-dark ride. The Movie Park Studios Tour is not the first ride using this building. When the park originally opened in 1996 as Warner Bros. Movie World, the whole area now known as Nickland was themed after the Looney Tunes. The building which is now Movie Park Studios hosted a dark ride called Looney Tunes Adventure, which was a free flow dark boat ride by Intamin that included a splash.
Warner Bros. Movie World was built on the site of the defunct Bavaria Filmpark (owned by the Bavaria Film Studios), which in turn took the site of Traumland in 1992. Warner Bros. Movie World was thus the second film-themed park in the same location. The park opened in 1996 and was originally operated by the Nixdorf family, who quickly sold it to Premier Parks which later became part of the Six Flags group. When Six Flags retired their European division in 2004, the park was sold to StarParks and lost its licenses for all Warner Bros. IPs, forcing it to continue under the name Movie Park Germany. This prompted the retheming of many rides during the 2004-2005 off-season, including Looney Tunes Adventure. The dark ride reopened in 2005 as Ice Age Adventure, based on the film franchise by 20th Century Fox, and remained in operation until the end of 2016 when the license for the use of Ice Age IP was not prolonged. The boats were transferred to Bermuda Triangle (which was soon to become Area 51), another ride in the park which utilizes the same ride system. The rest of Ice Age Adventure remained intact and was abandoned, though the park used it for the horror maze Wrong Turn during the 2018 and 2019 Halloween-season.
During the summer of 2020, Movie Park Germany announced the opening of a brand new ride inside the abandoned studio building for the 2021 season to celebrate its 25th anniversary. A series of teasers revealed that the new ride would be a combination of a dark ride and a roller coaster, which was to be manufactured – once again – by Intamin. The Multi Dimension Coaster type, would feature forwards and backwards launches as well as a 360° turntable and reach a top speed of 60 km/h. The whole project would be the biggest investment in the history of the park.
A team of designers and developers was assembled to create the extensively themed ride experience, led by Manuel Prossotowicz as Creative Project Manager. The team worked for over 1.5 years to design and construct the new ride. Apart from the park’s creative team and the engineers from Intamin, the team consisted of Leisure Expert Group, responsible for the storyline and the complete ride design; P&P Projects, producing the decorations and effects; IMAscore, composing the musical score which was recorded with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra; IMAmotion, producing the visual media; and independent consultant Wiebe Damstra as Project Leader.
The new highly themed ride perfectly fits the series of new ride installations the park has added over the last decade. With Van Helsing’s Factory (2011), The Lost Temple (2014) and Stark Trek: Operation Enterprise (2017) the park invested in rides with an extensive backstory. These rides offer a special experience to their visitors which creates the feeling of ‘being in the film’, which is exactly the theme the park tries to capture. Remarkably, however, most of these recent additions (except for Star Trek) are not based on official film franchises, which enables the park to create film-like experiences without being limited by licensing restraints.
As for the Movie Park Studio Tour, the park derived its inspiration for a film-like experience from its own history. “With the new Multi Dimension Coaster we want to strengthen the ‘Movie Park Germany’-brand and position ourselves even more specifically as a film park,” said Manuel Prossotowicz in a press release. “Simultaneously, we take our guests on a ride through the park’s history in order to make Movie Park Studios a more real experience. Frequent park visitors can discover numerous Easter eggs throughout the ride.”
The creative team dug deep into the park’s archives to find props and attributes for the new ride. The queue line and exit are filled with drawings, designs and scale models of many of the park’s rides, both existing and defunct. In addition, both the queue and ride are packed with old animatronics and props derived from defunct rides, such as Gremlins Invasion and Looney Tunes Adventure.
In order to fit all these items into one consistent ride experience, the team created a fictional film studio in which the whole experience takes place: the Movie Park Studios. This allowed the park to refer to another previous ride: the old Film Studio Tour, which operated from 1996 to 2007. The new Movie Park Studios Tour invites guests for a tour through the fictional studios, where director Steven Thrillberg is currently working on no less than three new films. During the tour visitors can see some of the special rooms like the film archive as well as special effect studios and might even get a sneak peek at the movies that are currently in the making.
Walking through the Studios: The Queue Line
Now here we are, in front the Movie Park Studios building, where we see a brand new art-deco facade depicting the main gate of the studios. Roller coaster track winds around the entrance gate and the outdoor queue area, and every now and then a studio tour vehicle passes over. As with most studios, the iconic water tower just to the right of the building cannot be missed as it towers over the coaster track. After we get the option to check out the test seat, we join the outdoor queue line and patiently wait until it is our turn to have a tour through the Movie Park Studios. Already some Easter eggs can be found here, like the designated parking spots for both Steven Thrillberg, film director, and T. Bakehouse, studio boss (named after the park director Thorsten Backhaus).
After a while, a staff member shows us the way inside. We enter the building and arrive at the reception. On our right hand side we find a series of fictional film posters (perhaps some of Steven Thrillberg’s finest works) with release dates. All of them refer to a major development in the park’s history. 1996’s Charlie refers to the opening of Warner Bros. Movie World, as portrayed by the Roxy Theatre in the background. 1999 saw the arrival of the wooden roller coaster Bandit and 2005 was the year in which the park was transformed into Movie Park Germany, prompting the renaming of many rides like Lethal Weapon Pursuit becoming Cop Car Chase. Across the room sits an old video camera with a sign next to it – ‘’it all started with a camera.’’
We follow the signage for the advertised Studio Tour – available today! – and end up in some sort of library where not just books but also film reels and movie props are stored. Among the items a plush toy of Gizmo can be found, referring to the park’s defunct Gremlins Invasion ride (1996-2004). A knight’s helmet reminds of the one that used to be in the queue of Time Riders (2005) and a scale model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex refers to the Lost Temple (2014). On a desk sits a small model of Falkor, referencing the legendary NeverEnding Story / Unendliche Geschichte ride (1996-2004).
After a short wait, a 2 minute pre-show starts in which we are greeted by Thrillberg’s assistant Andy who, appearing as a projection standing behind the desk, explains what’s going on in the Studios. There are 3 movies planned for shooting today (a disaster, action and monster movie), all of which we will catch a glimpse of during our tour. He is interrupted by a computer animated anthropomorphic clapperboard going by the name of SAM who tells him to hurry up already.
As we continue our way through the building, we pass by a large window giving us a look into an office. The rooms is filled to the brim with inspirations for movie set construction like reference photos of movie sets, samples of construction materials and architecture tools. The desks are littered with snacks and beverages, implying the staff are just on a break. On the left sits a drawing board with a screen in it which cycles through various concept drawings and building plans for Movie Park Germany rides including Santa Monica Pier (2007), the Lost Temple (2014) and Excalibur (2018). It is revealed that in-universe a division called Movie Park Studios Enterprises is responsible for these designs.
We pass by a couple of closed rooms (the writers room, executive office). The door windows are projected from the back which give the illusion of people working inside. The right side of the room behind the next set of windows we pass seems to resemble a workshop, with paint buckets, casting molds on shelves and various props like parts of animatronics everywhere. Found centrally in this room is the scale model for the Van Helsing’s Factory roller coaster (2011), presented during the ride’s construction. Next to it we can find a model based on the old Bermuda Dreieck (1996-2018). The right side wall of the room features concept art for Excalibur (2018) along with a thank you note from ride designer Leisure Export Group. The back wall houses a desk with various items like a Six Flags helmet, a Batman mask referring to Batman Adventure / Abenteuer (1996-2004) and an old film reel box with the Warner Bros. logo on it. The wall to the left is decorated with construction images of the King Kong animatronic featured on the ride.
The other side of the room features a table drawer with building plans, a sketch table with production drawings for Gremlins Invasion (1996-2004), the Film Studio Tour (1996-2007) and The Old West (1996) just to name a few. A notice-board features a bunch of historic photos and sketches as well as a thank you note from decor constructor P&P Projects. Finally, an artist impression of Warner Bros. Movie World’s layout, made during its planning stage, decorates the far left wall.
A staircase at which a safety instruction video plays, hosted by movie director Steven Thrillberg, leads to the station where we board the coaster vehicles. The vehicles are shaped after the original vehicles of the Film Studio Tour (1996-2007). The station resembles the Studio’s award room and just like the queue line, it is decorated as an art-deco hall with specific Movie Park Studios-details.
After depositing our belongings in the baggage system, it is time to board one of the 3 tour vehicles, referred to as trams. Each has a unique license plate on the back with a reference to a famous television or motion picture award. Tram 1 references the Golden Globe Awards with GL-08-E7, Tram 2 to the Emmy Award as well as the opening year for Warner Bros. Movie World with EM-MY-96 and finally Tram 3 refers to the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars with 05-C4-R5.
A Ride through the Studios: Ride Experience
Once aboard our vehicle we sit in front of a large curtain. As the curtains part and the train starts rolling we take a left turn through a hallway, decorated in a similar style as the queue line, past various fictional film posters referencing other rides in the park like Santa Monica Pier (2007) and Area 51 (2019). Again video projections on door windows liven up the place and allude to actors being prepared in their dressing room.
Through a set of vault doors we enter the film archive where reels are stored. The setting refers to the Gremlins Invasion ride (1996-2004), which also took place in a film archive. The design team probably took some of these props that date back to the old ride, since insiders have stated that Movie Park Germany has stored many props from previous attractions. As we pass through the archive, the lights will dim, the train jolts and the racks seem to almost topple over. The train rushes on and we meet SAM again, who leads us down a wrong turn. Instead of the planned route, the train is now heading to the film set which we are warned not to enter.
We come to a full stop on a dead-end track, and find ourselves in a film set decorated as a living room. Projections in the ‘windows’ in front and to the side of the train show a storm raging outside, making clear that Steven Thrillberg is shooting a disaster movie here. When a tornado comes closer, we see more and more things whirling in front of the windows and eventually the roof of our room is blown away. At that point, the train is suddenly launched backwards and SAM chimes in via the onboard audio to tell us to hold on tight.
While rushing backwards we come across some props, like a lamp and a table, dangling around and apparently also blown away by the storm. An airborne cow possibly pays homage to the classic MGM movie The Wizard of Oz from 1939. Shortly afterwards we ‘’burst through a wall’’ and find ourselves slowly moving backwards in a storage of film props. There are wooden crates and racks filled with equipment, surrounded by various props like a golden shark head and another model of a dinosaur. Labels indicate the films (some fictional, some real) the props were originally used for, such as the fictional movie The Crazy Sloth (referring to the Ice Age Adventure ride, 2005-2016). The 3 large stone statues on the left are taken from Bermuda Triangle (1996-2018) and the oversized silver letters on both sides of the room used to be on the facade of the Hollywood Film Museum (2006-2014). On the right lies a model of a submarine referring to the film Das Boot (1981, recorded at Bavaria Studios who owned the park even before Warner Bros.), which was featured on the Film Studio Tour (1996-2007). The seemingly random Egyptian themed props originate from a defunct Halloween scare maze.
Before we had the time to see all the props that are stored here, the train comes to a full stop on a turntable. As we start to rotate counter clockwise we first pass by some more references including the head of an old Bugs Bunny animatronic hiding in the window of a subway train, taken from Looney Tunes Adventure (1996-2004) which is of course the ride that used to operate in this building first. There is also a gremlin animatronic taken from the Gremlin Invasion (1996-2004) with a hat obscuring most of its face. It is one of the fire fighter gremlins which is one of the very few gremlins that were not immediately removed following the ride’s closure. We have now turned 270° and on our right we find an animatronic of Andy sitting at a control center. He is having a conversation with Steven Thrillberg, though before he can finish his update the train already moves into Studio 8 which, judging by the flashing lights, is also in use for shooting a new film.
When entering Studio 8 we find ourselves in a set resembling New York City, which is the location for an action film. The left wall is decorated with filming equipment as we pass by some cars and fake facades on our right. Behind some of the windows projections of actors can be seen like an officer holding a gun on a robber. We pass under a bridge where we find a monitor with a live camera feed on it, in which we can view ourselves pass by. The effect is similar to the one used in Bermuda Triangle (1996-2018) and Time Riders (2005). A red sports car is being loaded out of a truck while it blares its horn at us, as we turn to the left and enter the right lane of the City Tunnel.
When the tunnel lights up, we find ourselves next to a yellow sports car in the left lane. After some anticipation we are launched forward at the ride’s maximum speed of 60 km/h, obviously exceeding the indicated speed limit of 30 mph, leaving the yellow car in the dust. The racing-aspect is a reference to the semi-dueling Lethal Weapon Pursuit coaster (later Cop Car Chase, 1996-2006). We nearly avoid a collision after which a winding piece of coaster takes us outside the show building.
When exiting the show building for the outdoor coaster part, we pass through the wall which is made to look like we blast straight through it. A flock of smoke accompanies the train when exiting the building, a spectacle for guests in the queue line. The short outdoor coaster section consists of a bunny hop, followed by a series of turns to the left which takes us over the queue line and through the support structure of the water tower. We quickly smile at the on-ride camera before re-entering the building through the Backlot Door 2 and whizzing past the backsides of a couple of sets.
While still racing through the building, the coaster veers to the right and we pass by a colorful mural representing the skyline of the Movie Park Studios at night. In the distance fireworks can be seen going off. Immediately afterwards, the track bends into a curve to the right and we pass through the third movie set, where the aforementioned monster movie is shot. On the left a large roaring King Kong animatronic has found his way up a radio tower and seems to be reaching out for us. On our right a cut-out of a helicopter is utilizing its searchlight to light up the scene, which is set at night. Meanwhile a miniature film crew down below captures the action. The decor passes by in a flash, leaving us to burst through a billboard, with a seemingly unaware of all of this pigeon sitting on top.
A dark tunnel takes us to the ride’s final brake run just before the station. With the onboard soundtrack coming to an end, we enter a recording room with shelves filled with instruments on both sides. On the right a video screen can be seen where the orchestra is playing the final notes, which is actual footage of the performance by Budapest Film Orchestra. We come to a stop in the station and the tour is over.
After taking back our luggage and then walking towards the ride’s exit, we find a small bonus pinned up the walls of the hallway. These are large drawings of some of the park’s rides, both existing and defunct, depicting amongst others buildings of The Neverending Story. It’s a dream come true for real Movie Park-fans to finally take in all the detail put into these never before seen designs.
That’s a wrap! Our tour through the Movie Park Studios has come to an end as we exit the ride and end up in the souvenir shop where some merchandise like t-shirts and our on-ride photo can be found. The ride has been a tour through Movie Park’s rich history and is a feast for any Movie Park (or theme park)-fan, hiding numerous references and Easter eggs to many of the well-known rides of the park. We described quite a lot of these, but we left some more for the visitors to discover – and probably we have not even found all of them ourselves yet. The amount of Easter eggs however did not constrain the ride designers in their design for a new, coherent ride experience: with the setting of the Studios, all references fit perfectly within the ride, making a nice ride for enthusiasts and regular visitors alike.
The downside of all these scenes that we noticed during our studio tour is that the building is packed with coaster track and scenes, which sometimes interfere with one another. Daylight shines into the building via the two openings for the outdoor coaster part, which breaks the experience of some of the indoor scenes (particularly the storm scene). Despite this downside however, we think the Movie Park Studio Tour is a great addition to the ride collection of Movie Park Germany. It offers unexpected changes, rich decoration and a thrilling ride, but cleverly keeps within the limits of a family ride which a wide range of park visitors will enjoy. And with all these props and references, hardly anyone could get bored of the ride as there is always something new to discover.
Visit by Luc, Jim and Erik
Article written by Luc and Jim
Pictures by Luc and Jim, unless credited otherwise