In 2016, in response to films being the primary source for modern theme park ride adaptions, Robert Niles, the founder and editor of ThemeParkInsider, wrote: “Allow me to suggest that looking at books—instead of movies—might provide a richer source for inspiration.”
While I agree with Niles' sentiments on books being a rich source for designers, Disneyland is no stranger to adapting novels. One year after the 1955 grand opening of Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, an artificial Tom Sawyer Island was constructed using Mark Twain’s classic 1876 novel as the blueprint.
Sixty-four years later, what if Imagineers—Walt Disney’s trademark title for the creatives and engineers who develop and design their famous attractions—were sent to record stores rather than libraries to birth a new era of fresh, innovative attractions? What if attractions were based on full-length albums instead of summer blockbusters?
If albums can provide the same rush as a rollercoaster, why not adopt them as such?
Rap superstar Travis Scott manufactured a literal physical connection between music and attractions in 2018 for the Wish You Were Here Tour across North America, a 56-city date trek in support of his third album, ASTROWORLD.
“It’s one thing for a performer to 'take you for a ride' and quite another to strap fans into chairs and lift them high above an arena floor,” wrote journalist Chris DeVille in his Stereogum-published review of Scott’s February performance in Columbus, Ohio.
The Houston-born native didn’t stop at theming his commercial behemoth after a defunct amusement park from his hometown. No, Scott brought Astroworld to the world.
Inspired by Travis' ingenuity, I’ve expanded and conceptualized five artists and their music into amusement park experiences. These are loose possibilities of what could happen if Imagineers took Anderson .Paak’s Malibu, A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Rico Nasty’s Anger Management, and The Pharcyde’s timeless single “Drop” from streaming services and remodeled them as rides and attractions worthy of Six Flags or Disney World.
Please keep your hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the article at all times. Thank you.
THRILL LEVEL: Yes Lawd!
Minimum Height: Prince
Age Requirement: Must Be Old Enough To Choose Drip or Drown
There’s a tremendous admiration for California’s sunny, paradise-like climate and culture found in the bone marrow of drummer, singer, and songwriter Anderson .Paak’s genre-merging music. What if that soulful paradise was a physical destination?
Anderson’s Waterfall stays true to his infectious, foot-tapping grooves while putting a new spin on the fundamental idea of a water park ride.
To replicate the refreshing splash of warmth found across Malibu—his second and most celebrated studio album—the Oxnard-born polymath is honored and represented by a family fun boat-ride through a vibrant, stylized area surrounded by palm trees, waterfalls, live instrumentation, dancing patrons, vintage cars and custom-made collage art by visual artist and frequent .Paak collaborator Dewey Saunders.
Circular platforms are spread across the ride where visitors witness hourly dance-battles to the sounds of “Come Down,” “Heart Don’t Stand A Chance,” the ScHoolboy Q-supported “Am I Wrong,” the Knxweldge-produced “Link Up,” and a range of fan favorites and deep cuts.
Anderson’s Waterfall is going to the club while on a boat; it’s living within one of .Paak’s famous album covers in real time; it’s hearing his music in a setting that resembles exactly how it sounds.
Bizarre Ride II: The Ride
THRILL LEVEL: 3.5-Mics In The Source
Minimum Height: Tyrion Lannister
Age Requirement: Must Old Enough to Name Five Pharcyde Songs
Oakland rap group The Pharcyde debuted in 1992 with Bizarre Ride II, which is a natural title for a rollercoaster ride, but it's the ingenious, Spike Jonze-directed music video for their single “Drop,” from the group's 1995 sophomore album Labcabincalifornia, which provides the inspiration behind the backward concept. A forward moving attraction would be a criminal disservice to the rap group’s iconic, touchstone moment.
Alike in style, Bizarre Ride II: The Ride is loosely modeled after Star Jet, a 1985 steel stand-up roller coaster that’s still in operation at Washuzan Highland in Kurashiki, Okayama, Japan. As a quick-paced, 50-miles per hour ride, the attraction aims to embody spirited flows, thrilling lyricism, and punchy tempos found throughout their discography.
To honor their jazzy, sampled-based soundscape, all four original members of Pharcyde—Imani, Slimkid3, Bootie Brown, and Fatlip—along with “Drop” producer, the late, great J Dilla, the track is designed with five consecutive loops that lead to a breathtaking 144-foot heaven-high drop back to Earth.
Bizarre Ride II: The Ride mirrors Ink Blot's original review of the eponymous album by “erupting in a riot of colour and excitement” and ensuring “it'll make you wanna do it all over again.”
THRILL LEVEL: Maximum Temper Tantrum
Minimum Height: Taller Than Lil Uzi Vert but Smaller Than Kenny Beats
Age Requirement: Must be Older Than Lil Nas X, but Younger Than Bernie Sanders
Want to experience angst as a glorious implosion of intensity? Look no further than the KENNNNY!
Drawing from the explosive aesthetic of hip-hop’s raging demigoddess Rico Nasty, each vehement twist and heart-pounding drop on the fierce coaster provides the illusion of advancing through her latest, Kenny Beats-produced project, Anger Management.
Equipped with surround sound built into stylized trains themed after Rico’s dynamic personality, the massive hypercoaster launches at a scream-inducing 75 miles per hour down a steeping 100-degree drop once the Maryland-born rapper squeals her infamous catchphrase. Passengers enter and exit tunnels shaped like the giant, yelling mouth on her album art while being shot with startling air jets. Within each of the four tunnels, fan-favorite records “Cold,” “Hatin,” “Trust Issues,” and “Roof” are played at obnoxiously high volume.
As a result of the tunnel construction, it’s impossible to foresee abrupt horizontal loops and bizarre helix spirals. The coaster adaptation of Rico’s Anger Management is similar to DC’s Rivals hypercoaster; much like her music, it doesn’t allow passengers a moment to catch their breath.
Only board the ride if you’re in search of fast, untamed fun.
Midnight Marauder’s Space Quest
THRILL LEVEL: Timeless
Minimum Height: A Five-Foot Assassin
Age Requirement: Must Be Old Enough to Vote Eric B for President
Have you ever wondered about the red and green striped woman who is front and center on the album covers for A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders? For more than 25 years, this mystery matron has achieved cultural immortality without a proper backstory—that is, until now.
Midnight Marauder’s Space Quest, a captivating, Tribe-inspired, Back To The Future-esque motion simulator, creates the experience of roaming the furthest cosmos in search of her whereabouts all while revisiting audio and visual moments from the group’s historic archives.
By expanding on Tribe’s eight-minute, Warren Fu-directed music video “The Space Program,” the ride’s story takes place in the present while looking for individuals from members Q-Tip, Jarobi, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s past. Thanks to modern advancements in IMAX-style screens, visitors experience a stunning, 4K visual odyssey that shakes, jerks, and flies to the jazz and hip-hop rhythms of two musical benchmarks from a golden age.
Including the montage of clips from ”I Left My Wallet In El Segundo,” “Scenario,” the Busta Rhymes-featured "Oh My God," and various other music video and live show footage, Midnight Marauder’s Space Quest is a 15-minute ride that checks every box: nostalgia for the old, a history lesson for the new, and a pleasant voyage for all.
Although the late, great Phife Dawg is no longer with us, he is tastefully commemorated.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Themepark
THRILL LEVEL: Waking Up In a New Bugatti
Minimum Height: 5′ 8″
Age Requirement: Must Be Old Enough to Work at The Gap
Created during a self-imposed Hawaiian exile, Kanye West’s 2010 fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is a grandiose wonderland of Shakespearean triumph and tragedy. Often referred to as a star-studded masterpiece, the pop culture crown jewel became the design for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Themepark, a The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-styled resort where almost every track from the 13 song opus has a three-dimensional, thematic counterpart.
Every aspect of Kanye’s themed area is meant to alter and twist the perception of the decade-old music. To ride "Monster," "POWER" or "So Appalled" is to experience three spine-tingling rollercoasters with the merciless velocity and intense dynamism of Six Flag’s Goliath; the sample of Gil-Scott Heron will never sound the same after you enter the bone-chilling, Jordan Peele-directed “Who Will Survive In America” escape room; bottles of Hennessy are replenished at “Blame Game” motel or “Hell of a Life” brewery while famous performers can be found on stage within “All Of The Lights” stadium.
Instead of Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse, the striking images painted by George Condo walk alongside women and men painted as squawking phoenixes, while flashy, Roman-esque statues molded in the image of Kanye tower over visitors to adequately symbolize that you’re inside his Mount Olympus.