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Once upon a time, there was a little movie called Ghostbusters. The paranormal comedy reunited the hilarious Stripes alums Harold Ramis and Bill Murray, together with Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts, as a team that were ready to listen to your ghost stories and had the technology to fight back against the things that go bump in the night. The movie was a hit that spurred a sequel (possibly 2), an animated television series, video games, and a marketing bonanza that included everything from lunchboxes to slime.  As extensive as this campaign was, if video game manufacturer Bally had their way, Ghostbusters could have gone even further by being the backdrop to the world’s first theme park ride/video game hybrid.

In a recent interview with 2600Connection, Roger Hector, who has worked with a plethora of video game publishers over the years, revealed that a Ghostbusters-themed ride called The Huntington Hotel was at one point being prepared for distribution for Six Flags Theme Parks.  If his description and concept art are to be believed, the ride would have paved the way for rides like Disney’s Toy Story Midway Mania by putting the power of the Ghostbusters in the hands of riders.

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.

Why yes, Mr. Hector, we really can get a feel of what could have been in these images!  And, oh man, it really is too bad that the game feel into that black hole.  Maybe the designers couldn’t figure out a way to avoid crossing the streams.  At any rate, here are the images in question:

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The basic premise was to have riders sit in their “Ghostmobile” which would be mounted with guns for bustin’ ghosts.

 

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Once aboard, the ghostbusting fun would really get underway.

Of course, there is no point of playing a game if you can’t keep score!  This is the scorekeeper that would have bid players adieu after the fun was over:

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If you have visited the Disney Parks you will quickly recognize that this is a bit of a cross between the Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear rides but remember, this was years before the Mouse House decided to embark on their own interactive gaming/ride journey.  The art is truly wonderful and maybe if we even see Ghostbusters 3 hit the light of day, we may see a Ghostbusters ride in our future.

Category: Cool Stuff

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