Triotech Melds Thrill Ride with Competitive Gaming in New Dark Ride for Canada’s Wonderland

Posted by Rachel S on Monday, September 2nd, 2013


Canada’s Wonderland has announced a new dark ride to open in May 2014 called Wonder Mountain’s Guardian. The new installation, designed by Triotech, will be smack in the middle of the park at its namesake summit. For a park that’s dominated by roller coasters, this may be a substantial draw since it’s so unlike the rest of Wonderland. Here are some of our thoughts and questions about this new ride.

First, we have to ask if Wonder Mountain’s Guardian will supplant the only other enclosed ride at the park – Thunder Run? The existing MACK-built coaster features a dragon (nicknamed Herman) that riders encounter as they tour the innards of the artificial cavern. With Wonder Mountain’s Guardian promising to take riders inside the mountain to challenge a dragon in its nest, it almost sounds like they are taking their existing concept and putting it on steroids to generate revenue.

With a budget rumored to be just $10 million (much lower than the $20-$30 million most dark rides usually cost) we also have to wonder if this will be more of a retooling of the old ride than a tear down and build of a wholly new ride designed to thrill and impress. A close look at Montreal-based Triotech’s info page on their Interactive Dark Ride (iDR) design page helps explain the lower price tag. Two of their selling points include “only a fraction of the cost of major traditional interactive rides” and “upgrade your installation by retro-fitting your dark ride to Triotech’s iDR.”

Sounds like these may explain what will really go on inside the park’s trademark mountain. Triotech seems to specialize in XD theater experiences and video game type attractions that are more stationary, so it will be interesting to see how they do with a full-blown moving ride (nearly 1,000 feet in length) rather than their typical sit-down experiences where the theater and 3D effects provide the motion.

The ride is described as starting with an ascent up Wonder Mountain and then a plummet through five experiential layers including a forest and underground lake before the ride’s finale in the dragon’s lair for a final showdown. The new ride was announced live in front of the mountain by a rep from Canada’s Wonderland as well as a Triotech’s Director of Technology Ernest Yale.

Triotech’s Yale says the Guardian ride will feature the longest continuous interactive screen ever built for a ride with real time graphics and ultra-fast, accurate and responsive targeting of the video game elements. Wonderland’s GM Norm Pirtovshek says, “Thrill seekers and video game enthusiasts from all generations will be amazed by the combination of unique ride thrills and immersive 4D interactive action as they compete for ride supremacy.”

The ride looks to be fundamentally a 3D video game in ride form (4D if you count wind and water spray) that allows you to compete against fellow riders. This reminds me of Men In Black at Universal Studios except that there are built in elements rather than just screen elements at MIB. But it certainly is fun to try and dominate your family on scoring!

Even if this is a low-budget retool of an existing ride (but it may yet prove to be something more extensive), if it is done well it could be worth the price of admission. With The Hobbit sequel The Desolation of Smaug opening in December, dragon fever may be enough to draw people in for the chance to strike one dead at the finale of the ride in the heart of the mountain. If nothing else, it will be a new and different experience for Wonderland’s guests.


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