The way the different sections of Hex fit together is massively inconsistent anyway, as the effects of the curse in the vault have nothing to do with aristocracy dying as explained in the pre-shows. If we're going to analyse it in that much detail, I'd agree that yes, the idea right from the start is that you're going to be taken to see the vault. However, while inevitably the ride is going to end with some extraordinary supernatural goings on, the likelihood is that in story terms the vault equipment isn't meant to get fired up, and the Octagon sequence with its low-tech yet remarkably dramatic effects is meant to imply that things aren't quite right in the Towers. Let's not even begin to consider how the root demon fits into all this.
The point Dave makes is that because enough effort was put into thinking through the ride's backstory, it's very easy for guests to gloss over the plot holes because the atmosphere created is so immersive. In such a situation, the average guest easily puts the fact that none of what they are experiencing is real to the back of their mind, and will certainly never consider that the vault is an eleven year old Dutch hexagonal drum being turned by a few motors in a corrugated metal shed.
Now, Thirteen's backstory. Ah yes, the enthusiast's favourite whipping boy. I'm not going to waste too much time on this because I've said everything I'm about to say before on this forum. I also think it's about time the ride started to be accepted for what it is rather than what it should have been. Nevertheless, I can see as easily as anyone that the Dark Forest lacks the immersiveness of other areas, and I suspect it's all down to how the theme was planned. The evidence, so far as I can see, points to it having come from one development stage too early.
I presume the creative process when developing an immersive ride experience with a clear-cut backstory goes something like this:
- A loose theme for a new area is considered.
- Mood boards and brainstorming are used to develop ideas for potential features of the theme.
- A few of the best or more practical to implement ideas are pulled together, distilled and mixed together to create a simple but well crafted backstory.
Thirteen’s queue features a van and some mannequins being taken over by the forest, as is supposedly happening to the area. It also features gravestones, intended to imply a burial ground setting. As we near the station, we see scaffolding, sheeting, a ladder and a couple of air compressors in the indoor queue, which suggest (although not all that well perhaps, judging from the “it’s not finished” verdict many guests come to) that the building is under restoration. I’m reluctant to bring the M word into this, as we all know the finished product differs a lot from what it implied, but wraiths were very prominent in marketing and feature in stone form on the ride. Finally, we have the name, which brings misfortune and superstition to the table.
That’s a lot of ideas, and when I ride Thirteen, I find none of them come across as particularly strong or well developed. It therefore looks to me like these all came from the mood boards and brainstorming stage. If the process had gone to the refinement stage, we might for example have had a very strong graveyard queue leading to a stunning ruined, unrestored bulding. The overtones of the ride would’ve been much more creepy and about venturing into the unknown, towards a building in a place untouched by man for decades. As the train dropped, guests would perhaps make the connection better between the floorboards giving way and the abandoned nature of the crypt. It would only have taken a relatively short process of deciding which concepts were worth running with to have greatly improved the experience.
In regards to Valhalla, I’m not qualified to pass comment on it too much as I’m yet to visit Blackpool. However, is going on a ride to the afterlife not a story in itself? In many cases, rides have stories no more complicated than that, but if the ride is a good interpretation of that idea, surely that idea being there in the first place is worthwhile. Nobody is trying to claim that using a decent backstory for a ride is a sure-fire way to come up with something decent either; there are countless examples of poorly regarded rides that had backstories (Charlie and X:\WTF) or are story-driven (Excalibur), but the risk of making a duff story has in a huge number of cases been avoided and made great rides phenomenal. I find the fact Blaze that you will accept that Nemesis is meant to be an alien and dug its own pit, yet seem to interpret many other rides as little more than thrill hardware very telling.