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Which movie-inspired theme park rides cost more than the original film’s budget?

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

Theme parks around the world depend on attractions based on popular movie franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, and Harry Potter to attract guests through the gates, but some movie-inspired theme park rides cost more to build than the films on which they’re based cost to make.

Movie-inspired theme park ride - Splash Mountain
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Resort

The latest Best Value Theme Parks Report compiled by the personal finance experts at Money.co.uk (a free U.K.-based online financial products comparison service) looked at 34 movie-inspired theme park rides and determined which movie has the most expensive ride counterpart based on the cost to build vs. the film’s production budget.

Top Movie-Inspired Theme Park Rides That Cost More than the Films They’re Based On

The report concluded that 1989’s Splash Mountain (currently located in Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Magic Kingdom, but soon to be replaced in U.S. parks with “The Princess and the Frog-” themed rides) had a construction cost of £162,502,875 (about $223,084,017), but the 1946 film “Song of the South” that inspired the attraction had a budget of just £1,535,514 (about $2,107,954), resulting in a -99% cost difference.

In second place is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World Resort, which cost £18,038,625 (about $24,763,432) to construct, while the budget for the original 1937 film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” — Disney’s first animated feature-length film — was only £1,082,420 (about $1,485,947), a -94% cost difference.

Rounding up the top three is Saw: The Ride, a steel roller coaster inspired by the horror franchise located at Thorpe Park in England. The ride cost £10,833,525 (about $14,872,268) to construct, but although the original “Saw” movie released in 2004 is one of the most profitable horror films ever (and inspired nine sequels), it had a budget of just £867,114 (about $1,190,374), a -92% cost difference.

On the opposite end of the list is The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios parks in Florida and California. That attraction cost £54,200,625 (about $74,407,867), while “The Simpsons Movie” cost approximately the same amount at £50,527,050 (about $69,364,699) for a difference of only +7%.

And if you’re wondering what topped the list as the most expensive of the 34 movie-inspired theme park rides, it’s Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, costing £721,815,000 (about $990,924,267) to construct — and Disney built two.

Movie-Inspired theme park ride - Millennium Falcon Smuggler's Run
Photo courtesy of Disneyland

How Does Your Favorite Ride Compare to The Film It’s Based On?

AttractionPark(s)Location(s)Movie Film Budget Ride CostDifference
Splash MountainDisneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, Magic KingdomCalifornia, Tokyo, FloridaSong of the South£162,502,875£1,535,514▼ -99%
Seven Dwarfs Mine TrainMagic Kingdom FloridaSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs£18,038,625£1,082,420▼ -94%
Saw: The RideThorpe ParkEnglandSaw£10,833,525£867,114▼ -92%
Jaws: The RideUniversal Studios JapanJaws£25,254,075£5,054,665▼ -80%
Indiana Jones and the Temple of PerilDisneyland ParisParisIndiana Jones£57,721,200£13,004,190▼ -78%
Indiana Jones AdventureDisneylandCaliforniaIndiana Jones£36,075,750£13,004,190▼ -64%
Transformers: The RideUniversal Studios Singapore, Hollywood, Florida, BeijingTransformers film franchise£288,818,000£108,314,250▼ -63%
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea AdventureCalifornia Adventure, Magic KingdomCalifornia, FloridaThe Little Mermaid£72,178,500£28,904,200▼ -60%
Pandora – The World of AvatarAnimal Kingdom FloridaAvatar£360,925,000£171,273,975▼ -53%
Finding Nemo Submarine VoyageDisneylandCaliforniaFinding Nemo£122,817,350£67,890,090▼ -45%
Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de RémyDisneyland ParisParisRatatouille£194,809,050£108,314,250▼ -44%
Test TrackEpcotFloridaTron: Legacy£216,645,000£122,817,350▼ -43%
Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure/Jurassic Park: The RideUniversal Studios Singapore, Orlando, JapanJurassic Park£79,399,650£45,524,115▼ -43%
Radiator Springs RacersCalifornia AdventureCaliforniaCars£144,433,000£86,694,000▼ -40%
Cinderella CastleMagic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland Florida, TokyoCinderella£3,391,120£2,094,076▼ -38%
Justice League: Alien Invasion 3DWarner Bros. Movie World AustraliaJustice League£6,500,115£216,645,000▲ 3233%
Harry Potter and the Forbidden JourneyIslands of AdventureFlorida, Japan, CaliforniaHarry Potter£94,601,650£834,689,625▲ 782%
The Dark Knight CoasterSix Flags Great AdventureNew Jersey, Illinois, Mexico CityThe Dark Knight£16,234,087£133,644,925▲ 722%
Scooby-Doo Spooky CoasterWarner Bros. Movie WorldAustraliaScooby-Doo£9,386,585£60,697,980▲ 546%
Twister…Ride it OutUniversal StudiosFloridaTwister£11,552,720£66,432,740▲ 475%
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike AdventureIslands of AdventureFloridaHarry Potter£216,645,000£834,689,625▲ 285%
Superman: Escape from KryptonSix Flags Magic Mountain CaliforniaSuperman£14,435,700£39,732,275▲ 175%
Batman Adventure: The Ride 2Warner Bros. Movie WorldAustraliaBatman£9,386,585£25,254,075▲ 169%
Haunted Mansion HolidayDisneylandCalifornia, TokyoThe Nightmare Before Christmas£5,050,605£13,004,190▲ 157%
Revenge of the Mummy: The RideUniversal Studios FloridaThe Mummy£32,500,575£57,721,200▲ 78%
Shrek 4-DUniversal StudiosFloridaShrek£25,254,075£43,360,500▲ 71%
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!California AdventureCaliforniaGuardians of the Galaxy£72,178,500$122,817,350▲ 70%
Terminator 2: 3DUniversal StudiosFloridaTerminator 2: Judgment Day£43,301,700£73,705,710▲ 70%
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s RunDisneylandFloridaStar Wars£721,815,000£1,180,013,965▲ 63%
IncredicoasterCalifornia AdventureCaliforniaThe Incredibles£43,301,700£66,432,740▲ 53%
Top Gun: The Jet CoasterCarowindsNorth CarolinaTop Gun£7,581,473£10,833,525▲ 43%
Iron Man ExperienceHong Kong DisneylandHong KongIron Man£72,178,500£101,136,700▲ 40%
Men in Black: Alien AttackUniversal Studios FloridaMen in Black£50,527,050£65,034,450▲ 29%
The Simpsons RideUniversal Studios Hollywood, FloridaThe Simpsons£50,527,050£54,200,625▲ 7%

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