Behind The Scenes at the Opening of Monster Mansion at Six Flags Over Georgia

Monster MansionGrowing up in a small town near Atlanta, my first theme parks memories all come from Six Flags Over Georgia as a kid.  My first dark ride anywhere was Monster Plantation and it blew my 6-year-old mind apart.

Monster Mansion

Six passenger boats floating along a canal past 107 animatronic characters. To this day it stands as the largest amount of robotic characters to be used in a dark ride outside of a Disney park.  While a bit cheesy, the ride has always had this charm to it that I’ve always found endearing. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but Monster Plantation meant a lot to me growing up as I became fascinated with how theme park rides worked.

Monster Mansion

I can still vividly remember having dreams (and sometimes nightmares) about Monster Plantation growing up. There wasn’t a kid my age who didn’t know the phrase, “Don’t go into the marsh!” and most importantly, Georgians felt like this little gem was ours. Sadly, over the years the Monster Plantation had fallen into horrible disrepair.

Monster Mansion

The last time I rode Monster Plantation was in 2004 and it looked terrible.Figures were missing fur, wigs and/or skin and you could see straight through to the fiberglass.

Monster Mansion

Much of the scenery was covered in dust and many of the speakers were burned out or sounded like the equivalent of a fast food drive through with bad wiring.  Six Flags Over Georgia had let this ride go and it was heartbreaking. Luckily, the top brass at Six Flags decided to spend some dough on the ride and after kicking around several concepts to replace the attraction, they decided to not only bring it back to its former glory, but plus it as well.

Monster Mansion

Gary Goddard Entertainment (who designed the ride originally) was brought back in to make the show look like new again. Not only were the scenes brought back to their original look, the ride was plussed with new special effects.

Monster Mansion

Every single show scene was stripped down to the walls and rebuilt from the ground up.

Monster Mansion

All of the fur, skin and often times fiberglass shells of the animatronic figures were completely redone.

Monster Mansion

For Gary Goddard, having a chance to update the attraction had special meaning. Monster Plantation was the first attraction he designed after leaving Walt Disney Imagineering.

Monster Mansion

 

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

On May 14, 2009, I got the chance to attend a media event at Six Flags Over Georgia. Gone was the old name of Monster Plantation and the ride was being christened as it’s known today: Monster Mansion.

Monster Mansion

Invited guests were invited to a picnic lunch where we heard opening ceremony speeches from Six Flags brass and Gary Goddard.

Monster Mansion

Most touching for me was a group of elementary school students who were brought in to entertain the crowd with their own rendition of the ride’s theme song complete with their own puppets they made just for the event.

Monster Mansion

Admittedly, I teared up during the ceremony. These kids were my age when I first took a trip inside the attraction. Monster Mansion could mean as much to them as it did to me and now they were getting to see it from a fresh perspective.

Monster Mansion

To appreciate the difference, here is a before and after shot of how the mansion looked before it closed to opening day of Monster Mansion. For those who had never been to Six Flags Over Georgia, this was a new ride to them.

Monster MansionThey even added a new character, Papa Razzi, who takes your photo at the beginning of the ride.

Monster Mansion

Located within the first show scene is the above picture, a tribute to the first dark ride in that building, Tales of the Okefenokee.

Monster MansionThe attraction never looked better. New furs, lighting and effects were added that just weren’t possible in 1981 when Monster Plantation opened.

Monster Mansion

 

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

 

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

Monster Mansion

After a few trips through the Monster Mansion, I got to go on a backstage tour with my buddy Taylor Jeffs who served as Creative Director on the new project.All of those times I dreamed about jumping off the boat and running around to see how everything worked as a kid finally came true.

Monster Mansion

We went everywhere all over that building. While I have had the opportunity to have a dark ride as my personal playground several times, it never gets old.

Monster Mansion

While I can’t speak to the conditions of how Monster Mansion looks by the time you read this article, I am forever grateful that it was given a second chance.  Dark rides are the heartbeat of any theme park and I am so glad Six Flags spent the time and money to allow future generations to experience this gem of an attraction like I did growing up.

Monster Mansion

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Images Copyright: Theme Park University and Gary Goddard Entertainment

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One Comment

  1. robotwolf
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I’ve been browsing this site for a couple of days. But this, my favorite article so far, has caused me to sign up so I could thank you for posting this.

    Second to my alma mater, Disney’s Haunted Mansion, Monster Plantation is a dark ride experience that is very near and dear to my heart. I first came across the plantation in an issue of National Geographic Kids, where the construction of the attraction was detailed along with concept art and some rare (then) on ride photos.

    I have some relatives that live in the state, so we had been there before. I have some hazy memories of the previous attraction, “Tales of the Okeefenokee.” But if I recall correctly, the exit tunnel was the same “going down something large’s throat” gag. I believe, however, that once you were through the mouth, the remainder of the tunnel was the spinny kind, making it seem as though your boat was going to capsize.

    My personal favorite monster: the reptile looking one in the swamp that is on the right. Again, if memory serves, it was named something like “Erratogator.” And it was animated to appear as though it was rising out of the water at your approach. In the year or so after the plantation opened, this guy was featured in the Six Flags commercial at the time, mugging for the camera.

    Thanks again for this article. I haven’t made it back to see the Mansion update. But I hope to before too much time causes it to fall into the state the Plantation was before it closed.

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