Remembering the Magic: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmithby Jonathan Heigl, contributing writer
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith has been around—essentially unchanged from its original form—since July 1999. Although there has not been much change to the ride, it still continues to thrill guests all these years later. Let’s take a look back on the history of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (July 29, 1999 - Present)
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, commonly referred to as Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, opened on July 29, 1999, at the left end of Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s MGM-Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The ride is an enclosed steel roller coaster that reaches 80 feet high over 3,403 feet of track, and has a maximum speed of 57 mph, going from zero to maximum speed in 2.8 seconds. It has three inversions, reaches a maximum force equivalent to five-g, and serves 1,800 guests per hour. The ride lasts about a minute and a half with a preshow of roughly three and a quarter minutes. There are a total of six trains, but only five are in use at any one time. Each train has six cars which each sit two riders across and have two rows, resulting in a maximum of 24 riders at a time per ride unit. Each train has a unique license plate and plays different Aerosmith songs that have received some edits specifically for the ride:
- 2FAST4U plays a live version of “Sweet Emotion”
- 1QKLIMO plays “Nine Lives”
- BUHBYE plays “Young Lust”, “F.I.N.E.”, and “Love in an Elevator”
- H8TRFFC plays “Back in the Saddle” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)”
- UGOBABE plays “Love in an Elevator” and “Walk This Way”
- The sixth train has no license plate. It is added in on a rotating basis when another is taken out of service for maintenance. This train then gets that train’s license plate and tracks.
As guests wind through the queue, they enter a building themed to resemble offices and a recording studio. Throughout the area are posters of actual artists that Disney has signed to the G-Force Records label. Further on in the queue there is a display room containing equipment used in recording studios, such as microphones, amplifiers, a guitar, and other things. Eventually, everyone reaches the merge point where the single rider, Fastpass, and standby lines meet. When guests enter the recording studio area, a room behind a glass partition looks like a band recording area; musical instruments are set up inside the room with set lighting above it. Beyond the recording area is another room designed to resemble the mixing area, where a sound editor sits to adjust the balance of sounds, volumes, etc. while the artists are recording. Aerosmith (or the realistic projections of them) are in this area as guests enter the room, and they greet the new visitors.
Suddenly, their manager (played by actress Illeana Douglas) storms in telling the band that they are late for their show, apologizing to the guests with, “Sorry folks, we gotta go!” Steven Tyler (lead singer) argues that the band can’t leave fans like that (meaning the guests), so the manager says the only thing they can do is to send everyone with the band to the show. Steven Tyler adds that everyone should get backstage passes. The band then exits the back of the studio into their waiting limousine.
The manager gets on the phone and calls in for a stretch limousine... make that a super stretch, and tells the waiting fans that the show is all the way across town, but she got them a really fast car. Over the PA system, a Cast Member (using certain lines and titles from Aerosmith songs) cleverly instructs everyone to exit the room and proceed to the loading area, as “Walk This Way” plays.
The loading area is designed to resemble the alley behind the recording studio. There is a chain link fence, dim street lights, and a super stretch limo (the ride train) waiting. Guests load into the limo and prepare for launch. A traffic information board over the entrance to the track sets the tone with rotating messages including “Detour ahead. Get ready to rock,” “All lanes open, so floor it,” “Face forward and keep your head back,” and “Prepare to merge like you never merged before.” When the stop light turns green, the limo accelerates rapidly via the strong magnetic field generated by the ride's launch system.
The inside of the ride building is completely dark except for neon signs or directional lights on design elements inside. Various props along the track simulate a high-speed ride past Hollywood landmarks on the way to the band's show; the ride passes the Hollywood letter sign, a freeway sign pointing to an exit for the Civic Center, etc.). The ride moves very quickly to the destination, an area designed as the backstage entrance to the band's show, complete with recording of screaming fans. Guests exit the ride through a gift shop area.
Over the years there have been refurbishment periods, but none that changed the ride dramatically. Some smaller time periods have involved work like brake replacements and launch system maintenance. Longer closures have also occurred, including the creation of the single rider queue and separation of the Fastpass queue from the main one; Both of these queues required a second rotunda area to be built.
My verdict – revert, update, leave alone, or re-imagine?
I, personally, have to give this ride a giant "leave it alone!" I am not a huge lover of extreme coasters such as this, but I do find it has great detail—entering the G-Force offices, and then the recording studio where Aerosmith is realistically shown—and the thrill factor is off the charts. I am a fan of Aerosmith music as well, so that probably adds a little to my opinion. I think the story fits the ride well, and everything just seems to work, while not really ever getting old or boring.