First she conquered video games. Then she took on the movies. Now, she’s got her sights set on theme parks. Yes, Lara Croft, every techno-geek's wet dream, is back, this time as a ride. Tomb Raider: The Ride debuted this spring at Paramount Parks’ Kings Island near Cincinnati, with Technifex, Inc. serving as technical show producer.

Designed by Paramount Parks Design & Entertainment, the attraction melds movie props, rockwork, and special effects to recreate a scene from the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Technifex was in charge of all entertainment technologies (special effects, audio, and show control) on the project, headed up by Anthony Esparza. Scenic elements were by Weber Group, lighting was by Virtual Terrain (Lisa Passamonte Green acted as installation supervisor, Jeremy Windle was project designer, and Adrienne Klotz programmer), and the ride system was by HUSS Maschinenfabrik.

The entire attraction is themed as an archeological dig. Guests pass through mysterious chambers engraved with strange, runic symbols and the debris of failed civilizations before reaching the ride itself. The audience first enters the antechamber. Giant stone monkeys line the walls. Suddenly, they come to life. There appears to be no escape until a single light focuses on a medallion on the wall ahead. The wall mysteriously parts to reveal an escape into the Brahma Shrine. The 25' Brahma, which is the focal point of the room, is the actual prop used in the film. An oval screen rises to show highlights from the film and provide the narration to set the scene for the ride. At the conclusion of the film, the door rises to reveal the ride chamber, appropriately named "Heart of the Tomb."

Once inside the ride chamber, guests load into a single 77-passenger ride vehicle. The room darkens, and they are hurled 70' into the air and find themselves face to face with the angry Goddess Shiva. From there the vehicle plummets back down to the floor and then swings back up, barely missing a ceiling of brightly lit giant stalactites. The passengers are turned upside down once again, and then plunge 70' face-first straight down toward a pit of boiling, red-hot lava.


an angry Shiva

In addition to overseeing the lighting, show control, and audio for the entire attraction, Technifex created the moving walls in the outer chambers as well as the fog and water effects, stalactites, and bubbling lava pools.

According to Technifex chairman Rock Hall, this attraction is significant to the industry in that it was a large-scale project but still affordable to a park the size of Kings Island. "Tomb Raider:The Ride was a tremendous opportunity for everyone involved on the project because it allowed us to demonstrate that a high-quality, heavily themed attraction can be produced within the budget of a regional park," he explains. "It proves that parks of all sizes can offer their guests new attractions that go beyond the usual roller coaster."