Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith opened at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in 1999 as part of a phased expansion of Sunset Boulevard. The ride’s intense speed and inversions make it possibly the most thrilling coaster at Walt Disney World. Themed entirely to the popular 80’s and 90’s band Aerosmith, it doesn’t necessarily connect with the new generation of riders quite like it did when it first opened. Because of this, and pending contract renewal with Disney, there has been talks about refurbishing the ride with an updated musical act. There are plenty of fan favorites, but a rising star in the music industry, bringing back that unique 70’s vibe made famous by Led Zeppelin, could be a perfect fit.
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith is an indoor steel coaster popular among Walt Disney World guests. The premise of the attraction sees guests catching Steven Tyler and the rest of Aerosmith finishing up a studio session, but there’s a problem. They’re late for a show. Being the gracious group of rockers that they are, they not only provide backstage passes for your rider group, but they also lend a stretch limousine that will carry you to the show. This isn’t any ride, though; it’s a high-flying, high-speed roller coaster in the dark.
The ride features multiple inversions and a launch that blasts riders on their trip, going 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. It’s one of the most intense experiences at Walt Disney World. It is fast-paced fun and booms several hit Aerosmith jams into riders’ ears as they speed their way to the show. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is swift, lasting only about a minute and a half, but it’s one of the best rides at Disney World, typically holding a very long standby wait time. It’s the third fastest roller coaster at Disney, losing out to Tron Lightcycle Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
The best part about Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, besides the launch, is that it features such a high-profile musical act. Aerosmith ruled the mid-70s, 80’s and 90’s with chart-topping hits like “Love in an Elevator,” “Dream On,” and “Walk This Way.” Although the internationally famous band wasn’t at the peak of their career when the attraction opened, Steven Tyler was still influential enough to be the face of the ride’s theme. Originally inking an IP contact with Disney in 1998, then renewing again in 2008, many have speculated that it is time to rebrand the attraction as younger audiences are unfamiliar with the work of the once prominent rockstars. Some even thought that the recent closure of the roller coaster was the end for Aerosmith’s reign at Hollywood Studios.
Many names have been thrown around the internet in suggestion of who should replace Tyler and Aerosmith as the face of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. One of the most popular ideas has been to incorporate the legendary rock band, Queen. Led by Freddie Mercury, immortalized in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody, the band’s rebirth could convince Disney to enter into an agreement with them for the ride. Another popular option that’s been voiced by fans of the ride has been the heavy metal band Metallica. As one of the premiere rock bands in existence, Metallica boasts a heavier feel to their music that could work at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Classic songs like “Enter Sandman” would create an exciting ride experience. Much like Queen, Metallica has enjoyed rejuvenated success after their song “Master of Puppets” was featured last summer in season three of Stranger Things on Netflix.
Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, leaving Brian May in charge of the band; although the fit seems perfect, Queen is simply too big to be considered. Metallica would be a viable option as frontmen James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich would most likely agree to the partnership. However, their music would be too heavy and alienate many riders. Other big names that have been mentioned are Journey, Bon Jovi, and Led Zeppelin.
Out of these considerations, for me, the most interesting would be Led Zeppelin. There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t heard “Stairway to Heaven,” and the catalog of songs created by the band is extensively timeless, often used in film and television. The problem, however, is that if Disney wants to resonate with a younger fan base, Zeppelin would quickly present the same problems as Aerosmith. They’re old, and younger people, despite hearing their music, don’t know who they are. There is a solution to the issue. What if Zeppelin was younger and more recognizable?
Enter Greta Van Fleet. Anyone who has used TikTok in the past two years knows who we’re talking about. Led by vocalist Josh Kiszka, this up-and-coming band recently took the world by storm after they performed on Saturday Night Live. They went viral on TikTok shortly after, with many recognizing that Greta Van Fleet has a very familiar sound. The band, primarily brothers, draws heavy inspiration from Led Zeppelin. So much so that during an interview, legendary Zeppelin vocalist, Robert Plant, pointed out that Josh seems to have borrowed his voice.
Greta Van Fleet brings the magic of famous ’70s-inspired rock and roll back to life with their own take and flamboyant style. Although young, Josh Kiszka is 27; they have already released several albums full of content that would fit right in on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The best part, they would instantly resonate with a younger fan base while keeping the traditional rock and roll vibe alive on the ride. As people who use social media have heard songs like “Heat Above” and “Black Smoke Rising,” the longevity of the band is something that would benefit Disney. At the same time, the partnership would certainly be a step in the right direction for the up-and-coming rock group.
Who do you think should be the new feature musical act at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster?