Silver Antlers tells a distinct, specific story. It follows a small number of characters. There is conflict and a plot.
This is unusual for dark rides. From the early scary gag-style rides to that supreme production, Pirates of the Caribbean, narratives that employ the medium tend to follow a trend. Marc Davis, via Passport to Dreams, tells us about the latter:
[Walt Disney] didn’t like the idea of telling stories in this medium. It’s not a story telling medium. But it does give you experiences. You experience the idea of pirates. You don’t see a story that starts at the beginning and ends with, “By golly, they got the dirty dog.” It wasn’t that way.
The dark ride has almost always been treated more like documentary than drama. Even when Disney is adapting a well-known story—Peter Pan’s Flight, for example—the plot is whittled down to a few memorable scenes, frozen in time, and overlayed with relatively disconnected, easily-looped lines of dialogue (“Look out, Peter!” “Here we go!”). There is a beginning, middle, and end, but in the broadest strokes possible.
Marc Davis says it’s not a story telling medium, and Marc Davis has the resumé to speak with authority here, but I have to disagree. I understand the view: if theater evolved from conversation, then the dark ride evolved from nature. That is, an “organic,” spontaneously-occurring play is just a few people interacting with each other, and an organic dark ride is you moving through a space. An argument vs. a garden path. An argument rises and falls and eventually resolves. A garden path twists through a garden. (A blogger rambles.)
Even though it’s a stretch from the natural state of the medium, I’m confident that a coherent, specific story can be told like this. A dark ride can be like a safari but it can also be something like a picture book and a radio play combined into one. Very few works in the medium have tried this but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.
Will I be able to pull it off? I don’t know. But I think I can.