I don't see them going anywhere for a while. I was one of the captains for my last summer at the park and I really don't think it costs too much to run. It has limited hours, only requires 3 operators, they are all battery powered and only have to charge up overnight, and they all ran pretty well that season. I don't think I called maintenance down there once for any problems that whole summer (though I was spread out at a number of rides in Germany/Oktoberfest so maybe I just missed it). At very least if one boat goes down, just switch out one with the other and the attraction as a whole still runs.I often wondered for years if those boats will last....they are such a low capacity ride with what I assume is a pretty costly to run operation.
I agree it wouldn’t look as odd but it doesn’t look as good without them. To me that’s theming removed and I hate that.They have been missing for a few seasons now, I would be shocked to see them return. I think if they cut those poles down to a lower height, it wouldn't look as odd.
@WDWRLD is referring to the boats themselves not the bannersNot sure how it'd be so expensive other than the obvious expense of manpower to install them - they're just standard printed all-weather reinforced plastic banner tied onto a wooden post?
I agree with @Jason - for a theme park, it's not a good thing to lose theming elements especially in such a high visibility area.