A recap of what's coming up, and breaking down, at theme parks around the world.
The GOOD: Paramount is listening, or so they say. www.dmnews.com
Theme Park Takes Online Suggestions to Heart (or is that to the bank?)
"Our guests offer an extremely important perspective that mangers can use to inform their own thinking," stated Mark Kupferman, Charlotte, NC-based vice president of research and interactive marketing at Paramount Parks.
It seems that Paramount has been using surveys for a while and used such feedback to turn Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay Water Park Resort in Kings Island, OH into the 2nd most popular seasonal theme park worldwide with more than 3 million guests annually.
If you live near a Paramount Theme Park, let them know what you think at: www.parkfeedback.com.
Now, let's hope that Disney and Six Flags will follow the lead of Paramount. G'day
More Good: They are building all over.
1) Hersheypark, Hershey, PA
Herseypark is planning on opening a new roller coaster this year called StormRunner.
This is an Intamin AG, Switzerland design. It is the World's FIRST Rocket Coaster with Inversions with one Top Hat (150 feet), one Cobra Loop (135 feet), Barrel Rolls, and a Flying Snake Dive. This roller coaster also interacts with three other existing rides.
Next year, Herseypark is planning on opening the World's FIRST Tower Coaster. The Turbulence is being designed by Interactive Ride, Logan, UT, to include a fifteen story tower that four-passenger vehicles will ascend and then descend, while rocking perilously, through five freefall drops. The color scheme will be red, white, and blue. Maybe, Herseypark should call this ride the American Turbuence. Or will that sound too much like our political system?
2) Six Flags Great America, Jackson, NJ
As you know, Six Flags Great America is planning on building the world's tallest (at 456 feet) and fastest roller coaster (accelerates to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds) called Kingda Ka to open during Spring 2005. What you don't know is that this is expected to be the cornerstone of renewed development for the park.
"This is the first step in a process of really transforming Six Flags Great America from the largest regional theme park in the world to a true regional destination," stated Kieran Burke, chief executive officer of Oklahoma-based Six Flags.
Hey, Mr. Burke, don't you think you have more important problems to take care of at a little place called Magic Mountain? Many people have complained about the food, how dirty the place is, how long the lines are, etc. Hey, Mr. Burke, BRING BACK THE MAGIC. (Ooops, or does this belong to Disney only?)
And isn't Walt Disney World the largest theme park resort anyway?
3) Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
Looks like the final track piece of the Silver Bullet was put in place last Thursday, September 30, 2004. Expect to see the start of testing any time with a soft opening sometime in Nov. I wonder if Knott's will name two of their trains Tonto and Lone Ranger?
The Screamin' Swing is now open with a price tag of $15 per ride. What are they giving away, free silver bullets for this price?
No word yet as to when Lucy's Tugboat will open.
But, it looks like Knott's is fast shaping up to be a real contender to CA Adventures.
4) Many new rides have opened this year, for a complete list, go to: www.americacoasters.com/NewFor2001/
This site also contain reviews of rides like PKD's Volcano: The Blast Coaster, photos of Kennywood Park, photos of Geauga Lake, and a review of Phantom's revenge.
Paris Disneyland is still open!
Paris Disneyland (aka Euro Disney) was able to come to terms with its creditors on September 28 to avert bankruptcy. The deal will allow the parks to stay open and capital to build new and exciting rides and attractions. One such ride being consider is a version of the Tower of Terror. But, who knows? Or is this a terror-able idea?
After all it did NOT increase attendance at CA Adventures.
Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL.
1) The Magic Kingdom.
October 2, 2004
Stitch is ready to escape!
Stitch's Great Escape!
The walls came down and were replaced with planters. Based on other projects, expect to see it open soon for soft openings/ AP previews. Now why would Stitch want to escape Walt Disney World for? Maybe, because of the food prices?
Demolition is still continuing on the old 20K Leagues Under the Sea show building and lagoon. No word yet what is being planned for this site.
The old Fantasyland Skyway building is still under wraps. Some of this area is suppose to be used for strollers parking for It's a Small World next door. Small World is still undergoing a major rehab until sometime during spring 2005.
October 3, 2004
The reason for you to start Soarin'.
As part of "The Happiest Celebration on Earth," Walt Disney World Resort will launch "Soarin'" in May 2005, beckoning Epcot guests to experience a magical journey that sweeps them up, over and across the landscape of the Golden State.
This is how the official Disney Press Release began. Now, why would WDW's guests want to see sunny California for? Maybe, it's because there will be nothing at Disneyland for them to see in the first place. Some Happiest Celebration for Disneyland.
3) Disney-MGM Studios
Get ready for the Stunts to begin.
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
All major sets are complete with all-new signs up in front. The training of the stuntmen is well underway, so expect to see this show opening soon to soft openings/ AP reviews. A real stunt would be to see Disney bring down their prices.
4) Animal Kingdom
The mountain framework seems to be complete with some of the fake rock surfaces being placed on the lowest portions of the mountain. This project is still on track for a 2006 opening. Go to this site of all photos on the construction of this new mountain. Disney hopes that more people will want to see this than the rest of Animal Kingdom. Right now, AK is just a half-day park. But will Everest make this a FULL-day park? Right. It will take more than Everest to do that. Like say another 5 E/D-ticket rides.
What used to be the Best:
1) Disneyland, Anaheim, CA
www.screamscape.com and www.disneyland.com
Rides/attractions undergoing rehab:
The Matterhorn closed until Mid November for rebuilding of some of the lower slopes and other work.
Enchanted Tiki Room closed until Mid March for extensive repair work to the building (due to termite damage) and to gut the show room to bring the show up to modern standards.
The Columbia closed until Dec. 1 due to a major rehab of the ship. A lot of the hull has to be replaced due to water damage of the hull.
I guess that Pressler/Harris never heard of the old saying: Penny wise, Pound foolish. The reason why that DL presidents like Ron Dominguez (during the '70's and early '80's) had every location in the Park to undergo annual rehabs, was not only to repaint, repair anything broken, but to prevent as well.
A simple coat of paint every year could have prevented most of the Columbia's Hull from suffering water damage.
Likewise, having the Matterhorn undergo annual rehabs might have prevented a lot of the structure damage that the wood framework suffered during the Pressler/Harris years.
And annual rehabs would have prevented a lot of the termite damage of the Tiki building. The Tiki building also contain the Pavilion and Aladdin's Oasis as well.
The Haunted Mansion has reopened with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.
The Sleepy Beauty Castle is still under wraps until Mid-November.
Buzz Lightyear is still on target for a May 2005 soft opening.
Space Mountain 2.0 is still on target for a November 2005 reopening. But, don't count on this. I remember back in 1978 that Space Mountain was subject to break downs every hour. So, be warned.
They are still trying the submarines out with a new Nemo overlay. But, this is just a test; this is only a test. If it were a real attraction, it will not even open until 2007. And that is even assuming that Esiner will approve the project. If the submarines were to return, then the Monorail platform over the Submarine old queue area will have to be rebuilt to conform with ADA standards. It seems that when the elevator was built to give wheelchairs access to the Monorails, it cut into the submarine queue area and would prevent three submarines from loading and unloading at the same time. So, the whole Monorail platform would have to be rebuilt with wheelchair ramps in order for three submarines to load/unload at the same time.
2) Disney's California Adventures
Nothing new here except:
1) Superstar Limo is not listed on any park maps.
2) Who Wants to be a Millionaire? is not listed on any park map.
3) Hollywood Vine and Dine has been closed for about nine months and not listed on any park map.
4) There is a rumor going around that the Alladdin in the Hyperion Theater is about ready to close as well.
If it wasn't for the Tower of Terror, Disney could just board up Hollywood Backlot and forget about it. Or is Disney trying to compete with Knott's and make the Hollywood Backlot into a ghost town which it looks like most of the time anyway with all the closed-up buildings and lack of guests in this area of the park.
1) All managers/presidents of Amusement/Theme parks or Carnivals take heed.
Amusement park manager indicted on second degree murder and reckless homicide charges.
A woman, June Carol Alexander, was riding "The Hawk" at Rocking Raceway (near Knoxville, Tennessee) last March 14, 2004, when her safety strap failed when the ride was upside down and she felled 60 feet to her death.
If this manager is found guilty of these charges, a precedent will be established that the ones who run theme parks can be legally and criminally held accountable for bad maintenance at their parks.
2) More fatalities and injuries at carnivals/fairs
On Sunday, September 26, 2004, a Sizzler carnival ride broke apart in Kentucky, killing a man and injuring others. The fault was blamed on the use of improper bolts being used which kept the seat together.
On Friday, Oct. 1, 2004, at the Kentucky Apple Festival in Johnson County, several people were injured when a Himalaya ride derailed. The accident is still being investigated.
I wonder if Kentucky has heard what is going on next door in TN? If so, don't be surprise if Kentucky follows suit and bring charges against the owners/operators of these rides.
And now the Interesting: The Henry Ford Travels with Disney.
The Henry Ford to Create Traveling Exhibit Celebrating 50 Years of Disneyland
Disney will loan the Henry Ford up to 500 pieces of original artwork, models, construction drawings, old ride vehicles, and media materials relating to the architecture and design of Disneyland. The exhibit will open at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., in September 2005 and will start to tour the US in early 2006.
"During the celebration of Disneyland's 50th anniversary, this exhibit will offer a unique way to pay tribute to Walt's original park, a concept so popular, that it launched an entirely different genre of family entertainment that now spans the globe," said Marty Sklar, Vice-Chairman and Principal Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering (aka WED Enterprises).
The highlight of the show will be original ride cars for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Dumbo the Flying Elephant. The rarest sight will be an up-close look at the original Abraham Lincoln figure used in the Illinois pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.
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