The BLOG FLUME -- The Wide, Wide, World of Theme Parks
We kick off Round Two of 'Persister' with a new entry from John Franklin.
Written by John Franklin
1) Amusement Park Manager tries on a new suitTweet
Dateline: Pigeon Forge, TN
Relatives of June Carol Alexander who flew out of the Hawk at Rockin' Raceway Amusement Park and died filed lawsuits against the park, its manager, and the manufacturer of the ride. They are seeking a total of 96 million dollars in damages. And that ain't hay.
Last week I related how the manager was indicted on second-degree murder and reckless homicide charges. Now the dead woman's relatives are out for blood money.
2) Dracula is staking out a home.
Dateline: Bucharest, Romania
The government of Romania has just announced a new theme park named after the count that likes to sink his teeth into his work. The park will be located in Snagov, a lakeside resort just north of Bucharest and will include a golf course (with stakes instead of holes?), and other leisure activities for adults and children. It will cover 1,135 acres. I guess even Romania is after blood money providing they don't get heartburn due to too many stakes or get a royal pain in the neck.
Hey, Romania, how about a restaurant on how to prepare steaks for vampires? Or would that be a wood-working class?
3) A Ride flies out of Paramount's Kings Island.
Dateline: Cincinnati, OH
After about 70 years in the Cincinnati area, the historic Flying Eagles will fly out of Kings Island and into a new undisclosed park. PKI invites enthusiasts for a last flight on Sunday, October 17. It is reported that the ride had to be removed to make way for the entrance for the new Italian Job Stunt Track coaster. I guess we can now say, the eagles have flown the coop.
October 9, 2004, a section of the "Psycho Path" trail that was set up for the annual Fearfest event caught on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured. I guess you can say PKI really burns me up.
4) Disneyland tries on three new suits.
Dateline: Anaheim, CA
The family of Marcelo Torres that died and four other passengers that were injured because of a derailment on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (September 2003) filed a total of three lawsuits on Tuesday, October 5.
The lawsuits accuses Disney of failing to provide enough training for ride operators, of cutting costs so deeply that maintenance on rides was dangerously neglected, and creating an "atmosphere of intimidation" created by Disney management that kept the fatal train running even after the operators heard unusual noises coming from the train.
This sure sounds like criminal negligence to me and on-the-job harassment if proven in court. What do you think? I hope Eisner like wearing his three new suits.
I guess everyone is out for blood money today except PKI burns really burns me up.
5) They are at it again!
Dateline: Burbank, CA
First, Disney was fighting over profits over a silly ole bear named Pooh. Now, Disney is fighting over whether or not Peter Pan is still protected by copyright here in the US with London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The hospital is to consult lawyers next week to investigate whether a children's book published by Disney in America infringes the hospital's long-held ownership of the copyright of J M Barrie's Peter Pan.
The hospital claims that Peter Pan remains under copyright until 2023, even though it runs out in Europe in 2007 and is already in public domain in Canada. Disney claims Peter Pan is already in public domain. I guess even Eisner has a Peter Pan syndrome.
Isn't it funny how Eisner pushed the Copyright Extension Act of 1998 to go into law to protect Disney's copyrights over Mickey Mouse and crew; only to claim that it doesn't apply to Peter Pan. Eisner likes this law when it works for Disney; but hates it when it works against Disney. Will Eisner and Disney ever grow up?
And for a story that, I bet, will scare even Kevin Baxter. Disney has in the works, not one, but two sequels to Toy Story. And, this is the scary part, NO Pixar involvement. Maybe the first movie will be called Woody on the Range. And the second one will be called Brother Buzz. Or maybe Buzz's New Grove. Or how about Woody the Ape Man. Or Woody and Buzz? Or Woody and Buzz on Treasure Planet? Let's just hope this is just a nightmare that we can all wake up from. I mean, can you really imagine Disney doing such beloved characters like Woody and Buzz WITHOUT Pixar. That is like having a five-year-old Nemo paint the Mona Lisa.
For those who want to know what happened with Disney's Animation Studio, you can read an eleven-part article here called "The Rise and Fall of Disney Animation."
Well worth reading. Hint: Eisner is responsible.
Also, read "Where Do All Those Bad Ideas Come From?" for what caused the decline of Walt Disney Imagineering. Hint: Eisner is responsible.
And finally, there's a two-part photo essay called "Tomorrowland, Then and Now."
This essay compares the New Tomorrowland 1967 designed by Walt Disney at Disneyland with the New Tomorrowland 1998 designed by Pressler. So, people, which one do you think is better?
6) The Buzz is that there will be new Frontiers and Space to Find Nemo!
A MAJOR Disneyland Update! Some great news for Disneyland fans for a change!
Dateline: Anaheim, CA
The Costumes are returning!
Expect a departure from the generic area costumes favored by Pressler and Harris to costumes unique to each location. Slowly, cast members in Outdoor Vending locations are exchanging generic costumes for more area-specific costumes. Expect more unique costumes to appear at each attraction as well. The word is that when Space Mountain 2.0, Enchanted Tiki Room, and Buzz Lightyear opens next year, expect the Cast Members to be wearing unique costumes specifically made for their attractions.
The Attractions are COMING! The Attractions are COMING!
Expect the Matterhorn and Columbia to return by Thanksgiving.
A new brake system for the Mad Tea Party has been approved which will allow this attraction to return to its wild formal glory by Easter.
The Enchanted Tiki Room will reopen by Easter with a whole new and rebuilt show room. The program is reported to be the same as the original show with possible minor updates and changes. And, no, the version from Florida is NOT coming (The Under New Management show) or the Tokyo show either. Also, expect the tarps to come down around the building since the exterior work is almost complete. Expect to see a whole new thatch roof on the building!
Buzz Lightyear is so far ahead of schedule that you can expect soft openings starting by Easter.
Space Mountain 2.0 Track is now complete! But, because there is still so much to be done inside the dome, don't expect it to even soft open until late October or early November 2005 at the earliest. It won't open until it's finished.
Expect to enter Fantasyland through Sleeping (not Sleepy) Beauty Castle by Veterans Day. Seems like the rehab of the castle is about finished and the tarps are about to come down.
Great news for the monorails. This attraction not too long ago was about to go down for the last count and headed for Yesterland (what with all the current monorails breaking down right and left). Now new monorails should be making their appearance at Disneyland by Spring 2007.
The future of Star Tours will be decided around June 2005 after the Happiest Celebration on Earth has started.
The Disneyland Railroad is about to add another engine, #5 the Ward Kimball. Expect to see this by Easter. Also, the fabled Lilly Belle coach is scheduled to undergo restoration as well.
BUT, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!
Nemo is about to ride a sub. Monsters become Superstars. Hollywood Backlot is about to Rock N Roll. And there will be new Frontiers for you to explore.
Note: All of these attractions are still in the planning stage. None of these attractions have been approved yet by Eisner unlike everything that I have just reported.
During Spring 2006, Monsters take over Superstar Limo at CA Adventures! The attraction is expected to use the same vehicles as Limo. As it's currently planned, the new ride would be themed to a trip through Monstropolis as Mike and Sully head out to look for Boo who is lost in the city. Wouldn't it be better if Mike and Sully were looking for a new Disney CEO instead?
With the lowered budget for Monsters, a new more ambitious E-Ticket thrill attraction can start to grow around the new ride. Expect a radically re-themed version of the Rock N Roller Coaster ride system to appear for a Spring 2007 opening. This will NOT be just a clone of the WDW attraction. Expect to see the old Millionaire building to either be torn down or used in this attraction (no word yet as what is to become of this building).
While over in Tomorrowland, Nemo takes a swim. They are still testing the old Submarine Voyage attraction with a Finding Nemo overlay. Expect this attraction to reopen in Spring 2007.
More new Frontiers for you to explore. This new Frontierland Expansion is being overseen from start to finish by Matt Ouimet. The Expansion will contain not one, not two, but THREE NEW ATTRACTIONS! The attractions will include a new E-Ticket (probably thrill), a snazzy family-friendly D-Ticket, and an atmospheric C-Ticket rides. Plus you can add in new stores and food location. What all this add up to is a MAJOR EXPANSION for Frontierland. Expect this area to open by fiscal year 2008 or 2009 (starting in October 2007 or 2008). You can expect the area behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to be the site for the expansion where the Big Thunder Ranch is now located.
It looks like Matt Ouimet has restored the magic at Disneyland. Now, will somebody please find someone like him to restore the magic to ABC Network, Disney Family, the Animated Studio, the Live-Action Studio, and the Disney Stores.
THE MAGIC HAS RETURN TO DISNEYLAND!!!
7) ABC needs an Extreme Makeover!
NBC still has American Dreams!
CBS is Still Standing Without a Trace!
Dateline: TV Land
It has been reported According to Jim, that ABC needs an Extreme Makeover. Rodney said that ABC has hired Boston Legal to seek a Benefactor because ABC is just Lost without Millionaires. George Lopez, the man that came up with 8 Simple Rules to run a network, said that with a little Hope and Faith, he could turn the network around. George went on to say My Wife and Kids have become Complete Savages when all of the wives of Disney's managers became Desperate Housewives because ABC was doing so poorly. He also admitted that Eisner was Less Than Perfect to anyone with 20/20 eyesight during PrimeTime Live. And that is Life as We Know It he concluded for the NYPD BLUE. It is true that George still wishes for the Happy Days when everyone was Bewitched over the Flintstones and the Jetsons.
Joey, the Father of the Pride, said NBC still has American Dreams about going to places like Las Vegas and LAX if the Fear Factor doesn't get in the way. Joey said he became an Apprentice with a little Will and Grace when he worked the Third Watch while doing a Medical Investigation in the ER. So Joey had an ideal to bring a little Law And Order back to NBC while Crossing Jordan with Scrubs. How Joey misses taking his Friends out for a little holiday Cheer and visiting Fraiser in Night Court.
Dr. Vegas said that CBS was Still Standing when he came across a Cold Case dealing with a Joan of Arcadia that vanished Without a Trace. He said he was a real Survivor because he has solved many cases like when he had to travel to New York to solve the case of Two and a Half Men (he never did find the other half), or to Miami when everyone was Judging Amy, or to Las Vegas when Everybody Loves Raymond. Of course, there was the time he had a 48 Hours Mystery that he had to solve in 60 Minutes in the NCIS and CSI Clubhouse. So he told JAG to Listen Up and help him. He still misses the good old days of being a Beverly Hillbilly at Petticoat Junction while being surrounded by Green Acres and Mr. Ed and My Favorite Martian.
And that is the way it is in TV Land this week--or is it weak?
Short and Sweet:
Dateline: Glens Falls, NY-Grandfather Dies!
Charles Wood, known as 'the grandfather of the American Amusement Park," died of cancer at the age of 90 on September 30, 2004. He founded Storytown USA (later renamed Great Escape and sold to Six Flags) in 1954 one year before Walt Disney opened Disneyland.
Dateline: Boise, OH-There's another player in town!
Great American Family Parks, Inc. has raised $429 million dollars to become what it describes as a "market leader in regional theme parks" by way of acquisitions. Anyone know what Six Flags wants for Magic Mountain? Maybe Great America will make Magic Mountain great again.
Dateline: Florida-The Gardens are open again!
Cypress Gardens will soft open on Fridays to Sundays beginning November 19. During the soft opening period, the rides, botanical gardens, and craft village will be open, but the nature and arcade areas will be off limits to visitors.
Dateline: Internet-Disney is all over!
Go see the Walt Disney Family Museum at www.disney.go.com/disneyatoz/waltdisney/homehtm/ for a lot of articles and short films about the history of Walt Disney Productions and attractions at Disneyland. You can now find articles about the history of the Monorails, how the four attractions that Walt created for the 1964 NY World's Fair came about (ie Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, It's A Small World, the Skyway and Primeval World, and Carousel of Progress), background on the Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. A great site for the history of Walt Disney Productions.
Accident: Wednesday, October 6, 2004-Australia
At Royal Show, a strong gust of wind blew a marquee into the path of a Wave Swinger ride, injuring ten riders. Accident is under investigation.
Accident Update: Tuesday, October 5, 2004-Kentucky Apple Festival
The Paintsville, Kentucky, Police Department reports a carnival worker was charged with alcohol intoxication. He was operating a Himalaya ride that derailed as reported here last week. Now you know how safe carnivals/fairs are.
This is my second and last Blog Flume for the time being. Now it is up to you, the readers (and Robert Niles) to decide: do I have what it takes to write this column? All that I can say is that I had a BLAST doing these articles and hope to do more for this site.
To borrow a quote from K. Baxter (remember him?), that's my two cents. What are yours?
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