Written by Russell Meyer
Published: February 27, 2005 at 10:13 PM
Six Flags America in Largo, MD has announced the details surrounding what is being called the biggest water park expansion in the park’s history. The expansion is so massive that Six Flags has decided to rename the newly designed water park, you guessed it, Hurricane Harbor. Hurricane Harbor will have three brand new attractions, new restaurants, new shops, and a new tropical theme. Just like very other Six Flags water park addition this off-season, save Six Flags New England, this Hurricane Harbor will also get a Tornado slide. I really hope these slides are good - I have yet to get an opportunity to ride one- because Six Flags is investing an awful lot of money into one attraction. Bahama Blast will be a standard raft slide with spiraling turns and an enclosed serpentine before splashing down. The third new attraction for the 2005 season will be Buccaneer Beach, which will be a pirate-theme children and family play area. Buccaneer Beach will feature two shallow wading areas for toddlers and a tipping bucket (sounds a lot like Crocodile Cal’s Outback Beach House which has been in the park for over 10 years).
This water park upgrade will be great for a park that has not added a “major” attraction since 2001’s Batwing. However, this upgrade may not drastically impact attendance at a park that really could use a complete facelift to just about anywhere else except the water park. Six Flags America has suffered from poor and haphazard planning, particularly when Six Flags threw in Gotham City when they first purchased the park, and this water park enhancement is not going to make that much of a difference to me. The addition of a bathroom by Superman: Ride of Steel or Batwing would make a bigger impression on me than this water park facelift.
Ducks in a Row
LA Times 2/26/05
Now that the hockey season is over before it started, and the promises of a 2005-2006 season are looking bleak, Disney is selling its NHL franchise, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, to a local entrepreneur and his wife for a reported $75 million. The NHL’s board of governors must still approve the sale, but if cleared, it would end Disney’s foray into sports ownership, following last year’s sale of the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles, or whatever they’re calling that team now. The new owners, Henry Samueli and his wife Susan, happen to control The Pond, which is the arena where the Mighty Ducks play their home games. The sale is good for fans of the franchise, as the new owners will not move the team, but fans may not have a team to cheer for if the NHL and its players cannot settle their differences. Disney does get the team off their back. The Ducks have been consistently losing money, like just about every other hockey franchise, but the deal they’ve worked out is much less than they could have gotten when the players were still playing. So for the five people in the world who still care about hockey, you can jump up and down that Disney is no longer at the helm of the Ducks, and everyone else can just yawn.
I’m going to do something a little different here, since I am writing this BLOGFlume while the Oscars are being televised, this story will be written as it happens. Now I’ve been watching the show for about two hours now, and I cannot believe how many errors, glitches, and gaffes there have been during the show. Not to mention the inevitable FCC fines for Ziyi Zhang’s sheer dress that showed more for a longer period of time than Janet Jackson ever did. I do have to say that Chris Rock’s opening spiel was solid, and he has kept the show rolling with some funny bits, aside from that terribly written exchange with Adam Sandler. As some may know the Oscar director this year, Gil Cates, has made many noticeable changes with the program, including the awkward presentation of awards to people in their seats. I’m all for the show moving forward, but an Oscar should be given on a stage, not in the audience like a canned ham on Letterman. Bringing nominees on stage was a much better option, and allowed the winners to speak to the entire theater, and not just to the camera. Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles is having a great night with two awards already, Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Editing, with Best Original Screenplay yet to be decided. Not only that, but Brad Bird made a hilarious voice appearance in a taped animation of Edna Mode presenting with Pierce Brosnan.
Another interesting change in this year’s ceremony was using Beyonce to sing three of the five Oscar nominated songs, and I’m sure if she had Sideshow Bob dreadlocks like Adam Durits and sexy Latino charisma like Antonio Banderas, she would have sung all five. There’s nothing more fun than playing the “Guess who’s sitting next to Jay-Z” game as different seat fillers are rotated into Beyonce's seat as she sings incredibly forgettable songs. ABC has clearly made it known that it wants to appeal to younger viewers, and as I say that, P. Diddy of all people comes waltzing out to the podium to introduce “Believe” from The Polar Express in his velvet tuxedo. The one problem that ABC can never get around is that the movies that are nominated for Best Picture hardly ever appeal to a young audience. What normal 18 year old is actually going to sit down and watch Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, or The Aviator (I would probably never had known who Howard Hughes was if I was not a big fan of Discovery Wings). Lord of the Rings was probably the first time in a number of years that a "mainstream" movie had legitimate chances to take home the biggest prize. ABC can try all they want to appeal to a younger audience, but most of the allure of the Oscars is to root for a film that you thought was the best thing you saw all year, and when the best movie you saw was The Incredibles or Spiderman 2, you don't really have much to cheer for (I'm rooting for Sideways, but since Paul Giamati was not nominated for Best Actor, so my hopes are not high).
Well, it seems that The Incredibles will have to settle for two for four, as the brilliant Charlie Kaufman just won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his qwerky Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, my vote for best film of 2005 before I saw Sideways. In what has to be the best line of the night, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, Jamie Fox says, “Halle, Oprah, I just had to say your names.” Who would have believed before Ray came out that Jamie Fox would beat Jim Carrey to the Oscar stage (both In Living Color alumni)? The Wayans brothers better get cracking, because White Chicks, which got mentioned more on Oscar night than Sideways, is not going to beat Jim Carrey to the gold.
Well, the show is over, and Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood, took home four of the seven awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood, his second for direction), Best Actress (Hillary Swank, her second), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman, a long overdue award). However, Martin Scorsese is beside himself and spending another year wondering when the Academy will finally give up and give him a lifetime achievement Oscar. My favorite film of the year, Sideways, only managed a writing award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The show clocked in at a lean 3 hours and 15 minutes, but still fell victim to the rapid-fire awards at the end (Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture were all given in the last 20 minutes of the show). Overall, the awards were spread out amongst a lot of movies, unlike last year’s Lord of the Rings victory lap. Miramax corralled 5 awards for The Aviator, but missed the mark for Best Picture, while Finding Neverland was only able to grab one statue for Best Original Score. That left the Disney conglomerate with 1/3 of the total awards (8 out of 24), which is not terrible, but probably not what the Weinstein's wanted as they exit their partnership with Disney.
Aside from the glitches and the changes to the normal program, the show was rather entertaining. A number of stars you normally see were absent, Jack Nicholson (not present for the second year in a row), Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, and Jim Carrey (despite being thanked for Lemony Snicket's Makeup Oscar). However, a number of new faces took their place, Jay Z, P. Diddy, and Prince. Chris Rock and his unique brand of comedy made the program seem fresh, and let me be the first to hope that he might have the opportunity to host Hollywood’s biggest night again.