The BLOGFlume—Top This

Haunted Mansion honored, another Santa Clause, and Tussauds sold

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: March 23, 2005 at 10:17 PM

Haunted Mansion is Tops
The Daily Item 3/23/05

Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts have selected the dark-ride that was voted as the favorite amongst its approximate 280 members. Common knowledge would suggest that the winner would be themeparkinsider’s #1 attraction, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, or Disneyland’s classic Haunted Mansion. However, another Haunted Mansion took away top honors, the one located at Knoebel’s in Elysburg, PA. To those who are familiar with the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts, this really wasn’t that big of a surprise, since Knoebel’s Haunted Mansion has been given this award four years running. Haunted Mansion topped IOA’s Spiderman by a 3-1 margin, and demonstrates an “old school” charm that dark rides just don’t have any more. While Spiderman and other modern dark rides are loaded with special effects and detailed stories, Knoebel’s Haunted Mansion has simple sight gags and perfectly timed sound effects that can startle even the most seasoned rider. MGM’s Tower of Terror and the two U.S. Disney Haunted Mansions rounded out the top five in this year's list. Kennywood was selected as Favorite “Dark Attraction Park,” with dark rides like Noah’s Ark, Garfield’s Nightmare, Gold Rusher, and Exterminator. While the mainstream media has recognized Disney as the king of dark-rides, aficionados seem to prefer the simple attractions to the fancy ones with all of the bells and whistles. I’ve been on The Haunted Mansion at Knoebel’s, and it is quite a ride that is definitely not to be missed. The small traditional park in northeastern Pennsylvania is often recognized for its two amazing wooden roller coasters, Phoenix and Twister, and its collection of classic carousels, brass rings and all. However, any trip to this park is not complete with a spin on one of the best overall attractions in the United States.

Christmas in March
Washington Times 3/23/05

I know most people did not want to hear this, but in predictable fashion, Disney has decided to film yet another sequel to the Santa Clause franchise. The film, again starring Tim Allen, is slated for a 2006 holiday season release, and will be directed by Santa Clause 2 director Michael Lembeck. The writers of the first sequel have also returned for another go. These writers must be good lawyers to be able to find yet another overlooked clause in Santa's contract.

Who can really blame Disney for this move? The first Santa Clause grossed $145 million and the sequel grossed $139 million, a pretty good return. Most sequels can only manage 75% of the original’s gross in most circumstances, so Disney will take another shot. Holiday movies did not fare so well in 2004 with Christmas with the Cranks and Surviving Christmas falling far short of expectations. In fact Surviving Christmas was so bad that it was released before Halloween, out of theaters before Thanksgiving, and on DVD just after the New Year. Christmas with the Kranks, also starring Tim Allen, fared a little better, finishing almost $14 million ahead of its estimated $60 million budget. There also have been a couple huge holiday hits over the past few years including 2003’s Elf ($173 million) and 2004's Polar Express ($162 million, $150 million estimated budget), and with a budget probably in the $50-60 million range, Disney would be sitting very pretty by grossing just a "paltry" $100 million. Is there any end to the number of sequels Disney can pump out? There's really only one solution to stop the madness...

My suggestion, if we’re all so tired of Disney sequels, STOP WATCHING THEM!!

Tussaud’s Sold
Khaleej Times 3/23/05

Tussauds, one of Europe’s largest entertainment firms, has been purchased for about $1.5 billion. Dubai International Capital (DIC), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, has purchased the company. Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum is a majority owner of DIC, and has also been in the process of opening Dubailand, a theme park that will eventually be about twice the size of Disneyland located in , of course, Dubai, an up and coming tourist mecca (no pun intended). It’s unsure what effect this purchase will have in European theme park operations. Tussauds owned both Thorpe Park and Alton Towers in England, as well as The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. I would expect the status quo to be maintained, and perhaps a new influx of capital into a theme park division that may be spun off so that it can be operated independently from the other entertainment offerings that were once owned by Tussauds including The Venitian and the numerous Madame Tussauds Wax Museums located around the world. The company will still be managed by the Tussauds management team, and it may just be a matter of time before portions of what was Tussauds are sold to other buyers as separate companies.

Readers' Opinions

From Erik Yates on March 24, 2005 at 3:57 PM
The main reason the main christmas movies fell in 2004 were for a few reasons, mainly, they stunk. Also they were aimed mostly at adults and not kids, the core audience at christmas...whether its our kids or the kids that still live in all of us adults(hey i think i'll write my own christmas movie!) thats what they are aiming at. And probably the biggest reason is scheduling. There were just too many big budgeted, big named, highly aniticipated movies out at the same time. Even Polar Express succumbed to that picking up the majority of its business in the few weeks before christmas, and not in the after thanksgiving rush. Nobodys fault but the studios for not spacing them out. As for the Santa Clause 3, well, personally i think that is what Tim Allen does best. He hasnt proven himself to be anything but a family guy. So i say lets look at the little card under the big magnifying glass one more time....but if there's a Santa Clause 4, I'm going to cut off Tim Allens sack, of toys.:)
From Derek Potter on March 24, 2005 at 9:03 PM
I have a hunch that Santa Clause 3 will be the proverbial last straw for that particular franchise. I suppose that since the first two made money, they should maybe make a third one, but isn't that how sequels work? History tells us that most of the time the movies get worse with each sequel, and really, how many more good original stories can you tell with this franchise? If a third one comes out with any kind of competition, I won't be surprised if it doesn't do well.
From Erik Yates on March 25, 2005 at 1:02 PM
This is all too true, and knowing Disney they'll have such confidence that they'll do something silly like put it up against the next Harry Potter movie, like i said, they just have bad bad timing when it comes to something that sells at only one time of year.
From David Eggert on March 25, 2005 at 3:07 PM
If I had to guess, I'd say that the plot for SC 3 will be similar to the original plot for SC 2, which was originally subtitled "The Escape Clause". In it Scott Calvin decided to give up being Santa, and a new one had to be found.
From Kevin Baxter on March 26, 2005 at 10:50 PM
Supposedly the script for SC3 was written a long time ago and involves Santa's battle with Jack Frost, who wants to take over Xmas. Whatever. Why can't Tim Allen just go away already?

Anyhow, this is interesting as Disney had long penciled this movie in for this winter. SC3 is now 2006. Cars is 2006. It seems the surefire moneymakers won't be helping them any this year.

(Russell... Tussauds doesn't own the Venetian. They have a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in the Venetian, but they don't own it. The link didn't work for me, so I'm not sure if that was you or the article you used.)

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