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