The BLOGFlume—Debuts A-Plenty

Attraction debuts from Paramount and Disneyland Paris

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: April 6, 2005 at 6:46 PM

Italian Job Stunt Track 4/6/05

While its official debut is not for another week, Paramount King’s Island has begun dry runs of Italian Job Stunt Track. Possibly one of the most anticipated new roller coasters in the country this year, Italian Job Stunt Track features some of the most intricate theming elements on an outdoor roller coaster. Riders board trains that look like three Mini Coopers tied together for an adventure through a parking garage, around hairpin curves, and through an altercation with a helicopter. The coaster features three different launch sections with a top speed of 40 MPH. The trains also feature a unique element that allows them to pivot under high lateral g-forces, which will simulate skidding off the road. From talking to some of the Paramount Parks designers at the Tomb Raider Firefall media day yesterday, they are very excited about the ride’s debut, and hope that the attraction at Kings Island and sister park Paramount Canada’s Wonderland will be as popular as the movie. The coaster looks to be a very exciting ride that will be appropriate for the entire family, and will keep Paramount Parks moving in the right direction.

Space Mountain: Mission 2
ABC News 4/6/05

Unfortunately it’s not the debut of Space Mountain at the original Disneyland park in California, but Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris has ended its long rehab, and has been unveiled to the media as Space Mountain: Mission 2. Gone is the confusing Jules Verne “From the Earth to the Moon” story-line, and in its place is a new, more general story that takes guests from our own solar system to other far reaching places in the universe. The high-definition visual effects, new and more pronounced soundtrack, new coaster trains, and more powerful launch all work in concert to create an entirely new and exciting experience. Whether this remake will draw the millions of additional visitors to the park needed to help out the financial troubles of Euro Disney is not certain. The park has vowed to open a new major attraction every year for the foreseeable future to try to cut into hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The one good thing was that the attraction was down for only a few months, which is light years ahead of the progress within Space Mountain at California’s Disneyland. Speaking of Space Mountain at Disneyland, the park recently unveiled its new attraction sign in all of its 1960’s-style glory.

Tomb Raider Firefall

As mentioned earlier, I had the privilege to attend the media day for Paramount’s Kings Dominion’s newest thrill ride, Tomb Raider Firefall. The highly themed Huss Topspin puts guests into Lara Croft’s shoes on an adventure of epic proportion. Really, all you do is sit in a seat, and do a bunch of flips as water, fire, and sound effects explode around you. Ride designers described it as a kind of stunt show where instead of hiring stunt men, the show stars your family. The attraction is probably just as fun to watch as it is to ride, as the musical score specially written for this attraction reverberates through the viewing area. Designers at Paramount Parks spent nine months planning the attraction, and almost nine months constructing the “multi-million dollar” attraction (it’s Viacom policy not to disclose project budgets), and the result is one of the most intricately themed flat rides in the world. During the design process, ride designers rode a number of different Huss Topspin ride sequences, and selected the one that offered the most exciting experience for guests. Then designers began to sequence special effects and music to maximize emotional reactions from both riders and on-lookers. After tweaking the special effects sequences, theming elements were completed to give the attraction its finished look, including actual props and casts of prop molds from both Tomb Raider movies. The ride is supposed to be an ancient artifact, and those brave enough to strap themselves in, let their feet dangle, and their hair fly are in for a treat with well timed water and fire effects that are close enough to make you cringe, but not close enough to singe or drench. A fine mist may disappoint some on a hot day, but those riding on media day in suits and ties were probably happy to escape the clutches of Tomb Raider Firefall with just a couple of drops and mangled coiffures to prove their bravery.

My take on the attraction…It’s a standard Topspin with all of the bells and whistles of a stunt show. As I had mentioned on my first review of the attraction a few weeks ago, before all of the effects and details had been completed, the ride may be more popular as a show than a ride. The renovation of the plaza in front of the attraction provides a great place to sit and watch, but those who do take a spin on Tomb Raider Firefall will experience 7 complete flips, and some pretty harrowing out-of-control moments that are enhanced by the great soundtrack, and effective fire and water effects. I was a little disappointed to discover from ride designers that the ride sequence will remain the same for the foreseeable future, since changes to the ride sequence would require a long and extensive effort to redo all of the sound and special effects. However, my disappointment was quelled somewhat by the excitement in the eyes of the designers when mentioning that something very exciting is on the horizon for Paramount’s Kings Dominion in 2006. While they would not disclose the nature of the attraction, who can blame them? Most people haven’t even had a chance to experience this year’s new attraction, the designers stated that the attraction is in the planning stages, and will be a great addition to the park.

Entry sign for Paramount’s Kings Dominion’s Tomb Raider Firefall

“Monkey Man” Tomb Raider movie prop

Tomb Raider Firefall ride designers with Lara Croft and PKD’s Executive Vice President/General Manager

Tomb Raider Firefall’s full assortment of effects

Tomb Raider Firefall, an experience guests will flip over!

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Readers' Opinions

From Derek Potter on April 6, 2005 at 8:47 PM
The fire at the IJST train manufacturers last month has apparently not totally screwed Kings Island. It appears that they now have two operational trains that they have been testing, with a third on the way. They have started test runs, and with the park opening weekends starting this Saturday the 8th, expect some more dry runs in the upcoming weekends with some guests. They will use these test runs to get guest feedback about the on ride and special effects. In addition to Italian Job opening this year, here is a rundown of what else Kings Island has been up to.

They will be opening two new restaurants, the first being the Happy Days Diner, a retheme of Preston Tuckers Roadside Cafe, and they are also opening a Chik Fila... albeit a franchise, but probably the best fast food chicken out there. Also, they have signed with another local Cincinnatti brand. Graeters Ice Cream will now be served throughout the park. My advice to anyone visiting is to give it a try. It's some of the greatest ice cream around. Rumors are also abound of a possible late addition...Starbucks Coffee. Food quality is rapidly improving at PKI.

Some improvements made this year. The Eiffel Tower is getting a much needed paint job, as is Face Off, a steel shuttle coaster. The International Street Fountains are getting some repair. Also, PKI has performed some surgery on their parking lot, doing some repaving, and planting some flowers and trees. Kings Island also will improve the air by allowing smoking only in designated areas.

This year will also see the return of the highly popular Nickelodeon Celebration Parade, and the debut of School of Rock, a show based on the movie. It's been touted as a rock and roll revue with a plotline.

Finally, the long awaited return of Winterfest may finally be here. Season ticket holders have been spotting references to the highly popular event, that has now been gone (and missed) since 1992. For those who don't know, Kings Island (pre Paramount) used to open the park up in December for a few weeks around the holidays. They would freeze the giant front fountain pool and allow people to ice skate, and decorate with Christmas trees and lights galore. Of course the open rides were few and far between, but there were other things to do. It really was a fun experience. Paramount discontinued the winter event when they bought the park, but recent guest surveys have shown that people want the event back. Again, it's not confirmed, but rumors are flying, and why would season passes make reference to an event that's been gone for 13 years. If Winterfest and Fearfest both happen, PKI could see well over 4 million people this year, barring any ridiculous weather patterns. Things just keep looking better and better.

I'll make a prediction for Kings Dominion's project for 2006. It could be an Italian Job clone or a few other things, but my premature gut feeling goes with the MTV Soundwave coaster. It would probably be a retheme of the Flight of Fear attraction.

From Chuck Campbell on April 7, 2005 at 4:46 AM
I'm not big on spinners and flat rides, but I just might have to check out Tomb Raider: Firefall. Smart move to make it a "show" for those with uneasy stomachs (this makes building it outdoors seem a bit more logical).
From Ben Mills on April 10, 2005 at 5:40 AM
DLP-Guide has some good pictures and a detailed report from Space Mountain: Mission 2's press event here.

Surprisingly, the ABC article fails to mention that Vin Diesel was present at the launch.