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The BLOGFlume—Happy Mothers Day!

Minor changes to DarKastle, Disneyland announcements galore, and "The Point" is open for business.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: May 8, 2005 at 9:24 PM

Curse of DarKastle Update

I went down to Williamsburg today for the passholder preview day for Water Country USA, and stopped by Busch Gardens for the second half of the day to see how the lines were on the incredibly popular attraction. The park was rather crowded for a Sunday, probably because of Mothers Day, but as usual, all of the lines were moving rather well. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get through the queue for DarKastle, and they were actually still doing the water and 30% off coupon thing. The staff was also doing another clever thing. They were giving out restroom passes for guests. As long as you had someone to hold your spot in line, you could leave to use the restroom, and return and reclaim your spot in line. However, I see problems on the horizon with the queue design. A majority of the line is in the castle’s courtyard, and even today with temperatures in the mid 70’s, it was rather warm standing in the hot sun. There are fans in the queue area, but you do not reach them until you’re almost in the shade of the building. The rest of the queue is unprotected, but the problem is if they were to put a cover over the courtyard, the area would lose a lot of its ambiance, and the wolf statues would not be as prominent. The line did move steadily through the time we were queuing, and was still moving well near the end of the day when we passed by at 6:30. I was surprised at the number of changes that had occurred in just the week since I had ridden the attraction on media day. First was the addition of a clock “frozen” at midnight to the right of the entrance gates. The preshow has changed slightly with a narration that is a little easier to understand. The most noticeable difference from my first experience was that the entire interior of the attraction was much brighter- from the loading area to the ride itself, all of the lights seemed to be turned up a couple of notches, and in most cases it was an improvement. The ride has also changed slightly with some minor changes to the animation, and a couple of changes to the vehicle program. The sound has also been improved by increasing the volume of the dialogue to make the story a little easier for guests to understand. I rode in the back row this time, and would have to admit that the ride was not as exciting as it was the first time when I rode in the front row in the middle. Even with the changes, the vehicle’s movements were not as pronounced in the back, and I did not get the floating sensation in the ballroom scene, so I would recommend trying to get into the front row for the best ride experience. Another big change from my first experience was the ending. After Ludwig shatters, instead of spinning around a few times before exiting the final room, the vehicle just turns to face the doors, and they open as you move towards the unloading platform. There have been a couple of complaints on other sites on the web that there was too much spinning, and it seems to be limited now to just the area between the fireplace and ballroom scenes. It’s pretty clear Busch Gardens is still tinkering with their new toy, and guests may see a number of iterations of ride experiences throughout the season until they find one that works well.

Disneyland Announcements
L.A. Daily News 5/8/05

In addition to kicking off Disneyland’s 50th anniversary on Thursday, Disney had some other news up its sleeve, that was long rumored, but now reality. The ride that was once Superstar Limo is going to be remade into an attraction with a Monsters Inc. theme. Monsters Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue will send guests careening through the streets of Monstropolis in search of the loveably cute Boo. It’s unclear whether or not the attraction will use the same ride system as Limo, but an opening date of January 2006 would suggest that guests can expect a similar ride system in place for this new addition to Disney’s California Adventure. Another new attraction was also announced, and will debut on July 15, 2005, the same date reserved for Space Mountain’s re-launch. DCA’s Animation building will be receiving a copy of EPCOT’s Turtle Talk with Crush. Yet another reason to avoid the pathetic Animation building. There is also speculation that another new Pixar-themed attraction will be announced on Disneyland’s birthday, July 17, 2005, and will end the controversy as to what is going on with the 20,000 Leagues lagoon. A re-theme of the classic attraction around Finding Nemo is expected, but we’ll just have to wait another couple of months to find out officially.

Also, Disney has unveiled its Dreams Come True fireworks/nighttime spectacular that is supposed to be just that, spectacular. I’m not sure how you could top Fantasmic, but the early word is that some of the effects are amazing as every land of Disneyland is celebrated with lasers, fireworks, and other assorted effects. Disney also showed off its new Disneyland-The First 50 Magical Years exhibit and movie, hosted by Steve Martin (a former Disney cast member) and Donald Duck. There are also a number of special golden ride vehicles to celebrate the golden anniversary of the park. With so much to do in California, it’s hard to believe that most of Disney’s visitors are being shoveled over to Orlando to celebrate the 50th birthday of a California institution.

Cedar Point Opens
Point Buzz 5/6/05

Cedar Point and its little sister park, Geauga Lake, opened their doors for the 2005 season over the weekend. Cedar Point is opening this season with a new flat ride called maXair. Slinging riders 140 feet into the air in a spinning pendulum motion, the new ride was given a vote of confidence by Cedar Point loyalists, who were surprised that it wasn’t as sickening as it looked. Geauga Lake also opened with some additions, actually one big one to be exact. Wildwater Kingdom, a $24 million water park enhancement, will open two weeks later than expected in mid-June, but a $10 reduction in admission price should keep the turnstiles moving until then. A fully re-tracked Raging Wolf Bobs and Villain will even out the lines as guests may find the almost unrideable wooden coasters a little smoother and easier on the you-know-what. Both parks will have some catching up to do as the current regional park champion, Paramount’s Kings Island, will debut the only new roller coaster in Ohio later this month, The Italian Job Stunt Track. While early reviews of a similar coaster at Paramount Canada’s Wonderland has been getting tepid reviews, all you have to do in Ohio is say “New roller coaster,” and you’re pretty much guaranteed a big push in admissions.

Readers' Opinions

From TH Creative on May 9, 2005 at 4:16 AM
I read somewhere that the new attraction going into 20K is a playground themed for the Hundred Acre Wood.
From Russell Meyer on May 9, 2005 at 5:58 AM
That is the rumor for the 20K site at the Magic Kingdom. Word has it that Disneyland has something a little bigger in store.
From Michael Kostrikin on May 9, 2005 at 2:10 PM
Steve Martin also worked at Knott's Berry Farm (at the Birdcage Theater, I believe).
From Chuck Campbell on May 9, 2005 at 2:58 PM
They could use a few more trash cans in the DarKastle queue, as well--especially if they're handing out free water bottles. The folks in line there last Saturday night were sloppier than the peeps in a game of RCT.
From Jason Jackson on May 9, 2005 at 4:37 PM
I noticed that they are still themeing the Darkastle Tower as well, adding more ice. I noticed the outdoor queue would be kind of hot as well in the summer time. They should have made the outdoor garden a conservatory and put some A/C in it. Perhaps this could be a futue improvement. Better yet (spoiler alert) since one of the scenes involves crashing through the roof of the conservatory, what a great thing to have in the film and as he crashes, he crashes into the queue line! LOL!
From Derek Potter on May 10, 2005 at 5:46 PM
Italian Job is still in the testing phase at Kings Island. While they have been giving early guests an occasional "preview" in order to get feedback about the effects and such. The general consensus among PKI enthusiasts is good. Most like it, while there are the token coaster nuts who wanted a 5 million foot billion mile an hour coaster and also a few who are hating because it replaced their beloved Flying Eagles.

Although it is a new coaster in Ohio, I think that it remains to be seen what kind of draw it will actually bring, because even though it's a themed quality family ride with moderate thrills, it's not the huge record breaker or streamlined mega looper that Ohio folks have grown used to seeing at any given local park every couple of years. What will really grow the park will be it's marketing and growing reputation as a theme park.

From Chuck Campbell on May 10, 2005 at 6:36 PM
I'm glad that Busch and Paramount are taking chances with better-themed attractions. After all, the human body can take only so many Gs, and there are only so many ways you can flip somebody upside-down.

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