The BLOGFlume—Ups and Downs
Disneyland exhibit at the Smithsonian, Kingda Ka's big problem, and Geauga Lake's union boycott.
Written by Russell Meyer
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Washington Post 6/10/05
It’s been about a month since InspEARation left the Ronald Reagan Building. The nation’s capital was privileged enough to be the only site to host all 75 giant Mickey Mouse statues outside of a Disney theme park. Sadly, the statues came and went, but fear not, Washington, D.C. will always have a little bit of Disney. Michael Eisner, in one of his final acts as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, presented the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum with a couple of special pieces of Disney history. Authentic Dumbo and Tea Cup ride vehicles were presented to the museum, which has become more like a bastion of American Pop Culture than a salute to American history. The two pieces are displayed in a new exhibit entitled “Disneyland: The First 50 Years,” which is located in one of the rotating exhibit locations. Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney have been enshrined in the Smithsonian before, but this is the first time one of Disney’s theme parks has been recognized. It’s actually been a few years since I’ve been to the American History museum, so I’ll have to go downtown and check it out in a few weeks and report back on how the Smithsonian views the influence of Disneyland on American history.
After a one month delay, Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure debuted as the tallest and fastest roller coaster on earth. Now, due to a number of technical problems, it has been reduced to the tallest lightning rod in Jackson, New Jersey. It seems that a serious malfunction occurred on Wednesday during a test launch. It was strangely similar to the one that occurred on Top Thrill Dragster last year that caused a number of people to leave Cedar Point with injuries. While the coaster was launching, loud noises were heard, while metal shards and sparks were seen shooting off the tracks as the train rocketed down the launch section. The train came to a sudden stop before even reaching the end of the launch track, supposedly stopped by the brake fins, which deploy to prevent trains from rolling back in the event of an inadequate launch. Luckily, this malfunction occurred while no one was on the coaster, but this breakdown may have the coaster out of operation for at least a week. Hopefully it will be working by the time I get to the park next Sunday. The one shimmer of good news surrounding this story is that Six Flags is actually keeping guests updated about Kingda Ka’s status on its website, similar to how Cedar Point handled Top Thrill Dragster’s first season. While they have not yet established a phone number, they have been pretty diligent updating the website over the past few days on Great Adventure’s home page. I guess this massive failure was due to happen sometime. Every one of the Intamin rocket coasters has had significant down time, but the two big ones, Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka seem to have more problems than the smaller one. It just goes to show you, the bigger they are, the harder it is to keep them running. Hopefully Six Flags will continue to do a good job with customer service, and get the coaster running as soon and as safely as possible.
I have a lot of family in Ohio, and I can tell you one thing about the people in the state of Ohio. They love their unions. If you’re not a card carrying member, you might as well turn in your driver’s license, and if you’re planning on building something in the state, you better at least inquire about hiring union labor, or face a massive backlash. Cedar Fair has brought on that backlash by hiring non-union contractors to help build Geauga Lake’s new Wildwater Kingdom water park. In response, local plumbers, steamfitters, electricians, painters, and laborers have begun a boycott of the theme park. There has been discussion about boycotting Cedar Fair completely, which would extend to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, but local unions have decided to point their anger at the primary culprit. Boycotting Cedar Point would probably be more effective, since a number of unions hold their annual summer picnics at the park, and a boycott would pull a lot more money away from Cedar Fair than a boycott of Geauga Lake. However, a large number of unions are employed by Cedar Point, and a labor war could erupt if the unions targeted their boycott at the company’s largest park. While the unions have not given the theme park company any demands, it’s pretty clear they would want to be consulted whenever the park has construction scheduled.
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