January 2007Subscribe: in a reader or via e-mail
By Robert NilesThe announcement will come in a conference all at 10:30 Wednesday morning, but that's 7:30 a.m. L.A. time, and I'll be rushing to get the kids off to school then. So I'll jump the gun on news many of us already know about anyway.
Published: January 30, 2007 at 9:58 PM
Don't know the exact date yet, but I assume that the change on the SheiKra trains will come sometime after sister park Busch Gardens Europe debuts its B&M floorless dive coaster, Griffon, in May. That way, Griffon can retain the title as "world's first" of this model.
[FWIW, all the promotional material I've gotten from Busch on this announcement has been branded "Busch Gardens Tampa Bay," and not "Busch Gardens Africa." But the stuff I've been getting from Williamsburg has been using the new, continental name, "Busch Gardens Europe." Just noticed that. Is something up with this, or is BGT/A (wow, what an acronym *there*) just burning through old letterhead?]
By Robert NilesWhispers are building to a roar that NBC Universal's about to announce the first major change to Universal's Islands of Adventure since the park opened in 1999.
Published: January 29, 2007 at 3:07 PM
Arthur Levine sends word from About.com that "Universal's creative wizards plan to substantially change one of the park's five islands and re-theme it to the stories and characters of one of the most popular children's franchises. And I mean hugely popular."
A TPI reader wrote "Rumour has it that IOA is going to be rethemeing an area of the park with some major new attractions.......what should this be...Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings......I have heard that Harry Potter is a goer........thoughts or any information?"
Playing process of elimination: There's no way Universal would scuttle the theme for Seuss Landing... or Marvel Island... or Jurassic Park.
That leaves... "Toon Lagoon," which could have a new cartoon-related theme imposed on it relatively easily.
Or... "Lost Continent," which could be morphed into a LotR or Harry Potter Island with little effort. (Save for a stunning new attraction, of course.)
Of the two, Lost Continent has, by far, the weaker overall identity. Plus, the Sindbad show could be swapped for another theme with minimal fuss. And the Poseidon show takes up a large footprint which could be given over to a more impressive ride or show. I would think Dueling Dragons would have to remain, but its backstory could be made to fit any Dragon-friendly narrative. (Like, oh, say, Harry Potter....)
What are you rooting for Universal to do with IoA?
By Robert NilesLegoland California drew 1.65 million visitors in 2006, a record for any Lego theme park, park officials announced today.
Published: January 25, 2007 at 3:36 PM
Amusement Business magazine estimated that in 2005 Legoland drew 1.4 million visitors, ranking the Carlsbad, California park 40th among U.S. theme and amusement parks. Legoland officials credit last year's Pirate Shores expansion for the attendance boost.
“The area was very well received. A record setting guest satisfaction of more than 97 percent helped the Park achieve summer and fall attendance 20 percent higher than the previous year,” John Jakobsen, Legoland president and general manager, said in a statement.
For 2007, Legoland will add Captain Cranky's Challenge, a swinging ship ride, to Pirate Shores. The ride is slated to debut in May.
On March 29, Legoland will unveil its other addition for 2007 -- Miniland Las Vegas. If you've paid close attention to the detail Lego adds to previous Miniland sections (check out New Orleans sometime), you, like me, probably can't wait to see what Lego drops into its version of Vegas.... "Uh, daddy, what are those little Lego people doing?" "Hey kids, look over there! Ice cream!"
By Robert NilesSeveral business stories from the past week to round up today....
Published: January 25, 2007 at 12:35 PM
Nintendo's wii will be the official video game console at Six Flags, with in-park promotions promised for the upcoming year. Sounds like yet another of Six Flags' recent marketing deals (Papa John's pizza, etc.), until you remember that the second-biggest stockholder in Six Flags, behind Daniel Snyder was... Bill Gates.
Yeah, that Bill Gates. Head of Microsoft. Maker of the XBox.
The University of Central Florida lauded the Walt Disney Resort with the second-annual Florida Energy Achievement Award, for Disney's "Strive for Five" program to reduce its overall energy consumption by 5 percent. Congrats to Disney.
Attendance at Disneyland Paris/Walt Disney Studios Park was up 8 percent in the first quarter of this new fiscal year, leading to a 10 percent increase in theme park revenue.
Trends, conclusions and conjecture from these stories are left to the reader ;-) Comment below....
By Robert NilesThose of you with memories that stretch back more than a couple years surely will remember Paul Pressler, the one-time Disneyland President whose regime saw the beginning of a Web-based uproar over declining quality at the Anaheim, California theme park.
Published: January 22, 2007 at 9:50 PM
Pressler got kicked upstairs to Disney corporate, overseeing Disney's theme parks around the world. Until he was lured away (just before he got pushed out the door, some say) to run The Gap, Inc.
Well, until today. Pressler's out of a job now.
Gap Inc. dumped Paul Pressler as chief executive Monday after a year of broken promises that culminated in a dismal holiday shopping season to deepen the clothing retailer's misery.
"This was a long time coming," said retail industry analyst Jennifer Black. "They need to bring in a visionary, an incredibly talented merchant who can see quite a ways into the future."
By Robert NilesI saw my first Colts game in October 1980, I think, as the Colts beat the New England Patriots, in Baltimore. My Boy Scout troop from Indianapolis was on a "Mystery History" trip to the Washington, D.C. area and capped off the long weekend with an NFL game.
Published: January 21, 2007 at 10:34 PM
No one had any idea that three and a half years later, I'd be parked on an Interstate overpass, between first and second periods at my high school, watching a convoy of Mayflower trucks bring those Colts from Baltimore to Indy. My parents applied for season tickets, but so did about 200,000 other Central Indiana families. Fortunately, some friends did get tickets and I saw two games in the (then) Hoosier Dome that fall.
From the Mike Pagel era, through the Halloween Eric Dickerson trade, Jim Harbaugh's almost Hail Mary to the Steelers game last year (where the final minute never happened... because I just couldn't deal with it if it did), I've remained a Colt fan ever since.
Patience, finally, delivers its reward. Tonight, the Colts beat the Patriots again, this time in Indianapolis, and this time to win the AFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl, in two weeks in Miami.
Chicago, you're going down! ;-)
This is an open thread. Talk football, or whatever else is on your mind this Sunday evening.
By John QuinterosSix Flags Magic Mountain in Valenica, California will tearing down its Psyclone and Flashback roller coaster for "future expansion."
Published: January 20, 2007 at 4:15 PM
The coasters are gone from the park's website and park officials are said to have confirmd the moves.
The demise of Flashback, which hasn't operated for years, should be no surprise. But the removal of Psyclone, another coaster criticized for a rough ride, should provide further proof that Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro is serious about repositioning the former "Xtreme Park" as a more family-friendly attraction.
[Update: The L.A. Daily News adds to the story, quoting TPI. -- Editor.]
By Robert NilesThe Walt Disney Company has included concept art for several new attractions, including the Pixar-themed Midway Mania ride at Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios and Disney's California Adventure.
Published: January 19, 2007 at 9:27 AM
The pictures are available online as part of Disney's 2006 annual report to stockholders.
The pictures include concept art for a new Disney theme park, though no details are provided. (To me, it looks somewhat DisneySea-ish.) The page also includes an image from a Pixar-themed racing car ride, also rumored for Disney's California Adventure.
By Robert NilesMore changes at Six Flags: Today, the chain announced that it is rebranding its Northern California park. Starting in March, Vallejo's Six Flags Marine World will be known as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
Published: January 18, 2007 at 9:40 AM
(Wow. Um, ya think that maybe they're trying to sound a little like, oh, um, Disney with that new name?)
The newly branded park will also divide into three themed lands, "Land," "Sea" and "Sky." From the press release:
"The name Six Flags Discovery Kingdom now reflects every aspect of what makes the park so unique," said Six Flags President and CEO Mark Shapiro. "Throughout its history, Marine World offered guests a truly distinctive theme park environment, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will build and improve on that great tradition. Only at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom can guests ride world-class coasters, feed giraffes, interact with dolphins and watch a killer whale glide through the water, all in one location. A trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will be an unforgettable experience that will create a lifetime of memories for our guests."
By Robert NilesSeaWorld Orlando sends a reminder about its "Bud & BBQ" concerts, this month and next at the park. The four concerts, free with park admission, feature country and classic rock acts. Here is the lineup:
Published: January 17, 2007 at 11:45 AM
Saturday, January 27 - Sugarland
Saturday, February 3 - Sara Evans
Saturday, February 10 - Dennis DeYoung: The Music of STYX
Saturday, February 17 - Little Big Town
All concerts start at 4 p.m., in the Bayside Stadium. In addition, SeaWorld will be offering special dining options on concert days, "including an all-you-care-to-eat barbeque buffet from noon to 3 p.m. and sampling booths available throughout the day."
By Robert NilesA 38-year-old woman died at South Korea's Everland park yesterday. The woman was getting on the Magic Battle spinner ride when, reports say, she became frightened and tried to exit. The ride op did not see her and started the ride. The woman then was hit by one of the spinning ride vehicles.
Published: January 15, 2007 at 11:12 AM
The woman suffered a broken neck and died.
Theme park safety's become a hot issue in South Korea this month, following last week's announcement that Lotte World will close for several months to repair and renovate rides and other facilities, following several incidents at that park.
By Robert NilesNBC's 'Today' morning show is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood next week. The show will broadcast live from the NBC-owned theme park on Wednesday, January 17. Fans can view the show in person for free, and all who attend will get a free one-day admission ticket to Universal Studios Hollywood as well.
Published: January 12, 2007 at 10:22 PM
Well, remember when I said the show is broadcasting *live*? And did you know that folks back in New York see the show at 7am? And that USH is in LA, three hours earlier than NYC?
That's right, you must be present at the USH front gate by 3:30 am to get in, see the show, and get your free USH ticket. The good news is that the USH ticket is good through December 31, 2007. So you can save it to visit USH on a later day... and go home after the show to sleep.
By Robert NilesSix Flags today announced the sale of six of its properties to a group led by one of the founders of the original Six Flags Over Texas theme park.
Published: January 11, 2007 at 11:07 AM
PARC 7F-Operations Corp. of Jacksonville, Florida, will buy Elitch Gardens in Denver, Darien Lake in Buffalo, N.Y., Wild Waves and Enchanted Village in Seattle, Frontier City and White Water Bay in Oklahoma City, SplashTown in Houston and Waterworld USA in Concord, California for a total of $312 million. The chairman of PARC is Michael Jenkins, a former vice president of Six Flags Over Texas.
Money from the sale will go to help reduce Six Flags' $2.2 billion in corporate debt, accumulated when the former Premier Parks bought the chain and name from Time Warner, then went on an expansion spree just before the economy tanked in 2001.
The sale does not include Six Flags Magic Mountain, which will remain open for the 2007. A Six Flags spokesperson said that the company is not actively looking to sell more parks, meaning that Magic Mountain will remain a Six Flags park for the near future... unless somebody with big bucks makes the company a huge offer.
By Robert NilesLotte World, Seoul, South Korea's largest theme park, announced this week that it has closed for the next four months in order to inspect and repair its facilities.
Published: January 10, 2007 at 11:50 PM
The park, which drew an estimated 6.2 million visitors in 2005, has suffered several highly publicized accidents in recent months. The incidents, coupled with poor maintenance, earned the park the nickname "Death World" among local scolds.
The Korea Herald provides more detail:
Last week, Dongyang Structural Engineers Group and the Korea Disasters Research Institute disclosed the results of their two-month examination of the amusement park, raising serious safety concerns.
Just for perspective, Lotte World's attendance in 2005 (last year for which numbers are available) put it ahead of Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld Orlando and Disney's California Adventure. So, for folks outside South Korea, it's not like we're talking about some small, obscure county-fair-type park here.
By Robert NilesThe American Adventure theme park in the United Kingdom has closed.
Published: January 10, 2007 at 11:06 AM
The park's owners blamed poor attendance and have already sold off about half the attractions at the park. Park director Roger Lloyd said in a statement:
"American Adventure theme park states that it has invested considerably in trying to make the Park a commercial success but a fall in attendances which has been experienced across the UK theme park market has proved impossible to overcome."
Rival Alton Towers reported a slight increase in visitors last year, but rumors about American Adventure's future, coupled with a lack of new attractions, kept visitors away from it.
American Adventure did not own its land, but instead leased it from Derbyshire County Council. The closure illustrates that although theme parks can be cash cows, if an owner does not invest in new attractions, a park will lose its market.
For more: Report from Ripley & Heanor News
By Erik YatesFirst it was the groping incident. Now Tigger is beating children. At least thats the story a visitor to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is telling. A video was released Sunday showing a teenager jumping into a picture with his younger siblings with Tigger, when the costumed character turns and punches him in the face. You can view the video online at:
Published: January 8, 2007 at 9:47 AM
It really doesnt seem like the hit was intentional, although other stories report the employee is already claiming self defense as the 14 year old was pulling Tiggers mask from behind.
It seems that the family really over reacted demanding that "Tigger be a man and step out of the costume." Poor Tigger seems that he should try just a little harder to stay out of deep Pooh.
By Gareth HAh ha, I have some important information regarding the closure of Back to the Future at Universal Orlando.
Published: January 6, 2007 at 11:49 PM
After discussion with a Universal Studios Florida engineer (Will remain nameless) it has been made clear to me that the Simpsons Rumor is a diversion, apparently often used when a ride is to close.
The replacement for the ride, date of full closure not yet decided, is one of two things.
The first and least likely, is a BattleStar Gallactica ride. Although no details are available, it seems a viable option as the long running TV show is still current and still on Unversals "USA" channel.
The second option which I'd guess would be more popular, is what we'd all suggested, a major re-work of the current ride. All current equipment would be removed and the ride would be completely re-made, although keeping with the current style.
This of course is common among popular rides. Shrek will soon go through a change as a new film is due for release and the current 4D film is now dated (Go figure T2:3D)..
So would you accept an updated version of the ride with (If they can pull it off) aged charactors, or old footage???
By Erik YatesThe security is in question not only at Universal Orlando where a woman claims she was sexually assaulted in the Express Line for the Revenge of the Mummy, but also a 13-year-old Canadian Tourist was sexually assaulted aboard the Wonder, part of the Disney Cruise Line.
Published: January 5, 2007 at 11:10 AM
In the case of Universal, the woman said that she asked who she thought was a Universal employee about the entrance to the line when she was grabbed and drug down an emergency exit hallway and assaulted. She fought her way from the man and went screaming into the rest of the line.
In the case of Disney, the girl was told to follow someone who she thought was a Disney employee because he wanted "to show her something". When she wouldn't agree, she was threatened to be thrown overboard. The suspect in that case is in custody while the suspect in the Universal case remains at large.
In both cases, a prime example is set about the lack of security and the need to increase watch and awareness. Still with as many people that visit each area on a daily basis, the fact that these have been the only occurances says that where there are crowds, there are bound to be a few bad apples.
By Chris P.Most of the restaurants in Alton Towers failed an inspection yesterday conducted by food hygiene experts at the park. Only four restaurants were up to standards and requirements.
Published: January 4, 2007 at 4:31 PM
Big chain outlets like KFC and McDonald's have now been ordered to "clean up". The KFC in the park was the worst, where hygiene was so bad it did not meet legal requirements.
Even the park's own staff restaurant was said to be unhygienic.
Examples of faults were dirty sweet scoops, damaged kitchen worktops and lack of hot water.
Has anyone ever had any problems with Alton's restaurants?
By Robert NilesStarting this week, Disney is raising the minimum age to enter several Pleasure Island nightclubs to 21.
Published: January 3, 2007 at 3:56 PM
Mannequins had long been a 21-only club, but 8Trax, BET, Motion and Rock and Roll Beach Club had allowed younger guests in (though, of course, they could not buy alcohol). Now those clubs also will bar entry to minors.
Teens and young adults still can get into the Adventurers Club and the Comedy Warehouse, provided they come in with an adult. (Those two clubs, unlike the others, are oriented to entertainment beyond dancing and also rely more on waiters rather than bartenders for drink service, making carding easier.)
By Robert NilesDisneyland's offering two promotions, one old and one new, to pump attendance in the traditionally slower post-New Year's period.
Published: January 2, 2007 at 11:31 AM
In what is becoming an annual rite, Disneyland will offer its 2fer deal, where Southern California residents who buy a one-day ticket to Disneyland get a second day ticket for California Adventure free. (Yes, you can do it the other way around, but let's be honest here... I'd guess 99 percent of folks don't.)
The new promotion is new soundtracks on Disneyland's Space Mountain and California Adventure's California Screamin' roller coasters. The Red Hot Chili Peppers provide both, with "Higher Ground" playing on Space Mountain and "Around the World" on Screamin'. (Uh, isn't that backward... when you think about it?)
The Chili Peppers soundtracks will run on the two coasters from Jan. 3 through April 26.
By Robert NilesSure, you could watch the Rose Parade on TV with millions of other viewers around the world, and see the floats, bands and equestrian units of the world-famous parade when they are fresh for the cameras.
Published: January 1, 2007 at 1:57 PM
But where's the fun in that?
Instead, let's head five and a half miles down Colorado and Sierra Madre Boulevards, to the end of the Rose Parade route, where Theme Park Insider watches the parade every year.
This is where the band members are tired, the horses are peeing freely and some floats are busted, retracted or just shut down. (Rose Parade floats over a certain height must retract to get under the I-210 overpass near the end of the route.)
Kudos to all those parade participants who don't let that killer distance bother them, and still manage to give us folks at the back of the route a good show. The Oklahoma Centennial Honor Band, for example, broke ranks to greet the crowd with much enthusiasm. So we treated them to chocolate doughnuts, which they scarfed like, well, a bunch of teen-agers who'd just hiked five miles lugging band instruments.
Chewbacca greets the crowd on the Endor float, leading the "Star Wars Spectacular" unit in the 2007 Rose Parade. Despite the "spectacular" name, both floats in the unit kept their animation elements lowered and shut down after going under the I-210 bridge.
"Star Wars" fans dressed in stormtrooper gear mass for the 2007 Rose Parade. What makes this picture though is a friend wearing a cap for "Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking," now playing at the Geffen in L.A. and much inspired by life with the folks above.
Okay, we're stretching for a theme park connection here, but American Honda's float in the 2007 Rose Parade featured these... dueling dragons.
Disney did not have a float in the 2007 Rose Parade, but the City of Anaheim celebrated its 150th birthday.
The Notary Association float was one of the few to raise its animation elements after lowering them to get under the I-210 bridge in the 2007 Rose Parade.
Happy New Year from Pasadena, California, to everyone on TPI! (For more pictures, see Robert's wife's account on Violinist.com.)
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