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June 2007

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Vote of the week: What's your favorite part of a theme park?

By Robert Niles
Published: June 30, 2007 at 5:05 PM
Think about your favorite theme park for a moment. Now, think about your favorite experience at your favorite park. Where were you? What element of the theme park were you enjoying at that most special moment?

Think about that as you answer this week's vote: (And, as always, please explain your choice in the comments!)

Comments (21) | Archive Link

Second person killed in three years on N.Y. amusement ride

By Robert Niles
Published: June 30, 2007 at 10:48 AM
For the second time in three years, someone has died on the Mind Scrambler at Playland Amusement Park in Rye, New York.

This time it was a park employee who was thrown from the spinning ride. Gabriela Garin, 21, of White Plains, died after loading visitors on to the ride. Garin was loading passengers after another employee "bumped" her from her position. The second employee did not see that Garin was still on the platform, and started the ride.

On May 22, 2004, seven-year-old Stephanie Dieudonné died after being thrown from the Mind Scrambler.

Comments (5) | Archive Link

Early Show At Universal Orlando

By Erik Yates
Published: June 29, 2007 at 9:52 AM
From a Universal Orlando Press Release:

COME BE A PART OF THE CBS EARLY SHOW – Hosts Hannah Storm, Harry Smith and weatherman Dave Price will be live from Universal CityWalk on Friday, July 6th and we need you to be a part of their audience! Parking garages open at 5:30 a.m. and the show goes live from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. For more information, e-mail UOPubRel[at]universalorlando.com.

The taping is at CityWalk, so a Universal Orlando ticket is not required. If you are going to be in the area, the live tapings are always fun, and they usually have some free give aways.

[A few months ago, the Today show taped at Universal Studios Hollywood, which was a little brutal for those of us who aren't early risers, given the three hour time difference on the west coast. The show started here at 4 am LA time! I'm also intrigued by the fact that this is CBS shooting at NBC's Universal Orlando. I guess that's what happens when you want to shoot in a theme park and you just sold yours.... - Robert]

Comments (1) | Archive Link

Son of Beast awakes

By Thomas Obst
Published: June 28, 2007 at 11:24 AM
Today, June 27th 2007 at Kings Island, new trains have arrived for Son Of Beast.

One of the trains I saw today was on the tracks and running with water torsos inside the cars.

Perhaps it will not be long now before the coaster is back up and running.

Comments (2) | Archive Link

Universal and New Line ink deal for HHN 17

By Mark Fairleigh
Published: June 27, 2007 at 9:57 PM
Universal and New Line Cinema have inked a deal to incorporate Freddy Kreuger, Jason, and Leatherface into Halloween Horror Nights 17. This should be fun.

On a sidenote, there's speculation online that since New Line owns Lord Of The Rings and the property has no current theme park presence this could lead to something LOTR-related at Universal. Though total speculation, this would be a fantastic addition to the Universal family.

[I'm on the road this week, and missed the conference call announcing the theme for this year's HHN. My apologies. Here is the Sentinel's write-up.- Robert]

Comments (2) | Archive Link

Parents arrested for child abuse at Walt Disney World

By Robert Niles
Published: June 26, 2007 at 9:03 AM
An Orlando couple is facing child abuse charges after they left their 3-year-old daughter outside in a stroller while they rode Pirates of the Caribbean at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The girl was taken inside and given water by park employees.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

A Magic Kingdom patron alerted park management about 4:45 p.m. Saturday after spotting the girl in a stroller parked in the sun, according to a report released Monday by the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

The girl was hot, turning red, covered in sweat and appeared to be "lifeless," the report states....

The couple said the girl was asleep inside a double stroller and got lost in the shuffle as their group of two adults and four children approached the ride, they told investigators.

When they entered the attraction, the father said he thought his wife had their daughter, while she thought her husband had her.

Comments (13) | Archive Link

Teen girl dies on Rock n' Roller Coaster in Paris

By Robert Niles
Published: June 26, 2007 at 8:44 AM
A 14-girl Spanish girl died yesterday at Walt Disney Studios theme park at Disneyland Paris.

The girl was found unconscious after riding the Rock n' Roller Coaster at the French theme park. Park employees attempted to revive the girl, but she was declared dead when an ambulance arrived.

French police are investigating and the ride remains closed.

The accident appears similar to an incident one year ago almost to the day on the Rock n' Roller Coaster at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Then, a 12-year-old boy was declared dead after being found unconscious on the ride. The boy was later found to have a congenital heart defect.

Comments (6) | Archive Link

Earth Quest Adventures?

By Mike Anderson
Published: June 25, 2007 at 11:22 PM
I recently saw an article in a local Houston community newspaper about a new theme park being planned near New Caney, TX (about 30 miles north of Houston). The park was originally to be called Dinosaur City and was to be a 50 acre "edutainment" center. No rides were mentioned when the first announcement was first made about 6 months ago.

The latest news as of 6/21/07 regarding this project is that the park will now be 150 acres, will provide 2700 new jobs, and cost $500 million to construct. The article also said that now the project will include roller coasters and water rides.

I can provide a link, but this is only my first post at this website and I don't want to violate any policies. So, I will hold off until the webmaster says it's o.k. to post the link. [Linking's fine. We just ask folks not to cut-'n-paste whole copyrighted articles. Feel free to add the link in the comments.-Ed.]

As a local who is still not over the loss of AstroWorld, this is really exciting news to me. I was hoping to get hear opinions about the article from theme park enthusiast like myself.

They are talking about it in some Houston based forums but I haven't heard any mention of the story in any theme park based forums.

Comments (7) | Archive Link

Faulty cable prompts shutdown at Carowinds

By Kelly Perazzolo
Published: June 23, 2007 at 10:25 PM
The Charlotte Observer is reporting that park inspectors at Carowinds closed the Drop Zone Stunt Tower ride later this week after inspection located a faulty cable. The inspection prompted by the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom June 21, 2007 incident reportedly found a cable that was "too thin". Inspectors on Friday morning ordered the ride to be shut down, however the ride had already been shut down by the park officials on Thursday "as a precautionary measure" after the Kentucky Six Flags incident. Park spokesperson could not comment on when the ride will reopen.

Comments (9) | Archive Link

Vote of the week: What's the biggest problem at theme parks?

By Robert Niles
Published: June 23, 2007 at 12:42 PM
Pick your single most significant concern from those listed below, or select "no worries" if you don't have any concerns when visiting theme and amusement parks.

And, as always, please feel welcome to explain your pick by using the comments link below.

Comments (20) | Archive Link

Teenage girl injured at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

By Logan Decker
Published: June 21, 2007 at 5:58 PM
Police confirmed that a 13-year-old girl lost her feet after an accident on the Superman Tower of Power free-fall ride at Six Flags' Kentucky Kingdom, in Louisville.

Officials said they got the call around 5 p.m. Thursday. Witnesses said a cable snapped and struck the girl at the ankles.

[Sorry for the editor's typos in an earlier version. Now updated with more detail. Accident also listed on the TPI Accident Watch. - Ed.]

Comments (24) | Archive Link

The longest wait in theme park history

By Robert Niles
Published: June 21, 2007 at 11:41 AM
The L.A. Times' Kimi Yoshino takes a look at the most gruesome wait at Disneyland -- the wait to get a Club 33 membership. (See article.)

The good news? Disney's adding tables to the club, allowing it to take maybe an extra 13 applicants off the wait list. The bad news? That wait list is already 1,000 people long. And Disney's not even letting people on it anymore.

The 500-member club is the oldest and most exclusive "premium" in the theme park industry, topping Legoland's $1,000 (soon to be $2,000) lifelong Ambassador membership and Six Flags' $250 one-day VIP experience. Pay $9,500 to join and $3,175 a year after that and you access to Club 33 for yourself and guests, as well as free admission to Disneyland on days when you dine at the club.

And, yes, I would join that wait list is a heartbeat if I could get on. And I'd pony up the cash immediately if given the chance to join. And, yes, I am fully prepared for you to call me an idiot now....

But you better not, 'cause if I do get in, I won't invite you to go with me. ;-)

Comments (5) | Archive Link

The 'Mr. Six' music is back: What's up with that?

By Robert Niles
Published: June 20, 2007 at 11:34 AM
I've been seeing new TV ads for Magic Mountain, here in the L.A. area, and was struck by the return of the "Mr. Six" theme music in the background. And I just got off the phone with someone who confirms that Six Flags has brought back the music in commercials and on "phone hold" music in other markets, as well.

How does the jittery, house-inspired theme so associated with Six Flags' previous "all extreme, all the time" regime fit with the company's stated new goal of becoming a more family friendly park?

Use the comments below to leave your impressions about Six Flags this season, as compared to the recent past.

Comments (14) | Archive Link

Vote of the week: Open or shut?

By Robert Niles
Published: June 17, 2007 at 9:39 PM
I'm starting a vote of the week, where I'll ask some theme park-related question that y'all can discuss in the comments.

This one's a pet peeve of mine, but we'll see what folks have to say.

FWIW: For those of you familiar with my background in stats, I know that these are garbage polls. That's why I'm calling them "votes," not polls, and using them simply as fun excuses for discussions. So have fun with 'em.

Comments (13) | Archive Link

Splash Zone?? More like Soak Zone!! Hydro-action Stunt Show at IoA

By Gareth H
Published: June 16, 2007 at 11:03 PM
At short notice to my long suffering wife, I decided to drag her, in 95 degree heat, to Islands of Adventure today.
Why? So we could check out the all new Hydro-Action Stunt Show, on the Lagoon.
We arrived at the lagoon with 15 minutes to go, every inch of the viewing area already packed with spectators.
We happened to stand just behind the Jurassic Park Discovery Center.
Now, signs everywhere were warning us that this was a splash zone, but being used to these signs at most parks we just though you mioght get a slight misting.

Anyway, the show started, a couple of fireworks went up and then out come 2 ski-boats towing (Can you guess?) a skier each. Great start. Over the jumps they went, a little flip and then a trip around the lagoon. Next came a couple of Jet-Skiers. Fantastic. Fast speeds, quick turns, BIG jumps betwwen wake creating boats. Very impressed.
A few more tricks performed by water-skiers, flips and turns & jumpa galore.
Then the real fun started.
Being in a prime viewing spot, with a commentator at this location (Another one in Marvel Island), it was a natural magnet for the talented jet-skiers.
They came over and decided to demonstrate their splashing skills. With a big audience it was no surprise that there were reasons they'd posted splash zone signs, but this was a big underestimation. The guy on this specific jet ski stood up, turned around and sat on the front, exposing the propulsion jet, then he revved up and it got wet. VERY wet. Everyone in the crowd got soaked to the bone. I'm not talking Popeye wet, I'm talking fire hose wet. A kid sitting on a pillar had to grab on for dear life when his Dad ran off to save his camera. Very funny!

The show continued, plently of drowned people watching, a few more fireworks and some spectacluar stunts and it was all over, way too quickly really.

Now, remember I mentioned my wife, Justine. Well she was complaining a little (Bless her) about being too hot, and how she wished she'd got wet. Well, as people were leaving we went up to the edge of the water and watched the jet-skier across the other side. Suddendly, he looked over at us and came over.
Lets end this by saying that the walk back to the car was a very uncomfortable , sticky wet mess and we both looked like drowned rats.
It was a spectacular show that needs to be seen to be apprechiated, and if you need a cooliong down this is the place to be.


Comments (1) | Archive Link

Busch Gardens ride tipped to become feature length movie

By Robert Niles
Published: June 14, 2007 at 9:12 AM
Hey, if Disney can do it....

A story in the Hollywood Reporter said that the creators of Busch Gardens Europe's 3-D ride Corkscrew Hill are shopping a feature script based on the attraction.

Visual effects innovators Jeff Kleiser and Diana Walczak -- who wrote and directed the ride for Busch Entertainment -- have taken the ride idea and extended it to a developed feature-length script. Plans would call for Kleiser and Walczak's Synthespian Studios to produce in partnership with Busch Entertainment. Kleiser and Walczak also would co-direct.

Kleiser and Walczak's visual effects credits include Clear and Present Danger and Stargate. Kleiser's resume also includes work on the 1982 groundbreaking effects film Tron.

Could this be the next Pirates of the Caribbean? ...Or the next Haunted Mansion?

Comments (4) | Archive Link

Universal steps up the competition with Disney

By Gareth H
Published: June 13, 2007 at 11:18 AM
As we all know Universal Studios, who over the past few years have lacked investment for the guests, announced that The Simpsons would be coming to the Universal Orlando Resort.
Then they announced the HUGE plans for a "Harry Potter Theme Park within a Theme Park"

Now it seems they plan on increasing their resort with a new Low Price hotel, to be built on the plot if land next to Islands of adventure.

This low Price Hotel would be aimed at the vacationer with a lower disposable income but who would still like to stay resort style.

This Loews resort hotel would have a planned opening around the same time the Harry Potter "theme Park" is scheduled to open in Late 2009, early 2010.

Comments (12) | Archive Link

Giving hope through a love of coasters

By Erik Yates
Published: June 12, 2007 at 8:28 PM
Last year a few members of IOACentral.com got together and did a good thing. We started Coasting For Kids....or more acurately, we continued Coasting For Kids. We started off by trying to do a marathon on Hulk....when that didnt pan out, we started doing volunteer work at a place called Give Kids The World. Its a great place for kids with Life Threatening Illnesses to forget about their worries and troubles.

It works on a completely volunteer basis, and depends on outside donations and volunteers to help keep the place running. Disney donates a lot of money and work to it, and so does Universal as they both worked together to build the Give Kids the World Village. Its kind of the starting point of IOACentral Radio......its where we all met, and found out we had a lot to say about parks and coasters.

That was just practice for our Marathon in which we raised over $3000 dollars for Make A Wish Foundation. We are eventually going to do it again, and we are going to do some more volunteer work for Give Kids the World Village....its a great place, and a great cause. And all of us who participated had never met before, but have since become the greatest of friends, with two of us actually embarking on a week long trip across the country together.....for IOACentral Radio related reasons, but still a year ago, we had never met each other.

The whole point is this:
One of our good friends in the coaster world, Mr. Clint Novak of In The Loop has started the Single Riders. Its an organization with the same goal as Coasting for Kids: Raise money and awareness for child organizations through our love of coasters, theme parks, and fun.

They are working together with Kennywood in PA to raise money for the Give Kids the World Village.

I am basically begging everyone to check it out, and if you can donate to a great cause. If you are in the area, and would like to help, there are ways for you to do that as well:

Comments (2) | Archive Link

Finding Nemo subs debut at Disneyland

By Robert Niles
Published: June 11, 2007 at 11:21 AM
Today's the day for the public debut of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland. Expect long waits for the first several weeks, as Disneyland's hundreds of thousands of annual passholders make the trip to ride.

I apologize for the lack of live coverage; I had planned to hit the park at the crack of dawn today and blog the first day experience. Instead, I spent part of the weekend in the ER after hacking my finger with a kitchen mandoline. So I'm at home, awaiting a doctor's appointment, and "Finding Vicodin" instead. Yea!

Not to leave you hanging, Kimi Yoshino's got the details of the ride over at the LA Times. And I trust TPI readers to add their impression in the comments below or on our Finding Nemo subs page.

Comments (4) | Archive Link

Disney World and its unions make a deal

By Robert Niles
Published: June 7, 2007 at 2:26 PM
Walt Disney World union members last night approved a new three-year contract with Disney. The deal will give workers four to five-percent annual raises, plus an enhanced pension plan and an agreement to cooperate on scheduling.

Workers rejected the previous proposed contract, sending union reps and management back to negotiations. But the new deal ensures labor peace at the world's largest theme park resort through October 2010.

Comments (3) | Archive Link

The greatest theme park press release of all time

By Robert Niles
Published: June 6, 2007 at 10:51 AM
Kudos to Disneyland for a press release that spins faster than an amped up Mad Tea Party teacup.

Let's get straight to the goodness, shall we?

In the spirit of Walt Disney's renowned ability to create magic, the Disneyland Resort is sprinkling some pixie dust on the calendar and virtually creating an "8th Day" in its operating week in anticipation of high demand for the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction, which resurfaces June 11 in the Tomorrowland Lagoon. The subs return as part of the ongoing Year of a Million Dreams celebration at the Disneyland Resort.

Starting June 11, the day the subs resurface, guests will be allowed to join the queue until official park closing and the subs will continue their voyages to find Nemo for up to 2 1/2 hours after park closing.

"We're very excited to bring back the classic subs attraction, which we know will appeal to guests of all ages," said Ed Grier, President, Disneyland Resort. "In order to meet what we believe will be very high demand, we're virtually adding an '8th day' to the week."

Disney's long had a policy that park closing time means queue closing time. If you are on line when the park closes, you get to go through the queue and ride.

So, decoding the press release, what Disneyland's really saying is... it expects the Nemo queue to be two and a half hours long... at midnight!

The "eighth day" is really just seventeen extra operating hours added to the Tomorrowland labor budget to handle the crowds without cutting the queue early. Of course, if Disneyland did, it'd just have to extend labor hours for the Main Street Guest Relations desk to handle all the ticked-off guests. ;-)

Let me take this opportunity to reiterate Robert's Rule of Theme Park Visits: Get there before the park opens in the morning!

Comments (8) | Archive Link

A preview of the new Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando

By Erik Yates
Published: June 1, 2007 at 1:22 PM
With all the hype going around Harry Potter, it seems that the fact that Universal has a brand new show was overlooked.

It seems like only yesterday that Universal Orlando announced that Nickelodeon Studios would be closing forever. I remember when we would all speculate on what would take its place. The rumors ran rampant from the Simpsons, to office space to even a new hotel. Funny how things play out. The Simpsons will be taking up residence at the former home of Back To The Future, and there are plans for two new hotels, or so it seems.

I have to be honest that I had mixed emotions when Universal announced that the Blue Man Group would be taking over the old building, and even more, it wouldnt be part of Universal Studios but part of CityWalk. How was this going to benefit a park that had pretty much single handedly turned me from a casual theme park goer, to an all out junkie?

Blue Man Group Theater

That question was answered as the old splats of green slime paint were covered up by new purple and blue splats of paint, with the faces of three odd blue faced men staring out over City Walk.

What was once a secret place where you could enter the park from behind the Hard Rock Cafe is now a wide open pathway with signs, flowers and benches. Its really surprising to see how far an empty plot of land has come in just six months. The side entrance is still there, but now its a lot more visible, as its right in between the Sharp Aquos Theater and Jimmy Neutron. As you make your way in from the Studios, you can see huge Blue Man Statues. At the right angle they are shilloeuttes against the Nickelodeon sign on the Jimmy Nuetron building, almost kind of paying tribute to the former occupants of their new home.

As I walked up you could see crews still hard at work on a few finishing touches, though the box office is fully operational. The only thing that remained of the old Nick building is a single orange handrail on the second floor. Entering the building, it really seems smaller than it is. A concession stand and gift stand flank on the left across from the theater entrance. The new scenery and tile in the lobby really gave the place a touch of elegance and made you forget that just about a year ago it was covered in slime and gak. Upon entering the theater, it kind of overwhelmed me as it was a lot bigger than it seems on the outside. The theater wasnt completely finished, but it still gave you an idea of what to expect.

After setting up the cameras, and figuring the best place to sit, it was time for the show. We were informed that it wasnt going to be the full show, but a set of three songs. The lights went down, and all you could see was the glowing blue of the faces as the three figures ventured out onstage. The furiosity that they played the drums, even when faced with splattering paint everywhere was breathtaking. The thing that surprised me was how intrigued I was at what the guys were doing with their emotionless faces. They seemed to have a curiosity about everything, communicating with their eyes and head movements. It reminded me of watching children discovering something for the first time and figuring out that even though it might have had one intention, its just as easy a new toy.

What we got to see was just a preview of the whole show, and I felt heartbroken that it was over. I wanted so much more, not that what was played wasnt good....it was just so good that I wanted more.

Looking around afterwards you can see several bizarre props that were not used. You couldnt help but to wonder what they're going to be used for....especially the huge white flex pipes tucked neatly in the rafters above.

I was really impressed, and I think that Blue Man Group is a fitting replacement for the Nickelodeon Studio.

For more information be sure to check out this weeks episode of IOACentral Radio.

Comments (10) | Archive Link

Keep reading: May 2007 Archive