Written by Jeff Elliott
Published: February 14, 2013 at 3:56 PM
Google Doodles – Today is an interesting mash-up of two different notable holidays. First and most important is the 154th birthday of George Ferris, so therefore the Google Doodle has been changed to spelling out Google with an amusement park and twin Ferris wheels for the two O's. Today also appears to be a holiday that extorts men into buying expensive gifts for the lady that they are dating right before they buy their plane tickets to go alone to some tropical paradise for spring break. What I don't get is that Valentine's Day is for men as well as women, but you don't see a run on Home Depot or Best Buy to purchase extravagant gifts for men… Anyway, the Google Doodle also contains a heart button that spins the Ferris wheels like a wheel of fortune and matches up two different animals, then gives you story boards about how the date went. It is actually pretty amusing. Check it out at www.google.com, but do that in a different browser window later, there is much more good information to follow here before you go.
BREAKING NEWS – Your editor interrupts for a late-breaking development:SeaWorld San Diego – Kasatka, an orca at the San Diego park, gave birth to a baby killer whale at 6:33 this morning. It's Kasatka's fourth calf and the sixth killer whale birth at the park.
Regardless, someone probably should mention to Kasatka that she's doing it wrong. Valentine's Day is when you're supposed to conceive the baby, not give birth. (Of course, now someone probably will tell me that an orca's gestation period is, like, 12 months, and I'd feel like a complete idiot. Whoops. Too late. I always feel like a complete idiot.) Now back to Jeff….
Aquatica San Diego– The new Aquatica park is hard at work on the site formerly occupied by Knott's Soak City. As someone who wrote a brilliant commercial only to have it watered down and dumbed down to the point of painfulness by noncreative types and horrific acting, I can complete understand where this type of concept came from. I think they missed the final steps in the production process where they gravely injure the actors and director and burn the footage.
SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Parks – The "show" is called Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation. It will merely be a sign over a stage that says "Show temporarily closed, stars on vacation." It won't actually feature any of the characters other than just in the signs, but the concept is pretty good and fairly cheap. The original show consisted of inviting members up out of the audience to punch the whiny giraffe, but those plans, while scoring high in customer satisfaction surveys, were quickly scrapped.
Universal Studios – I noticed something on the news in the last couple of days that seems to be somewhat encouraging. Comcast is buying the rest of NBC/Universal away from GE. This makes me think that they really like the idea of firming settling into the their overlordship of parks and studios. Something else that bothered me about it was how much money was being spent. Comcast doesn't just print money, unlike the government, it has to take money from someone else to buy things. So if you ever wanted to know why your cable rates are so high, just keep in mind that Comcast just spent 16.7 billion dollars (or $16,700,000,000) of our subscription money and then claims poverty so that it doesn't have to lower our rates, or quit charging us extra for the NFL Network, or stop throttling Netflix, or hire/train some better customer service people.
Islands of Adventure – There is a new possible ride addition rumor that is going around the circuit. I wouldn't mention it except for the fact that I get complaints if I don't at least mention every deep fanboy sigh that has to do with the Islands. Ready for it? King Kong is the latest in a series of possible new attractions that could come to Islands of Adventure. The ride would be tucked in right next to Jurassic Park and use the King Kong 360 3D ride film Universal Studios Hollywood is using on their tram tour, which if you have never ridden on it, contains aggressive dinosaurs (and a great big monkey, but I figured you already knew that part). File that one next to the Lord of the Rings idea. We shall see… and don't hold your breath.
Universal Studios Florida – Construction on Harry Potter continues, the large construction cranes have come down and work has shifted to the interiors and facades. We also hear that the supports for the Hogwarts Train have been completed and we should see the train tracks going in soon for that. Transformers is also cranking right along on its construction schedule with new lettering and decorations starting to show up on the outside of the building. Am I going to be the only one to miss Murder She Wrote and Xena?
Kennedy Space Center – While most people would have thought that being one of only three places in the country that feature an actual real space shuttle, the Kennedy Space Center has decided that it is also going to open an interactive Angry Birds themed attraction as well. And we wonder why the nation went into the toilet… Don't get me wrong, I like the Angry Birds. I just don't like being pandered to as I go a science exhibit only to hit over the head with kitschy pop culture. Why don't they open an video game arcade in there as well?
Six Flags Magic Mountain – Their new Full Throttle roller coaster is not only being named after an energy drink, but it is also getting its own theme song. I really hope that it is not something sung by Justin Bieber, 98 Degrees, or David Hasselhoff. Maybe it could be as cool of a theme song as the clip below.
Ok, I realize that the video is grating in all of the ways that theme park fans hate when it comes to non-themed rides, but it goes much deeper than that. First off is that the interviewer looks like he doesn’t care if the roller coaster is built or made into steel cans for the local Chef Boyardee spaghetti cannery. On top of that, the spokeswoman is so fake hyped about putting in this roller coaster that she makes a huge faux pas in the middle of the interview. She says, “You have to look at the park and say what kind of coaster do we want and where will it fit and how will it lay out.” What she doesn’t say is that the roller coaster is a 24 year old relic castoff from another park that didn’t want it anymore, and she doesn’t mention a single time whether or not anyone is going to care to ride the thing, noting that there are about a hundred of this type of roller coaster all over the country. Who gives a crap about the ride going over a path? I didn’t think that was a design element that packed people into a park. Mean Streak has a queue that winds underneath the track, but I am never going to ride that rough thing again. This doesn’t quite beat the out and out lies of the PR machine that Full Throttle has, but it is close.
Finding Nemo 2 – Disney has confirmed that Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brook, and Andrew Stanton are all on board for this new movie. Early rumors seem to indicate that the movie will be about Nemo figuring out where baby fish comes from after he accidentally wonders into a nudist beach, all while running away from a swordfish that runs a sushi stand, with a final chase seen that comically ends when the characters break through the walls of their film set and end up on the set of a western where the townsfolk are trying to save the town of Rockridge. We have also heard rumors that Turtle Talk with Crush will be closed for a couple of months while Crush films his bits for the movie.
Disney's Animal Kingdom – Disney is confirming that they are currently working on designs to bring Avatar to the park. According to the math, it could be opened in 2018 as they cite five years from design to finished, with construction starting this year. But in my world that means that it should be opened by 2016 since they announced Avatar in September of 2011. And based on Universal's schedules, it would be done in 9 months. What is taking so long?
What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
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