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Beyond CaliFlorida: Help us out here, will ya?

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Published: April 2, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Mt Olympus – Bad news for the park. About a month ago a man fell from Opa, their indoor spinning coaster, and the investigation has determined that the cause of the accident was a malfunctioning lap bar. The man is in a coma with multiple issues, as well as potential brain damage. Then we find out that one of the people that rode the coaster before him had noticed that the restrain was loose and had to hold it the entire time she rode. Since when in this world did we become so self-involved that we can’t mention a potentially deadly situation to the people around us so that it can be fixed? The coaster was tested before the park opened, passed a series of tests and there were no problems with early rides, but at some point during the day, the restraint must have failed and no one bothered to mention it. I have been on several rides that I thought were potentially hazardous and mentioned them to the crew members. Did they cause a delay? Yes, they absolutely did. Did the crew members thank me for making them aware of something going wrong? Yes, they did. Has it caused a ride that I wanted to go on to close and exit everyone out of the queue? Yes, it has. And I would do it all over again, because I would rather have an inconvenience than to see anyone get hurt. Please look out for each other. We are only just getting the season started. If you want to, try this: Take your camera phone and film the thing you think might be going wrong, and then show the cast members. That way you get to keep the video as well as the thanks from the staff that you are trying to keep their ride safe. Let’s see if we can earn back a couple of points for humanity.

Walt Disney World – For an extra $2 dollars your car is now lovingly watched over by out-of-shape security guards and highly trained ninja squirrels to make sure that nothing could potentially happen to your car. They are also doing an extensive field test with trained mice who will slip into your car while you are in the parks and haul away all of the detritus that has been building up in the back seat since your road trip started. The current biggest delay is that they are trying to train the mice to leave all of the wanted objects in the car, which was easy enough to do in regards to food, but for some reason the mice are fascinated by anything resembling the Minions from over at the rival park. While the mice originally stole all of the Minion gear, the Disney trainers are trying to get the mice to just chew it up into strips, hence the delay. Your extra two dollars also allows Disney to cover your car with a thermal blanket that keeps most of the heat out of your car during the hot summer days, leaving the car wonderful and pleasant after your long muggy stay. Just kidding. You don’t get anything for your extra two dollars, other than the satisfaction in knowing that the money is not being used to help speed up how long it is taking Disney to put up new rides. $17 is now what parking costs. If the prices get any worse there, they are going to need to set up tables right outside of the parking lots where people can see if they qualify for a loan before getting anywhere near the park.

WDW – It’s always nice to see people at Disney trying to think outside of the box.


Las Vegas – High Roller, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, should be opening any day now. They have already turned the lighting package on and the wheel is performing test runs. While we have no confirmation at the moment, the speed of the testing seems to confirm that the wheel will go around taking about 30-45 minutes for a single revolution. So, while you are drunk and stumbling around Vegas looking for a really good vantage point for an epic protein spill, keep your eye open for the debut, unlike most other ride openings that we have grown used to, there will probably not be a free soft opening. Prices are still up in the air at this point, but expect them to be in the range of $25 - $50 when it opens. And don’t worry about losing your buzz, the cabin has a bar.

Universal Studios Singapore – The park has passed on putting a copy of Minion Mayhem in this park. My guess would be that they are still working on a way to fix the Battlestar Galactica roller coasters or replace them, while at the same time pondering a way to realize a Harry Potter land. While I try not to be helpful all that often, here is maybe a plan for fixing Battlestar Galactica without scrapping the structure. First off, fire Vekoma. They have had more than ample opportunity to fix this and seem to be unable to do so. Escort them out of the country and rip up their business cards (but tidily throw the pieces in a trash can because there are laws against littering in Singapore). You then have several options: you can call Morgan or Rocky Mountain Coasters, who both have a track record of taking bad coasters and turning them into really good coasters. If they don’t answer the phone quickly enough, it wouldn’t hurt to give Gerstlauer a call to see if they can fix the problem with a redesign of the coaster car. If this is a “melt everything down and start over again” situation, call B&M, Premier, or Intamin, and let them know that you were referred by Jeff of Theme Park Insider. If I get enough referral points, they will give me a discount when I go to install one of these babies in my back yard.

Universal Studios Hollywood – They are building the new Harry Potter Land at a breakneck pace. When I was there on March 19th, they made visible progress throughout the day, and now this new video confirms that it is barely recognizable from less than two weeks ago.


Universal Studios Florida – I wanted to share with you a construction update video that shows off where PotterVerse 2.0 is currently at.


Universal Studios Florida – While we are still not getting any further details about the coaster inside Gringotts, they are starting to leak more and more information. I imagine the line to get in is going to start forming in the next couple of weeks, so now is a good time to start tracking down the sleeping bags and figuring out where the kids hid the camping stove.


Roller Coaster Tycoon 4 – I did some digging and here is what I have found. Chris Sawyer is “closely” involved with the project, which is interesting because last I heard, Chris had sued Atari for royalties owed, had won, and then had sued again to actually get the money from Atari he was supposed to have received. The video and pictures are from the iOS version of the game that should be due any day now (early April). I don’t quite know what they mean by “premium download” but have to assume that it means that they are going to charge for the game and then have in app purchases, a combination that gains instant bad reviews for most other games that try that approach. The biggest change, other than the cartoony, non-realistic graphics is that there are no scenarios, no starting over. You start a park and that is the one you have to deal with. The Android version of the game is going to be released this summer. By the end of the year, they will have a PC version that they claim is completely different.

Readers' Opinions

From 24.205.127.148 on April 2, 2014 at 9:48 AM
dude about your comment relating to potential injuries, my lap bar came up on the RIPTIDE attraction at Knotts Berry Farm, CA. I informed an employee, but all they did was bag the seat up. They didnt even apologize! lol. but im glad to see an article about this. thank you. i could have been one of them
From Jeff Elliott on April 2, 2014 at 10:35 AM
oooooo.....I just reread the article and noticed how many typos are in there. Sorry about that. I worked a 15 hour day and then wrote this, so the brain was shutting down toward the end when I usually proof. Hopefully next week's won't be so messy...
From Melanie Howe on April 2, 2014 at 10:45 AM
This one may have broken a record for the number of times I laughed aloud maniacally at my desk at work. Ninja squirrels and camp stoves.....love it! Thanks, Jeff!
From James Koehl on April 2, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Don't worry about the typos. Glad you're back!
From Jeff Elliott on April 2, 2014 at 11:04 AM
So what you are saying Annette, is that it is perfectly okay for the next person to ride behind to get hurt because of an outdate sense of lack of rights for females. These are unfortunately the stereotypes that prove the rule. I would hope that safety of your fellow riders would be more important to us all than any insane preconceived notion that women should be silent.

Please, oh please, tell me we are way beyond outdated beliefs of the bad old days.

From James Koehl on April 2, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them.

In Internet slang, a troll (/'tro?l/, /'tr?l/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally[3][4] or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[5] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[6]

This sense of the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, but have been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, mass media has used troll to describe "a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families."[7][8]

Who do these definitions remind me of?

From Jeff Elliott on April 2, 2014 at 11:10 AM
The creatures that hide under bridges and eat billy goats?
From James Koehl on April 2, 2014 at 11:14 AM
That also ;+)
From Robert Niles on April 2, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Wow, I'm an idiot. Next time, I will try to remember to paste an edited version of the column onto the site, rather than my first rough cut. My bad. Made some fixes.

Oh, and I deleted a comment from someone whom I'm now about to ban.

From Nick McKaig on April 2, 2014 at 11:44 AM
There must be a substantial amount of cash flow with Universal right now, because they are building at a lightning pace in almost all of their properties.
From Rob Pastor on April 2, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Great to see the stalker/troll, or whatever the heck it was, is being banned.
From James Rao on April 2, 2014 at 1:11 PM
Jeff, when did the highly trained ninja squirrels get done with their coding work for Fastpass+? Or are they just taking on more responsibility with no extra pay?

Great stuff again, Jeff. Informative and fun. Thanks for taking time out of your busy life to provide a service for the rest of us!

From 108.13.149.27 on April 3, 2014 at 8:20 AM
The High Roller is open now. The cost is $25-$35 depending on the time of day. I'm surprised the cost goes up in the evening. The last thing I want to do is pay more as the night progresses to be stuck in a cabin for half an hour with 30 nauseous drunks.
From Kelly Muggleton on April 4, 2014 at 3:45 AM
I could actually picture the little WDW mice running to the car in search of Universal maps & tickets to make their nests with! :-)
Thanks for another awesome, very funny column.

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