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Beyond CaliFlorida: The beating of the tell-tale heart

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Published: May 7, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Update from Robert: Here's a first look inside the Gringotts' Bank queue, from an NBCUniveral promo video just uploaded to YouTube:

ICYMI - Walt Disney World announced several new projects for Disney's Animal Kingdom and an official opening date for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (May 28), while Universal Studios Hollywood raised its one-day ticket price to match Disneyland's. It's all in Robert's Insider Update from last weekend. Also, the Disney World free dining offer Robert mentioned is now available to the public. Details available on Disney's website.

Bosque Magico (Mexico) – Premier rides has been selected to build the Zombie Ride for this park. It will be the first magnetically launched coaster in Mexico and have the highest inversion in Latin America. When this is finished, I would consider our debt paid in full for Cinco de Mayo, which is a holiday celebrating Mexico’s victory over the French, both of whom were trying to get involved in the United States Civil War. I don’t understand what the big deal is about defeating the French, considering Jerry Lewis was able to take over France with no talent or weaponry. From the way I hear it, you could clear out most of France with a three-day-old baguette while speaking English at the locals very slowly and loudly. Maybe we could get back to celebrating Mexican Independence Day on September 16, when it really is.

Six Flags Great America – It would seem that Goliath is running over budget by just a little bit, because it is the only reason I see why the park would increase their parking fee to $25. The good news is that Goliath seems to be worth every penny of extra expense and is slated to open May 31st. The coaster looks to combine the intimidating-to-look-at with the beautiful-experience-to-ride.

Knott’s Berry Farm – Work continues on Calico Mine Train as well as the newly revamped Camp Snoopy both of which will open on June 14th. While I am excited to see what the reception is to these revamped areas, I can’t help but hear the beating of the heart under the floorboards in the building right behind the Calico Mine Train, almost as if something was buried and forgotten back there. It seems like the sound is insistent, reminding us of an indoor, air-conditioned, family ride that needs to be brought back to life. Why not make it a mash-up of the two former rides? “Bear-Y Tales In the Land of the Dinosaurs.” It would show the bears running frantically from the massive carnivore reptiles. A scary dark ride! Perfect!

Nickelodeon Universe (Mall of America) – In June, the park will open side-by-side zip lines that start near the top of the Dutchman’s Deck ropes course and should extend out over the amusement park. We are also receiving word that the mall will play host on the third floor to a traveling Star Trek exhibit, joining Barbie and CSI. Interesting bedfellows, those. Although one could imagine that CSI is investigating Kirk after Barbie goes missing.

Busch Gardens Tampa – Despite what we heard late last year to the contrary, it looks like Rhino Rally is going to open back up sometime in May. Maybe this is to cover for the problems that Falcon’s Fury is still having with the hydraulic arms breaking off. Go to 1:44 in the video to see the problem in action.



Thorpe Park – Angry Birds Land is in the final stages of construction before it opens late this month. Included in the new expansion is Angry Birds 4D where Time Voyagers used to be, King Pig’s Wild Hog Dodgems, and Detonator rethemed to Detonator: Bombs Away. I’m sure Mario is wondering why he hasn’t got his day to shine in a theme park. I mean, it’s not like appearing in over a hundred different games over 34 years and being the star of the best-selling video franchise of all time means that much. Even Bowser got his chance in a Disney animated movie, but not Mario. It probably doesn’t help that Mario is more recognizable to children than Mickey Mouse. And now these Birds….these &^%^* Birds…

Holiday World – The park is hosting a free enthusiast’s day on May 15th. Aside from getting on their wonderful collection of coasters, at 2pm, there is going to be a tour into the woods under the Voyage roller coaster, right where we have a feeling they are working on something secret. If anyone in the area wants to go scope it out for us, you need to have a membership card from one of the major coaster clubs to get in. Please check with the park for further details. I don’t know exactly what Holiday World is doing back in the woods, but I have seen movies and know what happens there. Make sure you keep a well-limbered pair of running shoes on. You don’t have to be the fastest, just faster than the person next to you.

Mt. Olympus – It looks like they have sold OPA and are moving on. No word yet on what will replace it, but I am still holding out for zombies and paintball guns.

SeaWorld San Diego – Congratulations go out to Kalia, a nine-year-old Killer Whale who is pregnant. The park says that Kalia, who still hangs out with her mother, Kasatka, has had “relations” with male whale, Ulises, and was artificially inseminated. That is the official story…what I have been hearing from the evil sea otter population that this was a bit of a prank that they played one night while running around the park unchecked freaking out security guards and looking where the Dippin’ Dots were stored (apparently the only thing worth doing in the park after hours). When the baby whale is born looking like a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale instead of a Killer Whale, we shall know the truth. You’ve all heard of Ligers and Mules, well, a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is the same thing.

Florida Politics – After receiving a $10,000 check from the Disney company, Sen. Tom Lee, who blocked a similar measure last year when Disney financially supported his opponent, sponsored a bill this year that upped the penalties on theme park ticket fraud. The first violation of selling bad theme park tickets would be a first degree misdemeanor and a second violation would be a felony. Rick Scott, the governor, is expected to sign the bill, presumably because he has previously received his kickback, excuse me, campaign contribution, from the Disney company. In other news, crime syndicates in Florida have been caught exchanging theme park tickets for drugs. I would normally make a joke about all of this, but sometimes it is just too easy. Feel free to write your own joke below.

Shanghai Disneyland – There is a rumor that is currently circulating, and it is coming from a new source, so I can’t immediately tell if it is fact or crap. They claim that the additional $800 million going into Shanghai Disneyland is for an elaborate Star Wars Land. They point out that Star Wars Episode 7 and the Shanghai Disneyland park are going to both open in December of 2015, theorizing that Shanghai would have newly designed Star Wars attractions based on Episode 7. While it sounds cool, it may be too good to be true. I would also think that if Shanghai were to receive brand new attractions based on SW-E7, that there would be some movement here in the States to do something similar, but I have yet to hear anything. Maybe Tatooine is the next land in the World Showcase at Epcot. It wouldn’t take much landscaping, just a couple of truckloads of sand.

Readers' Opinions

From Melanie Howe on May 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM
I don't see alcohol promoters and college-aged barflies going for a change from Cinco de Mayo.... Yelling Quince Seis de Septiembre at the top of your tequila-pickled lungs is just too hard. And it's way too long to print on signs and promotional flyers :-)

Got a kick out of your report on Disney's Florida legislative success. You've got a great handle on how things work in our poor state :-P

From 74.202.118.163 on May 7, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Jeff, I SO hope you are right about the re-opening date for Calico Mine Ride at Knott's Berry Farm. A while back they changed the completion date on their website from June 13, 2014 to "Summer 2014" so I thought that meant I was probably going to miss it, because our Knott's day is scheduled for June 17th. If you're right and they do reopen on June 14th, we'll get to ride it. That would be very cool! Crossing fingers.

From Robert Niles on May 7, 2014 at 12:34 PM
June 14 is the official date for the Knott's reopenings. (We reported that last weekend on the Insider's Update, too.)
From James Rao on May 7, 2014 at 5:05 PM
Very funny stuff, Jeff. You get an A+ just for repeatedly making fun of the French!!

Am I the only one getting more and more underwhelmed with Falcon's Fury as each new video is released? And now this....another troubled Busch drop tower project. Ouch.

From 72.239.216.40 on May 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM
...a nintendo theme park.

super mario. the legend of zelda. metroid. kirby.
oh my god pokemon.

why are we not funding this?!?!

From Tim Hillman on May 8, 2014 at 7:16 AM
Great article, Jeff!

I wonder if the opening scroll for the next Star Wars movie will look something like this:

A short time ago, in lands near and far away....


It is a period of unprecedented construction in the theme park industry.

Universal/Comcast theme parks, employing the magic of the boy wizard,

conjure up a huge wad of cash and using the money to re-make themselves,

win their first victory against the Sith beancounters of the Disney Empire.


During the battle, rebel Imagineers defected to Universal and built IOA

and transformed USF and USH while Disney’s best ideas went to Asia and

Europe, and it is rumored that the ultimate franchise, Star Wars, beloved around

the world, will be first built in mainland China instead of the United States.


Realizing that not everybody who goes to theme parks pushes a stroller

and wants to ride in a boat or an omnimover, CEO Robert Iger summons

Jedi Imagineers Scott Trowbridge and Tom Fizgerald to Orlando

via the Disney corporate jet in an attempt to revive the moribund Florida theme

parks and restore respectability to Disney World.

…… but will the dark side triumph?


The saga continues……

From Gabriel Schroll on May 8, 2014 at 7:09 AM
I have to give it up to Universal. With that set that Al Roker was walking through in the video, I think they've really put in some effort to recreate Gringott's Bank. Seriously, that looks to be really well done, and I'm very impressed!

From Anon Mouse on May 8, 2014 at 7:30 AM
Universal and NBC have a collaboration. No different than Disney and ABC. ABC is such a tool of Disney. Did you see the many product placements to benefit Disney? Dancing With The Stars had a Disney night. It was ridiculous, but fun, nonetheless.
From 204.99.250.45 on May 8, 2014 at 8:49 AM
The goblins in the Gringotts Bank looked amazingly real. The Al Roker did not.
From Rob Pastor on May 8, 2014 at 9:21 AM
Tim: Sooooo funny. Great satire.
From Tim Hillman on May 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM
It's Jeff's fault! His column brings out the worst in me! (Actually it's the residual effects of the heat stroke I suffered last Sunday from the lack of shade in New Fantasyland while I stood outside the SDMT and pretended to look like a likely candidate for a soft opening ride.) ;^)
From N B on May 10, 2014 at 9:46 AM
Not to mention EVERY single show aired on ABC has an episode where they go to Disney.... Just waiting for the Grey's Anatomy - Disney Edition. Surprised they didn't work it into Lost as well.

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