We began the tour in the parking lot, where they had recently tested special effects. Some of the track and other assorted pieces had arrived. There were quite a few highly banked pieces in the group, and contrary to the concept video, the track is painted dark gray...not yellow. They decided that bright yellow track stood out a little too much, and could take away from the other elements.
We then made our way to the entrance gate, where the marketing staff gave us a little thank you speech. They thanked us for helping them become the number one seasonal park last year. They then told us about a couple of the small improvements that were being made for next year. First, the Eiffel Tower, which had noticeably been sandblasted, will be getting a much needed coat of paint. They also told of plans to spruce up the parking lot by adding trees, landscaping, and such to the giant bland slab of concrete that is currently there. Their words...a more "Disneyesque" parking lot.
It was a little depressing walking back to the construction site. The giant fountain and pool was drained and everything was empty. It looked like a ghost town, and the fact that it was gray and 25 degrees outside didn't help matters at all. I wasn't expecting to see much done, as the whole state of Ohio has been hit with snow and very heavy rain since before Christmas. I'm sure that they were probably behind schedule a bit due to the flooding and melting snow. The site was a mudpit, but footers were being poured and they were working on the parking garage section of the ride. Other than that, it was pretty much a large pile of dirt I noticed on the walk back that the Preston Tucker's burger joint was missing a lot of pieces This leads me to believe that it may possibly be rethemed for next year. Also, the last Paramount Park guest survey featured commercials, one of which advertises a "Magic of the Movies" show.
Some details that were shared about the ride itself. There will be a section of the coaster that simulates driving down stairs, and the cars will "skid out of control" around the corners in various parts. The cars will come equipped with audio effects, complete with subs under the seat to simulate revving engines, bumps, etc. There will be three fire effects, some explosions, and a helicopter that will shoot at you. A little water will be involved, and there will be a couple of launch points on the track. They didn't really elaborate on the actual launch speed, but said that it will be family friendly. This is clearly PKI's most ambitious themed project to date.
Walking back towards the gate, I got a tidbit of information from the marketing staff that underlines PKI's agenda with themed/family entertainment. Their three most popular rides in 2004 were
The Racers- A classic wooden coaster
Scooby Doo's Haunted Castle- family dark ride
Adventure Express- A well-themed Arrow Mine Train(which was built over 10 years ago). I was initially very surprised when I heard this one because of it's age, but when I thought about it, if more families are coming, than it makes sense that this family coaster would see a resurgence in popularity. What's funny is that in the 11 years it's been open, I had never really seen a big line for it until the last couple years. To me, that information highly reinforces PKI's new found status as a family theme park.
The grand opening of the Italian Job Stunt Track is set for May 19th, but there will be testing and rehersal throughout the month of April. They will open the ride to the public for a few select days before it's grand opening and survey riders for possible improvements/adjustments of the effects and such. All signs point to a great ride for PKI in 2005.
This sounds like it could be a great ride if everything works as expected. I just hope that they have the load capacity to handle the handle the huge crowds that they'll probably get for it.