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The Return of: From the Trenches of Amusement……September 4, 2012

An attempt at news….fortified with your daily allowance of snark….

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 5, 2012 at 9:08 AM
Let me start off with an apology and then a plea.

First off, I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get another one of these articles written, so much has happened in the last month that I have taken off, and I will attempt here to recap the highlights. I have been dealing with a newborn son who is now 6 months old and still as happy and mild as any kid I have ever met. We just finished TPA4, which took much more time than I thought it would. I am now 82,000 words into my novel and if I can ever come up for air, I might actually complete it and post some of the less insidious/profane parts here. And I have started my own company which leads me to….

Secondly, I am one of the creators and founders of a brand new application that we have just launched on Indiegogo over the weekend. The name of the application is DotGon. It is a file security system that allows you to control your files after they have left your computing device. You can set how many times, for how long, and when someone can view a file, and future versions of the application will allow you to set a single person who is allowed to view the file as well as change your mind after the file has been sent. This is a potentially revolutionary piece of software that wrangles in the wild west that is currently most peoples’ internet experience. If you deal in secretive files, or just want to know that once you break up with your current boyfriend/girlfriend your private pictures will not be posted for all of the world to see, please think about following the below link and throwing us a couple of dollars to get the servers turned on.

DotGon on Indiegogo


Note: Keep in mind that the rest of what follows is a humor article, if you want dry news, do the research and figure it out on your own…..we aim to amuse here…..if you have questions about what part is news and what part is humor, please feel free to ask in the talkback below……I may or may not answer…..but some of the other readers may set you straight…..

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The Disney Casting Scam: I know I posted something about this last year, so here is the follow up to the original. Let me paint you a picture. Disney is hosting huge cattle/casting calls where they hit a major metropolitan area in order to find local talent for their different programs. No matter how bad the audition is, you are invited to the callback audition which takes place in Orlando over the course of a week. Once again, no matter how bad the call back audition is, you will keep being called back to do further auditions, stringing these kids along into thinking that they are the next greatest Disney sensation. Unlike a callback where the company is actually interested in you and pays to have you flown out to wherever the callbacks are, the Disney Casting Scam requires parents to pay for your entire trip, where they are encouraged to stay at one of the more expensive properties on site so that if they need the young person for a short notice reading, they are available. What this really is, could be defined generously as expensive acting camp for a week, and while Disney may actually leave open the door of considering to hire the absolute elite kids, they wind up inviting several thousand kids to participate, and so far as we noticed, didn’t even bother to continue the pretense of it being a casting call. What it also does is completely screw up the vacation of all of the other people involved, because at any moment your young “actor” could be done and need a parent to come get them, or need them to go into some kind of dance or acting training right about the time you get to the front of the line at Space Mountain. In the interest of your sanity and your vacation, if you want to be considered for an acting job at Disney, do the following (in order): 1. Never go to the cattle calls in your city. 2. Get involved at your local theaters, 3. Audition for everything, 4. When you get a role, work your butt off on being the best person on that stage, take classes and private tutoring if need be, 5. Find, audition for, and get parts with regional theaters that pay union wages and get involved in the union, 6. Get an agent, 7. Audition for movies, Broadway shows, Off Broadway shows, and, yes, finally Disney…..with a 5-10 page theater/movie resume in hand…….and then MAYBE you might get on one of their shows. Having your parents scammed into buying you a DisneyWorld vacation that you wreck is not the way to do it……hard work is the way to do it. Once you become an adult, there are other ways of getting roles, but I don’t think Robert would be too happy if I outlined the specifics about that on his website.

Dorney Park – On September 14th, Dorney Park is allowing their middle managers and accounting staff to take a day off and visit the park. They are calling it Zombie Invasion II. If you would like to go to the park that day, it would be wise to dress like a zombie so you don’t disturb the natural tendencies of the Dorney Park office workers…..unless you really want your brain sucked out of your head like a Slurpee.

Disney Studios Paris – Four years after originally coming up with the idea, Ratatouille is finally going vertical and has started to look like how USF looked three days after they had the initial idea to install Transformers.


RATATOUILLE : La nouvelle attraction de... by johan_production

Universal Studios Florida – We finally have some tentative opening dates for Transformers: it is going to open last weekend. Actually, it just feels like that, it is actually going to open next year at this time, September 2013. The Coaster Crew has a nice video showing the latest construction updates, showing Transformers, Despicable Me, Potter Phase 2, IOA Hogwart Express, and sleeping Brazilians.

Six Flags Great America & Six Flags Over Texas – Well, Disney does what Disney does, Universal does what Universal does, and Six Flags does what Six Flags does. So after all of the cool updates from Disney and Universal, I now get to report that Six Flags Great America has raised their parking fees. This is getting pretty ridiculous, the parking fee is half of an admission ticket….at $22. When is it going to end?? Possibly when the parking fee is $125 and the season pass is still at $54.95? Do these idiots realize that it is now cheaper to take a taxi from the nearest subway than to pay the parking fee? Raise the price of admission/season passes if you want more money. The only people who don’t care about the parking fee are the teenagers that get dropped off by their parents….and that is not the people you want invading your park. But I am not the one in the suit and tie in the corner office, so what the hell do I know?

Worlds of Fun - ……and Cedar Fair does what Cedar Fair does…….and next year the water park will no longer be a separate ticket even though they are adding their largest expansion to the water park ever in the guise of a 6 slide tower. Dinos Alive is still in the rumor mill, although nothing official has been said yet.

Cedar Point – While this no secret at this point, Disaster Transport is now just a disaster soon to be swept up and thrown away. Soon we will start getting footers for Disaster Transport 2 (codenamed GateKeeper).

Silver Dollar City – I am okay saying that I am wrong, but forgive me because the stats behind Outlaw Run sound like what a fanboy would think was awesome after spending too much time in a hacked version of Roller Coaster Tycoon, but would never work in reality. But apparently Rocky Mountain Coasters knows something that the rest of us don’t. What I do know, however, is that Outlaw Run is going to be cheaper than a Windseeker, and less painful than the Mean Streak.

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Six Flags Magic Mountain – It is unclear at this point if Full Throttle was named after the energy drink or the 1995 Tim Schafer video game. What is clear is that Magic Mountain is going to have to raise their parking fee quite a bit to pay for this steel beastie. And it is nice to see Magic Mountain make the effort to recycle by using the old monorail tunnel.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas – While having a name that sounds like something my 6-month old son might play with, the Iron Rattler looks like it is going to be the new ride to beat next season, with all due respect to Transformers, Gatekeeper, and Full Throttle. What is it with Rocky Mountain Coasters and barrel rolls this year??

Six Flags St Louis – Protests are being planned for Six Flags St. Louis against the poor excuse of a new ride in the form of a cast off Boomerang coaster from Six Flags Over Texas. The campaign is called “Save the Grass”. So be sure to make up a couple of signs and join the fun. Bring plenty of eggs, although they have requested that we leave the empty beer bottles filled with gasoline at home. (Editor’s Note: please, please, please, don’t harm anyone or anything at this park……and if you do, don’t wear your TPI shirt)

California’s Great America – The park just unveiled its brand new coaster for 2013, called Gold Striker. In an effort that makes the Ratatouille ride look like the Transformers ride in way of speed, Cedar Fair has finally decided to not shut down the park, or sell it, but to actually invest in it. Amazing. Billed as the tallest and fastest roller coaster in a two block area of Northern California, it is oddly enough also the shortest and slowest roller coaster in the same two block area with the most inversions, even though it doesn’t have any at all. I’m starting to get really cranky with the pretentiousness.

Kings Island – Now that Son of Beast is coming down, we can expect something big to go back up in its place and be ready for riders in 2014. I sent Cedar Fair an email asking if TPI members can bring marshmallows and have the location ready for new footers in 24 hours. They have yet to respond.

Knott’s Coaster Farm – Perilous Plunge is no more, having taken its final rider this last weekend. What was going to go up in its place was supposed to be HUGE, but now we are hearing new rumors saying that the new coaster might be a little more modest sized. If you see a rep from Togo walking through the park surveying the site, please let your local ACE representative know so they can call in a hit…..ahh….not that we would ever do something like that…..because stuff like that is not cool…..ahh….just let the ACE rep know so we can take care of the situation…..ahh……take them out for a coffee…..something like that. Maybe we might get Bear-y Tales back.

Gah……what parks haven’t I mentioned??

Elitch Gardens – Elitches is going to be building the world’s largest imaginary dome over the entire park so that they can keep the park open for the entire year, and then inside the imaginary dome, they are going to build the largest imaginary coaster the world has ever seen, with a first drop so tall that it stops halfway down and lets people out for a break. And next to the imaginary roller coaster is an imaginary…….dang my park sucks……..

Shanghai Disneyland is going to be a little delayed because they are having problems trying to dry out the land before they can star pouring foundations.

WDW Magic Kingdom – The 7 Dwarves coaster is going vertical.

Epcot – Instead of investing in a new ride or a new pavilion, the park is screwing up a ride that everyone already likes.

Knoebels – Flying Turns looks like it may be getting ready to start serious testing to open for next season (although we have definitely heard that before).

Kentucky Kingdom has a new bid from Ed Hart to reopen the park……that they are going to ignore.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach is getting a Wallace and Gromit Ride.

Thorpe Park is getting a hotel made out of shipping containers.


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ATTRACTION of the WEEK

Pooh’s Hunny Hunt @ Tokyo Disneyland

We are now taking nominations for next article's Attraction of the Week....please post your ideas below...

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As always, the real information in From the Trenches of Amusement is brought to you by the letters “A-T” and “S” (Amusement Today and Screamscape)

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Create My Caption - In the discussion thread below, post your best caption(s) for the following picture lovingly borrowed from “F*** Yeah Face Characters”.

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If you know of anything I missed…..first rides, interesting trips, unused skeeball coupons, or fresh smelling rumors, please post below and let us know.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Dominick D
Posted September 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM
Caption: What happens when you let Belle take over story time.


I think next week's attraction should be Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

From Tony Duda
Posted September 4, 2012 at 2:35 PM
Caption: (Belle is thinking) Doctor Who is right, the best weapon is books.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 4, 2012 at 4:24 PM
Great Adventure, Great Adventure, wherefore art thou, Great Adventure?

That's not a caption, for those wondering.

Was surprised the Safari redo wasn't touched on. For those who don't know, guests will no longer be able to drive their own vehicles through GAdv's Safari. It will become Safari Off-Road Adventures, featuring military-style vehicles driven by employees. Included with park admission, it will feature an animal feeding area, and possibly (oh, it's Six Flags..better make that "probably").some upcharge attractions, including ziplines over the animals. I believe this is all a prelude to expanding the ride park into the Safari grounds over the next few years, once suitable homes are found for the many animals to be displaced.

From Carrie Hood
Posted September 4, 2012 at 6:37 PM
Ahh Jeff, I've missed your special brand of sarcasm and wit.

I don't know, doesn't SFGAdv own most of the damn land out there anyway? I suspect they own most of the lakefront if not most of the area considering I think that was in the purchase deal for the park originally.

From David L.
Posted September 4, 2012 at 8:31 PM
"Sorry, Aurora, Ariel, and Snow, y'all will be sleeping/discovering-things-with-nonsense-names for quite a while..."

You should highlight some more obscure attractions around, maybe one of those looping backyard coasters or haunted houses at the generic fair?

From Andrew Dougherty
Posted September 4, 2012 at 8:47 PM
Outlaw run is using those restraints and inversions? This is defying the laws of gravity!

From N B
Posted September 5, 2012 at 2:49 AM
Hi Rob, I have a question about the Disney scam you mentioned. Is Disney actually setting these up or is it another company just trying to sell vacations?

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 5, 2012 at 2:53 AM
^^ "Rob?"

From Dominick D
Posted September 5, 2012 at 5:19 AM
^^N B, his name is Jeff, not Rob. Secondly, that was just a joke.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 5, 2012 at 6:38 AM
Disney is doing it themselves in their own name.

My wife's half-sister participated in one of these scams.....so I have firsthand knowledge of most of it......and no, that was not a joke......seriously, be very wary of anyone promising you the world without the work....

.....if it was a joke I would have skipped right to the punchline....and not spent 10 minutes of your time explaining what happens at these things....

From Rob Pastor
Posted September 5, 2012 at 7:23 AM
Beauty is reading: "The WDW Expansion Plans" manuel co authored by Eisner & Iger(Igor)...

From Brian Emery
Posted September 6, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Republican National Convention – Most were not listing to the fool’s on stage…

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 6, 2012 at 2:02 PM
I think the word that you were going for was "listening".....and yet it was probably funnier with the misspelling.....

You will find out one day to fear anyone who thinks they can spend your money better than you can.....

From Derek Potter
Posted September 6, 2012 at 6:32 PM
Kings Island should do a Steve Wynn/Vegas style demolition on SOB and extend an invitation to the fans for a party. They could fire lasers from the Eiffel Tower, Windseeker, and Drop Zone at the same time and detonate. You don't think people would come? I'm starting to wonder about Ed Hart as well. Is he just a glutton for punishment? Also, the Iron Rattler will be a winner. Looks like the original first drop is back, and so glad to see them making use of the structure.

I love the irony when someone tries to wax intelligence with error filled sentences. Jeff is also very right.


From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:58 AM
Derek said: "I love the irony when someone tries to wax intelligence with error filled sentences."

So do I. You DID mean to type "intelliGENT,"...right? :)

From James Rao
Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:53 AM
We need to find out if the Rocky Mountain Coaster folks are a publicly traded company! Everywhere you turn they are fixing and building awesome wooden coasters. I hear the Boss at SFSTL may be next....

And I won't even touch the political undertones emerging in this thread except to say that ALL these politicians are just rich guys arguing with other rich guys about how to spend the money of others (as Jeff noted). The high minded pursuit of what is best for "my fellow man" exemplified in films by Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra left this world a long time ago. Picking a side in this debate is like having to choose between syphilis or gonorrhea. *sigh*

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:56 AM
@ Derrick

Ed Hart is the one who drove Kentucky Kingdom into a world class amusement park. It was a labor of love for him. That is why he is fighting to get it back, he knows what the formula is to triple the attendance in 5 years. So it is also something that could have a significant profit in it for him as well. But the fair board is either complete idiots, or people who just don't like being talked down to by someone who knows what he is talking about. Either way, Ed Hart is the guy for the job, he knows where the bodies are buried, he has done this once before, and frankly he is the only one willing to do it. Based on the documentation that I have seen, I wouldn't do business with the fair board even if it was with someone else's money.

……and you guys are in the wrong thread to start bringing in the grammar police…….I know there are probably a hundred errors in the main article…..

@James
I heard about The Boss as well, but it is still early in the rumor cycle......I wonder why Six Flags has got a lock on the Iron Horse system? Seems like it would be perfect for Mean Streak....

From James Rao
Posted September 7, 2012 at 7:19 AM
There have been rumors about Timber Wolf at Worlds of Fun and GhostRider at Knotts as well - both Cedar Fair parks. But I too wonder why more companies are not jumping all over this Rocky Mt solution. It is a proven (and cost effective) method for breathing life into beloved classic coasters that have seen better days!

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:31 AM
I don't know about cost effective......The New Texas Giant, I thought, I cost between 10-11 million.

From James Koehl
Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:33 AM
What would it cost to build it new with the new updates compared to the original price and the new updates?

From Derek Potter
Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:16 AM
I'm well aware of who Ed Hart is. He built a nice place before Six Flags ran it into the ground. I believe though this is the third time that Ed Hart has tried to get Kentucky Kingdom back since it has closed, and each time he's run into problems with the fair board. Holiday World, probably the best company for the job, also backed out of a deal because of the fair board. The setup with Kentucky Kingdom looks kind of like this

A)Operator takes almost all of the financial risk, but doesn't have complete control of his product, therefore the profit margin is already limited.

B)Fair Board assumes almost none of the financial risk, but has their hands in critical portions of the operation through rules and regulations, therefore hobbling the operators ability to make money

C)Park can only marginally improve attractions, because of rules and regulations, and limited profit margin.

C)Fair Board reaps rewards if park is successful, but doesn't share the losses if it isn't. They'll be in line to collect at the first sign of success, but will never ever share the risk. Therefore, weighing the pros and cons, potential profits and costs...the venture is risky at best. Operator backs out when they figure out the fair board is the problem. In the end everyone loses...the public, the operator, and the fair board.

It's a fantastically perfect example of what federal government control does to business. They try to tell you how to run it through rules and regulations, sending costs sky high, and then they want to collect 35% of your revenue...money that would have gone to expansions, improvements, and hiring more people (therefore expanding the tax base and the economy). Instead that money is split between lawyers and accountants finding the loopholes, and wasteful federal spending on programs that accomplish little more than damaging a system that would work fine without most intervention. That my friend, is what Jeff is talking about, and that's why the real fools were in Charlotte, not Tampa.

I'm sure Ed Hart could resurrect that place, but at what cost to him? There's a good reason why people aren't lining up to run this place, and it isn't the economy or lack of market. I just don't understand what he thinks has changed since last year.

James I think it's only a matter of time before a lot of the old Dinn Corp/Custom Coaster woodies still in existence get the Texas Giant Treatment. When the ridership numbers come in, parks will start making the call The expense couldn't possibly be as much as the alternative of a completely new ride.

From James Rao
Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:24 AM
@Jeff Cost effective versus tearing down the existing structure and building something brand new as both James K. and Derek already asserted. Also, it is much cheaper to build a wooden structure with steel track like Outlaw Run than an all-steel coaster.

@Derek You have to think Ed Hart is hoping the Fair Board will finally just give up and turn control over to him for a realistic piece of the pie and not the extortion-like levels of cash they are expecting today. It is better to get 10% of something than 35% of nothing - well, at least for normal folks. Politicians, on the other hand, may not agree. ;)

From Brian Emery
Posted September 7, 2012 at 11:27 AM
Sorry for the Misspelling. I was typing fast in a small window while “Working”…

I will now type Listening 500 times as my penance.. Or maybe I will cheat and just do a Copy and Past 500 times….
Listening
Listening
Listening
Listening

From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 7, 2012 at 12:23 PM
But...but...but I only count four.

Maybe you should also type the word "paste" 500 times.

From James Koehl
Posted September 7, 2012 at 8:58 PM
@James Rao- I really was just wondering what the cost comparison would be. I have no idea. Jeff, you must have this info someplace in your Big Book of Roller Coaster Facts.

From Derek Potter
Posted September 7, 2012 at 9:28 PM
@James. That's the only answer I can think of, that the board will finally give in and just let the experts work their magic. Something tells me though that it just won't happen. They haven't been capable of rational thought so far, why would they now?

I can't say I blame Mr. Hart for trying though. After all it was his creation and it was a very successful park at one time. Speaking from personal experience, it's tough to see a great thing you worked hard to create get wrecked by someone else because of poor vision and bad management. It's like giving the keys to your prized car to somebody only to have them crash it.

From AJ Hummel
Posted September 7, 2012 at 10:28 PM
As far as the Rocky Mountain treatment is concerned, there are two possibilities...

Iron Horse track is what New Texas Giant and Iron Rattler use, and results in a significantly different layout. However, the result is the ride is now a steel hybrid instead of a wood coaster because the wood track is completely replaced with steel beams. Large coasters such as Mean Streak, as well as those with uninteresting layouts would probably benefit from this.

Topper Track is a replacement of the top layers of wood with a single steel beam. This is the track that is being used on Outlaw Run. I don't believe any park has done a complete replacement using this track, but several coasters (such as SFNE's Cyclone and SFOG's Georgia Cyclone) have sections of it. This likely wouldn't result in a significantly different layout, and is probably the better option for most of the CCIs as they generally have good layouts and are just rough.

As far as price goes, RCDB states that Texas Giant to New Texas Giant was a $10 million project. To give a comparison, this is roughly equal to, or slightly more than, the price of a brand new GCI coaster (Apocalypse was $10 million, Prowler was $8 million, American Thunder $7 million, etc.) according to RCDB.

From N B
Posted September 8, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Too many cocktails when I posted... apparently. There are casting scams involving companies using the Disney name.... I looked it up and there are lots of complaints. It's just a way to sell vacation packages.

From James Rao
Posted September 8, 2012 at 4:48 AM
Also AJ, if you go with a new wooden coaster instead of an Iron Horse or Topper Track solution, you have to add in the cost of tearing down the old ride, which I seem to remember is in the $2m - $3m dollar range (incidentally, that multi million dollar cost is the only thing keeping the tragically defunct Ozark Wildcat SBNO).

Food for thought: do we need to consider the possibility that the days of the traditional wooden coaster are numbered? I mean, if you add in the upkeep that comes with regular wooden coaster retracking and renewal after just a few years, it seems the hybrid coaster is really the best option going forward.

Maybe it is too soon to be certain... we need to see how long some of these Rocky Mt rebirths last before they close up shop at places like GCI and the Gravity Group.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 10, 2012 at 7:03 AM
@ James

That is a very good question.....

I think that with Gravity Group and GCI out there making spectacular wooden roller coasters and with the new upstart Rocky Mountain Coasters making actual wooden coasters as well as "toppered" wooden coasters that the days of good wooden roller coasters are not behind us.

What I think are behind us are the gargantuan wooden roller coasters that tried to break records. Without some kind of hybrid system (like the Voyage) I don't think there is any way to keep a high speed wooden roller coaster ridable past about 3-4 years. You can even make the comparison between Hades and The Voyage, where Hades is only a year older, but is much rougher. I think expensive TLC on a fast moving wooden coaster is the only thing that will keep it ridable. The larger traditional wooden coasters are just too rough at high speeds.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM
@ James (continued)

In fact I have grown to like GCI wooden coasters better than the large Gravity Group beasts, only because they have figured out a way to pack a shorter, slower roller coaster with all of the out of control elements you would expect out of a larger coaster. And they are much cheaper.

But that still doesn't take away from the spectacularness that is The Voyage....but I also think that Holiday World does a better job than most taking care of their coasters.

The old school of thought from Six Flags where you build it and then ignore it until it is ready for paint every five years doesn't fly with the big coasters. But, to Six Flags credit, they are the first adopters of the Iron Horse system and currently eyeballing The Boss at Six Flags St. Louis for the possible next coaster to be operated on.

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