The BLOG FLUME -- The Wide, Wide, World of Theme Parks

We kick off Round Two of 'Persister' with a new entry from John Franklin.

Written by John Franklin
Published: October 13, 2004 at 10:12 PM

1) Amusement Park Manager tries on a new suit

Dateline: Pigeon Forge, TN

Relatives of June Carol Alexander who flew out of the Hawk at Rockin' Raceway Amusement Park and died filed lawsuits against the park, its manager, and the manufacturer of the ride. They are seeking a total of 96 million dollars in damages. And that ain't hay.

Last week I related how the manager was indicted on second-degree murder and reckless homicide charges. Now the dead woman's relatives are out for blood money.

2) Dracula is staking out a home.

Dateline: Bucharest, Romania

The government of Romania has just announced a new theme park named after the count that likes to sink his teeth into his work. The park will be located in Snagov, a lakeside resort just north of Bucharest and will include a golf course (with stakes instead of holes?), and other leisure activities for adults and children. It will cover 1,135 acres. I guess even Romania is after blood money providing they don't get heartburn due to too many stakes or get a royal pain in the neck.

Hey, Romania, how about a restaurant on how to prepare steaks for vampires? Or would that be a wood-working class?

3) A Ride flies out of Paramount's Kings Island.

Dateline: Cincinnati, OH

After about 70 years in the Cincinnati area, the historic Flying Eagles will fly out of Kings Island and into a new undisclosed park. PKI invites enthusiasts for a last flight on Sunday, October 17. It is reported that the ride had to be removed to make way for the entrance for the new Italian Job Stunt Track coaster. I guess we can now say, the eagles have flown the coop.

October 9, 2004, a section of the "Psycho Path" trail that was set up for the annual Fearfest event caught on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured. I guess you can say PKI really burns me up.

4) Disneyland tries on three new suits.

Dateline: Anaheim, CA

The family of Marcelo Torres that died and four other passengers that were injured because of a derailment on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (September 2003) filed a total of three lawsuits on Tuesday, October 5.

The lawsuits accuses Disney of failing to provide enough training for ride operators, of cutting costs so deeply that maintenance on rides was dangerously neglected, and creating an "atmosphere of intimidation" created by Disney management that kept the fatal train running even after the operators heard unusual noises coming from the train.

This sure sounds like criminal negligence to me and on-the-job harassment if proven in court. What do you think? I hope Eisner like wearing his three new suits.
I guess everyone is out for blood money today except PKI burns really burns me up.

5) They are at it again!

Dateline: Burbank, CA

First, Disney was fighting over profits over a silly ole bear named Pooh. Now, Disney is fighting over whether or not Peter Pan is still protected by copyright here in the US with London's Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The hospital is to consult lawyers next week to investigate whether a children's book published by Disney in America infringes the hospital's long-held ownership of the copyright of J M Barrie's Peter Pan.

The hospital claims that Peter Pan remains under copyright until 2023, even though it runs out in Europe in 2007 and is already in public domain in Canada. Disney claims Peter Pan is already in public domain. I guess even Eisner has a Peter Pan syndrome.

Isn't it funny how Eisner pushed the Copyright Extension Act of 1998 to go into law to protect Disney's copyrights over Mickey Mouse and crew; only to claim that it doesn't apply to Peter Pan. Eisner likes this law when it works for Disney; but hates it when it works against Disney. Will Eisner and Disney ever grow up?

And for a story that, I bet, will scare even Kevin Baxter. Disney has in the works, not one, but two sequels to Toy Story. And, this is the scary part, NO Pixar involvement. Maybe the first movie will be called Woody on the Range. And the second one will be called Brother Buzz. Or maybe Buzz's New Grove. Or how about Woody the Ape Man. Or Woody and Buzz? Or Woody and Buzz on Treasure Planet? Let's just hope this is just a nightmare that we can all wake up from. I mean, can you really imagine Disney doing such beloved characters like Woody and Buzz WITHOUT Pixar. That is like having a five-year-old Nemo paint the Mona Lisa.

For those who want to know what happened with Disney's Animation Studio, you can read an eleven-part article here called "The Rise and Fall of Disney Animation."
Well worth reading. Hint: Eisner is responsible.

Also, read "Where Do All Those Bad Ideas Come From?" for what caused the decline of Walt Disney Imagineering. Hint: Eisner is responsible.

And finally, there's a two-part photo essay called "Tomorrowland, Then and Now."
This essay compares the New Tomorrowland 1967 designed by Walt Disney at Disneyland with the New Tomorrowland 1998 designed by Pressler. So, people, which one do you think is better?

6) The Buzz is that there will be new Frontiers and Space to Find Nemo!
A MAJOR Disneyland Update! Some great news for Disneyland fans for a change!

Dateline: Anaheim, CA

The Costumes are returning!
Expect a departure from the generic area costumes favored by Pressler and Harris to costumes unique to each location. Slowly, cast members in Outdoor Vending locations are exchanging generic costumes for more area-specific costumes. Expect more unique costumes to appear at each attraction as well. The word is that when Space Mountain 2.0, Enchanted Tiki Room, and Buzz Lightyear opens next year, expect the Cast Members to be wearing unique costumes specifically made for their attractions.

The Attractions are COMING! The Attractions are COMING!

Expect the Matterhorn and Columbia to return by Thanksgiving.

A new brake system for the Mad Tea Party has been approved which will allow this attraction to return to its wild formal glory by Easter.

The Enchanted Tiki Room will reopen by Easter with a whole new and rebuilt show room. The program is reported to be the same as the original show with possible minor updates and changes. And, no, the version from Florida is NOT coming (The Under New Management show) or the Tokyo show either. Also, expect the tarps to come down around the building since the exterior work is almost complete. Expect to see a whole new thatch roof on the building!

Buzz Lightyear is so far ahead of schedule that you can expect soft openings starting by Easter.

Space Mountain 2.0 Track is now complete! But, because there is still so much to be done inside the dome, don't expect it to even soft open until late October or early November 2005 at the earliest. It won't open until it's finished.

Expect to enter Fantasyland through Sleeping (not Sleepy) Beauty Castle by Veterans Day. Seems like the rehab of the castle is about finished and the tarps are about to come down.

Great news for the monorails. This attraction not too long ago was about to go down for the last count and headed for Yesterland (what with all the current monorails breaking down right and left). Now new monorails should be making their appearance at Disneyland by Spring 2007.

The future of Star Tours will be decided around June 2005 after the Happiest Celebration on Earth has started.

The Disneyland Railroad is about to add another engine, #5 the Ward Kimball. Expect to see this by Easter. Also, the fabled Lilly Belle coach is scheduled to undergo restoration as well.


Nemo is about to ride a sub. Monsters become Superstars. Hollywood Backlot is about to Rock N Roll. And there will be new Frontiers for you to explore.

Note: All of these attractions are still in the planning stage. None of these attractions have been approved yet by Eisner unlike everything that I have just reported.

During Spring 2006, Monsters take over Superstar Limo at CA Adventures! The attraction is expected to use the same vehicles as Limo. As it's currently planned, the new ride would be themed to a trip through Monstropolis as Mike and Sully head out to look for Boo who is lost in the city. Wouldn't it be better if Mike and Sully were looking for a new Disney CEO instead?

With the lowered budget for Monsters, a new more ambitious E-Ticket thrill attraction can start to grow around the new ride. Expect a radically re-themed version of the Rock N Roller Coaster ride system to appear for a Spring 2007 opening. This will NOT be just a clone of the WDW attraction. Expect to see the old Millionaire building to either be torn down or used in this attraction (no word yet as what is to become of this building).

While over in Tomorrowland, Nemo takes a swim. They are still testing the old Submarine Voyage attraction with a Finding Nemo overlay. Expect this attraction to reopen in Spring 2007.

More new Frontiers for you to explore. This new Frontierland Expansion is being overseen from start to finish by Matt Ouimet. The Expansion will contain not one, not two, but THREE NEW ATTRACTIONS! The attractions will include a new E-Ticket (probably thrill), a snazzy family-friendly D-Ticket, and an atmospheric C-Ticket rides. Plus you can add in new stores and food location. What all this add up to is a MAJOR EXPANSION for Frontierland. Expect this area to open by fiscal year 2008 or 2009 (starting in October 2007 or 2008). You can expect the area behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to be the site for the expansion where the Big Thunder Ranch is now located.

It looks like Matt Ouimet has restored the magic at Disneyland. Now, will somebody please find someone like him to restore the magic to ABC Network, Disney Family, the Animated Studio, the Live-Action Studio, and the Disney Stores.


7) ABC needs an Extreme Makeover!
NBC still has American Dreams!
CBS is Still Standing Without a Trace!

Dateline: TV Land

It has been reported According to Jim, that ABC needs an Extreme Makeover. Rodney said that ABC has hired Boston Legal to seek a Benefactor because ABC is just Lost without Millionaires. George Lopez, the man that came up with 8 Simple Rules to run a network, said that with a little Hope and Faith, he could turn the network around. George went on to say My Wife and Kids have become Complete Savages when all of the wives of Disney's managers became Desperate Housewives because ABC was doing so poorly. He also admitted that Eisner was Less Than Perfect to anyone with 20/20 eyesight during PrimeTime Live. And that is Life as We Know It he concluded for the NYPD BLUE. It is true that George still wishes for the Happy Days when everyone was Bewitched over the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

Joey, the Father of the Pride, said NBC still has American Dreams about going to places like Las Vegas and LAX if the Fear Factor doesn't get in the way. Joey said he became an Apprentice with a little Will and Grace when he worked the Third Watch while doing a Medical Investigation in the ER. So Joey had an ideal to bring a little Law And Order back to NBC while Crossing Jordan with Scrubs. How Joey misses taking his Friends out for a little holiday Cheer and visiting Fraiser in Night Court.

Dr. Vegas said that CBS was Still Standing when he came across a Cold Case dealing with a Joan of Arcadia that vanished Without a Trace. He said he was a real Survivor because he has solved many cases like when he had to travel to New York to solve the case of Two and a Half Men (he never did find the other half), or to Miami when everyone was Judging Amy, or to Las Vegas when Everybody Loves Raymond. Of course, there was the time he had a 48 Hours Mystery that he had to solve in 60 Minutes in the NCIS and CSI Clubhouse. So he told JAG to Listen Up and help him. He still misses the good old days of being a Beverly Hillbilly at Petticoat Junction while being surrounded by Green Acres and Mr. Ed and My Favorite Martian.

And that is the way it is in TV Land this week--or is it weak?

Short and Sweet:

Dateline: Glens Falls, NY-Grandfather Dies!
Charles Wood, known as 'the grandfather of the American Amusement Park," died of cancer at the age of 90 on September 30, 2004. He founded Storytown USA (later renamed Great Escape and sold to Six Flags) in 1954 one year before Walt Disney opened Disneyland.

Dateline: Boise, OH-There's another player in town!
Great American Family Parks, Inc. has raised $429 million dollars to become what it describes as a "market leader in regional theme parks" by way of acquisitions. Anyone know what Six Flags wants for Magic Mountain? Maybe Great America will make Magic Mountain great again.

Dateline: Florida-The Gardens are open again!
Cypress Gardens will soft open on Fridays to Sundays beginning November 19. During the soft opening period, the rides, botanical gardens, and craft village will be open, but the nature and arcade areas will be off limits to visitors.

Dateline: Internet-Disney is all over!
Go see the Walt Disney Family Museum at for a lot of articles and short films about the history of Walt Disney Productions and attractions at Disneyland. You can now find articles about the history of the Monorails, how the four attractions that Walt created for the 1964 NY World's Fair came about (ie Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, It's A Small World, the Skyway and Primeval World, and Carousel of Progress), background on the Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. A great site for the history of Walt Disney Productions.

Accident: Wednesday, October 6, 2004-Australia
At Royal Show, a strong gust of wind blew a marquee into the path of a Wave Swinger ride, injuring ten riders. Accident is under investigation.

Accident Update: Tuesday, October 5, 2004-Kentucky Apple Festival
The Paintsville, Kentucky, Police Department reports a carnival worker was charged with alcohol intoxication. He was operating a Himalaya ride that derailed as reported here last week. Now you know how safe carnivals/fairs are.

This is my second and last Blog Flume for the time being. Now it is up to you, the readers (and Robert Niles) to decide: do I have what it takes to write this column? All that I can say is that I had a BLAST doing these articles and hope to do more for this site.

I know what a flume is (as in the flume water rides). But what is a BLOG? Sounds like you take a pinch of BOG and mix it with an inch of LOG to get BLOG. I got it now. It's a log in a bog or a BLOG or is that a boggy log that goes down a flume. Right?

To borrow a quote from K. Baxter (remember him?), that's my two cents. What are yours?

Adios until we meet again. J. Franklin

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on October 13, 2004 at 10:16 PM
"Blog Flume" is a play on "Log Flume" and "Blog," or Web Log, which this column kinda is -- a journal-like collection of entries on news stories and vignettes, in this case about theme parks.

When I asked Kevin to write a new blog for the site (a la the journalism industry's famous Romenesko column), he came up with the brilliant "Blog Flume" title.

From Kevin Baxter on October 14, 2004 at 1:18 AM
Okay, I wanted to do this before the next round, but I thought there was another contestant...

When you are submitting a piece of writing you hope to be accepted for publication, the most important thing (after writing WELL) is FORMAT. Not one person vying for this job followed the format I used for two years. It's not impossible, considering Ben was able to follow it without me ever explaining it to him.

Then again, maybe it isn't all that important as Robert didn't follow the format either, and we worked on the damn thing together! That said, there have been a few people who have created a format I find too irritating to even bother reading. I'm not going to name names, but the original format was created for a reason: ease of reading. Reading shouldn't be a chore.

From Jason Moore on October 14, 2004 at 5:01 AM
Sorry John, but it just seems like you're trying too hard. Your writing needs to be more natural and relaxed.
From Robert Niles on October 14, 2004 at 12:10 PM
I dediced to let people go with their own formats, and not so much editing, in an effort to let people see how candidates would do on their own.

Folks are free to use whatever format they wish, but as Kevin said... it's gotta be readable.

(Oh, and we did have a couple candidates bow out, so Round Two started a bit earlier than I had planned.)

From Robert OGrosky on October 14, 2004 at 1:08 PM
I dont think he was tryng too hard. I think he has to be more concise/not as long winded on his explanations of the link he is providing.
But he does offer alot of info on various theme park topics which is good.
From kyle sussman on October 14, 2004 at 1:52 PM
I think your great! You obviously put a lot of time into this piece of writing. I also like the fact you took the two pennies thing from Kevin, that should become a ttradition for all blog flume writers to come on TPI.
From John Franklin on October 14, 2004 at 8:07 PM
You guys seem to be claiming some parts of my posts are unreadable. Ok, which parts?
If you're refering to the TV Land post, that is not even a real news item. With all the fuss Kevin Baxter was making over the networks' series last week, I thought I would remind everyone what series are really being telecast now in, I hope, a clever and funny way.
But the problem with trying to be witty, is that some people will think you're only half way there.
Kyle, about the two pennies thing, that should be up to Kevin Baxter to decide who uses it. It is somewhat of a trademark for him to end his articles. Therefore, my stance is that it should be up to him to decide if other writers can use it. That is why I credited it to Kevin Baxter.
From Robert Niles on October 14, 2004 at 8:33 PM
Well, Kevin didn't use that at the end of his Flume columns. He uses it at the end of his "Pennies from Kevin" column. So you've got plays on "pennies from heaven," plus "my two cents."

Basically, no one does puns like Kevin. I don't even try....

From John Franklin on October 14, 2004 at 9:12 PM
Well, Robert as the saying goes: You Ain't seen nothing yet. (Yes, I know that is bad grammer).
I've been a punster from way back and I'm just getting started here. Or have you thought about my TV Land posts yet?
Many of those statements have double meanings. Not only am I poking fun at the networks, I'm also reminding people what series are actually on the networks.
Or did you get the first statement I made?
ABC needs an Extreme Makeover.
If you read my post here carefully you will find a lot of puns. (Or would that be an understatement?)
From mark walker on October 15, 2004 at 6:43 AM
There's gonna be a war here, I just know it!
From steve lee on October 15, 2004 at 9:12 AM
fyi - the Flying Eagles attraction at Kings Island is going to Carowinds, making this the second year that Carowinds has excitedly debuted hand-me-downs (i.e., Stealth/Borg Assimilator).

Oh, and good catch on the "grandfather" of amusement parks passing away. I kept trying to remember to mention that myself, but I also kept forgetting the newspaper article at work.

From Michael Patalano on October 15, 2004 at 8:20 PM
I am not blaming this particluar article, but I am sick of people not giving things a chance. Don't ASSume that TS3/4 will be bad just because Disney is making it. Also, everything is not Eisner's fault. Where was R. Disney when in his department, films came out like Atlantis & Treasure Planet, which are good movies but did so bad at the box office?

Finally, not a big deal, but in your TV segment, it is not called "Life as We Know It", but "life as we know it"

BTW: I don't think it was hard to read at all.

From John Franklin on October 15, 2004 at 8:38 PM
To all readers of this site:
I was not even planning on doing a Disneyland update in this article since I did one last week. But, with Al Luntz reporting major expansion plans last Tuesday, Oct. 12, I felt I had to include it here.
I know about information overload and do admit this article was too long.
A typical Blog Flume from me in the future would include3-4 major headlines, 2-3 short and sweet items, and a short mention of rides being built if I become the regular writer.
But what do you think of Disney doing 2 Toy Story sequels WITHOUT Pixar?
To Kevin Baxter, my format is mainly the same as yours with slight modifications.
Kevin, you made a big deal of the Disney lawsuit over Winnie the Pooh, what do you think of the Peter Pan case now?
Michael, sounds like you never saw these sequels from Disney:
Cinderella 2
Lady and the Tramp 2
Jungle Book 2
Return to Neverland (aka Peter Pan 2)
Little Mermaid 2, etc.
Whereas none of these movies were bad, none of them measured up to the standards or the quailty of the original.
Let's face it people, did Lion King 2 measured up to Lion King? NO
Did Cinderella 2 measured up to Cinderella? No
My only concern is that Toy Story 3 and 4 will be more like an Emperor's New Grove or a Home on the Range or (Heaven Forbid) a Teasure Planet than to Toy Story or Toy Story 2 (both of which are great movies).
From Kevin Baxter on October 16, 2004 at 1:04 AM
A Flume should be as long as it needs to be. If there are six interesting stories, there should be six commentaries. If there are two, there should be two. Don't add stuff that would make the Flume boring. And don't take away stuff if it going to take away from the thrust of the story.

John, as for your format, I just have problems that the thing that stands out most are the links. This is YOUR column and the links should not be the focus. Plus, it makes it very hard to figure out where stories are ending and new ones are starting. I love titles, not just for that reason, but because it gives a person the feeling they are reading a bunch of snippets instead of a novel. People are lazy on the internet!

None of this was a comment on the writing at all, just that ease of reading thing. And no more pennies stuff!!! It's MINE!!!!!

From John Franklin on October 16, 2004 at 10:34 AM
Kevin, you're right in a couple of areas.
I do have titles for each story but not in bold type like you do.
As far as boring items, that is a matter of opinion. What you might find boring, someone else might find VERY interesting.
As far as the pennies thing is concern, I said two cents anyway--NOT PENNIES.
By the way Kevin, I do use titles. I went back and checked the email word pad. I now know how to change type size, change color, how to do hyperlinks, underlining, use bold type, etc.
Kevin, I wished you would have spoken up sooner and made these comments on my first article. I do listen to constructed critism and do correct my mistakes.
From Derek Potter on October 16, 2004 at 11:05 AM
I can appreciate all the news, but that was a rather long read. Not that long is necessarily bad, but when it seems like it won't ever end....

Kings Island sure has struck a sour note with local fans and enthusiasts with the removal of the flying eagles. One of those fans is me. The ride may be old, but it was one of the best and most popular in the park, and it was one of the few left that people were allowed to "snap". I'm pretty sure that this was a corporate decision and not a park one, because PKI had to know the value of this ride, and there were plenty of places that it could have been moved to in the park. I can't imagine this ride being nearly as popular at Carowinds as it was at Kings Island, especially if they ban snapping.

This is the second ride that PKI has removed in order to build the Italian Job coaster. The antique cars were removed last month in order to make room for the ride, and evidently the Eagles were taken out to build the rides entrance (gimme a break) All I can say is that it better be good...

From mark walker on October 17, 2004 at 11:24 AM
No offence John but I think you should have properly thought about this report. I think it's boring (maybe because I didn't read it) and it's nothing compared to what Kevin done.
From John Franklin on October 17, 2004 at 2:52 PM
Well, Mark, if you didn't read the article, then you can't say it's boring. Or have you ever heard the old saying: you can't judge a book by its cover?
And how can you say it's nothing like what Kevin has done if you didn't even read the article?
And, by the way, I'm not Kevin.
From luis gonzalez on October 17, 2004 at 3:03 PM
im not really sure what i just read but it was not the blog flume. the very nature of a blog is to be concise, but this was as far from it as you can be. the format was also not very well executed, making for a very taxing and confusing read.
when i click the blog flume i expect a quick run down of the days important and interesting news. this report was akward and overstuffed with "news items" that just dont belong in this column. those are the "pennies from luis" lol
From Kevin Baxter on October 17, 2004 at 5:19 PM
Lord, I don't want this to turn into a insult festival.

I didn't say YOUR Flume was boring, John. I said each Flume should be as long as it needs to be without being boring. If that means six articles, then six articles.

I did mean to mention this stuff before the second round, but Robert never told me the second round was starting. I did it early enough to where I allowed you enough time to go back and reformat though. It's probably too late now. Sorry.

From J. Dana on October 17, 2004 at 7:16 PM
Thick skin, folks, thick skin. Don't take any of the comments personally. We're supposed to let Robert know what we think. Some people are deliberately mean-spirited. They'll die old, bitter, lonely people.

By the way, I'm blogging tomorrow's Blog Flume, so that means I know I'm painting a big, fat target on my butt. So be it. Just remember, no one's doing this for the big bucks...we're all doing this because we have an intense love and interest in theme parks. I'll check in with ya tomorrow and defend my remarks. Discussion is good.

From John Franklin on October 17, 2004 at 10:53 PM
J. Dana, you got that right.
You and I are doing this because we want to do it, not because Robert is paying us the BIG, BIG $$$$$.
Futhermore, people, not one of us writers here is another Kevin Baxter either. None of us are as sarcastic as he is.
It is true that Kevin will continue with his Pennies From Kevin column as well. So, he isn't going ANYWHERE.
Kevin, Robert had us contestents email him the articles, so I can't find a way to modify my article on the site. Although, I did send Robert a revised reformated article with a request to forward it to you. If you didn't receive it, please send me your email address, and I will send a copy to you direct.
From Lisa Jones on October 18, 2004 at 12:00 AM
Thanks for the information on the Mad Tea Party. I can't wait for Easter! I've missed the tea cups.
From John Franklin on October 18, 2004 at 12:07 PM
Lisa, just keep in mind, the work on Mad Tea Party SHOULD be done by Easter if not sooner. The Cups were originally slated to go under rehab in mid September until management realized that the Matterhorn was going down as well. If both attractions went down together it would only leave a small work space between the two attractions. And they didn't want to force people to shove their way through or to go around the Tea Cups near Alice in Wonderland or fore them into Frontierland. Note: the walkway between the Subs Lagoon is closed right now as well as the Sleeping Beauty Castle. So, the Tea Cups rehab was post poned. I believe they are looking at Jan. or Feb right now.
From luis gonzalez on October 18, 2004 at 12:46 PM
i know what i wrote sounded harsh, but i dont think there is anything to gain from sugar-coating my opinion. though my review was not favorable, i believe that it was fair and constructive. i understand that these blog flumes are done out of love but my fellow readers and i have come to expect certain things from the blog flume and this entry simply did not cut it. im sorry if i offended the author, but thats what i think.
From Lisa Jones on October 18, 2004 at 10:28 PM
John, thanks for the additional information. We have a trip planned for late November and did not know about all this additional rehab. (I guess I should be paying closer attention on TPI!) I appreciate the feedback.
From John Franklin on October 19, 2004 at 10:24 AM
A quick update for Space Mountain 2.0, It may reopen in time for soft openings by June 2005. See for the reasons why.

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