July 30, 2017, 11:08 AM

It’s hard to stand out in the theme park industry, especially for smaller regional parks which lack the budgets or franchises of the top dogs. And yet every once in a while, a small park will knock it out of the, well, the park, with a major headliner attraction that puts them on the map. Think of the Cannibal coaster at Lagoon in Utah.

“Theme Park Apprentice: Extreme Park Makeover” now sends you deep into the regional trenches, to design a standout headliner attraction for an obscure park. The attraction itself can be anything you like, a thrill ride, a family ride, a show, or something else entirely. The key is to use an independently-owned regional park, so nothing from chains like Merlin or Cedar Fair or Six Flags, to say nothing of Disney or Universal. Need help finding such a park, let us know. And keep in mind realism. The local “Pitch ‘n’ Putt” won’t be making the next Flights of Passage, but it still could make something really outstanding with the right creativity!

All proposals are due on Saturday, August 5th, at midnight site time. Late proposals without an acceptable excuse will see their point totals reduced.

Judging criteria remains the same as before.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Replies (15)

August 5, 2017, 8:35 AM

Just a reminder to competitors: You have one day to fine-tune your proposals!

August 5, 2017, 9:24 AM

Quick Question, would Darien Lake be a possible park to add this attraction in? I know it's going through a sale right now that's transferring it from company to company, but I don't think it's a part of a designated chain. Another quick question, would Elitch Gardens work? I have a fantastic idea for that park

August 5, 2017, 10:29 AM


Either Darien Lake or Elitch Gardens would be perfectly allowable. Go for it!

I know Elitch is owned by a chain, Premier Parks, but they're not a top player. The only parks to avoid are ones owned/operated by Disney, Universal, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, or Merlin. Anything else is free game!

Edited: August 5, 2017, 11:52 AM

I sincerely apologize, but I will not be able to complete this challenge this week. May I please use my real life pass for this week? Again, I apologize, and hopefully be back in full force this next challenge.

August 5, 2017, 3:28 PM

Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Adventure

Coming to Darien Lake in 2018 is the all new, state of the art Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Adventure. This state of the art attraction by Sally Corp. in partnership with Oceaneering is sure to be a world class dark ride that will put Darien Lake on the map

Location: Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Adventure will be replacing the extremely mediocre Grizzly Run Raft Ride, and this new attraction will certainly be a great fit right there, and will blend in seamlessly with the Forest themed area

Entrance: The entrance is set up to look like a rural woodsy campground. Tents, Camping Gear, chopped wood, an ax, lanterns, and of course a classic Fire Danger Today sign with Smokey Bear plastered on it, all litter the entrance. An extremely large three-dimensional sign reads Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Adventure

Queue 1: Immediately after entering through the entrance, you’ll see 6 large switchbacks, which will be used as overflow queue on peak days. These will probably be used 2-3 times a year maximum, and the area around this wooden cattlepen contains some more camping theming and some oversized signs about the history of wildfires

Firehouse Queue: After walking past Queue 1, you’ll turn the corner and immediately see an extremely large two story brick and mortar firehouse. Upon entering, unless the line is under 20 minutes, you’ll immediately be directed up the stairs into the second story. The oversized upstairs queue contains 3 distinct rooms, Sleeping Quarters, Supply Room, and Fire Marshall’s Office, which all contain an insane amount of high quality theming. Each themed to their respective spaces. After finishing your adventure upstairs, you’ll be directed to walk down the stairs where you can enter the even more spectacular Firehouse Preloading Queue

Wheelchair Access- If someone in your party has a wheelchair, there is a room off to the side right inside the entrance where they and 2 members of their party can wait for the rest of their group to finish the upstairs queue, before meeting up with them again at the bottom to continue on

Firehouse Preloading: The very large first story of the firehouse contains simple switchbacks with top-quality theming on either side of the switchbacks. One of the sides is heavily themed to a (fake) active Arson Investigation with the classic chalkboard with a million pictures and rope all tying them together. The other side looks more like a supply storage area with authentic firefighting equipment and maps to accompany loads of high-quality theming

Vehicle: The vehicle is decked out to look like a Fire Truck. These motion based vehicles from Oceaneering contain 2 rows of 3 people, with a single lap bar for the entire row. In front of each lap bar are “Aqua Blasters”, one for each person

Loading: Due to the fact that this ride has a conveyor belt continuous loading system, a grouper will assign groups of six either Row 1 or Row 2 to sit in. This area has very minimal theming, with simply a sign that reads Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Dispatch in addition to a couple other minimal themes to show you that this is where the firefighting vehicles dispatch from. The futuristic looking metal doors that read SMFP (Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol) slide open, and the vehicle breaks free from the slow moving loading dock and slides forward.

-I will quickly break down every scene in the ride now as well as the transitions that happen in between them-

Opening: The Firetruck Gently rolls along past the forest sets mixed with screens when suddenly a voice fizzles to life on the speakers in front of you. It’s Smokey Bear!! He welcomes you to the Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol, and let’s you know how happy is he that you decided to tag along for their scenic tour of the mountains, and how he’s remotely controlling where the truck goes, and not to worry about anything. Just kick back, and enjoy the- *queue alarm*. Suddenly, a Blaring Alarm pierces the quiet sounds of nature and the entire room suddenly lights up in a reddish tint. “Attention, there is a Code 4 fire reported on Scalario Plateau. This is a massive Wildfire, request immediate assistance from all available trucks.” a robotic sounding source interrupts. “Quickly!!” We gotta get over there.” Smokey Bear yells, and we’re off

Transition 1: We pass by some trees and faux rock and quickly whip into the 1st Scene

Scene 1: We pull up into this extremely large 180* screen to see that the entire hillside is on fire. The car quickly turns around and races away

Transition 2: We turn by a now abandoned campground with loads of camping theming and trees strewn about

Scene 2: “Pull out those Aqua Blasters and fight that fire!!” Smokey yells. This is the part where the motion effects on the car kick in and we start tilting wildly. As people blast the fire with water, it quickly starts to recede, but when the Fire Truck starts to pull away, it can’t!! A revving sound is heard as Smokey yells that the car is stuck and to hold on. Bam!! With an explosion of mist, the car jerks backwards and pulls a hard 180*

Transition 3: That backwards jerk is the main thing that pulls you into Scene 3, so there isn’t much transition here except scorched trees.

Scene 3: As you look around, you’ll see that the fire is everywhere!! Every tree is engulfed in flames, when suddenly a large cracking noise is heard. A whole set of woods are torn from their roots and collapse towards you as the car suddenly swerves to the left to avoid it. “C’Mon!! Let’s get outta here” Smokey Exclaims!!

Transition 4: You’ll turning-ly whip by more trees and faux rockwork before pulling through a heavy set of brush into Scene 4

Scene 4: After emerging from the brush, you’ll finally find yourself in a deserted lumberjack camp on fire. “Shoot those flames” Smokey yells as everyone uses their aqua blaster to blast the flames. After a good 20 seconds of shooting the fire, it appears to be gone. So the car gently turns around and slowly pulls away

Transition 5: This transition is simply rockwork on both sides with a virtual waterfall and forced perspective bridge overhead

Scene 5: Your car violently jolts and bumps as the screens show your vehicle making it’s way to the top of the mountain. The fire appears to be almost completely out, when suddenly the screen tilts down and you see a massive fire right under the smoldering bridge your Fire Truck is on. “Hold on Tight!!” Smokey Yells. The bridge suddenly gives way and you dive down a 200 foot drop into the parched ground below

Transition 6: Your car rapidly speeds through this transition which is physical sets with animated fire projected on top of it

Scene 6: Your car whips left and then you can see that you’re trapped in a dead end. “Oh. Crap” Smokey says as the roar of the flames is heard louder and louder. Suddenly, the car whips around to see that the path you took here is already ablaze. “Guys. Buckle up, we’re just going to have to fight this thing.”

Transition 7: This transition is simply physical trees with projected fire on the walls. The car suddenly accelerates forward through the smoke screen with fire projections, and it emerges into Scene 7

Scene 7: The Final Battle Scene. This scene is simply one long hallway, and will be the sensory overload scene. Orange colored fog, burning trees, red flashing strobe light, and scorched camping equipment all encompass your firetruck. “Blast that fire” Smokey yells!! Your car is wildly tilting and swerving and bumping around as complete sensory overload sets in.

Transition 8: You pass under a small rock archway into Scene 8

Scene 8: A giant 270* dome surrounds you showing how all the trees are burning. “Blast those fires!!” Smokey yells, and after a climatic 20 second battle, a large splash of water encompasses the screen before fading away to show that you saved the forest and nothing is on fire!! Loud cheering and victory music can be heard as you slowly pull away from this scene

Scene 9: This 100% Psychical Sets Scene is simply a woodsy background with some overgrowing trees, lots of faux rockwork, and a small tent, accompanied by what else but a Smokey Bear animatronic!! Smokey Bear thanks you for all your hard work, and invites you to come back to Smokey Mountain Fire Patrol anytime. He then, with the water hose in his hands, says, “Remember!! Only you can fight Forest Fires” before blasting you with a small mist and chuckling. The door opens and the Fire Truck pulls back into the station

Unloading: Your lapbar opens and you exit out of the vehicle. After walking down a small cream wooded passageway, you’ll exit out right next to the entrance back into the Rowdy Ridge Woods themed area

I apologize judges for the lack of detail in my proposal, and for the fact that it appears rushed. I got my computer back after being fixed at 12:00 today, and this is what I could whip up in the short time given. Enjoy!!

August 5, 2017, 4:03 PM

Kenny: I look forward to reading your entry tomorrow!

FigmentPigments: Real Life Pass granted.

Edited: August 5, 2017, 7:32 PM

Turnpike Twirl
at Casino Pier Amusement Park in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

In the Fall of 2012, Hurricane Sandy racked the Jersey Shore and much of the Casino Pier Amusement Park fell into the Atlantic Ocean due to the significant damage of the storm. Many rides offered nostalgic summer endeavors that called back to boardwalk fun almost a century ago.

In the summer of 2017, after years of rebuilding and contracting, Casino Pier was rebuilt, beginning with the addition of Hydrus – a Euro-Fighter Roller coaster manufactured by Gerstlauer with a 97 degree drop, which replaced a destroyed Star Jet roller coaster.

Star Jet was not the only coaster to be destroyed in the storm, as the infamous 'wild mouse' coaster that sits as the centerpiece of the entire pier, was damaged as well. Thus, opening next summer, is a brand new type of 'wild mouse' coaster for the whole family. Presenting...

Turnpike Twirl!

Named after the hectic New Jersey Turnpike that millions of New Jersey residents despise with every fiber of their being, the Turnpike Twirl will bring the chaos of the highway into a roller coaster format. Unique to Turnpike Twirl is that the coaster cars spin, rotate, and tilt around the tracks they glide along, creating a more dynamic and visceral coaster experience.

The coaster will also take precautions to ensure that a potentially deadly storm such as Hurricane Sandy, does not impact the survival of the coaster, as the support system of the coaster doesn't rely on the support of the pier. Instead the supports are drilled and embedded firmly into the shoreline, to ensure that high winds and rains do not create a storm surge and break the supports off the pier itself as it had previously.

Along with the safety precautions, guests will notice a distinguishable theme to the coaster as well, which was absent from the previous incarnation of a generic, original wild mouse coaster. Turnpike signs, flashing road lights, among other props are found throughout the attraction's facade, on a modest Jersey Shore amusement park budget, but for a small time theme park, adds much more aesthetic prowess than before.

Attraction Ride-Through
Boarding vehicles that reflect an eclectic variety of 2 seater cars, you drive off onto the Jersey Turnpike with a 40 degree incline up a hill towards a flashing roadwork light. At the top of the incline, the car makes an abrupt left hand turn and coasts towards an imminent detour sign in front of you, which forces the car into another abrupt left and turn, followed by a series of switchbacks through the detour signs, eventually leading you back out onto the highway.

As you approach the highway section, you see a yield sign which you obviously do not oblige by because you are in New Jersey, and proceed down a 45 degree angle 20 foot drop followed by a sizeable 25 foot incline, slowing you down into another roadwork zone, forcing your vehicle to tilt to the right and side, and then the left, bouncing back and forth along the potholes on the road.

The potholes send your vehicle down and even steeper 25 foot drop to the pier floor, followed by a banked turn around onto an 'overpass' which brings you back over top of the previous track location. At this point, another vehicle 'cuts you off' and you go spinning down an exit ramp, tilting and twirling as far as you can see. Bouncing over the undone potholes, you try to find a way to escape the potholes, but that doesn't exist on the Jersey Turnpike, until eventually you reach the culmination of your journey where you see a sign for the Jersey Shore. Your vehicle does an about face and proceeds towards the exit where a photo is take on a 35 degree banked curve towards the brake section and unload area.

Overall, for New Jersey and Tri-State area residents who frequent the Jersey Shore in the summer time, this attraction will in true New Jersey spirit, not only poke fun at itself, but be park of the rebuilding of Casino Pier as its headliner attraction in the center of the pier, representing the resiliency of New Jersey residents as well as the park as a whole after the effects of the storm years prior.

August 6, 2017, 9:14 AM

Kenny Cook – Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Adventure
For a proposal you admit was written quickly, it doesn’t read as one. The level of detail is a little impressionistic, perhaps, but you still describe your attraction vividly.

Reading about Darien Lake, you’re wise to create a headliner dark ride rather than another roller coaster, which they have in reasonable abundance. Six Flags has been doing something similar with their Justice League shooter rides, and it appears you have the very same ride system. A good choice!

The forest firefighting theme is one you used before, if memory serves, and TPA8 also saw a firefighting shooter dark ride. It’s a theme I’m incredibly fond of as well. This is the best version of that general idea so far! The queue through a fire station is precisely as it should be. The loading room is a little sparse, I think; you could’ve decorated it more as a fire truck garage. The ride itself is a smart combination of physical sets and screens. I like how you build the fire’s intensity. There’s a reasonable variety to the different scenes, which could otherwise simply be “trees and fire” for like 5 minutes. Love the IMAX dome climax!

You’ve used Smokey Bear well, and incorporated him throughout the ride (the Smokey animatronic at the end is a superb touch). I am a little wary about the Smokey IP; you’d need USFS permission, and “Only you can fight forest fires” is a message Smokey wouldn’t put forth. Speaking as a former firefighter, training and experience is highly valued (don’t want to encourage civilians rushing into dangerous wildfires), so the classic “prevent wildfires” would be a better capper. These are ultimately minor nitpicks, which will barely register in your scores.

Overall a strong first draft. On a technical level, ride capacity and other specs would be a good next step. The ride also has the potential for really engrossing “4D” effects, like heat, live flame effects, air blasts (when the climactic water drop occurs), plus the smell of the forest and the fire (a very distinctive odor). Touches of that sort, they’ll push your proposals over the top in the future! Still, really good work!

spacemt354 – Turnpike Twirl
I did not know about Casino Pier’s fate following Hurricane Sandy! Such an interesting situation, and with the Pier’s revival it’s an ideal time to give this humble pier park a headliner…Which they’ve seemingly already done with Hydrus.

Compared to a Eurofighter, a wild mouse coaster isn’t especially a “must do.” Turnpike Twirl’s “headliner” status, it seems, stems largely from the history and nostalgia of Casino Pier’s original Wild Mouse. Adding some degree of theming, and additional car movements like the spinning, certainly elevates a super old school ride type. The turnpike theming reminds me a lot of the old Mullholland Madness wild mouse at DCA (which is now rethemed as Goofy’s Sky School), which is a fine and realistic theme (funny too), and all we could reasonably expect of a pier park. Securing the ride for future hurricanes is very wise. Regarding realism, 20 for 20!

So this wild mouse is better than what came before…but still there’s Hydrus next door. Casino Pier in real life has already successfully completed this challenge! That does hurt you.s

The proposal is a bit on the shorter side, and it’s lacking niceties like pictures or specs. I suspect time was a factor here (I had a hell of a chaotic week myself). When (if) time becomes available, I’d love to see some stronger proposals…which I know you’re fully capable of!

August 6, 2017, 3:26 PM

Just a heads up to our competitors...

Due to weekend schedules and such, we won't have our all our critiques and scores up until tomorrow. Thank you for your patience!

August 6, 2017, 5:27 PM


Firstly, don’t apologise in a way that draws attention to something you perceive is a problem with your entry… I have no problem with the detail, and wouldn’t have thought there was a problem if you didn’t tell me.

Fire Patrol is a great way to “keep it local” - perfect for a non chain park. I grew up in Australia where the natural cycle is Flood-Drought-Fire, in towns where the local fire department may be volunteers, professionals, or a mix of both; but in all cases you’ll find them at the heart of the community, with the community going out of the way to support and start fundraisers to look after them (even when there’s frankly other things they’d be doing, because they know the value of the local fire team).

This leads me to my point I would like to have seen more opportunity to build in that, use local fire department’s logos and create an opportunity to support them through a share in merchandise sales or something else. I’d like to have seen you use a local landmark rather than “smoky mountain”;although I can understand why the chance to tie in Smoky the bear was irresistable, there are “Great Smoky Mountains” in Tenessee (yeah, I googled Smoky mountain), I’d have liked to see a local landmark instead to keep it local.

Okay, lets get into the ride. I like the idea of this being a blaster ride, and its a particularly brilliant one, and tying in a familiar character increases the attractiveness.. However I have some concerns maybe it might be frightening for some (having been near a firestorm and through a building fire maybe my view is clouded there) and it certainly fits the theme of the area. I would suggest to make it a bit more accessable rather than frightening that the vision be cartoonish rather than realistic (its not clear if this is the case).

This is a really good proposal. Well done.



People tend to hate traffic, and reminding people of a particularly busy spot for traffic seems risky, however, its certainly does help the attraction feel very local; although endorsing people intentionally ignore road rules I have to frown at. This isn’t a ding, but I can’t help but feel if that storm was perhaps a missed opportunity for a good local event to theme around.

I do like some of the track effects, like cutting off the traffic. A spinning wild mouse seems a strange thing to theme around cars… the spin would have to be really controlled in order to ensure that cars weren’t going seen to be going backwards… I do love them - spinball wizzer at Alton Towers is one of my favourite coasters (even though I will concede it isn’t anything special beyond the spin effect) and I’d like to see them used more. Rather than that I think you’d need to control it more like an omnimover’s spins... which loses a lot of the "out of control" feeling that other spinning wild mice coasters use.

Its a good ride, but I can't help but feel there's just a bit more needed.

August 6, 2017, 8:15 PM

Hahaha, sorry Douglas!! I just completely blanked out on what Smoky's quote was. Glad to hear you still liked the proposal!!

August 7, 2017, 9:12 AM

Sadly I must announce that tcool has dropped from the competition. He shared this with me yesterday:

“I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to drop out. This competition was really fun and all, but due to real life I see myself having less and less time to participate. So goodbye, and I wish the best of luck to the remaining competitors.”

Thank you for playing, tcool. I hope you enjoyed playing despite real life commitments.

August 7, 2017, 9:12 AM

Our judge kmbmw777 won’t be able to get his critiques up until later today, but he has scored your proposals. So this round’s final scores are:

Kenny Cook – 89
spacemt354 - 73

Since FigmentPigments took a Real Life Pass, she will receive a score 25 points below spacemt’s (keeping things both competitive and fair for everyone). With that, the current overall standings are:

FigmentPigments – 325
Kenny Cook – 318
spacemt354 - 310

Congratulations to Kenny for your really strong Smoky Mountain Fire Patrol Adventure, and your first big win. Keep up the good work, which genuinely gets better with every week!

August 7, 2017, 9:13 AM

So, three players remain! And three challenges remain!

Since traditionally in Theme Park Apprentice we like to have three competitors for the final round, and since we’ve already reached that number, I must announce a few simple changes to how the game will now run…

Kenny, Figment, Space, you are officially our finalists!

There will be no more eliminations!

Following Challenge 5, 6 and 7, the winner will be determined by cumulative score!

Your overall point standings are close enough now that it’s still anyone’s game. Every challenge to come will be decisive! And the points earned in the finale starting two weeks from now will be worth double a regular challenge.

Since this is a fairly sudden alteration to the original game format, I welcome any questions or comments in the chatter thread. Looking forward to your next proposals!

August 7, 2017, 9:31 AM

Space Mountain

I love the history and such behind your idea. It was fun to read about. However, no matter how much you dress up a Mad Mouse coaster, I do not think it will ever provide a "headliner" experience. Six Flag's The Dark Knight is a prime example of a dressed up Mad Mouse. However, considering this is a pier, I think the cheesiness might work greatly! Also, mad mouse coasters are very realistic for this type of establishment.

Overall, the only thing I wish you did differently was add more detail.

Kenny Cook

I like the idea of fire fighters being the premise for the entire ride. This has been a concept which has been used at Dollywood (in their kids coasters) and has been well received. I think it would fit great! The interactivity of this ride would easily make it a must ride for anyone attending and above the experience that Dollywood attractions on the same subject are providing.

I I've the use of Smokey the Bear and the relevance to the region. I have only visited once but I have a small knowledge of the culture of the area. Overall, great work!

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