Theme Park Apprentice 7: Chatter Thread

Edited: August 14, 2015, 11:48 PM

Since the original thread expired, this is a continuation of the Chatter thread. The original thread can be found here.

As a reminder, this thread is the place for General Discussion about Theme Park Apprentice 7, including responses to judging critiques, and is open to anyone participating in TPA7 in any way, including TPI readers who are just enjoying watching the competition. Do NOT post challenge proposals or challenge specific questions here- post them in the Challenge Thread.

Replies (40)

Edited: August 15, 2015, 6:20 AM

I have officially finished editing my redemption proposal and is now open to judging, even though I'm pretty sure everyone else is going to kick my butt in this challenge.

I wish the best of luck to the other competitors in this challenge, which looks like only me and Karina.

Even if I get redeemed, Challenge 5 is going to be tough due to the fact I have boycotted Seaworld due to the fact I support Blackfish on every word.


August 15, 2015, 2:45 PM

@ Tyler....then you would have two options....get rid of the animals or do some actual research and figure out the facts...

...and if you believe every word of Blackfish then you are too easily swayed by sensationalism and deserve to be deceived...

...I'm not saying that SeaWorld is right...but Blackfish is a little light on facts as well...

August 16, 2015, 12:21 AM

Finally finished my last edit for my proposal and it's open for judging!
I made a dark ride for this round, because I thought it would be fun, and I really wanted to redeem myself from Challenge 2. Hopefully this one will make more sense, and I have to say that I really took advantage of that "unlimited" budget. If any of the judges didn't understand my proposal, I'll try to clarify those points in the thread.
I liked seeing Brett and Tyler's proposals too! Best of luck to them both!

August 16, 2015, 2:01 PM

Is Blake an official judge now?

August 16, 2015, 2:26 PM

As Blake has been helping with unofficial submissions we decided to have him be a guest judge during the Redemption Challenge. He will not be a member of the official judging panel for Theme Park Apprentice 7.

August 18, 2015, 9:58 AM

Sorry, late reply, long weekend. (Theme Park Prison suffered a full-scale cellblock riot when we got news from D23.)

Karina, congratulations on your redemption! You did absolutely everything to earn it, with hard work throughout your exile. I look forward to “sea”ing your SeaWorld proposal.

To all the judges, thanks for critiquing my unofficial submission. How much fun it was to work with no pressure and an unlimited budget! (I should’ve made my coaster track out of solid gold.) To the individual judges…

Scott E: I reread your Americana 1900 proposal yesterday, and was thrilled to learn you’re still developing it! I learned of an American folklore recently, “fearsome critters,” which could make for an interesting fit in your park. And thanks for the praise.

Blake: Such kind words from a man I consider Walt Disney reincarnated. I think Lovecraft is public domain now, but no matter. It is a shame you won’t be judging from now on; your responses to the final Disney challenge would be especially pertinent.

AJ: Just out of curiosity, which manufacturer do you think could handle the cantilevered coaster concept? I pondered that unsuccessfully, and just defaulted to B&M out of laziness. (Regarding the static figures over AAs, I was sort of copying Alton Towers’ Duel.)

Chad: At one point I considered making my show building several hundred feet tall, just to break the rules.


Now, there’s been much speculation lately about how I got locked away in Theme Park Prison. No, I didn’t sneak in a selfie stick, or abuse my Annual Pass, or talk in the stretching room. No, my crime was something far, far more heinous…

I designed DCA.

Naturally, I’m serving consecutive life sentences (I lied earlier when I mentioned parole). This season of Theme Park Apprentice has been a quest for personal redemption. Honestly, I’m lucky they didn’t sentence me to death (by Peoplemover). Thank Walt they managed to catch the Kingpin, Michael Eisner. Due to an insanity plea, he’s now locked deep in the prison’s basement, strapped to a Hannibal Lecter gurney and fed through a tube. It’s too good for him, I say!

August 18, 2015, 1:21 PM

Douglas, if you have a chance, send me your contact info at

August 18, 2015, 2:56 PM

Ouch, Douglas, that's bad. When it takes more money to fix the problem than it did to create it in the first place, you know the original people messed up big time. At least you gave the world Soarin' and Disney's best roller coaster to date, but still...Superstar Limo. I'd hate to see what they did to the guy who came up with Walt Disney Studios Paris. :-)

As for your question, I agree that finding a manufacturer would be hard. My initial choice would be Vekoma since they have some creative ride systems and do a lot of specialized work for Disney. I also found an interview where the designer of the cantilevered coaster said he had more luck pitching to American manufacturers than German or Swiss ones, so S&S would be another choice I could see. If you did go European (other than Vekoma), Intamin and Gerstlauer would probably be good choices...maybe Mack as well. B&M, at least as they operate today, is probably the most conservative of the big coaster manufacturers out there as every element is calculated to very specific specifications and they are unwilling to deviate from that. They also have a catalogue of rides and pretty much stick to those, with new variations added every so often. It does give their coasters somewhat of a similar feel to each other, but at the same time it produces highly reliable rides that are almost always a hit.

August 19, 2015, 6:29 AM

Oh, that poor Walt Disney Studios Paris guy. What a heartbreaker! He was tried under the French penal system, which pretty much means they skipped the trial and went straight to the guillotine.

August 21, 2015, 4:37 PM

I don't think I'm going to be able to beat any more results out of the writer or the editor I paid to do these for me...

My apologies that the writer got a little out of control... additional beatings will be administered...

August 22, 2015, 9:58 PM

I woke up the other day and said to my friend "OK, but what am I going to do about the whales?"

He just looked at me, smiled and said, "That's what every SeaWorld exec asks themselves every day."

August 23, 2015, 7:18 PM

With Challenge 5 officially over, it can be freely discussed!

AJ, many of your ideas (especially staggering the closing of whale and dolphin shows) occurred to me too late, only this Friday when it would've been I think too late to fix things. I was kicking myself that day when re-reading my nonsense.

James, I appreciate your elaborated judgment. In your eyes, I clearly missed the mark with my sea pen concept. For the sake of clarification, all of my research into moving the whales out of SeaWorld pointed to sea pens as the most realistic option. These are some of the links I'd removed from my proposal because they weren't working then:

You might consider the latter two too closely aligned with the environmentalists, but I think CNN lends the idea some authority.

For what it's worth, I opted to remove the whales altogether from SeaWorld as a self-imposed challenge. The proposed bill in Sacramento made this impossible to ignore. I personally am not that extreme in my environmental opinions (regarding One World type shows, I simply find them boring and outdated), but sometimes you gotta look that whale in the mouth!

Jeff, I appreciated your proposal immensely. If it wasn't a direct counter-response to my own ideas, then at least I loved how uniquely different your though process was. If there's anyplace you can safely ignore environmentalists, it's Texas!

It's probably very fortunate I posted so, so, so, so long ago. This last week has been awful, a likely "Reality Pass" week (long story short: there's been a rebellion within my start-up). Phew!

August 23, 2015, 9:45 PM

I'd just like to say, thank you to all of the TPA7 competitors and judges! The SeaWorld proposal was admittedly the hardest, mostly with the time restraint due to the Redemption Challenge, starting a new job that week on top of schoolwork, working on a submission for an art show, without being able to use a Real Life pass.

Anyways, I'm glad that I managed to submit something. When Andy first mentioned Theme Park Apprentice to me during midsummer, I hadn't expected the competition to be half as fun as what I had actually experienced. I also think that the Redemption challenge, though my benefit was short-lasted, was an excellent opportunity for me to improve on my proposal writing, and I believe that I've improved so much since "Your Lego Movie". You should definitely expect to see more of my proposals in future seasons (or perhaps the intentionally bad theme park challenge). Thanks again!

August 24, 2015, 11:51 AM

Karina, thanks again for competing in TPA7. I definitely think you showed a lot of improvement during your time competing here and I'm very glad that you also took advantage of the unofficial submission thread. That was a last minute addition and we weren't sure if anyone would use it, but I hope it helped in preparation for the Redemption Challenge.

It is nice to hear that you enjoyed the competition and hope to see more from you in future competitions. I am sure that you will continue to improve as you write more and more proposals. It is not an easy thing to do, but when you're having a good time you're a lot more determined to put your best work into it. As for the bad attraction challenge, I can neither confirm nor deny that it will happen, but I will say to keep checking back. It could be a good filler if we need some time to judge the final park challenge.

August 30, 2015, 9:51 AM

Thanks for the critiques!

Yes, this certainly was a busy week; I didn't have wifi the past two days which made research quite difficult and posting via a hotspot even more so on my limited data plan. Nevertheless, I was able to piece together something that I'm proud of (although several of my ideas sadly weren't able to meet fruition.)

I, too, was concerned about mixing multiple Nintendo properties into one cohesive land. However, Nintendo actually does this all the time. Super Smash Brothers is essentially combining all of the characters and worlds from the most popular franchises into a single video game. Because of this, I recognized that seeing Kirby and Mario next to each other is neither a completely foreign concept nor an inappropriate one.

Also, for Mario Kart Racers there would be more than one group of racers at a time. Because of the Hololenses and onboard audio, different fleets of racers could essentially pass by one another but be completely oblivious to the fact that there were others outside of their own race. This is why the ride capacity is so great.

Because of the steep competition this round and the huge point deficit I'm in, staying in the competition will be nothing short of a miracle. Regardless, great job to all, and I hope to compete against you guys again in the not-too-distant future!

Edited: August 30, 2015, 10:47 AM

Just for the fun of it, I'm going to do my unofficial personal rankings for this challenge. I was going to do full on critiques but I don't have the time or effort.

Here they are, 1 being the best, 5 being the worst (even though none of these proposals were actually bad).

1. Douglas
2. Keith
3. Andy
5. Jeff

August 30, 2015, 11:01 AM

Based on Tyler's rankings, can we let him be a judge for this round?

August 30, 2015, 1:41 PM

Thanks Douglas.

In my opinion, you had probably the clear cut best proposal. I had a few minor gripes which I won't go over, but it was a notch above your fellow competitors.

2-5 was one big toss up as the other four proposals were practically even in terms of attractions design and immersion.

When does Hoverboatd Run open again?

Edited: August 30, 2015, 3:36 PM

Hey! I’ve been still secretly following the competition, and Tyler gave me the idea of writing an unofficial critique, because I always thought it would be fun to be a judge. I hope I wasn't too critical, but understandably, I would underestimate the credibility of my critiques, coming from a competitor who was eliminated twice. Nevertheless, here goes…

Douglas Hindley – Hill Valley

You cleverly included a backstory for Back to the Future Land, which is good and could actually deter guests’ overwhelming suspension of disbelief that “I’m entering a themed land at Universal”. But if there was actually a disruption in the space time continuum, why would Hill Valley be depicted in modern day Osaka? I mean, I completely understand why you decided to choose that; the backstory just confuses me somewhat.

I like how your land is very versatile and can change time periods with ease, and I could guarantee that it would increase the repeatability factor.

I think that your remodeled Back to the Future: the Ride would be popular, but I don’t think that a live stunt performer would be plausible, considering the various versions available.

Hoverboard Run is definitely a necessity for Back to the Future Land. While your ride system would most likely work in this case, I can’t help but wonder if a modified stand up coaster would further heighten the suspension of riding a hoverboard. Your climax was great, however, and the ride elements were neatly incorporated.

Was the Loco Express meant to be an indoor coaster, or partially enclosed? I really like the idea of the specially adapted Polaroids , however.

The restaurant options are well themed, but my only concern is about the versatility of the interior of the Corner Diner.

Overall, I think that your land would be a huge attraction, especially for people like me, who are fans of the franchise. However, my main concern is that people who weren’t fans of the franchise wouldn’t really understand the meticulous 1985 theming of the land and just see it as a normal American suburban park. Your proposal for the grand opening is good, but I can’t help but think that it needs more popularity prior to opening – perhaps a digital enhancement of the older films can be promoted? Other than those concerns and some other small details, I’m sure that Hill Valley would please masses.

DPCC inc. – A Silly Place

While I think that the street performers may amuse some, I think that they may be deemed evasive to some of the park guests that might be overwhelmed from the already comedic land.
“Run Away!” has some detailed comedic elements within the roller coaster, but at speeds from 60mph, I doubt that riders would notice all of these elements that were so carefully placed. Perhaps winding down the intensity of the coaster (yet still making it thrilling) would increase the story’s significance, and maybe increase the somewhat restricting height requirement for the ride.

The dialogue in “Quest for … a Shrubbery?” might be a little confusing. For instance, if the riders are directly facing the obstacles and the animatronic King Arthur is in front of them, they might not see him talking. They would hear a person talking but not really know where it’s coming from, which might be misleading.

For the None Shall Pass attraction, I don’t know how the special mutilation effects would work, and I think that especially the first child trainee to fight him would be clearly intimated. So, I think there would be another plot scenario if this happens.

I think that you’ve included major attractions, elements, and a show that are appropriate for the land. I just believe that some of the exaggerated comedy might sacrifice the land’s credibility as an immersive land.

Keith Schneider – Monster Lands

With the road fork leading to two divisions and four differently themed lands, I worry that you might be compacting too much into the space. And while I think that the Monsters: Shop of Horrors is necessary, I think that it should be somehow incorporated to serve as the conclusion of guests’ visit to the park.

The queue for “Frankenstein Lives!” is a good one, and it appropriately begins the story. For a drop tower ride, I thought that there was a lack of ascents and descents, rather than the major one that occurs.

I think that the scenes for the Dracula Dark Ride need to have more variation and have somewhat of a climax, not just Dracula periodically luring people to his castle and feeding on them. Each of the scenes should have some type of difference that distinguishes each one and feeds the story.

The Wolf Man animatronic seems really cool, but even with enhancing lighting, I’m not sure how it could fully undergo the visible metamorphosis.

The 60 feet roller coaster drop seems really big for the ride, even with the lift hill. Also, it wasn’t really clarified which sections were underwater in the roller coaster component, especially with the turns and drops.

I wish you had included a more thorough description of the family ride and the spinning flat ride, but I understand that you might have been short on time.

Overall, I think that your rides were decent and your eateries supplemental to the attractions. My main concern was how the different land components of the land would be distinguished. Perhaps consider adding a show for those who aren’t able to go on some of the rides.

Jeff Elliot: Nintendoland

I don’t think that you should have included your criticism of Back to the Future at the beginning of your proposal, and even if it was coincidental, you should have changed it and just briefly highlighted the inconsistencies in a description of the transformation of the land. The first statements shift from the actual focus from your proposal.

I’m glad to see that you’ve included Mario Kart XL in Nintendoland. Although this idea would limit capacity, I think that it should only be a two seat ride, one for the driver and the other the weapons specialist (which can me more or less engaging, depending on the person). I think that filling the ride vehicles with four people, especially with the projected popularity of this ride, would result in less engagement than most people would like. Also, how would the interactive elements be implemented, especially the power ups and weaponry?

On Super Mario Rescue, does the whole bad guy turned good mechanism work for the bosses, with the exception of Bowser? I think that during the queue or during another appropriate time, the storyline and objective should be clearly outlined to the riders.

I’m not sure if the Pokemon Tournament that calls back the contestants would work for guests that only have a limited time in the park and already have a time schedule. And as for the Pokemon tournaments to determine the best trainer, some of the highest scoring competitors may be one-time guests, so the range of contestants for those particular challenges may be limited.

Your stunt show and eating options seem good. I think there are just some errors or misunderstandings that downplay the potential for Nintendoland.

Andy Teoh: Nintendoland

You included a great initial description, and you smartly highlighted the importance of Universal’s new potential audience and its strategic location. Also, your particular attention to detail would truly make Nintendoland an immersive experience.

For Mario Kart Racers, it’s good that you included a description of the technology and how it would be implemented, especially the fact that with the two physical tracks there are multiple courses with the Hololens. I’ll go along with your reply to the critique as for the ride capacity.

For the Heroes of Hyrule, does Ganondorf appear after the last piece of the Triforce, is found, or are the riders mandated to find it before he appears? And what kind of technology would be utilized to show the fake pieces of the Triforce before illuminated by the torches?

The other rides also seem necessary and appropriately themed for the land. You covered most of the major components, but I think that your land could have also included more elements, like meet and greets with Nintendo characters or a live show. Overall, Nintendoland sounds like a fantastic addition to Universal that would be loved by both gamers and non-gamers alike.


1. Andy Teoh Nintendoland
2. Douglas Hindley Hill Valley
3. Keith Schneider Monster Land
4. Jeff Elliot Nintendoland
5. DPCC Inc. A Silly Place

Edited: August 30, 2015, 4:01 PM

Well, I finally mustered up enough effort to make some critiques.

These are short, but they reflect my opinions without going into hyper-detail.

The order will be from 5th to 1st in my previously posted rankings.

Here we go...

5: Jeff Elliot (Nintendoland):

Nintendo is a really good and safe option for this challenge. Unfortunately, I don't think you executed it to the best of your potential. Mario Kart is a cost-saving, fun ride, but having only two people interact while everyone else is "along for the ride" doesn't really work that much.
Donkey Kong and Mario Rescue are both good attractions, but the rest of your land is iffy. You do represent Pokemon and Kirby, but it doesn't fit, considering you have three Mario/ Donkey Kong attractions in your land, and it seems like the focus is on them..
Overall, good concept, iffy execution..

4: DPCC.INC (A Silly Place)

Monty Python is a really risky move, as not many people in the general public watch his show anymore. Your attractions are pretty decent and would work well in your land, although a little more explanations always helps.

Your land sounds great, but not only is Monty Python an outdated property, but your land might be too comedic for anyone to take it seriously. But alas, by no means is this a bad land for Universal.

3: Andy Teoh (Nintendoland)

I feel like you and Jeff posted very similar ideas, but I feel like you executed it better. Your Mario kart attraction is more innovative and fun than Jeff's and the Zelda dark ride would be world class. I would have liked to see more detail on the pipe coaster as it sounds intriguing.

Overall, you and Jeff's lands are quite similar, but you pulled it off better, just enough to get into the top three.

2: Keith S. (Monster Lands)

I applaud you for using the classic monsters, as they are a big part of Universal's history. All of your major attractions are thrilling and spectacularly done, but I feel like Beetlejuice and Paranorman went against the grain of your land and weren't needed.

I think you may have gone a little bit overkill for this land, but great job bringing the universal monsters into a theme park!

1: Douglas Hindley (Hill Valley)

Douglas look..

I constantly read past Theme Park apprentice threads to take a glimpse of just how much creativity people show in competitions like these.

But you, sir, may have just delivered one of the best proposals ever.

All of your attractions, except maybe the dancing show, are top-notch and nearly flawless, and your backstory behind and throughout the land is spectacular.

You brought new life into a 30 year old franchise, and done it amazingly! I'm running out of good things to say!

August 30, 2015, 4:22 PM

So judges, I'm thinking about posting an incomplete "Unofficial Submission" for the Universal Challenge once the rankings are in. This is something I'd put too much foolish work into before AJ even posted the challenge, and I was considering not using it anyway (due to the IP's waning popularity). With the Unofficial Submission thread closed, shall I post it here, in the Challenge 6 thread, or should I just leave everyone alone? Thanks.

August 30, 2015, 5:14 PM

Feel free to drop it here.

August 31, 2015, 4:28 AM

I really think the FOUR of us (including Andy) should have competed for TWO of the three spots in the final round. Douglas moves on to the finals and the four other competitors have one addition round for the final two spots. With all that has transpired in the competition, I believe this to be the most fair.

August 31, 2015, 5:38 AM

Keith, we're sort of thinking along the same lines as you, with a variation. I've thrown all my ideas at the other judges and something should be posted pretty soon. I hate that this has dragged on this long, and I'm pushing hard for there to be a time extension so that everyone has a fair and equitable amount of time to prepare. Hang in there, keep the faith, and keep checking in here.

Edited: August 31, 2015, 6:43 AM

Let me make this easy on everyone and concede....

If anyone here thinks that more Back to the Future or a 40 year old movie no matter how good they are is going to put more people through the gate than Nintendo (particularly in Japan), you are lying to yourself.

And if I had known that I was allowed to cheat and not be penalized for it, I would have written my proposal much differently...

Therefore....I'll quit and make it easier on everyone else....

August 31, 2015, 7:43 AM

Jeff, I'll admit that the last proposal was difficult. Universal has limited IPs that are appropriate to build immersive lands for their theme parks, that's why they buy the rights to Harry Potter, Nintendo, and hopefully LOtR/The Hobbit. Based off of the limited IPs that Universal has available, the Back to the Future Trilogy was a viable option and one that was presented well by Douglas. I think what should be learned from this last proposal is that we should do the best we can with what we've got. Douglas did, we didn't.
Douglas finished in first place for the round and for the competition overall. He is in the final. The rest of us, with the current predicament, should do another round for the final two spots. Everyone benefits with another chance...and its fair.

Edited: August 31, 2015, 10:53 AM

What is irritating me the most is that this is the challenge:

"When it was built, Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter took the theme park world by storm. For the first time, a fully immersive themed land had been created based on a hugely popular media franchise, and the attendance and revenue increases indicate this is what the modern theme park visitor wants. However, with the end of the series the returns from additional investment into the franchise have been diminishing, so Universal is looking for the next property to turn into an immersive land."

So what this says is that the returns from Harry Potter is diminishing...which is false to begin with since it is driving their attendance to all-time highs. The most obvious choice here was to triple down on more Harry Potter...but for some reason that was taken off the table.

Since the returns on Potter are diminishing, one can assume that an old ride based on an even older movie has seen much worse diminishing returns than Potter. This is reinforced by the fact that attractions based on both Back to the Future and Universal Monsters have been removed from all of the other parks recently.

And as just an aside, owning the movie rights and owning the theme park rights are two completely different obviously noted in the fact that there is no Lord of the Rings Land at any park. Just because Universal through a subsidiary owns the MP Holy Grail movie, doesn't mean that they have theme park rights to it...and in fact they probably don't. If anyone currently owns the theme park rights to MP Holy Grail, it would be Paramount park who has stated that they are trying to get all of the British IP they can get their hands on...if they don't have it, no one does, because the Pythons were very savvy about their business dealing and would never have tossed the theme park rights into the movie rights...there would have been two completely different agreements...

Thus the only valid options for IP should have been Minions, Jurassic Park/World, Nintendo, Dr Seuss (only because they are still making new movies for it), and Fast and Furious (although since there was an announcement for this one lately I think we all shied away from it). Whoever didn't go with one of these IP's should have immediately failed this round because it didn't address the issue of outdated and aging IP.

I built my land as a test to the judges. You didn't think that after running against the current for so long that I would suddenly make the most obvious choice and build a wonky land based on it without it being on purpose, did you? This was a test to see how closely the judges stuck to their own rules...

And, well, they failed...

They had a big ole geekasm and failed the whole point of the round...

Therefore...I'm done and won't be participating any further.

August 31, 2015, 11:31 AM

Well...then good luck to you, Jeff. I really enjoyed your proposals.

I still think you should give it you more go around.

Edited: August 31, 2015, 12:49 PM

I'm sorry to hear your frustrations with the game Jeff.

I don't think the purpose was to build a current, hip immersive land, but the best immersive land possible.

I think the judges ranked fairly by not who had the most current idea, but who had overall the best proposal, although on a personal note, Keith should have been ranked a little higher.

I agree with you a bit that the judges need to follow their own rules a little more, but please don't sit and complain about how bad the judges are, but use his as a learning experience and I think the judges are judging on the quality of the proposal, not how fresh the property in the land is.

Still, sorry to hear you go Jeff, but I think you should give it another shot and post something for the last chance challenge.

August 31, 2015, 9:37 PM

If there is another qualifying round of sorts, then whoever ultimately makes it to the finals will be at a significant disadvantage. The hours spent on the qualifying challenge are hours not spent working on the championship proposal. As anyone who has competed before knows, every minute of work helps. Because of this, we need to simply follow the rules. Here's what the double elimination round rules say:

"The lowest performing competitor in this challenge will be eliminated, and the competitor with the lowest cumulative score following this challenge will also be eliminated."

Since there was a tie for the bottom of the challenge, we look to the official Competitor's Handbook rules for such situations:

"In the event of a tie, the order of resolution will be: cumulative score, average challenge score, highest score in a challenge, second highest score in a challenge, etc."

Since Jeff has a lower cumulative score than Keith, he would receive the elimination for "lowest performing competitor." Since DPCC has the lowest cumulative score, he, too, would be eliminated.

This logic is simply following the rules established by the three judges and understood by all the competitors. Changing them or bending them because of a double elimination doesn't make sense. This also provides the most equal opportunity for all competitors making it to the finals.

Yes, as AJ said we will have to reevaluate the rules for next season to avoid a similar situation in the future. For now, simply following the rules without introducing new criteria is the most understandable and logical decision.

I would also like to request that the judges comment on this predicament and help clarify the confusion so that the final three can be locked in.

September 1, 2015, 3:37 AM

Andy, and everyone else, I fully understand your concerns and frustration. First, let me assure you that everyone will have an adequate and equal time to prepare the final proposal. We're undoubtedly going to move the deadline to permit this- this is not set in stone, but I would look at a deadline around Sept.15th. You can always stick with the original deadline in your mind, so that you have your entry ready to go by the earlier date so that you have a few days for polishing, proofreading, editing, and those sudden brainstorms that always happen right after you paste your final proposal into this little box and hit "Reply!"

As far as the rest of it, let me tell you that being a judge is not all that much fun. Herding three judges and one alternate living on two continents and in three different time zones (four sometimes when one of us is on a business trip), even in the computer age, is not easy. It's probably better that way, however, than if we were all together in the same room trying to work out what to do. There would probably be lots of smashed furniture and at least one bloody body in the dumpster before it was all over (most likely mine). OK, perhaps not that bad, but still it's been hard.

You're going to hear something really soon, once we all finally get to the same page, and we're just about there. All I can say is I would recommend that everyone start at least working on the basics for the final proposal. It is not going to be time wasted, if not for this TPA then for future competitions.

September 1, 2015, 8:08 AM

Although there is a lot I want to say on many points, I'm going to limit myself to a single one. Here is the problem I have with just blindly following the elimination. Rule here.

We set DPCC effectively an expectation that if he did well in this round he had a chance to continue, when in reality, the double elimination plans meant that this a lie. At 50 points down even if he got top ranking from all 3 judges, his continued participation was impossible. I must admit to not following the cumulative scores closely, but he should have been told there was no point in him submitting because the decision to do a double elimination was in fact (if not actually intended) a decision to eliminate him.

As it stands, he did very well, second.

We do have a situation though where two players shared the wooden spoon this time around. That to me seems a fair way to drop 2. A playoff round I thought was a fair way to give you all a good chance.

Being fair sometimes means not being a slave to the rules, and never means reading them and following them blindly.

September 1, 2015, 11:48 AM

Hello everyone,

First off, I would like to apologize for the unanticipated delay due to events over the past couple days. What happened at the end of Challenge 6 was a situation that none of us anticipated and there were just too many potential issues with following the established rules at that point. We deliberated the outcome of the vote and came to the conclusion that simply eliminating either DPCC or Keith could be problematic as the rules stated Keith should be safe and DPCC had unintentionally been placed into a hopeless situation regardless of how he performed in the challenge (a problem I didn't discover until a couple days before the deadline). Our original alternative was to allow everyone into the final, but that would render Challenge 6 meaningless. We then debated between eliminating one competitor and having 4 in the final or allowing those in question for elimination a chance to earn their spot. We ultimately decided on the latter, partially due to the earlier Redemption Round. Whether or not it was the right call is unknown, but we needed some way to reduce the number of competitors in the final challenge.

To Jeff, I would like to say that while I am sad you have chosen to resign I completely understand your reasoning. What you say has a lot of truth, and in hindsight there are definitely things that should have been done differently. This was intended to be an experimental and more realistic season than has been done in the past, but perhaps this experiment was taken a little too far and the quality of some aspects suffered as a result. I do not believe it has been a failed experiment, but it definitely has shown what should and should not be attempted in the future. If you wish to discuss your concerns privately with the judges, feel free to contact any of us, and I hope you (and everyone else) will provide valuable feedback at the conclusion of this competition to help improve future iterations.

To everyone else, we have had a sizable bump in the road, but now it is time to finish strong. Andy, Douglas, DPCC, and Keith, since Jeff resigned we have decided to go with our plan B and allow all four of you to proceed to the final challenge. The challenge deadline will be pushed back to September 15th to compensate for this delay and ensure everyone has two full weeks to get their proposal together. Now, it is time to get started, and we look forward to seeing everyone's best work in a couple weeks.

September 1, 2015, 12:10 PM

Wow! These last few days have been bonkers! What is it about Universal Studios that always starts controversy among theme park fans?

Thankfully we've moved on to Disney's welcoming bosom. Andy, DPCC, Keith, I am honored to be in the finals with each and every one of you. Four fully-realized Disney parks! While I don't envy the judges, I think our combined creativity could make this the most exciting finale in TPA's hallowed history. The best of luck to you all!

September 1, 2015, 1:01 PM

Thank you AJ, Chad, and James. Good luck Douglas, Andy, and DPCC.

Let's get it on!

September 1, 2015, 6:58 PM

[Below is an incomplete Universal Studios proposal I put a silly amount of work into before the posted challenge rendered these efforts moot. I overdid it on the shops and restaurants anyway. Now that things are calmed down, I felt I’d share my abortive nonsense. Enjoy!]

Universal Studios Florida needs a theme to connect the land between Springfield (based on a Matt Groening cartoon) and Men in Black (based on a retro-futuristic, New York sci-fi comedy inspired by a World’s Fair). Why not use an IP which is both?

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Coming to Universal Studios Florida for Robanukah 2018

Good news, everyone! Universal Studios Florida has just announced an all-new land, FUTURAMA. Join Bender, Scruffy, and all the rest on a whirlwind tour of the 31st Century as imagined by the same caustic wits who brought us The Simpsons, The Simpsons Movie and The Simpsons Ride. Explore New New York City’s nerdiest slums, its ethnic robot neighborhoods and its romantic sewers. Fly high in the Planet Express Ship as she does battle with bloodthirsty future tyrant Richard Nixon. See heads preserved in jars. And most exciting of all, visit a craptacular carnival from beyond the stars!

For fans of the TV show, Futurama will be highly enjoyable, filled with gags and references. Guests without an Infospheric knowledge of the program will be lost and bewildered – also enjoyable! For all, the land will be engaging, kinetic, pleasant and ludicrous. Universal is proud to receive the “Futurama” license from Fox in exchange for Al Michaels. (Universal Creative’s success with Matt Groening in designing Springfield U.S.A. makes this a likely license.) With this property on their property, Universal hopes to transform a patch of alfalfa into a shining beacon of outdated futurism, light-years ahead of Epcot and with the same number of attractions as Disney Hollywood Studios (five).

[This would’ve been followed by an elaborate description of the overall land. My attraction roster isn’t complete. There is little to nothing publishable about my planned E-tickets, which would’ve included a Planet Express flight simulator and also a romantic flume ride through mutant-infested sewers (choice description: “Boats gurgle realistically through an ocean of raw sewage, to the delight of all.”). Still, here come the lesser attractions…]

Height requirement: 42”

New New York’s public transit consists primarily of the Tube Transport System (the NNYTTS), a series of human-sized pneumatic glass tubes. These are one of Futurama’s most iconic details, and a wonderful way to add kinetic frenzy to the land.

Riders queue up at the South Street Spaceport. Because Universal Creative has deemed it unfeasible to launch tourists through glass tubes, the Tube Transport System is instead the world’s longest bobsled roller coaster. This Mack Rides thriller provides guests a rip-roaring tour crisscrossing the entirety of Futurama, through buildings and even briefly underwater. The ride experience is much like Mack’s La Trace du Hourra in Parc Asterix. Trackless bobsleds (futuristic hovercars) careen freely down a banked pipeline. The Tube Transport pipes are fully enclosed, and transparent on all sides. Nothing says “the future” quite like a coaster type which peaked in the ‘30s!


The stately Head Museum is an interactive walkthrough where guests meet influential heads from throughout history, preserved in jars by a process most scientists agree is magic. Breakthrough animation and voice technology grants life to every one of the museum’s 100-plus heads. Most offer prerecorded spiels, while select heads (e.g. Leonard Nimoy) are capable of holding genuine conversations on a scheduled basis. This is Universal’s answer to Turtle Talk with Crush.

A special exhibit is The Hall of Presidents’ Heads, where all 44 (and counting) U.S. Presidents offer their wisdom to those who seek it. Grover Cleveland’s head appears twice! Clearly, Disney’s similar attraction takes it on the chin a few times, which is as low as a head can hit. Don’t miss these heads of state!


The series’ original run climaxed in 3004 with Fry writing the world’s greatest opera to confess his love to Leela. Today in 3018, Hedonismbot has commissioned a revival of “Leela: Orphan of the Stars” to provide slim distraction from his wearying life. Fry returns, having once more stolen the Robot Devil’s hands, to again perform his greatest flop.

“The Metropolitan House of Opera Presents ‘Leela: Orphan of the Stars’” – or more simply, “Fry’s Opera” - is a combination of live musical performance and 3D show (performed several times a day). Thirty-First Century opera is dominated by the holophonor, a hologram-emitting musical instrument capable of producing legitimately gorgeous imagery. Live singers on stage interact with the holophonic splendors, while an AA Hedonismbot in the hover-loge offers the occasional lewd quip. The story of Leela’s life is retold in impressionistic hues and show-stopping song, much of it written by “Futurama” scribe Ken Keeler specifically for Universal.

Ultimately, this literal space opera is interrupted by the Robot Devil, much like 14 years before. A fiery finale follows. Performers are granted enough leeway to ad-lib on occasion, like the Genie at DCA’s Aladdin. The Robot Devil again regains his hands, and Fry is left unable to play. The opera concludes on a quiet scene between Fry and Leela, the sort of sneaky heartfelt moment for which “Futurama” is famous.

For guests interested in learning the holophonor art themselves, see the retail section below.


ELZAR’S FINE CUISINE serves fine Neptunian and Earthican food at ridiculous prices. Elzar’s is a table service restaurant, so shirts, shoes and reservations are mandatory. All jocularity aside, Elzar’s is one of Universal’s finest restaurants, intimate and alluring, with food as good as any place in Central Florida. The interior is high-toned, with table cloths, lit candles, and soft piano accompaniment. Elzar, a multi-armed alien chef modeled after Earth’s own Emeril Lagasse, promises classic Neptunian dishes cooked to perfection and gently seasoned with copious blasts from the Spice Weasel. To 21st Century tastes, this translates to Cajun and Creole foods, with a few traditional French dishes to round out the menu. We highly recommend the Neptunian Slug!

Plebes who don’t warrant a reservation at Elzar’s are limited to the counter service options:

FAMILY BROS. PIZZERIA is a small pizzeria run by disgusting Cygnoid aliens (“You’ve tried the rest, now we’re open!”). Family Bros. Pizzeria serves up a variety of warm pizzas designed for the discerning human. Gag toppings are listed on a menu, all of them (thankfully) SOLD OUT: silt, asbestos, flaming magnesium, stucco, scarab and guano.

FISHY JOE’S is a questionable seafood establishment, much like Long John Silver’s. Because owner and CEO Joseph Gilman is an unscrupulous businessman, the menu extends beyond his classic Mermaid Fish Sandwiches and Lobster Zoidbergs to include the ever-popular Popplers. In the show’s universe, these delicious bite-sized snacks are unborn monsters from Omicron Persei 8. At Universal’s insistence, in Florida they are instead honey walnut shrimp.

HERMES’ JERKED MEATS is a tax shelter which offers barbecued fare with Jamaican spices. Try the jerk chicken, the jerk pork, the jerk vegetables, or the Big Jerk Platter. Also sample the flamin’ hot Buggalo Wings, the Bender Burgers, or the Gardener Lover’s Salad.

Every counter service station offers a consistent menu of sides and drinks. Of greatest note is Futurama’s signature beverage, Slurm, a highly-addictive goo secreted by a giant space worm. Who hasn’t wanted to try that? Those with refined palates describe Slurm as a soft drink with a flavor somewhere between Mountain Dew and green apple. Universal expects Slurm to be their next Butterbeer, and has plans to expand the brand with Royal Slurm, Super Slurm, and even a soft serve Slurm Whip. Guests who lack “the craving” may instead opt to drink “rare, 21st Century Coca-Cola products.”

Appetizers available at every establishment include Philip J. French Fries, Bean Bay Beans (“They’re the beaniest!”), “Froot” Cups, and a grand assortment of mouth-watering Soylent Snax.

The “fresh-squeezed” Extreme Walrus Juice is currently unavailable.

For alcoholics, Futurama offers a wide selection of inhibition-reducing beers, to be found at a substantial price in O’ZORGNAX’S PUB. Get blasted on Olde Fortran Malt Liquor, or go cheap with LoBrau. Or enjoy delicious Benderbrau (slogan: “Let’s Get Drunk!”), which comes steeped in natural robot flavoring. All of Futurama’s booze is brewed by Universal Creative in an old Jaws boat, so you know it’s good!

Futurama’s dining options are clustered together near an enclosed dining space, THE HIP JOINT, a retro dance club with Jetsons-style décor. On the walls, futuristic devices known as “televisions” play appropriate and never-irritating clips from “Futurama” TV shows: “All My Circuits,” “Everybody Loves Hypnotoad,” “The Scary Door,” the list goes on! Dance floors feature interactive light-up neon blocks that will astound and mesmerize. For those guests willing to brave Florida’s weather and aggressive mosquito population, patio seating is also available.


ALIEN OVERLORD & TAYLOR, in association with Giorgio Armonster, is the largest department store in New New York. Ads crow about the special “1% off sale!” Here guests will pore over a fabulous selection of clothing needlessly adorned with tailfins, for that timeless 31st Century look. Find that special velour uniform you’ve always lusted after, or try on a snug pair of Lightspeed Briefs brand underpants. Buy a mind-melting Brain Slug Hat, or Bender’s Sandalwood Soap. For those tourists who itch, try Torgo’s Executive Powder, which does nothing. And costumes? Alien Overlord & Taylor can satisfy the cosplay needs of even the palest nerd!

MOM’S FRIENDLY ROBOT SHOP next door caters to today’s modern robot-on-the-go. As far as we’re concerned, this is a toy store. Of special note is an adorable Tickle Me Bender, with over a dozen inappropriate catch phrases. Little girls will prefer the Lovey Bears (a Romanticorp product), colorful bears stuffed full of fire-retardant “love fluff.” Most worthwhile of all is the Holophonor, as seen in Fry’s Opera (above). Guests who purchase one may themselves create holographic imagery both in the shop’s special Holophonor Recital Room, as well as in designated spots throughout the land.

PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH’S DOOM-O-TERIA (located at the exit of The Futurama Ride) sells futuristic tchotchkes at twice the price! Most of these are the award-losing inventions of Professor Farnsworth himself. An incredibly short list includes the Scooty-Puff Jr., the Doom Clock and the Cool-O-Meter, plus Doomsday Devices to suit every need. (Basically, toys, pencil sharpeners, and things for your iPhone.) Most astounding of all is the Finglonger, a wearable finger extender!

7^11 (“Open 28 hours a day”) offers the sort of snacks usually only found in a gas station men’s room. Naturally, this prepackaged fare is far better than most theme park food. Here are items unique to the “Futurama” universe, such as Bachelor Chow (kettle corn), Space Honey (jelly beans), Mom’s Old-Fashioned Robot Oil (dark-tinted soda), Balcony-Grade Popcorn (self-explanatory) and refillable Spice Weasels for all your down-home Neptunian cooking needs.

EYE ROBOT (“Facial accessories for the stylish mechanoid”) is a small stand selling sunglasses as well as Dr. Flimflam’s Miracle Cream, a sunblock.

Throughout Futurama are facades and false fronts which suggest an even richer universe. See the Robot Arms, Applied Cryogenics, Citihall, the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium, Madison Cube Garden, the Church of Robotology, and many more! Frosted glass windows feature animated silhouettes. Interactive elements are scattered throughout, such as robot mailboxes, holophonor screens and fully-functioning Suicide Booths. (On second thought, nix the Suicide Booths. This isn’t Six Flags.)

[I’d’ve ended with some seasonal overlay talk (Xmas), and I’d’ve hyped Futurama’s big opening gala and celebrity endorsement (Al Gore). Then my proposal would’ve petered out uneventfully.]

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September 4, 2015, 7:36 AM

Terrible news today from Theme Park Prison. Michael Eisner has escaped!

Details at present are hazy, but apparently Eisner managed to remove his feeding mask. Several guards are dead, killed by the same ballpoint pen he once used to sign pink slips. Eisner was last seen hitchhiking his way towards DCA, muttering something about “rebuilding the Maliboomer” and “quality has no place at Disney.” Bob Iger has been moved to a safe house.

To anyone in the parks today, if you happen to see Michael Eisner, please do not engage him! Just back away slowly and alert the proper authorities. Hopefully we can end this crisis without further loss of theming.

September 4, 2015, 3:13 PM

I'm beginning to wonder if "Douglas Hindley" is actually a pseudonym that Michael Eisner is using to take part in Theme Park way Michael Eisner could do as well as Douglas is doing..although if something resembling Maliboomer or a giant orange appears in his final proposal I might begin to wonder.

September 5, 2015, 9:46 AM


September 10, 2015, 8:01 AM

Breaking news from the Michael Eisner fugitive crisis!

Police late yesterday evening discovered a gruesome scene in the So Cal home of former Disneyland president Paul Pressler. The shredded remains of old Country Bear animatronics have been erected in some sort of bizarre shrine. A cryptic message smeared on the walls, written in Dole Whip, declares “This Is MY Magic.”

Evidence suggests that Eisner and Pressler have joined forces. The pair is reportedly driving across the country in a ’76 Datsun Cherry, leaving a trail of carnage in their wake. Authorities describe their vehicle as “unthemed.” A full-scale manhunt is underway, with cross-agency cooperation between Disney, Universal and Homeland Security. The CIA has flown in a team of legendary assassins on loan from the Oriental Land Company.

Sightings of the notorious duo have occurred in several Six Flags parks, where the fugitives reportedly gain their inspiration. Pushpin maps paint a startling trajectory: a path leading directly from Southern California to Orlando. My sources within Theme Park Prison say they’d heard Eisner rambling endlessly about Disney Hollywood Studios, and “finishing what [he] started.” It’s too soon to tell, but that blinkered park may soon become the final battleground in Eisner’s insane masterplan.

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