Beyond CaliFlorida: Ice cold in the summertime

April 23, 2014, 11:30 AM · Editor's note: Before I turn it over to Jeff, allow me to interrupt to note that NBC's Today show has canceled its planned Friday broadcast from Universal Orlando. No word on whether Universal or the Today show made that call, or why. So we're left to keep waiting for an announcement on when Diagon Alley will open at Universal Studios Florida. And now, on to Jeff, though we'll start by sticking with more Harry Potter news.

Universal Studios Japan – The park reported that attendance at this park was up 7.7% to 10.5 million guests during an off year where no new attractions opened. I take that back. There was a new attraction. Funny enough it was the same attraction that Universal Studios Hollywood has this year… construction. An extra 700,000 guests went to the park to see how much progress was being made on the Harry Potter expansion. I get the feeling that the summer opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to be met by a massive cosplay riot that breaks out between the Slytherin and Gryffindor students while the Ravenclaw students figure out a way to get into the park early and the Hufflepuff students get lost in the parking garage.

Disney Studios Paris – While it’s no massive line to see the Frozen princesses, Spiderman’s debut was marked by nearly an hour and a half wait to see the webslinger. What is it with people shooting weird things out of their hands?

Elsa vs. Spider-Man

Is that now really popular? What would happen if Spiderman and Elsa held hands? Who would win if they battled it out? What if they were to team up and have the webbing strengthen the ice like Pykrete? Their kids would be scary… Maybe we should vote on this…

Sochi Amusement Park – Hey! The park built for the Olympic Games will open just in time for…crap…we missed it…again. Is it open now? Nope. July. At least it is so long past its required opening date that it really doesn’t matter anymore. I mean, in the history books of parks that opened way later than planned, Universal Studios Singapore opened 18 months after it was scheduled to. Now granted it was in “previews” and “soft opening” for more than a year, but still. Two months late for the Sochi park and needs another 3 months….yeah, it was really close to being ready for the Games…

Liseberg (Sweden) – The new Mack art exhibit of a roller coaster called Helix should be open this weekend when the park opens for the season. If you just happen to be in Sweden. Sweden seems to be getting all of the good coasters in Europe. If you are going to sit right between Norway and Finland to keep them from bickering, then you probably deserve the best new roller coasters. It is kind of weird that the roller coaster called helix really doesn’t have a helix in it. It would be like naming a kiddy coaster “loop” or “barrel roll.”

Efteling (Never Never Land) – The park has confirmed that they are getting a 123-ft tall B&M dive coaster for the 2015 season. It should be similar in design to the one below.

Knotts Berry Farm – Back when the Berry Farm still had some berries being grown and the chicken dinner was something unique and worth driving to the park for, there was the Calico Mine Train. But in recent years, its age has been showing pretty badly. Much like what they did with their flume ride, this attraction is getting a makeover. Yes, it needed it. But how about making over Bear-y Tales or Kingdom of the Dinosaur and turning that back on?

Mega Cave (Louisville) - Speaking of long lines, this seemed like something interesting to mention. This is one of those crazy ideas that I would get a brainwave on…right before I had to lie down. Kudos to those dreamers who were able to pull this off.

Kings Dominion – Kings Island gets a roller coaster. Carowinds gets a bunch of land and a huge coaster for next year. Cedar Point gets anything they want. Kings Dominion gets the following…which is some historical attraction that was rebuilt for their 40th anniversary. At least they are not Michigan Adventure that is just ignored. But really? Singing Mushrooms? That’s almost as bad as a slow boat attraction that keeps playing the same earworm song over and over again…wait…nevermind…

Six Flags Great America – A family of five who had season passes last year to Six Flags Great America jumped at the opportunity to renew their season passes in December. Tragically, in January, the father was diagnosed with cancer and lost his fight to the illness in March. The mother, while trying to sort things out and get the family’s business in order, called up Six Flags and tried to get a refund for the unused and never would be used season pass. But, Six Flags has a no refund policy. They were willing to transfer it, which I also believe is also against their policy, but completely unwilling to give the grieving widow back the $72 for the season pass. The media outlet she contacted was able to get the woman her $72 back, which means that there was some leniency in the rules, but only if you holler really loud. Why would Six Flags want to put their reputation on the line for a stinking $72? Why would you take the risk that jerks like me will pick up the story and make Six Flags look like a bunch of greedy stooges?

What this shows is that Six Flags doesn’t care about listening to specific mitigating details that could factor into a decision because they have hard and fast rules that they are not allowed to deviate from. For $72, Six Flags was completely willing to burn four other year-over-year customers before the media caught onto this. Yes, I am aware that loose policies have been abused. But there is nothing wrong with listening to the circumstances and making the right decision whether it is on a company policy statement or not. Other companies are successful because they build a culture of customer service, and not eternal suspicion.

Replies (22)

April 23, 2014 at 12:22 PM · And Six Flags execs probably question why the park chain has such a bad rep.
April 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM · Geez, that HELIX roller coaster was pretty awesome! I loved how long it was, and of course all of the inversions.

But it makes me appreciate Universal and Disney's theming. These other parks just don't have any warmth. And I'm not talking about the temperature.

I feel GOOD when I go to a Disney park. No, scratch that. GREAT!

This ride and others like it are fantastic and exciting, but I'll take Disneyland or Magic Kingdom over it any day.

April 23, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Parks have no refund policies. This is pretty common. Asking for a exception is wrong. Since we are asking for sympathy, she has it, but she is still not entitled to a refund. $72. Really?!!! That's what she is will to go to war for?!!!
April 23, 2014 at 1:21 PM · She is allowed to ask...there is nothing wrong with that.

And it is good customer service to bend the rules under certain conditions.

April 23, 2014 at 1:48 PM · Disney's Animal Kingdom- This week, Disney debuted a spiritual apprentice to Lucky the Dinosaur named Val. I have to say, I'm really impressed by the sophisticated animatronic. It actually looks like there is a human controlling the raptor.

Edit: Sorry, can't get a video embed to work here.
April 23, 2014 at 2:01 PM ·

It looks like a puppet to me and not an animatronic...

April 23, 2014 at 2:21 PM · "She is allowed to ask...there is nothing wrong with that."

She did ask. Then went to the media.

Nothing wrong with going to the media. Right?

April 23, 2014 at 2:39 PM · KD got more than singing mushrooms, it's just not a new ride. A lot of older rides got extensive rehab this year. Rebel Yell got the most off-season love of any ride, but even Anaconda got paint and the splashdown effect has been restored. The Volcano queue got re-done (the jury's still out on whether that was an improvement). A couple of rides are still closed for rehab (Hurler, Crypt).

But, yeah, the kiddies got Planet Snoopy last year. The "big kids" are due for something new. The I305 glow has faded considerably.

April 23, 2014 at 2:44 PM · About the news from the "Efteling"

– The park indeed has confirmed that they are getting a B&M dive coaster
But nobody said it would be like the Kraken coaster in the video. Even more, management actually made a specific point it would be different from Kraken and it would be longer and have more like a real roller coaster lay-out.

- And.. I am curious as to why you'd call the Efteling "never-never land" ??

April 23, 2014 at 2:58 PM · There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to the media.

It answers the question: If everyone were to know that you did something, would you still do it?

April 23, 2014 at 3:54 PM · Ah Rebel Yell, or as I called it Rebel Hell. I don't suffer from migraine headaches, but I believe I received one after riding that horrible, shaky coaster.
April 23, 2014 at 4:30 PM · Everyone in the travel and tourism industry should have learned by now that "no refunds" really means "no refunds to live people who are physically able to travel and attend." Try to enforce "no refunds" otherwise, and you're asking for nasty publicity.

The art of customer service is not mindlessly enforcing rules, it is thoughtfully breaking them.

April 23, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Clearly, I need to be more facetious in my writing. Oh well, that's why we leave the writing to the professionals.
April 23, 2014 at 5:52 PM · In regards to the new B&M dive coaster at Efteling, I only heard the height and the maker and made an assumption. I think that Efteling is the type of park to not do the standard drop and back to the station that is shown in the video, but it is much cheaper to go that route.

And the "Never Never Land" is a childhood thing that I did and still find amusing to this day. I had always thought of the Netherlands as Neverland, and was amazed to find later in elementary school that Netherland actually is a real place.

April 23, 2014 at 6:12 PM · So much news!

Re: The editor's note. Makes me wonder if Universal is still playing chicken with Disney. If Disney still can't officially announce a Mine Train opening date, I wonder if Universal is postponing their live broadcast until after that time.

If Spiderman is getting such long lines in Paris, does Universal have anything specific planned with the launch of the new Spiderman movie? My understanding is they do not have to pay any additional royalties to Disney or Sony Pictures to promote Spiderman in their Florida parks.

And Helix just makes me happy!!

April 23, 2014 at 9:08 PM · You can't sell a ticket to a dead person. A dead person cannot collect on a refund even if it is offered, thus the offer to transfer the unused portion to a live person, perhaps the next of kin. Oh well. The dead exception is noted.
April 24, 2014 at 6:07 AM · To the comment above,

It does almost feel like Universal is playing chicken with Disney.


Universal should be fairly well convinced that their new expansion and rides should blow the pants off of a small family roller coaster (that could be having issues) at Disney. They are also being aimed at different age groups, Seven Dwarves is for the kids and Potter V2 is aimed at teens and adults.

I think both parks benefit from their new attractions, but Disney is not going to see the massive attendance increases that Universal does it really matter what Universal does since they have the better attraction? No, not really other than to try and rain on Disney parade.

I wonder when Disney is going to move forward with their plans of building a park/land aimed at teens and adults? Until they do, they will continue to erode market share to Universal.

April 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM · Discussions on some other sites about 7 Dwarfs Mine Coaster are concerning potential capacity problems. Rumors are that they were hoping to run three or four trains at a time (1200-1600 hr. capacity) but during tests only two concurrent runs (800 hr. capacity) are working out. If they can't fix that, capacity can be a huge problem. The lines and waits would be really long on a 800 hr. capacity attraction. Due to it's location in the vastly popular Magic Kingdom that would be worst than Toy Story Mania. Even three trains with a 1200 per hr. capacity would be pretty bad for wait times. Picture Peter Pan on steroids wait times.
April 24, 2014 at 11:36 AM · I'm picturing Peter Pan on steroids and I see the Green Giant.

Who wants cheesy broccoli and beans with slivered almonds?

I'm still of the thought that Disney should turn Hollywood Studios into their "teens park". They already have Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster. All they need to do is a well-thought out and immersive Star Wars section and expand Pixar Place to include a Monsters Inc dark ride roller coaster, along the lines of RnRC or even Universal's Mummy.

No need for a fifth gate, though that would be pretty amazing.

April 24, 2014 at 1:18 PM · Gabriel: Green Giant, that's good. LOL...I strongly agree with your DHS observation.
April 24, 2014 at 1:12 PM · in respons to :
" the "Never Never Land" is a childhood thing that I did and still find amusing to this day. I had always thought of the Netherlands as Neverland, and was amazed to find later in elementary school that Netherland actually is a real place. "

That sounds actually pretty cute, I get it now,
I wish our country was called the Neverlands.. that would be so cool!!

Nether in Netherlands actually stands for 'lower'.
Since a big part of our country is actually beneath sea level, so it is a very fitting name.

'The Efteling' is very much one of the things most Dutch people are very proud of. It's vast and enchanting fairy tale forest and many elaborately decorated attractions , dense nature and sheer size of the place brings fairytale and legends to life in a way that very much fits the Dutch culture.

Dominique, Rotterdam, Netherlands

April 24, 2014 at 5:10 PM · Menchies at Universal Orlando Citiwalk are going to have Dole Whips. Ahhh, like sitting in Adventureland enjoying a Dole Whip. And probably no long lines. But I will miss the Hippos.

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