Beyond CaliFlorida: The Krustyland of theme park news columns

April 30, 2014, 10:56 AM · Every press release for the "Disneyland of (fillintheblank)" – Is it just me or do you cringe every time you hear someone who should know better say that their park is going to be Disney-like or, even worse, the Disneyland of blah, like the Disneyland of Russia (the Sochi amusement park) or the Disneyland of Spain (Paramount Park)? Why does anyone think that a comparison with Disneyland ultimately is going to make another park look good? Disney is a major movie studio with thousands of films and TV shows in their library aimed right at kids. Sochi Park doesn’t have hundreds of movies to theme their park to, in fact, they don’t have any at all. The theming that they are doing is cursory at best, putting them somewhere far away from themed parks and somewhere into the realm of iron parks like Six Flags or Cedar Fair style parks, but without all of the rides. I know everyone has heard of Disney which makes it seem like an easy comparison if someone had no earthly idea what a regional amusement park is, but, please, make a better effort to get the comparison right.

Evermore Park (Utah) – One of our readers let us in on a new park that is going to be the Disneyland of Utah. Evermore is being called (by them, again) an Adventure Park, when it is actually an immersive theatrical experience spread over a 40-acre complex, with a couple of theater-based motion rides thrown in. While I really hate to talk about any park that hasn’t seen a single shovel in the ground and isn’t even on Wikipedia yet, based on the staff that is currently slated for the park, and the fact that they are building this project with their own money not borrowed from someone else, I think they might really have a chance to pull this off. The one person that they are missing on their staff is someone who knows quite a bit about theme parks, but luckily, I can be reached via clicking on my name and sending me a private message. The theme to the park will be magical Victorian England. But knowing how much things change from initial concept to final product, the park may end up being themed to office workers in a mundane cubical farm that are magically given the gift of rapid fire paintball guns.

Cedar Fair – We received word that Cedar Fair has “fixed” some roller coasters by adding an extra seatbelt to them. While I am a big fan of safety, this change has caused these coasters' load times to go way up since the seatbelts need to be checked before the regular restraints are lowered and then rechecked. The following coasters are affected: Canada’s Wonderland – Behemoth, Kings Island – Diamondback, Carowind – Intimidator. Just giving the staff the benefit of the doubt, they may speed up as the new process is worked out, but for the time being, consider your wait time almost doubled.

Schlitterbahn Kansas City – It’s official, Verruckt is the tallest water slide in the world at 168ft. I’m perfectly okay when I know that the vehicle is firmly attached to the tracks and that the park has a good maintenance and safety record. But to go down that thing in a free standing rubber raft after climbing 200+ stairs? It makes me want to do the potty dance just thinking about it.

Roller Coasters – There was a fire at the B&M track fabrication facility during this last week. Can I be the first to cry? I don’t want to seem weepy, but that factory is very important to me and I think we need to come together as a community to protect that factory at all costs. I’ll take the first shift to wander the halls with a fire extinguisher if we can line up a couple more people to take the next couple of shifts. The fire was only in a building for scraps and recycling, but I don’t want to take any chances that a B&M roller coaster might be delayed or (gasp) cancelled. I’m sure you all understand. We will meet in front of the building on Thursday to get a schedule put together. Please don’t disappoint me.

Coney Island/Luna Park – The lift hill for Thunderbolt started to go up last week. It was supposed to go up a couple of months ago, but they keep on having to replace parts that are being stolen nearly every night, and if they aren’t stolen, it takes several hours to scrape off the graffiti and repaint the pieces before they can start assembling again.

SeaWorld Orlando – With all of the criticism that the park has received about danger to the trainers, there have been some very interesting additions to the gear associated with the whales. In addition to the rising platform, the trainers now have floatation vests along with an emergency supply of air all in a compact assembly that guests probably won’t even notice.

Meadowlands (New Jersey) – The American Dream Mall across the street from the Meadowlands’ Met Life Stadium (where the NFL’s Jets and Giants play), is now slated to start ramping up and get construction moving again. The new plan calls for an enclosed amusement park, an indoor water park, an indoor snow skiing facility, and a performing arts complex. The owners are the same ones who own the Edmonton Mall and Mall of America, both distinguished for having amusement parks in them. With all of the lawsuits completed, the owners have signed paperwork to get the construction workers onsite as soon as they can get there. Just what we need…more malls.

Star Wars Episode VII – Casting is finalized and second unit filming has been under way for about a month now in Iceland and Abu Dhabi. The principle cast members are scheduled to start on May 14th in Morocco (where Tatooine was previously filmed) for several weeks before moving to Pinewood Studios. The final casting was only announced yesterday, April 29, and involves the following actors previously seen in the series: Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Priness Leia (Solo) Organa, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2). The new major cast members include the following: Andy Serkis (Gollum – Hobbit & Lord of the Rings), Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley – Harry Potter 7a & 7b), Adam Driver (Al Cody – Inside Llowyn Davis), Oscar Isaac (Llowyn Davis – Inside Llowyn Davis), Max von Sydow (The Renter - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), John Boyega (relatively unknown), Daisy Ridley (relatively unknown…but could be Olivia Wilde’s younger sister).

Star Wars VII cast
April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK - Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Copyright and Photo Credit: David James.

It is not known at this time what the new actors’ roles will be, although Adam Driver is thought to be the bad guy. John Williams is confirmed to do the score. What we know about the movie is that last summer Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher started dieting, exercise, and stunt training, thus making me think that they are going to be around for more than just passing the torch. The script is based on an outline that George Lucas had in his head before Return of the Jedi was finished, but Lucas is only a consultant on this film and only has the ability to speak about the characters’ and worlds’ abilities and limitations. Here’s hoping that JJ Abrams threw away all of the politics and is going to get back to the character stories and action. Rumor has it that if JJ Abrams even mentions an interest in meeting Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks), there will be a contract hit out for both of them.

Christopher Moore – While he doesn’t write about theme parks, Christopher Moore does write very funny books that are escapism in the same vein of why most of us like to run off to a theme park for a day. Since we had been talking about him in the talkback section, I thought it would be good to let you know that he is currently out on a book tour promoting his newest book The Serpent of Venice. Since news is what we do around here, we found out that he is currently working on a sequel to his book Dirty Jobs. He is currently on the northern part of his book tour that will continue until the middle of May. He is a very nice guy, very funny, and worth going to see. In Denver, he showed up an hour before he was scheduled to start, whispered, “I’m not here”, and then signed books, mingled with the crowd, and took pictures until he was scheduled to start. There were probably 400-500 people in Denver to see him. More info can be found on his website.

Do It Yourself Project – In case any of you are irritated about the politics of theme parks and the rapid, bordering on diabolical, prices increases, this is your opportunity to shut your whining yap and do it all your darn self. There have been 21 videos posted so far explaining how to do every step. My gift to you all. Now you owe me. And you better not charge me for parking when I come by to see the final product.

Replies (1)

April 30, 2014 at 3:50 PM · A sequel to "Dirty Jobs" - Yay!!! Thanks for that update.

And I'm right there with you about that water slide -- if it were a coaster I'd be on it like a shot. A water slide -- uh, uh, no way, no how!!

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