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Lost Parks

Musée Mécanique: A True Historical Gem of San Francisco History

Photo by Kris Rowberry

Found a great article today on one of my favorite San Francisco institutions, the decidedly retro “Musée Mécanique” at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Laffing Sal at the Musee Mechanique, San Francisco.

Originally located in the basement of the Cliff House and before then at Playland-at-the-Beach, this eclectic collection of antique mechanical instruments, games and displays (some well over 100 years old) is by far the best way to spend your afternoon at the wharf, especially if the cruises to Alcatraz are sold out or crazy packed.

Check out the article here, from SF Weekly:

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2013/11/tourism_for_locals_musee_mecan.php


Lost Parks featured in the Huffington Post!

Kris Rowberry, Roller Coaster Expert

Add another media outlet to the list of organizations that have discovered the charm of the “Lost Parks” project – today, we’re featured in The Huffington Post!

Huffington

Read the article, here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/lost-parks-of-northern-california_n_4456181.html

2013 has been an amazing year for coverage – I cannot wait to see what 2014 has in store for us!


Great American Thrills Trademark Approved

If you’re looking for the next great travel show about amusement or theme parks, coasters or thrill rides – your search just got easier and your costs just went down, because Great American Thrills® is now an officially recognized and registered trademark!

There are some moments in life that are just photo-op worthy. Yesterday, I was fortunate to experience just such an occasion:

Trademark Approved

As of November 26th, 2013 – Great American Thrills gets a little modification – a circular “®” attached, to be specific. It now can be considered a brand with the U.S. Government! (Sans paying taxes as a corporation).

Hot damn!

Sadly, I had to wait until yesterday to pick up the paperwork – and let me tell you – it feels a whole lot more real when you’ve got that sheet of paper (in a protective cover) in your hands!

According to my preparing attorney, Michael Bosworth of IPx Law – I was the first person ever to want to come and pick up the paperwork in person. Certainly I was the first to take a photo of it, too ; ) Never being one to turn down the opportunity to be in front of a camera – I couldn’t resist…

Three years of planning and saving brought me to this moment – and now we’re almost ready to take the next step in the five year plan.

Mark my words – 2014 will be the year of Great American Thrills®, and we couldn’t be happier to have you along for the ride!


Busy Week for Lost Parks of Northern California

Despite the fact that we weren’t nominated for Creative Awards from CreaTV late last week, we haven’t let it get us down. In fact, we’ve had more media than ever contact us about the “Lost Parks” series!

Just this week, we’ve been in contact / interviewed with :

The Santa Cruz Sentinel

The San Jose Mercury News

KION Central Coast News

Oh, did we mention we’re still trying to finish the Santa’s Village episode, too? : )

Stay tuned everyone, we’re not the fastest growing amusement / theme park website on the web for nothing!


Former Santa’s Village Theme Park Site A Tempting Location for Silicon Valley?

It’s been tried before, but will this be the project that finally replaces the empty space left by the Santa’s Village site in Scotts Valley?

You can read the whole article from our friend Nate Donato Weinstein in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, here:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2013/11/23/new-owner-of-borland-campus-to-seek.html


Lost Parks of Northern California – Santa’s Village Preview

Have you been naughty, or nice so far this holiday season? Either way – we’re happy to release a preview to our Santa’s Village episode of the Lost Parks of Northern California!

Find out how eating at McDonald’s may connect you to the park – in addition to the many pieces of Santa’s Village strewn throughout Northern California!

Stay tuned here to Great American Thrills for the latest updates, including a release date!


Taking our Lumps

I suppose it was inevitable – the “Lost Parks” and Great American Thrills train (so to speak) was doing so well for such a long time – eventually we’d have to stumble or run into some adversity.

Unfortunately, that adversity came in the form of a Facebook message at 12:53am on early Friday morning.

As some of you know, we air sporadically on CreaTV in San Jose and Campbell. We had entered our Manteca Watersides episode into three categories for consideration in their CreaTiVe Awards – a massive gala held at the California Theatre every January.

Sadly, the episode (the best in the series thus far) did not qualify as a finalist in any of the three categories it was entered into. (Creative Excellence – Editor, Creative Excellence – Producer, Non-Profit – 2-30 mins.)

To say it’s a blow to the ego would be an understatement – but, if I’m looking on the flip side, it says a ton about the state of local producers and their content that something as detailed and time consuming as our project was – was simply not enough.

We move onward – to the Santa’s Village episode, and then into a bright 2014 full of optimism, hope and, “who knows.”


Architect Envisioned Massive Coasters for Golden Gate, Bay Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Roller Coaster

From the people who brought you the massive Hangar One at Moffett Field, The Empire State Building and Hoover Dam, comes arguably the grandest, most scenic (and most insane) roller coaster idea of ALL TIME!

Golden Gate Bridge Roller Coaster

The proposed “Bridge Coasters” would not only break current coaster records – they would obliterate them – 75 years before the records were even set! Photo from the California State Archive

The stats for this proposed duo of coasters are simply staggering. 1,000 feet tall – 750 foot drops – a 190 mph top speed. Even by today’s standards, these two coasters would have easily kept their records for height and speed.

By comparison, the Transamerica Pyramid – which was built in 1972 and is the tallest building in San Francisco – is 850 feet tall.

The tallest roller coaster in the world currently is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. It tops out at a measly 456 feet high. Formula Rossa in the UAE is the fastest in the world, at a yawn inducing 149 mph. Heck, even the “bunny hills” on these coasters were proposed to do 40 mph over them…at 1,000 feet in the air!

Photo copyright 2007, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved

Double the height of Kingda Ka, and it still wouldn’t be as tall as the proposed “Golden Gate Thunderbolt” roller coaster!

Where do I line up?

The folks in the Depression sure thought bigger than we do today, and it’s understandable. It was a dark time for America – and people needed something – anything – in order to lift their spirits. What better way than to build something that was (and may never be) seen by human eyes?

I’m not exactly sure how they would have propelled the ride at such speeds, or how to get it up there to begin with – I know for a fact that Cal OSHA would laugh the proposal right out the door in today’s litigious world…not to mention it’s pretty clear the physics of a ride with that much wind resistance would never be able to complete its circuit!

Ironically, two identical roller coasters WERE built at each of the 1939 Expositions in New York and San Francisco. After the fair ended in New York, the ride was eventually moved…to Riverside Park in Massachusetts, eventually becoming Six Flags New England – where it still runs today as – you guessed it – “Thunderbolt,” the same name proposed for the rides on the bridges.

Thunderbolt at the 1939 SF Exposition

This exact coaster layout, which ran at both 1939 Expositions in New York and San Francisco still runs at Six Flags New England, as “Thunderbolt,” an ACE Coaster Classic. (Shot from SF Exposition)

Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

Thunderbolt at Six Flags New England. Photo by Kris Rowberry, all rights reserved.

And yes, you can expect this and many other amazing nuggets of coaster knowledge and “what if” history to appear in an upcoming episode of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series!

Read the whole article, from KPIX-5 in San Francisco, here, or just copy and paste the link below:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/11/22/designer-once-envisioned-massive-coasters-on-golden-gate-bay-bridges/


“Lost Parks” – Preserving History One Park at a Time

Part of the fun of doing the “Lost Parks” series, is knowing that we’re preserving history on film. That being said, we certainly didn’t think we were *THIS* close to losing one of our recent shoot locations:

http://www.scottsvalley.org/downloads/council/2013/11-20-13.Agenda.pdf

According to the latest Scotts Valley City Council meeting, the permit for building houses on the former Santa’s Village site has been changed – to add a demolition permit for the Polo barn (the last piece of the park still standing). 

The Polo Barn also holds an incredible secret – we won’t give it away – but you should definitely check out our Santa’s Village episode when it debuts next month!

The Polo Barn, which dates back to the 1930's - and is the last piece of Santa's Village still standing - is now scheduled for demolition as soon as possible, according to the latest City Council minutes. Photo by ACE NorCal - used with permission.

The Polo Barn, which dates back to the 1930’s – and is the last piece of Santa’s Village still standing – is now scheduled for demolition as soon as possible, according to the latest Scotts Valley City Council minutes. Photo by ACE NorCal – used with permission.

Apparently, they’re okay with demolishing a historic (albeit in rough shape) landmark in the process. Alternative plans include razing the building and building a replica, or having Lennar Homes (the developer) pay a one lump sum to the city in the amount of $1 million to allow to, “demolish and forget it.”

Thankfully, the Santa’s Village episode was able to capture this soon-to-be-gone structure – so it will be preserved foreever, despite the roar of the bulldozers.


Documenting the Lost Parks of Northern California on NBC Bay Area

For those of you who missed the story that Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area, did of us, they’ve just posted the link (and article) online. We’ll try to embed the video here shortly, but until then…

You can find the article here, or copy/paste the link below:

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Documenting-The-Lost-Parks-Of-Northern-California-232016161.html

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Featured tonight on “Bay Area Proud” and NBC Bay Area

Bay Area residents – be sure to tune in this evening to NBC Bay Area (KNTV) at 5:00p.m., as you’ll get a behind the scenes look at our latest “Lost Parks” project, “Santa’s Village of Scotts Valley.”

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Promotional photo by NBC Bay Area

If you’re not in the Bay Area, you can catch the segment here, once it’s posted online.

Garvin Thomas (Emmy award winning journalist) followed the whole Lost Parks crew for most of the day, to highlight the work we’re doing. For those who have not seen the show, “Each week NBC Bay Area’s Garvin Thomas profiles the people, the groups, and the companies making the Bay Area, and the world, a better place to live. Bay Area Proud stories are success stories; inspiring profiles of those making a positive change in our communities.”

Kris Rowberry, Nicholas Laschkewitsch, Lost Parks, Garvin Thomas

Special thanks to Garvin Thomas and Claire the Intern for hanging out with us and seeing what “Lost Parks” is all about. Photo by ACE NorCal, used with permission.

Be sure to give him a like or follow to see many of his other uplighting stories and subjects. Even he had to admit, he has the best job in all of journalism – covering only positive stories.

Check out our video series here.

So, who’s inspired to go preserve a piece of history?


“Lost Parks” Goes Vertical!

With every video we’ve produced so far in the “Lost Parks” series, we’ve aimed to add one piece of equipment to make them better than the previous episode. For instance, in the first three episodes, did you notice:

Pacific City – DLSR camera slider:

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The “nostalgic” intro shots, all done via the slider.

Luna Park – GoPro Hero 2:

Even though we measured, this trolley came way too close to being crushed!

Even though we measured, this trolley came way too close to crushing this camera!

Manteca Waterslides – Camera crane / jib:

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We won this in a Facebook contest – seriously!

And now, for our Santa’s Village episode, may we debut our latest addition…FLYING CAMERA DRONES!

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Andy’s “Little Bird” flying camera drone. Photo by ACE NorCal, used with permission.

Aptly named "Big Bird" who did most of the heavy lifting for the shoot. Photo by ACE NorCal, used with permission.

Aptly named “Big Bird” who did most of the heavy lifting for the shoot. Photo by ACE NorCal, used with permission.

Well, two to be precise, “Little Bird” and “Big Bird.” They’re proudly owned by Andrew Hansis, an ACE NorCal member, who couldn’t resist seeing what they could do for the Lost Parks series.

Turns out, it was a TON! Look for their shots in our latest episode – debuting December 9th, 2013!

For more info on the “Lost Parks” series – click here!


On Google+? So are We!

G+ers – we just went live with our Great American Thrills™ fan page!

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Great American Thrills on Google+

You can also check out our other social media pages here:

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

Twitter:

http://www.twitter.com/GreatAmThrills

Google+:

http://www.google.com/+KrisRowberry

Instagram:

http://instagram.com/krowberry

Receive updates, invites to events and more on the world of “Great American Thrills™” as well as the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series. So don’t delay – join us on social media and follow us today!


San Mateo County History Museum Presentation a Success

For everyone who attended my “Lost Parks” history presentation at the San Mateo County History Museum last weekend – an immense THANK YOU is in order!

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Over 60 of you attended the event (which was a VERY large crowd for these sorts of events, according to the museum staff). And the feedback we received was universally positive. If you’ve never been to this museum – the building itself is a piece of art, in addition to all of the exhibits!

If you missed the event – don’t despair – we’re already working on a video of the presentation, so you can attend “virtually.”

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Remember, you can always help support Great American Thrills™ by liking and sharing our updates with your favorite cable channels social media pages – or just tell your friends about the work we’re doing!


San Mateo County History Museum Presentation Tomorrow

Don’t forget!

Tomorrow afternoon is my “Lost Parks” presentation at the San Mateo County Museum.

The presentation starts promptly at 1:00pm – don’t be late!

Learn more here: http://www.historysmc.org/main.php?page=docket

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“Lost Parks” featured in the San Francisco Examiner!

No, it’s not a broken record you’re hearing – I really am featured in / on a major news outlet for the second time this week!

This time, it’s the San Francisco Examiner, who were very kind to promote my “Lost Parks” presentation at the San Mateo County History Museum.

For the full article, pick up a copy of today's Examiner, or click the link below.

For the full article, pick up a copy of today’s Examiner, or click the link below.

Let’s hope to keep this remarkable streak alive and continue to build awareness for the brand – feel free to share Great American Thrills with all your friends, family and favorite television stations / networks!

Read the article here:

Or copy / paste this link:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/thrill-seeker-revels-in-amusement-park-history/Content?oid=2610741


History Museum Presentation This Saturday

Planning your weekend already? Don’t forget about my “Lost Parks” presentation at the San Mateo County History Museum at 1:00pm this Saturday.

Join me as I take you back in time to five different defunct amusement parks from the greater Bay Area, as well as explain why our history is so important to preserve. In addition, you’ll see how you can still experience pieces of these long gone parks in our modern world. See you there!

Learn more, here: http://www.historysmc.org/main.php?page=docket

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Former Malibu Grand Prix site to become office high rises

Chalk another one up to “progress,” everyone. The peninsula’s last remaining entertainment venue (not counting Hooters in San Bruno) will soon be nothing more than a bland office complex, joining many other “lost parks” here in the Bay Area and beyond.  The current proposal is for three, eight story buildings, dubbed “Harbor View Place.”

Malibu Grand Prix closed last month after over 30 years in business – managers claim the land owner, Granite Rock, raised their rent significantly.

The site is now stripped of most lighting structures and salvageable items. Graffiti now adorns the castle and most of the site. We’re working with the land owner to see about potentially filming on the site. While technically not an “amusement park” by most standards, Malibu was the closest thing people had on the mid-peninsula to a family entertainment center, or FEC – so we’ll make an exception for it.


The People Behind “Lost Parks” and the Manteca Waterslides

Despite how it may look, there are many, MANY people who are involved in the production of “Lost Parks of Northern California.”

Without them, I would not be able to look as good as I do presenting it. With that, here are all the people it took to bring the Manteca Waterslides episode to life:

Al Garcia, Waterworld California: A big thanks goes to my longtime friend Al Garcia, who is the Marketing Sales Coordinator for the park. He gave us his personal stories of Manteca – in addition to allowing us to capture some unbelievable angles of the water slides in his park – including this particularly moist one. Visit his park (when it’s open) at: www.waterworldcalifornia.com

Roger Ross & Ryan Davies, California’s Great AmericaFor allowing us to film inside their Boomerang Bay water park and make that historical connection to the slides in Manteca, I am forever indebted to you both. Here’s hoping that we get to work together again soon, or maybe even catch a Sharks game together this season. Visit their park at: www.cagreatamerica.com

Mike Brown and the Entire Brown Family: Mr. Brown – thank you for giving us the opportunity to share your family story with us – and thank you even more for opening up to us about all the history you hold in your memories. I can always say that I hung out with the owner of the Manteca Waterslides, and bought him lunch, while we shared stories and went through old photo albums. We will wear our Manteca “Anniversary” hats with pride.

Debby Moorhead, Vice Mayor of Manteca: Debby was crucial to us tracking down and getting permission from the current owners of the slides, as well as a great interview and one of the few, genuine politicians we’ve ever met. Sounds like Manteca is THE place to be in the coming years…we can’t wait!

ProAM USA: There is no way we would have been able to capture some of the beautiful shots in this video without winning a Facebook contest from these guys. (Seriously, we actually won a Facebook contest and got a camera crane!) Our new DVC60 camera jib was put through it’s paces this episode and we cannot wait to see what else we create with it.

Oh, and we’d love to model some of your other products, by the way…

Robert Ingle: Those promotional photos of me in the slides “acting” were all captured by Robert – who’s got quite the eye for awesome photos. But, his real skill is to blend in so I don’t even realize he’s taking my picture. I think there’s a career for you at TMZ if you’re interested, Robert.

And for those of you wondering, it’s Robert’s face that closes out the first episode in the credit roll…

Taylor Evans: I’ve never had a script supervisor before – but if I ever can hire one, it would be Taylor. He kept me on track and motivated as best as the Costco hot dog I bought him for lunch. For such complex shots, he was able to let me relax and do my thing, while he made sure the script still made sense. He also was responsible for the “summer winding down” edit that we thankfully caught that day.

And finally, I’ve saved the best for last – and with good reason, too.

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Getting direction from Nicholas, with Taylor holding the sun reflector. (Photo by Robert Ingle)

I first met Nicholas Laschkewitsch a little less than a year ago – and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to partner with on this series.  We’re three episodes into this once “little” project – and he somehow continually finds ways to both amaze and astound me with his work, both as a cinematographer, video editor and field producer.

This, mind you – without any professional training or experience. Nicholas simply has an eye for good work – and I could not be more fortunate to have found him and work with him on this series. He is just as much responsible for the success of this series as I am in front of the camera and doing research. Here’s to many more fun projects with the best producer I could ever have asked for.

If you haven’t seen how all these people came together on this project – look no further!


Lost Parks, Episode 3: “Manteca Waterslides”

I am proud today to release our third episode in the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, focusing on the “famous” Manteca Waterslides!

Learn how the modern water slide was born just off of Highway 120 in Manteca, where you can still go to experience pieces of the park today and why people still call the chamber of commerce, asking about the slides…nine years after the park closed for good.

This was on all accounts – the most difficult video we have produced thus far. The technical aspects alone were enough to make both myself and my producer, Nicholas Laschkewitsch throw a fit. But, we persevered – and are proud to show you our work of the past few months.

“The Lost Parks of Northern California” is produced in association with the American Coaster Enthusiasts, Northern California region. Learn more about them at: www.acenorcal.org


We’re Presenting at the San Mateo County History Museum!

Great American Thrills is honored to announce that we’ve been selected as a presenter in the San Mateo County History Museum’s “Courthouse Docket” series, exploring the rich history of the region.

Come down on October 26th at 1:00pm and see “The Next Huell Howser” – aka Kris Rowberry – show you how you can still experience some of our bygone amusement parks…today!

Who knows, you just might learn something, too!


How Can I Help with the “Lost Parks” Series?

We get this question fairly often in the ol’ e-mail box. The short answer – YES! YES YOU CAN HELP!

How? Well, that’s easy:

 

1.) Share your park experiences with us:

A souvenir, photo, home video or even just a story – part of the mystique of these lost parks is the strong memories they evoke. We’re always on the hunt for a visual way to tell the story of the parks we’re featuring.

 

2.) Share us with the World:

We’re big on social media – so we’d love to expand our reach. But that’s where YOU come in. If you see a post that you enjoy, here’s a few ways you can help out the “Lost Parks” project:

“Like,” comment on and share posts, photos and video on Facebook.

Retweet items from our Twitter accounts.

+1 things from Google Plus.

Post our videos on your own website via an embedded file.

Plus, we’re always looking for new partnerships, so feel free to shoot me an e-mail at kris.rowberry {at} gmail.com

Having trouble finding items on our social media feeds? Just use hashtag: “#lostparks” to find most of our work.

Tell your favorite cable channels (Discovery, Travel, Destination America, History) or local broadcast stations that these guys would make a great series for them via, their social media pages.

 

3.) Tell your friends:

Seriously, even in this uber-connected world we live in, word of mouth is still one of the best ways to get the word out on what we’re up to. Tell your friends, show your family – heck, you just might find a few memories come up in the process!

 

With just those three simple steps, you can help Lost Parks of Northern California grow by leaps and bounds. Who knows where it will lead us (but that’s part of the journey – so let’s ride!)


Lost Parks Episode 3 – Manteca Waterslides Preview

Debuting September, 2013!

If you lived in Northern California odds are you remember this water park not just because they were a technological marvel of their day – but because of their catchy ad jingles. So, “Slip away today and leave your cares behind – they’re the world’s greatest, so come and ride…the Manteca Waterslides!” (1974-2004).


What does #LostParks Mean?

We’re “The Lost Parks of Northern California” – a web video series trying to track down any and all remaining pieces of the 30 amusement parks that have closed here in Northern California over the past 150 years.

And odds are – you saw us at work at California’s Great America today!

#LostParks quite simply, is our hashtag – a way for people to find out what we’re up to in a fun and engaging way across social media platforms. Come for the journey – stay for the history…ride with us!