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Should roller coaster influencers be criticized for not wearing masks?

The “mask wars” of the COVID-19 pandemic have finally made it to the amusement park fan community.

Recently, several prominent ride / park fans have been hit with online criticism recently for posting updates of them without masks from parks and facilities across the country.

Putting aside the fact that the Centers for Disease Control (or CDC) as of 8/26/20 says, “Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” is the criticism over posting mask-less photos at parks warranted?

First, we should consider context. Someone could wear a mask all day inside a safely operating theme park, take it off for one moment and someone snaps a photo. From there, the internet (which is known for thoughtful, critical thinking) immediately piles on the update, saying, “How dare you not wear a mask!”

Context is key in terms of photos you see online, but is it sending the right message to fans?

That being said, let us also remember that large reach and “influence” on people’s behavior, comes with a heightened sense of awareness. We are no longer anonymous, general park guests.  

We certainly wouldn’t post a photo of us on a coaster with the restraints in an unsafe position – that would be irresponsible. Right now, the most responsible thing to do (if you’re outside your home) is to wear a mask and socially distance. As such, we should model that behavior to fans and to the general public.

Yes, this means we need to plan what we share even more carefully than before. And yes, it’s going to be more difficult to do. But these are inherently different times and much like the modified operations at the parks we enjoy, we too must adapt how we do things.

This may become the “new normal” when it comes to photos inside parks. No one likes it, but the alternative is far worse…

If someone’s not in a mask in a photo in a park – let’s opt to not use it or post it. Think of it like I do with empty seats in a photo…it just doesn’t look right.

The more we hammer home that none of this is normal, perhaps more people will take the pandemic and it’s effects more seriously. Only then will we be able to defeat this virus and return to a sense of normal. We owe it to the 190,000 of our fellow Americans who are no longer with us.

Look, 2020 has been one disaster after another, I get it. We are all still flying by the seat of our pants, trying to figure out what the path forward will be. Since there’s no way to stop snap judgments on the internet, let’s not give them the opportunity to make one.

TLDR: We’re probably gonna have to mask up…in every update. In every photo and video…until we beat this thing.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on my social media channels!


When thrills and storms collide!

Crank your amps all the way up to 11, it’s time to “Ride the Lightning.”

Photo by Kris Rowberry.

Captured during last night’s severe storms that passed through the DFW Metroplex, Judge Roy Scream at Six Flags Over Texas provided a stunning visual to go along with even more spectacular sights from Mother Nature.

I’ve been shooting lightning now for about a year, and it’s like playing the lottery. You rarely win, but when you do, it’s a rush almost as good as any thrill ride…

…almost.


The amusement industry needs fans more than ever

Shock Wave roller coaster and Oil Derrick at Six Flags Over Texas

As we slip into yet another week of seemingly endless COVID-19 despair, lock downs and quarantines, our nerves just seem to get more frayed. We’re all snapping at one another more than ever, both online and in-person (myself included). The stress level we’re all under is perhaps only eclipsed by a nation at war.

Many amusement parks and ride vendors across the country have had to make significant furloughs or even layoffs just to survive though the end of the year. Anyone who depends on the amusement industry is worried sick about what the future holds. Our beloved hobby – the very thing we write, photograph and video for fun – needs us fans to help promote and support it more than ever.

So what can we do?

Simply put: 2021 needs to see a moratorium on theme park fans’ petty criticism. Both online and in person. Full stop. To put it another way: parks deserve a pass for the next 18 months.

Shock Wave roller coaster and Oil Derrick at Six Flags Over Texas
Shock Wave and Oil Derrick at Six Flags Over Texas during COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, it’s easy to highlight everything wrong at parks. I get it, I’m guilty of it myself on occasion. But let’s be frank: the very survival of the amusement industry, most notably the smaller parks and many vendors, is at stake.

Posts or stories about rotting wood, employees not smiling or long lines might have a place in our fandom, and those types of posts certainly drum up clicks and engagement. But, when the industry we purport to love so much is seeing it’s very foundation being eroded away, those types of posts can wait.

Outside of being positive, unpaid spokespeople for the industry we love so much, what else can we do? Well, we can put our money where our mouths are.

If your local park(s) are open, visit them! The vast majority who have re-opened have taken extraordinary steps to modify their operations, mitigating the risk far better than any restaurant ever could. My last visit to Six Flags Over Texas earlier this month was so well monitored by staff for masks and sanitation, that brought me a sense of normalcy I haven’t felt in half a year.  That’s why we love parks so much: the feelings they give us.

If your local park(s) aren’t open, see if they are able to sell merchandise or other souvenirs online or over the phone. Or better still, get a season pass for 2021. Yes, it’s a drop in the bucket in what is sure to be a crippling financial year for most facilities.

But, it’s also something we CAN do, instead of sitting at home, moping about when everything goes back to being normal. Because if we do nothing, there may not be a “normal” or a park to return to.

These are unusual times. And unusual times call for unusual solutions. If you’re willing to fight for changes inside the park, it’s time to change your fight to help this industry survive.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below or on our social media channels!


Kings Island Announces Massive New Ride – Online “Fans” Decide they Already Hate It

Talk about entitled!

On the eve of National Roller Coaster Day, Kings Island in Ohio announced their tallest, fastest, steepest, longest and most expensive steel roller coaster ever. It checks off all of the superlatives any marketing manager would drool over and is just the sort of ride a family watching the news would immediately say, “Let’s go to Kings Island next summer!”

Except, of course, for a select group of loud, online roller coaster enthusiasts.

P/C: Kings Island.

You see, apparently dropping upwards of $25 million isn’t enough for these folks, as they IMMEDIATELY began to bash the new ride.

You read that correctly: they’re heavily criticizing a ride that isn’t built yet, based solely on photos and snips of POV video.

Am I missing something here? This ride is going to be one of only seven “giga” coasters in the world (300 foot drop). It’s a capacity darling with three train operation and four-across seating. It’s everything a sane coaster enthusiast should love.

Apparently dropping upwards of $25 million on a new thrill ride isn’t enough for these folks.

But no. It apparently wasn’t extreme enough for some online. And being the Internet, they made sure the park knew their displeasure – via social media:

For reals, dude?

Let’s not even get into the fact that these are the same group of “enthusiasts” who scoured the Internet, stumbling upon the ride’s name months ago.

It’s almost like they’ve ruined their own hobby…where have we heard that before?

SPOILER ALERT: Parks don’t build ride for the 1% (or less) of enthusiasts like us. They build them to attract families to come to the parks, spend all day (and all of their money) multiple times a year.

Several park chains have switched between the thrill-seeker demographic and family one. Time and time again, the return to family attractions (with thrilling rides sprinkled in-between) has ALWAYS been the better formula for success.

SPOILER ALERT: Parks don’t build ride for the 1% (or less) of enthusiasts like us.

Just be thankful your home park is receiving anything at all, let alone a massive, new coaster from one of the best manufacturers in the world.

Just to put it into perspective: other park chains are “looking forward” to announcing glorified carnival rides and ultra-low capacity coasters as their new for 2020 attraction later this month.

Oh and for anyone trying to not call this thing a giga coaster – Steel Phantom would like to have a word with you…


California’s Great America Celebrates National Roller Coaster Day with Tongue-in-Cheek Celebration of Kiddie Coaster

Warning: this is a really cute video.

As part of their National Roller Coaster Day festivities, California’s Great America commissioned arguably one of the best tongue-in-cheek social media videos this year: a celebration of their 1999 Miler Kiddie Coaster, Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbies.

Enjoy the hilarity (be sure to look at the titles) and well done, CGA!


Fan Journalism has officially “Jumped the Shark”

Remember when blogging was just a fun hobby? When you could start a website (or visit one) that covered all the cool happenings going on at your favorite theme or amusement park?

Well, those days are numbered – in the name of clicks and likes.

Over the past few years – and especially the past few weeks – amusement park fans online have been bombarded with fake stories, new ride announcements spoiled through “investigations” and general bad behavior.

And it’s ruining our entire community.

Let’s get one thing straight: just because you cover a park, it does not make you a journalist. All true journalists are bound by a code of ethics with the constant threat of losing their jobs if they get something wrong.

Theme park “journalists” have no such code and as such, can (and do) post malicious, false or confidential information, generally with little to no ramifications. Take it from a guy who’s worked both sides of this story: Fan journalism is rapidly running out of style at parks across the country.

Can you blame them? Investigating and “breaking” news like shipping documents or permits showing what new ride is coming next season…what fun is that? It’s akin to searching for (and finding) your Christmas presents hidden in the closet.

Not to mention all the hard work and planning that goes into these announcements from the park side. True, the general public will most likely never visit these sites, but don’t you want to be surprised on announcement day like them?

“Take it from a guy who’s worked both sides of this story: Fan journalism is rapidly running out of style at parks across the country.”

For all the good bloggers out there, all it takes is one bad apple to spoil the bunch. Some parks have even removed bloggers entirely from the equation, simply because of perceived issues with the greater community.

So what can we – as a community – do to stop it?

In so many cases, we cannot remove these people from our community – but we can take away from them the one thing they want: attention. Flag false stories. Don’t engage on tabloid-style stories. Basically, take back the community we worked so hard to create.

On the park side, actions must have consequences. Share problem bloggers with others in the industry and let them know (in no uncertain terms) why they’re not being invited to events anymore. Give them a road map to success and if they stray – it’s on them, not you.

These bad actors cannot be allowed to represent us as a whole, otherwise our community is doomed to toxicity (and irrelevancy) for eternity.


Disney Makes Unprecedented Statement Debunking Ride Removal Rumor from Internet

This week, a completely unverified rumor on the alleged fate of a ride at Walt Disney World grew so massive, the company took the unprecedented step of making a public statement saying that the rumor was completely baseless.

Let me repeat that: Disney. Had to make an official statement. About a rumor on the internet.

Just let that settle in for a moment.

With larger parks and chains, it’s become a cottage industry to report on park news and rumors, as if they were actual newsrooms, complete with reporters.

The only issue is, they aren’t.

These blogs and Twitter accounts can report on whatever they want, however they want, with no apparent recourse if what they report on is false or misleading. So why do we continue, time after time, to allow accounts like this to ruin the fun of our industry – and why do so many of the fans continue to believe them?

There is an elegantly simple solution, but it’s oh so difficult to implement: Stop giving them credibility. Not only as a fan, but also as a park / vendor / operator.

As park fans, just unfollow them. Don’t even let them know you haven’t forgotten about that one time they messed up. It’ll just give them better clicks and search results. We, as park fans, have an obligation to, as Ronald Reagan once told Gorbachev, “Trust, but verify.” Otherwise, we’re just as much a part of the problem.

Ronald Reagan portrait

The Gipper had it right when he said, “Trust, but verify.” We need to heed those words now more than ever.

If you are a park, a vendor or an operator, ask yourself, “Do these people get invited to media events or other special perks?”

If so, stop inviting them. Just because they have a lot of followers, that doesn’t give them the right to make your life as a Public Relations or Marketing Manager a living hell.

And to those who think I’m off my rocker, just remember this: Disney Parks have been around much longer without Walt at the helm than with him – so they must be doing something right.

* * *

What do you think? Are bloggers and social media ruining the park fan experience? Or do you think it’s harmless interaction that doesn’t hurt anyone? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on our social networks!


Kings Island Unveils Mystic Timbers and Teases with #WhatsInTheShed

There are four things every public relations person at an amusement /theme park should do in preparation for a big ride announcement:

1.) Think to yourself, “What would Jeffrey Siebert at Six Flags Fiesta Texas do?”

2.) Release computer animated point of view video (POV)

3.) Tease a unique, mystery element in the ride

4.) Have ride merchandise hidden and ready to be purchased, just moments after the official announcement is made.

Kings Island 2017 Teaser What's In The Shed

Kings Island in Ohio hit all of those on Thursday evening, even with major online streaming issues, when they officially announced Mystic Timbers – their record-setting 5th wooden coaster.

Not only did the park release the official animated POV (which has already been stolen and monetized by multiple “coaster media outlets” – the park also teases at something else…

You see, the POV wasn’t complete – there’s a little section at the end that they purposely omitted – only to show yet another hashtag: #WhatsInTheShed.

The coaster community online LOST IT’S DAMN MIND – and loved every bit of it:

Capture 1 Capture 2 Capture 3

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you keep the coaster enthusiasts satisfied, curious and talking up a ride that isn’t even built for another 10 months on this project. We’ll all find out what’s in that shed come the 2017 season.

But for now, this is truly one of the best times of the year for park fans!

Are YOU excited for the 2017 season? What’s your most anticipated coaster or park announcement?


Instagram Coaster Accounts Are Not Real Media

I’m going to say something here that’s bound to tick off some of my readers – but it warrants being told:

IF YOU RUN A ROLLER COASTER OR AMUSEMENT PARK INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT…

YOU ARE NOT ACTUAL MEDIA.

There, I said it.

The same goes with just having a social media presence, whether it’s just a Twitter account or Tumblr that’s focused on parks or rides. None of that qualifies you to be invited to nor demand to be invited to a park media event.

This just about sums up most of Instagram...

This just about sums up most of Instagram…

Why? Well I’ll tell ya…

Credentialed media (such as myself) are invited to events because we earn it. We write proper news stories, we create content that’s more than just a photo and a caption. We provide insight for people who may be fans of the industry or the general public who might do a Google search.

Demanding that you’re invited to media events based solely on the fact that run an Instagram account dedicated to rides is laughable.

You have to have impact – you have to actually DO something besides snap photos with your phone and upload them.

Media events at parks – by their very nature – are supposed to be fun. But, that does not mean they are there for you and your “hundreds” of followers to HAVE fun.

Make sense?

Coaster Expert Kris Rowberry gets his thrill on

Getting my thrill on with the lap bar only “Superman: Ultimate Flight” at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

People like myself are there to work; to cover a story. When you shove your way to the front of the press line, or bolt in front of others to get on the ride – that’s counterproductive to our whole industry of covering parks. And it’s why more and more parks are second-guessing bringing in “online, coaster media” in the first place.

When the enthusiasm over a new ride or attraction blinds you – that’s not good. I’m not saying what you do is dumb or pointless – I just want you to realize there are more steps to be taken to get up the ladder.

This problem is so prevalent, that at one media event I attended this year, a member of the Instagram Mafia DEMANDED that they receive the park provided ride POV first from their PR Manager.

Really?

Think about that. It’s not about covering the park anymore, is it? It’s about…YOU…being first. That’s the wrong attitude to have.

Simply put, if you don’t create meaningful content or respect the parks you cover (and the people who cover them) then I hope you enjoy the latest attractions when they open to the general public – because that’s when you should be riding them, first.

***

Am I way off base? (It’s happened before). Let me know in the comments section below or on my social media links!


“High on Life” broke Ohio law on Cedar Point coaster before their “Yellowstone Incident”

The social media and photography world is aghast this week at footage from Yellowstone of a group called “High on Life SundayFundayz” walking across Grand Prismatic Spring, in order to make a cool video for their brand.

Well, it turns out there’s an amusement park connection to this story, too.

A not so thorough look through their Facebook page found the Canucks were at Cedar Point recently. I know this because they were streaming live from Rougarou with their cell phone.

Yep:

High on Life Coaster

As I understand it, Ohio law requires park guests to follow all posted ride warnings and rules. In an e-mail to Great American Thrills, Cedar Point spokesperson Tony Clark confirmed that filming or photography on any of their attractions is against park policy. He also made it very clear that the park had no idea the team was filming commercially inside the park:

“We did not facilitate…nor did we give permission to shoot any video on our rides. Our policy remains the same: no photography of any kind on our rides & coasters.”

I would ask who would think filming on a ride is a good idea, but this is the same group of people that damaged the Bonneville Salt Flats to water ski behind an RV, flew drones inside national parks ALL IN ADDITION to walking over Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone.

Hope these guys have good attorneys. Looks like they’re going to need them, eh?


Rocky Mountain Construction Makes Statement on Lightning Rod Delay at Dollywood

Rocky Mountain Construction co-owner Fred Grubb responded to speculation online from enthusiasts as to the reason behind the delayed opening of Lightning Rod at Dollywood. Here is his full statement:

“We take the highest level of pride in every attraction we create. RMC is equally disappointed that Lightning Rod will not be opening as originally planned. We have been working with the launch system subcontractor on-site to bring it up to speed and working as intended.

As is often the case with prototype attractions and especially with launched coasters, delays are an ever-present possibility. During the course of testing, we determined that the third-party launch system would not be able to perform at the level required for proper operation.

While we strive to meet all of our deadlines, we cannot and will not sacrifice safety or ride quality in the name of saving time. RMC never has nor ever will open any new attraction until it has passed our rigorous standards.

At this time, we cannot speculate as to when the attraction will open to the general public. That date is ultimately decided upon by the customer, therefore all questions regarding an opening should be directed to Dollywood.

On behalf of all the employees at Rocky Mountain Construction, I want to personally thank the management team at Dollywood, the fans of the park as well as our fans for their patience and understanding as we work to bring you Lightning Rod.”

You can read the full release on Rocky Mountain Construction’s website, here.


Dorney Park’s flag stolen and the massive social media backlash over special needs employee not rehired

Dorney Park in Altoona, PA learned the hard way this week that when it rains, it pours. (or maybe when it snows, it blizzards). A member of the Cedar Fair chain, the park saw not one but two major media events – and neither one was positive.

Last Sunday, after the park had closed – four teenagers were able to enter the park, and somehow scaled the 200 foot tall “Dominator” free fall ride to steal one of the large flags at the top. “Dominator” is a triple S&S tower.

Not a great start to the week, admittedly. But then it got worse. Much worse.

Christopher Emery, a special-needs individual had worked at the park for 12 consecutive years, cleaning bathrooms. When he went in for his annual interview with managers, he apparently didn’t do well. So much so, they decided not to rehire him.

When his friend – who also works at Dorney Park found out – he jumped onto social media to vent his frustration. Outside of having a bad interview, there wasn’t apparently any other reason for not rehiring him.

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Within a matter of minutes, both #ShameOnYouDorney and #ShameOnYouDorneyPark were trending locally in the Philadelphia area as well as in the online amusement community.

It took until the next day for Dorney to issue a statement to the press, as well as try to quell fervor online. It was textbook, “too little / too late.”

Social media is a double edged sword. You can rise and fall very quickly and you’re always under a microscope. Parks can’t afford to not have a social media person ready to go at any time and not monitor their feeds constantly. No engagement is walking tightrope without a net.

Dorney eventually responded - but only issuing one statement and not responding to individuals only incited more anger towards the park.

Dorney eventually responded – but only issuing one statement and not responding to individuals only incited more anger towards the park.

One of the best examples of handling a crisis of late came from overseas. Alton Towers not only immediately issued statements on an incident on the Smiler via their social media channels – they responded to their guests’ questions and complaints – ALL OF THEM. And it wasn’t a canned response either – it was custom for each one.

It just goes to show the power of social media in this new era – and that trying to avoid it is only inviting trouble. As for Dorney Park, let’s hope this week is a bit more calm on the media front, for their sake.


Why do we reward people for behaving badly?

Why I keep hearing stories like these is beyond me. But we do – and it’s important to know that they DO happen – but also that they are entirely preventable.

Earlier this month, a self-described “industry-leading enthusiast and blogger” live-tweeted horrible, insulting comments about guests at a park-sponsored event. Those posts have since gone viral in amusement and theme park circles, with all the comments criticizing the posts. The author has since claimed, “…they were a joke.”

People online didn’t buy it.

What’s truly scary – is that this is not the first time an incident like this has happened this year. During the spring, another “industry fan group” posted harassing comments towards a theme park’s public relations rep, after they refused to extend additional, special perks to them.

Why do we (as an industry) accept this is as “the new normal?” How does anyone or any organization like this continue to be rewarded for such egregious behavior?

Easy – because we allow them to.

We do it by clicking on their videos, their updates or subscribing to their social feeds. We invite them to media events, despite our misgivings. And we always seem to cave to their requests, even though we know better.

At what point are we – as an amusement and theme park community, both fan and employee – going to step up and say, “No more?”

No more body shaming of our fellow community members.

No more bad mouthing a park just because they didn’t extend perks to you.

No more clandestine filming or photography on rides, only to take said photos and videos and commercialize them without the park knowing.

And no more stealing of each other’s work.

It’s just a shame that those who are the problem in our community will never recognize it. Let’s help them see the light.

If members of our community (both groups and individuals) can’t handle the responsibility of being decent human beings, then it’s time for us as a community to rise up and deny them the privilege of being a part of our group. Stop clicking on their links, unsubscribe from their content.

Simply put, let’s stop supporting and rewarding poor behavior in our community, period. The general public might not affect change – but we can.

Who’s with me?


Matterhorn Bobsleds – Throwback Thursday

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved.

Yes, that’s yours truly, Kris Rowberry – on my first ever ride on the historic Matterhorn Bobsleds. I suppose it’s ironic, considering I’m working with several of my ACE friends to tell the story of the company that built them.

Once an Arrow fan – ALWAYS an Arrow fan!

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved.

Kris Rowberry and family take on Arrow’s Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland.

Apparently, even back in 1997, I was analyzing rides for a later review…

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved.

Your author, trying to figure out how the Matterhorn operated, even back in 1996!


Roller Coaster Videos Moving From POV to Storytelling

There’s been a subtle, but noticeable trend recently when it comes to “roller coaster videos” online. And we think it’s for the better and far overdue.

While there are some that still continue to tape GoPros to the front of trains and then monetize (commericalize) their work – all without permits or sometimes without park knowledge – there is a growing trend among park fans to elevate the medium to a far more sophisticated level. What do I mean?

Well, check out this awesome, short documentary on Thunderbird at Holiday World:

Coupled with the work of Devin Olson Media, particularly on his “From Dreams to Screams” documentary series – the world of amusement fandom has gone from handheld ride footage to bona fide storytelling:

And we couldn’t be happier to see this trend. So, how can you help elevate the medium? Subscribe to these storytelling channels – while POV is fun, it’s telling a story that leaves a true mark on people.

Shameless plug: “Legacy of Arrow Development” documentary is still scheduled to make it’s debut later this year. Time to raise your game, everyone!


GoPro fail roller coaster photo goes viral for all the wrong reasons

San Mateo based GoPro learned the hard way on Tuesday that not every photo taken with their venerable cameras is the best to highlight to a larger audience.

On Tuesday, the company posted this photo to all of their social media accounts, from Gopro / coaster fan, Peter Win:

GoPro Ad Fail

Screenshot credit to our friends over at: http://www.ParkJourney.com

 

While the photo is quite spectacular – it’s also spectacularly against the rules to even attempt.

In addition to the selfie stick being a loose article aboard the ride – the dangers of smacking a low beam, hitting a fellow passenger or jamming part of the ride’s mechanical systems SHOULD have made it clear not to even attempt. Park rules clearly state this not only in line, but also as you board. We also heard reports of riders with mounted cameras on their body being asked NOT to wear them.

They don’t call those beams “headchoppers” for nothing.

So called, “selfie sticks” have damaged rides at both Disneyland and Disney World due to clearance issues, in addition to ruining the experience for everyone around the user.

The New Texas Giant – the ride featured in the photo – hits a top speed of 65 miles per hour with a first drop of 79 degrees.

Surprisingly, when you filtered out the inevitable spam, every single comment on the photo questioned why the company would post a photo that so blatantly broke the rules and endangered other riders. You’ll note I’m writing in the past tense – that’s because the company took the photo down just a few hours after initially posting it.

Let’s be blunt – they got HAMMERED with negative comments.

But I believe the hammering might be for the better in the long run, as it indicates something greater: a vast majority of people are finally recognizing that the “selfie stick” is not only incredibly annoying, it’s downright dangerous in many situations it’s being put into.

And it’s not just ride enthusiasts recognizing this. Many in the “general public” are finally seeing that extending a three foot pole on a ride moving at freeway speeds – all for a photo or video – isn’t the smartest decision.

In other words, there’s hope that the “selfie stick fad”  may be just that – a fad.

No Selfie Sticks

We can hope cell phone recording on rides goes away too, right?

 

What do you think? Will so-called “selfie sticks” eventually find their way to the trash heap? Or will incidents like this become more common? Tell us on our social media channels, or leave a comment below:


What’s Great American Thrills’ big announcement?

Something BIG is coming from Great American Thrills.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t figure it out before we announce it.

Head on over to our Facebook page, give it a “LIKE” – see if you can figure out the hints. Be sure to leave us a COMMENT with your guess, too. Like we’ve said before, “…no one saw this coming,” but if you can put together all the clues – you’ll be in the know before anyone else.

Let the speculation continue!

Pi Day Tease 1


Image

Great American Thrills teases at major announcement

Pi Day Tease 1


Five Things Amusement Park Fans Must Stop Doing in 2015

Call me “Grandpa” if you must, but there’s a ton of things that just drive me nuts with the whole amusement park and roller coaster “fan” community. So here’s my picks for the the top five things we’ve got to stop doing in 2015:

 

5.) “Coaster Battles” on Instagram:

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Collage by Instagram user: @Insta_Coaster

e36d7b04966811e3aac212f860bcd518_8

Collage by Instagram user: @Screamsource

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get it, you’re trying to drive engagement to your profile. But damn it’s annoying as all hell to see a “battle” of two or more rides that are usually “apples to oranges” in terms of comparisons-sake taking up my entire screen while I’m just trying to see some beautiful photos. Speaking of photos on social media…

 

4.) Stealing Each Others’ Photos / Videos:

Copyright 2

 

There’s a reason when you search for photos in Google there’s a small disclaimer at the bottom. It reads: “This image may be subject to copyright.” So what does that mean? In short, it means you need to get permission to use the photo or follow the rules for using it as defined by the author (Creative Commons 3.0 is a good example of this).

So while it’s so easy to right click a cool photo and drop it into your social media feed (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr) you better do some research to ensure no one owns the rights to it first – or you could be sued, and sued for each time it was reproduced (i.e. “shared”.) You wouldn’t want someone stealing your term paper and calling it their own – so why would you steal someone’s art and not attribute it.*

*Fun fact: While attribution is good, it does not completely absolve you from copyright infringement lawsuits. The easiest solution? Just go out and capture your own photos / videos.

Oh, and if you DO get caught – just fess up to it and fix the situation. No one likes a sore copyright infringer.

 

3.) Flying Your Drone Over Parks / Construction Areas:

Seriously - as cool as you think it might be to fly over a park, the lawsuits over damage etc. don't make it worth it.

Seriously – as cool as you think it might be to fly over a park, the lawsuits over damage, etc. don’t make it worth it.

With UAV’s (commonly known as “drones” becoming more and more prevalent (as they become cheaper), the temptation is there to do some really nefarious things with them, such as flying over closed parks without permission to spy on construction progress, or worse, fly over the general public without asking first).

While these amazing devices have given us incredible perspectives on parks and rides recently – the world isn’t quite ready to see them flying overhead while families are trying to enjoy their day. Plus, most pilots are not up to par with the pilots they see on YouTube – at least, not yet.

They’re also a major insurance liability to the park and yourself (seen all those drone FAIL videos? Now imagine them over a crowded midway) not to mention the serious, Federal / FAA violations you could be racking up – so just leave the DJI Phantom II in the hangar for now – okay?

 

2.) “Selfie Sticks” on Rides:

Loose articles can ALWAYS come loose - keep the camera in your pocket and ENJOY THE RIDE!

Loose articles can ALWAYS come loose – keep the camera in your pocket and ENJOY THE RIDE!

These things are bad enough off-rides, do we really need to capture every waking moment of our lives on RIDES and then upload them? Plus, once that stick / camera / phone gets knocked loose and whacks some unsuspecting guest below – good luck explaining yourself to the judge & jury in the civil & criminal lawsuits that are sure to follow.

 

1.) Arrogance in Parks and Online:

Dislike-Social-Media3

Unless you’re the GM or other high-ranking manager of a park, you’re not allowed to walk around your local park or on the internet like you’re a God on the subject (myself included). Begging for perks, exclusive experiences etc., just because you belong to a certain “coaster club” is not only beyond arrogant – it’s counterproductive to the entire community.

All it takes is ONE PERSON to act like an enthusi-ass at a park or TOWARDS a park – and it will ruin the fun for the rest of us. Think of that next time you’re bad mouthing a park via social media or claiming to know everything to the “GP” the next time you’re out on the midway. Remember our passion is all about having fun – not making other people miserable in the process…

What are your thoughts? Got anything to add to this list? Leave me a comment below or on our social media pages:


Coaster Con XXXVII in the Bay Area this week

All this week, Great American Thrills will be bringing you insider coverage from Coaster Con XXXVII – the biggest event on the American Coaster Enthusiasts calendar – and the first time ever the event has been held exclusively in Northern California.

rd9o

From behind the scenes tours, special VIP events and even a few surprises along the way…stay tuned to Great American Thrills as we update the site every evening.

You can also follow our social media accounts – as we’ll be updating LIVE as we can with these hashtags across all the platforms:

#CoasterCon

#GreatAmericanThrills

#LostParks


“Lost Parks” filming in San Francisco Friday

“Giddy” doesn’t begin to describe the thrill we get when we’re chasing down our local history. It’s more like “ecstatic.”

We’ve been given the rare opportunity to see a piece of San Francisco history – buried and forgotten for decades – so why exactly are we hunting down a 40 ton pipe organ? (And how do you bury something that big in a city that’s only 49 sq. miles?) After all, this isn’t “Lost Churches of Northern California,” right?

Austin Opus 500, San Francisco

Behind the row of visible facade pipes, lies 39 tons of additional musical instrument!

Well, you’ll just have to follow us on social media for live updates throughout the day today and stay tuned for the debut of our second season, with the 1915 Pan Pacific episode debuting around Memorial Day!

Huell Howser would be proud – and jealous.


Cool Theme Park Video Contest

Do you enjoy making amusement / theme park videos? Want to win some awesome prizes? Then why not enter the Six Flags St. Louis “I Got Tsunami Soaked” video contest!

Just upload your video on how you’re preparing for the Tsunami Soaker, send the park a Tweet using hashtag: #IGotTsunamiSoaked and that’s it! Whoever receives the most RT’s wins! Deadline is May 20th, but get your entries in early for the best chance of going viral.

I visited the park last summer – and let me tell you, if you’ve never visited – it reminded me of Magic Mountain, if it were more beautiful and much more humid 🙂

main_TsunamiSoaker


Inaugural #CoasterChat TONIGHT on Twitter!

Join the creator and host of Great American Thrills®, along with the creator of CoasterAddict.com, for the first ever #CoasterChat tweetup!

Many of us love roller coasters and the amusement parks that build them. Similarly, many of us also tweet…all of the time. Now, we hope to merge the two together on a weekly basis, discussing the latest news and topics surrounding the amusement park industry. We look forward to hearing all of your great ideas and enthusiastic candor!

So, how can YOU participate? It’s easy! Just log into Twitter around 6:00pm TONIGHT, and search for / follow the #CoasterChat hashtag – it’s that easy to join in on the fun – see you there, coaster fans!

Logo by: CoasterAddict.com

Logo by: CoasterAddict.com


Six Flags scores viral hits on social media this off-season

Kudos to Six Flags for turning one of the worst winters EVER into one of the most entertaining – and keeping their followers on social media engaged during the long off-season:

First up, is Six Flags St. Louis

After a bitter cold spell gripped the midwest, the marketing folks at the former Mid-America park decided to trudge through the snow to make a statement…and a brilliant one at that:

Six Flags St. Louis on Social Media

The folks in the marketing department deserve a raise just for changing the sign in those conditions!

Now, would it have been even funnier if they said the water park WAS open? Of course, but you have to imagine the marketing and ops folks would have had fits of people showing up, ready to take “bobsled runs” down those frozen, fiberglass slides.

Not to be outdone, this week, Six Flags Great America decided to have some fun with their own freeway advertising signage – this time invoking one of the greatest comedies (and certainly best park-related movies) of all time:

Six Flags Great America funny signage

“The moose out front should have told you – that it’s colder here than in Alaska right now!”

Folks – this is what social media is all about – in each of these instances, fans and news outlets picked up on the post – and shared it across a wide swath of the internet. Even if you weren’t a fan of these parks…chances are you would have seen or HEARD about these posts if you lived near or around these parks.

And to think – this is all FREE PUBLICITY (and positive, too) is when the parks are CLOSED. Thousands of people are now talking about these parks – and you can bet some folks decided to go in on a season pass online, probably hoping for warmer weather to show up! 🙂

Again, that’s the name of the game on social media when you’re at an amusement park – don’t just throw out updates for the sake of throwing out updates (I.E. throwing crap on the wall and seeing what sticks) – curate excellent content, and it will inevitably lead to better engagement…which will lead to more butts passing through those turnstiles.

Review my prior posts about “Social Media and the Amusement Park” here.

About the Author:

Kris Rowberry has been following the amusement industry for over 15 years. He is the creator and host of both “The Lost Parks of Northern California” and “Great American Thrills®