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Posts tagged “american coaster enthusiasts

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!


Jeremy Clarkson Rides a Roller Coaster With His Mum

It turns out adrenaline can transfer from the race track…to the coaster track.

While members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts are romping through the British countryside this week as part of their UK Tour 2015 – now seems like the perfect opportunity to share this wonderful BBC segment of former Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson and his mother…on Arrow’s (then) record breaking “Big One” at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Quite simply, it’s “brilliant!”

(Video credit: BBC)


Roar wooden coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to close August 16

On Thursday, July 16th, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom posted across their social media outlets – as well as via a press release – that their GCl wooden coaster, Roar will be shutting down forever on August 16th. The timing is fortuitous – the last day of operation will be National Roller Coaster Day in the United States.

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Photo credit: Kris Rowberry, http://www.GreatAmericanThrills.net

“We are a dynamic and evolving entertainment venue,” said Don McCoy, park president. “Although Roar continues to be a guest favorite, sometimes hard choices must be made to allow for future expansion.”

Roar opened in 1999 as the park was officially re-branded as the “New Marine World Theme Park” – which brought several new shows and attractions, restaurants and shops to the park. An estimated 11 million guests have experienced the 10-story coaster which features the first use of GCI’s throwback “Millennium Flyer” single bench, articulated trains.

According to the park, a special fond farewell to Roar will include a series of events for guests and Season Pass holders, the highlight of which will be a special last rider event.

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How much will this skyline change after Roar is shut down forever this year? Only time will tell… (Photo credit: Kris Rowberry, http://www.GreatAmericanThrills.net)

The shutdown fuels rumors that the ride may be next in the Six Flags chain to receive some sort of renovation from roller coaster manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction. While none of this has been confirmed by the park or RMC,  a job posting several weeks ago that advertised several temporary positions available in California has had some in the industry speculate that the Roar project was what they were advertising for.

The ride had become particularly rough over the past few years, culminating with a major track replacement which involved removal and replacement of approximately 1/4 of the total length of the ride last year.


Riding Roller Coasters to Preserve History

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With the exception of wooden roller coasters, most of today’s state of the art thrill rides are designed by European firms. But in the 1960’s, Northern California-based Arrow Development was the company that parks around the world came to for the latest in steel coaster innovation.

Last month, a small crew of volunteers from American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Worldwide, Inc. crisscrossed the country to tell the story of an American manufacturing legend that entertained millions. The team visited amusement and theme parks with prominent Arrow rides, including: Six Flags Over Texas, Cedar Point, Kennywood, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Lagoon Park and Silverwood Theme Park.

Nicholas Laschkewitsch is the Video Promotions Coordinator for American Coaster Enthusiasts:

“The story of Arrow is the story of the American dream,” said Laschkewitsch. “Four steel workers quit their jobs to form their own company in a car garage and quite literally, turned the world upside down.”

Kris Rowberry is the Executive Producer, as well as the host of “The Lost Parks of Northern California”:

“Everyone knows Silicon Valley as a hotbed for technological innovations,” said Rowberry. “But few know that the valley that gave us Google and iPhones also spawned the world’s first log flume and corkscrew roller coaster. It truly is a forgotten piece of our national history.”

Robert Ingle is a Producer on the film as well as a Photographer:

“This project will literally bring history to life, as well as preserve it for generations to come.”

The public is welcome to join the team on the journey by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on social media or by using the #RideWithACE and #LegacyofArrow hashtags. Fans can also visit: my.aceonline.org/arrow

About ACE: Founded in 1978, ACE is a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion, appreciation and safe enjoyment of roller coasters. With more than 5,000 members across the globe, ACE is the largest amusement park enthusiast organization in the world. In addition, numerous television outlets such as the Travel Channel have prominently featured ACE and it’s members.


Are Roller Coasters Safe?

In light of recent events with “the Smiler” at Alton Towers – and the inevitable 24/7 news coverage about it, it’s good to have some perspective on events like it.

So, before you start clicking on those “roller coaster accident” click-bait links, or go off on social media, spouting that, “…all rides are unsafe and you’ll never go on one again” (liar), here’s some “odds of” over your lifetime that should bring you some perspective:

The odds of dying on a roller coaster as a result or either neglect or act of God are approximately 1 in 300,000,000. That’s 300 MILLION for those who stopped counting zeroes. This is according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Also…

The odds of being killed in a car crash in the United States: 1 in 470

The odds of being killed by lightning: 1 in 164,968

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot: 1 in 259,000,000

The odds of bowling a perfect game in bowling: 1 in 11,500

The odds of marrying a supermodel: 1 in 880,000

The odds of being killed by a shark: 1 in 300,000,000

The odds of drowning in a pool: 1 in 567

The odds of being killed by a terrorist: 1 in 20,000,000

The bottom line: you should be fearing those numbnuts in ISIS, planning how to spend all that lottery jackpot money or discussing how you’ll spend your honeymoon with Kate Upton or Gabriela Fernandes before you EVER think twice about jumping on your favorite roller coaster.

SIDE BAR: Kate or Gabriela, you’re welcome to join me on ANY coaster, ANYtime!

(Warning: NSFW) http://www.gq.com/women/photos/201207/kate-upton-gq-video-talents-wet-t-shirt-july-2012


The Most Celebrated Amusement Park Insider Experiences

It’s good to know people. But it’s even better to know there’s all sorts of things inside our favorite amusement and theme parks that can make your day that much more special, IF you know them! Here now is my top six most celebrated amusement and theme park “insider” experiences as parks open up for full time operation this week:

6.) Dole Whip:

Once reserved for trips to Disney Parks, this sweet treat has been popping up at more and more regional parks every year.

The Dole Whip is heaven in a plastic cup. Don’t believe me? Try it and tell me otherwise…

Once only reserved for visitors to Disney’s Tiki Rooms, this Polynesian frozen treat is slowly making its way out from the mouse and into regional parks, to the delight of pineapple fans everywhere. If you haven’t experienced one yet – hunt it down or request it be brought to your park.

5.) The Rollback:

We ain’t talking about WalMart here…an exclusive experience to Intamin cable-launched coasters, this delightful event occurs when the launch isn’t quite strong enough to get you over the first hill, resulting in screams of euphoria from enthusiasts – and shrieks of horror from the general public.

In reality, it’s all perfectly safe and for the lucky riders, it’s like getting 1.5 rides for the wait of just one!

4.) The Round-Trip Skyway Ride:

These clowns took too many round trips...

These guests took too many round trips…

Because nothing’s better than watching all those people in line scratch their head over why you’re not getting out of your sky bucket. But, with so many of these rides being removed in recent years, plus the increase in overall park attendance (which means longer lines for rides) this experience has become far more difficult to cross off your list.

3.) The Track Walk / Evacuation:

While a rare event, a lift walk is one of the coolest things you can experience.

While a rare event, a lift walk is one of the coolest things you can experience.

A very rare event that you don’t necessarily want to root for experiencing for yourself. Why? Because it most certainly means the ride will be down for at LEAST the rest of the operating day.

But the experiencing of walking a coaster lift is most certainly a memorable one.

2.) The Last Ride of the Night:

Something about no one standing behind you in line that's really special...

Something about no one standing behind you in line that’s really special…

There is something oddly cathartic about knowing you’re the last person to experience all that fun. Well, at least until the mechanics come in tomorrow morning to start checking on things. this fun. But, until then…

And the number one most celebrated amusement park insider experience?

1.) Exclusive Ride Time (ERT):

ERT is the best benefit to being a member of ACE!

ERT is the best benefit to being a member of ACE!

The only thing better than the last ride of the night, is having the ride all to yourself or the group you’re at the park with!

Just think about it – no line and fast operations. It doesn’t get any better than that. Heck, it’s one of the biggest reasons I joined ACE!

Did I miss an experience? Do you have one to add to the list? Tell me about it on my social media channels or leave a comment below!


The Arrow Dynamics Pipeline Coaster – This Week’s Throwback Thursday

Today’s Throwback Thursday is a rare gem!

Arrow Pipeline Coaster

Presenting the Arrow pipeline concept – a roller coaster that stood for many years in Arrow’s Clearfield, UT plant. However, it never made it into a park (although Intamin would make a similar design in Asia several years later).

This video shows the process of testing and some rare POV of the ride as well – anyone want to get in line to be the first riders? Don’t forget to check out our documentary project on Arrow Development by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on Facebook!


Five Ways to Have a Bad Day at an Amusement Park

1.) Forget to check about special events on park website:

Nothing will ruin your day faster at a park to find it overrun with cheerleaders for a regional competition or packed for a concert in their ampitheatre.

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2.) Wear sandals:

They might seem like a good choice for hot weather, but their lack of support and ability to fly away on certain rides will leave you more miserable than you think.

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3.) Dress incorrectly for the weather:

You can always bring a jacket to warm up, but you can’t take your pants off to cool down (it’s generally frowned upon). If the weather calls for rain, it’s probably best to re-schedule your trip to the park.

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4.) Bring your iPad or tablet computer:

No one wants to be a Padhole. But, you’re risking damaging that $500 device every time you bring that dumb thing to a crowded place. Plus, it blocks our views during the show. Just bring a small point and shoot camera – it has better resolution, anyway.

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5.) Visit on Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July or Labor Day Weekend:

Traditionally the three worst times to visit any park. Although, actual Memorial Day and Labor Day tend to be less crowded than the weekends preceding them.

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Got any suggestions to add to this list? Tell us on social media, or comment below!


Arrow Development documentary coming from Great American Thrills and American Coaster Enthusiasts

GOING HEAD OVER HEELS FOR SOUTH BAY HISTORY

Former ride manufacturer to be featured in new documentary from local filmmakers


MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Great American Thrills® and Totally Twisted Media are proud to announce a historic partnership with American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Worldwide, Inc. to produce a documentary on the former Bay Area amusement park ride manufacturer, Arrow Development. The film is expected to premiere at the IAAPA industry trade show in Florida this November.

Several of the most prominent and respected names in the amusement industry have already signed on to participate in the documentary. These include: Cedar Point, Irvine Ondrey Engineering, Silverwood Theme Park, S&S Sansei and Six Flags Magic Mountain, among others.

The documentary is being produced by the all-volunteer team behind the award-winning “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, with filming beginning shortly. Nicholas Laschkewitsch and Kris Rowberry are leading the project:

“Everyone knows Silicon Valley is famous for technological innovations,” said Rowberry. “But very few people are aware that the valley that gave us Google and iPhones also spawned the world’s first log ride and tubular steel roller coaster, along with countless other ride innovations.”

Joining Rowberry as Executive Producer on the project is Nicholas Laschkewitsch, Video Promotions Coordinator for American Coaster Enthusiasts.

“Arrow Development and its mechanical marvels have always mesmerized me and held a special place in my heart,” said Laschkewitsch. “The sheer opportunity to be able to tell the story of Arrow to the masses is a dream come true.”

Fans can keep up with the latest happenings on the project by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter or by using the #RideWithACE hashtag. To join ACE, visit: www.ACEonline.org

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How You Can Be a Part of the Arrow Development Documentary

Many people have expressed interest in either helping out or participating in some way with our newly announced documentary on Arrow Development. So, here’s three quick ways you can be a part of history:

1.) Join ACE:

As a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts are all about the preservation and enjoyment of amusement parks and roller coasters. By joining, you’ll help preserve our incredible amusement heritage, while becoming part of one of the largest and most respected roller coaster organizations in the world. Learn more at: www.aceonline.org

 

2.) Contribute photos or videos of Arrow rides, both past and present:

Do you have some “vintage footage” of older Arrow rides? Maybe a photo of you and your family next to a defunct Arrow coaster? Feel free to send them to: socialmedia@greatamericanthrills.net and we’ll do our best to get them in the documentary – with proper attribution, of course.

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3.) Join us for a shoot!

We’ll be announcing exact dates and locations for shoots across the United States and Canada – so who knows – we just might be at your home park this summer! 529207_572552719484421_2065013057_n


ONE WEEK to the big announcement from Great American Thrills!

We are exactly ONE WEEK away from our biggest announcement EVER!

Have you figured out all the clues? Tell us on social media what you think the big announcement will be and be sure to come here at 2:43pm on 3/14/15 to find out what all the fuss is about…

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Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco

What better way to celebrate the centennial of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition – than with our award-winning episode of “Lost Parks of Northern California” – feel free to share with your friends, family, SF fans and local television stations!

It may have been a century ago – but pieces of the fair are still very much with us today! #PPIE100


Newest Lost Parks Episode Debuts – Frontier Village in San Jose

These are the days I look forward to the most. After several months of blood, sweat and tears, we are finally ready to pull back the curtain on our latest “Lost Parks of Northern California” – presenting San Jose’s beloved Frontier Village.

Be sure to LIKE and SHARE the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks and personalities – let’s make this the biggest Lost Parks episode EVER, TOGETHER!


The Inverted Wooden Roller Coaster is Real

This is guaranteed to be the craziest, most awesomely bad (yet good) idea you have seen today, possibly for the rest of the year.

A gentleman by the name of Jonathan I. Gordon of Stamford, CT took an idea that so many roller coaster enthusiasts have joked about for years – and actually went through the process and cost of patenting it with the United States Government. Behold, the patented “inverted wooden roller coaster” in all of it’s glory:

Inverted Wooden Coaster Sketch

Now, the reason so many coaster enthusiasts balk at the mere idea of this is simple – it would be a maintenance nightmare, very inaccessible for crews to inspect and repair – and incredibly uncomfortable – but that doesn’t mean you can’t patent it! Someday – a manufacturer might be just crazy enough to attempt this, and when they do, Mr. Gordon will be receiving royalties for his foresight to patent this insane idea.

It’s one of many ideas that you’ll find with a search of the patent office that are amusement related. Some, more thought out than others – but all are creative and help move the industry forward.

Here’s the official patent office link to the inverted woodie, so you can bask in all of it’s amazing-ness. This ranks right up there with the Bridge Coasters proposed for the 1939 World’s Fair…what do you think? Tell us on our social media pages, or comment below!


What’s the Difference Between an “Amusement Park” and a “Theme Park?”

You hear the phrases “amusement park” and “theme park” thrown around all the time. But what exactly makes a park one or the other? It seems like the two terms are interchangeable at times – but in reality, they’re two completely different experiences.

This week, Six Flags Magic Mountain was named by USA Today as “America’s #1 Theme Park” – but is it really themed like a Disney park is? (And it should be noted, that the “contest” was a user poll) Heck, there’s even parks that called themselves “Themed Amusement Parks” – we’re looking at you, California’s Great America.

Theme parks generally have specific areas that work together with the rides and attractions to form a cohesive theme.

Theme parks generally have specific areas that work together with the rides and attractions to form a cohesive theme.

So then, let’s define exactly what makes an amusement park and theme park – and start using the phrases correctly, shall we?

FAIR / CARNIVAL – Any non-permanent installation of a group of rides and attractions that typically travels in a geographic area. 

Examples: County Fair, State Fair, Circus

AMUSEMENT PARK – Any permanent installation of a group of rides, with or without a gated entry. Single rides may be themed to specific topics, areas or storylines, but a cohesive theme(s) is/are not seen in the park as a whole.  Rides tend to be judged based on statistics and “thrill factor” over immersiveness of the experience.

Examples: Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Six Flags Great America, Cedar Point

THEME PARK – Any permanent installation of a group of rides and attractions themed after specific topics, areas or storylines. At no time is the illusion of theme dropped while inside the park gates (I.E. everything must have a cohesive theme, not just one ride). Rides are about immersing guests in an experience, not necessarily as thrilling from a statistics standpoint.

Examples: Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Busch Gardens, Universal Islands of Adventure

What are your thoughts on my definitions? I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment below or write to me on social media – let’s keep the conversation going!


Insane Coaster Wars debuts new season, but still needs some off-season rehab

After filming all last summer, Indigo Films‘ “Insane Coaster Wars” debuted it’s third season last night – and I can’t help but comment on their latest “effort.”

The premise of the show, is a decent one – have people vote on specific aspects of certain rides, then rank them against other coasters around the world. Seems straightforward, right?

Experiencing a film date in St. Louis last summer.

At issue with most coaster and park enthusiasts (who make up a large number of the viewing audience) however, is the continued downgrade in quality of the traditional summer “coaster show” over the past few years. “Insane Coaster Wars” is just the latest in a string of low budget, low quality productions from powerhouses like the Travel Channel and Discovery. Just look at some of the reactions from last night’s debut:

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So what can this show do to make itself better in the eyes of it’s core audience? Read on:

 

1.) Stop hiring actors and talk to real “coaster enthusiasts”

Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who's also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.

Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who’s also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.

SPOILER ALERT: Television isn’t what it always appears. Multiple sources have confirmed to this website that the “coaster enthusiasts” featured in each segment are actually…wait for it…local actors found on Craigslist, hired for around $300 each.

Yup, Craigslist. Home to “Casual NSA Encounters” and apparently beautiful & young roller coaster junkies. Didn’t you wonder why those featured riders always seemed to speak really good english…in the middle of Taiwan and Costa Rica?

Those “friends from college” who “visit the park all the time” – it’s usually their first trip ever to these parks. Yet, the graphic in the lower third clearly says they’re “Coaster Enthusiasts.”

Last night’s episode featured two “coaster enthusiasts” who had never been to Kennywood – and in fact, had not been to a park, “in years.” True enthusiasts don’t take years off – they rarely take months off.

What’s even more ironic – if the production company wanted to save  up to $1200 per segment (and it’s obvious they do) simply stop hiring actors – just call on the local region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts – not to just fill the seats, but to TALK on camera. Not only are many of our members familiar with being interviewed – we’ll do it for FREE!

Some of the phrases that are used by these actors must also drive park managers nuts. Things like, “I felt like it was about to fly off the track,” or “I can’t believe I survived,” really make PR Managers have GREAT days. Simple rule to follow: Never mention death or dismemberment on TV when referring to amusement parks. You don’t say “bomb” at airports and on planes…

 

2.) Compare rides “Apples to Apples” 

Outlaw Run and La Avalancha? How are those two rides even remotely similar? (They do both loop, but they’re built completely different). The best way I can describe it – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s as if the people in charge took suggestions from people who actually knew what they were talking about – then threw those papers up in the air, and randomly pulled out rides.

 

3.) Be wary of those who make money off parks

Robb Alvey – who was once the  “host” of the program –  has now been relegated to a “Creative Consultant” production credit off-screen (which is a major improvement in my humble opinion). That being said, his wife was featured on the premiere show as a coaster enthusiast, along with one of their friends. I’d call them non-actors, but both he and his wife have agents.

Now, doesn’t this scream nepotism to anyone else besides me? Then again, at least us true coaster enthusiasts know she actually is quite knowledgeable about the subject.  Too bad the producers edited her in a way that ensured she sounded just like any other clueless park guest.

Don’t even get me started on how his presence on the production team could directly influence his view count (and income) on his commercialized videos on YouTube…

 

4.) Allow park experts or bloggers to vote, not the general public

Let’s face it – most of these Craigslist actors (and indeed other park guests) don’t even know about the other rides they’re comparing, so how exactly can you compare them if you’ve never been on them…oh wait, isn’t that how the Mitch Hawker Poll runs? : )

 

Conclusion:

While the show did make some minor improvements and tweaks, it’s still the same copy / paste generic “coaster show” that’s polluted the airwaves for far too long. Yes, the POV is good, but it’s everything around it that just brings the show down.

If you’re looking to support a quality roller coaster / amusement park program, consider sharing our “Great American Thrills” concept with your favorite cable channel or production company. We promise the enthusiasts we feature – will actually know what they’re talking about:


New Lost Parks Episode on 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition in San Francisco!

It was our most challenging “Lost Parks” episode – ever. More locations that we’ve ever done before. More money spent than ever before – but it was all worth it.

Presenting the first episode of SEASON TWO of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” – the Pan Pacific Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1915:

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE the video with all your friends, family and favorite cable networks – who knows, we might someday take the show national – but we’ll need your help to do it!

 


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.

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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


Giant Dipper Roller Coaster Turns 90 Years Old

When you think of Santa Cruz, odds are it’s image is one of the first you’ll conjure. And this weekend, the Grand Old Lady of Santa Cruz will celebrate a milestone birthday.

This Saturday, the Giant Dipper join only a small pantheon of rides in the world by turning 90 years old.

The idyllic location of the ride only amplifies it's sensations. Photo © Kris Rowberry

The idyllic location of the ride only amplifies it’s sensations. Photo © Kris Rowberry

An icon of coaster-dom, the Giant Dipper harks back to a different era – the so-called, “Golden Age” of wooden coasters and parks, where everyone had to build a bigger, faster, more intense ride than their neighbors. And to think it was built for only $50,000 back in 1924…

Now, most people will inevitably say, “Well, if its 90 years old – that wood is all 90, too!” But, that’s simply not the case. The reason wooden coasters seem to last forever, is because they’re constantly being replaced, piece by piece. Odds are, none of the wood on the ride is original to 1924 – but it certainly adds to the mystique.

The unique curved station offers close up views of the trains, just don't high five the passenger's heads! Photo © Kris Rowberry

The unique, curved station was a necessity due to the layout of the ride – and is one of a handful of coasters that is manually braked (via a computer panel). Photo © Kris Rowberry

Around half a mile long, and only 70 feet high – the ride is dwarfed by others these days. In fact, a “lost park” in San Mateo bested the height of this coaster by ten feet, three years earlier. And yet – something about this ride makes it special. What is that “X” factor? Well, isn’t it obvious? Unlike the modern thrills of today (and nothing against them) but this ride has a soul…old in age, but perennially young at heart.

Countless celebrities have ridden the coaster, all with their own unique take on the thrill. Just walking up to the station provides riders with a glimpse back into what made this ride not only a local legend – but an international destination.

The station is a study in history - old articles and fun facts adorn it's curved surfaces. Photo © Kris Rowberry

The station is a study in history – old articles and fun facts adorn it’s curved surfaces. Photo © Kris Rowberry

Featured in many films and countless advertisements, the Giant Dipper is one of only two roller coasters given the honor of National Historic Landmark (The other being the Coney Island Cyclone).

Those who have never ridden are always shocked by the kick thei old girl can dish out – and *SPOILER ALERT* that kick starts well before the lift hill! In turning 90, the ride is not only a survivor, it is also a legend. A defiant vestige of times gone by and never to return.

Timeless doesn't even begin to describe this ride. Photo © Kris Rowberry

Timeless doesn’t even begin to describe this ride. By the way, this photo was taken in 2013. Photo © Kris Rowberry

So how did this ride survive the Great Depression, two World Wars and thousands of minor (and one major) earthquake? It’s the ownership – the Canfield Family, specifically. They’ve owed the Boardwalk since there was a Boardwalk – and nostalgia has been their best souvenir.  I’m glad to be among the ranks that get to enjoy this ride each and every year.

There’s not many things that different generations have enjoyed together. Thankfully, the venerable Giant Dipper is one that will continue to thrill millions, for generations to come.


RollerCoaster Tycoon Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the first release of “RollerCoaster Tycoon” – arguably one of the most popular simulator games of all time. It also marks a milestone – millions of hours wasted playing the game by it’s combined players…

The original RollerCoaster Tycoon box.

The original RollerCoaster Tycoon box.

Take yourself back a decade and a half…the only true simulator game that was commercially available was “SimCity” – but it’s time on the top was soon to be ended.

An unknown Scottish designer, named Chris Sawyer partnered with artist Simon Foster and composer Allister Brimble to create the game-changing simulator. Famed ride designer, John Wardley was even brought on as a special consultant.

Chris Sawyer developed and worked significantly on both RCT and RCT2.

Scottish developer, Chris Sawyer, developed and worked significantly on both RCT and RCT2.

Like many park fans, I was introduced to this program via a free, downloadable demo, that had a time limit and did not have the ability to save games.

The game allows players to either create an entire amusement park from scratch, or build up and maintain an existing park, within a set of pre-determined parameters.

The cartoony look up front hid the fact that real world physics were at play behind-the-scenes in the code.

The cartoon-like look hid the fact that real world physics were at play behind-the-scenes in the code.

It also featured an easy-to-understand user interface, which allowed even the most novice of players to step immediately into gameplay.

While initially a commercial flop – word spread quickly through the amusement fan community, who in turn told their friends  about the quirky and addictive game, and it soon became a sleeper hit. There are three “versions” of the game, with expansion packs for each one.

Atari recently announced a fourth “sequel” to the original, dubbed “RollerCoaster Tycoon 4.” It will be released for iOS devices in summer, 2014.

The mark of a good game is the length of it’s shelf life. With many people still playing the original version, RollerCoaster Tycoon has stood the test of time – and is still going strong. Even with new rivals popping up, such as NoLimits and Theme Park Studio, RollerCoaster Tycoon continues to hold a significant audience, when many other games gave gone the way of the Dodo.

Heck, there was even a RollerCoaster Tycoon pinball machine – endorsed by the American Coaster Enthusiasts, no less! Not too many brands can brag about that:

In addition, many variants of the “tycoon” style of game have popped up since the initial release of the original RollerCoaster Tycoon. Games such as Prison Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon are among just a few to enter the market. Even SimCity tried to get back into the fray, with the poorly received “Sim Theme Park.”

Special thanks to Lost Parks producer, Nicholas Laschkewitsch for suggesting this post! Got a good post idea? Feel free to send it in!


Industry Leaders Support Great American Thrills

You’ve seen the recent support from coaster fan sites for Great American Thrills®, now – we’re proud to have industry leaders Irvine Ondrey Engineering stepping up and sharing our idea for a better amusement park travelogue show!

Industry leaders support Great American Thrills®

You know you’re onto something when fans of the industry you want to highlight like the idea – but when companies WORKING in the industry you’re looking to highlight want to help spread the word – that gives you an extra-special feeling.

I’m fairly certain “Insane Coaster Wars” (by Indigo Films) or “Ride-iculous” (by High Noon Entertainment) don’t have that sort of support from within the industry they’re covering; but then again, neither of those shows are as “authentic” as Great American Thrills®!

Thanks again, Irvine Ondrey Engineering – and remember, we can’t do this without YOU! Keep sharing the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks – let’s get Great American Thrills® on the air, together!


Coaster Con XXXVII Logo a Piece of History

Today, the American Coaster Enthusiasts revealed the official design to Coaster Con XXXVII – and I can’t help but laugh – as it’s nearly identical to the REAL proposal to build a coaster on both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges!

Coaster Con XXXVII

The official Coaster Con XXXVII logo, courtesy of the American Coaster Enthusiasts.

Learn more about the incredible (albeit insane) idea of the Golden Gate Bolt in the next episode of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” debuting in the next few months!

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

With the event coming up this June in Northern California, we’re all just a little excited to show off just how much we love our parks and our history – let’s ride!


Week of Big Announcements!

This week, Great American Thrills® is proud to announce not one, but TWO major initiatives regarding the brand and television concept that are sure to rock your socks off!

Major Announcement #1 –Codename: Showbiz”

Some of you have heard rumblings that “Lost Parks” wasn’t the only project we were working on – and I’m happy today to confirm that this is absolutely true.

We will be premiering an entirely new travelogue / roller coaster / amusement park show concept in the next few weeks. And while we’ll need YOUR help to get it to as many eyeballs as you can – we’ll get into that once it arrives. Oh, did we mention this project is ALREADY trademarked, copyrighted AND registered with the Writer’s Guild of America – so don’t even think about stealing it.

 

Major Announcement #2 – “Project Neptune”

Over the past two years, I’ve seen this website go from a simple WordPress blog, to a significantly more complex “destination” on the web – and the web traffic proves. it. As a result – the site isn’t working as well as it should – and changes will have to be done far more than just cosmetic.

While the timeframe for “Neptune” is not set in stone, expect major changes to the website (in terms of design and interface) to begin showing up over the next few months.

So, why the name “Neptune?” Honestly – it sounded cool – so don’t read into it too much!

This February will be the 4th official year of work (on and off) on this project. It’s amazing to watch it all coming together – slowly, but surely – we’re inching closer to our goal of bringing Great American Thrills® to the masses. We’re so glad to have you along for the ride!


Lost Parks Featured in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa’s Village continues to bring in the press coverage! Today, we’re featured in the Sunday Santa Cruz Sentinel!

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Not exactly sure WHEN I changed my last name to Rowland, however…

For those of you who don’t get the paper, you can read the article online, here:

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_24808829/web-episode-series-highlights-scotts-valley-santas-village