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Posts tagged “Discovery Kingdom

Joker Coaster Coming to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Nor Cal coaster fans be like…

…at the rest of the country.

 

This is one coaster that’s sure to “…put a smile on your face.”


Is this the worst amusement park trip report ever?

This video won’t last too long on YouTube – so enjoy it while you can. This may be the worst trip report ever posted. Or maybe the best, depending on your personal taste…

Pretty sure Six Flags Discovery Kingdom doesn’t want or need this sort of “ringing” endorsement.


Tsunami Soaker a Watery Blast of Fun

Each amusement or theme park is different. They each “need” attractions based on their audience and climate.

Many park fans (and even general public guests) have argued that one ride Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was desperately missing was another water ride. The park had two Intamin water rides (both debuted in 1999), a standard 20-person splashwater and rapids flume. But that was it. With temperatures easily pushing above 90 during the summer heat waves, the park needed something more – something new.

For many years, a rumored “log flume” was on the books, designed to interact with the animal exhibits already in the park. Consider it a “Water Safari,” but for whatever reason, the ride never materialized.

So, it was with great anticipation that I rolled up to the park last week to test drive the new Tsumani Soaker – a Mack built “Aqua Twist.”

main_TsunamiSoaker

The ride is deceptively simple: Four turntables (one large, three small) sink down into water when the ride begins and slowly rotate. Riders are seated in “barrels” that actually float, as they “battle” other riders, those waiting in line and would be passerby’s with water guns attached to their barrels.

As soon as the ride cycle starts, the entire platform sinks, revealing the water though the grated platform. From there – the best I can describe it is this: ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. Water is flying literally everywhere – even the ride operator’s booth isn’t out of the firing line.

Part of the cool interactivity of the ride is the fact that you can still cool off – even if you never go on the ride. Five water guns are stationed outside of the ride’s fence, allowing non-riders to soak those on the ride. Just remember, you’re in range of the guns on the ride, too. You can even nail people waiting in line – which should be interesting to watch if people begin stampeding to try and stay dry.

And don’t let the small streams of water fool you – you will get soaked on this ride, there is no “wet.”

That being said, there are some minor flaws. All of the Great American Thrills team that day noticed a lack of a “long enough” queue line for the ride, which is bound to spill would-be riders into the midway.

I also imagine it’s a matter of time before the ride is modified, to include some form of seatbelt or restraint. Many riders on Media Day were seen standing up or switching seats to avoid the watery blasts. While riders were always safe and secure inside their barrels – most parks would rather you be COMPLETELY secured…in your seat.

The ride cycle is also quite long (this is a complaint?!?) but there’s a reason why this point ends up here. You see, all of the ride’s “guns” are built for right-handed people. We found that we had tired out from the one arm firing about halfway through the cycle (as did many of the other riders).

That being said, the long ride time also ensures no one will leave the ride dry. Scratch that – the ride’s cycle length ensures no one leaves the ride that isn’t drenched. Even with only one-fourth of the seats occupied, the entire Great American Thrills team was soaked to the bone. I can’t imagine how quickly you’ll be drenched when this ride is operating at full capacity.

Despite my qualms (and I’m a picky person), Tsunami Soaker is the perfect “family flat ride” that Discovery Kingdom desperately needed. It will be a welcome relief during the summer and if you bring an extra set of clothes. (You can always use the air dryer that’s now conveniently located at the ride exit too – though it’ll cost you $5.00 for three minutes).

WORD OF WARNING: Get a locker before going on this ride. Any electronic device is NOT safe from the inevitable drenching in your pocket, or in a backpack or other bay lying on the side of the ride.


Six Flags Wins Court Order To Ban “Animal-Rights” Protests From Property

If you’ve visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this year, odds are a group of animal-rights activists were there too, trying to pass out leaflets and dissuade you from entering the park.

Well, you won’t have to worry about them interrupting your day, at least for now.

According to the Times Herald, a Judge has ruled that the protests (if they occur) can only be done from the sidewalk of the park – not on park property, as they were being done prior to this injunction.

The activists are angry over what they claim is “mistreatment” of animals in captivity at the park. Activists have also claimed that this captivity has lead to premature deaths of animals, something the park strongly denies.

The protests were already a distraction outside the gates, when Deborah Classen and Janet Locke purchased season tickets to the park, for the sole purpose of handing out leaflets inside the park, hoping to disrupt park operations. The passes were officially revoked on April 13, according to court documents.

But, this is not the end of the saga – Six Flags’ corporate offices are still looking to get permanent injunctions against the activists, to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Now, in all fairness – I have yet to see the controversial film, “Blackfish,” which has been used as a rallying call for animal-rights activists over the past year. The film has certainly done a good job of polarizing people, however: it entrenches people who already had a strong opinion on either side of the argument. From my sources in the industry, serious questions have been raised about how it was produced, and the lack of the “other side” being presented.

I have also seen how many of the animals have been treated at this park, behind the scenes. I have never seen anything that these activists call “mistreatment.” In fact, I have only seen a caring, nurturing environment fostered by the park and it’s animal handlers. Many are deeply bonded with the animals under their care – and that relationship is clear from my interactions with them both in the past, and through the present.

No matter what your opinion or thoughts on the topic, the fact of the matter is this: You can’t do whatever you want on private property, that’s why it’s called PRIVATE property. I look forward to waving at the protesters as I happily drive into the parking lot of the park, soon.

 

 


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!


Great American Thrills TV Pitch Gaining Steam!

This week, we were honored to watch as several of our friends in the amusement industry stood up and said, “WE WANT GREAT AMERICAN THRILLS® ON OUR TV’S!

From our friend, The Coaster Guy:

Kurt Dahlin, The Coaster Guy

To our friends on Screamscape:

screamscape capture

To our new friends at BehindtheThrills:

btt

It looks like the Great American Thrills® pitch is really gaining steam! We’ve also been contacted by several other sites interested in interviewing both Nicholas, Robert and I about the project – so stay tuned and KEEP SHARING THE VIDEO WITH YOUR FAVORITE CABLE CHANNELS!


Great American Thrills® Official Pitch

After months of planning and years of dreaming – I am proud to present the official “pitch” video for our Great American Thrills® concept:

But, we need YOUR help! We need you to share this video with all of your friends, family and websites that you visit, especially television social media pages, such as Discovery, Travel and Destination America. The more eyeballs that see it, the better the odds of it being discovered – so SHARE AWAY!

From our press release today:

NEW COASTER SHOW CONCEPT AIMS TO SHOWCASE AMERICA’S GREAT AMUSEMENT PARKS

 REDWOOD CITY, CA: Today, Kris Rowberry and Nicholas Laschkewitsch, producers of the popular “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, are proud to debut the official television “pitch” for their Great American Thrills® travelogue show concept. It can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeIJ6Kd__M0

The show follows host, Kris Rowberry, as he and his crew – headed by Laschkewitsch – travel the country to find their next thrill, based on suggestions and recommendations sent to them via social media, using the #GreatAmericanThrills hashtag.

“We all know social media is a huge part of our lives now,” said Rowberry. “So why not use it to its full potential – beyond just getting something trending?”

“Other shows may use hashtags or handles, but we’re the first one to utilize the medium to this level,” said Laschkewitsch. “In the process, we’re getting the authentic park experience from the people that know parks the best – their fans.”

Contributors to the show have the opportunity to join in on the fun: if their post is chosen, they get an automatic invite onto the show – which offers the chance to be on TV.

“We noticed that most ‘coaster shows’ have featured the same three parks,” said Rowberry. “We want to tell the stories and meet the people of the other 99% of amusement parks here in America.”

“When coaster enthusiasts aren’t watching the current slate of ‘coaster shows,’ that should tell you something,” said Laschkewitsch. “Our concept is simple: Bring back the passion of enjoying the great American amusement park, with the latest in modern technology.”

“But we can’t do this show alone,” said Rowberry. “We need fans of coasters and travel shows to tell their favorite cable networks they want to see Great American Thrills® on the air this summer!”

Both Rowberry and Laschkewitsch are proud members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, an organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of roller coasters worldwide.


Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Dolphin Announces Birth of Bottlenose Dolphin

Yesterday, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom proudly announced that Bella, a nine year old Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, gave birth to her first calf. It is not yet known if the calf is male or female – though it is surmised that it is female, the first time one has been born at Discovery Kingdom since Bella nine years ago.

dolphin-4

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

As it is her first calf, Bella will be closely monitored in the first few weeks of life.

“For a first time mother with no prior experience, we are very excited that Bella is demonstrating her maternal side in a big way,” said Michael Muraco, animal care director. He added, “…the first 30 days will be critical to the young calf’s long term survival.”

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

“Our technology to monitor and track the calf’s progress is much more advanced than in the past, but ultimately, it is up to mother and baby,” he said.

The birth has attracted significant attention in the animal research field, as Bella may have been communicating with the calf in utero – similar to how we as humans play music for our new arrivals in the womb. Bella’s behavior could help us better understand our own development, in addition to the groundbreaking research on dolphins.

But, don’t plan to visit the park and expect to go see Bella and the newborn just yet. While the park is now open year-round, Bella and the calf will be secluded away from park guests while animal staff members care for the two during this, the most critical days of it’s life.

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Photo by Nancy Chan, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

An announcement will be made when the calf will be able to be viewed by the public. For now, get ready for the bottlenose baby shower!


Six Flags – not OSHA – mandates seat belts for several attractions in California

This week, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Magic Mountain have placed new seat belt restraints on three of their coasters that previously ran with only a lap bar restraint, apparently as a proactive safety precaution. The move was NOT part of a directive or order by CalOSHA, as previously speculated by several amusement park fan sites.

“It was not a mandate from the State of California. Cal/OSHA was told that Six Flag’s (sic) corporate office made the decision,” said Peter Melton, a spokesperson for the Department of Industrial Relations via an e-mail.

After the unfortunate incident at Six Flags Over Texas, you had to expect there was going to be changes to operations and seat design. Although, I know I speak for many fans in the community when I say, “This might be a bit excessive, especially considering the lack of incidents on the three known coasters to get the seat belt additions.”

The parks now do not allow riders to lower their lap bars, as originally reported by The Coaster Guy yesterday. This is to ensure the seat belts are all fastened and fitting. If a lap bar is brought down, attendants must reopen the entire train and repeat the process.

Those who have ridden the rides with the seat belts are already seeing significantly increased dispatch times (longer waits) and some have even reported pain due to the protrusion of the seat belts into their lower abdomens.

“Cal/OSHA inspected the seat belts after they were installed and found them satisfactory,” Melton said in his e-mail.

While the dispatch times will improve as guests and employees adapt to and refine the new policy, the belts also provide a much easier way for employees to gauge if a rider is too large to ride.

However, the reported “pinching” action of the seat belts against the lower abdomen and lap bar does beg the question, “Are these ‘improvements’ actually going to cause more rider problems than they were intended to solve?”

We shall see if this is a chain-wide mandate when the new season begins in spring. That’s when the seasonal parks will be reopen for their season. For now, only the two year-round parks on the west coast have confirmed seat belt installations.

This story was originally broken by CGA Insider, when they visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and spotted the alterations.


Superman – Ultimate Flight Outfitted with Seatbelts

The train of Superman – Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has been modified while the park was closed this past week.

The single train of 12 passengers now includes seat belts as well as upgraded, metal side guards. Originally the ride included only plastic guards along the sides of the seats, however, they were continually broken due to guests leaning on them in order to enter the train.

Riders on Superman - Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride. IN addition, they are being asked NOT to lower their restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D'Anjou. Used with permission.

Riders on Superman – Ultimate Flight will be greeted by an additional restraint the next time they ride, and are asked not to lower their own restraints. Photo by CGA Insider, Billy D’Anjou. Used with permission.

Superman Train Modifications, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Metal, more resilient side guards have also been installed on Superman’s trains. The old ones were plastic and broke easily. Photo shared by CGA Insider, Billy D’Anjou. Used with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to riders on the coaster this weekend, the seatbelts have made the ride uncomfortable, with a “pinching” effect on the vertical drop.

Seatbelts seem to be the “new norm” on coasters across the country, in addition to the ubiquitous lap bar roller coaster restraint. It would appear the “dual restraint system” is here to stay – especially with the ride in litigation against parks in recent years. We shall see if it affects operations as the year goes on. (Superman’s crews are traditionally the most efficient in the park due to the single train design of the ride).

As for the side guards – these should prove to be much better and resilient than the plastic ones that debuted with the ride in mid-2012. These trains are not the easiest to get into our out of – so a more solid place to lean on will be a welcome addition!

Thanks to our site partner, CGA Insider (Billy D’Anjou) for the photos – you can visit his page at: au13watch.blogspot.com


Convention and Visitors Bureau Uses the Wrong Six Flags in Photo to Promote the Holidays

I caught an interesting error on my Facebook feed yesterday – see if you can spot the problem with the photo that the Vallejo Convention and Visitors Bureau is using to promote the holidays in their fair city. Those who know Six Flags Discovery Kingdom well should see it right away:

Notice anything "different" about Discovery Kingdom in this photo?

Notice anything “different” about Discovery Kingdom in this photo?

Unfortunately, Discovery Kingdom doesn’t have a Superman themed drop tower – or ANY drop tower for that matter. It would appear the photo was actually taken at Six Flags Over Texas.

You’d think the folks who were tasked with promoting and advertising their city would at least know what major attractions were at their home park…unless they know something we don’t!


Happy Halloween from Great American Thrills!

Halloween Haunt at California's Great America. Photo by Kris Rowberry

Halloween is upon us – and for fans of haunted events, such as the “Halloween Haunt” at California’s Great America, or “Fright Fest” at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – the parks are slowly tearing down the mazes and decor, in anticipation for a new season to begin in earnest in March (Discovery Kingdom stays open year-round.)

Halloween Haunt at California's Great America. Photo by Kris Rowberry

Haunt may be closed – but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive it!

So let us remember the zombie scares, the clownish stares, the frightfully fun times. Halloween comes but once a year – and now for the scaredy cats, there is no more need to fear anything here.

Unless you hate the holidays…


Six Flags Announces New 2014 Additions

Today’s the big day – the coordinated announcements from all of the Six Flags parks on their new for 2014 attractions!

Looks like our local park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, actually made out quite well, with THREE major announcements today.

For a new attraction, the park will receive, “Tsunami Soaker” a teacup ride – with a watery twist. The park was sorely lacking water rides (there’s only two) and those hot Vallejo summers will mean long lines for this fun (and interactive) attraction.

Personally, I love when family attractions get put in – it shows the park has a balance to it, rather than adding extreme thrill rides each and every year, which tend to attract the, “wrong crowds.”

Soaking water + spinning means I'll sadly have to pass on this one...

Soaking water + spinning means I’ll sadly have to pass on this one… (Photo credit: Six Flags, Inc.)

Our question – is where exactly will it go? The park isn’t exactly flush with space, so this means either a creative “shoe-in” somewhere in the park, or the removal of an older attraction.

We shall see, because we’re going to leave the speculation to those “other” sites…

In addition, the park has also announced that the popular “Cirque Dreams Splashtastic” WILL RETURN for a limited run again next season.  (Which is being overlooked by most other sites) This, combined with the addition of “Tsunami Soaker” gives families a great way to spend their day at Discovery Kingdom.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic will return for 2014.

And in addition to all of that – a little bit of nostalgia for fans of the park when it was Marine World Africa USA…

The park is going back to being open YEAR ROUND!

Plan your trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for anytime in 2014 - it's now open year-round!

Plan your trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for anytime in 2014 – it’s now open year-round!

“With the region’s mild temperatures, being open all year means guests have even more opportunity to enjoy Discovery Kingdom’s wildlife and wilder rides,” said Don McCoy, park president. “In addition to our summer daily operating schedule, we will now be open on weekends year-round ― further cementing Six Flags Discovery Kingdom as the premier destination for affordable, thrilling entertainment.“

Now of course, this means seeing rides go down during that time, just like Disney does at their parks – it will be interesting to see how this new year-round operation affects, well OPERATIONS! Seasonal parks tend to struggle to keep staffing up for some reason in California, so we’ll see how this year-round push goes this time around.

Considering the move to an annual “membership” plans for season pass sales earlier this year, it’s not surprising – but still great to hear officially.

For a complete list of the new for 2014 attractions at Six Flags parks, including some truly insane record-breakers across the country – visit this link HERE.


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Throwback Thursday – from Marine World Africa USA

From the first season the park was in Vallejo – circa far too long ago!

Not sure if I could handle having long hair like that again!

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Share, like and comment here:

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Photo of the Day: Roar! at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Roar at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

When it opened in 1998, Roar! was the first modern wooden coaster to feature “Millennium Flyer” trains. Using patents and designs from the 1920’s, Great Coasters, International were able to make this version of Roar! with tighter curves and sharper transitions, simply because the trains’ were able to negotiate them better. All GCI installations since now feature these “throwback” trains.

Sadly, this coaster has deteriorated rapidly in the past few years – and is so rough, that I’d have to recommend a PASS on riding it – which is hard to do, considering it’s amazing layout and speed.

Roar at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013, Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

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Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Show Review)

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Yesterday evening, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was kind enough to invite Great American Thrills™ out to the park for an exclusive preview of their latest entertainment offering – “Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic.”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

The colors of the performance – just like the performers – are vibrant & stand out.

This program is unlike anything we’ve experienced here at a Northern California park – it’s very glitzy and the production value is VERY high. If you were a fan of the “Marriott Era” of entertainment offerings at, say Great America, or the quality of shows that Disney parks offer – then this show will bring back good memories for you.

It also sets a very high precedent for entertainment offerings in the coming years at all the Bay Area amusement / theme parks. (I.E. You’re on notice!) Unlike many other shows at parks which are produced in-house, Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic is a partnership between Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Productions.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

There are seven individual performances in all, this one featuring a hula loop artist.

If you’ve ever been to a “cirque” style show before, you’ll see many of those elements in the program (we can’t really call this a show – it’s much more than that). The program features a showcase of talents, that as the park says, “…combines the grace, power and agility of our bottlenose dolphins and the amazing spectacle of of true performance artists…”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

If you don’t feel out of shape after looking at this, you must be one of these two performers!

As you would expect, the entire program is themed with an aquatic flair to it. Costumes mimic sea life, actors are adorned with prosthetics to give them a more “fishy” quality and the entire amphitheater (formerly Dolphin Harbor Stadium) is adorned with colorful graphics strewn about the facility.

There are seven parts to the show in all, each with their own featured characters and skills on display. During pre-production of the show, nearly 300 acts auditioned to be one of those seven featured performances.Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The pace is good and the program keeps moving for the most part with no real lag time. During the human performances, the dolphins show off their stuff as well, including a particularly entertaining dolphin hula hoop behavior that you’ll simply have to see for yourself.

The show was created, produced and directed by Neil Goldberg, an acclaimed Broadway director who also founded the Cirque Dreams troupe over 20 years ago. In other words, this guy knows what he’s doing.

“Our goal was to complement the personalities of the dolphins and performers through playfulness…and unparalleled showmanship,” said Goldberg. “It will be one of those unique, memorable entertainment attractions rarely experienced.”

I’ll be posting a full, exclusive interview with Goldberg later this week.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Colorful characters abound in this production – the first for a Northern California amusement park.

The only thing that I can find wrong with the show, is that it has a limited run – just from Memorial Day Weekend though August 11th. But in a way, that works – it makes it a limited engagement, so the performances are better and more special to those who witness them as spectators. It’s quality over quantity, and something that most parks would not think twice about.

I’ll be posting a full interview with the Creator and Director of Cirque Dreams Splashtastic, Neil Goldberg, later this week.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The dolphins are not always at center stage, unlike how most aquatic shows tend to be – rather, they work in tandem with the performers to create a sort of serendipity on stage.

For now – get your plans in now and get out to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to experience this one of a kind piece of amusement park entertainment – it’s certainly worth the trip.

As always, Great American Thrills™ would like to thank those who made this post possible: Neil Goldberg, Nancy Chan, Lee Munro as well as the entire staff and crew of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic!

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The entire cast takes a bow at the end of the program – to a standing ovation no less – during the first public performance.

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Top Five Most Terrifying Amusement Park Mishaps of All Time

You see it all the time come the summer months, “Killer ride injures passengers,” “Man dies after roller coaster ride.” Heck, search, “roller coaster accident” on YouTube, and you’ll find no shortage of videos – mostly of rides undergoing a “safety cut out” where all trains simply stop where ever they are in the circuit.

While these “stories” are mostly media spin, incidents have and still do occur – however many are a direct result of disobeying park rules and regulations. With that being said, here now are the five most terrifying (actual) amusement park mishaps:

5. Happiest Place on Earth?

Monorail track is not an alternative to the front gate.

Monorail track is not an alternative to the front gate.

Disneyland has certainly seen it’s fair share of problems over the years. Nine people have been killed in the park (although officially they all died ‘on the way to the hospital, as no one ever dies in Disneyland‘).

Seven of the nine deaths can be directly attributed to disobeying park rules or trespassing. Two have drowned in the Rivers of America. An employee who wasn’t aware of her surroundings was crushed in the “America Sings” Theater.

But the one we’ll focus on is the story of Thomas Guy Cleveland, who at 19 years old, had the brilliant idea of getting into the park via the monorail track.

Amazingly, he scaled the 15 foot track, avoided the 240V power line and began his trek to get into Disneyland immortality.

When security spotted him – naturally he began to run down the beam to avoid them. What he didn’t realize, was that they were trying to warn him that a monorail was approaching and that he should jump off the beam.

He didn’t jump off – and he didn’t get into the park for free, either.

This is certainly not the first time that someone has been killed jumping fences or at least trying to at an amusement park. This kid is lucky he still has life after diving into Jurassic Park: The Ride to retrieve his lost hat – while the ride was running. Not the brightest bulb in the set. Even if you’re not a fan of amusement parks – this video will make you cringe.

It just proves – you can’t stop stupid – no matter how many fences, gates and signs you put up.

4. Perilous Plunge – Knott’s Berry Farm, CA (2000-2012)

Perilous Plunge was plagued with delays, malfunctions and modifications in its' 12 year run.

Perilous Plunge was plagued with delays, malfunctions and modifications in its’ 12 year run. (Photo by Knott’s Berry Farm.)

When it opened in 2000, Perilous Plunge was the tallest, fastest, steepest (and wettest) flume ride in the world.

It was also the most temperamental advanced water ride of its’ time, requiring complete computer control and even a magnetic braking system built into the base of the ride to stop it in the limited space available for a splashdown pool.

During a special event at the park, a woman somehow slipped out of the ride’s lap bar restraint system on the drop, killing her instantly. Investigators believed that because she was so overweight, her mass shifted violently in the steep drop, causing her to fall out.

The boats on the ride were later modified with 5-point racing harnesses as additional restraints – then converted to standard, over the shoulder “horse collar” restraints. The entire attraction was scrapped in late 2012 for future expansion.

3. Crystal Beach Cyclone – Ontario, CN (1927-1946)

Traver's most successful of his "terrifying triplets."

Traver’s most successful of his “terrifying triplets.”

The most famous of Harry Traver’s designs, the Cyclone was and still is considered to be the most intense roller coaster ever built. With speeds approaching 55 mph and g forces in excess of +5, there aren’t many steel coasters today that can pull that off. (And the Cyclone was wood, with a steel lattice structure.)

Considering the ride ran for nearly 20 years with only a single fatality was mind boggling – how it happened is even more head turning (Literally).

Turns out in 1938 – on opening day of the season, no less – Amos Wiedrich allegedly stood up to take his coat off, after the ride had begun. Because he was out of his seat on the first drop, he simply fell out from the forces. To ad insult to injury, he was hit seconds later by the train he had been riding in when it came back around through the circuit.

Oh, did we mention this was the only roller coaster in history to have a Nurse’s Station at the exit? (Apparently it was all for show, but considering the damage this ride could have done, it may have been a worthy investment to keep the insurance down!)

2. Action Park “Cannonball Run” – Vernon, NJ (1985-sporadically into 1996)

Someone apparently thought this was a good idea.

Someone apparently thought this was a good idea.

Yes, you heard me right, looping water slide. Long before parks were marketing 45 degree pitched slides as “looping” Action Park in New Jersey had them beat with a bona fide vertical looping water slide.

According to most reports, the ride was open for one month in the summer of 1985, then was opened sporadically through 1996, when it was eventually torn down.

By principle, it *should* have worked – but that wasn’t the case…ever.

Concussions, abrasions and the possibility of being stuck in the slide were all risks people were willing to take to get on this ride – well, that and allegedly $100 bills that park management bribed them with to try it.

You can read a first hand account of the ride from someone who actually experienced it here.

On a related side note – Action Park (and many of it’s “groundbreaking, people breaking” attractions) was closed in 1996, and re-opened as Mountain Creek Resort in 1997. All of the non-conforming (i.e. unsafe) rides, including the looping waterslide were destroyed – with newer, safer ones replacing them (Though, that’s up for debate).

1. Lightning – Revere Beach, MA (1927-1933)

Revere Beach's "Lightning"

Revere Beach’s “Lightning”

The last of Harry Traver’s infamous “Terrifying Triplets” – Lightning was so twisted, most riders could not handle the brutal forces exerted on them.

On the second day of operation, a young girl was somehow ejected from the ride and died after hitting the track below. According to lore, the ride was shut down for 20 minutes, “…so they could remove the body.”

That’s right – the ride was back up and running after only 20 minutes. Odds are, the line increased quite a bit, too.

Back in the 1920’s it wasn’t unheard of for a ride to become more popular after it killed someone. Today, we have a bit higher standards and regards for our personal safety, thankfully.

Roar! at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA

Roar! at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, CA

Sharp eyed coaster fans will notice that both the Lighting and Cyclone first drops have a modern counterpart. Both the “Roar” wooden coasters at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags America share the similar first drop with Traver’s triplets.

So, will we ever see another Crystal Beach Cyclone, or looping water slide? At the rate safety technology is going – I certainly wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility. Just look at how far we’ve come in just the past 90 years!

And there you have it – ten of the most terrifying amusement park mishaps of all time.

It should be noted, that while awful and scary as some of these incidents are, they are also an infinitely tiny minority of the total rides taken over the course of history.

Many of these instances occurred before the advent of safety regulations, government oversight, understanding of g-forces or restraint technology.

The odds of you being injured at a modern amusement park are actually lower than when you are driving to the park itself. So be smart – obey the park rules and you’ll have a fun and safe time!


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New Banners!

If you’ve gone around the site lately, you’ve noticed our new, spruced up banners.

Which one is your favorite? Be sure to comment below!

Special thanks to my employer, BorrowLenses for allowing us to take awesome camera equipment out on the weekends! All the photos you see below (except for the second to last one) were shot using BL equipment!

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Video

Superman: Ultimate Flight – Rider Reactions

Great American Thrills was invited out to sample the BRAND NEW thrill ride at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – Superman, Ultimate Flight!

As you can tell from the uncontrollable laughing at the end – it’s that much fun, folks! Get out to Vallejo (probably really early to avoid the line) and get on this coaster!


Behind the Scenes Hard Hat Tour

Sorry for the delays in getting things up recently – work does tend to take priority over this, sadly.

Nonethless, we have some exciting news!

Earlier this week, I was invited out to take a hard hat tour of the new Superman: Ultimate Flight roller coaster being completed at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. This one-of-a-kind LSM powered coaster (Linear Syncronous Motor, we’ll go into differences about technical stuff in a later post) will propel riders 15o feet in the air at speeds up to 63 m.p.h. through VERY tight clearances between the track and supports.

Did I mention that the only thing holding you in will be a LAP BAR?!? Don’t you just love how technology has progressed?

Here’s the video we made while we were out there – enjoy!

Superman: Ultimate Escape  – Behind the Scenes Hard Hat Tour


Well isn’t this interesting!

Sorry for the delay, folks – I’ve been diligently trying to manage the YouTube channel…

“Why?” do you ask yourselves…because one of the videos I created (and hosted) went VIRAL.

Sadly, so did all the comments I was getting, hence the need to stay off here for awhile. Turns out the video was found by one of Bert Kreisher’s fans, (former host of “Bert the Conqueror”) and they promptly linked to the video via the Joe Rogan message board, a comedy partner / friend of Kreisher’s. The video had a respectable 185 views on the Friday before Memorial Day. By the end of the long weekend, I had over 2,000! (and still counting!)

While a majority of the comments were, how can I say, juvenile and even vitriolic (Seriously, how many ways can you scream “fag” before it gets old. – One is the correct answer here) And the most ironic part, I’m not even gay, so jokes on you, assholes!

That being said, I’ll take the views and exposure any way I can get it, even if it means dealing with dumb asses; because as we all know, the internet gave voices to all of us – and the loudest voice was apparently given to all the morons, creeps and miscrients with a computer.

So, as promised, I give you all a treat, OUR FIRST AUTHORIZED POV session aboard V2: Vertical Velocity at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Enjoy and #letsride! (Literally, this time!)


V2: Vertical Velocity

Our latest segment, on everyone’s favorite meshing of electricity and mangnetism. Ladies and Gentlemen, Vertical Velocity:

Our apologies for the poor audio quality – we’re saving up our allowances for some real a/v equipment!

Enjoy!


Water Rides and “Acceptable Amounts of Water”

Ah yes, the summer heat will soon be upon us. But you won’t find me on many water rides…

Your host is no fan of “extreme water effects”

Why, you ask? Well, because there’s water involved!

An old acquaintance of mine used to judge water rides based on a single factor: whether or not they had an “acceptable amount of water” that you would be taking with you (via your clothes) through the exit.

I laughed at him at first, but then realized that he was absolutely correct. Water rides with purpose-built soaking devices are just, well – not entertaining to me! (We’re talking waterfalls etc., here, by the way)

If you have to wear a poncho (which you’ll rarely see outside of Japan and Islands of Adventure), then it’s already defeated the purpose.

Going on a log ride is about the challenge, the risk of getting wet. Getting soaked with certainty is certainly no fun! Where’s the surprise? How will I drive home still smelling of chlorine and making that creepy “squish” sound?!?

So enjoy then, our next segment – this time on the double life I live when it comes to water rides. Not fun to ride, but oh so much fun to interact with…


Park Preview: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

1001 Fairgrounds Drive

SFDK's logo is unique among the rest of the Six Flags chain

Vallejo,CA 94589-2001

(707) 644-4000

www.sixflags.com/parks/discoverykingdom

Brief History:

Originally started as an oceanarium inRedwood Cityback in 1968, this hybrid park has not forgotten its roots as an educational outlet for the animal kingdom. Today, hundreds of species of birds, fish, tigers, sea lions, dolphins and orca live at the park, giving guests a stark contrast to its larger thrill rides.

Built next to the bay along Redwood Shores, Marine World was a small oceanarium whose mission was to educate as well as entertain. In the mid 1970’s, the park merged with the fledgling Africa USA fromLos Angeles. By doing so, it infused many more species of animals that guests could only dream about seeing on an African safari.

Rising land prices eventually forced the park to search for other locations and found one at it’s current site,Vallejo,CA. Today, the park has grown quite a bit since its inception. There are now eight roller coasters to its colorful collection. However, the park keeps a firm hold on its mission to provide a thrilling, memorable experience while taking away a greater appreciation of the animal world.

The Three Areas of Six Flags DiscoveryKingdom

The park has recently spent several million dollars upgrading the interior of the park, most notably in themeing each third of the park for easier navigation. For the casual visitor, this makes navigation much more simple.

Land This area is where most of the animal species reside in the park, and is the oldest section of the park. Don’t miss: Odin’sTemple of the Tiger, Elephant Encounter, Giraffe Dock and the Butterfly Encounter.

A quick side note on the Butterfly Encounter: if you’re not a fan of flying insects or extremely squeamish, I suggest you just visit the gift shop. Butterflies (although perfectly harmless) grow quite large in here and can get very friendly with guests. Plus, they don’t like being swatted or smushed.

Sea Home to most of the park’s aquatic species, attractions here include:

Sea Lion Stadium: Let Odin & Seasil bring smiles to everyone’s face with their wild and wacky antics.

StingRayBay: Pet a real Sting Ray.

Dolphin Encounter: See and feed Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins.

Walrus Experience: Them tusks are big!!!

Penguin Encounter: These adorable flightless birds show their true talent, “flying” through the water.

For the thrill seekers, three of the park’s coaster’s reside here:

V2– Vertical Velocity: A unique inverted shuttle coaster, it takes passengers from 0-70mph in just a few seconds through a barrel roll and then backwards up a vertical spike. The ride will perform three “circuits” before coming to a stop back in the station.

Roar: A throwback to the classic wooden twister coasters of the 1920’s, Roar is a powerful and intense wooden coaster that is not for the faint of heart.

New for 2012 is the completely unique Superman, Ultimate Escape. Concept art courtesy of Six Flags.

Superman, Ultimate Escape (OPENING SUMMER 2012): Discovery Kingdom shocked the coaster world in late 2011 with the surprise announcement of this prototype attraction from Premier Rides, the innovator of the linear induction or LIM launch. While the park already has a LSM launching coaster in V2, Superman is a complete circuit coaster complete with a NON-inverting loop.

Sky – Aptly named area of the park; this is where you’ll find most of the larger thrill rides in the park, literally right up front.

Boomerang: Shuttle forward and backward through three mind bending loops. This coaster is very intense – all the inversions (loops) are one after the other, with only a small pause in-between.

Medusa: The park’s signature attraction; riders are whisked 150 feet up, only to flip through eight different inversions, all while riding above the track, with no floor below! Don’t look down, she could turn you to stone…

Kong: This inverted coaster packs a punch not many other coasters can. Five dizzying inversions will leave you speechless; it’s all done while hanging below the track!

Where to Eat – 

Besides the usual theme park fare found in the food court (which is located just past the games areas) the park offers several unique food options to parks, including: Gordon Biersch Oasis Club, Panda Express, Johnny Rockets, Subway and a Cold Stone Creamery.

Six Flags recently began an “Online Meal Voucher” program, which claims to save you both time and money by purchasing your meals ahead of time, and redeeming your vouchers for food the day of your trip. Although innovative, I’ve found it really doesn’t save you much time. The only way it really saves you money is by preventing you from eating more food at other locations.

This is a good idea for those who love to have everything planned about their trip well ahead of time. (Even what you may feel like eating that day!) Be advised, if you feel like eating something else when you’re at the park – there are no refunds or exchanges on your meal vouchers.

Plans – 

Thrill Seekers:

It’s not very difficult to find the major coasters here, as they stick out predominantly on the park’s skyline. If the park looks or even feels crowded, the best course of action is to hit every major coaster as if you’re circuit training. Start at one end of the park, and work your way to the other. If time is a significant issue, consider investing in a “FlashPass.” For $15 per person, you can reserve your space in line, while you visit other attractions. When your predetermined time comes up, simply enter through the “FlashPass” entrance and your wait will be significantly reduced if there’s a wait at all.

Families with Children:

When you arrive, make sure to pick up a park map and show schedule. Try to convince the kids to save the rides until later on in the day and see every show you can. Your kids will thank you when they get to play tug of war with an elephant. (Spoiler alert: The elephants have never lost!) Another must-see show is the Shouka Spectacular. If you want to stay dry, stay away from the lower bowl of seats. The kids on the other hand, should experience what it’s like to be hit with several hundred gallons of cold salt water at least once in their lifetime. Try to keep the rides to a minimum until later in the day, when most of the shows are no longer scheduled. If you have time flexibility, be sure to check out Thomas Town and Looney Tunes Seaport. This can also be the same plan used to tackle the park if you’re bringing grandkids.

Other Tips – 

When walking to or from the parking lot, be mindful it’s a long ½ mile walk. To get the juices flowing at the start of your day, you should make the walk to the park from the lot. But definitely wait for the tram when you head back out, no matter how long the line appears.

Once inside the park, jet on over to the all-day use locker pavilion past Guest Relations and behind the funnel cake restaurant. Make sure to bring along anything you might want for the rest of the day, to avoid the long trip back out to the car and back. This includes pants and a sweatshirt if the weather is expected to be cool later in the night. This way, you’ll have more time and energy to spend in the park, rather than walking back and forth that ½ mile to your car and back. These time-costly trips can easily take 30 minutes away from your day inside the park.

Final Tips – 

If at all possible, avoid visiting this park on weekends during the summer as well as during any Cheerleader Competition or live concert by Lake Chabot. The park can be quickly overwhelmed with people and crowding can become an issue in smaller pathway areas.

If you’re a fan of being scared or really love Halloween, be sure to experience Fright Fest. Zombies take over the midway, haunted mazes pop up inside the park. You might even catch an authentic “freak show.” This spooktacular event begins around 4p.m. each October operating day and is not recommended for those under 14 years old. You have been warned!

Also, make sure to try and visit during the winter “Holiday in the Park” event, as this is one of only two parks open for significant periods of time in the winter here in Northern California.