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Posts tagged “disneyland

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!


Could Great America’s Consulate become the next great season pass perk?

Hidden in plain sight above Bourbon Street in Orleans Place, lies a little bit of Disney magic inside the confines California’s Great America:

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The balcony of the Consulate as seen during the Taste of Orleans festival.

Known as “The Consulate” – it’s primary function is a meeting room, where some of the biggest decisions about the park have gone down.

Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy - used with permission.

Some of the biggest deals in the park’s history have been signed at this table. Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy – used with permission.

But that wasn’t always the intended purpose. In fact, it was originally built with the idea that the Marriott’s would use the space to stay during trips, a la the apartment above the firehouse at Disneyland. That is, until the Marriott’s realized they had nice hotels already near their properties with concierge service and a lack of crowds.

So while the Consulate is still used today for business – what if it’s wrought iron gates were opened to a select few park-goers as a VIP lounge? And what if you could upgrade your Platinum Pass to a “Consulate Pass?”

Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy - used with permission.

Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy – used with permission.

The idea isn’t that far fetched – several parks have hosted hospitality centers for bloggers and other influencers, where they could store items and get free refills and snacks, all away from the crowds. Why not give guests the opportunity to pay for that same, sweet access?

Plus, the pass could add a few other perks, maybe higher discounts for food and merchandise – or even a single fast lane per visit. It’s a Platinum, Platinum Pass.

Since upgrading to a Platinum Pass isn’t worth the cost for most Bay Area folks, with the exception of those who want to go to Knott’s (and I’ve covered that in a previous article) and considering an upgrade from a Gold Pass to a Platinum Pass doesn’t add any more value to a visit at CGA, maybe this benefit might be the incentive people need to pony up those extra bucks. And since we’re here in Silicon Valley, receiving that “premium” experience is not a hard sell.

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The Consulate seems frozen in time. Photo courtesy of The Coaster Guy – used with permission

Should it be by invite only? Probably to start. Parks tend to (or should) know their heaviest users and could easily identify probable candidates from common knowledge – or just looking at pass usage data.

What do you think? Would you pay up to get access to the Consulate? How much would you be willing to shell out to step up to the second floor? Let me know in the comments below.

Again, special thanks to Kurt (The Coaster Guy) for permission to use his photos of the Consulate during ACE’s Coaster Con XXXVII!


Cell phone on roller coaster injures guest and cause rides to go down more often

Under Mr. Freeze at Six Flags St. Louis. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

This past week, a guest at Six Flags Great Adventure sued the New Jersey park, because a loose cell phone smashed into them on the “El Toro” wooden roller coaster – giving the riders “substantial injuries.” Here’s the link.

Earlier this month, trains on California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure were e-stopped when a guest whipped out a cell phone selfie stick (apparently to film themselves) all while the ride was in motion. As a result, guests had to be evacuated and the ride was down for over an hour.

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It doesn’t help when companies encourage this sort of reckless behavior, either…GoPro did pull this post down after massive backlash.

Three days later, a ride attendant at Carowinds was assaulted when they refused to allow a guest to retrieve their dropped cell phone from the show building of a dark ride. The operator was shoved to the ground as the guest proceeded to walk along the track to retrieve their precious cell phone. The ride was immediately e-stopped and security arrived shortly thereafter.

Nearly a year to the day that Disney Parks officially banned selfie sticks and phones on rides, guests are still not getting the message – leave the phone in the station or in your secured pocket – and parks have not heeded the call to make it more clear that filming on a ride isn’t safe, or tolerated.

Our partner site, Thrills By The Bay had two guests whip out their cell phone on Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain – and when they told the operators, “…they practically shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Well if they lose their phone it’s on them.'”

Actually, it won’t be on them – it’ll be on the face of an innocent rider, who never saw it coming.

Cell Phone carnage at Six Flags St. Louis. Photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Cell phones litter the infield of Mr. Freeze at Six Flags St. Louis

Loose articles have always been a problem on rides. Anyone remember when Jaguar! at Knott’s got stuck because of a guests’ jacket somehow got loose and jammed a wheel assembly? But the proliferation of phones on rides adds to the increased danger, coupled with the dense nature of the devices.

Enthusiasts have been trying to warn parks and ride operators for years now about this – but no one seems to want to listen. Sadly, it may take more suits like the one against Six Flags Great Adventure before the industry steps up and tackles this problem properly.


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 7

All this week, we’re been posting a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow’s history.

Today’s post is of Ron Toomer, Arrow’s first engineer and the man behind some of the most iconic steel coasters ever built. While the company may be best remembered for their rides – remember that without the people behind them, they would have most certainly never have existed.

Day Seven of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there tomorrow evening!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 6

All this week, we’re been posting a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow’s history.

Today’s post is of X at Six Flags Magic Mountain – the world’s first 4th Dimension coaster and the last coaster Arrow ever built.Day Six of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there on Saturday!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 5

All this week, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow Development’s history.

Today’s post is of Magnum XL-200, the world’s first hypercoaster (200+ feet) and a throwback to the out and back wooden coasters of the 1920’s. It’s also considered by many as the moment the “coaster wars” officially began.

Day Five of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there on Saturday!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 4

All this week, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow Development’s history.

Today’s post is of the Corkscrew – the world’s first modern looping roller coaster:

Day Four of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there on Saturday!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day Three

All this week, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow Development’s history.

Today’s graphic features El Aserradero – the world’s first log flume. Built only using scale models and slide rules, the flume has become a mainstay of parks around the world!

Day Three of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there on Saturday!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day Two

Each day, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow Development’s history.

Today’s post is of the Matterhorn Bobsleds – the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster. While it many not be the smoothest ride, it set the prescient for 55 years of roller coaster designs!

Day Two of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there on Saturday!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day One

The Legacy of Arrow Development, Day One

With the upcoming premiere of our documentary, “The Legacy of Arrow Development” we wanted to do something cool in the final week leading up to it.

Each day, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels. It will feature the company’s “A” logo – and an important ride or person related to it.

Today’s post is of the Alum Rock Carousel – Arrow’s first ride and the moment the company shifted forever. The Legacy of Arrow Development, Day One

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres one week from today in the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets for the premiere are still available – get yours at: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there next Saturday!


Five Ways California’s Great America Can Make It’s 40th Anniversary Better

Photo by Steven Wilson

Can we talk?

California’s Great America is about to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary this year. And from the feeling I’m getting via their social media and press releases, it sure is starting to feel like the park is about to blow a major opportunity to celebrate it properly.

Yes, the park is getting a revamped 4D theater – but that’s all so far for their 40th season. A milestone season. A season many people didn’t think the park would ever get to the first place (if you know it’s history).

Maybe I’m nuts, but as a fan, here’s five things the park can easily do to make the 40th beyond just “good” – they’ll make it GREAT:

 

5.) Bring back the history museum:

One of the coolest parts of ACE’s Coaster Con for me two years ago was the opportunity to be involved in designing and curating the history museum at the park. It was hoped it would help the park do a better job of bragging about it’s history – and gave the park the excuse to dust off a WORKING model of their Flight Deck coaster.

Great America history museum

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

Sadly, the very next day – it was closed to the public. All that work for less than 12 hours of total operation. If you’re going to celebrate your history – you better be prepared to be PROUD of it and COMMIT to it.

 

4.) Have roving, themed performers in the park:

Again, a highlight of Coaster Con a few years ago (for local park fans at least) was the apparent return of themed dancers and singers to Orleans Place. Even the general public stopped in awe. This piece of Marriott-era showmanship evoked Disney-like tones and really should be made permanent, rather than just used for one event and discarded.

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

 

3.) Bring back the Demon’s theming:

A sore spot with me for YEARS (Ha! It’s funny ’cause it’s an older Arrow coaster, get it?) I’ve got on at length about this before, so I’ll make it as clear as I can – the Demon MUST have it’s special effects brought back for the 40th anniversary. Bonus points if you re-create the “Turn of the Century” sign.

Demon Great America night

Photo © 2003, Kris Rowberry

Speaking of nostalgia…

 

2.) Retro merchandise in the gift shops:

Nothing is hotter right now than nostalgia – and theme parks tend to accumulate a ton of it in their lifetimes. Great America is no exception. If you’re looking for a perfect example of how to pull this off, take a gander at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, who’s most popular shirt this year – was for a ride that’s been gone for three seasons now (The Big Bad Wolf).

Busch Gardens retro shirts

Photo © 2015, Kris Rowberry

Admit it, you don’t just want a Sky Whirl, the Edge or Tidal Wave t-shirt now…

…you NEED one.

 

1.) Nix the fountains up front and bring back the swans:

Quick backstory: The fountains were added in 2001, to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary. I think it’s time to revert the front pool to what it was originally intended as – a reflecting pool.

And what better way to class up the joint, than to bring back the elegant, trumpeter swans!

Photo by Steven Wilson

Photo credit: Steven Wilson collection, http://www.GreatAmericaParks.com

And yes, California’s Great America, I’m available for consulting – perhaps compensation via funnel cake is in order. Either way, you have my info…don’t keep me waiting.

What do you think? Are there any other things the park can do to help truly celebrate it’s 40th season? Leave me a comment below, or chat with me on your favorite social networks!


Legacy of Arrow World Premiere in Downtown San Jose

It’s the day after Christmas – and you didn’t get what you wanted, did you? That ugly sweater, socks or worse – underwear!

Have no fear – we’ve got you covered…

Give the gift of an experience that they won’t soon forget – a ticket to the world premiere of ACE’s “The Legacy of Arrow Development,” presented by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!

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Tickets are just $10, with a $10 upgrade available if you’d like priority seating, reception and Q&A with the filmmakers. You can purchase your tickets here or at the Montgomery Theater Box Office.

We’ll see you in your best suits and dresses on the evening of January 23rd!


Disney Raises AP Prices – So Why Are You Complaining?

Disneyland has a problem. And it’s the best problem to ever have if you’re a business – too many people want to come visit you than you have room for.

where-to-get-disney-dollars

Hope you’ve saved your Disney Dollars – you’re going to need them.

Boo freakedy hoo.

So it should come as no surprise today that both Florida and California parks announced sweeping changes to their annual passholder programs, most notably eliminating the premium pass.

Now, before you start complaining about how high the prices are – take a minute to think about this: Disneyland in particular has become nearly unmanageable when it comes to crowds. Even days that were traditionally lighter have all but disappeared – as AP’s tend to visit those days. As a result, the overall experience of the park has lowered.

Now here’s where it gets interesting – buried deep in the Disney website is an interesting line: “Limited number of passes available…” Yup – there’s a limit to how many passes will be sold. Will you know when they’re low? What if you usually upgrade later in 2016?!? All legitimate questions right now.

Here’s some more turkey legs for thought: Disneyland was never designed to be a “season pass park.” They’re really brought this problem onto themselves by not limiting AP sales or keeping their prices so low that so many could afford them. The park was meant to be for a special occasion – maybe once a year or so. You can’t combine the tourist crowds with those who visit everyday and think the level of service and satisfaction will be the same.

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry. All rights reserved.

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

It’s simple supply and demand – too many people want something, there isn’t enough supply (capacity) so the only way to lower the crowds it is to make it harder to afford it.

What do you think? Is a $1000 too much to ask for for an annual pass? Tell me in the comment section below or on my social media links!


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!


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:


“Grim Grinning Ghosts” played on a huge church organ

There are just some songs that the organ was tailor-made for. “Grim Grinning Ghosts” – the famous theme heard throughout Disney’s Haunted Mansions – would most certainly be one of those songs.

Take a listen to this awesome video from YouTube user “Moller121” and their devilishly fun interpretation of the classic Buddy Baker theme.

Turn up the volume, crank the bass and prepare to be terrorized!


Disneyland Ticket Prices Increase, Suspends Sales of Annual Pass

Following suit of it’s Florida parks, Disneyland today unveiled several changes to it’s pricing that has set the internet fandom ablaze with anger.

Single day, single park ticket prices were raised $4.00, to $96.00 per person over the age of 10. In addition, most park hopper tickets and annual passes were raised around 10% across the board.

Now, I’ve written before about the increases at Disney World – and how they’re actually a bargain when you consider the fact that Disney bundles their services, unlike other parks that charge separately for everything. (Think airline fares). But, Disney also dropped a bomb on SoCal residents, saying they won’t be selling any NEW Annual Passes to Southern California residents this year.

Why only Southern California? Because Disneyland has for years, offered discounted passes to residents of specific zip codes in the area. (Call it a “Sorry for interrupting your dinner with fireworks every night” discount). Effectively, the Resort needs to somehow mitigate the already large crowds in their parks. But, is this the best way to do it? Here’s my thoughts:

Firstly, there’s only have one person to blame for this problem of gluttony…Disney Marketing Executives.

Years ago, Disneyland was a destination resort – a place you went to once in a great while. My family always joked, “We’re due back for a trip to Disneyland, it’s been 10 years.

However, the culture has changed – and Disneyland tried to adapt with it. The park is now popular with two separate and very different clientele: the Annual Passholder and the Destination Tourist. Disney plays to these uber fans (and you have to be to pay $700 a year to go to the park) with merchandise, discounts and even conferences (D23). When you combine those two different types of people at a park, you get crowds. Lots and lots of crowds.

Gone are the days of “slower” operations – because the AP’s go on those days to avoid the tourists. When the kids are out of school, the AP’s stay away because the tourists are in the park en masse.

What a perfect “problem” to have!

Now, generally, Disneyland has some of the fastest, most efficient operations in the world when it comes to pumping people through rides. But there’s only so much you can do when the park is at capacity – during the middle of the week. At a certain point, you just can’t bring more people into the park.

So, what would be my solution? Eliminate the discount on Southern California passes. The difference in cost can be easily made up by those who will undoubtedly renew their pass, year after year, despite any price increases.

Or, go back to ticket books and limit the number of people allowed into the park on any given day. Basically, don’t guarantee admission until you’re in the park. The earlier people get there, the more they’re going to spend, anyway.

Folks, Disneyland is a fantastic place to have a few days of fun. The real secret to the magic – is that you have to pay up front, to not worry about anything else once you’re inside. So suck it up…the State of California isn’t making operating a park in the state any cheaper – so guess who gets to pay the difference…you guessed it – you and me.


Diane Disney Miller Passes Away

Diane Disney Miller, the last surviving , direct descendent of Walt and Lillian Disney passed away earlier this week in San Francisco, from complications due to a fall she sustained several months ago. She was 79 years old.

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The front page of the Walt Disney Family Museum today – simple and understated.

Miller is best known as the champion of the “Walt Disney Concert Hall” in Southern California, as a winery proprietor in Napa at Silverado Vineyards as well as the backing behind the Walt Disney Family Museum, located on the Presidio in San Francisco.

Photo by Wikipedia user Jjron.

Photo by Wikipedia user Jjron.

But perhaps Miller’s greatest contribution to the arts has been missed by many – mostly because it came when she was only a young child…

It is said that Diane and her sisters’ favorite book growing up was a book by British author, P.L. Travers. The story, about a magical Nanny was so popular in the Disney household, the sisters would routinely beg their father to make a movie of the book – an odyssey that took Walt Disney 20 years to complete. The upcoming Disney film, “Saving Mr. Banks” tells the behind-the-scenes story of how Walt was able to finally get the rights to make “Mary Poppins” (considered by many to be the greatest Disney film of all time).

The film releases in the U.S. officially on December 20th.

The film releases in the U.S. officially on December 20th.

Miller was a philanthropist by all definitions – donating millions to causes near and dear to her heart, usually related to the arts. She will be sorely missed in the arts, wine and amusement park communities.

She is survived by seven children, 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild.


Happy Friday the 13th!

Got a case of trixadexaphobia? (Fear of the number 13?)

Better take a pass on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, found at several Disney parks. Just a perfect theme for a free fall ride.

Photo by Great American Thrills (Kris Rowberry)

Tower of Terror at the Disneyland Resort

Fun fact: For many years during it’s development, the ride was going to utilize the original Intamin “first generation” free fall technology:

Photo from TowerofTerror.org

Photo from TowerofTerror.org

Photo by Great American Thrills (Kris Rowberry)

You can see how the “L” shape of the freefall would fit perfectly in the design of the original concept art.

I hear the wait time is low today, too…

…only 13 minutes according to MouseWait!


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Photo of the Day: World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park

World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

There are theme park shows – and then there are Disney theme park shows.

Then there’s “World of Color.”

In my lifetime, the best show that I ever saw at any park was EPCOT’s Illuminations – the sight of the night sky turning to daylight for that brief moment still resides with me. I thought that memory would never be supplanted – until I saw “World of Color.” Years in the making and millions of dollars in R&D, and it’s safe to say that those Imagineers got it right…again. To think this photo was shot AFTER the show ends.

Just be sure to bring a rain jacket – a slight change in wind direction will leave you soaked.

World of Color at Disney California Adventure Park. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

In terms of event entertainment, “World of Color” takes the cake. People will begin lining up for showings two (2) hours prior.

Thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

Interested in purchasing / using some of my photos? Check out my 500px: http://500px.com/GreatAmericanThrills

View my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

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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!


It’s a Small, Litigious World After All!

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears; Its a world of hopes, its a world of fear; There’s so much that we share, that its time we’re aware…
“…its a small world after all!”

You might want to add, “It’s a world of lawsuits” to that refrain as well.

Late last week, Disney got an early Easter present, in the form of an $8,000 judgement against them for not being able to evacuate a man off the ride for over 30 minutes. (The ride itself is anywhere from 12-15 minutes long normally).

Considering how much other Disney lawsuits have been settled for, this one just might feel like a present to settle so low.

So, how did we get here? Well, back in 2009, Jose Martinez, found himself stuck in the final “room” of the attraction the day after Thanksgiving. As per standard operating procedure, Disneyland employees were able to evacuate all the passengers from the ride…except Martinez – who is confined to a wheelchair due to paralysis.

According to Martinez’s attorney, he suffers from panic attacks and high blood pressure, “…both of which became issues as he sat in the boat (with the song) playing over and over and over.” He added, “(Martinez) He was half in the cave of the ride and half out,” Geffen said. “The music was blaring. They couldn’t get it to go off.”

Apparently, Disneyland employes were unable to evacuate the wheelchair-bound Martinez and opted to try and fix the ride to get him back to the ride platform.

Now this is where I get to the litigious point of my article…

Martinez’s attorney continued, “This is a really important ruling not just for (Martinez), but for anyone that rides the rides at Disneyland — because they do break down often and they do not tell people.” Anyone who’s ever visited Disney Parks know that the ride operators are some of the best in the business. As SOON as a ride breaks down, announcements are made and cast members generally walk out to the attraction (when they can) to speak with guests and re-assure them that everything is okay.

The next quote finally broke me: “The court’s saying that this kind of injury is foreseeable and that (Disneyland) has a duty to warn people,” Geffen said.

Now, this ruling is significant – as you’ll remember previously that just a few weeks ago, I wrote about a similar lawsuit that was thrown out AND became part of case law. You can find that post here: “Ride at your own Risk!”

Ironically, the attraction – which was added in 1960, after the World’s Fair – was created in the hopes of spreading world peace via the youth of the world.

Apparently, it now should incite fear.

And really, Disney itself has played on this fear, which has made it more of a cult attraction that ever before. Remember these scenes from “The Lion King” trilogy? (Yes, they made three of them under Eisner’s rule)

And legally, we have to state that these clips of copyrighted material are being used under the “Fair use Doctrine” of copyright law, for discussion, criticism, education or parody. In this case, we’re using them as examples of Disney making fun of itself to educate the readers of this blog. We’ve even shortened the clip playtime to the smallest possible to make our point.

So beware, small world riders – you could find yourself in court the next time a ride song traumatizes you!


Disney Bans Unaccompanied Kids

After over 55 years in business, “the Happiest Place on Earth” is no longer a playground for unsupervised tweens.

Sorry tweens, Disney Parks are for families, not you!

Sorry tweens, Disney Parks are for families, not you!

Disney yesterday, announced that they would no longer allow children under the age of 14 to roam the park without parental accompaniment.

At first, it SOUNDS terrible, borderline insane. I mean, how could a Disney Park ban KIDS? Wasn’t that the point they were built, so we could all be children at heart? But then, after reading into it a bit more, not only can I understand the move – I APPLAUD IT.

Consider for a moment, the last time you went to, say a Six Flags. Their marketing is heavily focused on the under 18 market, especially for season pass sales. Remember all those annoying tweens in the park – blasting their cell phones on speaker so that EVERYONE in line could hear their favorite song? Cutting in line, being generally “rebellious” (or at least what that generation thinks is rebellious?).

After you’ve just paid $119 per PERSON to experience the Disneyland Resort for JUST ONE DAY – do you really want to have that same experience?

I didn’t think so. And neither should you.

For some Disney parks are going to be harder to get into than Club 33!

For some Disney parks are going to be harder to get into than Club 33!

Let’s face it, some parents use amusement parks as a de-facto babysitter. It’s apparently a $600 investment (Annual Pass approximate cost) in sanity it’s much easier for the Mom and Dad to dump you off at an amusement park for the day, than deal with your pre-pubescent problems. This is exactly what Disney wants to stop, even if it means sacrificing a few Annual Passholders to Knott’s Berry Farm, a few miles up. “the 5.”

It’s rare that a park will turn down easy money (Holiday World in Indiana does it all the time by offering free parking, free soda and free sunscreen) but considering how much The Walt Disney Company made in the time it took you to read the word “DISNEY” in this sentence – they can afford to purge themselves of such a small (but noisy and noticeable) market group.

And hey, since you can’t dump your kids off at the park anymore, you’ll just have to buy a ticket for yourself and – GASP – try to enjoy a little together-time as a family. Ahhh!

Remember when that was the point of going to Disneyland?