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Posts tagged “fun

Throwback Thursday – My First Roller Coaster

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry

This may well be the very first roller coaster I ever rode…

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry

At the Santa Clara County Fair!

As you can tell – it was a terrible experience that ruined me for the rest of my life 🙂

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Throwback Thursday – Triple Wheel at Great America

If this photo doesn’t capture my love of amusement and theme parks, then I’m not sure what photo could…

Two defunct rides in this picture – can you spot the other one?

Yours truly on the venerable (and sorely missed) Triple Wheel at Great America in Santa Clara, CA. Here’s hoping it brings as much joy to you as it did to me finding it in an old photo album.

For those wondering what the ride looked like that I’m pictured on, this great video from GreatAmericaParks.com should help you out – the sound ALONE should spark your memory:


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

Today’s Throwback Thursday is a rare gem!

Arrow Pipeline Coaster

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

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


Five Ways To Be Arrested in an Amusement Park

Nobody’s perfect – we are all human, after all. But there are several ways you can mess up BIG TIME at your local amusement or theme park and end up in the county jail. If you think those rules at parks are for chumps, you better read on and start taking copious notes.

Here’s five ways you can get carted away to jail for misbehaving at an amusement or theme park:

 

Spitting:

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The quintessential bad adolescent behavior! In addition to being a serious health hazard, spitting off of a ride (such as a sky ride) and hitting another person can be prosecuted as assault. Plus, the park can revoke your ticket or season pass as well.

Smoking:

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In many places around the country, smoking is being banned in all public places, including parks. Many have set up so called “Cancer Corners” to keep people from smoking directly on the midway. But in some places, you can be cited for illegally smoking – and it can carry jail time in some of the more strict interpretations of the law, especially here in California.

Disobeying Ride Operators:

We have rules for a reason - usually because someone before was dumb enough to warrant making one!

We have rules for a reason – usually because someone before was dumb enough to warrant making one!

Much like a Flight Attendant, a Ride Operator knows much more about the attraction you’re about to ride, despite their age or attentiveness. Purposely disobeying an order from them can not only land you in the hospital from injuries, but can also get you in the slammer for failing to heed posted rules and regulations.

Line Jumping:

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Ah, the scourge of park attendees worldwide. But did you know that California has a specific Penal Code dedicated to line jumping? California Penal Code 490.6 gives parks’ the ability to detain you for jumping the line, until the police show up. That’s one way to make your wait times much LONGER, rather than shorter.

Tagging:

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This should be a no brainer, but amazingly, you’re not allowed to write on things that aren’t yours – especially private property. Of interest lately is people tagging their Instagram or Twitter accounts…because nothing makes the police happier than you telling them exactly how to find you to prosecute you.

By now, you must be asking yourselves: “Wait, you cannot possibly be serious in saying or implying that people get prosecuted for these, can you?”

Well, hate to break it to you, but I am serious – and I’ve seen it happen. Working for several parks in my career, I’ve seen everything from spitters being arrested, to taggers being tased. In fact, more people than you think are removed from parks every day, and some of them end up making the trip wayyy downtown. Remember that parks are supposed to keep out the “outside world” and keeping up that illusion is part of the services the park offers. Trust me, just follow the rules and you’ll make everyone’s day better!

What do you think? Which person behaving badly would YOU like to see removed from a park for one of these offenses? Tell us on social media or comment below!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples: County Fair, State Fair, Circus

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

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

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

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

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

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


Coaster Con XXXVII in the Bay Area this week

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

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

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

#CoasterCon

#GreatAmericanThrills

#LostParks


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.”

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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.