The Most Celebrated Amusement Park Insider Experiences
It’s good to know people. But it’s even better to know there’s all sorts of things inside our favorite amusement and theme parks that can make your day that much more special, IF you know them! Here now is my top six most celebrated amusement and theme park “insider” experiences as parks open up for full time operation this week:
6.) Dole Whip:
Once only reserved for visitors to Disney’s Tiki Rooms, this Polynesian frozen treat is slowly making its way out from the mouse and into regional parks, to the delight of pineapple fans everywhere. If you haven’t experienced one yet – hunt it down or request it be brought to your park.
5.) The Rollback:
We ain’t talking about WalMart here…an exclusive experience to Intamin cable-launched coasters, this delightful event occurs when the launch isn’t quite strong enough to get you over the first hill, resulting in screams of euphoria from enthusiasts – and shrieks of horror from the general public.
In reality, it’s all perfectly safe and for the lucky riders, it’s like getting 1.5 rides for the wait of just one!
4.) The Round-Trip Skyway Ride:
Because nothing’s better than watching all those people in line scratch their head over why you’re not getting out of your sky bucket. But, with so many of these rides being removed in recent years, plus the increase in overall park attendance (which means longer lines for rides) this experience has become far more difficult to cross off your list.
3.) The Track Walk / Evacuation:
A very rare event that you don’t necessarily want to root for experiencing for yourself. Why? Because it most certainly means the ride will be down for at LEAST the rest of the operating day.
But the experiencing of walking a coaster lift is most certainly a memorable one.
2.) The Last Ride of the Night:
There is something oddly cathartic about knowing you’re the last person to experience all that fun. Well, at least until the mechanics come in tomorrow morning to start checking on things. this fun. But, until then…
And the number one most celebrated amusement park insider experience?
1.) Exclusive Ride Time (ERT):
The only thing better than the last ride of the night, is having the ride all to yourself or the group you’re at the park with!
Just think about it – no line and fast operations. It doesn’t get any better than that. Heck, it’s one of the biggest reasons I joined ACE!
Did I miss an experience? Do you have one to add to the list? Tell me about it on my social media channels or leave a comment below!
Five Ways to Have a Bad Day at an Amusement Park
1.) Forget to check about special events on park website:
Nothing will ruin your day faster at a park to find it overrun with cheerleaders for a regional competition or packed for a concert in their ampitheatre.
2.) Wear sandals:
They might seem like a good choice for hot weather, but their lack of support and ability to fly away on certain rides will leave you more miserable than you think.
3.) Dress incorrectly for the weather:
You can always bring a jacket to warm up, but you can’t take your pants off to cool down (it’s generally frowned upon). If the weather calls for rain, it’s probably best to re-schedule your trip to the park.
4.) Bring your iPad or tablet computer:
No one wants to be a Padhole. But, you’re risking damaging that $500 device every time you bring that dumb thing to a crowded place. Plus, it blocks our views during the show. Just bring a small point and shoot camera – it has better resolution, anyway.
5.) Visit on Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July or Labor Day Weekend:
Traditionally the three worst times to visit any park. Although, actual Memorial Day and Labor Day tend to be less crowded than the weekends preceding them.
Got any suggestions to add to this list? Tell us on social media, or comment below!
Arrow Development documentary coming from Great American Thrills and American Coaster Enthusiasts
GOING HEAD OVER HEELS FOR SOUTH BAY HISTORY
Former ride manufacturer to be featured in new documentary from local filmmakers
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Great American Thrills® and Totally Twisted Media are proud to announce a historic partnership with American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Worldwide, Inc. to produce a documentary on the former Bay Area amusement park ride manufacturer, Arrow Development. The film is expected to premiere at the IAAPA industry trade show in Florida this November.
Several of the most prominent and respected names in the amusement industry have already signed on to participate in the documentary. These include: Cedar Point, Irvine Ondrey Engineering, Silverwood Theme Park, S&S Sansei and Six Flags Magic Mountain, among others.
The documentary is being produced by the all-volunteer team behind the award-winning “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, with filming beginning shortly. Nicholas Laschkewitsch and Kris Rowberry are leading the project:
“Everyone knows Silicon Valley is famous for technological innovations,” said Rowberry. “But very few people are aware that the valley that gave us Google and iPhones also spawned the world’s first log ride and tubular steel roller coaster, along with countless other ride innovations.”
Joining Rowberry as Executive Producer on the project is Nicholas Laschkewitsch, Video Promotions Coordinator for American Coaster Enthusiasts.
“Arrow Development and its mechanical marvels have always mesmerized me and held a special place in my heart,” said Laschkewitsch. “The sheer opportunity to be able to tell the story of Arrow to the masses is a dream come true.”
Fans can keep up with the latest happenings on the project by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter or by using the #RideWithACE hashtag. To join ACE, visit: www.ACEonline.org
How You Can Be a Part of the Arrow Development Documentary
Many people have expressed interest in either helping out or participating in some way with our newly announced documentary on Arrow Development. So, here’s three quick ways you can be a part of history:
1.) Join ACE:
As a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts are all about the preservation and enjoyment of amusement parks and roller coasters. By joining, you’ll help preserve our incredible amusement heritage, while becoming part of one of the largest and most respected roller coaster organizations in the world. Learn more at: www.aceonline.org
2.) Contribute photos or videos of Arrow rides, both past and present:
Do you have some “vintage footage” of older Arrow rides? Maybe a photo of you and your family next to a defunct Arrow coaster? Feel free to send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to get them in the documentary – with proper attribution, of course.
3.) Join us for a shoot!
We’ll be announcing exact dates and locations for shoots across the United States and Canada – so who knows – we just might be at your home park this summer!
Insane Coaster Wars debuts new season, but still needs some off-season rehab
After filming all last summer, Indigo Films‘ “Insane Coaster Wars” debuted it’s third season last night – and I can’t help but comment on their latest “effort.”
The premise of the show, is a decent one – have people vote on specific aspects of certain rides, then rank them against other coasters around the world. Seems straightforward, right?
At issue with most coaster and park enthusiasts (who make up a large number of the viewing audience) however, is the continued downgrade in quality of the traditional summer “coaster show” over the past few years. “Insane Coaster Wars” is just the latest in a string of low budget, low quality productions from powerhouses like the Travel Channel and Discovery. Just look at some of the reactions from last night’s debut:
So what can this show do to make itself better in the eyes of it’s core audience? Read on:
1.) Stop hiring actors and talk to real “coaster enthusiasts”
SPOILER ALERT: Television isn’t what it always appears. Multiple sources have confirmed to this website that the “coaster enthusiasts” featured in each segment are actually…wait for it…local actors found on Craigslist, hired for around $300 each.
Yup, Craigslist. Home to “Casual NSA Encounters” and apparently beautiful & young roller coaster junkies. Didn’t you wonder why those featured riders always seemed to speak really good english…in the middle of Taiwan and Costa Rica?
Those “friends from college” who “visit the park all the time” – it’s usually their first trip ever to these parks. Yet, the graphic in the lower third clearly says they’re “Coaster Enthusiasts.”
Last night’s episode featured two “coaster enthusiasts” who had never been to Kennywood – and in fact, had not been to a park, “in years.” True enthusiasts don’t take years off – they rarely take months off.
What’s even more ironic – if the production company wanted to save up to $1200 per segment (and it’s obvious they do) simply stop hiring actors – just call on the local region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts – not to just fill the seats, but to TALK on camera. Not only are many of our members familiar with being interviewed – we’ll do it for FREE!
Some of the phrases that are used by these actors must also drive park managers nuts. Things like, “I felt like it was about to fly off the track,” or “I can’t believe I survived,” really make PR Managers have GREAT days. Simple rule to follow: Never mention death or dismemberment on TV when referring to amusement parks. You don’t say “bomb” at airports and on planes…
2.) Compare rides “Apples to Apples”
Outlaw Run and La Avalancha? How are those two rides even remotely similar? (They do both loop, but they’re built completely different). The best way I can describe it – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s as if the people in charge took suggestions from people who actually knew what they were talking about – then threw those papers up in the air, and randomly pulled out rides.
3.) Be wary of those who make money off parks
Robb Alvey – who was once the “host” of the program – has now been relegated to a “Creative Consultant” production credit off-screen (which is a major improvement in my humble opinion). That being said, his wife was featured on the premiere show as a coaster enthusiast, along with one of their friends. I’d call them non-actors, but both he and his wife have agents.
Now, doesn’t this scream nepotism to anyone else besides me? Then again, at least us true coaster enthusiasts know she actually is quite knowledgeable about the subject. Too bad the producers edited her in a way that ensured she sounded just like any other clueless park guest.
Don’t even get me started on how his presence on the production team could directly influence his view count (and income) on his commercialized videos on YouTube…
4.) Allow park experts or bloggers to vote, not the general public
Let’s face it – most of these Craigslist actors (and indeed other park guests) don’t even know about the other rides they’re comparing, so how exactly can you compare them if you’ve never been on them…oh wait, isn’t that how the Mitch Hawker Poll runs? : )
While the show did make some minor improvements and tweaks, it’s still the same copy / paste generic “coaster show” that’s polluted the airwaves for far too long. Yes, the POV is good, but it’s everything around it that just brings the show down.
If you’re looking to support a quality roller coaster / amusement park program, consider sharing our “Great American Thrills” concept with your favorite cable channel or production company. We promise the enthusiasts we feature – will actually know what they’re talking about:
Great America Pavilion the pregame destination for San Francisco 49ers fans this season
If you’re a California’s Great America fan – it’s time to start cheering. Literally and emphatically.
Yesterday, the park announced that in addition to becoming “the official amusement park of the San Francisco 49ers,” (as if there was any doubt) they will soon be opening the “Great America Pavilion,” an 18,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose facility that will be home to the Red Zone Rally pregame event for all 49ers home games, as well as other Levi’s® Stadium events.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with the 49ers on the Red Zone Rally pregame events,” said California’s Great America Vice President & General Manager Raul Rehnborg. “For 49ers fans and attendees of other Levi’s® Stadium events, Great America Pavilion will be the perfect venue to enjoy the game-day atmosphere, dine on delicious food offerings and easily access Levi’s® Stadium, which is located adjacent to the new facility”
“The Red Zone Rally will be a tremendous pregame destination for 49ers fans,” said 49ers Chief Operating Officer Al Guido.
During 49ers home contests, the Red Zone Rally at Great America Pavilion opens three hours prior to kickoff, features flat screen televisions throughout, San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush cheerleaders and alumni, an array of live entertainment, interactive activities and incredible dining options.
And when the stadium isn’t in use – the park now has a completely upgraded meeting and dining facility, that can be divided into three distinct areas or combined into one incredibly large venue. Oh, and the first event has already been held in the nearly-finished facility…Coaster Con XXXVII.
So yes, it’s not a new hyper coaster or ride – but it’s more important than that – it signals (quite clearly) a fundamental shift in the relationship between the San Francisco 49ers and Cedar Fair. Specifically, this announcement has far-reaching implications for the long-term future of the park – all positive in nature. Gone are the days of Cedar Fair Corporate (Dick Kinzel in particular) berating and indeed SUING the 49ers over a litany of issues.
It’s quite obvious that new Cedar Fair CEO, Matt Ouimet, has seen the San Francisco 49ers not as the enemy, but rather as a lucrative and positive business partner – and that can only bode well for a park that many (myself included) wrote off only seven years ago. (Lord knows Dick Kinzel tried to literally write it off according to my sources).So on the outside it may appear to just be an expansion of a picnic pavilion – but this announcement means the world to a park that’s on one hell of a kickoff return.
For more information on the Red Zone Rally, visit: www.49ers.com/tickets
For more information on Group Sales at the park, visit: https://www.cagreatamerica.com/group-sales
RollerCoaster Tycoon Celebrates 15th Anniversary
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the first release of “RollerCoaster Tycoon” – arguably one of the most popular simulator games of all time. It also marks a milestone – millions of hours wasted playing the game by it’s combined players…
Take yourself back a decade and a half…the only true simulator game that was commercially available was “SimCity” – but it’s time on the top was soon to be ended.
An unknown Scottish designer, named Chris Sawyer partnered with artist Simon Foster and composer Allister Brimble to create the game-changing simulator. Famed ride designer, John Wardley was even brought on as a special consultant.
Like many park fans, I was introduced to this program via a free, downloadable demo, that had a time limit and did not have the ability to save games.
The game allows players to either create an entire amusement park from scratch, or build up and maintain an existing park, within a set of pre-determined parameters.
It also featured an easy-to-understand user interface, which allowed even the most novice of players to step immediately into gameplay.
While initially a commercial flop – word spread quickly through the amusement fan community, who in turn told their friends about the quirky and addictive game, and it soon became a sleeper hit. There are three “versions” of the game, with expansion packs for each one.
Atari recently announced a fourth “sequel” to the original, dubbed “RollerCoaster Tycoon 4.” It will be released for iOS devices in summer, 2014.
The mark of a good game is the length of it’s shelf life. With many people still playing the original version, RollerCoaster Tycoon has stood the test of time – and is still going strong. Even with new rivals popping up, such as NoLimits and Theme Park Studio, RollerCoaster Tycoon continues to hold a significant audience, when many other games gave gone the way of the Dodo.
Heck, there was even a RollerCoaster Tycoon pinball machine – endorsed by the American Coaster Enthusiasts, no less! Not too many brands can brag about that:
In addition, many variants of the “tycoon” style of game have popped up since the initial release of the original RollerCoaster Tycoon. Games such as Prison Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon are among just a few to enter the market. Even SimCity tried to get back into the fray, with the poorly received “Sim Theme Park.”
Special thanks to Lost Parks producer, Nicholas Laschkewitsch for suggesting this post! Got a good post idea? Feel free to send it in!
Busy Week for Lost Parks of Northern California
Despite the fact that we weren’t nominated for Creative Awards from CreaTV late last week, we haven’t let it get us down. In fact, we’ve had more media than ever contact us about the “Lost Parks” series!
Just this week, we’ve been in contact / interviewed with :
Oh, did we mention we’re still trying to finish the Santa’s Village episode, too? : )
Stay tuned everyone, we’re not the fastest growing amusement / theme park website on the web for nothing!