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!
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!
Today’s Throwback Thursday is a rare gem!
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!
These are the days I look forward to the most. After several months of blood, sweat and tears, we are finally ready to pull back the curtain on our latest “Lost Parks of Northern California” – presenting San Jose’s beloved Frontier Village.
Be sure to LIKE and SHARE the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks and personalities – let’s make this the biggest Lost Parks episode EVER, TOGETHER!
Yes, it’s been awhile since our last episode of “Lost Parks of Northern California” but I can assure you – the wait is worth it.
Presenting the first teaser trailer for our next episode, the 1915 San Francisco Pan Pacific Exposition (World’s Fair). We expect to wrap on the episode and debut it before #CoasterCon this summer.
If you’re a fan of amusement parks, roller coasters, history, organs and trains – you cannot afford to miss this episode!
Follow the journey by searching #LostParks on your favorite social media network!
Not even a day after our story aired on KSBW – leading off the newscast, no less – KION Central Coast News got in on the “Lost Parks” action, with their own report!
Special thanks to reporter Cassandra Arsenault for coming out and recording us! (And for nerding out briefly on Boston area amusement parks, too!)
On a side note – what is it about Boston area-born reporters and the Bay Area? That’s two now!
Second side note – we’re filmmakers – someone reported it – so it’s official!!!
Jump to the story by clicking the link, below:
Chalk another news outlet onto the list that’s discovered the charm and passion of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series…KSBW Central Coast News led their newscast with a story on our project!
Check out the the video, by clicking the link, here:
Found a great article today on one of my favorite San Francisco institutions, the decidedly retro “Musée Mécanique” at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Originally located in the basement of the Cliff House and before then at Playland-at-the-Beach, this eclectic collection of antique mechanical instruments, games and displays (some well over 100 years old) is by far the best way to spend your afternoon at the wharf, especially if the cruises to Alcatraz are sold out or crazy packed.
Check out the article here, from SF Weekly:
Have you been naughty, or nice so far this holiday season? Either way – we’re happy to release a preview to our Santa’s Village episode of the Lost Parks of Northern California!
Find out how eating at McDonald’s may connect you to the park – in addition to the many pieces of Santa’s Village strewn throughout Northern California!
Stay tuned here to Great American Thrills for the latest updates, including a release date!
Part of the fun of doing the “Lost Parks” series, is knowing that we’re preserving history on film. That being said, we certainly didn’t think we were *THIS* close to losing one of our recent shoot locations:
According to the latest Scotts Valley City Council meeting, the permit for building houses on the former Santa’s Village site has been changed – to add a demolition permit for the Polo barn (the last piece of the park still standing).
The Polo Barn also holds an incredible secret – we won’t give it away – but you should definitely check out our Santa’s Village episode when it debuts next month!
Apparently, they’re okay with demolishing a historic (albeit in rough shape) landmark in the process. Alternative plans include razing the building and building a replica, or having Lennar Homes (the developer) pay a one lump sum to the city in the amount of $1 million to allow to, “demolish and forget it.”
Thankfully, the Santa’s Village episode was able to capture this soon-to-be-gone structure – so it will be preserved foreever, despite the roar of the bulldozers.
For those of you who missed the story that Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area, did of us, they’ve just posted the link (and article) online. We’ll try to embed the video here shortly, but until then…
You can find the article here, or copy/paste the link below:
Tomorrow afternoon is my “Lost Parks” presentation at the San Mateo County Museum.
The presentation starts promptly at 1:00pm – don’t be late!
Learn more here: http://www.historysmc.org/main.php?page=docket
No, it’s not a broken record you’re hearing – I really am featured in / on a major news outlet for the second time this week!
This time, it’s the San Francisco Examiner, who were very kind to promote my “Lost Parks” presentation at the San Mateo County History Museum.
Let’s hope to keep this remarkable streak alive and continue to build awareness for the brand – feel free to share Great American Thrills with all your friends, family and favorite television stations / networks!
Read the article here:
Or copy / paste this link:
Planning your weekend already? Don’t forget about my “Lost Parks” presentation at the San Mateo County History Museum at 1:00pm this Saturday.
Join me as I take you back in time to five different defunct amusement parks from the greater Bay Area, as well as explain why our history is so important to preserve. In addition, you’ll see how you can still experience pieces of these long gone parks in our modern world. See you there!
Learn more, here: http://www.historysmc.org/main.php?page=docket
I am proud today to release our third episode in the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, focusing on the “famous” Manteca Waterslides!
Learn how the modern water slide was born just off of Highway 120 in Manteca, where you can still go to experience pieces of the park today and why people still call the chamber of commerce, asking about the slides…nine years after the park closed for good.
This was on all accounts – the most difficult video we have produced thus far. The technical aspects alone were enough to make both myself and my producer, Nicholas Laschkewitsch throw a fit. But, we persevered – and are proud to show you our work of the past few months.
“The Lost Parks of Northern California” is produced in association with the American Coaster Enthusiasts, Northern California region. Learn more about them at: www.acenorcal.org
Great American Thrills is honored to announce that we’ve been selected as a presenter in the San Mateo County History Museum’s “Courthouse Docket” series, exploring the rich history of the region.
Come down on October 26th at 1:00pm and see “The Next Huell Howser” – aka Kris Rowberry – show you how you can still experience some of our bygone amusement parks…today!
Who knows, you just might learn something, too!
It’s an honor to be featured in this month’s “Community Spotlight” section of the City of San Jose’s, District 3 Newsletter!
It turns out – quite a few people didn’t know about the origins of Luna Park, including the City Council!
Full text, here:
Kris Rowberry: The Lost Park of San Jose
“Great American Thrills” is a web video series that follows amusement park connoisseur, Kris Rowberry, as he hunts down the original sites and memories of Northern California’s 24 bygone amusement parks.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the history of the amusement parks I’ve visited,” said Rowberry. “This series is truly a journey back in time.”
Joining Rowberry on his journey is the Assistant Regional Representative for the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Northern California, Nicholas Laschkewitsch. He also serves as the show’s cameraman and producer.
“One of ACE’s missions is to promote the importance of preservation of both roller coasters and amusement parks,” said Laschkewitsch. “I hope the ‘Lost Parks’ series will do just that.”
Through their research, done mostly the old fashioned way in the King Library, both Rowberry and Laschkewitsch have stumbled upon countless, incredible stories about Luna Park.
“To find out that San Jose, not San Francisco, had the first pro baseball team in the Bay Area was a real shock,” said Rowberry. “Luna was built as an entertainment complex – amusement park and baseball stadium. It puts the whole territorial rights issue today in a whole new light. Plus, from the descriptions, it sounds like it was theplace to be for fireworks on the 4th of July.”
So how did he come across such an obscure piece of San Jose’s history?
“It honestly just came as inspiration driving through the Luna Park Business District and seeing all the banners,” said Rowberry. When I saw the carousel horse on one of them, I knew there had to be an amusement park here at some point. That’s the real impetus for wanting to highlight this park – well that and I lived in San Jose for nearly 26 years and never knew about it.”
Thank you Kris for bringing back the memory of Luna Park and a piece San Jose history!
Learn about Luna Park for yourself, here:
KGO 810 AM here in the Bay Area interviewed me this past Friday on the “Lost Parks” series. Hopefully, it’s the start of people discovering my little series!
For those who missed it – check it out!
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, episode one of, “The Lost Parks of Northern California,” featuring San Mateo’s “Pacific City.”
The wait is over – no more screen captures – this is the OFFICIAL trailer to the “Lost Parks” series! Look for the debut episode, featuring San Mateo’s “Pacific City Resort” to debut right here on March 29th, 2013!
Longtime residents of the South Bay remember this park by a much different theme.
Howdy, partner! Can you name this ‘dem here lost amusement park of San Jose, CA?
We’re hoping to have the video completed for this park by July (fingers crossed!)
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy to announce that our first episode has made it to the “rough cut” stage!
Folks, it almost looks like a proper television program!
Stay tuned for announcements on when the episode will debut…for now, here’s a behind-the-scenes screenshot of me describing why this lost park disappeared. (Hint – guests eventually POO-POOED the idea of ever coming back…)
There’s something about danger that makes our stories better, don’t you agree?
Case in point – Producer Nick and I were heading out to the SF Zoo this past Sunday to film a segment about the 1922 Dentzel Carousel. (It happens to be the only operating piece of the short-lived Pacific City Amusement Park at Coyote Point.)
Unfortunately, the park was beyond capacity, both in parking and general space, as they were celebrating Chinese New Year. With the weather as spectacular as it was, we should have known the park would be crowded.
We parked on Herbst Way, which turned out to be smack dab in the back of the park. Sadly, we were unaware of this, so…like sheep in a herd, we followed the pack of people who purported to know where the entrance to the zoo was.
Turns out, it was the entrance to the Great Highway and Skyline Blvd. (CA-35).
This is the result…
Now Producer Nick and I are all for excitement – when it’s in the controlled and safe confines of an amusement park. But when you have cars whizzing by at 55 mph and you’re carrying upwards of $6,000 worth of camera and video equipment – it makes for a hairy situation.
But it got me to thinking – even if this was a lame day to shoot video, it would still be memorable – almost legendary. And while we DID end up making it into the zoo without any problems, and filming went along smoothly – the one thing we’re probably going to take away from today was that crazy walk.
Funny how things work out in the end, huh?
Stay tuned for the ACTUAL video we were shooting for – the Lost Amusement Parks of Northern California…coming soon!
For most people, today is a holiday about love. For others, it’s about the over commercialization of a natural human emotion.
For me, it’s cause to celebrate – to hold my hat up high and say, happy 154th birthday to George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.!
One of the most recognizable names in the amusement industry – maybe only behind Walt Disney – Ferris is responsible for the engineering and building of his namesake, the Ferris wheel.
Debuting at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Ferris’ wheel was steam driven and used 36 cars the size of train cars to take 60 passengers EACH as moving observation decks.
The ride was never designed to be thrilling (the ride lasted about 30 minutes with loading) but rather, to be an observation attraction. The wheel was beefy in construction and simply dwarfed all other structures at the fair. It was meant to be an answer to the Eiffel Tower – and it delivered. The construction methods and engineering is strikingly familiar to the Parisian icon.
Even by modern standards – Ferris’ first wheel was massive. While most wheels today are transported via trailer and rarely break the 100-foot mark, Ferris’ observation wheel in Chicago was 264 feet tall. (That’s over 25 stories!) To this day, only a small number of wheels have eclipsed this number.
Sans the occasional upgrade to the passenger compartments, or the frightening concept of the eccentric wheel (Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Wonder Wheel) or the ultramodern spoke-less wheel (Big O) the general concept of the ride has not changed much in over 100 years.
It’s a true blast from the past that is in quite the renaissance – and we’re not talking carnival wheels, here. You see, the large wheel is making a huge comeback that would make Ferris proud.
Attractions such as the London Eye and Singapore Flyer have brought back the original concept – large, observation attractions. Four, count ‘em FOUR wheels over 500’ tall are either under construction or currently proposed in the United States alone, including a proposed 625’ wheel on Staten Island. Makes you wonder why no one out here in the Bay Area has called to build one yet. (Talk about scenery to see!)
Sadly, Ferris’ legacy is somewhat tainted these days – it’s become more fashionable to call them “observation wheels,” rather than the name which was connected to them. A “Ferris Wheel” it would seem, should only be found at a fair – an “observation wheel” is more likely to be found in a trendy metropolis.
His wheel met an unfortunate end as well. After being packed and shipped to the St. Louis Exposition of 1904, it was simply blown up – not popular enough to turn a profit. Ferris met an equally untimely death – he died of
tuberculosis at age 37.
So the next time you’re at your local amusement park and see a Ferris wheel, look skyward, and thank Mr. Ferris – for creating one of the most prolific amusement attractions in human history.
And maybe, just maybe – it IS appropriate that Ferris was born on what would become Valentines Day – what other ride allows you to make out with your sweetie in public – without almost anyone knowing?*
*Except the person sitting behind you…
A wonderful video collage of the Great Wheel while in Chicago:
The BEST Great America site on the planet, featuring the Sky Whirl triple Ferris wheel:
Anyone up to see some test footage from our latest shoot? Look forward to the final product to debut soon on our YouTube channel as well as here!