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Posts tagged “Huell Howser

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:


God and Aliens Tell Woman To Go To Closed Amusement Park

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

A woman accused of leaving her eight-month-old baby alone in the parking lot of a Carolina-based amusement park says God and aliens told her she needed to see the park.

Francis Greene and her boyfriend, Jason Lee, reportedly left the infant inside a truck in the Carowinds’ parking lot back in April, according to a report from the York County Sheriff’s Office.

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Security at Carowinds found the vehicle abandoned in the drop-off area of the parking lot and found an eight-month old baby inside the vehicle, alone, and crying.

The guard called investigators and said it was nearly 20 minutes before Greene and Lee came back to the vehicle.

Lee told investigators that Greene wanted to see the park, so he came with her to see it. They reportedly initially took the little boy inside, but brought him back to the truck.

Greene told investigators that she “heard voices from God telling her to go to the park,” the report states.

“The voices that she thought were God, were actually extra-terrestrials, and that they wanted her to leave her body behind and come with them,” deputies said Greene told them. “Greene said that she decided against that because she wanted to stay with her family.”

 

Read the full story from WBTV here: http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/27906860/report-woman-says-god-aliens-told-her-to-go-see-amusement-park?clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass


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

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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: socialmedia@greatamericanthrills.net and we’ll do our best to get them in the documentary – with proper attribution, of course.

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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! 529207_572552719484421_2065013057_n


Great American Thrills Celebrates Five Year Anniversary

Kris Rowberry at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Half a decade.

That’s the length of time it’s been since I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and dedicate a good portion of my life to the Great American Thrills® brand concept.

This month we’ll be celebrating all that we’ve accomplished with this little WordPress site, as well as the incredible future ahead of us. Thank you all for being a part of this crazy thrill ride called “life.”

Here’s to the next five years!

Kris Rowberry at Six Flags Magic Mountain


Newest Lost Parks Episode Debuts – Frontier Village in San Jose

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!


Top Five Amusement Park Mistakes

Parks are run by humans – which means that sometimes (although rarely) they will make mistakes. It’s human nature, after all. Sometimes, taking a risk on a prototype pays off. (Look at how well Magnum XL-200 did!) However, in these cases, things didn’t quite work out as well as the parks had hoped.

That being said, let’s take a look back at five of some of the biggest “not-so-stellar” moves made by amusement and theme parks. Got one you think should be added to the list/ Tell us on social media, or leave a comment below!

 

5.) VertiGO; Thrill Shot – Cedar Point; Six Flags Magic Mountain

When park fans first saw this mammoth attraction, complete with it’s programmable ride sequence, many of us shouted, “…shut up and take my money!” Unfortunately, stress cracks that were discovered in the models and a snapped pillar in Ohio led the attraction to completely disappear to almost as little fanfare as it debuted to.

 

4.) Silver Bullet, Knott’s Berry Farm

Talk about a more appropriate name – many park fans will argue that the addition of this custom B&M inverted coaster nearly killed the charm from “America’s 1st Theme Park.” Plopped right in the middle of the park, the ride straddles several themed areas, and necessitated the moving of a church on the property as well as the original Berry Stand and vines that made Knott’s famous.

Built in an apparent attempt to compete with Six Flags Magic Mountain, Silver Bullet was the second to last major attraction built / purchased under the Kinzel-era of Cedar Fair’s management. Since then, the company has shifted, to re-investing in the parks’ classic attractions, bringing back the nostalgia and charm that made Knott’s the friendlier and less-crowded alternative to nearby Disneyland.

 

3.) Stealth – Paramount’s Great America

Announced in 1999 to much fanfare, this expensive, $17 million prototype attraction gave riders the sensation of flying…if they were willing to wait up to three hours on a GOOD day.

However, the ride was removed after only three years of operation, due to high maintenance needs, large amounts of downtime and that very low throughput / capacity. The second station was never built to completion, which allowed riders to bake in the sun for up to ten minutes while another train was dispatched. Quite simply, the ride never lived up to nor operated at it’s original potential.

Originally committed to several models of the ride for their parks, Paramount Parks allegedly pulled the contract on Vekoma after the disappointing results from Stealth. The area the ride sat on became the “Boomerang Bay Waterpark” but sharp eyes can still spot footers for Stealth in the Yankee Harbor area of the park.

 

2.) The Bat – Kings Island

Even the masters have their mistakes. For years, Anton Schwarzkopf had been designing a swinging, suspended coaster. Unfortunately, Anton’s skills with fabrication and design didn’t translate to running a business, and the company went bankrupt before “The Bat” could be finished. In stepped Arrow Development, who finished the ride.

However, high bank forces contributed to very high track maintenance, which eventually shut the ride down. It was replaced by another Arrow creation, the multi-loop “Vortex.”

Arrow would go on to build several suspended coasters of their own, one of which made a return to Kings Island, named “Top Gun.” Ironically, the park renamed and rebranded it to “the Bat” in 2014.

 

1.) Son of Beast – Paramount’s Kings Island

The looping wooden coaster. Once the holy grail of coaster-dom; now, it’s the “next big thing” when it comes to parks. But back in 2000, it was still a “work in progress.” True, the ride worked fine, but the heavy trains custom designed to transition between the steel loop and wooden track tore up the 7,000+ feet of track on the ride, to the point it became unbearable to ride.

Removing the loop and adding lighter, Gerstlauer trains didn’t help, either. The coaster was shuttered for several years and then eventually torn down in favor of a custom, record breaking B&M inverted coaster, “Banshee.”

What do you think? Are there other “not-so-great” moves that are worth noting? Tell us what you think on our social media feeds or leave a comment with video clip below!

(*All videos featured in this article are copyright of their respective owners. No ownership is implied*)


What’s Ahead for Great American Thrills in 2015

Now that the calendar has been officially flipped over to 2015, we wanted to fill you in on what’s to come for the year ahead with the Great American Thrills® brand.

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Season Two of “Lost Parks of Northern California” continues, with two more episodes, featuring Frontier Village in San Jose and the 1939 World’s Fair on Treasure Island. Both should debut in January and March, respectively.

Also, you can look forward to Season Three of “Lost Parks” debuting in late Spring, with episodes focused on Scotts Valley’s “Lost World” and Redwood City’s “Marine World Africa USA.”

Marine World Africa USA logo

We’ll also be providing you content from our partner sites, such as The Coaster Guy, Thrills by the Bay and Park Journey, in addition to revamping our website to be more user friendly.

And finally, we’ve got something truly special up our sleeves for 2015. We can’t tell you what it is just yet – but we think that every amusement and theme park fan will enjoy it for years to come. Stay tuned to our social media feeds for the latest…as they might have you going around in circles!

So, as you can see, it’s going to be another fun filled and busy year for Great American Thrills®. Be sure to share us with your favorite cable channels, networks, friends and family – we’d appreciate it!

Here’s to the year ahead of us – let’s ride, everyone!


Lost Parks of Northern California on CreaTV San Jose tonight

“Lost Parks” fans – our latest episode is heading to a television near you!

Our 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition episode will be broadcast on cable channel 30 in San Jose and Campbell tonight at 8:30pm!

If you’re not in the Bay Area, or don’t have Comcast cable, you can also catch the episode here:

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New Lost Parks Episode on 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition in San Francisco!

It was our most challenging “Lost Parks” episode – ever. More locations that we’ve ever done before. More money spent than ever before – but it was all worth it.

Presenting the first episode of SEASON TWO of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” – the Pan Pacific Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1915:

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE the video with all your friends, family and favorite cable networks – who knows, we might someday take the show national – but we’ll need your help to do it!

 


“Lost Parks” filming in San Francisco Friday

“Giddy” doesn’t begin to describe the thrill we get when we’re chasing down our local history. It’s more like “ecstatic.”

We’ve been given the rare opportunity to see a piece of San Francisco history – buried and forgotten for decades – so why exactly are we hunting down a 40 ton pipe organ? (And how do you bury something that big in a city that’s only 49 sq. miles?) After all, this isn’t “Lost Churches of Northern California,” right?

Austin Opus 500, San Francisco

Behind the row of visible facade pipes, lies 39 tons of additional musical instrument!

Well, you’ll just have to follow us on social media for live updates throughout the day today and stay tuned for the debut of our second season, with the 1915 Pan Pacific episode debuting around Memorial Day!

Huell Howser would be proud – and jealous.


Lost Parks Featured in the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Santa’s Village continues to bring in the press coverage! Today, we’re featured in the Sunday Santa Cruz Sentinel!

Santa Cruz Sentinel

Not exactly sure WHEN I changed my last name to Rowland, however…

For those of you who don’t get the paper, you can read the article online, here:

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_24808829/web-episode-series-highlights-scotts-valley-santas-village


KION Central Coast News Features “Lost Parks of Northern California”

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!

KION Screenshot

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:

http://www.kionrightnow.com/news/local-news/filmmakers-look-to-preserve-santas-village-through-documentary/-/23047192/23650682/-/14uwndb/-/index.html


Lost Parks Featured on KSBW Action News!

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!

KSBW Screenshot

Check out the the video, by clicking the link, here:

http://www.ksbw.com/news/central-california/santa-cruz/Documentary-focuses-on-Santa-s-Village-on-Central-Coast/-/5738976/23650724/-/v6cvlh/-/index.html


Santa’s Village Lost Parks Episode Now Available!

We decided to let you open one of your gifts a bit early – and we really hope you don’t return it to the store after the holidays…

Be sure to like, comment and SHARE this video with all your friends and family; it’s time to go back and re-discover SANTA’S VILLAGE of Scotts Valley! (Just click the link below to take you to the video page):

Santa’s Village – The Lost Parks of Northern California

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Great American Thrills Trademark Approved

If you’re looking for the next great travel show about amusement or theme parks, coasters or thrill rides – your search just got easier and your costs just went down, because Great American Thrills® is now an officially recognized and registered trademark!

There are some moments in life that are just photo-op worthy. Yesterday, I was fortunate to experience just such an occasion:

Trademark Approved

As of November 26th, 2013 – Great American Thrills gets a little modification – a circular “®” attached, to be specific. It now can be considered a brand with the U.S. Government! (Sans paying taxes as a corporation).

Hot damn!

Sadly, I had to wait until yesterday to pick up the paperwork – and let me tell you – it feels a whole lot more real when you’ve got that sheet of paper (in a protective cover) in your hands!

According to my preparing attorney, Michael Bosworth of IPx Law – I was the first person ever to want to come and pick up the paperwork in person. Certainly I was the first to take a photo of it, too ; ) Never being one to turn down the opportunity to be in front of a camera – I couldn’t resist…

Three years of planning and saving brought me to this moment – and now we’re almost ready to take the next step in the five year plan.

Mark my words – 2014 will be the year of Great American Thrills®, and we couldn’t be happier to have you along for the ride!


The things people Google about Amusement Parks

I often take the time to review stats and info on this site, just to see what people are most interested in. But one of the search queries awhile back caught my attention. Check out the second search from the bottom:

This search result is not only eye catching, but it's also quite relevant, too.

This search result is not only eye catching, but it’s also quite relevant, too.

Now, as a proud member of ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts), I find this search term incredibly troubling. When I see a search term like that, it honestly makes me angry. It also makes me think that some of us in the human race  haven’t learned the lessons from our past.

ACE prides itself on being one of the most organized, respectful enthusiast groups in the country (not to mention not-for-profit). But the fact that there are apparently people out there who are willing to risk their lives and the lives of others just to get an extra thrill – or worse – people searching for it online…that’s not cool, it’s just downright dumb.

Do yourself a favor the next time you want to get that extra thrill on a ride…think twice about what you’re about to do – is it really worth losing your life over? Is it worth hurting others around you? If you answer “yes” to either of those questions – then you are not a true enthusiast. A true coaster and park enthusiast wants only the best for the parks they visit – because without the parks, an enthusiast has nothing to be enthused about.


Featured in the San Jose Mercury News!

Big thanks to Mike Cassidy, who wrote a wonderful column (in the business section, no less!) about how we use technology to save parks that have been lost to the sands of time!

Mercury News Cassidy

Read the full article, here:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mike-cassidy/ci_24718952/cassidy-kris-rowberry-saves-santas-village-other-lost


Lost Parks of Northern California – Santa’s Village Preview

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!


Help Support Lost Parks of Northern California

Phone Cover Display

Not sure what to give your loved one for Christmas this year?

Want to get that amusement park fanatic in your family the gift that says, “I understand how much you love parks!”

Looking to support a worthy cause in the process?

Then do we have the gift for you!

We’ve created several different cell phone back cover designs – all with our local lost parks in mind. From the shores of San Mateo, to the wintry scenes of Santa’s Village – you can be stylin’ and profilin’ with the most unique phone case out there.

  The cases are good for regular duty, bumps and scrapes, and they currently are made for:

-iPhone 4/4s

-iPhone 5/5s

– Samsung Galaxy S3

– Samsung Galaxy s4

We’re offering these functional collectables for the introductory price of $20, plus shipping.You can’t find an awesome case for cheaper than that!

Plus, 100% of all proceeds from the sales of these covers goes directly to deferring the cost of the Lost Parks series.

As some of you know, we don’t make money off the series, but it still does cost money to produce. From gas to food, photo rights and tolls, it adds up quickly.

If you’re interested in purchasing or picking one up, please e-mail: kris@greatamericanthrills.net with your requests. We are currently working on a storefront, but are not quite ready to debut it just yet.

We take all forms of payment, including PayPal, credit cards and cash / check.

So, preserve the past by preserving your phone – get your official Lost Parks phone cover today!


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.


Featured tonight on “Bay Area Proud” and NBC Bay Area

Bay Area residents – be sure to tune in this evening to NBC Bay Area (KNTV) at 5:00p.m., as you’ll get a behind the scenes look at our latest “Lost Parks” project, “Santa’s Village of Scotts Valley.”

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Promotional photo by NBC Bay Area

If you’re not in the Bay Area, you can catch the segment here, once it’s posted online.

Garvin Thomas (Emmy award winning journalist) followed the whole Lost Parks crew for most of the day, to highlight the work we’re doing. For those who have not seen the show, “Each week NBC Bay Area’s Garvin Thomas profiles the people, the groups, and the companies making the Bay Area, and the world, a better place to live. Bay Area Proud stories are success stories; inspiring profiles of those making a positive change in our communities.”

Kris Rowberry, Nicholas Laschkewitsch, Lost Parks, Garvin Thomas

Special thanks to Garvin Thomas and Claire the Intern for hanging out with us and seeing what “Lost Parks” is all about. Photo by ACE NorCal, used with permission.

Be sure to give him a like or follow to see many of his other uplighting stories and subjects. Even he had to admit, he has the best job in all of journalism – covering only positive stories.

Check out our video series here.

So, who’s inspired to go preserve a piece of history?


On Google+? So are We!

G+ers – we just went live with our Great American Thrills™ fan page!

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Great American Thrills on Google+

You can also check out our other social media pages here:

YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatAmericanThrills

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanThrills

Twitter:

http://www.twitter.com/GreatAmThrills

Google+:

http://www.google.com/+KrisRowberry

Instagram:

http://instagram.com/krowberry

Receive updates, invites to events and more on the world of “Great American Thrills™” as well as the “Lost Parks of Northern California” series. So don’t delay – join us on social media and follow us today!


San Mateo County History Museum Presentation a Success

For everyone who attended my “Lost Parks” history presentation at the San Mateo County History Museum last weekend – an immense THANK YOU is in order!

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Over 60 of you attended the event (which was a VERY large crowd for these sorts of events, according to the museum staff). And the feedback we received was universally positive. If you’ve never been to this museum – the building itself is a piece of art, in addition to all of the exhibits!

If you missed the event – don’t despair – we’re already working on a video of the presentation, so you can attend “virtually.”

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Remember, you can always help support Great American Thrills™ by liking and sharing our updates with your favorite cable channels social media pages – or just tell your friends about the work we’re doing!