Many of you have been asking, “When will we see another episode of “Lost Parks of Northern California?”
Well, “Lost Parks” has been on a bit of a hiatus this year – but there’s a perfectly good explanation for it:
We’ve been working all year on a documentary on the history and legacy of former amusement ride manufacturer (and Bay Area company) Arrow Development!
But, don’t worry – the award-winning show will return – just as soon as we recover from the workload of the “Legacy of Arrow Development” project!
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!
Pardon us if you’ve already heard the news, but…we think it’s worth bragging about:
“Lost Parks of Northern California,” the series produced by ACE Northern California and Great American Thrills took home the award for “Best Community Access Television Series – Professional” on Saturday at the CreaTiVe Awards in downtown San Jose.
We could not have done this without everyone who we’ve met along the way, contributed a video or photo at a lost park they once visited, or simply shared their experiences with us. Thank you for the opportunity to live history vicariously through you! Here’s to many more awards and celebrations.
And yes, you’re allowed to say, “We knew them when…”
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!
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*)
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.
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.”
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!
It’s crazy to think how time flies by, but this week marks one year since were had the incredible fortune of being followed for the day by Garvin Thomas of NBC Bay Area.
Surreal, nerve racking, inspiring – all words that would describe us that day. But Garvin and his assistant kept us at ease – they never were intrusive, yet you knew they were there. They never got in the way, yet somehow always got the shot they needed. In case you missed it, here’s the story that Garvin produced.
But Garvin didn’t just stop there. He went a step beyond. When a TV station tried to hire me away from my current gig, Garvin was more than happy to dish out advice – good advice mind you – that has served me well ever since.
The motto at my high school was “Men and Women for Others.” I must say, after meeting with and working with Garvin – he is the living epitome of that phrase. I can only hope to someday return the favor. Maybe with a mention in an Emmy speech…or how about the CreaTiVe Awards if we’re nominated?
With the advancements in UAV technology over the past few years – coupled with the explosion of video online – it’s no wonder these devices are becoming increasingly popular. But, before you go off buying and flying one of these incredible devices at your local park – know what you’re getting into first…
1.) Flying over anything is inherently dangerous – gravity ALWAYS wins:
Many people don’t realize that when you’re flying, you’ve got several pounds of equipment hovering over other people’s property and / or selves when you’re flying. That payload can strike someone or something at damaging velocities. One doesn’t have to look far to find plenty of spectacular drone crash videos.
A dead battery, gust of wind, or unexpected obstacle could spell instant disaster for your aircraft, and serious injuries or worse to anyone below. Know that if you cause damage to a park employee, guest or ride as a result of your UAV – they’ll be calling you to recoup the damages – and it won’t be cheap.
There are also significant airspace restrictions to be aware of, too – as you’ll soon see…
2.) Getting permission from a park to fly over is ALWAYS the best move:
(Video by William Francis)
Don’t be like this guy and cause a panic amidst Disney security and guests – while it should be common sense knowledge – you DON’T fly over a park that already has major security protocols in place.
Make whatever argument you can (“The Ferris Wheel was closed,” or “FAA says only MANNED aircraft aren’t allowed over”) the fact remains – flying an unmanned drone, without telling anyone is begging for panic and unnecessary resources diverted away from real emergency situations. There are reports everyday of people shooting these aircraft down – not informing someone you’ll be in their space sets the wrong precedent and reflects badly on the community as a whole. You wouldn’t jump over a fence for a photo update – so how is flying over at low altitude any different?
ALWAYS ask ahead of time and more importantly, HONOR the decision – even if it isn’t what you wanted.
3.) Privacy rights may not be set in stone, but there are common sense limits:
Fences are there for a reason – it’s to keep people out. Flying over construction sites, while a cool perspective at low altitude – can be considered an invasion of privacy. Now, this is where it get’s muddy…at what altitude is too low? Aircraft are required to stay at least 1,000 AGL (above ground level), but drones aren’t quite aircraft – they’re considered “model aircraft” by the FAA at this time. That means they cannot exceed 400 feet AGL. But the privacy barrier isn’t set in stone.
4.) Commercializing (monetizing) your drone video requires more than just a click of the mouse:
When you monetize a video on YouTube, you’re certifying that you own all the rights to the video, you made it yourself and you had all the necessary paperwork to allow it to be commercialized. This means getting insurance, paying all location fees oh – and GETTING PERMISSION TO FLY IN THE FIRST PLACE! When you monetize a video online, you’re making money off of it – which makes you a commercial film producer. There’s far more work that needs to be done as a result…
So, to recap – while UAV’s (drones) offer incredible angles once reserved to just airships / helicopters – it comes with great responsibility to ensure the safety and privacy of everyone involved, including the parks you’re considering a flyover of. Know what you’re getting into before you fly…
*FULL DISCLOSURE: “Great American Thrills” and “Lost Parks of Northern California” utilizes UAV (drone) footage in our work, following all recommended practices, under the supervision of trained professionals and with permission of property owners.
One of three things will happen to an amusement or theme park that’s been abandoned and left standing:
2.) It will be continued to be abandoned (See: Six Flags New Orleans)
3.) Someone (or something) will eventually burn it to the ground.
Such is the case in Berlin, at the infamous Spreepark – a place that saw so much history – and became a mecca for “rust porn” aficionados. The park burned this past weekend, in a suspected case of arson.
And you wonder why we do our “Lost Parks of Northern California” series? It’s because our history is far more fleeting than you think. As we saw with the recent demolition of the Popl Barn from the Scott’s Valley “Santa’s Village” – once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
“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:
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!
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!
Looking for a park-related activity this weekend? Why not join the “Lost Parks” crew on Treasure Island, for the 75th anniversary of the opening of the 1939 World’s Fair!
The event is being held in Building One on Treasure Island, the same building that doubled as the terminal to the Berlin Airport in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Learn more about the event, here.
It’s also FREE to attend, unless you live on the east side of the bay – you’ll have to pay the Bay Bridge toll – but only use half of the bridge! Sorry about that…
Many apologies for the lack of updates on the site as of late – we’ve been working several different major projects that have required a bit more of my time and attention. That being said – they’re going to be EARTH SHAKERS when we can release more information on them, so stay tuned!
As for the “Lost Parks of Northern California” – if you follow us on social media, you know we’re already hard at work on principal videography on the next episode – this time, focusing on parks designed to be lost from the beginning – the 1915 and 1939 World’s Fairs of San Francisco.
As you can imagine – there’s a TON of work and locations involved; coupled with our skeleton “staff” of volunteers, it’s going to take a bit longer than other episodes to produce – but if you’re fans of our work on previous episodes, you already know that the wait will be well worth it.
Be sure to follow the journey by searching / using the #lostparks hashtag on your favorite social media account!
Santa’s Village continues to bring in the press coverage! Today, we’re featured in the Sunday 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:
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:
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!
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!
Read the full article, here:
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!