The world's most authentic roller coaster and amusement park expert!

Posts tagged “#lostparks

Five Ways California’s Great America Can Make It’s 40th Anniversary Better

Photo by Steven Wilson

Can we talk?

California’s Great America is about to celebrate it’s 40th anniversary this year. And from the feeling I’m getting via their social media and press releases, it sure is starting to feel like the park is about to blow a major opportunity to celebrate it properly.

Yes, the park is getting a revamped 4D theater – but that’s all so far for their 40th season. A milestone season. A season many people didn’t think the park would ever get to the first place (if you know it’s history).

Maybe I’m nuts, but as a fan, here’s five things the park can easily do to make the 40th beyond just “good” – they’ll make it GREAT:

 

5.) Bring back the history museum:

One of the coolest parts of ACE’s Coaster Con for me two years ago was the opportunity to be involved in designing and curating the history museum at the park. It was hoped it would help the park do a better job of bragging about it’s history – and gave the park the excuse to dust off a WORKING model of their Flight Deck coaster.

Great America history museum

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

Sadly, the very next day – it was closed to the public. All that work for less than 12 hours of total operation. If you’re going to celebrate your history – you better be prepared to be PROUD of it and COMMIT to it.

 

4.) Have roving, themed performers in the park:

Again, a highlight of Coaster Con a few years ago (for local park fans at least) was the apparent return of themed dancers and singers to Orleans Place. Even the general public stopped in awe. This piece of Marriott-era showmanship evoked Disney-like tones and really should be made permanent, rather than just used for one event and discarded.

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

Photo © 2014, Kris Rowberry

 

3.) Bring back the Demon’s theming:

A sore spot with me for YEARS (Ha! It’s funny ’cause it’s an older Arrow coaster, get it?) I’ve got on at length about this before, so I’ll make it as clear as I can – the Demon MUST have it’s special effects brought back for the 40th anniversary. Bonus points if you re-create the “Turn of the Century” sign.

Demon Great America night

Photo © 2003, Kris Rowberry

Speaking of nostalgia…

 

2.) Retro merchandise in the gift shops:

Nothing is hotter right now than nostalgia – and theme parks tend to accumulate a ton of it in their lifetimes. Great America is no exception. If you’re looking for a perfect example of how to pull this off, take a gander at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, who’s most popular shirt this year – was for a ride that’s been gone for three seasons now (The Big Bad Wolf).

Busch Gardens retro shirts

Photo © 2015, Kris Rowberry

Admit it, you don’t just want a Sky Whirl, the Edge or Tidal Wave t-shirt now…

…you NEED one.

 

1.) Nix the fountains up front and bring back the swans:

Quick backstory: The fountains were added in 2001, to celebrate the park’s 25th anniversary. I think it’s time to revert the front pool to what it was originally intended as – a reflecting pool.

And what better way to class up the joint, than to bring back the elegant, trumpeter swans!

Photo by Steven Wilson

Photo credit: Steven Wilson collection, http://www.GreatAmericaParks.com

And yes, California’s Great America, I’m available for consulting – perhaps compensation via funnel cake is in order. Either way, you have my info…don’t keep me waiting.

What do you think? Are there any other things the park can do to help truly celebrate it’s 40th season? Leave me a comment below, or chat with me on your favorite social networks!


Magnum XL-200 Filming for Legacy of Arrow – Throwback Thursday

Today’s Throwback Thursday comes from this past summer, when I had the privilege to cross the country with my good friends Robert Ingle and Nicholas Laschkewitsch to help tell the story of Arrow Development.

The documentary is coming out later this year – so for now, enjoy this great scene of Magnum XL-200 (world’s first hypercoaster) from Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. The fire ants and muffleheads were INSANE!

CP_Kris

As for my hair – I’m pretty sure I was wearing a hat that day…


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!


Image

Great American Thrills teases at major announcement

Pi Day Tease 1


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!


Berlin’s Abandoned Spreepark Amusement Park Burns Down

One of three things will happen to an amusement or theme park that’s been abandoned and left standing:

1.) It will eventually be resurrected (See: Kentucky Kingdom, Santa’s Village)

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.

http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/08/the-bizarre-history-and-fiery-end-of-berlins-iconic-abandoned-amusement-park/375930/

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.


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 of Northern California on Treasure Island for World’s Fair Celebration This Weekend

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!

sf_world_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…


Lost Parks Update for February

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!

sf_world_fair


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 :

The Santa Cruz Sentinel

The San Jose Mercury News

KION Central Coast News

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!


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!


Thanks for the Follow, Destination America!

It’s always great to receive new followers on social media – but some, such as the one I received last evening, are very special!

Destination America follows Great American Thrills

Thanks for the follow, Destination America – glad to have you along for the ride! This tweet brought to you by Verizon Wireless 4G LTE…

Destination America is a partner channel with Discovery Communications, and would be a WONDERFUL place to have Great American Thrills show just how amazing our amusement parks are – (wink wink, nod nod) after all…we invented them!

I look forward to sharing my passion of amusement and theme parks with you, Destination America – in addition to my extensive knowledge of Talkeetna, AK ; ) Have you ever tried their pancakes?

IMG_2513


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!

IMG_1039

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.”

IMG_1087

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!


San Mateo County History Museum Presentation Tomorrow

Don’t forget!

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

photo


“Lost Parks” featured in the San Francisco Examiner!

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.

For the full article, pick up a copy of today's Examiner, or click the link below.

For the full article, pick up a copy of today’s Examiner, or click the link below.

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:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/thrill-seeker-revels-in-amusement-park-history/Content?oid=2610741


History Museum Presentation This Saturday

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

hmlogo


The People Behind “Lost Parks” and the Manteca Waterslides

Despite how it may look, there are many, MANY people who are involved in the production of “Lost Parks of Northern California.”

Without them, I would not be able to look as good as I do presenting it. With that, here are all the people it took to bring the Manteca Waterslides episode to life:

Al Garcia, Waterworld California: A big thanks goes to my longtime friend Al Garcia, who is the Marketing Sales Coordinator for the park. He gave us his personal stories of Manteca – in addition to allowing us to capture some unbelievable angles of the water slides in his park – including this particularly moist one. Visit his park (when it’s open) at: www.waterworldcalifornia.com

Roger Ross & Ryan Davies, California’s Great AmericaFor allowing us to film inside their Boomerang Bay water park and make that historical connection to the slides in Manteca, I am forever indebted to you both. Here’s hoping that we get to work together again soon, or maybe even catch a Sharks game together this season. Visit their park at: www.cagreatamerica.com

Mike Brown and the Entire Brown Family: Mr. Brown – thank you for giving us the opportunity to share your family story with us – and thank you even more for opening up to us about all the history you hold in your memories. I can always say that I hung out with the owner of the Manteca Waterslides, and bought him lunch, while we shared stories and went through old photo albums. We will wear our Manteca “Anniversary” hats with pride.

Debby Moorhead, Vice Mayor of Manteca: Debby was crucial to us tracking down and getting permission from the current owners of the slides, as well as a great interview and one of the few, genuine politicians we’ve ever met. Sounds like Manteca is THE place to be in the coming years…we can’t wait!

ProAM USA: There is no way we would have been able to capture some of the beautiful shots in this video without winning a Facebook contest from these guys. (Seriously, we actually won a Facebook contest and got a camera crane!) Our new DVC60 camera jib was put through it’s paces this episode and we cannot wait to see what else we create with it.

Oh, and we’d love to model some of your other products, by the way…

Robert Ingle: Those promotional photos of me in the slides “acting” were all captured by Robert – who’s got quite the eye for awesome photos. But, his real skill is to blend in so I don’t even realize he’s taking my picture. I think there’s a career for you at TMZ if you’re interested, Robert.

And for those of you wondering, it’s Robert’s face that closes out the first episode in the credit roll…

Taylor Evans: I’ve never had a script supervisor before – but if I ever can hire one, it would be Taylor. He kept me on track and motivated as best as the Costco hot dog I bought him for lunch. For such complex shots, he was able to let me relax and do my thing, while he made sure the script still made sense. He also was responsible for the “summer winding down” edit that we thankfully caught that day.

And finally, I’ve saved the best for last – and with good reason, too.

1003062_526356200770740_1215406743_n

Getting direction from Nicholas, with Taylor holding the sun reflector. (Photo by Robert Ingle)

I first met Nicholas Laschkewitsch a little less than a year ago – and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to partner with on this series.  We’re three episodes into this once “little” project – and he somehow continually finds ways to both amaze and astound me with his work, both as a cinematographer, video editor and field producer.

This, mind you – without any professional training or experience. Nicholas simply has an eye for good work – and I could not be more fortunate to have found him and work with him on this series. He is just as much responsible for the success of this series as I am in front of the camera and doing research. Here’s to many more fun projects with the best producer I could ever have asked for.

If you haven’t seen how all these people came together on this project – look no further!


“The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever” – Video

From Daily Motion today – here’s a “nostalgic” (more tongue in cheek) look back at America’s most infamous amusement park, New Jersey’s own “Action Park.”

This is the home of the Cannonball Loop, a full 360 degree looping waterslide (and not the 45 degree models they’re building today, folks!)

Be sure to check out both parts of the video – enjoy!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13qzyv_the-most-insane-amusement-park-ever-part-1-of-2_tech&#8221

Capture


We’re Presenting at the San Mateo County History Museum!

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!


What does #LostParks Mean?

We’re “The Lost Parks of Northern California” – a web video series trying to track down any and all remaining pieces of the 30 amusement parks that have closed here in Northern California over the past 150 years.

And odds are – you saw us at work at California’s Great America today!

#LostParks quite simply, is our hashtag – a way for people to find out what we’re up to in a fun and engaging way across social media platforms. Come for the journey – stay for the history…ride with us!