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Posts tagged “magic mountain

How to Make Ride Announcements Better for Amusement Park Chains

Mako at SeaWorld San Diego

It’s that time of year again – time for park fans to begin serious speculation about what may (or may not) be coming to their favorite parks in 2020.

With SeaWorld Parks already making announcements (or teasing them) for all of their parks, Cedar Fair and Six Flags are up next to reveal what’s in the works for next season.

Mako at SeaWorld San Diego

All of the SeaWorld parks are expecting major, new additions to their facilities in 2020, including Mako at the original SeaWorld in San Diego, CA.

There seems to be two trains of thought on how to best make these announcements: by individual park or as a complete chain.

At Cedar Fair it appears the chain spreads out their announcements, usually over a two week period, so that each park receives their “day in the sun” with media coverage in their local markets.

Meanwhile at Six Flags, the chain has made it a tradition to announce every park’s newest addition in a single video, with each park sending out a release to their local media. The idea is that the single announcement carries more weight on a national level, which should translate into more traction with the national media.

But this “one day fits all” strategy does have a potential flaw: what if a park hasn’t opened their new ride from 2019? Wouldn’t that potentially kill the buzz for both?

Sadly, for the good folks at Six Flags Magic Mountain, they don’t have to imagine this scenario – they’re living it.

Since their “new for 2019” attraction, West Coast Racers, isn’t even finished being built, it’s highly likely the park will be forced to announce another new ride, without even finishing the last one they announced.

West Coast Racers at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Despite being announced in late August of 2018, West Coast Racers is still far from being complete.

Personally, I’m a fan of the spread out approach. The collective anticipation continues to build throughout the week or two you keep dropping announcements. Plus, there’s a smaller probability that your least-visited parks or smaller investments won’t be lost in the giant, one day announcement.

And if a situation like Magic Mountain’s sets up, there’s flexibility built into it to delay an announcement.

No matter the way you announce it, 2020 is setting up to be a record year for new capital investment. Let the speculation and intrigue begin!

* * *

What do you think? Are you a fan of a “one day” or “spread out” announcement style for new rides and attractions? Let me know in the comment section below – and be sure to check us out on social media as well!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 7

All this week, we’re been posting a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow’s history.

Today’s post is of Ron Toomer, Arrow’s first engineer and the man behind some of the most iconic steel coasters ever built. While the company may be best remembered for their rides – remember that without the people behind them, they would have most certainly never have existed.

Day Seven of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there tomorrow evening!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 6

All this week, we’re been posting a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow’s history.

Today’s post is of X at Six Flags Magic Mountain – the world’s first 4th Dimension coaster and the last coaster Arrow ever built.Day Six of Arrow

Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT or SHARE with the amusement park fans in your life – and don’t forget that “The Legacy of Arrow Development” premieres THIS SATURDAY at the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets are still available here: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there on Saturday!


Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain Catches Fire, Partially Collapses

Screenshot from KTLA-TV's helicopter footage.

Screenshot from KTLA-TV’s live helicopter footage.

Colossus – the wooden racing coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain that has been closed for several weeks to undergo a massive renovation, caught fire today in an area where workers were removing track pieces. A portion of the lift has completely collapsed, but the rest of the circuit appears to be in good condition, based off of video taken from the scene. The park was closed at the time – no injuries have been reported.

First reports of the fire came in around 2:30pm and immediately photos began to “light up” social media. The park and ride became a trending topic almost immediately:

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The official statement from the park confirms that:

“(The fire) happened while work was being done to disassemble the ride. The park was closed and there were no injuries. Colossus has been closed since August 17 for renovation. Plans for the spring debut of Twisted Colossus are still on track.”

The Coaster Guy reported just a few days ago that he saw what appeared to be burn marks where track had been removed on the lift. The ride is being renovated by Rocky Mountain Construction, who have done several other ride modifications, but never on this large a scale.

So how will they accomplish such a quick turnaround? The answer is simple – they’ve got everything they need already on site to repair and replace: Because the re-design of the ride does not incorporate all of the original layout,  there will be literally thousands of board feet of lumber on the site that can easily be recycled into repairing any damaged sections of the ride.

 

TO RECAP – an apparent construction accident caused Colossus’ lift to catch fire today – while it was under renovation and NOT open ot the public. Thanks to the efforts of both the park and Los Angeles County Fire Department, the blaze and subsequent damage to the structure was quickly contained -no one was injured.


What’s the Difference Between an “Amusement Park” and a “Theme Park?”

You hear the phrases “amusement park” and “theme park” thrown around all the time. But what exactly makes a park one or the other? It seems like the two terms are interchangeable at times – but in reality, they’re two completely different experiences.

This week, Six Flags Magic Mountain was named by USA Today as “America’s #1 Theme Park” – but is it really themed like a Disney park is? (And it should be noted, that the “contest” was a user poll) Heck, there’s even parks that called themselves “Themed Amusement Parks” – we’re looking at you, California’s Great America.

Theme parks generally have specific areas that work together with the rides and attractions to form a cohesive theme.

Theme parks generally have specific areas that work together with the rides and attractions to form a cohesive theme.

So then, let’s define exactly what makes an amusement park and theme park – and start using the phrases correctly, shall we?

FAIR / CARNIVAL – Any non-permanent installation of a group of rides and attractions that typically travels in a geographic area. 

Examples: County Fair, State Fair, Circus

AMUSEMENT PARK – Any permanent installation of a group of rides, with or without a gated entry. Single rides may be themed to specific topics, areas or storylines, but a cohesive theme(s) is/are not seen in the park as a whole.  Rides tend to be judged based on statistics and “thrill factor” over immersiveness of the experience.

Examples: Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Six Flags Great America, Cedar Point

THEME PARK – Any permanent installation of a group of rides and attractions themed after specific topics, areas or storylines. At no time is the illusion of theme dropped while inside the park gates (I.E. everything must have a cohesive theme, not just one ride). Rides are about immersing guests in an experience, not necessarily as thrilling from a statistics standpoint.

Examples: Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Busch Gardens, Universal Islands of Adventure

What are your thoughts on my definitions? I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment below or write to me on social media – let’s keep the conversation going!


Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain once featured on Nickelodeon’s “Wild and Crazy Kids”

With Colossus’ days numbered at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I thought it be appropriate on this Throwback Thursday to share a bit of my childhood relating to the “King of Wooden Coasters” before it’s too late.

Like many other early Millennials, I grew up with Nickelodeon. And not the crap Nickelodeon they’re passing off today. I’m talking Salute Your Shorts, Rocko’s Modern Life and Double Dare holy crap this is amazing Nickelodeon.

One of the mainstays of the channel was a show called “Wild and Crazy Kids.” It featured groups of kids competing in wacky, sometimes messy games with the goal to just have fun (Imagine that!)

WAC Colossus

Colossus, gleaming under the spotlight of basic cable television!

I, like many other wide-eyed kids watching, were introduced to Colossus by this show – with their “Wacky Roller Coaster Spill.” That and the hope that someday, God willing – I’d get on the show and get to score one of those shirts…

Now, the editing isn’t very good in terms of continuity (I think they show the first drop three times and the double up twice). But it still shows a beautiful and thrilling Colossus – and an interesting game to boot. Enjoy this bit of 80’s / 90’s kid nostalgia – and #FarewellColossus!

If you’re looking for the latest on what comes after Colossus, be sure to check out our friends in Southern California, The Coaster Guy and Park Journey.

If the video isn’t loading properly, just skip to 9:16 for the good stuff…

Video is used only for educational or informational purposes. No claim of copyright intended.

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UPDATED: Ninja at Six Flags Magic Mountain Derails Due to Fallen Tree on Track

A major incident tonight on a Six Flags Magic Mountain roller coaster has capped an already tragic day in the amusement industry.

First, a young, British teenager was killed after being allegedly ejected from an Intamin ZacSpin, called “Inferno” at Terra Mitica park in Europe.

Then, just moments ago – reports came in that Ninja, Six Flags Magic Mountain’s suspended coaster – had a major derailment, with at least one car wheel assembly completely separated from the track. At least four people have minor injuries, according to local media. Crews from the local fire department, as well as Magic Mountian maintenance staff are on scene, assisting riders as I type.

Screengrab from live coverage at: www.KTLA.com

Screengrab from live coverage at: http://www.KTLA.com

UPDATE: A statement from Park Public Relations Manager, Sue Carpenter: “The issue was caused by a tree branch fell on the track of the roller coaster obstructing the train.

In situations like this – and I cannot stress this enough – we need to let the investigations run their course. There will be much said over the next few weeks about maintenance, ride safety and parks in general that will be absolute junk and rubbish. “Coaster experts” will pop up all over the media, spouting off things that they have no qualifications to say, with their only qualifications being that they’ve ridden many rides.

You will not find any of that type of speculative reporting here. 

Let’s allow the facts to come out – as speculation will only lead to rampant misreporting and really ends up being a complete disservice to everyone involved.

The thoughts and prayers of the entire Great American Thrills staff is with the friends and family directly affected by this difficult day.


The Death of the Wooden Coaster at Six Flags

This past month has not been a good one if you’re a wooden roller coaster residing at a Six Flags park. The chain announced the closure of not one, but two additional woodies: the Riverside Cyclone at Six Flags New England and the legendary Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Colossus dominates the parking lot of Magic Mountain, but not for long.

Colossus dominates the parking lot of Magic Mountain, but not for long.

The Colossus rumor is the worst kept secret in the industry – but the Cyclone announcement was out of left field. In the past 5 years, five different wooden coasters will be either modified or removed from Six Flags parks. So why do I claim this as the “death” of the wooden coaster era there? You have to look at the pattern of other parks in the chain to understand it:

1.) Park builds wooden coaster.

2.) Due to unknown reasons (some insiders claim it’s to save money) maintenance is deferred, making the ride rougher.

3.) As a result, the coaster must be modified from original form to save on wear and tear, either via brakes or “topper track.”

4a.) The coaster is EITHER removed altogether due to lack of ridership, complaints or sheer amount of work needed to repair and restore it…

OR

4b.) The coaster is modified to a steel track, provided by Rocky Mountain Construction, making it a steel coaster with wooden structure. (a la the “New Texas Giant,” “Iron Rattler”)

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Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Now, to be fair – each of these rides (sans Medusa) were well beyond their prime. Of the five wooden coasters that have been converted to steel or are slated to close, three were heavily modified from their original form, making them shells of their former selves. (In the case of the Cyclone, the ride itself was just poor, rough and terribly paced to begin with.)

Hell, Colossus and it’s dual track hasn’t really raced for the past 20 years. Why? Usually only one track was open – you guessed it – to save on maintenance and wear. Anyone who’s ridden it this year will attest, the right side track hasn’t been used in months – and it shows.

The original drop of the Riverside Cyclone can be clearly seen below the modified drop.

The original drop of the Riverside Cyclone can be clearly seen below the modified drop.

Not many guests know, but most of the rides and attractions at Six Flags aren’t American built – they’re almost exclusively from Europe. The traditional wooden coaster is really America’s sole contribution to the amusement community worldwide (not forgetting the Log Flume).

So then, are we witnessing a generational shift in technology, much as our Great Grandparents saw the shift from side-friction coasters to safer (and more extreme) wooden upstop rides? Or are we witnessing a stopgap cost cutting measure? Tell me what you think in the comments section, below.

Personally, I’m torn – everyone loves the latest and greatest – but you have to remember and preserve the past, too. Wooden coasters are expensive to maintain, no doubt – but NOT maintaining them through their life ends up being more expensive in the long run.

My final thought – the Giant Dipper in Santa Cruz is 90 years old and yet it’s smoother than any wooden coaster at any Six Flags park. And yet, all of those woodies are at least 50 years YOUNGER.

tombstone


We’re at Six Flags Magic Mountain Today!

That’s right – we’re up early, getting our coaster fix for the new year off on the right foot…err, coaster rather.

 

We’ll be meeting up with our friend The Coaster Guy today at Six Flags Magic Mountain for a “pit stop” before continuing on to our next destination in the Los Angeles basin.

Follow our journey with the hashtag: #greatamericanthrills – we’ll be live blogging the entire day on social media.

And if you’re in the area, drop on by – we’d love to meet you!


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.


Guiding “The Coaster Guy” around California’s Great America

Recently, I had the pleasure to give a “Grand Tour” of California’s Great America to “The Coaster Guy.” Kurt runs a very in-depth site that focuses on his home park, Six Flags Magic Mountain – but also covers other parks that he visits in his travels.

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Photo by The Coaster Guy – used with permission.

If you’ve never been to his site, I HIGHLY recommend taking a few minutes to go over there and peruse it.  It’s always great to meet up with like-minded enthusiasts – and especially ones who share the same passion for parks that I do. I just hope I didn’t make him completely sick showing him all the intense flat rides at the park!

Kurt, I promise that I’ll make it out to Magic Mountain – and look forward to a “smooth” free fall on Drop of Doom!

For more information or to see the Great America update, visit: www.theCoasterGuy.com


Six Flags Announces New 2014 Additions

Today’s the big day – the coordinated announcements from all of the Six Flags parks on their new for 2014 attractions!

Looks like our local park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, actually made out quite well, with THREE major announcements today.

For a new attraction, the park will receive, “Tsunami Soaker” a teacup ride – with a watery twist. The park was sorely lacking water rides (there’s only two) and those hot Vallejo summers will mean long lines for this fun (and interactive) attraction.

Personally, I love when family attractions get put in – it shows the park has a balance to it, rather than adding extreme thrill rides each and every year, which tend to attract the, “wrong crowds.”

Soaking water + spinning means I'll sadly have to pass on this one...

Soaking water + spinning means I’ll sadly have to pass on this one… (Photo credit: Six Flags, Inc.)

Our question – is where exactly will it go? The park isn’t exactly flush with space, so this means either a creative “shoe-in” somewhere in the park, or the removal of an older attraction.

We shall see, because we’re going to leave the speculation to those “other” sites…

In addition, the park has also announced that the popular “Cirque Dreams Splashtastic” WILL RETURN for a limited run again next season.  (Which is being overlooked by most other sites) This, combined with the addition of “Tsunami Soaker” gives families a great way to spend their day at Discovery Kingdom.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic will return for 2014.

And in addition to all of that – a little bit of nostalgia for fans of the park when it was Marine World Africa USA…

The park is going back to being open YEAR ROUND!

Plan your trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for anytime in 2014 - it's now open year-round!

Plan your trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for anytime in 2014 – it’s now open year-round!

“With the region’s mild temperatures, being open all year means guests have even more opportunity to enjoy Discovery Kingdom’s wildlife and wilder rides,” said Don McCoy, park president. “In addition to our summer daily operating schedule, we will now be open on weekends year-round ― further cementing Six Flags Discovery Kingdom as the premier destination for affordable, thrilling entertainment.“

Now of course, this means seeing rides go down during that time, just like Disney does at their parks – it will be interesting to see how this new year-round operation affects, well OPERATIONS! Seasonal parks tend to struggle to keep staffing up for some reason in California, so we’ll see how this year-round push goes this time around.

Considering the move to an annual “membership” plans for season pass sales earlier this year, it’s not surprising – but still great to hear officially.

For a complete list of the new for 2014 attractions at Six Flags parks, including some truly insane record-breakers across the country – visit this link HERE.


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Photo of the Day: Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

When you build a ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain, there’s an expectation that it has to be bigger and badder than the rest. Tatsu is definitely one of those coasters.

Built on the top of the large hill that defines the park, Tatsu is easily the most intense flying coaster built by Bolliger and Mabillard. I dare you to find a better lift on a ride – as you climb, the terrain falls below you, giving the illusion of rising much faster than you actually are!

Tatsu at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Photo (c) 2013 Great american Thrills and Kris Rowberry

When it opened, Tatsu featured the largest inversion on a flying coaster – the VERY intense “pretzel loop” element.

As always, a big thanks to my friends at BorrowLenses for allowing me to capture such beautiful photos with their gear.

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