Halloween Haunt has arrived at California’s Great America for 2014!
After an 11 month wait, Halloween fans can once again rejoice – the Haunt has returned to California’s Great America!
We’re in the park this evening as part of the media preview night – and if the hype is true – this could end up being the best Haunt in California. (That’s right – we said it, Knott’s fans…)
If you want to experience Haunt with us as-it-happens, be sure to follow us on Twitter.
For more sporadic updates throughout the evening, you can check out our Facebook or Google + page.
Also, be sure to check back here next week for a full review, including photos and interviews.
Happy hauntings, everyone! Buhahahaha!
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 – 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!
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.”
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.”
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?
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!
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.”
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!
The Demon Song and Soundtrack
In honor of Halloween’s approach, what better way to theme your own, personal Haunt than by using the complete, original 1980 soundtrack from the line of the Demon at both Great America’s.
Yes, the “Demon Song” has been online for some time – but not the whole, nearly 30 minute queue recording, so enjoy!
A word of warning – this track is seriously corny!
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 America: For 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.
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!
Halloween Haunt 2013 at California’s Great America
In only a few, short years, Halloween Haunt at California’s Great America has gone from two “hand me down” mazes from Knott’s Berry Farm to easily the de facto Halloween event in Northern California.
Now with eight (8) mazes, three dedicated “scare zones” and enough fog machines and tinted lighting to make any rock concert jealous – the Haunt is now worthy of being up for comparison to the event that initially spawned it in Southern California.
The entertainment begins just as you enter the front gate to the park. Fire cannons (yes, you read that correctly) have been installed along the reflecting pool of Carousel Columbia. Never did I think I would feel the heat of flames on a relaxing ride like Columbia – then again, this IS Haunt. Consider walking into Carousel Plaza your “baptism by fire” to Haunt. The only thing that would make it better would be to run the carousel backwards.
To the right of the carousel, lies the first of two new mazes this year, “Dia de los Muertos.” As you can imagine, it’s a Latin themed maze, complete with Spanish-talking zombies and dizzying effects. The artwork alone makes the maze worth going into (and we STRONGLY recommend getting a pair of 3D glasses for $1.00 at the entrance). Those 3D glasses can also be used in the “CarnEVIL” maze in Orleans Place.
At the back of the park lies Zombie High, the other new maze for 2013. The building, which lies behind the Grizzly roller coaster, was built specifically for this maze, but I imagine it will double as a Haunt storage warehouse in the off-season. Considering all the material necessary to pull this event off now – it would make sense to expand the “backlot storage” the park currently has.
“Zombie High” is modeled after Shows Director, Clayton Lawrence’s old high school, down to the mascot. Of course, I’m guessing he didn’t have all the zombies and blood, there. See if you can catch all the inside jokes and macabre humor – just don’t upset the Principal.
The eight mazes and elaborate theming in the park would have been enough to placate most Halloween fans – but then California’s Great America did something celebrated by park fans and observers…they didn’t stop there.
Back in March, Park Spokesperson Roger Ross stressed that, “Cedar Fair is committed to California’s Great America. We’re replacing roofs…there’s fresh paint everywhere.” And you know what? He wasn’t kidding. That same spirit and drive to revive the park to it’s former glory and true potential is clearly evident in all aspects of the Haunt this year. Did you really need fire cannons at the front entrance? Not really – but who the hell cares – they’re freaking awesome!
In addition to the two new mazes and amazing theming throughout the park, Great America now offers a pre-scare meal, dubbed “Madame Maries Voodoo Chophouse.” The $22.99 add-on to your admission includes: early entry to the park, an all-you-can-eat, cajun-themed buffet, single “Fright Lane” entry to a maze of your choice and apparently very exclusive ride time on Gold Striker!
Now, most buffets at amusement parks are well – not worth writing home about. But, this meal included: fried catfish, creole, biscuits, prime rib(!) and soft drinks among other items. There’s even a chocolate fountain, complete with fruit and other dessert options. It shattered my notion of what I could eat an an amusement park outside of the Disneyland Resort. The park also offers a “Fright Feast” for $13.99, with more standard, picnic grove food options.
But the two new mazes, elaborately-themed buffet and exclusive ride time on Gold Striker was NOT the highlight of the night. That honor was reserved for the masterfully choreographed ice show, “Blades of Horror.”
Yes, you read right – an ICE show at a Halloween event. Stay with me, people…
A combination “Cirque” style show with an intriguing storyline, “Blades of Horror” is easily the best show I have seen at California’s Great America, going back to the KECO days of the late 1980’s.
The talent is largely local and according to many staff members, the show was largely driven by the performers simply wanting to keep performing. It has the look and feel of a large budget show you’d catch in any Las Vegas resort – and yet it’s right here, in the middle of Haunt. The acrobatics, aerials stunts and exhibitions of these actors is nothing short of spectacular. The grand finale alone is something that simply cannot be missed and may never be duplicated again.
There you have it – not one, but no less than five incredible reasons to visit California’s Great America and their burgeoning Halloween Haunt event.
As the days get closer to Halloween, it’s best to schedule your visit on either a Sunday or better still – visit as soon as possible. The crowds will only get larger as the holiday approaches, and so does the cost of admission.
Oh, and don’t show up to the park on Halloween – Haunt runs through October 27th.
Halloween Heads – it’s time to get out to California’s Great America – and get your scream on.
– – –
Learn more about Haunt and it’s incredible entertainment and food options here: https://www.cagreatamerica.com/haunt
Lost Parks, Episode 3: “Manteca Waterslides”
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
Our Next Lost Park…
We’re hoping that by choosing this park, we just might bring summer back this year…it’s freezing in the Bay Area right now!
Well, you know it from it’s catchy jingle or if you ever drove through the Central Valley on the way to Yosemite or Sonora…
That’s right! We’re going back to the “famous” MANTECA WATERSLIDES!
(SKIP to 2:40 for the good stuff…)
Lost Parks of Northern California – Episode 2 Preview
It’s finally here!
Episode 2 of the “Lost Parks” series is in the bucket and ready for release. So until the actual episode debuts, check out this quick preview of San Jose’s OTHER long lost amusement park – LUNA PARK!
Look for the actual episode to debut later this month!
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!
Lost Parks, Episode 1 – San Mateo’s “Pacific City”
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, episode one of, “The Lost Parks of Northern California,” featuring San Mateo’s “Pacific City.”
Be sure to like our video, comment on it, subscribe to our channel and share with your friends! We’re on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!
You can also follow the American Coaster Enthusiasts (my partner on this journey) at www.ACEonline.org or www.ACEnorcal.org
Why Buy New – When You Can Buy USED?
Fans of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk should recognize this coaster “under construction.”
Yep, it’s the former Hurricane, with a new coat of paint and in a MUCH LESS salty environment (Not to mention drier, too!)
When old roller coaster or thrill ride eventually gets retired (Woodies are the lone exception – as they’re constantly being replaced) many of them are actually sold to smaller, “mom and pop” parks where they’re appreciated for many years after their first installation.
There’s even websites, such as this one, which could be considered the “Craiglist” of the Coaster – where all sorts of new and used rides are bought, sold and traded between parks.
So unless your favorite ride was completely torn down…
…there’s a good possibility that it was just “re-located.”
Now, the thrill of the chase is on!
The art of the on-ride photo
In a way, they’ve become more than just part of the amusement park experience – they have become attractions in their own right…
The on-ride photo – a way for parks to make more money off you – and a way to prove to Grandma and your friends that you really did ride “The Comet” after all…
The magnum opus of these cameras is surely mounted upon Disney’s Splash Mountain. Just about everyone has heard of “Flash Mountain” a place where fans (and even Disney employees) would post photos of ladies showing off their “Zip a Dee Doo Dahs” during the climactic final plunge on the flume.
Sadly, showing your “Briar Patches,” – while hilarious – can get you kicked out of the park. And the photo it took? Deleted forever before anyone could see or print it.
Unfortunately, some of these stunts (as funny as they can be) are also quite dangerous. Loose objects in the past decade have contributed to significant injuries or even malfunctions of rides. Plus, parks’ aren’t huge fans of saddling more liability insurance because you and your dumb little buddies decided to sneak a RAZOR aboard the ride…
So, here now are some of the best (SAFE) on-ride photos from around the web:
Why not get the whole family involved?
Space Mountain never looked so…interesting?
Ah yes – the singular “group” pose – always a classic!
The eyes tell the story!
Now if only they were on Ghostrider – this would be totally in theme with the ride!
I really don’t know where to start with this one – it’s perfect in every way! DeNiro battles the Russians on his namesake, with press and fans behind them! (Even the ref has GLOVES on!)
Don’t you wish your girlfriend was as awesome as her?
No, this is NOT photoshopped – talk about timing!
Well, the Beast IS the longest roller coaster in the US – over 30 years after it opened. Is it really that boring, though?
(I certainly don’t think so!)
Continuing with the “boring” theme – here’s my good pals the LaPutka’s doing their best on-ride pose via Splash Mountain!
“Dad, whatever you do – please don’t embarrass me in front of my friends!”
“Just catching up on the news while we plummet down to the Briar patch…”
And finally – what better way to finish this post than with a Tebow Tower of Terror!
If you’ve gone around the site lately, you’ve noticed our new, spruced up banners.
Which one is your favorite? Be sure to comment below!
Special thanks to my employer, BorrowLenses for allowing us to take awesome camera equipment out on the weekends! All the photos you see below (except for the second to last one) were shot using BL equipment!
Official Trailer – “The Lost Parks of Northern California”
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!
“Won’t You Come and Play With Us?”
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!)
Rough Cut is Complete!
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…)
Test Footage from our new Opening!
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!
Introducing the “Lost Parks” series!
This has been a long time coming – but I’m proud to introduce the first in a series of videos on the lost amusement parks of Northern California.
Special thanks to Nick Laschkewitsch for his excellent camera work on this intro.