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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.

Lost Parks Title Card

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!


The Top Five Most Insane Carnival Rides

They’ll spin until you puke – flash lights and blast music. It’s the carnival thrill ride – and they’ve become quite the art form in an dof themselves. But which one’s are the most intense…the most INSANE? Read on, thrill seekers!

You’ll notice some of these rides reside beyond the United States – since most rides here are in “automatic mode” they can’t change their length or intensity, unlike their European (awesome) counterparts.

5. Funtime “Giant Star Flyer”

What looks like an innocuous swing ride takes on a whole new meaning when you’re 400 feet in the air. Because the wind patters are so much different at that height, expect to be twisted (and terrified!).

 

4. “Hard Rock”

Pretty rare in the U.S., this ride has a great start and finish, with the floor literally right in your face as the ride starts up and then again when it slows down – NOT for the faint of heart!

 

3. KMG “Tango”

You’ll find a few of these on the U.S. fair and carnival circuit – be sure to wear an athletic supporter if your model doesn’t come with the foot holds!

 

2. Chance Rides “Zipper”

It’s a ride so steeped in lore – it has a SOUND all it’s own. The constant banging of metal on mesh – the screams of the uninitiated – it makes for a pretty terrifying experience.

The ride has been around since the 1960’s (when it used to be TWICE as fast as it runs today) – and outside of the Ferris Wheel, can you name another specific model of ride that’s kept that sort of tenure? I didn’t think so…

Bonus fun fact: It’s one of the only rides in the U.S. that runs exclusively on manual mode, so if you happen to get an experienced operator – have that dramamine ready.

 

1. Flying Circus

There are no words – just watch the video!

What do you think – which rides did we miss? Leave us a comment with your most intense flat ride!


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


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!