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Posts tagged “theme park review

Debunking Common Theme Park Decision-Making Misconceptions

Shock Wave roller coaster and Oil Derrick at Six Flags Over Texas

Sometimes theme parks might make a decision that raises your eyebrow, at least for some of the most ardent of park fans. Some decide to make videos expressing their displeasure with certain parks, like this one:

While “Shock Wave Dan” notes in his description that some of his points are “jokes,” I couldn’t help but notice many of the items he brought up are actually common misconceptions across the country. In that vein, let’s debunk some common park fan misconceptions about my home park, Six Flags Over Texas!

“I don’t understand why the park doesn’t build bigger, better rides.”

I hate to break it to you, but the answer here is: they don’t need to.

As long as a park is maintaining or growing their financials consistently, there’s no reason to add a multi-million-dollar attraction to bring all those guests back. If you could keep people coming to your park and had a choice between spending $20 million or $5 million, and each would give you the same results – which one would you pick?

True, the rides at all of the Six Flags parks have been on the smaller side since the bankruptcy, but if you look at their financials (pre-2019) you’ll see the chain kept adding attendance overall. Plus, the stock price continued to rise, which looked good for the investors on Wall Street.

And while we’re at it – who’s to say these rides aren’t good? For a hardcore thrill seeker? Perhaps. But for the everyday person off the street? They could be the most exciting thrill they’ve ever experienced. It’s all about perspective.

Why doesn’t the park build more in the Tower section of the park?

This one is well talked about in online forums for Six Flags Over Texas. The answer is surprisingly simple: they don’t build in the area because it floods. A major rain event in September of 2018 sent a wall of water up to six feet deep through portions of the park, causing significant damage throughout the area.

While it was not the first time the park flooded, the City of Arlington re-zoned it as a, “…moderate risk for inundation from flood waters…subject to a 1% annual chance of flood…”

An updated flood map from the City of Arlington shows the entire Six Flags Over Texas property is zoned as a flood risk, which complicates future development plans.

What, exactly does that mean? If you try to build anything new in the area, it’s expensive. Crazy expensive. Remember, the park wanted to build Lone Star Revolution (now El Diablo) in that area, but when the flood risk was changed, the Spain section proved to be a better location.

El Diablo moved locations to the Spain section, after a flood forced a re-think of the ride’s original location.

Why is the Cave / Yosemite Sam’s Gold River Adventure still closed?

Also specific to Six Flags Over Texas, the Cave was a dark ride with floating ride vehicles that unfortunately, sustained damage during the 2018 flood.

Now, if you’ve ever dealt with an insurance company, whether for your car, doctor or dentist, you know how difficult and painful it can be.

Now imagine trying to navigate the claim on a multi-million-dollar attraction from a large corporation. Add in new restrictions on construction on your property. You’ll also need to find a vendor who’s free to begin rebuilding the ride…and create contracts for it.

Oh, and since you weren’t planning on this expense, it’s not in the budget. Think of it like the last time you hit a nail with your car. You weren’t planning on paying for a new set of tires, but surprise! In this case, just add a whole lot more zeroes to the bill.

“This park deserves better!” /  “Our park deserves better!” / “We deserve better!”

How can I argue with that? I can’t, really. Every park fan thinks their home park or favorite park should be treated better. Heck, even Cedar Point and Walt Disney World fans will find faults in their operations.

Considering the global pandemic we’re currently in, however – the fact that we can even visit a park right now is a miracle and should be treated as such.

New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas. Photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry.
New Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas. Photo by Kris Rowberry.

Can things be better? Of course they can. But if you take one thing away from this editorial it should be this: parks don’t run like Planet Coaster or Roller Coaster Tycoon. And despite what you might want to think, these facilities were not built just for us, a small (but boisterous) minority of attendance.

What are some park myths you want busted? Let me know in the comments below or on my social media channels!


Log flumes are worth keeping around

Over the past several years, many parks around the world have decided to remove their flume rides.

But I’m here today to come to the defense of the lowly log flume, even though they rarely defend me from their chlorinated waters.

Much like the roller coaster, the log flume has become an integral part of any amusement or theme park. Invented by Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan of Arrow Development in the 1963, the flume came about after hearing of stories of loggers riding trunks as they traversed the narrow, fast troughs of water.

Arrow Development Log Flume Prototype

Photo credit: Nancy Bacon-Francks. Used with permission.

But with the rise of water parks, many companies are making the choice to eliminate the flume – because of on-going maintenance and operating costs.

Here’s why they should reconsider:

Flumes are still very popular; this is an hour-long wait for Logger's Run at California's Great America.

Flumes are still very popular; this is an hour-long wait for Logger’s Run at California’s Great America.

  • Flumes are multi-purpose:

Any good amusement park should have three different types of water rides: A spillwater, white water rapid and a flume. Two of the three are just about guaranteed to get you soaked.

But a flume is different.

Don’t want to be soaked but want to cool down? Then you go on the flume.

It’s also a great ride EVERYONE can enjoy in the family. From the kids to grandma and grandpa, you can share the experience of a log ride. You can’t do that with a water park.

 

  • Flumes aren’t water parks:

Unlike a water park, you don’t need to change clothes to go to and from a log flume. There’s no need for a locker and they have wonderful capacity compared to a waterslide.

Guests get more bang for their buck, too – as flumes tend to be one of the longest length attractions in most parks.

Logger's Revenge at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

  • Flumes are heritage:

They were invented here, in America. In fact, they were invented less than 10 miles from where I currently type. The first one was so popular at Six Flags Over Texas, they built a second one to handle the crowds.

They suck in tons of people on hot days and provide some of the best photo opportunities for any park photographer.

There is no better place to snap a funny photo than the log flume...

There is no better place to snap a funny photo than the log flume…

Most importantly, they are part of the fabric that keeps parks together. Removing a flume is like removing a coaster these day – and every one that has been removed has been sorely missed.

Simply put, the flume deserves to be preserved – and revered.

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What do you think – are the days of the log flume numbered? Tell me in the comments section or on my social media links!


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!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 5

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

Today’s post is of Magnum XL-200, the world’s first hypercoaster (200+ feet) and a throwback to the out and back wooden coasters of the 1920’s. It’s also considered by many as the moment the “coaster wars” officially began.

Day Five 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!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day 4

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

Today’s post is of the Corkscrew – the world’s first modern looping roller coaster:

Day Four 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!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day Three

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

Today’s graphic features El Aserradero – the world’s first log flume. Built only using scale models and slide rules, the flume has become a mainstay of parks around the world!

Day Three 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!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day Two

Each day, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels, that features a milestone moment in Arrow Development’s history.

Today’s post is of the Matterhorn Bobsleds – the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster. While it many not be the smoothest ride, it set the prescient for 55 years of roller coaster designs!

Day Two 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!


The Seven Days of Arrow Development – Day One

The Legacy of Arrow Development, Day One

With the upcoming premiere of our documentary, “The Legacy of Arrow Development” we wanted to do something cool in the final week leading up to it.

Each day, we’re going to post a new graphic, both here and on all our social media channels. It will feature the company’s “A” logo – and an important ride or person related to it.

Today’s post is of the Alum Rock Carousel – Arrow’s first ride and the moment the company shifted forever. The Legacy of Arrow Development, Day One

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 one week from today in the Montgomery Theater in San Jose. Tickets for the premiere are still available – get yours at: bit.ly/ArrowTixSJ

See you there next Saturday!


Why do we reward people for behaving badly?

Why I keep hearing stories like these is beyond me. But we do – and it’s important to know that they DO happen – but also that they are entirely preventable.

Earlier this month, a self-described “industry-leading enthusiast and blogger” live-tweeted horrible, insulting comments about guests at a park-sponsored event. Those posts have since gone viral in amusement and theme park circles, with all the comments criticizing the posts. The author has since claimed, “…they were a joke.”

People online didn’t buy it.

What’s truly scary – is that this is not the first time an incident like this has happened this year. During the spring, another “industry fan group” posted harassing comments towards a theme park’s public relations rep, after they refused to extend additional, special perks to them.

Why do we (as an industry) accept this is as “the new normal?” How does anyone or any organization like this continue to be rewarded for such egregious behavior?

Easy – because we allow them to.

We do it by clicking on their videos, their updates or subscribing to their social feeds. We invite them to media events, despite our misgivings. And we always seem to cave to their requests, even though we know better.

At what point are we – as an amusement and theme park community, both fan and employee – going to step up and say, “No more?”

No more body shaming of our fellow community members.

No more bad mouthing a park just because they didn’t extend perks to you.

No more clandestine filming or photography on rides, only to take said photos and videos and commercialize them without the park knowing.

And no more stealing of each other’s work.

It’s just a shame that those who are the problem in our community will never recognize it. Let’s help them see the light.

If members of our community (both groups and individuals) can’t handle the responsibility of being decent human beings, then it’s time for us as a community to rise up and deny them the privilege of being a part of our group. Stop clicking on their links, unsubscribe from their content.

Simply put, let’s stop supporting and rewarding poor behavior in our community, period. The general public might not affect change – but we can.

Who’s with me?


Roller Coaster Videos Moving From POV to Storytelling

There’s been a subtle, but noticeable trend recently when it comes to “roller coaster videos” online. And we think it’s for the better and far overdue.

While there are some that still continue to tape GoPros to the front of trains and then monetize (commericalize) their work – all without permits or sometimes without park knowledge – there is a growing trend among park fans to elevate the medium to a far more sophisticated level. What do I mean?

Well, check out this awesome, short documentary on Thunderbird at Holiday World:

Coupled with the work of Devin Olson Media, particularly on his “From Dreams to Screams” documentary series – the world of amusement fandom has gone from handheld ride footage to bona fide storytelling:

And we couldn’t be happier to see this trend. So, how can you help elevate the medium? Subscribe to these storytelling channels – while POV is fun, it’s telling a story that leaves a true mark on people.

Shameless plug: “Legacy of Arrow Development” documentary is still scheduled to make it’s debut later this year. Time to raise your game, everyone!


The Most Celebrated Amusement Park Insider Experiences

It’s good to know people. But it’s even better to know there’s all sorts of things inside our favorite amusement and theme parks that can make your day that much more special, IF you know them! Here now is my top six most celebrated amusement and theme park “insider” experiences as parks open up for full time operation this week:

6.) Dole Whip:

Once reserved for trips to Disney Parks, this sweet treat has been popping up at more and more regional parks every year.

The Dole Whip is heaven in a plastic cup. Don’t believe me? Try it and tell me otherwise…

Once only reserved for visitors to Disney’s Tiki Rooms, this Polynesian frozen treat is slowly making its way out from the mouse and into regional parks, to the delight of pineapple fans everywhere. If you haven’t experienced one yet – hunt it down or request it be brought to your park.

5.) The Rollback:

We ain’t talking about WalMart here…an exclusive experience to Intamin cable-launched coasters, this delightful event occurs when the launch isn’t quite strong enough to get you over the first hill, resulting in screams of euphoria from enthusiasts – and shrieks of horror from the general public.

In reality, it’s all perfectly safe and for the lucky riders, it’s like getting 1.5 rides for the wait of just one!

4.) The Round-Trip Skyway Ride:

These clowns took too many round trips...

These guests took too many round trips…

Because nothing’s better than watching all those people in line scratch their head over why you’re not getting out of your sky bucket. But, with so many of these rides being removed in recent years, plus the increase in overall park attendance (which means longer lines for rides) this experience has become far more difficult to cross off your list.

3.) The Track Walk / Evacuation:

While a rare event, a lift walk is one of the coolest things you can experience.

While a rare event, a lift walk is one of the coolest things you can experience.

A very rare event that you don’t necessarily want to root for experiencing for yourself. Why? Because it most certainly means the ride will be down for at LEAST the rest of the operating day.

But the experiencing of walking a coaster lift is most certainly a memorable one.

2.) The Last Ride of the Night:

Something about no one standing behind you in line that's really special...

Something about no one standing behind you in line that’s really special…

There is something oddly cathartic about knowing you’re the last person to experience all that fun. Well, at least until the mechanics come in tomorrow morning to start checking on things. this fun. But, until then…

And the number one most celebrated amusement park insider experience?

1.) Exclusive Ride Time (ERT):

ERT is the best benefit to being a member of ACE!

ERT is the best benefit to being a member of ACE!

The only thing better than the last ride of the night, is having the ride all to yourself or the group you’re at the park with!

Just think about it – no line and fast operations. It doesn’t get any better than that. Heck, it’s one of the biggest reasons I joined ACE!

Did I miss an experience? Do you have one to add to the list? Tell me about it on my social media channels or leave a comment below!


Roller Coaster Malfunctions Prompting Media Frenzies

Over the past few weeks, as seasonal parks begin to thaw out from winter and re-open for the season, we’ve seen a significant uptick in news coverage of what we in the amusement park industry know as “evacs” – taking people off a ride either via the lift or block brake.

NBC Capture

But what I’ve noticed lately is the media making a far bigger deal out of these events than necessary. It really came to my attention when one of my co-workers in the newsroom (who knows I’m a big park and ride fan) asked me, “What’s up with all these ride breakdowns lately?”

FULL DISCLAIMER: I am a credentialed member of the media. I broadcast the news on a daily basis. My job is to inform and educate the public via the airwaves. In a strange way, I could be seen as part of the problem based solely on my position.

On the other hand, I can be a harbinger for truth and education.

Let’s take that previous example of a coaster stalled on the lift. Why then does a person who’s car has broken down on the side of the interstate not make news? (Outside a traffic report). Think about it – here’s a ride vehicle, who has stopped suddenly – and is now on a median designed specifically for breakdowns.

Hulk Capture

How is that different from a coaster that stops on the lift or brake run – where there is a platform (or two) that allows guests to safely disembark?

I am missing something?

So today, I am challenging my fellow media personnel to better educate themselves so as NOT to sensationalize the unsensational. Because a coaster that has a simple malfunction shouldn’t be click bait – when we have so many other stories worthy of telling, instead.


Five Ways to Have a Bad Day at an Amusement Park

1.) Forget to check about special events on park website:

Nothing will ruin your day faster at a park to find it overrun with cheerleaders for a regional competition or packed for a concert in their ampitheatre.

special events snip

2.) Wear sandals:

They might seem like a good choice for hot weather, but their lack of support and ability to fly away on certain rides will leave you more miserable than you think.

NoFlipFlops1024x768

3.) Dress incorrectly for the weather:

You can always bring a jacket to warm up, but you can’t take your pants off to cool down (it’s generally frowned upon). If the weather calls for rain, it’s probably best to re-schedule your trip to the park.

content_end-of-the-world-forecast_320x212

4.) Bring your iPad or tablet computer:

No one wants to be a Padhole. But, you’re risking damaging that $500 device every time you bring that dumb thing to a crowded place. Plus, it blocks our views during the show. Just bring a small point and shoot camera – it has better resolution, anyway.

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5.) Visit on Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July or Labor Day Weekend:

Traditionally the three worst times to visit any park. Although, actual Memorial Day and Labor Day tend to be less crowded than the weekends preceding them.

Parish-Calendar-Graphic-for-website

Got any suggestions to add to this list? Tell us on social media, or comment below!


Arrow Development documentary coming from Great American Thrills and American Coaster Enthusiasts

GOING HEAD OVER HEELS FOR SOUTH BAY HISTORY

Former ride manufacturer to be featured in new documentary from local filmmakers


MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Great American Thrills® and Totally Twisted Media are proud to announce a historic partnership with American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Worldwide, Inc. to produce a documentary on the former Bay Area amusement park ride manufacturer, Arrow Development. The film is expected to premiere at the IAAPA industry trade show in Florida this November.

Several of the most prominent and respected names in the amusement industry have already signed on to participate in the documentary. These include: Cedar Point, Irvine Ondrey Engineering, Silverwood Theme Park, S&S Sansei and Six Flags Magic Mountain, among others.

The documentary is being produced by the all-volunteer team behind the award-winning “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, with filming beginning shortly. Nicholas Laschkewitsch and Kris Rowberry are leading the project:

“Everyone knows Silicon Valley is famous for technological innovations,” said Rowberry. “But very few people are aware that the valley that gave us Google and iPhones also spawned the world’s first log ride and tubular steel roller coaster, along with countless other ride innovations.”

Joining Rowberry as Executive Producer on the project is Nicholas Laschkewitsch, Video Promotions Coordinator for American Coaster Enthusiasts.

“Arrow Development and its mechanical marvels have always mesmerized me and held a special place in my heart,” said Laschkewitsch. “The sheer opportunity to be able to tell the story of Arrow to the masses is a dream come true.”

Fans can keep up with the latest happenings on the project by following American Coaster Enthusiasts on Facebook and Twitter or by using the #RideWithACE hashtag. To join ACE, visit: www.ACEonline.org

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How You Can Be a Part of the Arrow Development Documentary

Many people have expressed interest in either helping out or participating in some way with our newly announced documentary on Arrow Development. So, here’s three quick ways you can be a part of history:

1.) Join ACE:

As a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts are all about the preservation and enjoyment of amusement parks and roller coasters. By joining, you’ll help preserve our incredible amusement heritage, while becoming part of one of the largest and most respected roller coaster organizations in the world. Learn more at: www.aceonline.org

 

2.) Contribute photos or videos of Arrow rides, both past and present:

Do you have some “vintage footage” of older Arrow rides? Maybe a photo of you and your family next to a defunct Arrow coaster? Feel free to send them to: socialmedia@greatamericanthrills.net and we’ll do our best to get them in the documentary – with proper attribution, of course.

arrowbillboard_1958_2_gbooks

3.) Join us for a shoot!

We’ll be announcing exact dates and locations for shoots across the United States and Canada – so who knows – we just might be at your home park this summer! 529207_572552719484421_2065013057_n


Insane Coaster Wars debuts new season, but still needs some off-season rehab

After filming all last summer, Indigo Films‘ “Insane Coaster Wars” debuted it’s third season last night – and I can’t help but comment on their latest “effort.”

The premise of the show, is a decent one – have people vote on specific aspects of certain rides, then rank them against other coasters around the world. Seems straightforward, right?

Experiencing a film date in St. Louis last summer.

At issue with most coaster and park enthusiasts (who make up a large number of the viewing audience) however, is the continued downgrade in quality of the traditional summer “coaster show” over the past few years. “Insane Coaster Wars” is just the latest in a string of low budget, low quality productions from powerhouses like the Travel Channel and Discovery. Just look at some of the reactions from last night’s debut:

Snip2 Snip3 snip4

So what can this show do to make itself better in the eyes of it’s core audience? Read on:

 

1.) Stop hiring actors and talk to real “coaster enthusiasts”

Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who's also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.

Original screengrab by Dan Hower (who’s also in the second row with Alyssa Schipani). Used with permission.

SPOILER ALERT: Television isn’t what it always appears. Multiple sources have confirmed to this website that the “coaster enthusiasts” featured in each segment are actually…wait for it…local actors found on Craigslist, hired for around $300 each.

Yup, Craigslist. Home to “Casual NSA Encounters” and apparently beautiful & young roller coaster junkies. Didn’t you wonder why those featured riders always seemed to speak really good english…in the middle of Taiwan and Costa Rica?

Those “friends from college” who “visit the park all the time” – it’s usually their first trip ever to these parks. Yet, the graphic in the lower third clearly says they’re “Coaster Enthusiasts.”

Last night’s episode featured two “coaster enthusiasts” who had never been to Kennywood – and in fact, had not been to a park, “in years.” True enthusiasts don’t take years off – they rarely take months off.

What’s even more ironic – if the production company wanted to save  up to $1200 per segment (and it’s obvious they do) simply stop hiring actors – just call on the local region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts – not to just fill the seats, but to TALK on camera. Not only are many of our members familiar with being interviewed – we’ll do it for FREE!

Some of the phrases that are used by these actors must also drive park managers nuts. Things like, “I felt like it was about to fly off the track,” or “I can’t believe I survived,” really make PR Managers have GREAT days. Simple rule to follow: Never mention death or dismemberment on TV when referring to amusement parks. You don’t say “bomb” at airports and on planes…

 

2.) Compare rides “Apples to Apples” 

Outlaw Run and La Avalancha? How are those two rides even remotely similar? (They do both loop, but they’re built completely different). The best way I can describe it – it’s like comparing apples to oranges. It’s as if the people in charge took suggestions from people who actually knew what they were talking about – then threw those papers up in the air, and randomly pulled out rides.

 

3.) Be wary of those who make money off parks

Robb Alvey – who was once the  “host” of the program –  has now been relegated to a “Creative Consultant” production credit off-screen (which is a major improvement in my humble opinion). That being said, his wife was featured on the premiere show as a coaster enthusiast, along with one of their friends. I’d call them non-actors, but both he and his wife have agents.

Now, doesn’t this scream nepotism to anyone else besides me? Then again, at least us true coaster enthusiasts know she actually is quite knowledgeable about the subject.  Too bad the producers edited her in a way that ensured she sounded just like any other clueless park guest.

Don’t even get me started on how his presence on the production team could directly influence his view count (and income) on his commercialized videos on YouTube…

 

4.) Allow park experts or bloggers to vote, not the general public

Let’s face it – most of these Craigslist actors (and indeed other park guests) don’t even know about the other rides they’re comparing, so how exactly can you compare them if you’ve never been on them…oh wait, isn’t that how the Mitch Hawker Poll runs? : )

 

Conclusion:

While the show did make some minor improvements and tweaks, it’s still the same copy / paste generic “coaster show” that’s polluted the airwaves for far too long. Yes, the POV is good, but it’s everything around it that just brings the show down.

If you’re looking to support a quality roller coaster / amusement park program, consider sharing our “Great American Thrills” concept with your favorite cable channel or production company. We promise the enthusiasts we feature – will actually know what they’re talking about:


Bolliger and Mabillard the Cadillac of Roller Coasters

There are many different coaster manufacturers, some build small rides, others build massive ones. But none have the mystique and prestige of Bolliger & Mabillard. Their factory in Ohio is shrouded in secrecy – it’s practically the “Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory” of the coaster world:

B&M Logo

Even their logo is simple – just like how they design their rides, with simplicity in mind.

So, why are their rides always so much more expensive than others? And why all the prestige? Three words: quality, reliability and safety.

1.) Quality –

A B&M coaster is unmistakable, even from a distance. Their trademark “roar” grabs your attention – and their boxy track looks beefier than other manufacturers – because quite simply, it is!

By hugging the outside of the rails, B&M was able to tighten the tolerances of their wheels, making their rides incredibly smooth. Photo © Kris Rowberry

By hugging the outside of the rails, B&M was able to tighten the tolerances of their wheels, making their rides incredibly smooth. Photo © Kris Rowberry

It is said that the tolerance, or distance between the rails and the wheels is never more than the thickness of a sheet of paper. Most other manufacturers have noticeable gaps in their wheels, or which spin after the ride stops. Not a B&M. That’s why they’re so much smoother than other steel coasters – they’re simply built better…now that’s Swiss precision!

 

2.) Reliability –

When a B&M coaster stops operating – never get out of line. 99% of the time, it’s a simple computer error that needs to be cleared. Even if it’s a minor mechanical issue – it doesn’t take long to fix. That’s because unlike other manufacturers who are overly reliant on electrical and hydraulic restraint systems – B&M continues to use the tried and true ratchet system – a system that is highly reliable and easy to repair. That’s why these stations are traditionally louder than others – it’s metal on metal contact.

 

3.) Safety –

B&M has always prided itself on efficiency – the four across seating model moved twice as many people as comparable coasters – but they did it with without sacrificing safety, in fact – they increased it.

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Before B&M – no coaster had the ability to sit four people across a single row. This design innovation effectively doubled the capacity of other rides, while shortening the train. This decrease in forces allowed for tighter twists in the track. Photo © Kris Rowberry

This commitment to “getting it right the first time” has earned it’s most important asset: a flawless safety record.

You read right. B&M has never had a catastrophic failure or death on any of their coasters…EVER. (There have been three incidents involving people being hit by trains, but these were a result of guests trespassing on the infield, not a result of the ride or it’s manufacture.

B&M’s were one of the first to feature a redundant seat belt to backup their restraints – all without sacrificing the efficiency of the dispatches.

It is that sterling record that makes parks who choose B&M some of the safest in the world – and which commands such a higher price. Quite simply, you get what you pay for. This rings true not only in real life, but in the amusement world as well. A B&M coaster is like a new appliance – you can get the cheap-o model and save on the front end – or get the high-end model, and have it save you throughout it’s life.

A B&M is one of the best investments a park can make – so the next time track appears outside the factory in Ohio, cross your fingers it’s being delivered to your favorite park.


Disney World admission price increases – but is it really that expensive?

This week, the amusement fan community and even the national media gravitated to the news that Walt Disney World was increasing their single day, admission prices to $99 at the Magic Kingdom. It was the second price hike in less than 12 months for the Florida resort.

Now, most people who read the story probably thought the same thing: HOLY CRAP – IT’S $100 DAMN DOLLARS TO GO TO DISNEY WORLD FOR A SINGLE DAY?!?

However, there are a few factors that most sources (and most viewers) probably didn’t take into consideration when the story broke. Let us then, consider the following:

Bill Nye Consider the Following Animation

A single day admission (purchased at the main entrance to the park):

Disney World: $99.00

Six Flags Over Texas: $64.99

Cedar Point: $54.99

So, “apples to apples,” Disney seems wildly overpriced, right? Well – first we have to ask if it’s really an “apples to apples” comparison. There’s one thing that most folks don’t take into account when price-comparing parks – it’s their line management programs (AKA “fast pass” systems).

Disney offers their “Fastpass” system free of charge, (built into the cost of admission, regardless of length of ticket) to all guests with a valid ticket on all of their operating “e-Ticket” attractions as well as many others. (The only constraint is how many you can hold at one time). Both Six Flags Over Texas and Cedar Point also offer their own version of a line management system (dubbed “The FLASH Pass” and “Fast Lane,” respectively). However, they are generally limited to set number of attractions or rides per ticket.

And unlike Disney, both chains charge additional fees for this service. Six Flags has three different tiers of pricing, ranging from $40 to $90 per guest, while Cedar Point offers two tiers of pricing, ranging from $75 to $90).

With that in mind, let’s now see how much each park is really costing you, “apples to apples”:

Disney World: $99.00

Six Flags Over Texas: $104.99 – $154.99

Cedar Point: $129.99 – $144.99

*It should be noted – that all costs in this comparison are calculated at the single person rate.

With the extra service of a “fast pass” system on some of their major rides, we can see that a trip to the Magic Kingdom is actually still quite competitive with other parks around the country – in fact – you’re getting MORE for your money on a single day admission.

Spread it out over several days, and the Disney price drops even further, whereas at Cedar Point and Six Flags, you’ll need to pay full price for their “fast pass” systems each and every time you go.

Now, this comparison does not take into account a season pass which – depending on the number of times visiting the park – can dramatically reduce these prices. But, considering most people visit Disney only once a year (or less in my case) then we’ve assumed folks will visit these regional parks the same amount of times per year.

What do you think? Was Disney out of order for raising prices twice in a single year? Do you use “fast pass” systems at parks OTHER than Disney? Why or why not? Leave me a comment below and tell me what YOU think!


Industry Leaders Support Great American Thrills

You’ve seen the recent support from coaster fan sites for Great American Thrills®, now – we’re proud to have industry leaders Irvine Ondrey Engineering stepping up and sharing our idea for a better amusement park travelogue show!

Industry leaders support Great American Thrills®

You know you’re onto something when fans of the industry you want to highlight like the idea – but when companies WORKING in the industry you’re looking to highlight want to help spread the word – that gives you an extra-special feeling.

I’m fairly certain “Insane Coaster Wars” (by Indigo Films) or “Ride-iculous” (by High Noon Entertainment) don’t have that sort of support from within the industry they’re covering; but then again, neither of those shows are as “authentic” as Great American Thrills®!

Thanks again, Irvine Ondrey Engineering – and remember, we can’t do this without YOU! Keep sharing the video with all your friends, family and favorite television networks – let’s get Great American Thrills® on the air, together!


Great American Thrills TV Pitch Gaining Steam!

This week, we were honored to watch as several of our friends in the amusement industry stood up and said, “WE WANT GREAT AMERICAN THRILLS® ON OUR TV’S!

From our friend, The Coaster Guy:

Kurt Dahlin, The Coaster Guy

To our friends on Screamscape:

screamscape capture

To our new friends at BehindtheThrills:

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It looks like the Great American Thrills® pitch is really gaining steam! We’ve also been contacted by several other sites interested in interviewing both Nicholas, Robert and I about the project – so stay tuned and KEEP SHARING THE VIDEO WITH YOUR FAVORITE CABLE CHANNELS!


Great American Thrills® Official Pitch

After months of planning and years of dreaming – I am proud to present the official “pitch” video for our Great American Thrills® concept:

But, we need YOUR help! We need you to share this video with all of your friends, family and websites that you visit, especially television social media pages, such as Discovery, Travel and Destination America. The more eyeballs that see it, the better the odds of it being discovered – so SHARE AWAY!

From our press release today:

NEW COASTER SHOW CONCEPT AIMS TO SHOWCASE AMERICA’S GREAT AMUSEMENT PARKS

 REDWOOD CITY, CA: Today, Kris Rowberry and Nicholas Laschkewitsch, producers of the popular “Lost Parks of Northern California” series, are proud to debut the official television “pitch” for their Great American Thrills® travelogue show concept. It can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeIJ6Kd__M0

The show follows host, Kris Rowberry, as he and his crew – headed by Laschkewitsch – travel the country to find their next thrill, based on suggestions and recommendations sent to them via social media, using the #GreatAmericanThrills hashtag.

“We all know social media is a huge part of our lives now,” said Rowberry. “So why not use it to its full potential – beyond just getting something trending?”

“Other shows may use hashtags or handles, but we’re the first one to utilize the medium to this level,” said Laschkewitsch. “In the process, we’re getting the authentic park experience from the people that know parks the best – their fans.”

Contributors to the show have the opportunity to join in on the fun: if their post is chosen, they get an automatic invite onto the show – which offers the chance to be on TV.

“We noticed that most ‘coaster shows’ have featured the same three parks,” said Rowberry. “We want to tell the stories and meet the people of the other 99% of amusement parks here in America.”

“When coaster enthusiasts aren’t watching the current slate of ‘coaster shows,’ that should tell you something,” said Laschkewitsch. “Our concept is simple: Bring back the passion of enjoying the great American amusement park, with the latest in modern technology.”

“But we can’t do this show alone,” said Rowberry. “We need fans of coasters and travel shows to tell their favorite cable networks they want to see Great American Thrills® on the air this summer!”

Both Rowberry and Laschkewitsch are proud members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, an organization dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of roller coasters worldwide.


Santa’s Village Lost Parks Episode Now Available!

We decided to let you open one of your gifts a bit early – and we really hope you don’t return it to the store after the holidays…

Be sure to like, comment and SHARE this video with all your friends and family; it’s time to go back and re-discover SANTA’S VILLAGE of Scotts Valley! (Just click the link below to take you to the video page):

Santa’s Village – The Lost Parks of Northern California

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Musée Mécanique: A True Historical Gem of San Francisco History

Photo by Kris Rowberry

Found a great article today on one of my favorite San Francisco institutions, the decidedly retro “Musée Mécanique” at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Laffing Sal at the Musee Mechanique, San Francisco.

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:

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2013/11/tourism_for_locals_musee_mecan.php