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Posts tagged “travel channel

Throwback Thursday – My First Roller Coaster

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry

This may well be the very first roller coaster I ever rode…

Copyright 2015, Kris Rowberry

At the Santa Clara County Fair!

As you can tell – it was a terrible experience that ruined me for the rest of my life 🙂

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Travel Channel’s Thrill Factor: Needs More Hosts, Less POV

I’ve written at length in the past about just how poor the current slate of amusement park shows are, but mid-summer this year, there was a glimmer of hope. A new show, starring former Mythbusters stars Kari Byron and Tori Belleci began filming and was being promoted on social media:

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“Thrill Factor,” produced for the Travel Channel by BASE Productions, seemed to have everything going for it – personable hosts with a resume of quality, entertaining programming.  So, has the show lived up to the lofty expectations of both theme park and Mythbuster fans?

Sadly, not for me.

Let’s begin with the premise…something tells me the elevator pitch for this show was: “It’s Mythbusters – at an amusement park.” And the segments with Kari and Tori are the best parts of the show – as you’d expect from seasoned pros like them.

The hosts test a different theory revolving around rides each and every episode – which sounds great, but I suspect they’ll run out of things pretty quickly. But then – just as the show is about to eclipse the lift hill into excitement – the show quite literally goes off the proverbial coaster rails and quickly transitions from the host segment into a new one, where POV footage (forward and reverse) is shown.

Now, I’m not sure if the show just ran out content and had to fill time – but the seemingly random cuts to POV give the show a manic feel, as if the viewer is assumed to have ADHD and couldn’t possibly focus for more than five minutes at a time onto the screen.

The POV segments take what could have been a fun concept – and just kills it, whereas focusing on both Byron and Belleci would have sufficed and indeed, made the show better, in my opinion.

If the content isn’t there to fill the full half hour – something’s wrong with the concept. Kari and Tori – who are very good at interacting with their fans on social media and are genuinely nice people in real life, too – deserve better after helping refine one of the most successful, educational and entertaining shows ever to come out of Discovery Channel.

According to the most recent IMDB rating – it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks the show could use some off-season work:

Thrill Factor IMDB

FULL DISCLOSURE: Along with my producers on the “Legacy of Arrow Development” roller coaster documentary: Nicholas Laschkewitsch and Robert Ingle, we’re still looking for a partner on our own amusement park travel program, of which you can find our teaser trailer conveniently located below:

No wonder Travel Channel never called me back after my audition for “Travel Channel Star” back in February…this show was already in development…

BOTTOM LINE: Drop the POV segments from the show and expand the host’s time on screen – and you have the rare opportunity to have a “coaster show” that lasts longer than two seasons.


God and Aliens Tell Woman To Go To Closed Amusement Park

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

A woman accused of leaving her eight-month-old baby alone in the parking lot of a Carolina-based amusement park says God and aliens told her she needed to see the park.

Francis Greene and her boyfriend, Jason Lee, reportedly left the infant inside a truck in the Carowinds’ parking lot back in April, according to a report from the York County Sheriff’s Office.

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Security at Carowinds found the vehicle abandoned in the drop-off area of the parking lot and found an eight-month old baby inside the vehicle, alone, and crying.

The guard called investigators and said it was nearly 20 minutes before Greene and Lee came back to the vehicle.

Lee told investigators that Greene wanted to see the park, so he came with her to see it. They reportedly initially took the little boy inside, but brought him back to the truck.

Greene told investigators that she “heard voices from God telling her to go to the park,” the report states.

“The voices that she thought were God, were actually extra-terrestrials, and that they wanted her to leave her body behind and come with them,” deputies said Greene told them. “Greene said that she decided against that because she wanted to stay with her family.”

 

Read the full story from WBTV here: http://www.foxcarolina.com/story/27906860/report-woman-says-god-aliens-told-her-to-go-see-amusement-park?clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass


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.

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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


Great American Thrills Celebrates Five Year Anniversary

Kris Rowberry at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Half a decade.

That’s the length of time it’s been since I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and dedicate a good portion of my life to the Great American Thrills® brand concept.

This month we’ll be celebrating all that we’ve accomplished with this little WordPress site, as well as the incredible future ahead of us. Thank you all for being a part of this crazy thrill ride called “life.”

Here’s to the next five years!

Kris Rowberry at Six Flags Magic Mountain


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:

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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: