ThrillRide! Random Notes  





August 14, 2008

Sometimes, I don't know where my head is at... As some of you noticed, the update dates listed below were kinda screwy the last week, so's I changed 'em... And some PC users have had trouble accessing the two embedded YouTube videos below, and if you're one of them, here are the direct links: for the Flying Turns POV clip, go here and for the Son of Beast sans loop clip, go here.

Now, I don't know about you, but that new hot single from Katy Perry, "I Kissed A Girl," well, I totally love it. And Six Flags Magic Mountain locals should take note: Katy is doing a concert there this Saturday (the 16th) at 6:30 PM, at the Golden Bear Theater. I can't make it, sadly, but if you can, I'd urge you to do so because I don't think she'll be playing theme park stages for very much longer. Here's the video for the song. Meee-ow!



August 11, 2008

I know we've all been waiting ever so patiently for Knoebels to get their smashingly mouth-watering Flying Turns to accept paying customers. It's a monumental undertaking and I'm sure the wait will be worth it (kills me that I don't live on the East Coast anymore...).

But thanks to reader JW Green, who forwarded me a copy of an email he received from Roy Brashears, I was clued into the existence of a POV test run posted to YouTube way back in March. As was pointed out in that email, this is pretty ragged, quality-wise, and it doesn't show the full course; it's only the portion after the second lift-hill. Nonetheless, it made my heart go pitter-patter. (It seems to have been shot at a video presentation of some kind.) So in case you haven't seen it, here it be:

Also, Universal Studios Hollywood has put together a very cool contest for aspiring horror auteurs. Click on the poster below for a larger version and check out all the details.




August 10, 2008

As promised, there's a big update today, a trip report from the glorious Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. To accommodate it, I've reinstated the old Special Features section, and I'll be porting over some older trip reports and such, so they'll be easier to find for new visitors. That'll happen later this coming week. But note for future reference that a link to the section is now also available on the index page.

That's it for now, hope you're all having a great weekend!



August 7, 2008

Just got back from a little vacation, and was pleased to see that Kings Island has delivered all the juicy goods on its 2009 B&M hypercoaster, the Diamondback. Am I deliriously in love with the name? Well, not really, but the artwork they've come up for it totally rules. Just look at the home page for the coaster's site. Tasty. And I'm digging the layout:


Here's some details from the press release:

Diamondback will be the tallest, fastest and meanest roller coaster at Kings Island. The ride will stand 230 feet at its highest point with a first drop of 215 feet at a 74 degree angle and reach speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour. The ride features 10 vertical drops overall including drops of 193, 131, 129, 110 and 106 feet, two helixes - one at 323 degrees and the other at 287 degrees - and a spectacular splashdown ending. The ride experience on Diamondback will last more than three heart-pounding minutes.

Sounds like some very Nitro-style fun right there. And looks like it, too; check out the cool animations. (Also loving the lead car snake-head design.)

Speaking of Kings Island, I'd been wondering if someone had yet shot front seat POV video of Son of Beast since it had its loop-ectomy. Sure enough, someone had. Enjoy:


Last, I've got a big update coming this weekend, so stay tuned.



July 31, 2008

Another recent post by LA Times' "Funland" blogger Brady MacDonald shares some of the early details of Northern California's own 2009 GCI woodie. And I'm just about as psyched for this installation as I am for SFMM's oh-niner GCI coaster.

He ends the item with a comparison to California's Great America's Grizzly:

"The park’s 1986 double-out-and-back Grizzly wooden coaster is longer (at 3,250 feet) but shorter (at 91 feet tall) than the planned 2009 ride..."

He was too much of a gentleman to add that the new ride will also be about 1000% less suckier than the Grizz.

In more local (to me) news, Brendan Fraser showed up at Universal Studios Hollywood to hype the new "Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" flick and he took a spin on the park's Revenge of the Mummy coaster. Enjoy this rather amusing photo (courtesy of USH):

"It's better than 'The Mummy Returns,' I swear!"

And last for today, didja hear about one of the big surprises at the recent San Diego ComicCon, the ultimate in pop-culture geek-raves? This teaser trailer for Disney's upcoming "TR2N," a long-awaited sequel to "Tron?" Well, if you're like me, then you had a special moment, learning that we'll be getting a state-of-the-art CG blowout that brings the magic of Tron to a whole new generation.

More than that, I couldn't help but let my mind wander... what if it turns out to be a huge blockbuster and the Mouse House folks decide to turn it into a park attraction? And what if they contact their pals at Vekoma and ask them to deliver the ride system? And said ride system is a Motorbike extravaganza? Can you imagine the possibilities? A killer indoor "Lightcycle" dark ride/racing coaster... Man, that would be freakin' sweet...

"But it's just a game!"

"Not anymore..."



July 29, 2008

Well, the big news for the day was certainly the moderate jolt a good portion of Southern California felt just before noon this morning. After initial reports that the earthquake measured 5.8 on the Richter scale, it was quickly downgraded to 5.4, a fairly minor shaker in the grand scheme of things. As this report at the LA Times makes clear, all the local-area amusement parks took a quick look around and got back to business without too much fuss.

But it was a tad unnerving for a second or two. I was at work and felt the first little waves roll through the building. Then a pretty sizable wallop hit, and dozens of sample bottles in our packaging showroom tumbled to the floor. That's when we began to wonder... but that was it.

We dodged a bullet this time.



July 28, 2008

Brady MacDonald, the LA Times' awesome "Funland" blogger, has posted a couple of recent Six Flags Magic Mountain-related items and together, I think they paint a larger picture. First, there's this bit about how SFMM almost ended up with, and ultimately passed on, New England's ill-fated "Dark Knight" coaster. Then he shares the goods on next year's GCI woodie, scheduled to be themed to the upcoming "Terminator" film.

Now, I haven't ridden either of the new DK coasters. But the consensus seems to be that The Dark Knight rides have failed to live up to the expectations created by the Batman franchise in general, and the huge awesomeness of the latest film specifically. And I hope the movers and shakers at SFMM take heed.

A Great Coasters-designed machine is so long overdue for Magic Mountain, I'm giddy with joy. The Mountain will finally - FINALLY! - have a wooden coaster we can be proud of. (Sorry Colossus, but since your early neutering, I just can't feel the love.) So part of me couldn't care less what they call it. Psyclone 2, Flashback: The Woodie, whatever, it's all good.

And yet, theming this ride around the "Terminator" franchise really feels like a bad move. If you're going to build a coaster that's themed to bad-ass robots, don't you think steel would kinda be the way to go? (Unless, of course, one of the plot twists of the new film is that early Terminators were actually constructed out of Southern Yellow Pine lumber... but I'm guessing that's unlikely.) What can they really do, put a few endoskeleton props in the queue, pump in that "duhn-duhn-DUHN-da-duhn!" music over the sound system, maybe throw in a strobe-light tunnel along the course? That would be cool and all, but would it even come close to making us feel like we're living the Terminator lifestyle?

And then there's the problem of Universal Studios Hollywood. They've already got a Terminator attraction. And it kills, if you'll pardon the expression, even after all these years. Inviting a comparison seems like a risky move. Bold, but very risky.

Anyway, that's just my two cents.

And speaking of coaster themes, reader and generous contributor JW Green had some humorous opinions about another 2009 installation, Kings Island's big Beemer:

Well, the eye on the web site looks reptilian, and there's already an Anaconda at Kings Dominion, but then, Cedar Fair doesn't reuse many ride names. Gila Monster just doesn't swing it, sounds lumbering and ungainly; maybe some sort of flat ride. I like Copperhead, but that doesn't fit with the splashdown. Thank Heaven CF isn't big on sponsorship, lest we wind up with Geico Proudly Presents: The Gecko!



July 23, 2008

Talk about a marathon I would NEVER want to participate in... Check out this story about one die-hard thrillseeker. (Thanks to JW Green for the link!)

This past weekend, I did another podcast with my man Doug, over at Season Pass Podcast. Enjoy, but also be sure to listen in on the rest, where far more interesting and knowledgeable peeps discuss our favorite subject.

If you're a Brendan Fraser fan, you'll want to visit USH this coming Sunday:


Universal City, California – Brendan Fraser, star of Universal Pictures’ eagerly anticipated summer blockbuster, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor makes a special guest appearance at Universal Studios Hollywood to meet fans and join them for a spin on the popular “ Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride” thrill ride roller coaster on Sunday, July 27 at 4:00 p.m.

Flanked by a brigade of marching mummies, Brendan Fraser will greet fans at the “Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride” and entertain their many questions as well as preview a clip of the film. Guests attending the event will also have a chance to win tickets to attend the exclusive red carpet world premiere, which will debut at Universal CityWalk later that day.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor epic adventure opens in theatres nationwide on August 1.

About The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: The blockbuster global Mummy franchise takes a spellbinding turn as the action shifts to Asia for the next chapter in the adventure series, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendan Fraser returns as explorer Rick O’Connell to combat the resurrected Han Emperor (Jet Li) in an epic that races from the catacombs of ancient China to the neon-lit streets of post-war Shanghai and high into the spectacular Himalayas. Rick is joined in this all-new adventure by son Alex (newcomer Luke Ford), wife Evelyn (Maria Bello) and her brother, Jonathan (John Hannah). And this time, the O’Connells must stop a mummy awoken from a 2,000-year-old curse who threatens to plunge the world into his merciless, unending service.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is helmed by director Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious, xXx: State of the Union) and written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (Spider-Man 2, television’s Smallville). Reprising their roles as producers in the series are Bob Ducsay, Sean Daniel, Stephen Sommers and James Jacks.

I must say, the trailers for this new Mummy are looking really solid. My hopes are high this one will wash the bad "Mummy 2" taste from my mouth. (Even though the lovely Ms. Rachel Weisz is no longer involved... bummed!)

And speaking of movies... OMG, have you seen "The Dark Knight" yet? You may hate the coaster, but you'll LOVE the movie. Truly a monumental achievement, and Heath Ledger's final full performance is breathtaking. Best comic book movie ever, hands down. How the hell are they going to top this "Batman?"



July 21, 2008

Whoa, where did the time go? I hadn't realized that it's been almost two weeks since the last post. Shame on me.

Anyhoo, another quickie for now: First, I hope you've already seen Lance's excellent review of the new Hard Rock Park at Screamscape. From the sound of things (so to speak), HRP is a great park in the making. The paint's still drying, metaphorically, and they don't seem to have that one "must-do" attraction just yet, but in a few years, if all goes well, I'm hopeful that the Hard Rock will turn it up to eleven.

Also, Sadie Fowler was kind enough to send us a link to her story about a recent trip to Gatlinburg wherein she gives a shout-out to the local Skyscraper. It's a fun read; enjoy!

Last, an old friend from back East tells me that the venerable Coney Island Cyclone, which for many years was only 5 bucks per ride, is now charging $8.00. That's still a deal for a coaster of such quality, but it's a worrisome increase, given the ever-changing development plans.

More soon!



July 8, 2008

A couple of quick items first. A knowledgeable reader was kind enough to let us know about how Adventure City modified its Tree Top Racers coaster (as mentioned in the recent trip report): "Of interest, the cars themselves were not refurbished on the Tree Top Racers. New car underframes were built. These new pups run a bit faster and smoother." I can certainly attest to the zip and smoothness of the ride.

Second, if you wanna hit up Theme Park Review's upcoming "Behemoth Bash" at the Canada's Wonderland themer, click here to register.

Third, I've been reading over at Screamscape about the imminent demise of Star Trek: The Experience, and let me tell you, I am very bummed. Last time I had a chance to boldly go, back in 2006, the video portion of the simulator portion was looking alittle ragged, but otherwise, I still loved it. What a shame to lose it. I hope the new J.J. Abrams-directed "Star Trek" reboot film is a monster smash and those responsible for shuttering this great attraction will be very sorry they did so.

Okay, here's a cool press release from Busch Gardens Europe, another park that's leaping into the 21st Century:


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (July 8, 2008) – Busch Gardens is making it easier than ever to get the latest updates on the world’s most beautiful theme park. Now there are even more ways to stay connected to Busch Gardens 24/7.

Introducing BGConnect – a downloadable desktop application that delivers up-to-the-minute information, fun facts, trivia, insider tips, discount details and special event reminders straight to subscriber’s desktops.

Those who prefer receiving updates via cell phone, can log onto using their phone’s Web browser and get the latest special offers, directions to the park and even show times. It is a convenient way to stay connected to the latest happenings at the European-themed park.

As a third option, guests also can request that park updates be sent straight to their E-mail inbox. Whether you choose to get updates through your computer desktop, E-mail or cell phone, guests can spend less time searching for information and more time creating world-class memories at Busch Gardens. To sign up for the latest park updates, log onto



July 6, 2008

Hey, folks, I hope everybody had a good long July 4th weekend (where applicable). Got a few things to catch up on, so here goes.

X2 logo hotnessFirst, a couple of Sundays ago, I finally got a pair of rides in on X2. I'm not putting up a full Ride Review just yet, mostly because the mist and fire effects were down. As a matter of fact, according to the nice ticket booth lady we spoke with that morning, X2 didn't operate all the day before... and it took almost two hours to get her running on our visit ("software" issues, we were told).

I'm now writing a very occasional blog over at (only two posts so far), and the most recent post includes my initial thoughts on X2, which you can read right here.

I will reiterate, though, my basic reaction: this coaster is still one of the most hardcore thrill machines I've ever encountered. Goliath is a coaster I never want to get off of; not so much with X2. I need a time-out for at least a few minutes before a re-ride.

Here's a few more quick shots:

Sexy lifthill

Riding the lift is sweet, looking back out at the park. Great way to get things started, now even better with the tunage.

Big audio dynamite

The new seats are comfy and you gotta love the boombox speakers.


So much better in grey and red...

Not pretty

I hate to end on a slightly sore note, but I'm compelled. See this support pole spattered with used gum? Not cool. Stupid, rhetorical question for Mark Shapiro: Would you see this at a Disney park?

Moving on. Last week, we also got a press release from Universal Studios Hollywood about a new exhibit that I'm looking forward to seeing:


Universal City, California – Hollywood’s crown jewels will be on view as Universal Studios Hollywood puts a “Best Picture” Oscar® and never-before-seen props, costumes, wardrobe, artifacts and special effects on display at “The Universal Experience: Behind the Scenes of Universal Pictures,” a new attraction designed to put the magic of Hollywood within arms reach of guests.

“The Universal Experience” will showcase an extraordinary close-up view of many of the memorable items seen on film from Universal Pictures’ award-winning movies, including some of the most celebrated movies in Hollywood history. The attraction will draw from a library of over 6,000 titles dating back to the Studio’s early beginnings in 1913 and will offer a peek into the advances in film technology from the days of early motion pictures through modern day filmmaking.

Standing tall at the center of the new attraction will be the “Best Picture” Oscar statuette from The Sting, awarded to Universal Pictures in 1973.

In an effort to showcase the studios vast collection of memorabilia, “The Universal Experience” will be updated regularly to feature a selection of items in designated Behind-the-Scenes and On-Screen areas that have long been part of Universal’s history. Insightful trivia and film clip kiosks will also add to an interactive component.

“The Universal Experience” will also serve as a showcase for the numerous props and costumes featured in current Universal films, providing guests with the opportunity to see these items first hand soon after viewing them on the big screen.

A sampling of displayed props will include the Book of the Dead from The Mummy, the Book of Who from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Speak and Spell transmitter from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the Diary from Bridget Jones’s Diary, Denzel Washington’s boxing gloves from The Hurricane, Toby Maguire’s Trophy from Seabiscuit, Gregory Peck’s briefcase and glasses from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Costumes and wardrobe will include garments worn by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in the award-winning film, Atonement; Cate Blanchett’s regal period pieces from the Oscar winning film, Elizabeth, Anthony Perkins’ jacket from Psycho, Anthony Hopkins’ mask and outfit from Hannibal, Roy Schieder’s police uniform from Jaws, Mike Myers’ hat from The Cat in the Hat, Toby Maguire’s racing attire from Seabiscuit, Joaquin Phoenix’s costume from Gladiator, a Letterman Jacket from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, WC Fields’ hat and glove from The Bank Dick and Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” uniforms.

Within the designated behind-the-scenes section, sleight-of-sight special effects, will include treatments as Matte Paintings used in the making of Earthquake and in Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain and The Birds, models and miniatures from The Mummy, Apollo 13 and Back to the Future, as well as the Mechanical Horse from Seabiscuit and the Baby Raptor from Jurassic Park.

Guests will also be afforded the chance to see original set designs created for the Psycho House, mechanical drawings of Jaws’ Bruce the shark, concept art from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat, set drawings from Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus and storyboards from Back to the Future.

Artifacts will run the gamut and include a broad selection original silent film era cameras, Alfred Hitchcock’s director’s chair and the original Universal Studios Hollywood theme park brochure from 1964 will add to the display.

Consistent with a company-wide initiative, the creative team at Universal Studios Hollywood has also employed technological innovations in the creation of “The Universal Experience” designed to reduce energy consumption by half. With the installation of a state-of-the-art LED powered lighting system, “The Universal Experience” joins “The Simpsons Ride” in a new era of environmentally conscious theme park ride construction.

And here's some cool shots from the exhibit:

Universal Pictures: On Screen - Academy award nominated wardrobe from Atonement (2007), military props from All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Steve Carell's bike and wardrobe from The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), the Book of Who from Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (2000), the communicator prop from E.T., The Extra Terrestrial (1982) and Kevin Bacon's space suit from Apollo 13 (1995).

Universal Pictures: On Screen - Brendan Fraser's wardrobe and the Book of the Dead from The Mummy (1999), Gregory Peck's props from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Kate Blanchett's Academy Award winning wardrobe from Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Tobey Maguire's racing suit and trophy from Seabiscuit (2003), Engima machine from U-571(2000) and Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's wardrobe from The Blues Brothers (1980).

Bringing Hollywood to the World - photographic exhibit of Universal's long history of taking the world behind the scenes of a working movie studio.

Hollywood's Highest Honor - exhibit on the history of Universal's Academy Award winning Best Pictures featuring a real Oscar® statuette.

The Oscar® - award to Universal Pictures for 1973 Best Picture - The Sting

Universal Pictures: Behind the Scenes - Eddie Murphy's Sherman Klump make up from The Nutty Professor films (1996-2000), Lon Chaney Jr's life cast from The Wolf Man (1941), Edith Head’s Academy Award winning costume designs from The Sting (1973), animation design models for Curious George (2006), miniature DeLoreon and Doc Brown's train from the Back to the Future trilogy (1985-1990), original plans for the Bates mansion from Psycho (1960).

Universal Behind the Scenes - mechanical drawings for the great white shark in Jaws (1975), Dracula's castle set drawing from Dracula (1931), design model for The Mummy (1999), animatronic Tiffany doll from Seed of Chucky (2004), miniature capsule and moon from Apollo 13 (1995), dinosaur models from the Jurassic Park trilogy (1993-2001), special effects matte paintings from The Birds (1963) and Earthquake (1974)

And last for today, me and my bud Jared recently took his two kids and their nephews to Adventure City, a kiddie park just down the street from Knott's Berry Farm that's worth checking out for its awesome old-school wild mouse coaster, the Tree Top Racers. Here's a little photo trip report.

Over and out!



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