Nov. 5, 2008
Excuse me for going off-topic for a bit, but I just wanted to weigh in with my own reactions to the historic election season we just finished.
I'm a Democrat, so, of course, I am thrilled beyond words by the results. Seeing an African-American man earn the highest office in our country is just incredible. We're still a long way from seeing a gay Muslim woman of color go the distance, but it's a start and that means a lot. What's really heartening is that voter turnout was the highest in 40 years, and that's almost more important than anything else.
McCain's eloquent and moving concession speech also nearly had me in tears. I didn't vote for him, but I respect why so many did. He may not espouse the same viewpoints I do, but there can be no doubt that he wants to do the best he can for our country, which he has done for many years and will continue to do.
The only sour note for those of us "lefties" in California was the passage of Proposition 8, the revocation of the right for gays and lesbians to marry in this state. It's discrimination, pure and simple.
And consider that upwards of $70 million was spent in campaigning for and against this issue. How many starving people could have been fed with that money? How many homes for those living on the streets could have been built with that money? What a waste.
Regardless, like many friends I've spoken to recently, I'm definitely feeling proud to be an American, more so than in quite awhile. And that rocks.
Oct. 28, 2008
I don't know about you, but I hadn't stopped to think about how the burning desert heat would impact all the massive playlands under development in Dubai (Orlando's summers are brutal enough). Fortunately, the good folks at Universal Studios are way ahead of that problem; check out this story up at OrlandoSentinal.com.
I don't even want to think about the energy required to air-condition "80 to 90 percent" of Univeral Dubailand, but when I finally get around to visiting, I'll be damned glad they're doing it.
Oct. 27, 2008
First up today, here's a link to a cool "green" story sent our way by diligent reader JW Green. I'm glad to see that Hersheypark's defunct Canyon River Rapids is being repurposed, or at least some of it, anyway.
So, the news of the closure of Branson's Celebration City is all over the webbing, and I must say I was stunned to receive the email on Friday. Here's the full statement from Herschend Family Entertainment:
Due to a shift in business strategy, Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) announced today the closure of Celebration City in Branson, Missouri. The company is already exploring various new development concepts for the site including an aquarium, other family attractions, re-theming the current park and also, destination retail and dining. The park will close at end of day on Saturday, October 25, the last scheduled operating day of the season.
HFE properties in the region employ more than 2,000 year-round and seasonal positions. Approximately 18 full-time positions are directly impacted by the closure, and the company is able to find new roles for most of those individuals. Seasonal employees will have the opportunity to interview for 2009 seasonal positions at Silver Dollar City, White Water and the Showboat Branson Belle.
“As with businesses across the country, we have had to carefully examine our future strategic plans. We need to make smart, forward-thinking decisions in a tough economic climate. HFE has operated attractions in Branson for nearly fifty years and our businesses there have continued to expand with the market growth. We are confident Branson will continue to grow as one of America’s premier vacation destinations for the long-term. As we plan the re-development of the Celebration City property, we will focus on projects with strong appeal to new and returning visitors to the market,” said Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer for Herschend Family Entertainment.
We can all be hopeful that some of the existing park will remain in whatever future plans they choose, especially the Ozark Wildcat woodie. But even if they raze the park entirely, I have to believe that the OW will not disappear for good; they might just move it down the road to Silver Dollar City. Or perhaps send it to Stone Mountain Park. Or even sell it to another chain. But a GCI coaster doesn't deserve such a short lifespan.
Speaking of GCI woodies, now that Six Flags Magic Mountain has divulged the preliminary details of Terminator: The Coaster, I'm feeling very warm and fuzzy. That first plunge does look really mouthwatering. (Still wish they'd paint the whole thing black, though.)
And speaking of Six Flags, major kudos for the plans to goose Medusa with some X2-style SFX. The only thing wrong with that hellacious beauty has been the danged name and theme. Very cool if it were somewhere else, but smack in the middle of "Frontier Adventures?" Just ain't right. As is stated at the official site, this weekend will be the last chance to give her a whirl in her lime-green and purple form. Let's keep our fingers crossed that M2 will feel more at home in its "giddyup" surroundings when it re-debuts in 09.
If you're looking for some spookiness outside your local funzone, take a look at this list of ghoulish tours up at BudgetTravel.com. LA's "tomb buggies" sounds like fun!
Oct. 21, 2008
Big day, today, huh? First, we get the news about the mega-Transformers attractions in the works for Universal Studios Singapore and Hollywood (yay!) and then the LA Times' Brady MacDonald also delivers the first taste of the new Six Flags Magic Mountain Terminator coaster. Take a look at that rendering... I sure hope it's accurate, cuz look at that twisty first drop... Wow. No records broken, but damn, it could be one amazing ride.
Can't wait for the official announcement!
Oct. 19, 2008
I finally experienced a Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and I must say, when it was good, it was among the best of the best.
Here's the trip report.
Oct. 13, 2008
Horror movie + rollercoaster = tas-tay!
I haven't followed the Saw franchise since number III, but the first one definitely wowed me, despite some rather silly make-up in the last reel. Scary bad-guy, creepy doll, lotsa gore and an awesome twist ending - that's a big 'ol pile of fun for me. So I am quite pleased to hear about Thorpe Park's 2009 coaster.
I have a feeling that the makers of Universal Studios' Revenge of the Mummy attractions would beg to differ with the park's claim that this will be the "First Ever Horror Film Roller Coaster," but let's not even go there. Saw - The Ride should be pretty sweet if they deliver on the promise of that cool website.
Oct. 5, 2008
Hit the KSF Haunt yesterday and every expectation was exceeded. Read all about it here.
Seriously, if you have any way to visit Knott's for its sprawling Halloween event, I strongly urge you to do so. Phenomenal.
Oct. 2, 2008
It's a shopworn expression, but only because it's true: nothing lasts forever. On November 9th, Alton Towers' Corkscrew will take its final run, ending a 28-year career as "Europe's first double-helix rollercoaster." Thanks to reader Douglas Kell, we've got this link that tells the whole story. Among the cool facts: the coaster has carried an estimated 43.5 million riders and its trains have traveled far enough to make four round-trips to the moon.
There's going to be a final celebration for the Arrow-designed (and Vekoma-constructed) classic that very day. Read all about that here and check out some of the vintage pix and video footage.
Sept. 30, 2008
Westcoaster's got a great KBF Haunt photo report and, boy howdy, does it have me psyched for this coming weekend. That's when I'll be joining the Season Pass crew for our own visit and it will be my first Scary Farm trip since I was a teen (and that was, I'm sorry to say, a long time ago). It rocked then and I'm sure it's going to rock way, way more now.
And on the same subject, the winner of Universal Studio's Hollywood's HHN short film competition is over and top honors went to "The Prank!"
Winner of the competition is William C. Howard of Fort Worth, Texas, who will receive a $1,000 cash prize and an invitation to appear at Universal Studios Hollywood on October 3, where his film, “The Prank,” will be screened at the annual Eyegore Awards ceremony that marks the kickoff of the theme park’s Halloween Horror Nights event. The Eyegore Awards, which honor achievement in the world of horror, is attended by celebrities, industry executives and media.
Check it out!
Last for today, while poking around the WWW, I stumbled across something some of you may have already seen, but I had missed: someone in Britain, I think, has built their own backyard woodie. It's pretty damned cool.
Sept. 24, 2008
I didn't see the movie, but the trailer sure was chilling: "Because you were home..."
MASKED KILLERS FROM THE HORROR-THRILLER HIT, “THE STRANGERS” MAKE THEIR THEME PARK DEBUT IN TERROR-FILLED MAZE AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD’S “HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS,” SOUTHERN CAL’S MOST TERRIFYING HALLOWEEN EVENT, BEGINNING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3
Universal City, California— The relentless masked killers from Rogue Pictures’ horror-thriller hit, “The Strangers,” will make their theme park debut with vivid appearances in “House of Horrors: Meet the Strangers,” one of many terror-filled mazes featured in Universal Studios Hollywood’s ”Halloween Horror Nights” event, beginning on Friday, October 3.
“The Strangers” deadly stalkers, “Doll Face,” “Pin Up Girl” and “The Man in the Mask,” will join a “murderers’ row” of Universal notorious celluloid creature that includes The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, Chucky and “Psycho’s” Mother Bates.
There will be no escaping “The Strangers” at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. The deadly masked creatures will also be found stealthily roaming the dark byways of the park in their own “scare zones.”
A torturous playground for horror fans, this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” will also feature a rare and exclusive first look at Universal Pictures’ highly anticipated re-imagining of the genre classic, "The Wolfman," debuting on LED screens aboard the “Terror Tram: The Nightmare Tour.” The “Terror Tram,” unique to Universal Studios Hollywood, expands this year to double the length of previous Halloween tram experiences.
Issuing a dare to "Live Your Worst Nightmare," Universal Studios Hollywood has ratcheted up the intensity level to present a new "Halloween Horror Nights" for 2008. This year’s event will pair Hollywood’s top entertainment scenic and special effects artists with a cast of thousands to create terrifying new experiences including a bloodcurdling new "Nightmare on Elm Street" maze, all contributing to Southern California’s most intense Halloween experience.
"Halloween Horror Nights" begins on Friday, October 3 and will extend over an expanded 13-night run concluding Saturday, November 1. Tickets to "Halloween Horror Nights" are on sale now at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
Halloween Horror Nights" will continue on consecutive weekends beginning on Friday, October 3 through Saturday, November 1. Event dates are: October 3-4, 10-11, 17-19, 24-26, 30-31 and November 1. The event will begin nightly at 7:00 p.m.; closing hours vary by night throughout the event. Tickets to "Halloween Horror Nights" are $54 and are available for purchase online at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
"Halloween Horror Nights" tickets will also be sold in advance at Ralphs®, Food 4 Less® and Hot Topic® where consumers can save up to $20 off a ticket with the purchase of any Coca-Cola product. Guests can save up to $20 with any Coke can or special coupon from Jack in the Box® restaurants.
“The Strangers” will be available on DVD and Blu-ray HD on October 21, 2008.
Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, Universal Pictures, "The Wolfman" brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins. Oscar® winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Oscar® winner Anthony Hopkins), Talbot sets out to find his brother...and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. “The Wolfman" is slated to open in 2009.
Also, our pals at Theme Park Review just put up some "affiliate" DVDs for sale; check 'em out:
- America's ROCKIN Theme Parks -
A ROCKIN look at some of the best theme parks and roller coasters
in America! Rock and Roll through Cedar Point, Busch Gardens,
Holiday World, Magic Mountain, Hersheypark, and LOTS more!
- Jiggidy Johnson's Jammin' DVD Volume 2 -
Erik "Jiggidy Johnson" is BACK! This time his travels take you to
California, Las Vegas, Florida, and all over the Mid-West USA. This
2-Disc DVD includes lots of parks and "Ride Experiences" that you don't want
- JimmyBo and Friends - Volume 2 -
JimmyBo and his friends are back for another crazy roller coaster
riding and beer drinking adventure! This time JimmyBo takes on the world
visiting theme parks in Texas, California, Utah, Spain, Germany and the
****Affiliate DVD Combo Deals!****
Get the three new DVDs or all SIX of TPR's affiliate DVDs at one low
- Affiliate Label Combo Deal #2 -
The above three new DVDs for just $40 total.
- Affiliate Label *MEGA* Combo! -
Get all *six* DVDs for just $60!
Sept. 19, 2008
I've been reconsidering my first opinions about Six Flags Magic Mountain's choice to go "Terminator" all over their 2009 woodie... take a look at my latest Blooloop blog update.
Sept. 17, 2008
Much randomness: First, just sold another mousepad and I discovered that postage rates for Priority Mail have increased since I last checked. So the total cost for the pad and shipping within the continental US is about $7.50, just in case yer interested.
Second, our good pal JW Green sent us a pair of fun YouTube links, one of them showing self-proclaimed "Mindfreak" Chriss Angel performing a rollercoaster-related act of "magic." Watched it? Okay, kind of cool, if not exactly mind-freaking. Now, if you want to know how it was probably done, then watch this video. If nothing else, it all makes me remember how much I like the Adventuredome's Canyon Blaster.
Third, for more audio-visual shenanigans, check out the Top Ten entries for Universal Studios Hollywood's HHN short film competition and vote for your fave:
The winning filmmaker will Live Their Worst Nightmare with four tickets to Halloween Horror Nights 2008, an exclusive invitation to the opening night “Eyegore Awards” ceremony and a $1,000 cash prize.
The winning film will also make its gory debut at the Halloween Horror Nights opening night event amongst a crowd full of celebrities, industry executives and press during The 6th Annual Eyegore Awards ceremony.
Voting ends on September 22, 2008 and the winner will be announced online on September 25, 2008.
Last for today, be sure to check out The Season Pass tomorrow for their next podcast update, #45, wherein I join Doug and Brent to discuss a few topics, including the latest Golden Ticket awards, just announced.
Sept. 9, 2008
Team Magic Mountain Rewlz! I'm very happy to report that SFMM set a goal of raising $30,000 during the "Walk to Cure Kids Cancer" event this past Sunday and we surpassed that goal, ending up with a final amount of $31,797! And all the participating Six Flags parks raised $153,577 in total! Again, thank you so much to everyone who contributed, walkers and sponsors alike!
If you haven't donated and you'd still like to, online donations will be accepted through Sept. 30th. Just click here and give.
Thanks so much again!
Sept. 5, 2008
Hey, folks, I gotta say, I am overwhelmed. I've reached $1,850.00 in sponsorships for the "Walk In The Park" event and I cannot thank everyone enough for their contributions. Bless you one and all.
But I've raised my goal to $2,000.00. Because there's no upper limit on the amount of money needed to find a cure for pediatric cancer. You can still make online sponsorships until midnight tomorrow night (Sept. 6th), so please, if you haven't already, visit http://my.walkintheparks.org/thrillride and give what you can. Again, any amount is appreciated.
This is the last time I'll bug ya, I promise. :) Thanks again!
Sept. 3, 2008
If you missed the Universal Studios Hollywood press release included with the Aug. 28th post below, be sure to scroll down and check it out, cuz this year's West Coast Halloween Horror Nights extravaganza will include plenty of "Nightmare on Elm Street"-related scares. And to make ol' Freddy's participation truly complete, the park held auditions this morning for "Freddy's Fly Girls," a posse of dancing she-zombies that'll be raising the roof - and the dead, most likely - during the entire shebang.
Here's a shot, courtesy of USH, of some of the lovely ladies who are certainly strong contenders for the crew:
Sept. 2, 2008
First, I hope everyone here in States had a great Memorial Day weekend. Hard to believe another Summer is already winding down... But at least we've got the ever-expanding Halloween season to look forward to. There's a haunted house I pass on my way to work that's already pulling the "spooky" together and that makes my commute all the more enjoyable.
Second, there are only a few days left to contribute to the "Walk In The Park" fight against childhood cancer. Once again, I humbly beseech thee to visit http://my.walkintheparks.org/thrillride, and sponsor me. Doesn't have to be a lot; $25.00, $10.00, even $5.00 is fine - every dollar counts. Whatever you can do, I'll be eternally grateful.
Third, here's another disconcerting story about the future of Coney Island up at CNN.com. I'm trying to stay positive about the whole mess, but it's not looking so good right now.
And last, on a more upbeat note, be sure to follow the progress of the latest Theme Park Review tomfoolery, this time in China. Hysterical, as always, and filled with all sorts of oddball coaster mayhem, some of it potentially life-threatening... and they even got to ride that bizarre spinning-deprived Spinning Batman coaster mentioned a few posts below!
August 28, 2008
Damn, sometimes I forget how lucky I am to know such cool people... Just one day after setting a $500.00 goal for my SFMM "Walk in the Park" sponsorship, the number's hit $450.00. THANKS SO MUCH to everyone who's already been so generous! So, I've upped the goal to $1,500.00. Keep the love comin'! Just visit http://my.walkintheparks.org/thrillride, sign up and help fight childhood cancer.
All right, time to post (a day or two late) this very cool - I mean, "ghoul" - press release about Universal Studios Hollywood's big Halloween scare-fest, for which I am seriously jazzed:
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD DARES YOU TO “LIVE YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE” AT “HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS,” SOUTHERN CAL’S MOST TERRIFYING HALLOWEEN EVENT, BEGINNING FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3
Universal City, California, August 26, 2008—Issuing a dare to “Live Your Worst Nightmare,” Universal Studios Hollywood has ratcheted up the intensity level to present a new “Halloween Horror Nights” for 2008. This year’s event will pair Hollywood’s top entertainment scenic and special effects artists with a cast of thousands to create terrifying new experiences including a “Terror Tram” excursion that will feature a stopover inside the infamous Bates Motel, a new scare zone based on the hit movie, “The Strangers” and a bloodcurdling new “Nightmare on Elm Street” maze, all contributing to Southern California’s most intense Halloween experience.
“Halloween Horror Nights” begins on Friday, October 3 and will extend over an expanded 13-night run concluding Saturday, November 1. Tickets to “Halloween Horror Nights” are on sale now at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
In line with the “Live Your Worst Nightmare” theme, “Halloween Horror Nights” will boast a new “Nightmare on Elm Street: Home Sweet Hell” maze, a painstakingly surreal recreation of the notorious house at 1428 Elm Street. The looming, sinister structure will incorporate live re-enactments of never-before-presented nightmare sequences from the classic film series and will follow a storyline that will be recognizable to fans of “The Nightmare on Elm Street” films but equally terrifying to anyone who enters. “Halloween Horror Nights” will also feature the return of two other notorious horror icons: “Friday the 13th’s” Jason Voorhees and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s” Leatherface, each featured in his own meticulously crafted maze of shock corridors.
The newly re-envisioned backlot horror experience will take guests aboard the “Terror Tram: The Nightmare Tour” -- which expands to double the length of previous Halloween tram experiences -- and for the first time, incorporates a series of spine-chilling mazes, treks through the timeless set from “Psycho,” and a walk through the tortured landscape of “War of the Worlds” set into a unique and unforgettable experience that will raise the bar of terror to a level that only an authentic Hollywood studio can equal.
In addition to the new “A Nightmare on Elm Street”-themed maze, “Friday the 13th: Camp Blood,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Back in Business” and the “Universal House of Horrors” mazes will return with significantly elevated fear quotients. New characters based upon the Rogue/ Universal Pictures hit movie, “The Strangers,” will hauntingly roam within a dedicated “scare zone.”
Universal Studios Hollywood’s favorite thrill-ride attractions will also remain open for “Halloween Horror Nights” nocturnal affair, many with menacing twists. “The Simpsons Ride,” “Jurassic Park – In the Dark,” the “Revenge of the Mummy” psychological thrill-ride roller coaster and “WaterWorld,” aptly transformed into “Slaughter World” for the occasion, will all seem like tranquil respites from the mayhem of Jason, Freddy and Leatherface. The standing sets and themed streets of the theme park will also be transformed into a bloodbath, as if scenes from horror films that were left on the cutting room floor had exploded to life.
An all-new “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” show will make an encore performance along with the distasteful “Chucky’s Insult Emporium” show bringing guests face-to-face with the scathing sarcasm of the sociopathic doll from Universal’s “Child’s Play” movies.
“Halloween Horror Nights” will continue on consecutive weekends beginning on Friday, October 3 through Saturday, November 1. Event dates are: October 3-4, 10-11, 17-19, 24-26, 30-31 and November 1. The event will begin nightly at 7:00 p.m.; closing hours vary by night throughout the event. Tickets to “Halloween Horror Nights” are $54 and are available for purchase online at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com or at the Universal Studios Hollywood ticket booths.
“Halloween Horror Nights” tickets will also be sold in advance at Ralphs®, Food 4 Less® and Hot Topic® where consumers can save up to $20 off a ticket with the purchase of any Coca-Cola product. Guests can save up to $20 with any Coke can or special coupon from Jack in the Box® restaurants.
August 27, 2008
Hey, everybody, got a big favor to ask this time. I've joined the "Walk in the Park" event happening on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Six Flags Magic Mountain to raise funds in the effort to "Cure Kids Cancer" and I'm looking for sponsors. I set a goal of raising $500.00. It may be a lofty mark, but what's the point of aiming low?
If you can, please visit http://my.walkintheparks.org/thrillride and sign up. Or become a walker yourself! Either way, it's all for the better. Thanks so much in advance if you can pitch in and I hope I'll see some of you there!
August 26, 2008
Once upon a time, Holiday World was all about the woodies; not anymore.
I'd have sworn on a stack of Bibles, oh, 165 feet tall, that no one could ever build a water ride that would be truly scary. But Pilgrim's Plunge looks to be just that. I mean, the drop will be sweeeet fun and the splashdown will be drench-tacular. But the trip up? Are you kidding me? Just looking at that goofy, bow-legged elevator contraption gives me the willies.
Be sure to click through and watch all o' them tasty animations.
(Okay, award-winning collection of wood coasters: check. Record-breaking water ride: check. All-around greatest people running the place: check. Now all that's missing? A signature steel coaster... ;)
August 25, 2008
I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but if you haven't seen the latest South Korea trip report up over at Theme Park Review, get out your drool bucket and click here. Their photo and video collections are always super-cool, but this one takes the cake. The videos, especially the on-ride clips of Atlantis Adventure and Eagle's Fortress, are literally eye-popping. I've always had these two coasters on my "Must Do Before Death" list, but holy mother-lovin' cow... Eagle's Fortress, Everland's Arrow Suspended coaster, is just diabolical.
August 24, 2008
Up today in the Special Features section is an old interview with Randall Duell and Ira West of the legendary R. Duell and Associates. Dates back to 1982... sheesh, so long ago...
And here's some fun Back To The Future-related linkage.
Can't wait for Holiday World's big announcement this Tuesday!!!! $8.4 million price tag for a "world's tallest..." Psyched!
August 21, 2008
Time for some truly random notes: First, thanks to a story up at Screamscape recently, we were clued into that Spinning Batman coaster that's goin' up at Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park in China. Have you seen these pictures yet? Wow. The ride may blow, but what a first-class job they did with the scenic goodies...
Second, California locals have no doubt seen the new Knott's Berry Farm tee-vee ad campaign, touting their collection of hard-core thrill rides. The tag line is "Ride Warriors Wanted." Pretty clever; I like it.
On a completely unrelated note... ahem... I still have a big 'ol box of ThrillRide! mouse pads, dating back to 1998. Click the image below to enlarge:
In hindsight, they're alittle silly, graphically, but if'n you want one, I'll let it go for $3.00, plus shipping. Drop me a line if you want to possess this functional piece of desktop dorkery.
August 17, 2008
Finally got around to reformatting some of the older trip reports, etc. into the new Special Features section, so in case you missed them on prior Random Notes updates, you can now view the old Santa Monica Pier, Adventure City and West Coast Bash 2008 articles (along with the recently added Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk tripper). I'll be adding another trip report soon, plus an old interview you might find interesting.
Also, I had been going through some old slides and found a shot I had taken way back in, what, maybe 1992? And I turned it into a sort of tribute poster, now available in the Photo Shoppe:
(P.S. As always, thanks to those of you have ordered posters and prints already!)
Random Notes Archive 4
Random Notes Archive 3
Random Notes Archive 2
Random Notes Archive 1