ThrillRide! Random Notes  





March 12, 2009

2008 was a great year for Six Flags, Inc. - and then again, not such a great year. Revenue and attendance? Up! Losses? Up, also. And a potential bankruptcy filing looms on the horizon. For the most part, Shapiro and crew seem to be moving in the right direction, and I know we all wish them well. But this whole hair salon for kids idea? I dunno. If it works, people will be hailed as geniuses. And if it doesn't, the humiliation will be withering.

Anyhoo, on to more pleasant news: There are tons of really promising movies coming Summer '09 and even though this isn't one of them, I'm super-psyched for it anyway. Vroom, vroom!


Universal City, California –The high-octane muscle cars featured in Universal Pictures’ upcoming action-thriller “Fast & Furious” are on display exclusively at Universal Studios Hollywood as The Entertainment Capital of L.A. adds the exotic street racers to its world-renowned collection of authentic movie picture cars and props.

The 1987 Buick Grand National and a 2009 Subaru WRX STI that are driven by the stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are parked inside the theme park within arm’s reach of fans and car aficionados.


WAY sweeet!

Photos: Jaimie Trueblood / Universal Pictures © 2009 Universal Studios

“Fast & Furious” re-teams Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in the ultimate chapter of the film franchise built on speed. Heading back to the streets where it all began, Diesel and Walker rejoin Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster to blast muscle, tuner and exotic cars across Los Angeles and floor through the Mexican desert in the new high-octane action-thriller. The film arrives in theatres on April 3, 2009.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s fleet of famous cars parked along the Studio Tour route currently features more than 16 recognizable prop vehicles from famous movie and TV productions including “Back to the Future” (DeLorean, a futuristic Edsel and Biff’s Cadillac), “Serenity” (Mule), “Animal House” (Death Mobile), “The Blues Brothers” (Blues Mobile), “The Mummy” (Dusenberg), “The Little Rascals” (‘Norman Schwarzkopf’ go-cart), “Magnum P.I.” (Ferrari), “Jurassic Park” (off-road Mercedes SUV), and from the Marx Brothers movies, a 1932 Ford Model A.

Adding to the collection of automotive classics, other cars from the “Fast & Furious” franchise are on display adjacent to the popular “The Fast & The Furious Extreme Close-Up” experience on the behind-the-scenes Studio Tour.



March 10, 2009

Well, the news is all over the triple-dub: Cedar Fair is looking to unload three of its parks to offset a boat-load of debt. Here's one story from the Kansas City Business Journal; here's another from; and here's another still from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. And heres the gist:

“Although Cedar Fair has continued to report solid earnings and cash flows with some of the best operating margins among regional amusement parks, the board of directors is taking this action in order to retain additional cash flow to deliver the company over the next several years,” Chairman and CEO Dick Kinzel said in the release. “The current macro environment requires us to balance the distribution of excess cash flow to our unit-holders with the company’s strategic objective of strengthening our balance sheet."

So maybe the owners of the San Francisco 49ers will purchase California's Great America, but who might pick up Valleyfair and Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun? Who knows, given the current economic climate...

And the news is iffy all over the globe, with the future of Dubai's Formula 1 park now looking shakier than ever. Even the Orlando theme parks are feeling the pinch.



March 5, 2009

Random randomness:

The debate over Coney Island's future rages on:

"This plan betrays Coney Island's amusement park, it is second rate, it is not what we need for Coney Island to be a world class tourist attraction," said one resident.

Read it all here.

Here's a story about the goings-on at Quassy Amusement Park, and the waterslide they want to replace their old Mad Mouse coaster with.

Beech Bend's new Sea Dragon swinging boat ride has an interesting HIStory. (And speaking of Michael Jackson, didja hear about his "final live performances?"

Sea World's Manta is getting ready to roll; check out this article and the rockin' shot of the front of the train.

West Virginia's Wild Escape Theme Park may actually start breaking ground within the next few months.

Bible Park USA, however, isn't looking so good.



March 1, 2009

Reader JW Green sent a cool link to a site called "Dark Roasted Blend" with a photo feature on the "World's Strangest Theme Parks." I wouldn't necessarily call all of them "strange," but there are some sweet eye-candy renderings of Dubailand (sure to never look as cool or as massive as it does in these pre-economic-meltdown concept illustrations), and a futuristic tower ride for Shanghai, China that is ultra-wicked.

You may also enjoy their articles on the World's Wildest Roller Coasters (some real, some Photoshop tomfoolery), and on Abandoned Amusement Parks. Many of the photos of rotting, overgrown rides and roller coaster structures are darkly fascinating. If they ever make another Scooby-Doo sequel, they should shoot it at one of these locales.

Major bummer that Dubai's F1-X theme park has been delayed a year. I'm glad they sound confident that more cash will be found to complete the half-built facility, but still, you gotta wonder if it won't end up in a future Dark Roasted Blend story.

I'm sure you're glad to know that Speed - The Ride has reopened in Las Vegas, and if you want to ride for free all day, here's how. (The poor ride op on vomit duty is going to be putting in some overtime, I'm afraid.)

Speaking of vomit, not everyone is so happy about the idea of Six Flags Over Texas selling beer on property. The most stomach-churning detail? A 16 oz. cup will likely run you $6.00. No surprise, certainly, but sheesh, anyway.



Feb. 24, 2009 has posted an interesting interview with several experts who discuss the region's various theme park developments and some of the challenges ahead. Among the tidbits:

"Ferrari World’s going to be a very good-looking building on Yas Island, with the red Ferrari logo on top. Most of the theme park will be indoors; we’ll have attractions, several roller coasters, and a lot of dark rides with Ferrari-related content and there will be lots of F&B opportunities, from table-serviced Italian restaurants to cafés. There’s going to be several merchandise locations and something for all age groups, from driving experiences to thrill rides."

They've also got a sweet shot of the Ferrari World model; read the whole thing here.

Also, it looks like the UK's Lightwater Valley theme park has launched a new website. Check it out.



Feb. 23, 2009

Got a bunch o' stuff tonight. First, one of our readers was kind enough to send a link to the Wikipedia page for that 1997 Tower of Terror TV film, with a pretty lengthy synopsis of the screeen story, in case you missed it.

Second, let's give the good folks at Virginia's Busch Gardens a big round of applause for announcing their own economic stimulus plan:

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (Feb. 20, 2009) – Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are rolling back prices on their park passes, and offering consumers new ways to save even more while enjoying the Williamsburg-area theme parks.

Starting Monday, Feb. 23, a 1-Park Pass will cost as little as $99.95, the lowest price since 2004. The pass is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase, and gives customers unlimited admission to Busch Gardens on regular season operating days.

“This is a way of helping families cut back on expenses without compromising their fun,” said John Reilly, vice president and executive vice president of Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

Busch Gardens has several ticket options available to meet the needs of consumers searching for the best value in high-quality family entertainment. Visit for a complete lineup of offers. Here are just a few examples:

  • Receive the best value by purchasing a two-year pass. For example, a 1-Park Pass is only $75 per year, a 50 percent savings over the regular pass price.
  • Convenient and affordable payments starting as low as $6.24 per month. Use EZpay to spread out payments over 12 or 24 months with no interest and no fees.
  • Special pre-opening savings on a 1-Park Pass. Consumers save $10 if they purchase their pass before Busch Gardens opens March 28.

Busch Gardens combines affordable prices and an entire year of fun, including 22 concerts, unlimited visits to Howl-O-Scream, new in-park shows as well as Sesame Street Forest of Fun, the park’s newest children’s attraction. Pass members also enjoy free parking (a $10 value per visit), admission to regular-season events and 50 percent off admission to the all-new Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration.

The same high-fives go out to Six Flags Over Georgia for also offering some major discount action: $20.00 off their own season pass.

Didja catch the Academy Awards show last night? Kind of lackluster, especially since all the major wins were hardly surprises. But I must say that Slumdog Millionaire was a great picture and it was awesome to see the young cast up on stage enjoying their moment of glory.

Some of them enjoyed a day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Dig some photos (courtesy USH):

Simpsons Ride!

Image (L-R) Tanay Hemant Chheda (middle Jamal), Madhur Mittal (older Salim), Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala (middle Salim), Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (Young Jamal), Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar (middle Latika) enjoy the theme park's "The Simpsons Ride.”

Woodrow in da house!

The young stars of "Slumdog Millionaire" spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A., on Saturday, February 21, 2009.  Image with Woody Woodpecker (L-R) Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala (middle Salim), Madhur Mittal (older Salim), Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar (middle Latika), Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (Young Jamal), Tanay Hemant Chheda (middle Jamal).


"Slumdog Millionaire" star Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar (middle Latika) enjoys a hug from Woody Woodpecker. 

Some bits and pieces:

This one's a sad story about the goings-on at the defunct Pharaoh's Theme and Water Park in Redlands, CA.

The Hard Rock Park will start hiring again soon, so if you're living in the area, check it out.

The Orlando Sentinel also has an article about HRP, the temporary shut-down of USF's Twister attraction, and more.

Here's a quick piece about the new ride inspection legislation in Tennessee.



Feb. 18, 2009

The Hard Rock Park now has a new set of owners and it may just reopen this summer... as The Hard Rock Park, v.2. Let's hope they can pull it off.

In other theme park news, this must be a joke, right? Seriously, ha-ha, very funny.

No... for real?

Oy. And people got their knickers all wound up over Disney's America...



Feb. 17, 2009

So is Disney planning a new feature film based on the Tower of Terror attraction, as was reported by No, they are not, according to Blue Sky Disney, based on a "confirmation" received last Friday.

Granted, this is all just speculation, but still, I've got to wonder. From what we've heard over the years, Disney has been toying with developing lots of attractions for big-screen adaptation, including the Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain and the Enchanted Tiki Room. (Okay, not that last one, but I've got a treatment for it.) Seems to me that at some point, someone at Disney has kicked around the idea of making a big-budget ToT feature...

Anyhoo, here's the latest news regarding USH's "The Universal Experience:"


Universal City, California – The costumes from Universal Pictures’ multiple Oscar® nominated, “Frost/Nixon” and Focus Features’ multiple Oscar nominated, “Milk” will be on display along with props from Universal Pictures’ Oscar nominated, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” at Universal Studios Hollywood’ ”The Universal Experience: Behind the Scenes of Universal Pictures,” movie-themed attraction designed to put the magic of Hollywood within arms reach of guests, beginning February 17.

Items on exhibit from “Frost/Nixon” will include wardrobe worn by the film’s Best Actor nominee, Frank Langella (Richard Nixon) and Michael Sheen (David Frost) from the movie’s climatic interview scenes. “Frost/Nixon” earned five Academy Award® nominations including, Best Picture – Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Eric Fellner, Best Director - Ron Howard, Best Actor - Frank Langella, Best Adapted Screenplay - Peter Morgan, and Best Film Editing - Mike Hill, Dan Hanley.

Sharing the Oscar spotlight at the attraction will be the vintage wardrobe donned by Best Actor nominee, Sean Penn in the Best Picture-nominated film, “Milk.” “Milk” earned eight Oscar nominations that also include, Best Director – Gus Van Sant, Best Supporting Actor – Josh Brolin, Best Original Screenplay – Dustin Lance Black, Best Costume Design – Danny Glicker, Best Film Editing – Elliot Graham, Best Score – Danny Elfman.

Fans of Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” Oscar nominated for Best Makeup – Mike Elizalde, Thom Floutz, can preview an ecelectic display of the original prothetic masks and props and costumes featured in the film.

“The Universal Experience” showcases 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 draws from a library of over 6,000 titles dating back to the Studio’s early beginnings in 1913 and offers a behind-the-scenes 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 attraction is the “Best Picture” Oscar® statuette from “The Sting,” awarded to Universal Pictures in 1973. Other movie memorabilia include wardrobe worn by Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan from the blockbuster, “Mamma Mia!” and the miniature stop-motion animation set pieces and figures from the upcoming release, “Coraline,” and showcased exclusively at “The Universal Experience.”

“The Universal Experience” will be updated regularly with material from new movies and artifacts from the Studio’s vast archives.



Feb. 15, 2009

Be sure to head over to the awesome Season Pass Podcast and check out the latest audio extravaganza - #67 - featuring my man Chris Godsey of, where we discuss the history of Ride World, talk about some of this season's upcoming coaster enthusiast events (including the killer West Coast Bash) and much more. It's billed as the "biggest coaster episode ever!"

For some video fun, dig these two links, courtesy of the always-generous reader JW Green. The first is what may be the only available onride footage of a North Korean coaster. (There's no name given for the attraction, but I'd like to think it is something along the lines of "Our Dear Leader's Majestic Chariot to The Exalted Gates of Heaven's Blessings.") Then there's this amusing clip of America's best and bravest having a little fun in Afghanistan.

On a more serious note, it seems there was an accident on a coaster in India. No fatalities have been reported so far, but check out that track split photo... coulda been much worse.

And last for today, the ongoing Hard Rock Park saga continues with a final sale deal happening as early as Tuesday. Read all about it here.



Feb. 11, 2009

Six Flags' fiscal prognosis is still pretty grim, according to this article sent our way by JW Green. The whole thing makes for very interesting reading, but here's the pertinent bit:

"Six Flags. (SIX; about 30,000 employees; stock down 84%). This theme-park operator has been losing money for several years, and selling off properties to try to pay down debt and get back into the black. But the ride may end prematurely. Moody's expects cash flow to be negative in 2009, and if consumers aren't spending during the peak summer season, that could imperil the company's ability to pay debts coming due later this year and in 2010."

Oy. Get out there and ride this summer, peeps.

Remember that old tee-vee movie based on Disney's Tower of Terror, starring a yet-to-be-Mary-Jane Kirsten Dunst? Well, according to the Bloody-Disgusting horror movie site, The Mouse House is looking to make a feature out of that property. I never saw the 1997 opus, but this ride is one that sounds like it could make a righteous big-screen film, if they do it up right, Pirates-style, and not wrong, Haunted Mansion-style (even though I thought bits of that Eddie Murphy vehicle were moderately cool). Note to Disney: make it scary, whatever else you do. Please.

Last for today, I was glad to find a link to this Hard Rock Park story up at today. To see the whole thing dismantled would have been a crying shame, so even this slight glimmer of hope that HRP will survive in some form is reason to rejoice.



Feb. 5, 2009

First up, it's time to register for the sixth edition of the West Coast Bash! Get yer flyer right here.

Next, check out this video news report surrounding the off-season work going down at Hersheypark.

Seen this cool teaser for SeaWorld Florida's Manta? Me likey!



Feb. 3, 2009

Universal Studios Hollywood's "Project Phoenix" backlot reconstruction effort (repairing the damage from last year's devasting fire) is humming along at full throttle:


Universal City, California, February 3, 2009 --A little over a year after a fire damaged four acres on the world’s largest working movie studio lot, Universal Studios will re-open in mid-Summer most of its iconic sets and will unveil innovative shooting locations designed to meet contemporary film production needs. The new and re-created sets will be featured on the world-famous Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour—recently upgraded with Hi-Def digital servers and flat screen monitors—and will enhance visitors’ behind-the-scenes experience of a working studio environment.

USH Backlot

Construction is well underway at Universal Studios, which will re-open in mid-Summer most of its iconic sets and will unveil innovative shooting locations designed to meet contemporary film production needs. The new and re-created sets will be featured on the world-famous Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. Photo credit: Universal Studios

Beginning in mid-summer, production will resume on the world- famous Courthouse Square, Brownstone Street and an enhanced New York Street. The new locations to be introduced this year will include a gas station, a firehouse, a London Street and, most notably, a modern urban cityscape, with glass and steel façade structures that will provide film and TV crews with the opportunity to replicate a modern city street scene in a controlled studio environment. The contemporary cityscape will be the largest modern urban backlot shooting location in Los Angeles.

These advanced facilities were constructed to provide ideal shooting conditions for contemporary productions, and were designed with the assistance of leading filmmakers and art directors. Additional sets will remain in construction and are planned to open in 2010.

The great majority of the studio’s famous standing sets and locations, including the “War of the Worlds” set, Western Streets, European Street, Mexican Street, the Psycho House-Bates Motel, and “Desperate Housewives” Wisteria Lane were untouched by the fire and have remained in continuous use for dozens of motion picture and television productions.

During the reconstruction phase of the backlot, Studio Tour guests will experience a panoramic view of the construction and dramatic transformation taking place at the historic studio. The Studio Tour is a signature attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A., and is also being upgraded this year to feature a Hi-Definition TV digital system, with new flat-screen HD monitors installed in each Tram car. The new monitors will feature commentary from filmmakers and stars and clips from movies and TV productions, many created especially for the Studio Tour and all corresponding to the sites visited along the Tour route. Because the Tour is constantly changing to accommodate movie and TV production schedules, a custom Hi-Definition playback system was designed to allow for the selection of material from the hundreds of clips created for the Studio Tour attraction.

Beginning June 1, “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” will debut in a newly renovated sound stage located on the Universal Studios lot. As Emmy Award-winning host Conan O’Brien moves to California, the show’s state of the art studio will become a featured showpiece of the Studio Tour.



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