Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from everyone here at!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sun 7 News

Of course, you can have a video like this for yourself too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide - Creating Magic

I had the opportunity to interview a lot of great people through the podcast.

One of my favorites was Lee Cockerell, who just retired as Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort.

I got to interview Lee during the Grand Opening of Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom and was totally impressed by his candor, knowledge and passion for the resort.

Lee has written a book called Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney.

The book focuses on the magic ingredients that Disney uses to provide great customer service. Even if we don't work at a theme park, we can apply the same methods to whatever line of work we are in.

The best parts of this book, and the reason I think you'd like it, are the many behind the scenes stories from the Walt Disney World Resort.

So if you're looking for a good Disney World read that just might teach you something too, check out this book!

Monday, December 08, 2008

A "Monster" Deal!

One of the coolest rides around is "Monster Plantation" at Six Flags Over Georgia. When, EB visited the park in 2006, he said it was his favorite ride in the whole park.

The ride is currently being renovated and some of the old monsters are "moving out" to make room for new tennants.

Six Flags Over Georgia has come up with a great idea to raise money for
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. They are auctioning off one of the monsters to the highest bidder! That means YOU can own one of these classic creations!

The monster's name is "Scout," and he is one of the members of the "Little Monster Club."
He was designed and created by Gary Goddard Productions for the ride opening in 1981. Scout is approximately 42" tall, 33" wide and 35" in depth. The animatronic figure used air compression for movement, and Scout comes with the air valves still in tact inside of him.

All proceeds from the sale of Scout will go towards Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. An adoption certificate will accompany Scout.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Give it up for Screamscape

There are literally hundreds of websites devoted to theme parks and roller coasters. Because any "geek with a computer" (including this geek) can start a website, the quality between the sites varies greatly.

Since I've been a theme park enthusiast, I've probably visited most of the major theme park sites at least once. But it takes a special site to make me come back again and again.

I can say honestly, that the only site I have continued to visit repeatedly year after year is Screamscape. In fact, I probably visit the site once a day.

I've never met Lance Hart, the man behind the site, but he strikes me as a guy who loves visiting the parks and most importantly as a man with connections.

The amount of news and rumors that Lance obtains each week amazes me. The lame-ass CoasterBoys out there love to harp on how some of those rumors turn out to be false. But throughout my years of reading ScreamScape, I've noticed how Lance's rumors turn out to be true most of the time.

The best thing about ScreamScape, and the one thing the CoasterBoys fail to understand, is that it's supposed to be fun to read. Who cares if some of the rumors are far-fetched? Isn't it more fun to read something crazy and wonder if it could be true? Plus, there's no better place to go for amusement industry news. Screamscape is updated often, sometimes multiple times in the same day.

And from what I've seen and heard, Lance is a really nice guy...which I've found is somewhat of a rarity amongst theme park webmasters. He is always quick to give shout-outs and promotion to others in our enthusiast community.

So please raise a glass to Lance Hart and ScreamScape....and visit his site often.

Talk about this in the Forums

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide - Duck Shoot

One of the best things about visiting a theme park is taking a break to play the games on the midway.

Back in the old days, carnival barkers used to set up elaborate shooting galleries where patrons could try their hand a knocking over wooden ducks with real guns.

It was like that scene in Back to the Future: Part III where Marty McFly is back in the Old West and gets challenged to shoot at the gallery with the Colt Peacemaker.

Now we have a chance to use modern technology to return to the golden age of carnivals with the Duck Shoot!

A midway barker's voice guides you through the game as you take aim with the wireless infrared pistol and pull the "trigger." The Ducks moving along on conveyor topple over with every successful "hit" which registers on an LCD display. There are different skill levels available and you can play with or without the sound effects, just in case you want to play this in your office.

Talk about this gift in the Forums.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Trip Report - Dave and Busters

A tradition in my family is to spend the night before the Thanksgiving holiday at our local Dave and Busters Restaurant.

For those of you who don't know, Dave and Busters is a chain of restaurants that offers food, drinks and some of the most interactive games around. Their Million Dollar Midway has the latest video and ticket redemption games.

All of the cousins in my family spend the night before Thanksgiving there because it generally isn't too crowded. We usually have all of the games to ourselves because everyone is on the roads traveling to their out-of-town destination.

The reason I love going to Dave and Busters during late-November is because it's right about that time when I'm most in need of a theme-park fix. None of my local parks are open, so the closest thing to the true park experience is visiting this "adult arcade".

My first step after getting to the arcade is to visit the prize room, where they have hundreds of things you can "buy" with the tickets you receive when winning the games. Last night, all of the cousins set their sights on Guitar Hero: Legends of Rock. We figured we could enjoy playing that on Thanksgiving night with the entire family around.

So, we went to work gathering the necessary 12,500 tickets that were necessary. With nine cousins running the floor, it wasn't too difficult.

We played traditional games like Skee Ball, Pop A Shot and those wacky games were you try to make a stack of coins fall off the ledge.

But Dave and Busters also has some new games, such as Deal or No Deal. In this game, the suitcases aren't filled with money, but instead, they are filled with tickets. You can win anywhere from 1 to 600 tickets by choosing and eliminating certain cases.

I always figured I'd do pretty well on the real game show and I proved that point when I elimitaed all of the cases except the 200 and the 600. The dealer offered me 450 tickets, but I said "NO DEAL" and opened my case which did indeed have the 600 tickets. BOOYA!

Walking the floor of the Million Dollar Midway is pretty overwhelming. There is a constant wall of sound from the games and the shrieking people who are winning tickets. But that's what I love about it. It gives you a taste of the theme park experience, without being outdoors or having actual rides.

Well, there is one ride. They have a motion simulation theater which shows many of the same ride-films that you have probably seen in your local parks. But if you've seen them once, there's really no need to see it here. The theater is rather small and only has a few seats.

Anyway, the trip was great! We easily had enough tickets for the Guitar Hero and even have some tickets left over for next year. It also means that the holiday season is finally here!

Talk about this trip report in the forums.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adventureland Trailer

A new film from the director of Superbad is coming to theaters soon. The reason it's getting some buzz around the amusement industry is because it was shot at Kennywood Park!

The trailer is great because it really shows off the park well. Were any of you out there extras in the film?

Talk more about this in the forums.

A Solid Butt-Kicking Is Good For The Soul

I'm not sure who told me that, but I think about it whenever I'm getting my butt handed to me.

I think about that phrase if I'm having a rough day at work, or losing my shirt at the blackjack table or in this case.... having the blog get its ass kicked in the 2008 Coaster Web Awards.

As of this posting, the blog you are reading right now is only getting 9% of the votes. We're getting PASTED!

I feel like the Libertarian Candidate for President!

Granted, there's still time to make up some ground because the voting runs though December 7th. But for Pete's sake, we're tied for 4th place with the Hard Rock Park Blog, which last time I checked was a site about a closed park!

Now, I'm a realist and can easily concede that The Coaster Critic, News Plus Notes and the Walk in the Park Blog are far superior to what we do here. Those guys spend a lot of time updating their blogs with up to date news, pictures, video and commentary.

My goal has been to forgo news updates and concentrate on witty commentary and interactive conversations through the New Forum Forums. Unfortunately, real life gets in the way far too often and I don't get to devote as much time to as I did during the podcast days.

So I'm all for someone else winning this prestigious award. But......

It sure would be nice to at least have a respectable showing, so if you have an extra second or two, head on over to the voting site and help us save some face. That way, I can hold my head up high next time I see EB.

And before any of the CoasterBoys get their panties in a wad, this post was all in good fun. I really don't care if the blog wins any awards. This is just a hobby and it's always been a blast.

Talk about this in the Forums.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tales from the Parks - Moon Over Spaceship Earth

One of my favorite attractions at EPCOT is Spaceship Earth. I love that it's a long, totally enclosed dark ride that entertains as it educates. I also find it amazing because the ride actually takes place inside the giant icon of the park.

On our last trip to Walt Disney World, Molly and I took a spin on the recently upgraded version of Spaceship Earth. We had heard about a few new scenes, a few new audio-animatronic figures and a new voiceover from Dame Judy Dench.

But the thing I was most interested to see was the new interactive section of the ride where you get your picture taken and the get see what the future looks like with you in it.

As we waited in the queue line, I noticed a few unruly teenagers behind me. They were whispering and laughing and it totally looked like they were plotting something. But I figured it couldn't be too bad since their dad was with them.

Anyway, Molly and I boarded our "time machine" and got ready for the ride. As we made our way up into the geosphere, we had our pictures taken for the finale of the ride.

As soon as we passed the picture area, I heard a roar of laughter behind us. I shifted in my seat and turned around to see what was going on.... and what I saw shocked me.

Both teenage kids were standing up in their omnimover....had both dropped their pants...and were both mooning the Spaceship Earth camera.

I wonder how many times a day this happens? I wonder if the pictures of their asses were used in the "snapshot of the future"? I wonder where the hell their dad was and why he let them get away with that?

Talk about this in the forums.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The first step towards Westworld?

Did any of you ever see the movie Westworld?

It was a pretty cool flick from the 1970's directed by the late, great Michael Crichton. It was all about a theme park where the main attraction was life-life robots who interacted with the paying guests. For instance, you could go into a simulation of the Wild West and have gunfights with robotic gunslingers.

Of course, in Westworld, the robots went on a rampage and ended up really killing the guests.

It was sort of like what Jeff Goldblum's character said in Jurassic Park... "If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists!"

Anyway, I saw something this weekend that made me think of those famous movie scenes, especially because it looks like we're getting closer to having robots interacting with us in the parks.

Entertainment company NEC just unveiled a new robotic payment terminal at the iEXPO 2008 conference in Tokyo. It's called FeliCa and it's been designed for amusement parks and arcades.

The designers envision the robot will help out by selling tickets and giving advice about the park. But the most interesting feature is that the robot can use integrated facial recognition for identifying and profiling park visitors. Obviously, this can be used for determining demographic information and pointing guests towards certain rides, attractions and shops.

The robot is stationary, but how long before that sucker is following us around, challenging us to a gunfight?

Talk about this in the Forums.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday Gift Guide - Skyrail Roller Coaster

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up this week, people will be heading into the malls to spend millions of dollars on holiday gifts.

As part of our public service to theme park fans across the world, we''ll be blogging over the next month about cool theme park-related gift ideas for the coaster fan in your life.

Hey, maybe you're looking for something to add to your own holiday wish list... we're happy to help.

The first gift we want to feature is the Skyrail Marble Run Roller Coaster 150-pc. Set.

EB was a huge fan of this toy when it first came out a few years ago. He bought a few sets and created a massive marble roller coaster around his desk at work.

It really is quite amazing what you can build with this set. You're really only limited by your imagination. It's also easy to break apart and store when you are finished creating the greatest marble roller coaster ever.

The best part is this kit retails for $34.99. So you won't break the bank building your masterpiece.

Talk about this in the Forums.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So NOW the gas prices come down!

I was scrolling through Google News this morning and I found a really interesting article.

The AP was reporting that during the summer, gas was "peaking at an unheard of $4.11 a gallon." But now, "the national average price for gasoline tumbled below $2 Friday, its lowest point in more than three years."

It made me sarcastically laugh.

Sure, this is good news for everyone...NOW. But as a theme park fan and blogger, I could have really used the $2 gas a few months ago.

I don't know about you, but I really cut back on the number of theme park trips I made during the summer of 2008. In fact, I visited two regional parks and that was it. I just couldn't see paying $100-$150 on gas on top of everything else you have to buy for a good theme park experience.

This was the first summer in recent memory where I actually consciously cut back on the number of theme park trips that I made. If you're a faithful reader of this blog, you probably noticed it too. I really didn't have much to write about because I wasn't out there experiencing anything.

It makes me wish I could have a giant gas tank in my backyard. That way, I could buy up gas at the $2 prices and save it for my roadtrips in the Summer of 2009. But I'm sure there's some type of law against that.

Talk about this in the Forums.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Keep your thoughts on the So Cal Wildfires

One of our blog readers wrote in today to give us an update on the wildfires in Southern California.

It's one thing to hear about it on the news, but I think it's important to actualy hear from someone who lives there.

I live way out here in Long Beach, CA and the local parks for me are Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm. And as you probably know, October and November means Santa Ana winds and fires.

This has been going on for many years and it still hurts to know that someone or something can start a fire so small and eventually cost millions of dollars and burn everywhere.

Although we aren't directly in the line of "fire" (no pun intended), we still feel the effects of it.

As I was sitting in my room on Saturday, I noticed the sunlight was a very dark orange and looked out the window and saw a large cloud of smoke and ash headed our way. It lingers around for a long time, causes ash to fall EVERYWHERE and makes it hard for some, even me, to breathe.

But as I was checking at a site,, they had a few pictures and information regarding the fires and the parks around it.

I did not read too much about Knott's Berry Farm, but Disneyland actually decided not to have the less priority cast members, such as the photographers, out on the streets this past weekend and they rotated the ride ops and outdoor vendors as often as possible to keep them out of the smoke. And I also read about Six Flags Magic Mountain completely closing. They are not apart of the fire, but the road that leads to it is.

Talk more about this in the Fourms

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Skype-tastic!

This week, I continue my world tour of appearing on podcasts other than Coaster

This time around, I'm a guest on Doug Barnes' The Season Pass. If you remember, we talked about them a few weeks ago on this blog.

I was joined by Ricky Brigante from Inside the Magic and Nick Hutson from Musical Talk.

We spent close to two hours talking about the world's #1 vacation destination...Orlando, FL.

It's a pretty good conversation even though the participants were in Florida, California, DC and the UK respectively. You've gotta love Skype!

Take a listen here.

So now I've been a guest on The Season Pass, Inside the Magic, Musical Talk and In The Loop... when do I get to guest on the CoasterBuzz Podcast?

Talk about this in the Forums.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Terminator: The Coaster

Today, Six Flags Magic Mountain announced a $10 million coaster, engineered exclusively for the Valencia theme park by Great Coasters International Inc.

TERMINATOR: THE COASTER will feature a loading station "fly-thru," a state-of-the-art sight and sound package, and unique queue line and on-board entertainment elements. The GCII-designed Millennium Flyer coaster trains will zip through five belly-flopping hills and six high speed banked turns over 2,850 feet of track to create a ride that delivers the acrobatic thrills of a modern roller coaster while retaining the nostalgic look and feel of a classic "woodie."

The last thing I expected when I heard about a "Terminator" themed ride was a wooden coaster. After all, when you think of a Terminator, you think of the cool liquid metal that was used in T2 and T3. What does wooden coaster have to do with the franchise?

I really wish we were still doing the podcast. If we were, you know we would have broken out our cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions to discuss this ride.

Speaking of Terminator, I'm really curious how the new movie is going to be received. I think the new TV show is pretty cool. So far, it's been pretty creative. Let's hope the ride isn't a letdown thematically.

Talk about this in the CR Forums.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tales from Orlando - A Mother Worse Than the Yeti!

Here's a story from when Greg and I were standing in line for Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom. This is one of the best queue lines in the world, second only to Dueling Dragons at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure.

Anyway, as we walked by the authentic Mandir and through the Yeti Museum, we heard the wails of a seven year old boy behind us. Obviously, he had no intention of getting on the roller coaster. He was terrified. I'm not sure what scared him more, the 80 foot drop or a possible encounter with the Yeti. Maybe he was scared of the hour long wait without a FastPass...who knows?

It didn't matter through, because his witch of a mother had no sympathy for him. She was literally dragging him through the line as he wailed, kicked and screamed.

She even had the audacity to yell..."YOU ARE NOT GOING TO RUIN MY RIDE!!!"

It's at this moment that I realized that each theme park should have its own version of Child Protective Services. Shouldn't there be someone who can intercede on behalf of these poor kids?

I'm usually someone who minds his own business, especially when it comes to other people's kids. I don't get involved when a person is parenting their child, no matter how strange or outrageous they are.

But it's not like this crazy woman was making her kid eat his vegetables, she was making him ride an intense thrill ride! There's a clear, an unmistakable difference between making a child do something for his own good and making him do something for the selfish reasons of the parent.

When I was young, I was terrified of roller coasters. My mom and dad tried to talk me on them, but they never forced me to ride against my will. Now look at me, I'm friggin' Mike Collins from! I'd say 'ole Mom and Dad did a pretty good job!

These days, it seems like there are more and more screwed up kids running around. I for one don't put the blame on them. I blame parents like the one I saw in line for Expedition Everest. Yes, I blame the woman who put "her ride" ahead of the well-being of her son.

I hope the Yeti was on the B-Show mode when she rode through! She deserves it.

Talk about this in the CR Forums.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Trip Reports That Never Were

Well, I had this grand vision of shooting pictures in the Walt Disney World parks and uploading them in real-time. I had plans to write daily trip reports filled with intricate details from all across Orlando.

But, as you know, that never happened.

But, I'll make it up to you.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting several tidbits from the WDW trip...including some really interesting stories.

So stay tuned!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Live from Walt Disney World - Day 1

I've been working pretty hard lately, so I decided to become Clark W. Grizwald and take the "whole tribe across country" for a little Walt Disney World vacation.

It's past 1am here in Orlando and we just finished a FULL day where we visited three parks.

We started off at Disney's Hollywood studios where we tried out the new Toy Story Mania. This is by far the best Disney "shooter" ride. It blows away Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Eating at the 50's Sci-Fi Drive in Theater was a blast too.

We then moved on to Disney's Animal Kingdom, where we took a spin on Expedition Everest. Sadly, I can report that the Yeti was not functioning, so I did not get to yell "It's HUGE! It's HUGE!" Bummer, man.

After that, we moved on to Magic Kingdom where we rode Pirates and Haunted Mansion. The new effects on both attractions are stunning. Speaking of stunning, the Wishes fireworks show was really amazing.

On the way back to our car, we got to ride with the driver on Monorail Red. I even got to take a picture of me in the pilot's seat. Very cool stuff.

Over the next few days, I'll update the blog with photos "as they happen". So you can see what the Collins Clan is seeing.

If you have any specific things you want to see pictures of, let me know by commenting in the forum.

OK, I'm beat! I'm off to bed.

Talk About This Post In The Forums

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh Pioneers?

Back when I was producing the podcast, there would be some weeks where I would have trouble coming up with new content.

Most times, I would design a new contest or find a guest that normally wouldn't be on a theme park show.

I guess the guys at the Season Pass Podcast had a similar problem this week. But to fill time, they decided to talk about us.

They were kind enough to say that was a pioneering podcast for the theme park industry. They even went so far to call me a "podcast celebrity". (For the record, I don't believe that at all.)

In this episode, you hear them talk about their favorite moments from the show and for some reason, Nick Hutson is there playing live selections from the CoasterBoy Musical. Anything to fill time, right?


Talk about this in the Forums.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Trip to Dream City, Iraq

It's the election season here in the US and everyone is trying to figure out whether Barack Obama or John McCain will be our next president.

Of course, one of the biggest issues in this year's election is the war in Iraq.

One thing we tend to forget about is that real people live over there. And of course, those people also need a place to relax, unwind and have fun.

Jorrit Spoelstra, a blog reader from Europe, wrote in to tell us about a documentary by Thomas Kaan on the Dream City theme park in Iraq.

The film focuses on several visitors to Dream City who talk about their life in the war torn country. The movie features stories of fear, the role of ethnicity and religion, hate and violence, but also the future, dreams, courage and hope...and it's all set against the backdrop of the theme park.

You can check out the documentary HERE:

Talk about this in the Forums.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Disney's Birthday Treat

Forgive me for not commenting on this earlier...but you're faithful blogger has been really busy lately. I've basically been living in the edit suite and I spent the last week in Phoenix (which sadly wasn't close to any theme park!) So there really hasn't been much time for pulling together thoughts on the amusement industry.

However, I had to stop what I was doing to comment on the latest marketing effort that was unveiled by Disney last week. The big travel trend these days is the "celebration vacation," where families gather together to celebrate a special day or event.

Starting in January, Disney is inviting all of us to celebrate our birthdays for free at any of its parks. The "What Will You Celebrate?" campaign lasts throughout 2009.
You can even register your birthday ahead of time and customize your special day with a variety of activities. You can find all of the information and start making your plans by visiting

This is BRILLIANT. Because who goes to Disney parks alone? If it's your birthday, you're at least going to take ONE other person with you. And unless it's that person's birthday too, they're gonna have to pay for an admission.

BINGO! Disney just got someone to buy a ticket who might not have made the trip otherwise.

Talk About This In The Forums.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A "Voice" From The Past

I like it when friends we met during the heyday of the podcast do well.

Do you remember the friendly voice that introduced the Pennsylvania Theme Park Road Trip? Well, that voice belonged to talented voiceover artist

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tales From The Parks....

We're unveiling a new feature here at Coaster called "Tales From The Parks". It's a chance for all of us to share funny, interesting, weird, shocking, gross or strange stories from our visits to the theme parks.

We've started a new forum topic where you can add your stories. Some of the best ones will be featured on the blog. I'll get us started.....

A few years ago, I was at a park standing in line for a slightly intense roller coaster. In front of me, was a family of four...a father, mother and two young kids. The older daughter must have been 12 and the younger son was probably seven or eight.

It was obvious that the son wasn't interested in riding. He was begging and pleading with his father to leave the line. But the father wasn't having any of it. He kept telling the son to "grow a pair" and to "chill out".

As we moved along farther in the line, the son really started to melt down. At first it was a few tears, then a few sobs and it finally escalated into a full-on panic attack.

Here's where the world-class parenting began. The father grabbed his son, turned him squarely towards me and said: "You're making that man angry. If you don't shut up, he's going to beat you up!"

The kid stopped crying, but he looked at me like I was the friggin' Terminator. Any fear he had for the ride was totally replaced by fear of me. What was worse is that the father was making eye contact with me. I could tell that he wanted me to do something to confirm the threat to his son.

I wasn't in the mood to play his game. In fact, I was pretty disgusted by the whole scene. So I looked at the kid and said, "Don't worry. I'm not sure why your dad said that, but I really don't care if you ride or not. In fact, there's an exit right up here where you can get out of line if you want."

The kid seemed relieved, but his dad was angry... at me. He said "thanks a lot a--hole" in his most sarcastic voice.

Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable 10 minutes until we reached the ride platform. Once we got there, the kid and his mom walked through and didn't ride.

But I've always wondered what the situation would have been like if I had "played along" and become a menacing threat to make this kid ride the coaster. I've also wondered if that father has used the same tactic since.

It's like Keanu Reeves once said in the movie "Parenthood":

"You need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! But they'll let any a--hole be a father."

Talk About This In The Forums.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

2008 Golden Tickets

Earlier this week, Amusement Today unveiled the 2008 Golden Tickets. For those of you who don't know, it's essentially "the Oscars" of the Amusement Industry,

You can check out this link to see all of the winners.

Here are some of the highlights:

Best Amusement Park
Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Best Waterpark

Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas

Best Wooden Coaster
The Voyage at Holiday World, Santa Claus, Ind.

Best Steel Coaster
Superman Ride of Steel
at Six Flags New England, Agawam, Mass.

Friendliest Staff

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

Cleanest Park
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

Best Halloween Event
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla..

Best Landscaping
Busch Gardens Europe, Williamsburg, Va.

Best Food
Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.

Best Water Ride
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.

Best Waterpark Ride
Master Blaster at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort,
New Braunfels, Texas

Best Dark Ride
Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.

Best New Ride of 2008 - Amusement Park
Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer Park, Erie, Pa.

Best New Ride of 2008 - Waterpark
Dragon’s Revenge at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort,
New Braunfels, Texas.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Memories of Summer '08

We just celebrated Labor Day here in the USA, which signifies the end of the theme and amusement park season for most of us.... except for you lucky bastards in Florida and California.

It seemed to be a quiet summer. Aside from the opening of a brand new park in the US, there really weren't any mind-blowing new rides. And with the exception of a few tragic events, everyone seemed to behave themselves.

What were some of your favorite memories from this summer?

What parks or rides really impressed you? Did you experience any disappointments during an amusement park trip? Did you encounter any surprises? Any really strange experiences?

Tell us all about them in the forums!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weekend Theater - The Youth of America

The description from YouTube...

"A bunch of my friends broke into a closed local water park. Friend decides to ride down one of the water slides and takes a hard fall into the empty pool."

These kids are brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Remember the #1 thing we hated about theme parks? Teenagers. This video makes our case.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Three Cheers for Universal Orlando!

Just make sure the cheer you give isn't "Bloody Mary". If you say that there times, there's no telling what will happen.

I have to say, I was totally sucked in my Universal Orlando's brilliant web marketing scheme for this year's Halloween Horror Nights.

Over the past few weeks, they slowly gave away clues about the identity of the main icon for the event. They even had live events at the park where curious people could show up and receive mysterious information.

That's dedication to an art form.... or dedication to electronic marketing.... probably both.

As you can see by the billboard, "Bloody Mary" will be haunting the event this year.

I haven't been to a Halloween Horror Nights event since 1995 when the very lame "Crypt Keeper" was running around cracking non-funny jokes. I think I'll have to make a return trip this year to see what Bloody Mary has in store for us.

Is there any better halloween event in the country?

Talk about this in the forums.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Holiday World Sets a Record in 2009!

It's very rare that I get excited about a water ride, but the new attraction Holiday World is building for 2009 makes me want to make a return trip to Santa Claus, Indiana.

The Pilgrims Plunge starts off as a classic shoot-the-chutes ride but then quickly leaps into the 21st century. Once you approach the main tower, an open-air elevator lifts you higher than any other water ride in the world! What follows is a 131 foot drop at a 45 degree angle.

You can see images and video over at Holiday World's Website.

Perhaps EB (who now lives in Indiana) can be one of the first to ride it!

Talk all about it in the Forums!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trip Report - Water Country USA

Last week, I turned to Molly and said, "how would you like to visit a waterpark?" She said "yeah, as long as it can be one that's like Typhoon Lagoon."

So, I went to and started to check out all of the different parks that are within a two hour drive of Washington, DC.

Finally, we settled on a day at Water Country USA.... which I thought was the closest thing to Disney we have. Since it's owned by Anheuser-Busch (for now), we knew it would be a quality experience.

I've always been a bit of a "pudgy" fellow, so waterparks were never my thing. But since I lost some weight over the past year, I decided to give it a shot. But sorry folks, if you're looking for shots of me with my shirt off, you're out of luck. You'll have to go someplace else for that kind of action.

Anyway, we were really impressed by what we saw!

The park is surrounded by the same type of landscaping that you find at Busch Gardens Europe. Instead of simply plopping down waterslides on concrete slabs, they managed to surround the various attractions with trees, flowerbeds and very effective 50's and 60's theming. No matter where you went in the park, you heard the sounds of The Beach Boys, Elvis, Buddy Holly and other recording stars of the era.

Most of the attractions at Water Country USA were aimed at a family audience. There really weren't any intense attractions that would cause someone to think twice. For me, one of the scariest waterslides anywhere is the BombBay at Wet and Wild in Orlando! But there wasn't anything as crazy as that there.

Water Country US had attractions like:

Meltdown - a high-speed, three person toboggan ride full of turns and banks.

Big Daddy Falls - a 670-foot family raft ride with a series of twists and turns and two splashdown pools.

AquaZoid, a white water raft adventure that happens mostly in complete darkness. To make this ride more exciting, there are waterfalls and lighting effects.

New for 2008 is Rock and Roll Island. The highlight of this interactive area is the Jammin' Juke Box, a series of three body slides named after different dances from the 50's.

The highlight for us was the Hubba Hubba Highway. It's an interactive lazy river that's about 1,500 feet in length and covers 3.5 acres. It's themed like a drive down Route 66 and it's full of interactive features such as waterfalls, sprinklers, cannons and even a palm trees with coconuts that spill water on riders. The best part is that it moves a little faster than the average lazy river. Also, instead of having huge tubs clogging up the river, guests are encouraged to float along with life preservers. That seemed to make the river flow a lot faster.

There were also several interactive play areas for little kids, a pretty large (and crowded) wave pool and a really well produced diving show.

We went on a sunny Sunday in August. So the lines for the popular slides was anywhere from 30-45 minutes. But the majority of the wait was in the shade, so it wasn't too bad.

The prices weren't too high. The admission was $40 per person with a $10 per car parking fee. (However, if you buy your parking ticket online they knock off a dollar.) The food prices were a little high for my tastes, but we managed to get out of there without breaking the bank.

The locker charge was $10 for a small locker, but they give you $3 back in the form of a coupon to buy food or merchandise. Sadly, this must be a growing trend. I'd appreciate the three bucks back in good 'ole cash, because the only thing we found for less than $3 was a bottle of water. But with tax it came out to $3.04... which meant we had to go digging through Molly's purse for 4 cents.

All in all, we had a great time and would definitely come back!

Talk about this trip report in the forums.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"This one band camp...."

"I went to Disney World and didn't get to ride anything!"

As a person who just finished chaperoning 300 band kids on a trip throughout Europe, this article interested me a lot.

According to the story, The Great Bridge High School marching band can travel to Florida to perform in the Orlando Citrus Parade and in Disney World's parade down Main Street. But school officials won't allow students to go on any of the rides.

Supposedly, the school district has a ban on trips to amusement parks and water parks. The rule was made in response to incidents that happened elsewhere in which students were injured on park rides.

If you ask me, the kids are more likely to get hurt in their hotel rooms than at Disney World. During my time as a chaperone, I had to guard against balcony hopping, illegal drinking, liasons between members of the opposite sex and a dozen other things. But I was never worried that the kids would kill themselves at a theme park.

If I were a band kid, I would hate to march down Main Street USA and then keep marching right out the exit without ever experiencing one ride. What a rip-off!

Is this overkill? Does the school system have a point? What do you think?

Talk about it in the forums.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's wrong with people?

MiceAge has posted an interesting story about how guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland are no longer allowed to leave any written feedback about their park experiences.

In the past, guests could go to City Hall on Main Street and leave positive feedback about a great Cast Member or a wonderful experience. They could also leave feedback about something that wasn't so "magical".

But supposedly, the Disney lawyers have been inundated with lawsuits from guests who claim that the they are owed "consulting fees" if the parks happen to implement an idea they left on the comment card.

For instance, imagine someone visiting Disney's California Adventure in 2002. He goes to guest relations and fills out a comment form saying that it "sure would be great if they added a Tower of Terror like the one in Florida." Now imagine this same person visits the park in 2008 and notices that a Tower of Terror attraction has actually been built. For some reason, this "genius" (and supposedly others like him) think that Disney actually took his idea and implemented it. Now he wants to be paid for it. So, he contacts his lawyer and sues Disney for stealing "his" idea.

Supposedly, this has been happening a lot. So, Disney has decided that it's best to do away with the whole comment card idea.

What do you guys think about this? Is this a big deal? Or does it matter?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do you have $50K to spare?

From the "Cool Stuff Found On eBay" file....

Disney Yacht & Beach Club Resort 1/32" Scale Model Prop.

If I had a spare room and a spare $50,000, I'd consider it! Mouse Surplus has some cool stuff!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

What's next, paying to pee?

When I was in Europe a few weeks ago, I saw a lot of strange things.

Since this is a coaster blog and my name isn't Rick Steves, I won't go into all of them. But one thing caught my attention, especially because it's being copied in the amusement industry.

As we were driving from Switzerland to Austria, we pulled over at a rest stop to use the bathroom. Earlier, I had finished off a 2 liter bottle of water, so nature was calling. I ran to the restroom (as quickly as one can in that situation) and when I got there, a mean, old German lady with a cane was blocking the door. I tried to slip by her, but she shouted,

"NO!!!!! ONE EURO!"

Say what you want about America, but I've never been to a place where you have to pay to pee. But I really had to go, so I wasn't in the mood to argue. As I handed her what was the equivilant of almost two dollars to take a leak, she must have noticed that I didn't look happy. She looked at me with disgust and said,


I had no idea what this crazy lady was talking about, but I didn't want to hang around and ask. So I did my business and made my way out. But as I passed her again, she jutted out her cane and gave me a voucher, good for "One Euro" off "certain merchandise" at the rest stop.

Now this rest stop was the seediest one I've ever seen. It had a "fully stocked" sex shop right next to the bathroom. I was tempted to use my voucher in there to bring back a gag gift for EB. But he probably has enough of that stuff at home. So instead, I bought another bottle of water (which cost 3 Euros with my voucher.)

Anyway, how does this story relate to theme parks? (I was starting to wonder the same thing.)

A few weeks ago, CR Forums member Alex wrote a great trip report about his visit to Michigan's Adventure. He had a great time, but lamented about their locker policy"

"A locker was $10 with a $6 'deposit'. When i first rented the locker, I thought this wasn't a bad deal since I was going to get my $6 back...wrong. The deposit came back as either a souvenir cup or a $6 voucher for food or merchandise. Not only that, it was only valid at a small number of places in the park and shown in smaller print on the signs. This is the kind of nickel and dimeing that makes me go insane."

I understand that the economy is down and parks are looking for more ways to earn a buck, but this seems a little shady. If you truly got six dollars worth of food or merchandise, it would be OK. But we all know that souvenir cup is probably worth 25 cents. Plus, they make you run all over the park looking for places to redeem the voucher.

I guess I don't blame theme, because this money making scheme probably works. But when I encounter practices like at the parks, it makes me hold on to my wallet a little tighter instead of spending freely.

Places like Holiday World, which offer free parking and free drinks, make you feel like you are getting a bargain. So odds are, you'll spend a little more throughout your day.

But the whole locker voucher thing makes me feel a little uncomfortable.... just like that mean, old German lady in the bathroom. What's next, paying to pee?

Talk more about this is the forums!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

EB's Holiday World Television Project

Hi guys, I'm back from Europe and ready to start posting regular material again.

To kick things off, here is the television segment that EB produced about The Voyage at Holiday World for Indiana television.

Where In The World Is Mike Collins?

All Original Content Copyright 2005-2016 - Lift Hill Media, LLC