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!

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