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

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