Monday, May 31, 2010

My American Idol Experience - Part 3

When I last left you, Ryan and I had made it past the first audition at The American Idol Experience and were sitting nervously in the "Red Room."

Since I'm not an "Idol" fan, I didn't know that this room is based on the same place where the contestants go after performing on the live show.

Disney has really created a nice, soothing place here where you can pick up one of several iPods and listen to every single song on the American Idol Experience list.

They have each song with and without a singer, so you can learn the particular arrangement. All of the songs are around 90-seconds each, so you have to be able to remember which parts of the song are included and which are cut.

This is where I felt I had an advantage over everyone else. As part of my prep on the podcast, I had gone on YouTube and listened to the actual arrangements for both "Sway" and "Walking in Memphis."

Previous contestants had posted their performances, so I knew everything about those particular arrangements... the verses used, the lyrics, even the key in which the songs were sung.

It was interesting to look around the Red Room and observe the various contestants.

There were those like Ryan and me who where there for the challenge and the good time. But there were surprisingly a lot of "stage moms" there who were there pushing their teenage daughters to audition.

I over heard one pushy mother admonishing her daughter by saying "Come on! Remember what you were told in all of those singing lessons I paid for!"

I don't think this woman realized we were in a theme park attraction. I supposed she thought that this experience was her daughter's ticket to fame and fortune. It made me feel bad that this mom was turning her family's Disney World experience into a pressure-filled audition.

Anyway, after about 15-minutes of listening to my two songs, I told one of the producers that I was ready to go.

The head producer walked in with a production assistant and reviewed the paperwork that I had filled out in the red room. They discussed the arrangement that had been made about how I would audition with two songs that had previously been chosen by contestants in another show. If I made it past this next audition, I would be assigned the song that was used by the person who wasn't moving on to the finale show.

The production assistant walked me over to another audition room. This one was bigger, but still had the desk with a computer. But this time, on the wall was a large flat-screen TV and a giant video camera.

Greg followed me into this room too, because as I said in part 2, he wasn't going to miss a second of this embarrassment.

This second producer was just as friendly as the first. He engaged in some small talk as well. This was not only to put me at ease, but also to determine if I had any personality. Again, I amped it up by telling some funny stories about singing and even saying something about how 30-somethings can be American Idols too.

Before long, it was time to sing my two songs. But this time, I would have the full backing track behind me and a live microphone in my hand. I would also have the lyrics in front of me on the flat screen TV if I needed them.

Before I knew it, the room was filled with the familiar samba sounds of the song "Sway."

Even though I had told myself a hundred times that this was only a "theme park ride," I still found myself extremely nervous.

I guess that says something for how authentic of an experience that the Imagineers created. Even though my mind was telling me that I was at Disney, my body and emotions were reacting like I had advanced to the second round of the Idol auditions.

Even though I knew the song extremely well, I found myself wanting to use the on-screen lyrics as a crutch. I had planned on showing some personality as I sang, but I found myself wanting to concentrate on just getting the words and the notes right.

I had fallen into the trap of singing like I was in a karaoke bar.

At the end of my song, I tried to impress the producer by jumping an octave and singing the final note in an glass shattering falsetto. It sounded GREAT when I sang it in my car and in the shower. But I don't think it impressed the producer any. He looked up at the end of my song, smiled and said...

"If you make it onto the show, DON'T DO THAT!"

I could feel my face turning red. It was embarrassing to mess up in front of him, but also Greg too. It was then that I made a decision. I was either going to step up my game right then and there or I was going to flame out.

I decided to turn my embarrassment into determination.

I figured that I needed to make the next song count and I wasn't going to leave anything behind in that audition room.

The opening chords for "Walking in Memphis" began to play and I gave, what for me, was the performance of a lifetime.

I forgot about looking at the screen with the lyrics and sang to the camera. I did everything that I've seen those American Idol contestants do. I closed me eyes during the soulful moments and raised my fist in the air during the powerful moments.

It was the best performance that I could give.

At the end of the song, the producer looked up and said "Good job! I can see you're getting more comfortable in here. Let's run through both songs again!"

So, encouraged that I hadn't been kicked out of the room, I sang the songs again and I performed with as much energy as I could.

Sure, it was cheesy. But I figured that if you're going to try something, you need to give it 100%. And that's what I did.

After I sang through both songs, the producer typed on his computer for a few minutes and then asked me to look at the video monitor begin him.

Imagine my surprise when it was Ryan Seacrest, again.

He said something about how many people audition for The American Idol Experience, but that they weren't able to take everyone.

For a second, I thought Seacrest was gently breaking up with me. I thought he was trying to soften the blow as they basically said, "Thanks, but no thanks."

I thought my American Idol Experience was ending right then and there.

But then, Ryan Seacrest turned that frown upside down and said that I had made it to the show!

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I was so happy, I started high-fiving anyone I could reach. I high-fived Greg, I high-fived the producer and I high-fived everyone I met outside of the audition rooms.

I was like a maniac. It left like I had won the lottery! The audition was one of the most nerve-wracking and scary experiences of my life, but somehow I had made it though. It felt good.

The producer informed me that I would be singing on the 2pm show of The American Idol Experience at the Superstar Television Theater. They said they would call me on my cell phone and tell me what song I would be singing, based on the results of the earlier show.

I was really hoping it would be "Walking in Memphis," because I felt that I had a better handle on that song.

When I left the audition room, we met up with Ryan, who had also passed his audition. He would be performing at the 12pm show, which left him only a few minutes before he had to return to get ready.

The producers handed me a lanyard with a yellow badge that said VOTE FOR ME. I was supposed to wear it as I walked around the park to encourage people to come to the show and watch me perform.

We said goodbye and good luck to Ryan, who headed to the stage to begin the prep for his show. Greg and I decided to walk around the park and even catch a quick ride on Star Tours.

It was funny that when people would see my American Idol Experience badge, they would shout out "Good Luck!" or "Break a Leg!" People seemed to be really supportive, even though I was a complete stranger. One lady even stopped me in the street to tell me how brave I was.

That's when it began to dawn on me. In just a few hours, I was going to have to step on stage in front of 1,000 people and sing.

When I decided to bring the whole "American Idol Experience" audition process on the podcast, I had only thought about it as far as the audition. I didn't really consider that if I made it, I would have to go through with the stage performance part.

Needless to say, I didn't enjoy Star Tours much. My mind wasn't on Endor... it was on The American Idol Experience stage.

What had I gotten myself into?

In Part 4, I'll tell you about everything that went on backstage during the lead-up to my show.

By the way, if you don't want to wait for Part 4, you can listen to the podcast episode where I tell the whole story!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My American Idol Experience - Part 2

After months and months of buildup on the podcast, it was finally time to walk into Studio 2B at The American Idol Experience and give it a shot.

I was in Orlando with my two brothers, Greg and Ryan. Even though we're all married with families, we still try to take a theme park trip together every few years... just like the old days.

Greg and Ryan were totally supportive of this mission, especially as it related to

When we interviewed former AIE winner Stacey Lantz on the podcast, she had a lot of valuable advice.

One of the most important things she mentioned was getting to the park as soon as it opens. Since auditions for the AIE start right at 9am, she suggested being one of the first in line so that I'd have a better shot of making it into one of the 18 contestant slots that they have for the six AIE shows during the day.

But, since I was on vacation with my brothers, I felt bad about making them get up early and head to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the rope drop.

Amazingly, we got to the studios around 9:45am. After a quick walk down Hollywood Boulevard, we made it to the front doors of The American Idol Experience around 10:00am.

The weird thing was, the place looked deserted.

The queue line was there, with room for 100 people. The photos of past American Idol winners were there. But no one else was in line!

Just as I was about to knock on the doors to the attraction, a lady came out dressed as a television page and said "Welcome to your American Idol Experience!"

We all laughed... partly out of politeness, partly out of nervousness and partly because it was a really strange way to say hello.

She invited us inside and asked if any of us worked for the Walt Disney Company, Fremantle Media or a dozen other companies. When we said no, she pointed our attention to a large TV screen.

We were then greeted by the tanned, happy, smiling face of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.

Just seeing him was enough to make us all laugh again, but not out of politeness this time.

He said something about how we were going to experience the same thing that thousands of others across the country have... the chance to sing in front of an American Idol producer.

At this point, I wasn't feeling very special.

Seacrest was reminding me that so far, I had only made it as far as people like William Hung and the "Pants on the Ground" guy.

The smiley TV host was making me feel very ordinary.

For those of you who don't know, here's how the American Idol Experience audition process works:

Park guests (who don't work for Disney) are invited to sing 30-seconds of any song for the AIE "casting directors." The catch is that you sing acapella (without music).

If you make it past that round, you are sent into the Coca Cola "Red Room" where you are invited to pick up an iPod that contains every song available on the AIE song list. You're allowed to stay in there as long as you want to practice with the actual backing tracks that they use in the show.

Once you're ready, you move into another room with one of the actual producers of the show. Here, you actually sing with a microphone and a sound system along with the backing track. The producer even points an HD video camera at you to see what you look like on screen.

If you impress that producer, you're in. They assign you to one of six preliminary shows that happen throughout the day.

My brother Ryan was also going to audition. He's something of a musical theater star here in the DC area, so this type of thing is natural for him.

When we walked down the hall to the audition rooms and Ryan volunteered to go first. Before we could say "break a leg," he was whisked away behind closed doors.

That left me standing outside the room with Greg... just waiting... and getting more and more nervous by the minute.

Ten minutes passed and we could hear the faint sounds coming from the audition room of Ryan belting out "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. They made him sing it several times too. I kept thinking...

"If they're scrutinizing a musical theater star, they're really going to dislike me!"

Then, a cheerful guy walked around the corner and said...

"I don't want to see you guys wait. I'm the Executive Producer of the show and if you don't mind, I'll listen to your audition."

Now we're talking! I wasn't going to waste any time with a "casting director," I was going to audition for the man in charge!

Now, I don't have any pictures of me at this point. I was so nervous, I didn't think to pull out my camera.

But imagine me in the place of that girl over there. (But not as cute.)

Yes, imagine me in a small room, with the producer sitting behind that desk with a laptop.

Greg was also in the room. I could tell from the smile on his face, that he wasn't going to miss a second of this debacle!

When we interviewed Stacey, she made the point that this first audition was extremely important. She said the producers were not only looking for people who could sing, but also for those with personality. She said that during that first audition, it was important to sing well, but also to show that you'd have a presence on stage.

So, I became "Mr. Personality."

I talked about our Disney trip and how all the brothers were there. I spoke about how I met my wife through singing. I even spoke about how I watched American Idol every week (OK, I lied. But this is show business baby!)

After a few minutes of small talk (possibly done to make me comfortable), he asked me to sing my 30-second song.

I had chosen the classic Elvis Presley tune "Heartbreak Hotel" as my audition piece. It's a great rock tune and it shows off my (meager) vocal range.

To my surprise, I did pretty well!

I was nervous as hell, as evidence my my shaking hands. Buy I hit all the high notes. I added a bit of "soul" to the song. I even pumped my fist in the air to show some emotion.

I got about half-way though the second verse when the producer said "Thank You. Thank You."

I had heard those words in auditions before and it usually means "Don't call us, we'll call you."

But the producer stared at me for what seemed like forever and said....

"You're voice intrigues me."

At the time, I have to confess, I didn't know what he meant. Did it intrigue him in a good way, like how Kelly Clarkson's voice is intriguing? Or did it intrigue him in a bad way, like how William Hung intrigued the nation?

It must have been OK, because he asked me what songs I was interesting in singing if I made it onto the big stage.

I confessed that I had been prepping for this moment (I didn't mention the podcast), and that I was totally ready to sing "Sway" or "Walking in Memphis."

He typed away on his laptop for a minute, furrowed his brow and said "Really? I'm sorry, both of those songs have already been chosen today by other contestants!"

I was shocked! The two songs that I had practiced for months were going to be unavailable because two other contestants who had already passed their auditions were going to sing them.

Now I realized why Stacey said I needed to get there right as the park opened!

But this was the Executive Producer! He had an idea!

He figured that since both contestants were in the same show, only one would go on to the finale at the end of the day. So, if I was selected for a show, I could take the song from whichever contestant didn't move on.

With that, he said I was officially moving on to the next round. I was headed to the "Red Room!"

He gave me an official American Idol Experience contestant number and sent me off to practice.

When I left the room, I saw that Ryan had also made it to the second round and was already waiting for us in the Red Room.

In this video, you can see the pressure mount as me and Ryan are listening to our songs and preparing to audition in front of the producer.

Will we both make it to the "big stage". Or will this be as far as we go with "The American Idol Experience."

More to come in Part 3.....

By the way, if you don't want to wait for Part 3, you can listen to the podcast episode where I tell the whole story!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Possible Early Review of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

One of our listeners wrote in to say that he had a chance to ride "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Friday morning.

While we have no reason to doubt him at all, we'll have to take all reports with a grain of salt until the attraction is officially open to all on June 18th.

However, here's what he had to say about the ride. Whether you believe it or not is up to you!

"Went down to IOA on May 28th and got on the morning tour to the Wizarding World!

Got in there at 8 and they said they would have the Forbidden Journey at 9, which they did! And it was one amazing ride!

The queue was incredibly detailed and realistic to the movies, which I am sure everyone has seen in the Ellen and HP stars' videos!

The ride itself is so amazing! Blends on screen footage which real sets! Pretty much like a hardcore Spiderman! Really effective!

Story is a bit weak. What I got was that we are invited to a class in the Great Hall to hear a lecture on the history of Hogwarts! When Harry, Ron and Hermione appear and invite us to ride an ENCHANTED BENCH (how magical is that!) to a quidditch match. On the way you get, attacked by a dragon and thrown off by dementors that put you in the dark woods! From there, Harry Potter is there and flies you to Great Hall, where everyone is there clapping and applauding for your bravery! And that was pretty much it!

The ride was okay, kinda like a cross between Soarin'/Star Tours/Peter Pan.

There were quite a lot of adults who opted out the ride! As I got on the ride, the child swap room was full with middle aged women and big guys! It really isn't that intense! Doesn't go upside down at all!

Watch out for the seats though, a friend I went with who really isn't all that big, couldn't ride! The overhead lap bar has to click down three times, which I think even for the regular sized guest was secured tightly!

Just a quick note, Universal really is bad at hiding the HUGE show building behind Hogwarts! Kinda ruined it for me! Same with the Forbidden Journey, if you look down at any part in the ride you see all the KUKA Robo arms and the concrete floor!

By the way, Olivanders is the best shop any theme park! The preshow where the guy tried to find a wand for someone is amazing! Dont miss it!"

Talk about this in the forums!

The David Arquette Project - Summer 2010 Re-Launch!

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer for us here at

As part of the celebration, we are re-launching and putting new energy (and a great contest prize) behind "The David Arquette Project!"

Our goal is to make Mr. Arquette a fan of the podcast and convince him to record the show's opening introduction.

Why David Arquette?

Besides being a director, producer, screenwriter and the star of films like the Scream trilogy, Eight Legged Freaks and Never Been Kissed....

David Arquette is also a major fan of theme parks.

So, don't you think he'd also be a fan of the greatest theme park podcast ever?

Here's the idea...

We want you to click on the "Arquette Arithmetic" image at the top of this post and download the picture. Then, take a picture of you holding the sign at a theme park.

Take a picture with the sign in front of the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. Take a picture with the sign in front of your favorite roller coaster. Take a picture with the sign while standing next to the characters at your local Six Flags park. Take a picture at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We purposely made the sign small enough so that it can fit on a regular piece of paper. If you download the graphic and print it in "landscape" mode, it will fit. This way, you can stuff the sign in your pocket and take it with you when you're on vacation or at the park for the day.

But, we don't only want pictures at the park. We also want shots of you holding the sign in front of famous landmarks. Say you're visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Print out the sign and take it with you!

As soon as you take the picture, send it to us by e-mail. Our address is over there on the left. You can also post it to the forums or on your twitter feed. As soon as we get it, we'll post it on the blog!

But here's the best part....

The person who sends in the most creative picture between now and Labor Day Weekend, will receive two Season Passes to the (non-Disney) theme park of your choice!

You get bonus points and our undying respect for creativity. So print out the picture and get out there!

Imagine... listeners from all over the world spreading the word about The David Arquette Project! This should be fun.

Visit the official David Arquette Project forum topic.

Weekend Theater - Whale of a Tale!

After a long day at EPCOT, my brothers and I watched Disney's Electrical Water Pageant from our balcony at the Bay Lake Tower.

We were all a bit tired, but we did have enough energy to sing a classic song from "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea!"

Kirk Douglas would be proud, mateys!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My American Idol Experience - Part 1

I've never been a big fan of "American Idol"

Sure, I've tuned in at the beginning of most seasons to watch the crazy people audition.

I'll also watch at the end of the season to see what type of talent has made it to the top four or five.

But I'm probably not the target audience Disney was envisioning when they created "The American Idol Experience" at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando.

The idea is that a live studio audience gets to watch three ordinary park guests perform pop songs just as contestants do on American Idol. At the end of the performances (and the judges critiques), the audience chooses one winner. At the end of the night, the winner of each preliminary show competes in a grand finale.

The winner of that final show receives a "Dream Ticket" that lets the singer jump to the front of the line at a real American Idol audition.

And if you think it's all for show, you're wrong.

Aaron Kelly, who was in the Top 5 of the 2010 American Idol competition, got his start (and a Golden Ticket) on the stage at The American Idol Experience.

According to Walt Disney World, the attraction "features all the glitz and glamour of the hit television series' stunning set, and gives you an opportunity to experience the thrill as if really at the show."

I first blogged about this when the show was announced a few years ago. I said that I didn't think an attraction that was essentially a glorified Karaoke bar would work.

But I changed my mind when I visited the AIE last October. I was amazed that the stage show, with all of its lighting and music and HD television cameras really did recreate the experience of seeing the actual show in Hollywood.

It was fun, but I had pretty much forgotten about seeing the show until one night last winter.

I was thinking about the podcast and trying to come up with some interesting content to put on the show during the long winter off-season. That's when it hit me!

I'd audition for the American Idol Experience! And I'd put the whole preparation process on the show for everyone to hear!

The first thing I decided to do was to study the American Idol Experience Song List that Disney graciously put online.

That's when I figured out I was in some trouble.

Most of the songs were out of my vocal range. I'm a bass, so there's no chance I could hit the high notes that most pop acts do today. To make matters worse, most of the songs were out of my league too.

I had done some singing before in high school and I've even been in some good community theater productions.

But my vocal style isn't really pop or R&B.... and that seemed to be what made up the majority of the AIE song list.

However, after eliminating the songs that were out of my voice range and getting rid of anything from High School Musical, Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers, I did find two songs that I could pull off convincingly.

The songs were "Sway" by Michael Buble and "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn.

I felt could pull off "Sway" because my voice sounds a little like Dean Martin, who sang the song originally. I felt I could pull off "Walking in Memphis" because I can make it sound like I'm belting it out, without straining for high notes.

So, I went on the podcast and announced to the audience that I would be auditioning for the AIE when I visited Orlando in May. To my surprise, the audience was really into the idea.

Over the next few months, the audience listened in as I rehearsed the songs. They heard me get critiqued by a professional West End musician from London, England. They heard us interview Stacey Lantz, who was a contestant on the AIE a few months before and who gave me some valuable advice on how to audition (more on that later).

They even got to watch as I did a "test drive" of "Walking in Memphis" at a shady karaoke bar in front of a bunch of drunks.

If I could sing there, I could sing anywhere!

Ultimately, after months of on-air prep on the podcast, it was time to head to Orlando and audition for the AIE.

Strangely enough, I was nervous!

Even though I knew it was just a theme park attraction, there was something about having to walk into a room full of strangers and sing that made me feel uneasy.

What was weird is that I have been on stage before in front of thousands of people. But I guess there was added pressure because the whole audience would be waiting on the results of my audition.

If I didn't get in, thousands of people would know.... and it would be embarrassing.

In part two, you'll hear about the whole audition process! I'll tell you everything that went down from the time I walked into the American Idol building until the time I left!

Would I make Ryan Seacrest proud?

By the way, if you don't want to wait for Part 2, you can listen to the podcast episode where I tell the whole story!

Thursday, May 27, 2010 #438 - "Back To The Future" Weekends?

Disney's Hollywood Studios is in the middle of their immensely successful "Star Wars Weekends."

On this week's show, EB and Mike take a look at the pros and cons of such events and wonder if they affect the average park goer.

We also speculate on what other parks could do to join in on the fun. Do I hear a second for "Back to the Future Weekends" anybody?

The guys listen to trip reports from Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Carowinds and get into a debate about the Intimidator roller coasters that opened this year.

The guys also hear the listener's thoughts on what five ride types are necessary for the perfect park. There were some surprising answers.

Since Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff of summer, EB and Mike relaunch The David Arquette Project by unveiling a new contest! Will 2010 be the year that we get David Arquette's attention?

Plus, the guys discuss the rumor of Hagrid being in a fist-fight and C-Pain stops by to review the series finale of LOST - autotune style!

It's all this week on!

Direct Podcast Link
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Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page.

Talk about this episode in the Forums.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harry Potter Film Stars Get Sneak Peek of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Here is some excellent video from Universal Orlando that shows you the inside of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

You even get a great view of the ride vehicle for "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

EB Reviews (and rides) Holiday World's Wildebeest!

I was thrilled to see the invite to come to Holiday World's Media Day for Wildebeest show up in my InBox last week. So of course I didn't pass up on the chance to visit my new home park (for free, natch).

And despite my ultra-doubting and lack of enthusiasm for the Wildebeest, I was pleasantly surprised by my visit and my ride.

Talk about the opposite of anticipointment: I expected little but got one of the craziest, most unique water ride experiences I've ever had. Wildebeest gets the EB stamp of approval (thwomp!) Plus, I got the chance to talk about Wildebeest with not only the President of Holiday World and Splashin' Safari, but also the park's number on fan: Will Koch. And here it is:

EB: Where are we and what's happening today?

Will: We're standing on the loading platform for Wildebeest. Take the idea of a roller coaster, take it out of the dry park and put it into the water park. Instead of riding in a big train, you have a four-person inner-tube. And you literally start at ground level - there's no stairs to climb - you ride up a big inclined conveyor, and then you go up and down hills just like in a regular roller coaster. It uses LIM technology - Linear Induction Motors - to push you uphill. It's almost a magical feeling. You don't see what's pushing you! It's just a fun ride. It's going to be the most popular ride in Splashin' Safari this summer, I'm positive!

EB: Holiday World prides itself on being "Number One in Family Fun." You chose to spend $5.5 million dollars on this ride - a ride the whole family can enjoy - instead of a thrill ride that's essentially adults-only.

Will: Wildebeest is a family ride. We are commited. We are focused. Our whole reason for being here is to serve families better then other parks do. And by making the decision to spend $5.5 million on the Wildebeest I think we're reinforcing that commitment. We're all about families! And families are going to love this ride.

EB: Can you break down the stats for me?

Will: The Wildebeest is the world's longest water coaster - it's a third of a mile, 1,700 feet long. Elevation change from the station to the top of the lift is about sixty feet. It's a two-and-a-half minute long ride, which is a long time for a ride. And we'll be able to put over 700 riders per hour on this ride. So we're going to move the line pretty quickly.

EB: Compare Wildebeest to other water coasters out there - specifically the Master Blaster technology.

Will: The Wildebeest uses a LIM technology to push boats uphill. It's Linear Induction Motors, which is a series of magnets basically. It's an electric motor that's unwound and it pushes the boats uphill. The other water coasters out there either use the Master Blaster technology: using water to push boats uphill. And that's a technology that's been around for a while and it works very well. But we like the LIM technology better because it gives us a little bit more speed over the tops of the hills and you get that feeling of air-time that you wouldn't get on a Master Blaster style ride. And there's also conveyor-belt style water coasters. But again, the LIM technology is the third generatino technology and it's just the best there is out there for water coasters.

EB: Can you talk a bit about ride experience? Is the acceleration the same as on a Master Blaster water coaster?

Will: When you're riding the ride and you feel the LIM there is a very definite acceleration. And it's a smooth acceleration - you start out slow at the bottom of the hill and as you get up to the top you reach a peak speed and then coast over the top of the hill. But the great thing is you get that feeling of air time going over the top of the hill, which is just a whole lot of fun.

EB: Now, you're a fan of... well, rides.

Will: Yeah! [laughs] Yes I am!

EB: So tell me, how did you come to the conclusion to build this instead of another roller coaster? You know, you once told us that you would put more into the water park over the other park if you had to choose between the two. Are we going to keep seeing that? What about next year?

Will: Um, well. [laughs] How do I answer that? [laughs] It's really important to us to find a balance with adding new attractions to Spalshin' Safari and to Holiday World. One of the things we really struggle with is - one of the things we really respond to is capacity issues. So we look at our rides. We look at where the back-ups are. Where the waits are longest. And we typically try to fit our new attractions to serve the needs that we see are not being met as well as we otherwise might. So at Splashin' Safari what we've noticed over the years is that the lines for Zinga, for Bakuli and ZOOMbabwe - our three biggest water slides - are actually some of the longest lines in the entire park. So, one of the reasons for teh Wildebeest is to address that problem. To provide another ride that will provide that same high thrill, real high energy experience in the water park and to provide what it is that the customers are looking for. Now, at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari, we're of course going to continue looking at developing both, but certainly Splashin' Safari's become a very important part of our mix. A lot of our customers come to us for Splashin' Safari, so Spashin' Safari is a big deal for us.

After the interview, I was able to give the Wildebeest a couple of test runs - and get some great on-ride video (with permission, of course). Make sure you check that out on our Facebook page and listen to this week's show for my full review!

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Thursday, May 20, 2010 #437 - Mike's American Idol Experience

This week marks a rather unique situation for us here at the show.

It's one of the few times that EB and Mike found themselves at two different parks in the same week.

So, the guys take full advantage of the situation by bringing you stories of two very different trips.

First, EB tells us about his trip to Holiday World and Splashin' Safari for the Media Day for Wildebeest. It's the world's longest water coaster.

EB had a chance to ride this monster first-hand, and tells us all about whether it will be a hit or not.

And, after months of preparation, Mike finally made his trek down to Walt Disney World to take part in "The American Idol Experience" at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Mike tells the ENTIRE STORY... from the lead-up, to the audition and whether or not he made it to the "big stage." It's a wild story.

PLUS, there's news out of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and things don't look good for Hagrid. It's possible he got in touble for something he said on this very show.

It's all this week on an all new!

Direct Podcast Link
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Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Live Trip Report - Disneyland!

I think Travis is on to something!

He took the concept of our phone-in "Live Trip Report" and brought it to life with video!

He takes us along with him during his recent visit to Disneyland!

Way to go Travis!

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Sunday, May 16, 2010 #436 - Live from the Magic Kingdom

The Original Theme Park Podcast is back..... With a Live Remote!

OK, OK... it's a podcast, so it's not technically live.

BUT, this week EB mans the show from our studios in Indiana while Mike checks in from right outside Space Mountain at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Mike is joined by longtime Coaster Radio host Greg K. and the two brothers talk about their "Brothers Reunion" trip to Orlando.

They'll talk about their visit to EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and even drop a few hints about what happened at The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

EB also plays a live trip report from "El Toro" at Six Flags Great Adventure and he even poses a question to C-Pain.

Make sure to join us next week as we unveil what happened when Mike auditioned for The American Idol Experience at Disney. It's a great story!

Direct Podcast Link
Click here to subscribe through iTunes.
Click here for our podcast RSS Feed.
Click here for our iPhone App.

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page.

Talk about this episode in the Forums.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Our Way to Orlando!

This week is going to be a little different than normal here at the show.

First of all, we won't be doing the live UStream taping on Tuesday night because all three of the Collins Brothers will be flying down to Orlando to spend a few days at Walt Disney World.

This means that we'll have tons of Tweets and TwitPics at the parks. You can follow the progress of the trip by following us on our Twitter feed:

A new show will be posted on Saturday afternoon instead of Thursday night.

We'll have some audio highlights from the trip!

By the way, that picture over there was taken the last time all three of the brothers were at Walt Disney World at the same time. It should be a nice reunion.

Thursday, May 06, 2010 #435 - Theme Park Spice

The Original Theme Park Podcast returns with another all new episode!

When you're cooking the perfect stew, it's important to choose the perfect ingredients. If you don't choose wisely, you're stew is going to be too salty, too bland or worst of all... not tasty enough.

Picking the "ingredients" for a theme park can be just as difficult.

You need the perfect mix of rides to create a park that will be enjoyed by all.

On this week's show, Mike and EB each list off the five most important types of rides that a park must have to be successful.

The guys also have a mini-celebration of's 5th Anniversary by hearing what listeners believe is the best moment from the show.

EB goes Off-Topic to reveal his new "Bird Cam" and Mike dishes on what it was like to attend a Coaster Crew karaoke event.

The guys also hear a live trip report from Intimidation 305 and welcome back C-Pain who answers a very controversial question.

Direct Podcast Link
Click here to subscribe through iTunes.
Click here for our podcast RSS Feed.
Click here for our iPhone App.

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page.

Talk about this episode in the Forums.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Some Inspiration from Taylor Swift

I was reading this story the other day about two college students from Auburn University.

They set out on a mission to receive a hug from pop superstar Taylor Swift.

They created YouTube videos, funny images and even created a website:

Now to me (an Alabama grad), it sounds like this was a far-fetched idea.

How on earth would these two dudes (from Auburn University of all places) get one of the most popular entertainers in the world to even say hello to them, let alone give them a hug!

Well, somehow they pulled it off!

She flew to Auburn University. She hugged the two guys. She even performed a special concert for the students.


Now, I have a question for the audience.

If these two guys can get one of the hottest acts in music to come to their school, put on a concert AND hug them....

Why can't we get get David Arquette to record the opening introduction to our podcast?!?!?

I think we can. We're going to relaunch our effort on Memorial Day weekend!


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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Your Favorite CR Moment?

It's hard to believe five years has passed since we got the weird and wonderful idea to create a radio show all about theme parks and thrill rides.

This image was the very first "cast picture" that we put on the Coaster Radio website back in 2005.

We admit that we can't really celebrate five-years of podcasting, since we signed-off for over two years.

BUT, we can celebrate the idea of the theme park podcast and celebrate how it has become a somewhat more accepted form of media in the theme park industry.

We are going to have a more formal celebration of the show in August. But, on our next show, we'd like to hear from you about what your favorite moment has been since we came on the scene half a decade ago.

Here are the different ways to get on the show!

* Post your idea on Twitter
* Post your idea on our Facebook Fan Page.
* Visit this topic in the Forums
* Call our voicemail line - 206-339-3360
* E-Mail Us (the address is to the right of this page)

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