Thursday, May 14, 2009

Scott and Carol Present: You Are Invited To A Picnic At Six Flags Over Georgia!

Editor's Note: Scott and Carol were able to check out the media day for Six Flags Over Georgia's latest ride, The Monster Mansion. Check out their exclusive report below! Mike

In keeping with the theme of the ride, the media event was choreographed as a picnic. Quite a few basket lunches were prepared, to be washed down with your choice of sweet tea, lemonade, or water. Various types of sandwiches were offered, even a vegetarian option. Scrumptious apple pie, better than grandmas, was also available.

The song from Monster Plantation has disrupted the thought processes of Atlantians and others for nearly thirty years. Gary Goddard’s first big project after leaving Disney Imagineering was the retheming of Okefenokee Swamp where guests enjoyed Uncle Remus stories brought to life.

Spurgeon Richardson was running the park and he wanted a new attraction that families could enjoy together. Reaching even farther, he wanted something that teenagers would also consider riding. Once teenagers realized they could be alone with their beloved, the monsters probably endured more awkward first kisses than even animatronic creatures should have to experience.

Enter “Big Al” Bertino, a former Imagineer, who remembered that his granddaughter would sometimes play “monster” with him, and she giggled as they chased each other down the hall. The concept that monsters could be fun formed the beginning of Monster Plantation.

Gary Goddard at today's festivities

Phillip Mendez, Gary’s partner and another former Disney Imagineer, told Al, “Sure, we can do it.” And do it they did, supplying 135 monsters, all drawn by Phillip originally, two weeks before the project’s nine month deadline. The entire project was budgeted for around three million dollars.

The characters are inspired by Southern culture, but one of the best is Fritter Bitter, Marshal Billy Bob Fritter’s loyal companion. He stands shivering as Billy tells you not to “Go into the swamp.”

Four members of the staff from 1981 were in attendance on Media Day. From left to right, Gary Goddard, owner of Gary Goddard Inc. Dave Kaplan, the Public Relations Manager, who rode the ride for three weeks with Phillip Mendez, on the end. The alleged purpose was to figure out the best way to publicize the ride, but we know better. Melinda Ashcraft was in her second year as a ride operator at SFOG, now she runs the place, with the assistance of some very competent team members. Phillip was proudly telling every body who would listen that they went back to the original artwork for color matching purposes to maintain continuity.

The third grade choir from Mt Panan Christian School performed before the ribbon was cut. Choir Director Renay Hawkins had taught all of them an action routine for the song, which they did wonderfully. Amazing how motivated they were with the opportunity to get out of school, and be amongst the first riders on Monster Mansion. Among their excited comments were “totally awesome,” “I got wet by sticking my hand up,” and the most popular, “That guy sneezed in our face.” A few had sad faces when told they were going back to school, but one excitedly announced “I’m coming back Saturday.”

When the announcement of the makeover went public, SFOG heard from the fans. Many of them wanted no changes at all, because they wanted their children to receive the same experience they had years before. But time marches on, and mechanical parts wear out.

According to Gary Goddard, “We kept the best of the past, and added some new things. All of the characters have been re”fur”bished and refeathered. It took 230 yards of new fur, we didn’t count the feathers. A new audio system, back drops, and lighting package complete the makeover. Newer lightweight parts will last even longer, so the original riders will be able to take their grandkids.”

Phillip says “I have a whole lot of the concepts left over that didn’t make it into the ride. Originally you would have entered through a big mouth, but that and many other things were cut due to budget. One of the things I presented was a retail store concept. It never happened. It was sweet to purchase the first Monstore souvenirs today.” In honor of being proven right, he autographed and presented to the store some of the concept art that was never utilized in the first version of the ride.

When you walk through the entrance, you notice that the propeller on Buzby’s head is turning on the sign, a nice touch. Moving through the queue, you are reminded to make your best monster face, because “Papa Razzi” will be taking your picture on the ride. As you climb into the boats, you feel the first of the cooling that will be most welcome on a hot Atlanta day. An endless stream of bubbles cascades from above inside the first door. The new sound system allows for much better aural imaging as you float from scene to scene. The colors are brighter and some new effects have been added.

The baby's bottle is filled with foam to simulate liquid!

The cannon still roars and some neat 4-D effects surround the Chili Cook-Off. “Monster Mansion has more 4-D effects than any other ride in the world,“ according to Gary Goddard. We’re not going to reveal everything here, you’ll just have to go and ride it yourself.

Watch for things in the fog, water arching overhead, and a few other things we have mischievously left out. We hope to get back to Six Flags Over Georgia soon to get back in line and experience Monster Mansion all over again.

As we left the park we noticed this memorial plaque, congratulations to Six Flags Over Georgia for fulfilling Angus G. Winne Jr. wishes with your new attraction.


Ron said...

As a die hard MP fan I was a little scared that they might screw this up. After all six flags isn't known for it's attention to detail. I went on opening day, and I gotta tell you it was off the chain. the "4-d" effects were awesome, plus they re themed allot of the areas around the ride. You should join the monsters at the mansion.