Sunday, December 31, 2006

Challenge of Tutankhamon

I found an awesome video of the Challenge of Tutankhamen at Walibi Belgium on YouTube. This is probably still considered Sally Dark Rides' largest and most detailed dark ride. After watching it it reminded me that when this was built (2003), I wanted to know a lot more about it but never found the info online. So I went digging.

I'm quite a fan of dark rides in general, and Europe is so filled with them it in turns fills me with envy. Challenge of Tut is a pretty darn cool one.

I found a site that has a ton of concept artwork for the ride such as this:
The entire series was put online by ParkFun World and can be seen here.

ParkFun World also has a massive amount of awesome construction pictures and more on their special Challenge of Tut page. Check it out!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Orlando 1979

Here's another two images from the family trip to Orlando in the summer of 1979. This time we're moving out of Disney World and seeing what else is around.

It's Sea World! Where's Journey to Atlantis? Where's .... the rest of the park? I had no idea how much this park has expanded over the past two and a half decades. There's a whole other half of the park located now on the other side of the lake in the photo above. And there's even more rides and such behind the stadium in the bottom of the photo.

And here's the big water park of the time - Wet'nWild. It's gigantic now compared to the park in this photo. Kamikaze was the big new slide of the time. Well, honestly, theres not much in the way of slides to speak of at the park back then! They did have GoKarts, though.

I mean, look at the park now!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dorney Park Fun Facts #4

Back in the day Dorney had Dorney Park Dollars, not the general Cedar Fair ones used for the past several years. I do not remember what year these were started. This one is from the year 2000. Anyone know?

Remember this advertising for Dominator in 1999? It was totally from Knott's Berry Farm when they opened Supreme Scream. It was cute though. I remember after Cedar Fair acquired Knott's they used some other advertising from the park. Like I remember drawings like this of people on water slides and such. I wonder if patterns like this will start to show up again now that they've got the Paramount Parks?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Walt Disney World 1979

My family took a trip to good old Orlando to see the sights in the summer of 1979. During some cleaning a while ago I became the lucky recipient of all the brochures and such from that trip. I thought I'd share. I only have two things now, but there's more (darn the busy holiday season).

Here she is, a map of the entire resort from the summer of '79. I left the image really big so detail can be seen. Where are all the other theme parks, resorts, water parks, shopping districts, night life areas, and hotels?! It's strange to see the resort with only ONE theme park. There's some promotional materials for EPCOT, but it's obviously not even on the map yet as it didn't open until October of 1982.

Here's the map of the Magic Kingdom. It's it pretty? Ehhh, well it's interesting at least! Quite different from the beautiful maps they have these days. Look at all the classics that are on there: "If You Had Wings", Circle Vision 360, Mission to Mars, the Skyway - and that's only Tomorrowland! The lovely 20,000 Leagues is still around, along with Mickey Mouse Revue (isn't that still playing in Tokyo?), and notice that the Tiki Room was called "Tropical Serenade." I never knew that.

This was also still the time of Tickets for attractions. I find it very interesting to see what was what, if you will:

E Tickets:
Jungle Cruise
Pirates of the Caribbean
Country Bear Jamboree
Hall of Presidents
Haunted Mansion
It's a Small World
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Space Mountain

D Tickets:
Tropical Serenade
Tom Sawyer Island
Liberty Square Riverboats
Mickey Mouse Review
Mission to Mars
WEDway PeopleMover

The rest are the smaller attractions. Some of these make sense to me as the big ticket attractions (Pirates, Mansion, etc), but some don't. Why was StarJets a D ticket? Capacity, popularity? Hmm. And you can imagine trying to pull off the Hall of Presidents as an E ticket today? I don't mean technologically speaking, just as far as subject matter. Oh my, how times have changed.

More soon!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Steel Force Construction Diary #3

Merry Christmas!!!

Where were we?

Oh yeah, they were building Steel Force ten years ago. Let's continue!

March, 1997. The supports for the 2nd hill are now complete. Work on the parking lot continues are dirt is pushed neatly into piles. Also take notice of all the houses that were still standing along the entrance road to the park. They all bit the dust during this off season.

Also March, 1997. The supports for the lift hill and drop are almost complete. I just noticed that you can see the Sky Ride in these photos! Aww, remember the Sky Ride? Good times.

Poof! I just finished the lift hill supports! This was like 2 days after the above photos. I know it's not a big deal, but it was when we all first got the full idea of how tall this ride was.

And here we are, March 12th, 1997 - the coaster has now topped out. Not sure if you can see it in the large version of the photo, but yes, the American flag is perched up there at the top. Yes, god bless the U.S.A.

Next time we've got lots of track placement and other goodies!

Dorney 2008

I've haven't seen the Morning Call be this interested in what Dorney is up to in years. Back in the day they would have articles about most everything the park was up to, in the past five years they've covered almost nothing.

I remember that even the Hydra announcement got a weird article in the business section. When Talon and Steel force were announced/being built, both rides had double full page graphics and photos, it was awesome.

Anyway, the paper seems to have taken an interest once more, as they have published a rather large article about the possibility of the park adding a wooden coaster in 2008.

It's a nice read, not really full of any information or facts we didn't already know, but still. Maybe they'll continue to follow this story through the rest of '07.

Also, please note, the link above for the article probably will only last so long, after that, tough cookies!

Friday, December 22, 2006

I miss...

Alien Encouter.

I was in the Stitch atrocity in October. It was sad. Very sad.

MGM Grand Ride Pictures

Just a quick find: R&R Creative Design (the company that did the theming and such for Grand Canyon Rapids, Deep Earth Exploration, and the Backlot River Tour) is still going strong and has a website. I actually thought that the company might have gone under, as I hadn't heard of them in a while.

The Themed Entertainment Association still has a member list and I found them on there. And I'm glad I did.

So R&R Creative has a few photos and a video of the rides they did for MGM Grand Adventures. Since I'm not into stealing photos, I'm going to just give links.

This page has a video montage of many of the rides the company designed. They have on there some AWESOME footage of both Grand Canyon Rapids, and the Backlot River Tour! They even have footage of the swamp monsters, inside the Temple, and of the helicopter that was in BRT. Also, I'm not sure but I believe that the image on the left is the loading area of Deep Earth Exploration.

Here's a photo sampler (too small, but still) dedicated just to Grand Canyon Rapids.

A few years back when I first started obsessing over this park R&R Creative had a different web page that had more concept art for these rides, but sadly I cannot locate them on their current site.

Edit: I found this before but kept forgetting to share it - it's some great info on Deep Earth Exploration, which really was the first simulator-on-wheels ride!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dorney Park Fun Facts #3

Hard to believe that this coming season marks the 4th year without old bumpy, aka, Hercules. Here's the original art for the ride (quite a find if I do say so myself), and an original press blurb from 1989.

"HERCULES - The record-breaking tallest wooden roller coaster in the world highlights 1989 at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom. Constructed of pressure-treated southern pine, the 157-foot hight wonder will excite and surprise even the most experienced coaster enthusiast. Banked curves of 55 degrees and a high speed cruise over a lake at more than 65 m.p.h. are sure to make everyone remember the great HERCULES adventure. Look for opening day in early May."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jazzland Memories

To honor what I believe is the first of the (many to come) nails in the coffin of Six Flags New Orleans - which is the taking apart of Batman the Ride - here's some stuff of mine that I found. It's from 2001, the second year the park was open. Obviously, since it was still Jazzland, this is before Six Flags came in and attempted to keep the park from failing (which it was, at that point).

Here's the brochure:
That's the cover... see the park is Thrill Tested and Family Proven (in a year?!)

Here's where the fun starts: First, they list a Chute-the-Chutes as a "high velocity water craft launch." WHAT does that even mean? Moving on, apparently when kids meet a person in a raccoon suit, it rates a 9.5 on the thrill factor, and even involves the material "soft fur." And to finish with a bang, the prototype for the "dizzy lizzy" came from Roswell, NM! Ahem.

And here's the inside of the thing. Instead of making jokes at the former park's expense... click on it for a really big version and read these gems for yourself!

And last, but not least, here's the map of the park. I like this especially because it's the park as built - not as attacked by Six Flags (my opinion, of course). Hope you enjoyed!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another MGM Grand Adventures Post

Just a quick update for reference - the company that is trying to sell some of the bigger rides from the park is Ital International. Here's links to the pages for the individual rides:

Over the Edge - Log Flume

Grand Canyon Rapids - River Rapids Ride

Sky Screamer - SkyCoaster


Lightning Bolt - Roller Coaster

All 4 pages have pictures of the rides that show them in their original location at MGM Grand Adventures!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Dorney Park 2007 Season Update #2

There's still not a lot going on at the park, but I snapped some new photos because I wanted to provide some more factual information along with the images. These photos are from 12.17.06.

I noticed this small crane by Steel Force's station today. They're probably removing the last of the trains for winter maintenance or something along those lines.

Here's another general view of the area that is to become parking. Notice that the last house that was down here is still standing. I'd like to note that at the planning commission meeting for these improvements the park stated that they are "considering" a second entrance to the park down here.

Here is a snap of the field that is beyond the overflow lot and the house in the photo above. (use Steel Force's lift beyond the trees as reference) The only reason I took a pic of this is because earlier in the season there was an orange flag marker located here. This area is used for parking on really busy days, only a couple times a year.

One other random view of the area. Some of these are being included in large part to have reference photos for after the area is changed. I wish (as they had first planned like 10 years ago) that Lincoln Ave. would be changed into park entrance ONLY. Then, the little road that runs along the overflow lot (it currently runs up toward Hamilton then stops) would be reopened and used to bypass the parking area. Here's what I mean:
As you can see, Lincoln Ave. could be used to feed the park - and the park ONLY. If they used that old road they would allow traffic to pass through to Ashley Development's new office and the old folk's home and everything else back there. Sadly, as of now there are "no concrete plans for the realignment of the Dorney Park/Lincoln Ave. intersection." This info is also from a recent planning commission meeting.

Well anyway, that's all for this week. I hope they start to do some work soon!

Steel Force Construction Diary #2

Where were we? Oh yes, we were following the construction of Steel Force to honor the ride's 10th anniversary this year.

Some time has passed since the last photo in the previous update. Now we are at the end of January, 1997. As you can see, Steel has started to rise. A bunch of the lift supports had gone up at this point. Also worth mentioning, you can see that the parking lot was still not paved and only in the process of receiving lighting during this off season.

Here we are at the start of February, 1997. No super huge changes here, but they have started to build the supports for the drop. Also, take note of the big Thunderhawk sign that is on the ride's lift. I always though that sign was neat, I wonder why they removed it?

The week after, they had started the supports for the 2nd hill. Winter was in full force at this point, which is made clear by the snow on the ground.

At the end of February, 1997 work on the turnaround portion of the ride was in full swing. While land clearing had taken place earlier, it wasn't until around this time that footers started to be poured on the hill for the turnaround. It's pretty strange to see this view with Steel Force's large helix missing, and also Hercules still standing. Say hi to the ghost of Hercules!

That's all for now, I promise the next batch of pictures is where things start to get more interesting!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cedar Fair Yard Sale

Hypersonic XLC is for sale.

I have a feeling this is only the start of a larger Cedar Fair yard sale of sorts with the Paramount Parks.

I just planned a trip to Kings Dominion for the spring. Wonder if it'll still be open?

Interesting times are ahead kids!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Son of Beast Under the Knife

Kings Island finally revealed today that the rumors were true, they are removing the loop from Son of Beast.

Why is this happening? Well, simply put: Cedar Fair. And no, this isn't a Cedar Fair Ruins All Wood Coasters rant - in this case I actually think CF made a good decision.

I've never been on the ride but the general consensus was that it was rough - too rough. The park plans to use "lighter" trains (PTCs?) which will make the ride bearable. The trains that Premier Rides created were probably a mistake from the start, but necessary because of this loop.

The reason I think Cedar Fair made a good decision was because let's be honest: they hate big wooden coasters. Mean Streak has been a $ pit for maintenance since it opened, and Hercules took them to the point of deciding to tear it down.

The way I look at it, they could be using GCII (rumored) to fix the ride and get some new trains, or it could be torn down. In this case, I'm glad they kept the thing standing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Heard On... Six Flags 2007 Conference Call

Six Flags had a conference call this morning to talk about their plans for 2007, and while it wasn't a full capital expenditure breakdown it did have some interesting info. Here's some tidbits I heard that were interesting:

• Thomas the Tank Engine themed areas. They plan to open 3 next year, where to be announced later. They are building a railroad in the land, along with other rides. The queue for the railroad will have TVs that play tapes of the shows and take place in the train station. They also have plans for live characters to be in the parks from the show. Six Flags has exclusivity for these themed areas for 300 miles of the park they are built in.
• The Wiggles. They already announced this for Great Adventure, with two more coming in '07. They seem to be REALLY excited at the merchandise opportunities that come with this. They spoke of having personalized merch. available, and also having TV's in the land showing tapes of the shows. The areas will be cross promoted at Wiggles concerts, and the lands will have a stage show with "Dorothy and Friends."
• Tony Hawk rides: Two next year, more on the horizon in later years. Also going to have heavy merch. being pushed and videos of Tony Hawk stuff in the queue.
(Sensing a theme here?)
• Cold Stone Creamery. Eight will open next year, 7 will have premixed ice cream, Six Flags New England will feature the cold stone mixing of the product as a prototype. Six Flags Coaster Crunch will be featured as a signature flavor.
• Holiday in the Park: To be added to Marine World and Fiesta Texas for Christmas 2007, not in like a week as being reported on other sites.
• Panda Express food locations will double from 6 to 12 for 2007.
• Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom will have the park's largest expansion ever, focused on the waterpark. They said the name will change to Splashwater Kingdom, and it will have a ride unique to North America. Interesting name choice, as that is the name of the water park at Great Escape which is hardly a model park.
• Great Adventure is working on the Safari. Shapiro said he believes it's one of the most under utilized assets that Six Flags Inc. has. He also stated - get ready for this - that he thinks it is better than Animal Kingdom's Safari. WHAT!? Regardless, they are making some places to see animal shows and pet them and such. The biggest news to this is that it will no longer be given away with admission, but be extra charge once again. We'll see how this one turns out. Seriously.
• Last year to date they had sold 52,000 season passes, this year they are at 109,000. This is really rather promising. Group sales are also up 27%.
• The 9 parks for sale will continue to operate as amusement/theme parks regardless of who ends up owning them. They also stressed a couple times that originally they wanted to sell the group together, and that now they are looking at selling them separate, in groups, or however they feel like it. This tells me that perhaps only some of the parks will be sold and some will be kept. (probably cause no one wanted some of them)
• Attendance in 2006 was down 14% to 28 million.

Call me crazy, but which looks nicer to you?

Great Adventures Safari:
^ Photo from Coaster Net.

Or Animal Kingdom's?
You be the judge.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Steel Force Construction Diary #1

Steel Force celebrates it's 10th Birthday this year, (11th season, though) which is a nice milestone for the ride. When Steel Force at Dorney Park was being built I was a total spaz about new rides and took a lot, really a ton, of pictures of it being built. I figured that it would be interesting to share a much condensed version of this 'photo diary.' That said, there's only one place to start, and that's the beginning.

At the end of the 1996 season, this sign was put out in the park. It was located (obviously) in front of the Carousel at the main entrance. I know the detail of the stats doesn't come through clear enough, but the layout does. I like the slogan "A Coaster To Metal With!!" - I know they used it some in the first year but it seemed to trail off after that.
This view is from August, 1996. As you can see they started to demolish the picnic groves that used to sit along the lake here. You can also see the lake that was here, now where Revolution and some overflow parking now stands. The tires are in the water because the Swan Boats had a season here before being moved over to the other side of the park. The area that eventually became Steel Force's station was some employee parking.
This view is from October, 1996. You can see that not much more demolition took place, however, you see that white stuff sitting behind the trees, next to the lake? Yes, that's track! The first track arrived at the park in October, and was not painted its final color. There's a fun fact for ya!

You like? let me dig out some more photos!

More Grand Adventures

EBay sure is fun! I found this guide map from MGM Grand Adventures that was from June of 1994 and it was a steal. This is shortly after the park opened, so it had not been butchered at all at this point. Here's the map:
The map has some nice detail on it, certainly when compared to the map I posted earlier. Here you can see Lightning Bolt still indoors, some details of the theming that was on the Backlot River Tour, and the Haunted Mine. Deep Earth Exploration was still listed as a coming attraction at this point.
The above is the Rides section of the guide map. I know it isn't the most exciting of things, but it's neat to see the original logos of these things as well as the small backstory / info that is provided for each. I also love how Lightning Bolt provides you a trip "through Las Vegas at Night" - apparently this was a small blacklight model of the strip that was along the brake run!

One more little gem: here's a post card that shows some of the concept art of the park that was used. There's lot of interesting detail in here, I'll let it speak for itself.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Dorney Park 2007 Season Update #1

I'd like to cover the changes that Dorney Park has planned for the 2007 by providing some pictures and my take on what they contain. Being local to the park helps greatly with this. Let's kick things off with a batch of photos, they are all from 12.06.06.

Thus far the highlights of the 2007 season have been rumored to be a new addition to Wildwater Kingdom, and some rather large changes to the parking lot and parking lot entrance areas.

First, Screamscape is reporting a rumor that Laser will see some work this off-season. I'd love that to be true, and if it is they certainly haven't started yet. I can't see any discernible changes on the ride. It's early though, we shall see.
This parking toll booth can be found in the corner of the overflow lot. It appears to be one of the old ones, but the five located in the main lot are still standing. Regardless, I'm curious to see where this ends up. I doubt it is for the overflow lot specifically, as traffic flows through the main lot and their toll booths and then into the overflow lot via the tunnel. Again, time will tell at this point.

This is a view of the area that has a good possibility of turning into additional parking next year. I don't know this for sure, but from what I've heard they want to use a lot of the area down here as more formal parking. I do not believe that they intend to pave the area, just use one of those small stone treatments to get the job done. Regardless, no work yet.
The entrance road. This is supposed to be widened and the parking toll booths are supposed to be moved onto it. Yes, that means they are cutting into the park to accomplish this. Also looks like they haven't started yet.
Lastly, let's look over at Wildwater Kingdom. Notice something missing? It may be no secret at this point, but the Torpedo Tubes are gone. This is the area (not exactly in the Torpedo Tubes footprint though) that the new attraction will be placed.

That's all for now!

Geauga Lake Before and After

I wanted to have some more thoughts or news or maybe even notes up on Geauga Lake by now, but it's a large topic to start to cover. In the meantime, I noticed that Windows Live Local has both old and new photos of Geauga Lake up. I love how you can get a great comparison of the old Sea World park that is now a water park.
Here we have the old. You can see the Water Ski stadium, which is a good point of comparison as it is still standing. I really like how they used the Dolphin pool and made it a part of the lazy river/activity area. Sometimes water parks are too generic and bits like that made the park unique.
And here we have the new. You can get a good idea here of how many buildings they cleared out when building the water park. The wave pool is not featured in these pictures, but is located to the bottom right of this view. The coolest thing about this water park is the vast room they have to expand, if necessary.

I'm updating this post because I realized I had pics of the wave pool and old stadiums part of the park. Above you can see the park currently, this was taken winter of '05-'06 as the wave pool is under construction. The wave pool sits almost exactly where the Sea Otter Stadium was, and the Shamu stadium is now a pile of dirt on the hillside. The other park buildings over in this corner are still standing.

Okay here's the old version. You can see the stadium that is now a wave pool, and Shamu's stadium still standing. Also a lot more trees and building are still standing. It's not the exact same view as above but is pretty much as good could I could grab.