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Monday, August 30, 2010

Wonder Wheel's 90th Birthday, Saturday Sept 4th!

WITH Live music, great performance, & prizes!
September 4, 2010

In the heart of Coney Island, standing 150 ft high is the centerpiece of the renaissance of this world-famous playground area, Deno's WONDER WHEEL Amusement Park.

Join us for a grand celebration of Deno’s Wonder Wheel’s 90th Birthday on September 4thin Coney Island .  Live entertainment on the Boardwalk and at The Wonder Wheel from 4-8pm.

Hosted By The World Famous *BOB*

Featuring Live music by The Hungry March Band, The Banjo Rascals & Curtis Eller

with performances by Coney Island Talent Show winners; Phineas, Jason Perez, The Minsky Sisters, M’Lady Uppercrust, & The Amazing Amy

Also renowned performers; The Wau Wau Sisters, Miss Saturn, The Maine Attraction, Darlinda Just Darlinda, Ambrose, The Animal Crackers & Lady Circus

Plus Clowns, Face painters, stilt walkers and more!

All those who ride the amazing NYC Landmark Deno's Wonder Wheel will receive a FREE Wonder Wheel 90th Anniversary collectible button!

An instantly recognizable part of the skyline, Deno's WONDER WHEEL weighs in at 400,000 pounds and carries 144 people at a time on either swinging and stationery passenger gondola cars deliver a spectacular view of the beach, Boardwalk and NYC skyline.   Over 30 million riders have enjoyed a trip on this NYC Landmark attraction during its continuous operation since 1920 with a perfect safety record.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park
Boardwalk at W. 12th St  (718 372 2592)

Worlds of Fun Lowers Prices on 2011 Season Passes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. − Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo, the region’s premier entertainment destination, kicks off 2011 Season Pass sales with lower prices during Labor Day weekend.  Guests planning ahead and purchasing during this 3-day sale will receive the lowest possible price on 2011 Season Passes.

Through Monday, September 6, 2010, a 2011 Gold Pass, including admission to both Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, plus free parking and a huge list of benefits all season long, is just $79.99 plus tax, $30 less than the regular rate. Not only do guests ride, slide, and park for free all summer long, the Gold Pass also includes admission to the region’s largest Halloween event, Halloween Haunt in the fall of 2011.  Plus, new for 2011, Season Pass holders will be among the first to experience Planet Snoopy, a $5 million expansion boasting six new rides and a complete renovation of the park’s current kids area.

For even more value, the Platinum Pass includes admission and parking at all Cedar Fair amusement parks and waterparks, all for only $145 plus tax.  Worlds of Fun only, Oceans of Fun only, and Junior/Senior rates are also available. Prices are valid Saturday, September 4, through Monday, September 6, 2010.

Guests wishing to purchase 2011 Season Passes at the lowest price this weekend may choose from a variety of ordering options.  Purchase in person at the park all Labor Day Weekend, online at, or by phone at 816.454.4655.

“The Labor Day Weekend sale gives families an opportunity to purchase 2011 passes at an amazing price,” states Frank Wilburn, Vice President and General Manager at Worlds of Fun. “When compared to other season pass programs in the area, we feel like we offer an unbeatable value for families."

Upcoming Special Events at Wabash County Historical Museum

Get Out Your Calendar!  GREAT Series Events on the Horizon!

History Hunters Event:  Thursday, September 23 at noon.  Speaker to be determined.  This is a great series that allows you to come to the museum on your lunch break,  bring your brown bag lunch, and learn about an historical topic while you eat!  Please call to reserve your spot.

Red Carpet Club:  Thursday, October 28 at 6 pm.  To get in the Halloween mood, we’ll be watching “Psycho II”, another film that John Corso worked on.  John will tell us all his interesting stories about this movie.

SPECIAL EVENT!!!!  Hannah’s Town:  Wednesday, November 3 at 7 pm.  Dr. Bill Wimberly will speak about his eagerly awaited book, Hannah’s Town:  A Little World We Have Lost.  This book, arriving in late October, is a social history of Wabash from 1826 to 1902.  After Bill’s speech, he will sign books.  I KNOW WHAT EVERYONE ON MY CHRISTMAS LIST IS GETTING!  (For those of you who live out of town, we can mail copies to you!)

History Hunters Event:  Thursday, November 18 at noon.   Our speaker will be Joe Krom, author of the historical novel, Heart of a Warrior:  The True Saga of Sweet Breeze and William Wells.  His topic will be “Frontier Battles on the Eel and Wabash Rivers .”

Red Carpet Club:  Thursday, December 23 at 6 pm.   Such a busy time of year, I know, but save this date for a special treat!  We’ll be watching “A Christmas Story”!  Indiana connection?  It is set in Hammond !

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tickets Now on Sale for 'Halloween Horror Nights' at Universal Studios Hollywood Where the Legends of Horror Come to Life for 17 Nights Beginning September 24

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., Aug 27, 2010  -- With five new maze experiences, new "Scare Zones," a new "Terror Tram" backlot experience and the addition of the blockbuster new attraction, "King Kong 360 3D" Created by Peter Jackson - the world's largest, most intense 3D experience - Universal Studios Hollywood(SM) is preparing to bring the legends of movie horror to life for Halloween Horror Nights(R), Southern California's most terrifying and exciting Halloween event. Tickets are now on sale at including a new "Killer Deal Nights" option, providing discounts of up to $25 for selected dates. Advance purchase is recommended as event nights will sell out.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood begins Friday, September 24 and continues on weekends and other select nights through Sunday, October 31.

Halloween Horror Nights mazes will include the all-new "A Nightmare On Elm Street(TM): Never Sleep Again," "Friday the 13th(TM): Kill, Jason, Kill!," "Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses in 3D Zombievison," "Vampyre: Castle of the Undead" plus "Saw: Game On." Among the six "Scare Zones" is a new "La Llorona" experience, based upon the timeless Mexican legend.

"Chucky's Revenge" - an all-new "Terror Tram" experience -- plus an express visit to the new blockbuster attraction, "King Kong 360 3D" Created by Peter Jackson and an all-new "Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" show will also be featured within the event.

Universal Studios Hollywood's favorite thrill-ride attractions will also remain open for "Halloween Horror Nights" nocturnal affair, many with menacing twists. Favorites include "The Simpsons Ride(TM)," "Revenge of the Mummy(SM) - The Ride" and "Jurassic Park(R) In the Dark."

Updates on "Halloween Horror Nights" will be available at and also on Twitter and Facebook, as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information. Fans are invited to follow John Murdy on Twitter at: or via Facebook at: "Halloween Horror Nights - Hollywood (Official)."

Halloween Horror Nights will continue on consecutive weekends and selected weekday nights beginning Friday, September 24 through Halloween, Sunday, October 31. Event dates are: September 24, 25 and October 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16,17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31. The event will begin nightly at 7 p.m.; closing hours vary by night throughout the event.

Encore Presentation of CBS Hit Show UNDERCOVER BOSS featuring Herschend Family Entertainment’s President and Chief Executive Officer

REBROADCAST DATE:  Sunday, August 29,
9 p.m. EST / 8 p.m. CST on CBS

Valdosta, GA - Joel Manby, president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), which owns and operates Wild Adventures, is featured this Sunday, August 29 on the rebroadcasting of the episode from the CBS hit show UNDERCOVER BOSS.  This episode was the highest rated episode of the season, after the premiere episode which aired after the Super Bowl.

The first season of UNDERCOVER BOSS garnered the most watched reality series premiere of all time, finished as the #1 new show of last season and recently earned an Emmy nomination.

UNDERCOVER BOSS was the number one new series of the 2009-2010 season, averaging 17.7 million viewers.  The series premiered following the Super Bowl to 38.7 million viewers, the largest audience for a new series following the Super Bowl.  The episode with Joel Manby was the highest rated episode, behind the premiere.

“UNDERCOVER BOSS gave us the chance to see if we were delivering on what we feel makes HFE different – our people, our ‘Servant Leadership’ philosophy, and ‘Core Values.’  Additionally, we knew that our employees’ dedication and passion to our company’s mission to ‘Create Memories Worth Repeating’ would be evident,” said Manby.  “We’re proud nearly 50 percent of our full-time employees have worked for HFE for more than a decade.  We were eager to discover what we could or should do differently to continue to make HFE a great place to work for great people.’”

HFE develops and operates entertainment, tourism and hospitality properties that currently span 24 locations in nine states and is widely recognized as the premier privately held theme park operator in the U.S.  The 50-year-old company is committed to creating wholesome, immersive family entertainment experiences.  Of the jobs Manby worked, these properties are featured on the show: Silver Dollar City and Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Missouri; Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey; and Ride The Ducks at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Georgia.

HFE was founded and is still privately owned by the Herschend family.  Brothers Jack and Pete Herschend are co-founders of the company. In 2004, the brothers were inducted into the Hall of Fame of the amusement industry’s largest organization worldwide, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), for their strategic vision and leadership in the theme park industry.  Over the years, HFE's many properties have been internationally lauded numerous times for excellence in theme, presentation and operations.

HFE owns, operates or partners in 24 properties in nine states.  HFE's original park is Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City theme park.  In Branson, the company also owns and operates Showboat Branson Belle lake attraction, White Water water park and The Wilderness at Silver Dollar City campground. HFE is an operating partner with Dolly Parton in the Dollywood Company, which owns the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park, both in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Dollywood Company is also the largest shareholder in the Dixie Stampede dinner attractions located in Branson, Pigeon Forge and Myrtle Beach. In Georgia, HFE operates Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park in conjunction with the State of Georgia, and owns Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta. HFE also owns Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey and the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, as well as Ride The Ducks amphibious tours in Branson, Philadelphia and San Francisco. Ride The Ducks also operates at Newport Aquarium and Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


For 19 Years, Something Has Been In Control –
And This Year, We Learn What It Is

All New Experiences Mark the 20th Year of the Nation’s
Best, Most Intense, Halloween Event 

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 26, 2010) – There is more to paralyzing fear than a scream in the darkness or a cool breath on the back of the neck.  Or the grip of the undead.

Fear that truly consumes us comes from deep inside our souls, stirred by something we don’t always understand and rarely have the chance to confront.  Until now.

Halloween Horror Nights XX is about Fear himself.  He is the Master of everything Halloween Horror Nights has ever been and will become.  His weapons:  Chaos, Death, Sacrifice, Mythos, Vengeance.  His pawns:  a clown, a storyteller, a caretaker, a director, an usher…and you.

For 24 nights beginning September 24 and running through October 31, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort will reveal Fear as he has never been seen or experienced before.  Fear and what he has created have horrified people for 19 years.  And this year, he will be more real than ever.      

“Everything we have done for the past 19 years, everything we have learned, leads to this moment,” said Jim Timon, senior vice president of entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort.  “This year’s Halloween Horror Nights is not about the past.  It is about the future.”

Halloween Horror Nights XX is not an anniversary event.  There may be glimpses of the familiar, but those glimpses may not look the same as guests remember.  And the familiar will quickly give way to the new.

This year, Halloween Horror Nights will feature eight all-new haunted houses, new scarezones and live shows.  And everything Fear touches will never be the same.

For a detailed listing of each haunted house, scarezone and show featured at this year’s event, see below.

Halloween Horror Nights runs September 24-25, September 30-October 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 20-24 and 27-31.  Advance tickets are now on sale for $74.99 plus tax.  For tickets and event information, visit Due to the event’s popularity, tickets for weekend nights are expected to sell out and should be purchased well in advance.

Daily updates and exclusive details on Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights are also available on the event’s official Facebook fan page: or search on Facebook for “Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights – Orlando OFFICIAL.”


Horror Nights: The Hallow’d Past – Halloween Horror Nights.  The name brings with it millions of tales, each filled with thousands of screams.  Now, you have the opportunity to travel into a realm where Horror Nights isn’t just an event, but a reality.

 The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes – Ashes to ashes, forever now dust.  For years she has existed in the shadows, never getting her due.  Misunderstood by all around her, she has had enough of her playthings at the Good Harvest Orphanage - now is the time for vengeance.  This burned out shell contains the souls of the forgotten and the lost who all scream one name: Cindy.

Hades: The Gates of Ruin – Hades bids you welcome.  Make your way into the Underworld, and come face to face with the most terrifying creatures of legend as you cross through the Gates of Ruin.

Psychoscarepy: Echoes of Shadybrook – The truth, as they say, is far stranger than fiction, and in this instance they happen to be correct.  Although Shadybrook’s doors have indeed been closed for the last 15 years, the place is still very much alive with all of the criminally insane souls that have ever walked its halls.

Havoc: Dogs of War – Ten years ago, the Shadowcreek Enterprise was tasked with developing an elite corp of soldiers.  They succeeded. Through an inhalant that includes a compound of testosterone, adrenaline, and other anesthetics, Shadow Creek’s latest run of volunteer test subjects are ready for inspection.  The project name: HAVOC. The subjects are known simply as the Dogs of War.

Catacombs: Black Death Rising – During a plague of Paris and Marseilles in 1534, thousands died due to an undisclosed viral outbreak.  A group of doctors took it upon themselves to quarantine the most infected citizens of the city.  They had no way of knowing that the townspeople would betray them, sealing them into their doom.  They have been unable to escape for almost five hundred years.  Now that the dead inside have found a way out, they are rising to take their centuries old vengeance on any living being that dares to enter the Catacombs.

Zombiegeddon – The United States government has re-taken the continental United States, and is actively engaged in clearing the remaining infested pockets of Canada.  The government also licenses and sanctions private companies to capture “un-live” subjects and use them as practical targets during these training sessions.  Dozens of independent training consultant “companies” spring up, promising the best training that money can buy...and then there’s ZAP...The Zombie Awareness Program.

Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate – The Spirit Seekers have come up with a machine that actually gathers spirits toward it.  The group has decided to do a live broadcast from inside one of the most reportedly “haunted” sites in the entire United States, The Wyandot Estate, built in the 1920’s in Carey, Ohio by the entrepreneur Malcolm Wyandot and his wife Lydia.  The house has been rumored to be haunted since Malcolm brutally killed 13 dinner guests and his wife Lydia before committing suicide on October 30, 1929.  The team is about to get more than they bargained for as the murdered hear their call and answer with terrible violence.


HHN: 20 Years of Fear – Step into the shadows of the last Twenty Years of Fear.  Move toward the lantern, and encounter the most frightening characters of Halloween Horror Nights past.

Fear Revealed – The souls of Chaos, Death, Sacrifice, Mythos and Vengeance — He created them and gave them terror.  Each with a part to play, they fulfilled their tasks.  Their malice provided him bone, their rage gave him blood, and their terror fulfilled his soul.  What has been 19 cycles for some have been eons for him.  He’s waited patiently for the final piece, and now on the 20th cycle… HE IS REVEALED.

Zombie Gras – This Mardi Gras parade has gone severely off course.  Infected by the North American zombie infestation, the undead walk among us, searching for their next meal...

Esqueleto Muerte – Revel in the seductive taunts of Death as you wind through a glowing skeletal nightmare.

Saws ‘n Steam – Enormous trenches in the earth’s crust have opened below its vast oceans, exposing them to intense heat.  Steam power is essential to the inhabitants of New Yorkshire, but diminishing oceans have put the city in jeopardy, forcing the citizens to evil lengths.  Beware upon entering the city, as the water in your body is now a coveted resource.  And the citizens will stop at nothing to get it.

The Coven – The Cult of the Raven has unsettled spirits, and its Sirens are screaming throughout the witches’ realm.  As you creep past their obelisk, beware their spells.  For those who don’t believe will be condemned to death.


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure – Party on as those two most excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture.

Brian Brushwood: Menace and Malice – Experience two realms of bizarre magic by one of the country’s most outrageous illusionists.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights XX Will Be Revealed Thursday, August 26


TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 25, 2010) -- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay presents Survivor live in concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5, in Gwazi Park.

Survivor is best known for ‘80s hits including the Rocky theme, “Eye of the Tiger,” as well as “High on You” and “The Search is Over.”

In addition to the live music, guests can also enjoy all of Busch Gardens’ thrilling attractions, rides and shows. New this year is Walkabout Way, an interactive animal experience where ages 5 and older can hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. And SheiKra takes brave thrill-seekers 200 feet up and 90 degrees straight down.

The July 5 Survivor concert is included in any single-day admission or annual pass. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Event times and talent subject to change or cancellation without notice. Seating capacity is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact Busch Gardens Public Relations, (813) 987-5090 or


University of California, San Diego Zoo, State and Federal Agencies Celebrate
Historic Moment for the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog

Scientists and researchers released 36 endangered tadpoles into a stream near Idyllwild, Calif. today (Aug. 24, 2010) with hopes that the Southern California population of the mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa) has a chance of thriving in the wild again.

The tadpoles were bred at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and carefully transported to the University of California James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve in Riverside County, which is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. There the tadpoles were gently released into a quiet stream where researchers can monitor them regularly. This release of tadpoles follows a release of mountain yellow-legged frog eggs in the same area four months ago.

The release was done in collaboration with partners including the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Department of Transportation and the San Diego Zoo.

“This is a very exciting day for everyone involved in this important effort to save this frog,” said Becca Fenwick, director of the James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve. “We are proud to be part of the effort to save this species that once thrived throughout Southern California.

“We will be monitoring carefully in hopes these tadpoles will be the beginning of the species’ resurgence.”

Globally, amphibians are on the decline because of habitat loss, effects of climate change, pesticide drift, introduction of nonnative species in the past, and the spread of a deadly pathogen called the chytrid fungus. The mountain yellow-legged frog is one of three frogs or toads on the federal Endangered Species List in Southern California and has recently been proposed for listing under the California Endangered Species Act. Today, only a small wild population of less than 200 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs can be found in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto mountains.

The same team of researchers who released the tadpoles into the creek today, released about 500 mountain yellow-legged frog eggs into the creek in April. The eggs also were the result of breeding at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Scientists believe about 40 of those eggs morphed into 5-millimeter-long tadpoles.  The tadpoles from that first release are so small that it has been difficult for scientists to determine how many survived. The tadpoles released today were about 40 to 50 millimeters long (1½ to 2 inches), which gives them a better chance of survival.

“This is the first time we have reintroduced captive-bred offspring of this species into the wild,” said Adam Backlin, a USGS scientist. “This tadpole release will refine our methodology for future releases and help us find the most effective and successful strategy.”

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research was the first to breed the mountain yellow-legged frog outside of its native habitat.  Historically, scientists have had great difficulty breeding frogs in the lab. This year, Zoo scientists discovered that the frogs’ breeding behaviors increased in the lab after the frogs were chilled to temperatures that resembled their high mountain stream environment.  Scientists hope the second year of breeding will result in a higher fertility rate.

“Reproduction in the lab and the subsequent release is a small first step, but it is a great one,” said Jeff Lemm, an animal research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo. “We hope to have many more tadpoles to release in years to come and look forward to helping in the recovery of this frog.”

The Zoo’s breeding program, in conjunction with its partners, began after a wildlife biologist with the San Bernardino National Forest noticed declining creek water levels in Dark Canyon in Riverside County in 2006. The Fish and Wildlife Service salvage effort started the next day. Recovered tadpoles were taken to the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, where they metamorphosed into frogs.

Labor Day Weekend Events at Wild Adventures Give Back to Community

FREE Admission with Canned Food Item to Benefit Local Food Bank

Valdosta, GA –Wild Adventures Theme Park presents Red, White, and You!, Saturday, Sunday, Monday,  September 4 – 6, to pay tribute to working men and women in the community, particularly those who serve and protect.  As part of the event, guests can donate a canned food item and receive a FREE general admission with the purchase of a regular general admission to help support Second Harvest of South Georgia.  Other weekend events include displays and demonstrations from local agencies Saturday, September 4.

“Red, White, and You! is our way of saluting those who serve in our community and to giving our guests the opportunity to share in that salute and to give back,” said General Manager Bob Montgomery.  “Last year, guests donated approximately four tons of canned food items to stock the shelves of Second Harvest food bank, and we are hoping to double that amount this year.  It’s about neighbors helping neighbors and taking pride in where we live, work, and play.”

Guests to the park during Red, White, and You! can learn about services in the community through displays and demonstrations, Saturday, September 4.  Organizations and businesses participating in the event include:  Air Methods, Hahira Fire Department, Kenny’s Roadside Rescue, Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency, Lowndes County Fire Rescue, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Red Cross, Second Harvest of South Georgia, South Georgia Medical Center, and Valdosta Fire Department.

Guests receive one free general admission when they purchase a full-price general admission and donate at least one canned food item to support Second Harvest of South Georgia.  The offer is available at the park September 4, 5, and 6, admission must be used on the same day of purchase and is valid for the second day FREE.

For more information about Red,White, and You!, guests can visit or call 229-219-7080.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Knott’s Invites You To Soar Over Orange County

New ride will swing riders over 300 feet off the ground

BUENA PARK, Calif. – Next summer Knott’s will invite guests to rise above the crowd as they board WindSeeker.  Rising 300 feet in the air, WindSeeker will take 64 passengers to new heights as it ascends above the theme park and then swings passengers for a ride like no other. 

    WindSeeker will be designed and manufactured by Mondial, a company based in the Netherlands that has been creating thrill rides for the amusement park industry since 1987.  Mondial is known for their innovative and unique rides and maintains the highest standards in regards to quality and safety.

    WindSeeker will feature 32, 2-person gondolas that will ascend to a height of 301 feet.  Once it has reached the top of the tower, WindSeeker will spread it’s metal arms swinging  riders for a 60 second flight at a 45 degree angle at a speed of 8 rotations per minute. 

“Due to the long airtime, riders will experience a spectacular sense of weightlessness.  This, combined with the fact that riders legs will be unrestrained, will create a sense of exhilaration which will enhance the feeling of free flight,” said Knott’s General Manager, Marty Keithley.

    WindSeeker will be located at the current site of Knott’s Sky Cabin. Groundbreaking for WindSeeker is scheduled for fall of 2010 with completion expected by summer 2011.

Fact Sheet
  • Manufacturer:                         Mondial, a Dutch-based ride manufacturer
  • Height:                                    301 Feet
  • Diameter:                                81 Feet
  • Diameter in Full Swing:         110 Feet
  • Capacity:                                 32 suspended twin seats (64 total passengers)
  • Max. Swing Angle of Arm:    Up to 45 degrees
  • Ride Cycle Time:                    3 Minutes
  • Restraint System:                    Individual over-the-head lap bar with interlocking seatbelts.
  • Ascent/Descent:                      50 Seconds
  • Rotation Speed:                       25-30 mph (8 Rotations per minute)
  • Location:                                 Knott’s Boardwalk Area
  • Cost:                                        $5 million
  • Groundbreaking:                     Fall 2010
  • Ride Opening”                        Summer 2011

WindSeeker to debut at Kings Island in 2011

301-foot-tall swing ride to send adventure seekers soaring

KINGS ISLAND, Ohio – If you think riding Drop Tower at Kings Island is a thrill (and it is – riders enjoy a breathtaking view of the region as they ascend toward the sky, then take a 26-story freefall at 64 mph), wait until next year!

Kings Island will continue to change the landscape for thrill seekers in 2011 with WindSeeker, a 301-foot-tall tower that will spin riders 30 stories above the park.  Seated in two-person swings that will allow their feet to dangle, riders will slowly begin rotating in a circular motion as the swings ascend the tower.  At the top, the swings will reach speeds up to 30 mph, flaring out 45 degrees from the tower.  WindSeeker will accommodate 64 riders (32 swings) per ride cycle.

“The addition of WindSeeker reflects our commitment to providing our guests with world-class thrills, fun and fantastic family entertainment,” Kings Island vice-president and general manager Greg Scheid said.  “Soaring 300 feet above Kings Island will provide an exciting ride experience for our guests.”

WindSeeker will be located in the Coney Mall section of the park near the Vortex ride exit. Ride renderings and animation video are available at

The $5 million ride is manufactured by Mondial, a 23-year-old Dutch-based company.  Riders must be at least 48 inches tall to ride and will be secured with individual over-the-head lap bars with interlocking seat belts.

WindSeeker will make its debut when Kings Island opens for the 2011 season in the spring.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Howl-O-Scream 2010 Takes Sweet Revenge on its Most Devoted Fans

Florida’s Top-rated Halloween Event Shares Details
and Rocks Your World at

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2010) – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay officially kicks off it’s 11th season of gut-wrenching scares with MORE haunted houses than ever before, ALL-NEW scare zones, Alone – a revolutionary idea in how guests experience haunted attractions – and live concerts each night of the event by the rock stars of horror – Sylvie and her killer band, My X.

For 18 select nights in September and October, Howl-O-Scream 2010 will rock your world with seductive surprises and scares. The devious creatures that infest more haunted houses than ever before, all-new scare zones, thrilling shows and even the streets themselves will have guests watching their backs, and bone-chilling roller coasters keep the screams coming all night long.

Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticketed event, and general admission is $74.95. Savings are available on advance ticket purchases at participating Publix Supermarkets and at for Passport Members and Florida Residents. Discounts are also available with promotional codes from select Pepsi, Domino’s Pizza, Applebee’s, Smoothie King and Muvico theaters purchases statewide.

The event runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night beginning Sept. 30. Dates include: Sept. 30–Oct. 2, Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30 and Oct. 31. Freaky Preview puts guests in the front row a week early on Sept. 24-25 for discounted rates as low as $29.95 for general admission and $24.95 for Passport members. Operating hours are 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. during Freaky Preview and on Thursday nights and Halloween night. Friday and Saturday hours are 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Howl-O-Scream 2010 has more haunted houses than ever before, designed to amp up your deepest, darkest fears…

          o NEW!  Alone… (A personal experience in horror) – The deranged Master Alexander Daedalus opened Minotaur Storage to house his vast collection of “cultural” remains. But now his sinister obsession with hoarding has expanded to stockpiling people. Escape this lunatic’s labyrinth or you will become part of his collection. Can you make it out ALONE?
            Note: Alone is a unique, all-alone experience through the haunted house. Admission is $24.95 if purchased in advance online or $34.95 if purchased at the park. Howl-O-Scream admission is required, but not included.

          o NEW!  My X: Revenge Rocks – My X is the hottest underground band in town, and its devoted fans are dying to meet Sylvie and her killer group. After sneaking backstage and discovering the disturbing truth behind the cruel lyrics, the quest to “get in with the band” quickly changes to a life-or-death race to get out.

Some of the most demented houses ever are back by popular demand with some horrible new twists. These returning favorites are sure to terrorize first-time visitors and die-hard fans alike:

          o Nightshade Toy Factory: Son of Nightshade – By day, the old Nightshade Toy Factory appears abandoned. But as night falls, the mysterious manufacturing plant is aglow and hums with blood-curdling shrieks. You’ll run for your life when this already-bizarre factory tour turns into the Son of Nightshade and his possessed playthings seeking revenge on his twisted, toymaking father.

          o Delta Epsilon Delta: Extreme Rush (DEDer) – Sisterhood is forever, and the torture and pain of sorority life amp up to a new extreme during Rush Week 2010. ΔΕΔ alumni return to celebrate a new chapter in the house’s dark history, marked by the mysterious chapter’s new My X anthem, “It’s never been better than to be!”

          o Deconstruction: The Doctor Is Out of Control – Dr. Edger VonAngst has the skill and technology to make you over… but what will you become?  This mad reconstructive surgeon has fallen one notch deeper into insanity, putting people back together with mechanical pieces, combining flesh, bone and steel in the most hideous ways.

          o Death Row Vengeance: No Escape – The inmates at Grey Echo Penitentiary are slated for execution, and they blame you. With their last breath, they curse those who do nothing to save them from the electric chair or lethal injection and vow to haunt those who watched them suffer. Will you make it out alive when they come back to make good on their dying promise?

          o Taste of Blood: A Different Vein – Once revered as royalty, hordes of undead vampires have now been forced underground into the subways and sewers to avoid the sunlight. By day, they feed on rats to survive. But as night falls, these fanged fiends take to the streets to seduce fresh blood.

          o Trapped in the Walls: Ghostchasers – The gruesome fate of an innocent family made headlines when their bodies were discovered years ago. Today, you’ll join a paranormal research team as they attempt to reveal the house’s horrible history by investigating the dark demons trapped by the lingering evil that has seeped into the walls.

At Howl-O-Scream, even the sidewalks aren’t safe from the things that go bump in the night. Five ALL NEW scare zones and bands of roaming hordes will keep guests watching their backs as they explore 335 acres of fright:

          o NEW!  Xtreme Fanatics – My X’s most devoted and deranged followers call themselves X-treme FANatics. They unite to share their obsessive dedication in hopes of finding new converts and erect a shrine to their beloved Sylvie and her killer band. They will stop at nothing to prove they are the ultimate fans!

          o NEW!  Road Trip – Free-wheeling college students set out on a road trip to see their favorite band, My X. But when their van breaks down on a deserted road, the stranded students soon discover that the forest surrounding them is filled with half-man, half-beast creatures with a taste for human blood.

          o NEW!  Crazed Love – The bleeding hearts of jilted lovers unite through their stories of heartbreak. From the bride left at the altar to the woman who has been cheated on one too many times, these depressed devotees will go to any length to un-break their hearts and claim revenge. Happy Together doesn’t happen here.

          o NEW!  Spiders and Snakes – A meteor crashed to earth, creating a glowing beacon that lures all things creepy and crawly. Snakes slither and spiders sneak in swarms larger than your nightmares can imagine. Shivers will crawl up and down your spine when you traverse this path infested with some of the most feared creatures on earth.

          o NEW!  Light of Doom –  Try to collect your senses as specters of light and shadow blur the line between this world and the next. Here, you will be challenged to wander through a maze of illumination and fog. Eerie apparitions confound and confuse as they try to trick unsuspecting guests “into the light.”

After braving bone-chilling coasters in the dark such as SheiKra, Montu, Gwazi and Kumba, you can catch your breath at these twisted live shows:

          o NEW!  My X Live – The killer band, My X, will rock all 18 nights of Howl-O-Scream with performances at 10:30 p.m. and midnight every night on the Gwazi Plaza stage.

          o NEW!  Blood Relations – Ready for a bloody good time? In the great hall of Blood Manor, the will of the recently deceased Lady Betty Blood is read for her surviving relatives. This sinister musical is packed with sadistic humor and a family of relatives with more than just skeletons in their closets. Performing nightly at the Desert Grill.

          o Fiends – Is there a doctor in the house?  These captivating creatures of the night will infect you with dance fever and keep your pulse pounding with their deranged dance party. But when Dr. Freakenstein’s naughty nurses start operating, the diagnosis is always “code pink.” Performing nightly at the Stanleyville Theater.

Looking for a killer party or the perfect souvenir to round out your evening of evil?

          o Club X – Grab your entourage and head to the transformed Marrakesh Theater to party like a rock star at Howl-O-Scream’s exclusive 21+ dance club. This adults-only nighttime playground keeps the energy pumping all night long with non-stop music, premium signature cocktails, drink specials and exclusive appearances by Howl-O-Scream's most terrifying stars.

          o Howl-O-Scream Shop of Horrors – Remember your evening of evil with the perfect Howl-O-Scream souvenir, including Sylvie’s signature jewelry, exclusive My X concert tees and other Halloween-themed gifts. Then, smile through the pain and snap the perfect party pic with the ΔΕΔ girls at an exclusive photo op that’s not for the faint of heart.

Take advantage of the best way to see Howl-O-Scream with all-inclusive VIP Packages, which include event admission and a tour guide. Three levels of terrifying special treatment: include Super, Mega and Ultimate. The Super experience is a three-hour group tour of haunted houses that includes front-of-the-line access. The five-hour Mega experience adds reserved show seating, front-of-the-line access to several roller coasters and preferred parking, and the Ultimate experience adds the Fright Feast dinner buffet, meet and greet with the Howl-O-Scream creative team and a $5 games card. All tours include commemorative photos, merchandise discounts and complimentary beverages. Packages start at $79, and Passport Member discounts are available.

For those who prefer to self-guide themselves through the event but want the front-of-the-line perks, there’s the Front Line Fear pass for $35, which grants no-wait access to seven houses, excluding Alone. The Front Line Fear Extreme pass ups the access and lets guests skip the line at four freaky coasters as well for $50.

The Thrills & Chills Weekend Pass lets true Halloween fans face their fears over and over again with a long weekend (Thursday through Sunday) of unlimited access to Busch Gardens’ thrills by day and Howl-O-Scream’s chills by night – all for just $79.95!

For out-of-town guests, Overnight Fright Packages include Howl-O-Scream admission for two, plus one-night accommodations at one of Busch Gardens’ preferred partner hotels. Prices start at $168.90 plus tax, based on double occupancy. Stay two nights as part of the Thrills and Chills Weekend Package, and get in to Busch Gardens day and night, and enjoy two nights of accommodations. Prices start at $337.70 plus tax.

And if there’s one thing worse than being terrified, it’s being terrified on an empty stomach. Fright Feast is the most deranged dinner show in town, featuring a buffet of monstrous main courses and devilish desserts, plus an exclusive performance of Blood Relations. Fright Feast guests are also the first to brave the dark with a half-hour of early access to the all-new haunted houses. Fright Feast is $24.95 per person, with group rates and discounts for Passport and Fun Card members available.

Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticketed night event. No costumes are allowed. For guest information, visit or call 1-888-800-5447.

Howl-O-Scream is intended for a mature audience. This year's event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore and blood.


Ghoulish go-goers recruited for annual Horror extravaganza, kicking off Sept. 24

 Universal City, California-- Hollywood’s most expressive “undead” performers made a rare daytime appearance as Universal Studios HollywoodSM held an open call audition for a troupe of dancing vampires. The audition coincides with efforts to recruit hundreds of actors and behind-the-scenes artists in preparation for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights® where the legends of Hollywood horror come to life beginning Friday, September 24.

            The fanged troupe of dancers will echo one of this year’s all-new maze experiences. “Vampyre: Castle of the Undead,” based on an original concept created by Universal Studios Hollywood, will make its debut at this year’s Halloween event, along with a new “House of 1000 Corpses” maze created by Rob Zombie, a new “La Llorona” scare zone and three other new mazes based on the world’s most terrifying and intense horror legends.

            The theme park’s favorite thrill-ride attractions will also remain open for “Halloween Horror Nights” as well, many with menacing twists.  Favorites include “The Simpsons Ride®,” “Revenge of the MummySM – The Ride” and “Jurassic Park® In the Dark.” Additional new content for the 2010 Halloween Horror Nights mazes and attractions will be announced shortly.

Updates on “Halloween Horror Nights” are available at and also on Twitter and Facebook, as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information.  Fans are invited to follow John Murdy on Twitter at: or via Facebook at: “Halloween Horror Nights - Hollywood (Official).”

2Me Opens for Sal Valentino

A unique blend of alt-folk, blues and rock,
Opens for Sal Valentino at Fairytale Town

Local Sacramento band 2Me will be the opening act for Sal Valentino at the Fairytale Town concert on September 9.  2Me is a unique blend of alt-folk, blues, and rock. During their travels, additions to the band have been known to include mandolin, horns, kazoos, washboards, and harps. One only wonders, what this unique band will have to share with the Fairytale Town audience!

The band began around 1998 with Christopher Twomey and his acoustic guitar. In 2003 he picked up Nathan Bisig on electric guitar, Reid Foster on drums, and Conan The Bass Player. Over the next three years the foursome recorded two albums, toured regionally and nationally. Then in 2006 the band decided it was time for a change of pace and said farewell to the music scene. Christopher and Reid only grew more impassioned and made the big leap, and left their day jobs to play music full time.  2Me will perform on the Mother Goose Stage at 7PM.

The Sal Valentino Band & Strings
Sal Valentino is the legendary singer of the The Beau Brummels and Stoneground from San Francisco 1960's rock scene. Sal now fronts his own orchestra featuring a full string section. On his new CD, "Every Now and Then," Sal draws on his years of musical experience and combines the old with the new. Guests can help Sal Valentino celebrate his birthday, as we sing "Happy Birthday" to Sal!

WHAT: The Sal Valentino Band & Strings, Opening band 2Me
WHEN: September 9, 2010
TIME: Gates open at 6PM/Concert Begins at 7PM
COST: Adults $10; Children 12 & Under are Free.
TICKETS: Available online at; Fairytale Town Box Office
WHERE: Fairytale Town, 3901 Land Park Drive, Sacramento CA 95822
PHONE: 916-808-7462

Monday, August 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Reaches Major Milestone in Record Time

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – the marquee attraction within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – has reached a major milestone in record time.  Also voted “Best New Theme Park Attraction” for 2010 by, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey draws guests into the excitement and chaos of Harry’s life.

Visit to see the video

I Dream, You Dream, We All Dream of Ice Cream!

Announcing the Crystal Ice Cream Dream Flavors
& Event Updates
August 28, 2010  -  6PM to 10PM

The Crystal Ice Cream Dream will come to life with seven delicious of ice cream provided by the event sponsor Foster Farms Dairy and Crystal. You'll say "Yee Haw!" when you taste: Brownie Mountain Sundae, Marble Fudge, Cookie Dough, Mint Chocolate Chip, Rainbow Sherbet, Strawberry Cheesecake, and good old fashioned Vanilla for the Sasparilla (root beer) Floats. So, lasso up those kids and come to the Crystal Ice Cream Dream: How the West Was Fun event on August 28.

Experience the Wild West with live western music from the Bobby McDowell Band known for their mix of modern and country music, the Loose Acoustic Trio, and the Sweet Adeline's barber shop quartet. Put on your cowboy duds and boots for Fairytale Town's ice cream social. Activities will include: the Wells Fargo Stage Coach, children's arts & crafts, old west pictures, bandit hide-outs, costumed cowboys, and western ware vendors Ribbit Tat selling handmade wooden toys, DND Hat Company selling handmade custom hats, and Victoria A. Marsh selling equestrian handmade art. Vittles available from Red Oak B.B.Q. to satisfy any hungry cowboy and saloon stations will be serving Sasparilla for the little cowpokes and High Octane for the grown-ups provided by Pyramid Alehouse.

Announcing Fairytale Town's Covered Wagon Group Package. Load up your wagon and head west! This special promotion is great for large groups, businesses and client packages. You can mix and match your choice of 15 tickets for adults and children. The Covered Wagon Group Package is $150. Please call 916-808-7462 to place your order.

Ticket prices in advance are: $15 adults, $5 children 3-12 yrs., children 2 & under free. Ticket prices increase August 28. Tickets are available online at

This event is made possible through the support of Foster Farms Dairy, Crystal, Mix 96, KVIE, Clear Channel Outdoor, Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP, Downey Brand, Securitas, MTI College, Union Bank, Clos Du Bois, Tony's Fine Foods, Scott Naake Paper Company, Sacramento Coca Cola, Wells Fargo, Jordan Blair, Jim & Sara Culleton, Pyramid Alehouse.

Tickets are available at

Seth Green at Universal Orlando Resort

Actor, producer and comedian Seth Green played around with Scooby Doo and Shaggy at Universal Orlando Resort while being hosted at the theme parks with his wife on August 13, 2010. Green appeared in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed and is well known for his roles as Chris Griffin in The Family Guy and Scott Evil in the Austin Powers movies. He is also one of the producers and creators of the Cartoon Network show Robot Chicken. At Universal Orlando Resort guests aren’t just entertained – they are part of the most exhilarating entertainment ever created.


 Tickets on Sale Now for One of the Hottest Christian Music Festivals in the Nation,
Featuring Performances by Skillet, Relient K, Jars of Clay and More


Orlando, Fla. (August 13, 2010) – Universal Orlando Resort’s Rock The Universe returns this September 10 and 11 with one of the most exciting celebrations of Christian music in the nation. Fourteen soul-stirring rock acts will take the stage for a weekend filled with incredible music, inspirational stories from celebrity speakers, and the opportunity to enjoy the most thrilling theme park attractions at Universal Studios Florida.

 This year’s Rock The Universe lineup features the spiritual sounds of Christian rock’s hottest acts, such as five-time Grammy award-winning group Jars of Clay; hit band Relient K – featuring popular songs like “Forgiven” and “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been;” Skillet – whose unique symphonic rock sound inspires fans everywhere; and Needtobreathe – whose music has been featured in hit movies and television shows like “The Hills,” “Employee of the Month” and “P.S. I Love You.”

Friday, September 10
Saturday, September 11
Relient K
Jars of Clay
Jeremy Camp
Hawk Nelson
Decyfer Down
 Chuck Tocco
Jeff Chandler

Rock The Universe guests will also experience the pulse-pounding thrills and revolutionary attractions that can only be found at Universal Studios Florida. Guests can plummet down a virtual 1,000-foot waterfall in Shrek 4-D, speed through darkness in the world’s first psychological thrill ride in Revenge of The Mummy or rock out at 65 mph on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – a radically-innovative roller coaster that combines hit music, first-ever maneuvers and highly-sophisticated audio and video for a one-of-a-kind ride experience.

There are a variety of ways to experience all the excitement of Rock The Universe 2010. The best value is the “Rock Your Weekend” ticket, which will be sold only in advance and includes admission to both nights of Christian rock concerts, access to the Sunday Morning Worship services and three-day tickets to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure – featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the most spectacularly-themed entertainment experience ever created that was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters. This offer is only available until Sept. 3 and will not be sold at the gate.

For more information about Rock The Universe 2010 – including the return of the Sunday Morning Worship services and the “Rock Your Weekend” Getaway package – or to purchase tickets, visit or call 1-888-RTU-INFO (1-888-788-4636).

Kings Island Raising Money to Benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Greater Cincinnati Affiliate

By now you may have seen or heard that Kings Island is currently raising money to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Greater Cincinnati Affiliate.

 Now through August 21, the park is selling little pink rubber ducks.  Guests then get to chuck these ducks into the fountains on International Street .  On Saturday, August 21 we’ll pull one lucky duck and the person that owns it will win a 2010 Toyota Yaris courtesy of Joseph Toyota of Cincinnati .

 As of this morning we have sold 19,875 ducks for a total donation amount of $93,223!  We are very proud of this but our goal is $200,000 and I’ve got just 9 days left to get there.

I’ve been so moved by the stories I’ve heard from survivors and many others that have been touched by this disease that I don’t mind sending you this note asking for help.

If you’d like to help you can purchase a little pink duck at the park or online at:

$5        = one duck

$20      = 5 ducks (buy 4, get 1 free)

$100    = 25 ducks (buy 20, get 5 free)

$250    = 65 ducks (buy 50, get 15 free)

$500    = 130 ducks (buy 100, get 30 free)

Several companies have generously made large cash donations which we’re obviously accepting as well.

Former Cincinnati Reds great and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan chucked a pink rubber duck into the fountains on International Street during his visit to the park. Now through August 21, the park is selling pink ducks at the park or online at to raise money for breast cancer awareness. All net proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Greater Cincinnati affiliate.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Six Flags CEO - Don't Shoot! Yet...

With the announcement yesterday of James Reid-Anderson being named CEO of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, there is a lot of buzz online amongst fans. And a lot of it is really negative so far, considering James (we can call him by his first name, since that is how theme park companies tend to operate, yes?) has zero theme park/themed entertainment background under his belt.

While I can certainly understand the thought process and absolutely get where the negative sentiment is coming from, I kind of feel bad for the guy; as fans, we should not be instantly condemning this gentleman, or setting him up for failure by booing him into office simply because he has never dispatched a coaster or swept up a hot dog wrapper in his life.

I'm going to play Devil's advocate here. And I am going to give James the benefit of the doubt for now. Just because someone worked at a theme park or knows how to operate a Sno Cone machine, does not qualify him to be better equipped to pull a massive company out of the toilet business-wise. For those of you who have theme park experience like myself: think back to most of your co-workers and how they were on a daily basis. Would you want them running your finances or making decisions that would affect your future? God knows, my finances are a disaster and I have a very pristine reputation for making very poor decisions in my own life, regarding Theme Park Adventure and beyond. Yet, I knew The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean like the back of my hand. I worked the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes for 11 weeks straight one summer (and hated every second of it), I worked Bear Band, did occasional Main Street Electrical Parade guest control (back in the day before it was acceptable to yell and be shockingly bullish with guests) and was on the opening Splash Mountain guest control team. When I later worked for MGM-Mirage, I took tons of management courses and received all sorts of accolades.

Yet, I suck immaculate when it comes to my own business decisions or finances. I am not good at being shrewd or aggressive when it comes to the business end of TPA usually. In short, I wouldn't want me as a CEO, regardless of my past experience with theme parks and like companies.

Not every ice cream scooper will grow up to be a Tony Baxter. Nor would a Tony Baxter necessarily be the right person to run The Walt Disney Company (sorry Tony - love you!). CEOs are interesting creatures. They are generally workaholics and they sleep with one eye open, always buzzing about the next project, the next deal and how to constantly make advances financially and business-wise for the companies they run.

Steven Spielberg is arguably one of the most beloved and respected filmmakers of all time. Yet, would he necessarily be the best guy (or gal) to run Six Flags? Just because he's been involved in films and theme park attractions doesn't mean he is a genius behind a desk. Behind a camera, yes. Behind a desk... who knows?

Now, absolutely, some great CEOs come up through the ranks. The greatest CEO I have ever worked for hands-down is Ms. Renee West, who was the CEO of Excalibur when I worked and lived in Las Vegas. Her business ethic and true love of what she did on a daily basis was contagious - and it spread through the company's 4,000+ employees like wildfire. Under Renee's direction, Excalibur never was stronger and so many amazing changes took place, it is undeniable (new pool area, new carpeting for the first time ever throughout the resort, the remodel of 2,000+ rooms, Dick's Last Resort integration, employee enrichment programs and more). What's even more undeniable is the huge sucking sound left in her wake, because she was promoted last year to be at the helm of Mandalay Bay due to the way she performed at Excalibur for several years. And before all of that, Renee worked in management at State Line - the Primm resorts. Who would have thought that a State Line employee - a female at that - would rise to become one of Las Vegas' most powerful and well-liked CEOs? It's remarkable and just doesn't happen.

On the flip side of that, I argue the case of one Terry E. Van Gorder, the once-upon-a-time head honcho of Knott's Berry Farm. The guy went from theme park to theme park, making both good and bad decisions, but almost everyone felt that in the end, he was a mess on wheels. He was the guy that removed Bear-y Tales for Kingdom of the Dinosaurs - which was a short-term very successful move for Knott's, but in the end, left the park without its own characters and the world without one of its greatest and most beloved dark rides ever. He was hell to deal with regarding Halloween Haunt and never allowed (except on very rare occasion) the hard-working individuals behind the event to ever be given any credit. He told Theme Park Adventure once very directly that if we ever named Haunt monsters in our articles that they would immediately be "severely reprimanded and/or terminated from Knott's Berry Farm". I met him personally once; he was pigging out on a chicken leg with grease and gristle in his beard, not stopping his devouring while talking to me. I came away from the conversation with his rambling burned into my memory - "They don't let me speak to the media much; I'm just the idiot that runs the place. I usually don't have anything intelligent to say."

Imagine if I'd written a piece for the LA Times using that quote? That was the guy running Knott's Berry Farm in the '80s and beyond, folks.

Fast-forward to Michael Eisner and Paul Pressler. Need I go into detail about that dynamic duo? Eisner's legacy is one of genius beginning and utterly disastrous finale at Disney. Paul Pressler was a great businessman when it came to successfully growing The Disney Store - but when put in charge of theme parks, etc... we ended up with California Adventure 1.0.

To fan the flames of argument further, let us remember with great gusto Frank Wells. The guy had no theme park background; he ran a record company very successfully. Yet, Wells is remembered and respected for really being the visionary at the helm of Disney in the early '80s, bringing the company back from certain doom as part of the Eisner/Wells/Katzenberg team. Frank understood the value of "E"-Ticket attractions such as Indiana Jones and Tower of Terror. He wasn't afraid to make huge investments in the parks and their attractions. When he was killed, much more died that Frank Wells that horrible day. The company floundered and suffered for the most part for years after under Eisner finally was forced out by Roy Disney and a myriad of fans and investors who'd had enough of the Eisner regime.

Switch tracks.

Ross Perot - not a politician, but a hugely successful CEO and businessman. The guy ran to be President of the United States. Twice. And you know what? People voted for him. I did the first time around. My thinking - career politicians absolutely suck. They lie through their teeth, they are part of the ongoing wasteful, bullying and downright deceitful machine that rules this country. I'm not a hippie, nor do I subscribe to every conspiracy theory put before me. But I am intelligent enough to see the big picture - that the government we have now is full of cover-up, suppression of the poor, the black, the brown, the gay and the free-thinking that this country was founded on. This government lets big business thrive, its own people starve in the streets, entire cities and groups of people to be flooded out and destroyed, bankrupt banks to kick good Americans out of their homes as they too struggle in this economy, oil to flow into our oceans, and so on. The rant and list is much longer than this - but the editorial isn't about Black Ops or big business conspiracy. It's about CEO-types. Ross Perot wasn't a career politician, yet people liked him and voted for him. They/we saw that politicians don't necessarily make the best Presidential candidates. Perot was a very successful CEO/businessman, and perhaps his momentum came from people believing that perhaps a smart and successful businessman could and would do better running this country than a life-long politician, risen through the ranks with backroom agreements and special interests putting them at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We'll never know, because of course, this government would never let that happen.

And that's the theme and idea I present to you all in this matter of James Reid-Anderson and Six Flags. No, he's never served a churro or stamped someone's hand for re-entry. But he does have a proven and successful track record at Dade Behring, and Siemens Healthcare and beyond. Perhaps he does have what it takes to bring Six Flags back from the grave. I say, don't shoot before you see what he can do. Let's not set this guy up for immediate failure without giving him a chance. Bring him on podcasts such as The Season Pass. Give him exposure - positive exposure in major newspapers and trade magazines. Instead of instantly branding him the poster child for "Clueless, Inexperienced CEOs", let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt and see what he's made of.

And it's not like everyone else in the Six Flags company suddenly becomes mute or their say/ideas/knowledge/history vanish. If James is a great leader, he will recognize his team and truly listen to them, accept their input and lead this company back to where it needs to be. I think it's possible. And I think we should all slow down a bit, hit the trim brakes on casting judgment and watch what this new CEO does over the first few months. Hell, I'd say over the first six months, at least. It took Six Flags a long time to sink to where its at now - it's not going to be an overnight fix. And I expect there to be missteps along the way - no one is perfect. But if he tries new things, even if some of them are not great or downright suck - the important thing is to remember that at least a new leader is trying new tactics.

Now, if all decisions are horrid, if the park prices skyrocket and we're made to pay $1 not just for every locker but each time we go potty or take a picture with a character, if the souvenir stands get traded out for timeshare vultures and the parks see no expansion or additions... I'll be the first one to shoot. And without a doubt, the line to take a shot will be very lengthy behind me.

To James Reid-Anderson, I say good luck and sincerely wish him the best of success. I grew up with Magic Mountain and love the place. I'd love to see the company thrive, its employees benefit and for them to become the company they should have been all along. There are rough waters ahead, but things should get easier if this has been the right decision.

Only time will tell. And the clock is ticking now, James.

- Rick West

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"LA LLORONA" to Haunt Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights!


Universal City, California— La Llorona, whose fearful story of melancholy and murder has terrified Mexican and Latin American children for generations, will cast a grim shadow upon guests at Universal Studios HollywoodSM this fall as her dreaded presence is unleashed upon guests at the 2010 Halloween Horror Nights® event, where the legends of horror come to life.

            According to the legend, a beautiful Mexican woman fell in love and married the most handsome man in the village. She bore two beautiful children, but her husband soon fell in love with another woman. Blinded by jealousy, the woman ran with her children to a river, where her faithless husband was courting his new love. Enraged, she threw her children into the river, where the current carried them away. When she realized what she had done, she threw herself into the river as well.

            But the woman did not leave this Earth. Late at night, in the deep woods, or by a small creek, children can hear her weeping, searching in vain for her lost children. “La Llorona,(“the crying woman”) they call her, for she frequently wails “My children, where are my children?” Her frail, drenched body is a chilling sight; any child wandering alone is sure to be snatched as her newest victim.

            At the 2010 Halloween Horror Nights event, La Llorona will stalk guests as they make their way through the Universal back lot as part of the all-new “Terror Tram” experience and she’ll also terrorize her own “Scare Zone,” hiding within the shadows of a gauntlet haunted by the ghosts of her dead victims.

            The 2010 “Halloween Horror Nights” event at Universal Studios Hollywood will offer spine-chilling new mazes based upon the horror genre’s most compelling characters. Rob Zombie and other top artists are collaborating with Universal Studios Hollywood in the creation of new mazes, “scare zones” and backlot experiences. Additional new content for the 2010 Halloween Horror Nights mazes and attractions will be announced shortly.

Updates on “Halloween Horror Nights” will be available at and also on Twitter and Facebook, as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information.  Fans are invited to follow John Murdy on Twitter at: or via Facebook at: “Halloween Horror Nights - Hollywood (Official).”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"How can I become part of the TPA team?"

It's a question we get asked frequently - "How does someone go about becoming part of Theme Park Adventure?"

It's very flattering that fans of what we do like what we do enough to want to take it one step further and actually become part of the team; really - I cannot think of a higher compliment. Also, it is gratifying in that it tells me that we are moving in the right direction and that we have the attention of people that are really into what we do and what's going on in the industry.

Before I go further, I should preface the rest of this article with some honest facts about TPA.

Since it's inception in 1994, TPA has cost much more to maintain and continue doing than it ever has brought money in as a company. Our biggest windfall came in the '90s, when we published our 170-page book on Pirates of the Caribbean. Financially, it's all been downhill from that point for us. Without getting into specifics, the cost of running the site, covering events, etc. far outweighs the cash that flows into our TPA coffers. That's the way it's always been, and for the foreseeable future, that's the way it's going to be. So, if you're looking to work with TPA and come away with a payday, I can assure you - that ain't us. I always joke with the rest of the team that the day I can quit my day job and actually live off of TPA, I will gladly hand out checks to the rest of the team.

In other words, don't hold your breath! I'm certainly not!

Everyone that works with TPA (myself included) does so because we absolutely love the theme park, thrill park, amusement and themed entertainment industry. Period. The end. That's all. The joy we get out of sharing our experiences with the rest of the world via TPA is our reward for doing what we do. The hours are unreal and long - for me and my co-owner, Johanna, TPA is a 24/7 job on top of our "real life" away from the computer. If we didn't love what we do - there is no way TPA would still exist after almost 16 years.

So, if no pay (we can and will give credit to those assisting with articles, etc.) is still appealing to you, read on:

If you live in the Southern California area, I have bad news for you; so do we. So do we, and so do seven out of the 8 listed staffers on our About Us page on TPA. That means, quite frankly... we have SoCal covered.

Now, if you live elsewhere - anywhere else - the possibility is there for us to work something out. For a non-paying gig, we do however, have some fairly high standards that you'll need to meet in order to get my attention.

You need to be an adult. Even though 13-year-olds are much more mature and sophisticated as I was when that age. Seriously! Today, kids barely with any body hair are running websites much more sophisticated than TPA's. Hell, when I was 13, my biggest concern was mastering Yars' Revenge on my Atari 2600!

But I digress. You need to be at least 18 years of age with your own, reliable transportation. We can't have you set to go to a press event and suddenly text me with, "Dude, I can't make it - my mom has sewing circle tonight and is the designated driver." No good. Gotta have a car, gotta know how to drive said car, and you need to be at least an adult in the eyes of the law to attend events, etc. while representing Theme Park Adventure. If you're in that horrible limbo between 18 and 21... we can get you access, but you'll need to refrain from the jolly juice. No getting fake ID-busted while representing TPA at a special event. Nooooooo. Not good.

Next, you need to have a digital camera. And in the same breath, you need to really know how to use said camera. Sure - anyone can take a picture with a digital camera... but we need you to be a master of your camera. Know it. Love it. Be one with it. If you have your own digital camera (doesn't have to be an SLR - but that would be nice) and you know how to work that moneymaker, then that's another step closer to working with TPA.

Here's the biggest sticking point... You must - absolutely must - know how to write. I don't mean your name.

& i dont mean u only no how 2 write like u text.

You must be able to write a coherent, passionate story that doesn't take me 13 hours per page to edit on this end. As horribly stuck-up and crappy as that may sound, it's critical. Over the years, I have learned one thing - if someone says they can write... there is a 30% chance they actually can. Structure, grammar and punctuation aside, writing comes from the heart - not from a text book. If you cannot connect with other fans and readers through your writing, the quality of your pictures or the content behind your article means absolutely doo-doo. To connect, to pull emotion from your readers - that is the quality we seek. Only then, do the pictures and everything else fall into place.

So let's recap:

  • No pay.
  • Must be 18 years of age with your own transportation.
  • Must own your own digital camera and know how to use the thing (SLRs preferred).
  • Must be able to write an article or story that is compelling, passionate and legible.
The absolutely most critical step of them all... we've gotta like you. In the past, I have worked with people that are challenging, to say the least (I'm excluded from this, as it's my company - if I had to work with myself... yeah.. that would be a problem most days). We have to rely on you to be professional, not be flaky and understand that while "on assignment", you represent not just the rest of the Theme Park Adventure team... but all of our readers/fans. That is absolutely critical. God knows, there have been times that I have dropped the ball and have royally screwed up (a la Steve Wynn destroying his own Picasso); but that's me, and I have hopefully, learned from my errors along the way. What I need to know is that I'm not going to get an email from a really pissed public relations manager at a theme park somewhere in the Mid-West telling me that my representative was drunk, loud and running around half-naked screaming something about Leroy Jenkins during their press event.

Can't have that.

Not even a little bit.

SO... if my rambling hasn't scared you off and you really think you have what it takes to join the TPA team, you are more than free to contact me at any time. Tell me something about yourself, what parks you frequent, etc. and we'll go from there. I don't promise or guarantee anything but dialogue with those inquiring. However, if you have the passion and the means, perhaps we can bring you onto the team.

In the interim, what I can and will honestly say is this: the best way for most of you to become part of TPA is to simply show your support for what we do. Post on our Message Board. Attend our gatherings. Tell your friends about us. Hell, buy a t-shirt or a button or bumper sticker. Anything to get the word out there about Theme Park Adventure. That is honestly, the best thing you can possibly do to become part of the group. Participate, participate, participate. That is what we want from you guys!

To contact me about possibly joining the Theme Park Adventure team, simply click here and ramble away like I have so aptly demonstrated my ability to do in this posting.

Thank you for your interest - it really is awesome and much, much appreciated!

- Rick West

Holly Robinson Peete and family at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Actress and Celebrity Apprentice finalist Holly Robinson Peete and her former NFL quarterback husband, Rodney Peete, spent the day with their kids (clockwise, left to right), Rodney, Robinson, Ryan and Roman in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort on August 10, 2010. The family stopped by the Hog’s Head pub for a taste of the popular beverage Butterbeer – a frothy drink, reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch, served only in Hogsmeade. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which celebrated a grand opening on June 18, is the most spectacularly-themed entertainment experience ever created that was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters.

Two San Diego-born Pandas to be Sent to China

Members of the San Diego Zoo's giant panda team are preparing to send two giant pandas, Su Lin and Zhen Zhen to the Wolong Nature Reserve Giant Panda Bi Feng Xia Base in the People's Republic of China as part of an important international collaboration to save this critically endangered species. They will no longer be visible to the public beginning on Monday, Aug. 16 and are expected to depart San Diego at the end of the summer.

     Never before has one zoo sent two foreign-born giant pandas together to China. The San Diego Zoo was the first to send a panda born outside of China when it sent Hua Mei, the first giant panda to be born in the United States and survive to adulthood, in 2004. She was followed in 2007 by another San Diego-born panda, Mei Sheng, and most recently, a panda born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and another born at Zoo Atlanta in 2010.

     "We will miss Su Lin and Zhen Zhen, but as a conservation organization we are aware of the significant breeding contribution they will make in the preservation of this critically endangered species at another panda conservation center such as Bi Feng Xia," said Carmi Penny, director of collections and husbandry science as well as co-head of the San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda Conservation Unit. "The birth of these two pandas and their time spent in San Diego has helped us extend our knowledge of panda biology. With this information we can aid in the conservation of giant pandas."

     Giant pandas are on a research loan to the San Diego Zoo from China to study this endangered species. As part of this long-term program, the San Diego Zoo is collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in studies of behavior, ecology, genetics and conservation of wild pandas living in the Foping Nature Reserve.

     In San Diego, both Su Lin and Zhen Zhen have made incredibly valuable contributions to the Zoo's research programs and have contributed ground-breaking data on panda hearing sensitivity.  These data will allow scientists to better estimate how noise from human activities may impact giant pandas in the wild.

     Terms of the loan also indicate that China will decide the location of the home for any giant panda cub born at the Zoo after its third birthday. Final arrangements are being made to send 5-year-old Su Lin and 3-year-old Zhen Zhen from the San Diego Zoo to Bi Feng Xia, where both Hua Mei and Mei Sheng currently reside as part of the panda conservation program. They will be accompanied by two seasoned panda team members including an animal care supervisor and senior veterinarian.

     Su Lin and Zhen Zhen's mother,  Bai Yun, and their 1-year-old brother, Yun Zi, will continue to be seen at the San Diego Zoo.

     The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as the Wild Animal Park), which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.  The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.