Anyone have $3.5 million lying around?

17 11 2008

If you have ever wanted to own an amusement park and just happen to have $35 million available – $3.5 million of that in cash – you can own Hard Rock Park! Though I doubt that anyone reading this really has that kind of money I’m guessing that you may still be interested in knowing who the future owner will be, and if there will be a Hard Rock Park at all. The bidding on HRP will begin on December 15, and I will be trying to follow the latest news on the auction as it is released, though I’m not going to make any promises. As most of you probably know, the park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in September, and at the time claimed that the park would reopen in 2009. There was a lot of skepticism about the claim from enthusiasts, and it seems that they have been proven right with the announced auction. 

When the park opened back in April of this year there were a lot of high hopes for the park, especially from the local economy. Those hopes were not fulfilled, though, as the park opened in the midst of tough economic times that would only get tougher as the year went on. The park has said that a major reason for not being able to draw enough attendance and spending was the result of not having enough money left over after the initial investment for adequate marketing. This is a rather large and problematic blunder to make as a new company, though enthusiasts aren’t faulting the lack of marketing, they’re faulting the pricing. Evidently $50 and a fee for parking was “too much” for getting into the park, though I think it is right in line with most other major theme and amusement parks that have prices ranging from $40-60, as well as anywhere from $10-15 to park your car. I really think that along with their major oversight in not having enough money for marketing, the economy was a big deciding factor in what happened to the park.

In addition to being able to prove that you have the backing already for the $35 million price tag, including the 10% in cash, the buyer must also have enough experience to run the place. The article in the Sun News. And even if there is an approved change of hands there is no guarantee that Hard Rock International will continue to license the brand name to the new owner(s). This will be an interesting process to follow, as there are already a few names being tossed around in the enthusiast community in terms of potential buyers. Hopefully a buyer is found that can turn the new park into a profitable venture, even in these tough economic times.


Woman Sues Disney for not letting her ride

2 11 2008

So in my news search today across several websites, I ran across the following article. I found it very odd, somewhat interesting, and rather humorous. See what you think.



Ailing Woman Sues Disney For Kicking Her Off Ride

Monday, October 20, 2008 – updated: 5:43 pm EDT October 20, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Central Florida woman had a prescription for her chronic pain that included riding Disney’s Tower of Terror. She says it actually worked, but says Disney kicked her out for riding the ride too many times and now she’s suing.  

“I actually hold the record right now for the most rides of single riders which is 56 times,” said Denise Mooty. 

Every Saturday for the past three-and-a-half years, Mooty has visited Hollywood Studios to ride the attraction. She rode it over and over, as many as 20 times in a row. 

Mooty has adhesions in her abdomen, essentially, internal scarring. She needs four to six surgeries a year to get rid of the adhesions. 

Mooty’s doctor wrote a letter to Disney stating, “The benefit of riding the Tower of Terror breaks down these adhesions thus relieving her of so much pain.” 

“Every since I’ve been riding the Tower of Terror, I only have to have one surgery versus several. It really works, the G-force of going up and down,” said Mooty. 

Mooty had a guest assistance card and would either go through the Fast Pass lane or the back entrance. But then one day in August it all changed. 

“A different manager said she didn’t care what my card said, I’m only allowed to ride the ride four times,” said Mooty. 

Mooty said she was also told she could no longer use the back entrance. She spent the next couple of weeks arguing with Disney. In the end, she got booted out and was cited for trespassing and for using profanity. Mooty claims she did not do those things. 

For its part, Disney said there was never a restriction placed on the number of times Mooty could ride the Tower of Terror. The park said she used profanity in front of guests and that’s why she was ordered out. But the park did say it would listen to an appeal of her case. 

Mooty is suing to get back on the ride and also to collect damages.


Now when I first read that, I was a little confused, so I had to read it again. Had a doctor seriously prescribed riding Tower of Terror for this woman’s medical issue!? I thought doctors always told people with major medical issues to NOT ride thrill rides? So I paused and thought about it for a second, thinking that maybe it would somehow it would all make sense…but it didn’t. That only made me laugh more. If the doctor seriously prescribed riding the ride for this woman, I would imagine the doctor would have contacted the park to let them know of this very, very odd situation. Had there been contact, I somehow find it hard to believe that one manager was somehow out of the loop, knowing how things like this worked at Cedar Point. If we had a certain guest that feel into a crack in our disability program, or there was something very different about the situation, every ride, every supervisor, and every manager in the operations office knew about the situation within about 10 minutes. Of course, there’s always the chance that this Disney manager was new, and that someone had simply left out this slightly important detail.

This whole situation just seems extremely bizarre, and I’m still confused, but still laughing at it. So what do you think; sad, stupid, confusing, hilarious, or mixture of some of the options? Whatever the case may be, there’s a lot we don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. I got my interesting and slightly humorous read of the day in.

Terminator: The Coaster…or just another wooden coaster?

22 10 2008

Six Flags Magic Mountain announced their latest addition to the park, Terminator: The Coaster, in a rather undramatic fashion today. To try and save you some clicking, I’m going to attempt to provide you with everything that the park released today right here in this post.



Valencia, CA, October 22, 2008 /PRNewswire/ — Six Flags Magic Mountain announced today the addition in 2009 of a new wooden roller coaster to its world renowned coaster collection. Developed by the same team that produced the new X2 experience, TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER will combine innovative thrill ride technology with the signature science fiction punch of the Terminator brand. The debut is scheduled to coincide with the release of the McG directed film Terminator Salvation™ next year, and will introduce fans to an entirely new universe inspired by the film’s post apocalyptic setting. 

“Our mission at Six Flags Magic Mountain is to provide entertainment that appeals to a wide range of tastes and this specially designed wooden coaster will be a proven winner among guests of all ages,” said Jay Thomas, Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Park President. “Designed around the theme of the successful Terminator movie brand, this ride will draw thrill seekers from around the world.” 

Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek, co-CEO’s of The Halcyon Company, credit Six Flags with taking the ride to the next level in adventure. “The combination of the universe created by the film and the setting of this ride will provide fans with an adventure that keeps the spirit of the story,” said Kubicek and Anderson jointly. 

The $10 million coaster, engineered exclusively for the Valencia theme park by Great Coasters International Inc. (GCII), TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER will feature a loading station “fly-thru,” a state-of-the-art sight and sound package, and unique queue line and on-board entertainment elements. The GCII-designed Millennium Flyer coaster trains will zip through five belly-flopping hills and six high speed banked turns over 2,850 feet of track to create a ride that delivers the acrobatic thrills of a modern roller coaster while retaining the nostalgic look and feel of a classic “woodie.” 

The Terminator franchise is a highly-successful series of science fiction films centered around battles between Skynet’s artificially intelligent machine network and John Connor’s Tech-Com forces and the rest of the human race. Since the debut of the first film in 1984, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and written and directed by Academy Award winner James Cameron, the Terminator films have grossed over one billion dollars worldwide. Terminator Salvation™ is the upcoming fourth installment to the series and is scheduled for a spring 2009 theatrical release. The Halcyon Company owns all rights to the entire Terminator franchise. As producers, Kubicek and Anderson recently wrapped production on the film, starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard and Helena Bonham Carter. 

TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER will be located in the northwest corner of the park, next to Déjà Vu and is slated for a spring 2009 opening. With the addition of TERMINATOR®: THE COASTER, Six Flags Magic Mountain will be home to 16 world class coasters.…hecoaster.aspx


So there you have it, the press release and official image of the ride. Sure does look like the Terminator, doesn’t it? What’s that, no, not really? Terminator? Where? Yeah, that was my reaction as well. I am, quite frankly, very puzzled. The only thing that says “Terminator” is the logo, and thank goodness they got that right at least! But really, where is Terminator? Where is the desolation, where is the robotic warfare? Where is the Terminator Theme!? I’m not even going to bother putting the video into this post and make you wait longer for it to load, because quite frankly it doesn’t show anything new or exciting from what you can see in that image right there above this paragraph. I watched it twice, hoping maybe the second time at least one thing that made me think “Terminator” would show up…but no, it was no different than the first time I watched it, nothing stuck out. 

I will, however, say that it does look like a great roller coaster that definitely has potential to be very fun and entertaining on its own. The drop looks wonderfully wicked, and I wish I could get out there to ride it. Terminator it is most certainly not, though, and they did a horrible job of showing any kind of theme in the announcement visuals. That is not something that I would consider good, or anywhere close to it. In fact, I’m going to use the ever popular EPIC FAIL for the announcement because of just how badly they did in getting the theme across.

Sorry Six Flags, but you just earned a big EPIC FAIL for your announcement. Hopefully the ride is enough to save you when it opens.

OSHA Cites Cedar Point and Castaway Bay *UPDATED*

13 10 2008

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued three willful citations against Cedar Fair, and has proposed fines of $185,000. This specifically deals with violations at Cedar Point and Castaway Bay, the park’s indoor water park resort. The reasons given are inadequate fall protection at two roller coasters, not offering employees Hepatitis B vaccination, and not properly training lifeguards in how to handle bloodborne pathogens. 


Original report from WKYC

Details of violations from the Sandusky Register


After reading the available details of the citations in the Register article I can only come to the conclusion that a) the claims are rather ridiculous, and b) they were most likely given to OSHA by a former disgruntled employee. I honestly laughed in slight disgust at the sheer stupidity of the fall protection claim with Blue Streak, having worked there last summer (2007). If you need extra fall protection beyond the ubiquitous plank and railings present on every wooden coaster in existence, then I’m sorry, but you probably aren’t smart enough to be working a multi-million dollar machine that carries the lives of about 8,000 riders each day. By the end of last summer I was practically running up and down the lift every time we had to stop it for some idiot with a camera or cell phone out, and I was never in any greater danger because I wasn’t wearing a fall arrest (a harness-like device). Every coaster in the park with a lift hill has a required lift walk for you to be fully trained there, and a harness is not used on any of them during a lift walk, and there is absolutely no reasonable need for anything beyond the normal hand rails. 

The situations regarding Top Thrill Dragster and Millennium Force are more than likely perfect examples of what the maintenance department seems to do best, follow their own rules. There isn’t a catwalk all of the way down the launch track of Top Thrill, and its obviously time consuming and a bit of a hassle to go up a ladder at one point, then come back down, move it, stabilize and repeat as many times as needed. There is a lot of pressure to get the major rides back up and running as quickly as possible, so why not cut out the ladder moving to speed things up and make things a little easier? As for Millennium, well, I really don’t know why someone wasn’t wearing a harness while resetting the ride in the morning, or what would possess them to do so in the first place. I know very well that harnesses are readily available for any climbing job, so you would have to actually choose not to wear one. I have watched that ride be reset many times over the past several years, and I have never seen it done without proper safety measures like a harness.

I don’t have much comment on the lifeguard issue and training about blood-borne pathogens, except to say that in talking to someone who has been a lifeguard at an area park and knows several others, this kind of extensive training that OSHA describes isn’t given to any lifeguards at any surrounding water park. 

So in conclusion, I guess this means we’ll be seeing every single park with a wooden coaster get cited for inadequate fall protection…oh, wait, there wasn’t a single mention of Mean Streak! Does anyone else find that odd? A park with two wooden coasters, whose provided safeguards out on the track don’t differ at all, only has one of them cited…anyone else see something a little suspect? Call me paranoid, but I think its worth a look. Anyway, take it any way you wish, but my conclusion is that something seems fishy, and overall ridiculous regarding this.

Update coming shortly, this time for real

12 10 2008

Due to classes and life suddenly taking over last week I never got the trip report up like I was planning. I apologize for not following through, but hopefully I’ll be able to work on my trip report for this coming weekend throughout my trip since I’ll be with an internet connection the entire weekend (staying in a hotel instead of a friend’s home). I’ll probably throw in some of my pictures from last weekend as well. Thanks for your patience and readership, and I promise I’ll do some catching up on the news when I get the time. You can thank my classes for keeping me behind.

Update coming tomorrow!

6 10 2008

I just got back from a long but extremely fun weekend during which I didn’t have internet access, which is why there hasn’t been an update over the weekend. Don’t worry though, because tomorrow will bring a nice trip report with some pictures as well!



Welcome To Theme Park Critic!

2 10 2008

Hello everyone, and welcome to Theme Park Critic! My name is Michael, and I am your “local” critic on everything in the amusement industry. On this blog you’ll find some of the latest news in the industry followed by my opinions and comments, trip reports, and possibly some of my favorite pictures that I may have taken. I spent the last two summers working at Cedar Point (voted the best park in the world 11 years running by Amusement Today) as a ride operator, and was an Assistant Team Leader for a good portion of this summer (2008). In addition to spending the past two summers working in the operations aspect of one of the most recognized parks, I’ve been closely following the amusement industry for the past five years. With a current major of business administration I have a bit more interest in the business side than most, though I still greatly enjoy the rides and roller coasters as much as the next person. But enough of the usual introduction and background formalities, onto some more interesting news.

Does anyone like bowling? How about bowling at one of the largest bowling alleys in the nation on your next visit to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida? That’s right, Disney is building a gigantic 100 lane bowling center at their Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. The purpose behind this is evidently to try and capture what is a niche sport and really market it, as well as become a main destination for hosting tournaments and such. Even though the center will not open until 2010 they have already managed to secure at least one major event, so it is definitely already gaining some traction, especially with Disney behind it. It is certainly an interesting concept that looks like it could end up being very successful should it grab the attention Disney is hoping for amongst bowlers.

Original article from Florida Today