Monday, December 30, 2002

Huge Traffic Increases at ARN&R

Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors reported today that its traffic has increased by a staggering amount in the last half of December. Typically visited by approximately 11 people with no lives on an average day, ARN&R has recently seen its web hits rise in logarithmic fashion, culminating yesterday in a total of 213,456 single visits to the website, resulting in computer gridlock and pandemonium rivalling the direst Y2K predictions.

"Obviously, we are elated by this turn of events," stated ARN&R's editor. "While we still have yet to sell a single Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom Wonderbra at our online store, it certainly is great to know that thousands of hardworking Americans and, more particularly, the Dutch, have been enjoying our fairly amusing park satire."

Representatives from all of the major web search engines dispute worldwide excitement in roller coaster satire, and have stated their belief that the exponential growth of the site's popularity comes almost entirely from a December 19th ARN&R article entitled "Maxim Announces 'Babes of the Amusement Industry' Issue."

Says Ben Noguchi, a representative of WebGalivanter, "Every single one of the more than 150,000 WebGalivanter searches leading to ARN&R yesterday involved some combination of the words 'Jessica Alba,' 'naked,' 'Maxim,' 'pork,' and 'frollicking,' each of which appeared in unrelated context in the December 19 article. ARN&R needs to wake up and realize that these hundreds of thousands of hits are from horny teens looking for sexy photos of Jessica Alba, not from coaster enthusiasts looking for wry banter and sassy put-downs of Six Flags America."

Noguchi added that ARN&R staff should be wary. "There are going to be lots of pissed off young men hoping to locate hot pictures of Jessica Alba frollicking in pork gravy, and instead they will find articles about Ratt wanting their own ride and coaster enthusiasts whoring themselves for the Discovery Channel. I really doubt ARN&R is prepared to deal with this great an onslaught of frustrated masturbators, especially since their audience is presumably made up almost entirely of a slightly different population of frustrated masturbators already."

Through a publicist, Jessica Alba declined repeated and insistent requests for a date or an interview.

-JCK
How Meta Is This?

We haven't the slightest idea what to make of it, but it's sort of funny:

Absolutely Crap News & Rumors

In the disclaimer, we think they mean that it's "just a joke" rather than "just a job," but if someone can tell us how to get a job making fun of coaster sites that make fun of coaster sites, we'd love to hear it. Actually, if they can tell us how to get a job doing this, that'd be cool, too.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Alton Towers Not Fooling Anyone

According to American theme parks, Alton Towers is not fooling anyone. "Sure, it's got its crazy British spellings and its '.co.uk' domain ending and its accent, but it's not really British. It's just pretending it's British to pick up chicks," said Paramount Parks.

"That is so true," concurred Six Flags Theme Parks. "One time, I was at a bar with Alton Towers, and after a few drinks, it was totally obvious that it was from North Carolina. And what's with that hair? What, does it think it's Ian Astbury [of British band the Cult]?"

Weighing in last and with a slight slur, Cedar Fair added, "Oh, that hair is hilarious! And those claims about height restrictions, about being so 'civilised' -- come on. You just know that park really would love to kick back with a Bud Light and a huge cloned B&M floorless coaster, but it restrains itself to get all the alt-rock girls."

Alton Towers responded angrily. "Colour me shocked. I am recognisably British. Bloody idiots."

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Very Special Christmas Rerun

Too full on Christmas dinner to create a new piece, but if you're lame enough to be on the web on Christmas day, we thought we'd provide one of our favorites from the last few months...

Members of Ratt Don't Understand Why Disney Hasn't Themed a Coaster After Them

After the success of Aerosmith's "Rock 'n' Roller Coaster" at Disneyworld, the members of '80s metal band Ratt are furiously lobbying for a themed coaster of their own. Jizzy Pearl, lead singer, declared that "Round and Round" is just as important to the development of rock music as Aerosmith's dozens of major hits. "We make music good. Coaster fun up and down. Where beer?" said Pearl when reached for comment.

Ratt, which has recently been touring venues with capacities upwards of fifteen people, has released four albums, news that surprised every member of the ARN&R staff. To date, no interest has been forthcoming from Disney. However, ARN&R has learned that The Holy Land Experience theme park in Orlando inquired about the possibility of hiring Ratt to represent the wages of sin in a dark ride under development.

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Welcome to Our Wacky Dutch Friends

In looking at our stats, we observed that we were getting a ton of hits from this Dutch theme park bulletin board. We tried translating it with one of those free translating tools, and, well, it's not the clearest translation ever ("Who is indeed too well-being ranch jah," "Very good well-being lark this!").

We think we're glad to be a good well-being lark. So:

Wij welkomstgroet u voor onze wel eens - spannend wereld van namaak nieuwtje zowat vertier warande. Wij veronderstellen u zal lach uw gezamenlijk reet vandoor.

Or, after being translated back into English:

We welcome you until ours ever thrilling worldwide with forgery novelty around amusement pleasure grounds. We suppose you will smile your total rear end run away.

Friday, December 20, 2002

ARN&R On Vacation? Um, Maybe.

We will be traveling the world, seeking out a new headquarters for the AbsolutelyReliableTowers.

Or maybe we'll just be with family.

Either way, we probably won't update the site quite as often as we have been.

Don't let that stop you from coming to visit, and certainly don't let that stop you from buying lots of stuff.

There's virtually no chance it'll be there in time for Christmas, but there's virtually no chance anyone actually wants to receive it for Christmas anyway, right?

Have a good holiday. Leave some gravy for everyone else.
Fansites of Third-Tier Parks Mix It Up

In a battle so intense that it evokes the debates over the relative merits of Magnum P.I. versus Simon & Simon, dedicated fans of The Great Escape in Lake George, New York, and Quassy Amusement Park in nearby Middlebury, Connecticut, have entered full-blown war on the web.

It all started when the operators of QuassyParkInfo.com started posting on TheGreatEscaperooni.com's forums, criticizing The Great Escape, a Six Flags property, for having derivative and boring coasters and being "under the thumb of the corporate pigs at Six Flags." They also started a thread on their own bulletin board mocking The Great Escape's new coaster, reported to be a mine train moved from a now-closed Indiana park, as "being so lame it wasn't even good enough for Old Indiana!"

TheGreatEscaperooni.com's tens of readers were not to take such an insult sitting down, however, except insofar as they were, in fact, sitting down, drinking a Big Gulp and finishing off a bag of Cheetos. In addition to noting that Quassy has only two "totally sucky" coasters of its own, the site's operators blocked access to their boards to all but four people, two of whom were the site's owners. "This site is for positive discussions of The Great Escape, and if we allow libelous statements like those made by the Quassy-heads to stand, we might not get all the inside news about the park," said the owners in a statement.

At press time, the dispute had consumed roughly forty hours of human time that will never be recovered.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Maxim Announces “Babes of the Amusement Industry” Issue

Maxim magazine, famous throughout the world for its incisive articles, hip reviews, and, mostly, really hot pictures of Jessica Alba, has in recent months caused controversies with its features. Chief among these was a poll where readers ranked who they felt the sexiest female sports reporters were; CBS Sports’s intellectual giant Jill Arrington won the vote and appeared in a scantily-clad magazine spread.

Maxim was unswayed by feminist backlash, and has continued articles in the same vein. Next month will see its list of the “Top Babes of the Amusement Industry.” ARN&R’s staff has obtained a preview copy of the issue, and is happy to report that the winners of the online vote, conducted primarily at Thrillnetwork and at Maxim's website, included Six Flags Great America Staff Member Michelle Hoffman, Six Flags Great Adventure Staff Member Kristen Kocher, and That Funny Ride Op Chick Who Doesn't Wear a Bra at Funtown.

Early word has it that all the contest winners were severely insulted by the magazine’s contest and refused to be photographed or interviewed. For this reason, Maxim will only list the winning “Babes of the Amusement Industry,” and the photo spread will instead feature last year’s ACE Con participants frolicking naked in pork gravy.

--JCK

[Editor's Note: Are you preparing pork gravy for frolicking? Avoid the mess like last year, where you got it stuck in your chest hair. Wear an apron!]

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Disneyland Fans Protest Replacement Of Tomorrowland Trash Receptacles

Disney theme park fans are a picky bunch, and that has never been proven more than during the past week, when Disneyland in Anaheim, California quietly began the task replacing Tomorrowland’s trash receptacles after the park closes to the public each night. Naturally, readers of the Disneyland fan site, MouseFetish.com, are in an uproar, and are pulling no punches when it comes to making their displeasure known

“This is ludicrous. Absolutely ludicrous,” said Mark Delhorn, webmaster of the site, which is one of the most visited unofficial Disneyland sites on the internet. “This is just typical, modern-day Disney thinking to remove pieces of a park’s history with no warning and replace them without apparent reason.” Delhorn knows his Disney historical facts -- the Tomorrowland receptacles, with their lids with hinged doors, thick steel construction and hand painted Disney logos -- date back to the mid-seventies, but are even more historically significant due to the fact that they are based upon a design from the early fifties, which was when the Magic Kingdom first opened its gates. “These artifacts are one of the last connections we have in the new millennium to Disneyland’s early years,” Delhorn added.

The receptacles are being replaced with units that seem to be quite similar to the outgoing models, but are quite different when inspected more closely. “The steel is thinner and more susceptible to dents and dings from out-of-control strollers, the logos are cheap adhesive labels, and worst of all, there are no hinged doors on the lids,” Delhorn elaborated. I’m not comfortable putting my trash in those things. Would you?”

Longtime Disney enthusiast “PoohBear”, whose weekly editorial can be found each Friday in the website’s “Disney Chat” section, offered a little insight to the whole trash can replacement fiasco. “For the past year, many of us fans have been on [resigned Theme Parks president Paul] Pressler’s case to repaint those old bins, since those things tend to rust out if not given a fresh coat every few years. Well, he didn’t heed our advice, and they rusted away and became too far gone, so they had no choice but to replace them. It was a shame, because it could have turned out differently.”

As the days go on and the last few are replaced, Delhorn’s aggravation has become more and more severe. “I still can’t believe this is happening, it’s like a terrible dream. I haven’t been this upset since Disney changed the colors inside the shops on Main Street. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve sat in Tomorrowland, admiring the way the light reflects off of those old cans with the splendor of Space Mountain in the background,” Delhorn continued as his eyes got watery and his voice just a little higher.

A group of MouseFetish.com readers, calling themselves the TTCC (short for Tomorrowland Trash Can Coalition) are warning of a protest of Disneyland to begin this Friday. If the old receptacles are not reinstalled, the group will boycott the Magic Kingdom for three consecutive days as they hand out flyers to guests about Disney’s misdeeds.

--RMA

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Busch Doll Hugely Popular

A Busch Garden doll that says "We're working hard to put thrills into your family's heart," and "Make no mistake, this park will be fun," has turned into a huge hit for a small company. The 12.5-inch-tall likeness, which features clips from Busch Garden's speeches, sold out a first shipment of 1,200,000 this week. A second shipment of the $29.99 thrill doll won't arrive until after Christmas.

``We anticipated it being a very popular item but we just didn't think it was going to take off that quick,'' said James Westinghouseling, co-founder of Irving-based TalkingThemeParks.com Inc.

Most of the 17 sound clips are straightforward quotes about the Theme Park attractions and other theme park industry topics - such as "Thrill regulations against our nation will not stand" - although the doll does utter some of Busch's malapropisms. "There's nothing derogatory, everything is complimentary, there's nothing to make fun of it ... (but) the doll is a good representation of the Theme Park giant, there are two or three of their Buschisms,'' Westinghouseling said.

It's unclear what Busch the Theme Park giant thinks of Busch the doll - the company's press office did not immediately return a call for comment.

A picture of the Busch Gardens doll appeared on the Drudge Report Web site last week, and the company got 6,000,000 web hits in a single day and media calls from around the world. It took its phone number off the Web site and posted a message cautioning that no more dolls were immediately available.

The next group of 1,200,000 should ship from Hong Kong on Dec. 30 with a third shipment on its heels, but that won't satisfy disappointed Christmas shoppers.

The Paramount Entertainment Library & Birthplace ordered two cases but sold them out within days, said spokesperson Adrian Barr. ``It's so out of control,'' she said.

The fledgling company isn't planning to stop with Busch. A talking King's Dominion Doll is in the works for the spring, with "Hypersonic will be open soon!" expected to be the biggest hit of the quotes. After that, Westinghouseling plans to manufacture talking Walt Disneys, Six Flagsers, Cedar Fairs and Busch's Sea Worlds.

--RAS

Monday, December 16, 2002

Did you know?

You can buy cheaply-made stuff from us. Click here.

Be the life of the next event you attend! Easily escape as multitudes of lumbering offended enthusiasts chase you angrily, panting from lack of exercise, to lamely slap you with park brochures, because you intimated that they might either (a) overstate their importance, (b) enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffets a bit much, or (c) be a bit too much into amusement park-themed patches.

Never realized you needed a coaster news satire website license plate frame, did you? Well, now you know.

You're welcome.
2003 to Bring Variety of New Rules at Six Flags Parks

Although few park patrons are aware of it, one of the amusement industry’s most important events took place this past weekend, when Six Flags corporate held its annual winter meetings. Aside from discussing corporate policy and logistics, and engaging in much rolling about in piles of filthy lucre, the executives of the park chain and its member parks held a series of meetings designed to create a new set of rules and regulations for park guests this coming season. ARN&R has obtained transcripts of the meetings, and is pleased to break the exclusive new rules and regulations to our readers.

- Six Flags Over Georgia will ban single riders on all its coasters, except for each Tuesday two weeks after a lunar eclipse during non-Leap Years from 1PM until 2:29PM, when single riders will be allowed only in the very back seat of the Georgia Cyclone, facing backward.

- Six Flags Astroworld will reinstate the coffinlike shrouds on the Texas Cyclone’s Morgan trains, and will additionally require all passengers on the ride to wear straitjackets filled with furious hornets, while simultaneously undergoing a non-Novocained cavity drilling.

- Six Flags Magic Mountain will allow one rider per train on X, which will be open for 20 minutes weekly, in order to maintain the record-setting lines for publicity purposes.

- Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom will require all visitors to “squeal like a pig” before boarding each coaster. Any visitor who refuses to perform the requirement, or who does not perform the requirement adequately, will be taken into the woods by security and “done up Deliverance style.”

- Six Flags America will require Superman passengers to negotiate a narrow path between fully armed Crips and Bloods engaged in a bloody gang war. Additionally, all visitors to the park will be required to spend 6 hours in line for Batwing without actually riding it even once.

- Six Flags Worlds of Adventure will allow passengers on a randomly rotating total of 8 seats on each train of each coaster all day. Passengers who choose the correct seats will be permitted to ride. Passengers who choose incorrect seats will be ejected from the park without refund.

- Six Flags Saint Louis will enforce its “no complaining” policy by having personnel hawk massive loogies right in the faces of anyone approaching the customer service window.

- Six Flags New England will continue to run single trains on every ride, close rides for long periods without cause, assign seats on three coasters, and close off 90% of the seats on Poison Ivy, and will also institute a new policy of having park employees use fire hoses to blast pressurized raw human waste at patrons in line for the coasters. Ride managers will be given discretion as to how many times per minute the hosings should occur for their individual rides.

The transcript also notes that none of the rules will be posted or advertised, as per standard Six Flags policy. “It’s more fun for people to find out by surprise, when a ride op screams at them in front of everyone, or perhaps hoses them down with excrement,” stated one park vice president. Cedar Fair is expected to follow suit within days.

--JCK

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Six Flags New Orleans to be New Flagship of Chain, Reports Say

The near-bankrupt Jazzland, now to be dubbed "Six Flags New Orleans," never able to come close to even the modest attendance goals used to justify millions of public dollars in investment, will be Six Flags Theme Parks' next mega-park, according to Internet sources. This year's addition of two "previously-owned" coasters "is just the beginning," according to JazzLandRulez.com's webmaster. "Next year, it's an enormous GCI wooden coaster and a record-breaking coaster so big it's designed by both B&M and Intamin!"

"We're going to pretty much abandon Magic Mountain and Six Flags Great Adventure and focus on this park scenically located on a swamp," said chain head Gary Story, according to the same sources. "Sure, the main population centers in the region are hours away and are already well-served by other major parks, and sure, New Orleans has like a million people at most, and, yes, sure, most people go to New Orleans for the hookers and booze, but, um, er...why the hell are we doing this again?" queried Story.

Upon a reminder from the rest of his management team that nobody doesn't like a town with hookers and booze -- including those people in charge of theme park companies who are forced to travel to the parks all the time -- Story got back on track. "After a late night of debauchery on Bourbon Street, who wouldn't like a ride on an Arrow coaster too lame even for Fiesta Texas?" he concluded, referring to the former Joker's Revenge, on its way to the park. After an assistant leaned over and whispered to him, sources indicate that he added, "It's a Vekoma? Even better!"

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Disney's California Adventure to Create Beach, Ocean Simulator

In what is being termed a "revolutionary effort" to revitalize Disney's ailing California Adventure theme park, the company announced plans to create a totally immersive beach and ocean simulator. The nearly five-minute attraction will feature the newest technology to make patrons feel that they are actually at the beach, including the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations they expect from a visit to the beach.

The park, located approximately forty miles from the Pacific Ocean and its hundreds of miles of largely pristine beaches, is expected to market the experience aggressively to native Californians as a "one-of-a-kind chance to walk on the beach." Target markets are primarily those living in communities such as Santa Monica -- a beachfront city where the average temperature is 77 year round -- and similar communities. "We don't think there's anything Santa Monicans will want to do more than drive through congested L.A. traffic for two hours to enjoy a relaxing day -- er, 278 seconds, give or take -- at the beach," said Disney spokeswoman Martha King.

If the attraction proves as popular as expected, Disney is expected to explore a "French Bakery" simulator for Disneyland Paris and a "Semi-Locked Down Retirement Community" for Disney World.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Applause Award Scandal: Busch Gardens Stripped of Title

In a shocking development that rocked the amusement park industry tonight, Busch Gardens Williamsburg was stripped of its honor as the 2002 Applause Award winner. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) made the decision to strip an Applause Award winner of its crown for the first time in history because of the park’s “conduct unbecoming a worldwide representation of fun and wholesomeness.”

Although IAAPA did not officially list the particular reasons for Busch Gardens’s exit from the organization’s acclaim, ARN&R can exclusively report that the Williamsburg-based themer will be appearing in a sexy centerfold for the next issue of Amusement Business. An IAAPA source who demanded anonymity stated that “The rule guide for parks seeking this award clearly states what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for contestants. And explicit centerfolds involving Applause Award winners are certainly not acceptable.” The spokesman also added that the “hot park-on-park action,” featuring shots of coasters at both Busch Gardens Williamsburg and sister park Busch Gardens Tampa, was considered "incredibly tasteless” by the organization.

According to a statement by IAAPA, the Applause Award lauds an amusement park "whose management, operations, and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with its foresight, originality and sound business development."

IAAPA announced that it will acknowledge a different park as the Applause Award winner for 2002: Maine’s Palace Playland. IAAPA officials claimed Palace Playland is the most logical choice to receive the highest and most respected honor bestowed upon amusement venues, as “[its] superior image, infrastructure, rides, theming, customer service, and entertainment package will distance IAAPA from such riffraff as Busch Gardens.” An organizational spokewoman added, “It was a really close vote anyway, so we feel Playland’s victory is an untainted one.”

In making its decision, IAAPA representatives stressed the small Maine seaside resort’s “only sort-of rusted and overbraked” production-model Galaxi coaster, “at least 37%-operable” fun house, “kind-of-nearby vagrant parking operations,” food that “verges on being fit for consumption by farm animals,” and “merely occasional open fistfights” as primary factors in the park’s being chosen.

When queried about the honor by ARN&R, an undisclosed Palace Playland employee stated, “I guess with all this extra attention, we’ll have to hire someone to hose down the bathrooms three or four times next season, huh?”

--JCK

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Teenage Enthusiasts Sue Six Flags: Too Frightening

A lawsuit filed against Six Flags on behalf of eight frightened Georgian children is threatening to unleash a wave of class actions similar to those that have won huge pay-outs from the tobacco industry.

The suit brought by lawyer Sameole Hush is being heard in an Atlanta federal court -- the first time such a case has appeared before a US judge. The suit charges Six Flags with responsibility for the frightening of the eight plaintiffs, saying the thrill ride giant did not provide the necessary warnings regarding scariness associated with its attractions.

Lawyers acting for the coaster chain filed a motion for dismissal, arguing that the issue was one of individual choice and, therefore, there was no case to answer. "Every responsible person understands what is involved with thrill rides such as spinners and coasters, as well as the consequences to one's airtime," the motion said.

Hush, however, argued that aggressive advertising campaigns encouraged teenagers and compromised individual choice. Hush has already made it clear that if his suit goes to trial, he would seek to turn it into a class action on behalf of all Georgian children under the age of 18 who claim they got frightened from riding thrill rides at Six Flags.

George (Go Jo) Johnson, 13, 48", one of the eight children involved in the lawsuit claims, "Yeah, they have warnings all over the place: No Heart Problems; No Back Problems; No Outwardly Visible Psychological Problems; and, shoot, you can't even have a bun in the oven! Nowhere on the sign does it say, 'This ride may be considered frightening.'" Go Jo paused to take a deep breath. "The only other warning I noticed was the height restriction of 48 inches. And, boy, ... once I reached that height, ... slam! I was the first in line." Another deep, painful breath. "Who would have thought rides like '˜The Great American Scream Machine', 'Serial Thriller', 'Mind Eraser', or 'Acrophobia' would be scary!" After being shaken back into consciousness, Go Jo finished, "I can't count how many rides I've been on or how many times I've been frightened on any one of them."

The IAAPA has dismissed such lawsuits as frivolous and a blatant attempt to capitalize on the recent publicity given to the growing rates of popular thrill rides in the United States. However, the progress of the lawsuit will be closely watched by the amusement industry, which fears it could follow the tobacco sector in becoming the target of huge compensation claims from thrill-related lawsuits.

--RAS

Saturday, December 07, 2002

SFKK Reps Announce New Coaster, Keep Straight Faces

At a press conference Friday, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom management announced the park’s new coaster. "Greezed Lightnin' will amaze and thrill guests with its ability to blast riders out of the coaster station at a lightnin'-fast rate of speed", said Lee Graham, vice-president and general manager of Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. Managing to retain his composure despite nearly being reduced to fits of giggling, he added, "This powerful coaster is sure to generate excitement among coaster fans from all around the world."

Graham failed to mention that the “incredible new coaster thrill attraction” was actually a well-beaten, decades-old shuttle loop coaster that had run as the Tidal Wave at Six Flags Great America (1978-1991) and as Viper at Six Flags Over Georgia (1995-2001). He also neglected to inform his audience that the “innovative catapult mechanism that propels the coaster from zero to 60 miles per hour” was a mid-1970s innovation, and that it was attached to a ride that barely qualifies as a coaster, merely going through a loop once forward and once backward. He did, however, successfully stifle several potentially embarrassing guffaws with well-placed coughing fits.

Following the press conference, Lee Graham was seen collapsing with gales of laughter against SFKK Media Rep Amy Ballard-Riley, who was slapping her knee and visibly weeping tears of joy.

“How the hell did you keep from cracking up when you made that announcement?” reporters heard Graham shriek, mere instants before she crumpled to the ground in hysterical amusement.

--JCK

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Supreme Court: Superman "Totally Not a Coaster"

In a sharply divided opinion, the United States Supreme Court declared last Wednesday that the Constitution mandates a finding that the launched ride Superman: The Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain is in fact not a roller coaster.

The opinion stunned legal experts, most of whom had anticipated that the Court would conclude that the ride was, in fact, a roller coaster. Prior cases, including In re Dragon Coaster, in which the Court found that the popular children's ride -- fully powered throughout its circuit -- was a coaster, despite its lack of gravity power had strongly suggested that a similar result would be reached here.

However, Justice Breyer, writing for the Court, rejected that case and others like it as "wrongheaded, and wussy too." He argued for decisiveness and for the value of drawing bright lines in the Court's decisions of such critical cases.

Breyer pointed to the outrage and confusion following In re That Toboggan Ride Thing, in which the Court found the task of identifying a portable ride with certain coaster-like attributes too difficult and called it "sorta coaster-like": "Though these decisions may be difficult, and, indeed, though my discomfort in making these decisions is palpable, we just have to do so."

The vote was extremely close, with four justices dissenting vigorously from the majority opinion. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, agreed with Justice Breyer's desire for decisiveness but found the conclusion that Superman was not a coaster to be "laughable if it were not so sad a comment on the current Court and its stupid poopy-headed mind."

Justice O'Connor relied on evidence of the Founding Fathers' beliefs about coasters. She quoted letters from Alexander Hamilton and James Madison discussing the First Amendment, both using the phrase "Congress shall call anything that involves gravity, wheels, and seats a coaster."

"This," she concluded, "compels the conclusion that Superman: The Escape is absolutely a coaster, and anyone who says differently is just a coaster tool." Chief Justice Rehnquist filed a short opinion concurring with Justice O'Connor's, calling her opinion "awesome" and noting that he would be posting a link to it on Thrillnetwork.com's forums under his user name "Riding4Justice4Ever."

Justice Scalia also filed a dissenting opinion. His conclusion reads as follows: "My rodent-brained brethren fail to recognize the complete absurdity, stupidity, and irrelevance of their efforts. This Court must not waste its time attempting to resolve such petty issues. Our time could have been better spent in deciding a truly important question: Should all executives of Six Flags Parks be executed for their parking fees, or just enough to make an example of them? I grumpily dissent."

Legal experts expect the parking fees issue to reach the high court by late this year, but also anticipate a potential delay if Justice Thomas is allowed to talk to the cute parking attendant at Six Flags America while on a "factfinding visit."
Celebrity Theme Park Ejection Notices

In an odd confluence of ejections of well-known entertainment personalities, three celebrities have been ejected from amusement parks in the last week. In an ARN&R exclusive, we bring you the details.

Winona Ryder was ejected from Six Flags Magic Mountain on Monday and has had her season pass revoked for line jumping. Miss Ryder claims she was rehearsing for the roll of a disobedient theme park guest in the upcoming film, Rollercoaster II. Video footage has caught the 31-year-old actress dipping under guard rails in queues for Viper, Colossus and Revolution, while she climbed over the rails on the rides Superman: The Escape, Goliath and Ninja, along with a rumor she may have even had a place "saved" for her in the queue of X.

To the shock of many of his fans, The King of Pop was video taped on Tuesday, virtually proving he may be off the wall, bad, or even dangerous while holding his 9-month-old infant by the feet from the chariot portion of a carousel­, normally reserved for people with hand held infants--and out over the edge of the 15mile-per-hour spinning attraction at Spreepark Berlin GmbH in Germany. The 44-year-old music legend told ARN&R that he was attempting a demonstration of the ride's weakness in safety restraint systems.

R&B Diva Brandy was accused on Wednesday of stealing Hip-Hop recording artist Pepper's outfit and wearing it to Paramount's Great Adventure. The outfit in question, conceived by Pepper himself, was called "get naked." A spokesperson for Brandy told ARN&R, "While the hat, the dark glasses and the jacket were all purchased at the same time and from the same location, the outfits were not exactly the same." The main difference is a given that Brandy is female while Pepper is male. They were both, coincidentally, ejected from the park.

--­RAS

[Editor's note: Don't make the same mistake as Brandy and Pepper! Wear clothes next season! Wear clothes with jokes only one-tenth of one percent of the theme park population will get! Buy stuff now!

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Bush Takes Tough Stance on Inspections

Tensions escalated today as United Nations inspectors were initially turned away by armed guards posted at the gates of Funtown Pier, a small amusement area located in Seaside Park, New Jersey. Observers fear this latest confrontation is yet one more step leading to an armed showdown between the United States and the shoreline entertainment zone.

President George W. Bush declared that he was “not encouraged” that Funtown Pier would acknowledge its high coaster G-forces and avert war. Bush delivered his assessment at a Pentagon press conference after U.N. inspectors reported continued difficulties in their search of suspected violators of New Jersey’s G-force limitations.

“The inspectors are in New Jersey to examine possible amusement violations, not to play Red Rover and Duck Duck Goose with the owners of this park,” the president said, apparently maintaining his hard line against Funtown Pier. He added: "These gravityational, er, gravitronitional . . . these forces of mass destruction must not stand. Make no mistake."

The U.S. government has long maintained that Funtown Pier’s Roller Coast Loop, a production-model Pinfari Zyklon with a single inversion, has gravitational forces in excess of New Jersey’s legal limitations. After much posturing and threats of exclusion from the park’s owners, U.N. inspectors were finally allowed their first tests on the ride late in the afternoon.

Although Canada, France, and Britain have all expressed desire for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated this evening at the White House that “a full regime change at Funtown Pier may be the only option the United States can now consider viable.”

--JCK
Great Escape's New Coaster Ties Into Roots

(Queensbury, NY) Six Flags today announced a major new coaster to be constructed at The Great Escape theme park in the Adirondack hamlet of Queensbury. The coaster, to be named "StoryTown - The Awakening," takes its theme and location from the remaining original artifacts of the park's first incarnation as "StoryTown USA."

"We have been wanting to do something to both increase the visibility of our historic sections and offer an exciting new thrill ride to our patrons, especially since that Alpine Bobsled ride is down 90% of the time," said park spokesperson Jack Horner. "The new coaster, by Intamin, features three inversions, a high speed helix, and runs smack
through the middle of both the Wild West Village and the Story Town section -- you know, that part of the park that looks like Candy Land come to life? We've taken many of the Story Town houses and figures and used them as ride supports and elements."

Riders will board the coaster at The Crooked Man's crooked house, which is designed to disorient the rider. The coaster cars were formerly used as the Storytown train, guaranteeing the riders a "rickety wood coaster feel from a steel coaster track." says Horner. The cars proceed up the lift hill and descend 87 feet through the Old Woman in a Shoe's doorway ("better duck!") at a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour before entering a high-speed helix around the antique carousel. "We were hoping to have
a brass ring for the riders to grab, but when one of technicians tried it out we thought better of it," said Horner, who added that the technician was expected to make a full recovery from arm reattachment surgery.

The coaster then rambles through StoryTown proper, with various storybook characters on either side of the track that you can reach out and clop in the head, then on into the Wild West Shootout section of the park. Here, riders will thrill to an Immelman over the Dry Gulch Saloon, where former Marine spud-peeler and U.S. Congressman Jerry
Solomon's widow fires ("Don't worry, they're only blanks!" said Horner with a wink) at the coaster car with an Uzi while a taped voice of the Congressman bellows "because she has a right to defend herself and don't you forget it!" Survivors then will go through a double loop before cruising back into Storytown, where the train passes around Cinderella's horse-drawn carriage ride ("We're still working on the horses getting spooked," chuckles Horner) and into the brake run.

The coaster is scheduled to open on July 4th, unless the lawsuit settlements fall through. The park's former target audience of small children will be welcomed at a 100-square-foot section called "KidArea," featuring a trampoline and a three-hole miniature golf course.

--BRB

Monday, December 02, 2002

Enthusiast Has Wretched Holiday

According to self-described “coasterholic” Pete Brody, 28, his Thanksgiving holiday with his family was “a complete waste.” The jobless member of ACE, Coaster Zombies, and nearly a dozen online coaster clubs, failed “miserably” in his efforts to direct the Thanksgiving conversation to amusement parks and roller coasters.

“You’d think we might talk about something interesting when the whole fam gets together,” whined Brody. “I even did some things to stimulate conversation about my interests, like leaving the computer’s browser on Thrillnetwork, wearing my European Coaster Odyssey t-shirt to dinner, and leaving 20 or 30 onboard coaster photos lying around, but it didn’t work.”

Brody was most upset that his family seemed more interested in the “stupid crap” that his siblings had been involved in. His older brother Michael is an advertising executive who recently became engaged to an Olympic gymnast, his sister Cynthia placed second in the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, and his other sister Marcia just returned from a two-year Peace Corps mission helping to provide medical care for disease-ravaged Ugandans.

“I do important things, too,” declared Brody. “I mean, I rode my 242nd coaster on the Coaster Odyssey…a really good SLC. I make lots of important posts to ThemeParkCritic.com that everyone says are really good. I send off a job application a couple times a year, mostly to S&S and Intamin for design positions. And I came all the way here just to be with my family, so you’d think they could notice me,” the exasperated enthusiast stated, waving his hand toward the basement steps in his parents’ house, which he had successfully negotiated all the way from his well-worn mattress up to the first floor.

“Did anyone care what I think about CCI shutting down? Did anyone ask about my top ten suspended coasters? Did a single family member inquire whether I’d enjoy modeling my newly monogrammed ACE jacket for them? No, no, and no. We have to go on for hours about piano recitals and wedding arrangements. And especially Marcia’s dumb thing in Africa. There aren’t even any coasters in Africa! But Marcia’s always been their favorite, the little goody two shoes. It’s not fair.”

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” Brody added in a hysterical wail.

--JCK

[Editor's Note: Save yourself from a wretched Christmas. Go buy some crap. No family member can ignore you if you come to dinner wearing nothing but boxer shorts inscribed with the ARN&R logo and "No underwear for me. Just a strategically-placed Beast patch." You will get attention. Even more if you wear the thong version. Just, um, don't send us any pictures.]

Thursday, November 28, 2002

International Spirits Distributor Renames Product

Evidencing a futile desire to break into the highly profitable bogus theme park rumor category, the Absolut company released a new product called "Absolut Reliable Booze & Vodka."

"We taght dis waz gonna bee a goot ting," says Absolut spokesperson Gunta Hildawater. "We shape bottle to look like Drop Zone, Tower of Terror and many
otter Amercan trill park attractions."

When contacted about the new product at the Absolutely Reliable Towers in midtown Manhattan, ARN&R's unnamed CEO exclaimed, while throwing his pen across the room, pushing papers on the floor and jumping clear over his desk, "They stole my flippin' idea! I was the one who came up with mixing alcohol with bogus theme park rumors!"

"We hat ideea since Andy Warhol design first bottle," Gunter counter claims. "You, Mr. ARN&R Dude, were still in baby clothes."

"I was not! I was not! I was not!"

While enthusiasts worldwide praised ARN&R for obtaining a domain licensed solely in its name, an official investigation has been ordered to ensure all writers and
contributors to ARN&R are of legal drinking age even if they do not touch the stuff themselves.

--RAS

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

B&M to Add Kicking, Screaming Children to Flying Coaster Design

In an effort to make the experience of its “flying coaster” closer to actual flight, famed Swiss coaster designers Bollinger & Mabillard announced yesterday that, for a small additional fee to parks, every new flying coaster would come with screaming and kicking children permanently installed behind each seat.

“We were flying over to the U.S. to meet with a potential customer and there was a four-year-old with the most piercing voice we’ve ever heard sitting behind us,” said Walter Bollinger. “And the kid apparently was physically incapable of sitting still, so every two seconds – thwack – right in the back of our seats. And we had it! That’s what our flying coasters needed to complete the experience!” The children are reported to be imported from developing countries in exchange for "humanitarian aid" to the countries' governments.

If the experiment is well-received, B&M has indicated that it may introduce other add-ons, including one-ounce bags of pretzels and demands for government assistance.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Disney Buys 5,000 Acres for Farm-Themed Park

The Disney company yesterday purchased 5,000 acres in south-central Los Angeles for a brand-new amusement park. But it won't be just another park themed after California or a magical kingdom. Instead, in an innovative partnership with Tyson Chicken and Archer Daniels Midland, the new park -- tentatively called Rural Disney -- will be themed after today's agribusiness.

"The main section will be the soybean farm," said Michael Eisner in a conference call with analysts. "Based on advice we got from ADM, roughly 3,500 acres will be nothing but soybeans, with one ride heavily themed to the area for every 500 acres. My favorite ride is Farm Accident, but we won't tell you a lot of details about that except that it involves one big thresher and a lot of special effects."

The balance of the park will be the Tyson-sponsored part, with building after building of chickens with waste lagoons -- ponds half-filled with chicken feces -- spotting the area. "About half of the chickens have been specially genetically modified to create enormous meat-heavy birds unable to fly, walk, or do anything besides sit in their own waste. The other half are layers, forced to sit in a cage just millimeters larger than the birds themselves, laying eggs galore while, again, sitting in their own waste. The kids are gonna love it!" concluded Eisner.

If the park is successful, Disney is said to be considering adding cattle factory farming and hog feedlots.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Opportunity to Give ARN&R Cash Returns Triumphantly

Federal economists were relieved to hear the news that Ye Olde Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors Shoppe returned to service, permitting hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts an outlet for their hard-earned KFC paychecks. "Shoddily-made t-shirts and other products with obscure smartass jokes are a huge growth sector of the economy," said Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve. "This is good news indeed."
In First, Enthusiast Mangles English Language

Readers of a coaster message board were shocked last night by a young coaster enthusiast’s lack of grammatical capability, sources told ARN&R today. The message in question, posted at 9:33 PM on ThemeParkCritic.com’s roller coaster forums, was authored by No1BoomerangBeeyatch3. His post, titled “BIG KNEW COASTERS READ THIS,” was described by both linguistic and amusement park experts as “an assault on the English language.”

“I’m stunned,” said Ohio enthusiast Andy Pongracz, 32. “I’ve been reading and posting to these forums for two years, and every other entry I’ve ever witnessed has been a model of correct punctuation and comprehensible, thoughtful prose. I can’t even read this post.”

Added CoasterHombre364, a regular forum participant, “I am deeply offended to see this sort of slipshod writing. All these punctuation errors, the horrible spelling, the run-on sentences…this is the first and only time in the history of coaster enthusiasm that I’ve seen writing this crappy.”

ARN&R has obtained a copy of the offending writing sample, which is reproduced below:

i herd six flags got some knew rides for it’s parks, thats good, i like knew coasters THAT ARE BIG so gte some of those who we can ride. my favorite ride’s are one’s that makes me loose my self in them and i forget wear i was, isn’t this the best don’t you think so two? Superman ultimate ascape will be grate because their wont be any breaks for it, its going to be so cool for my girlfriend and i when we ride it and get LOOPED!!!!! And who know’s that other one their doing for enchanted forrest the woody? YOUR GOING TO MAKE IT MORE BIGGER THEN SON OF BEAST RIGHT OR I WONT RIDE IT!!!!!!! do I havemy facilities in tact here or what do u think?

Dr. Carol Lampley, noted professor of English at the University of Georgia, was disconsolate when presented with the post. “This writer consistently makes punctuation errors and misspellings so gruesome that I am uncertain whether the sample is really and truly composed in our native language at all. I would be remiss not to insist on a remedial English course for No1Boomerang3, since he is lagging far behind all the other enthusiasts, each and every one of whom uses proper grammar in his or her online posts.”

--JCK
Sheer Terror Sets In As ARN&R Store Down Again

Millions of shoppers were brought to tears today as Ye Olde Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors Shoppe went down again. "It's almost like they're too cheap to host the store themselves and are instead using some freebie place," said Bob Jones, ARN&R devotee.

Be patient. Your opportunity to give us money will return. We hope.
Enthusiast Whores Self For Discovery Channel

Scandal erupted among the ranks of the American Coaster Enthusiasts this week when member Hugo Monro confessed to making lies and exaggerations in order to be filmed by the Discovery Channel.

The network’s new fall roller coaster special, Top Ten 2002 Thrills, features five steel and five wood coasters judged to be the absolute best the world has to offer. Descriptions of the rides, including the universally beloved classics Hercules, Chiller, Flashback, Son of Beast, Paramount’s Great America’s Grizzly, and various Mind Eraser SLCs, are combined with point-of-view (POP) footage, as well as onboard enthusiast commentaries and interviews.

Said Columbus, Ohio native Munro, 25, “I’ve been racked with guilt ever since doing the special. I have always dreamed of giving my incisive coaster opinions to an enthralled television audience. Unfortunately, Discovery needed someone to do another damn Beast commentary, but I figured, what the hey, anything for my fifteen minutes. I didn’t realize my bald-faced lies would weigh so heavily upon my soul.”

While viewing the special, Munro became visibly distraught as he heard himself cheerfully uttering such preposterous statements as: “Beast is an airtime monster,” “no coaster on the planet Earth has better pacing,” and even “this ride has a good, fun roughness.”

Ultimately sobbing in regret, the enthusiast placed his head in his hands. “What was I thinking? I am such a whore.”

Munro’s self-described “completely absurd” on-board sequence followed, causing him to turn his eyes heavenward, as if asking forgiveness from a higher power. A particularly galling segment of Munro’s narration featured him screaming the following: “Yeah! There are no brakes…oof…(unintelligible)…anywhere. We’re about to…ugh…hit 90 fat miles per hour! Yeah! (unintelligible) Air! More air! Whoo-hoo! Right (unintelligible) best…oof…(obscenity) camelback on this (unintelligible)! Yaaaaah! Yaaaaaaaaah! (unintelligible) number one coaster ever!”

“Boy, that coaster sucked something fierce. I actually got battered so badly during that one ride that I couldn’t walk right for a week, but I just had to be on TV,” confessed Munro. “I have brought shame to my people.” Methodically banging his head against the top of his television set, he added in a barely-audible whisper: “The horror! The horror!”

--JCK

Saturday, November 23, 2002

National Nightmare Ends; ARN&R Shop Back Up

After eight hours of anguish, Ye Olde Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors Shoppe has reopened for the teeming masses. Click on "Ye Olde Shoppe" over there to the left.
S&S Power Launches New Assorted Meat Products Division

Continuing his pattern of acquisitions and expansions, S&S Power founder Stan Checketts announced yesterday the establishment of S&S Meat Parts, a wholly-owned subsidiary. S&S Meat Parts "will focus on the needs of amusement parks as it relates to meat and meat-related products," said Checketts, standing atop his new "Absolutely Insane Hot Dog Heater," rising four feet above the folding table at S&S's Logan, Utah, headquarters. "I don't know much about meat, but I know a good hot dog, and I know a guy with a lot of extra hog parts, so I think we're in good shape there. Plus, I can build these hot dog heaters using our patented launch air technology, and you should see those weiners fly through the air."

The first customer for S&S Meat Parts's products is reported to be Paramount's Kings Island, where the machine is expected to operate for four days and stand nonfunctional for the balance of the season.
Massive ARN&R Traffic Brings CafeShops Server to its Knees

In a rush of traffic not seen since the online Victoria's Secret fashion show, tens of millions of loyal ARN&R readers rushed to Ye Olde Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors Shoppe and promptly brought the entire CafeShops system to a screeching halt. We apologize for the inconvenience; clearly, the hundreds of thousands of dollars we spent on the store will come back through protracted and vicious litigation.

Or maybe CafeShops is just having problems and it'll be back up soon (hopefully). In any event, we know it's broken. Your opportunity to give us money will come back soon.

Friday, November 22, 2002

ARN&R Store Opens; Looting Occurs Almost Immediately

After weeks of anticipation, Ye Olde Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors Shoppe opened simultaneously earlier today with locations in London's prestigious Glaxonbury Shopping District, Park Avenue in New York, the Oevurue Malloiux in Paris, and Fargo, North Dakota (which demanded a location to avoid litigation over ARN&R's claim that it had been purchased to serve as a parking lot for Six Flags Over the Upper Midwest).

For shoppers not in one of those locations, there's also an online store with painstakingly-designed t-shirts and boxer shorts, with more to come. A better selection cannot be had in all the thirteen colonies, and there's nothing better to wear to an enthuiast event than something that will likely incur the ire of 95% of those around you. So, um, enjoy!

All proceeds will go to benefit ARN&R.
Superman: Tower of Power To Premiere

Ending months of speculation, Six Flags Over Texas announced its new thrill ride for the upcoming 2003 park season last Friday. Beginning in the spring, Superman: Tower of Power will rise into the skyline.

The new attraction will consist of a trio of massive S&S Combo Towers, each of which will launch riders into the air, then blast them back down, using the company’s patented air-compression technology. At 315 feet tall, the ride will be a signature attraction at the original Six Flags-branded amusement venue.

Industry insiders are surprised at the choice of theming. Said a competing park’s general manager, who spoke on condition of anonymity, “The superhero theming was getting tiresome, but it was at least a proven marketing tie-in. I’m not too sure about this Tower of Power thing, but best of luck to them.”

In keeping with that Tower of Power theme, the area around the ride will be transformed to look like a moderately sized arena, and funk and soul hits will blare from loudspeakers. The crowning glory will be the extensive participation of the actual Tower of Power band. Legendary baritone sax man Stephen “Doc” Kupka will provide an ominous backstory over monitors in the preshow area, while actual members of the band will perform on the ride while it is in progress.

Said SFOT manager Elliot Bergman, “We know some people may wonder about the strategy of theming a ride to a long-time brass soul band. It will work out just great. Some folks at the home office have been worried about reduced capacity, since 6 of the ride’s total of 36 seats will be taken up by a rotating cast of band members at all times, and the band itself has some unfounded concerns about keeping time and pitch while being separated on the different towers and getting blasted up and down at 60 miles per hour, but we think the difficulties are more than compensated for by the unique immersive experience.”

Bergman refused to confirm rumors that sometime Tower of Power collaborators Huey Lewis and the News would be performing on top of the giant ride on weekends, but did add cryptically that he “could imagine nothing more thrilling than blasting up and down hundreds of feet in the air while listening to ‘Stuck With You’ and ‘Hip To Be Square.’”

--JCK

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Crusading Legislator Takes On New Target

Massachusetts Congressman Edward “Biz” Markey (D-MA), most famous in recent years for his tireless efforts to rid the world of pleasurable amusement park experiences, is making waves in the nation’s Capitol again this week. Although he has campaigned extensively to pass legislation restricting roller coaster gravitational forces (also known as G-forces) and require amusement parks to answer to federal examinations and standards, Markey announced a new expansion of his personal war on dangerous pastimes during a speech this afternoon on Capitol Hill.

“While my colleagues and I will fight unceasingly to rid the nation of enjoyable amusement attractions, and will continue to attempt to foist ignorant federal regulators upon a uniformly safe sector of the economy, we have only just begun our battle against American outdoor recreation,” said Markey. “Our new crusade will be to bring the dangerous shuffleboarding industry to its knees.”

Shuffleboard, a demure outdoor game played primarily by South Florida octogenarians, involves the use of a long stick (the “cue”) which players use to push the small puck-like objects (the “disks”) onto a marked-off target to score points.

Markey cited numerous statistics in his speech, chiefly the 1998 United States Consumer Products Safety Commission Report, which states, “injuries from less active sports, such as…shuffleboard…increased moderately or not at all from 1990 to 1996.”

“Clearly this indicates a warning trend that shuffleboard honchos want the American Public to ignore,” sneered Markey, pounding his fist, Krushchev-like, upon his podium. “With all of their supposed ‘advancements’ in gear and playing techniques, they still maintain nearly the same horrific rate of injuries after six years. This scourge on our people must be stopped.”

Aside from the apparently damning government report, Markey provided additional support for his claims. “I have certified sources who attest that 37 people have suffered fatal injuries during the course of these barbaric matches over the past 3 years. Of course, I’m not going to tell you the names of these sources or produce any documents proving any of this is remotely true, but I will relentlessly quote these figures anyway. 37 fatalities! 37!” Markey further noted a “stunning” number of shuffleboard players who have developed arthritis, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, incontinence, hearing loss, and even senility “solely and entirely from playing this deadly game.” Markey has indicated a desire to require all players to either wear ski boots welded to the floor or to be suspended by steel cables throughout all game play to avoid any risk of falling. He may also push for requiring that pucks be made of foam.

Calls by ARN&R to the National Shuffleboard Association offices were not returned.

--JCK

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

ARN&R Gets Own Domain, Plans World Domination

Hey. We moved out of that rinkydink town over to our very own domain: AbsolutelyReliable.com. One of these days, we'll get redirection pages up there.

Oh, and we're going to dominate the world through a devious secret plan involving getting people to read made-up coaster rumors. So thanks for helping with that. There will be t-shirts also.

And, for the ACErs among you: gravy. And cake. Sometimes both combined.
Vekoma Unveils New Ride at IAAPA

Amusement ride manufacturer Vekoma unveiled its latest offerings this week at the convention for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). Running from November 20-23, this annual showcase of amusement parks and concessions takes place at Orlando’s Orange County Civic Center. IAAPA’s yearly convention is generally the largest of its type each year, and visitors are treated to a large array of new rides and offerings from all the major companies.

As always, the most scrutinized booth at the convention is the one for Dutch manufacturer Vekoma. Due to the company’s production of a long line of successful products, such as SLC’s, Boomerangs, Invertigos, and Flying Coasters, attendees are always eager to meet with Vekoma’s crack team of cruel, twisted scientists to view their new offerings to the world.

“We feared that we could never top the headbanging of the SLC, the nausea of the Flying Coaster, or the all-around…how shall we put it?…evil of the Boomerang,” said Vekoma mad scientist Dr. Herbert von Blauvelt. “But we sadistic denizens of Vekoma’s dark, underground, hidden lair have brought the citizens of Earth a new, more glorious, roller coaster that will make them weep with pain. Our time has come!”

Dramatically whipping aside a large pelt, von Blauvelt uncovered the latest Vekoma coaster, a prototype named “Der Überleistepfünder." “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” screamed the scientist to the cheering crowds. “Notice the granite head restraints situated less than three inches to each side of the average rider’s head. There will be three feet of track shimmy to emphasize the cranial dislodgement…that’s our most fiendish amount of rattle yet! Then…get this…riders will be suspended below the track by a hard iron bar secured only around their stomachs. Oh, we’re so wicked, so wicked, so very wicked!”

Von Blauvelt also pointed out the unique special feature of the new coaster, a ball-peen hammer that sharply whacks the groinal area of passengers at 16 randomly determined times during the ride. “The agony will be exquisite,” said von Blauvelt, before dissolving into high-pitched giggling.

Reliable convention spies report to ARN&R that Six Flags has already purchased 5 of the new Vekoma devices, for distribution to Six Flags New England, Six Flags Marine World, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and Wyandot Lake. Reputedly, the new coasters will all have the same name: “Groin Eraser.”

--JCK

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Dollywood Offers New Menu in Honor of Enthusiasts

In preparation for its upcoming new fall coaster event, Dollywood Amusement Park has revamped its food service, incorporating a distinctive and unique array of snazzy menu items to please the discerning gourmands of the American Coaster Enthusiasts.

“When amusement park guests think Dollywood, we want them to say ‘Golly shucks darn, that’s some good eatin'!’” quipped park owner Dolly Parton, speaking from a Nashville recording studio. “It was important to us, what with havin’ these ACE members comin’ to visit our little park for Dolly’s Coasterfestabration, that we do their meals up right nice. We had to come up with some new vittles that would satisfy such a large group!” Parton then returned to eating a small dish of lobster ravioli with a chardonnay.

“We’re proud of this one,” stated park food service supervisor Gena May Swinson, holding up a dripping concoction called "Deep-Fried Big Macs On A Stick With Ranch Dressing." Swinson elaborated: “We whupped up a batch special-like for the last group of ACE people, and they liked it so much we’re makin’ it a regular concession.”

A tour of the Dollywood kitchens revealed a number of additional culinary delights for the upcoming ACE gathering, including "Frozen Mayonnaise Pops," "Deep-Fried Crisco With Caramel," "Chicago-Style 10-Meat Pizza With Hollandaise Sauce," "Massive Hog Chunks Pan-Basted in Fat Netting," and "A Big Ol’ Tub of Popcorn Butter-Flavored Squirt Sauce Without Any Popcorn." But Dollywood saved the best for last.

“ACE will come back every year after they get a load of our secret weapon,” Swinson boldly proclaimed. “Just check out the All U Can Eat Suet Buffet and tell me that don’t look good.”

--JCK

Monday, November 18, 2002

South Dakota to be Rebranded as Six Flags Upper Midwest

In a breathtaking display of aggressive branding, the government of South Dakota and corporate executives from Six Flags Inc. announced today that the entire state of South Dakota will be renamed Six Flags Upper Midwest. Along with the rebranding, the state will receive a Vekoma Rollerskater coaster, a used Huss Frisbee, and a Zipper last used at the Washington County Fair in northeastern Oklahoma.

The state, which was launched in 1889 with a combination of private and public funding, had fallen on hard times of late. "Back then, the feasibility studies indicated that, with minimal promotion, the state would receive seventy-five million visitors per year. Based on that, the state readily agreed to fund the project," said Tim Jones, spokesman for the state. "Now that I think about it, the people doing the feasibility study were the same people who wanted the money...hmm. That can't be right."

"In any event, attendance has fallen far short," continued Jones. Not even the huge capital expenditures going towards Wall Drug billboards have turned it around. So we were thrilled when Six Flags stepped in and offered to take over the state."

Six Flags has reportedly paid $18 million for the state, compared to $1.3 billion spent in public funds over the past twenty years. When Jones is confronted with the contrast, he emphasizes Six Flags's other investments: "Those rides they're installing -- those aren't free! And the rebranding of the state will have enormous benefits for the whole state and both of our restaurants."

Six Flags has also reportedly purchased North Dakota for parking, which will cost $8, and estimates put the gate price at $34.99, with a special season pass for Six Flags Upper Midwest citizens (now called "Customer Satisfaction Representatives") costing $399 per year, with an additional ten percent tax added onto all non-Six Flags income.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Busch Sues Pharmaceutical Company

A law suit was filed today against McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals by Anheuser-Busch over an Imodium A-D advertisement featuring a young man being strapped into Alpengeist and, just before the moment where the train would crest the summit, an announcer asks, "Where will you be when your diarrhea kicks in?"

"We were appalled," claims Busch Garden's Williamsburg spokesperson Janet Chechelle. "Yes, we knew McNeil Pharmaceuticals was filming an ad, but we assumed it would be for a product equivalent to Dramamine."

The ad which aired November 4 featured an actor portraying "Mat" and was followed with his comment, "Imodium saved my vacation. You can't go anywhere without Imodium A-D in your pocket!"

Chechelle feels the advertisement will create adverse reactions next season with park patrons. "They will be checking the seats for cleanliness if they get on at all. We'll have to hand out towels and wet wipes to every guest. It's going to kill ride capacity. It's bad enough when a guest vomits...but, now this."

McNeil Pharmaceuticals defends their position claiming, "Last year, over 1.1 billion trips were taken within the US alone. Any one of these vacations could have easily been derailed by minor illness, such as an attack of diarrhea, motion sickness, or the flu."

"Yuck," exclaims season pass holder Josh Finklestein after viewing the ad. "I will never ride Alpengeist again."

The ride, Alpengeist, was number one among a national poll of coaster enthusiasts in the highest, most twisted, invertedness category, but has been recently downgraded to number 2.

--RAS

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Enthusiast-Turned-Employee Surprised At Attitudes

Christopher Karning, a nineteen-year-old coaster enthusiast, thought he had the perfect job for the summer after his first year at Southern Connecticut Community College: He would work at Rye's Playland and become acquainted with other employees -- all of whom he assumed would be knowledgeable enthusiasts. "Yeah, y'know, I figured everyone there would be as thrilled as I am about being around the coasters and flat rides and the rest, and I could learn about the history, and maybe be taken under the wing of an old but wise grizzled veteran ride operator who would choose me to be the next lead on the Dragon Coaster."

Karning says he was sorely disappointed from the outset. "First off, they wouldn't let me wear my ACE lapel pin or attach any of my dozens of iron-on patches onto my Playland employee uniform. And then, when I yelled out, 'I love my dragon woodie!' when walking past the Dragon Coaster on my first day, everyone looked at me like I was some sort of weirdo."

And as for his hopes to be mentored by an older ride operator, Karning has even less good news: "The only person here who's been here for more than three years is Bob the Sweeper, who gets dropped off from his group home every day and will only take direction if sung to the tune of 'Old McDonald.' He seems willing to teach me about the heritage of sweeping up garbage, but that's not really what I'm looking for. And as for the younger employees -- forget it! All they care about is getting paid and sneaking behind the Tilt-a-Whirl to get stoned, and . . ." Karning's voice then trailed off in disappointment.

"Though there is that one group of girls who always want me to talk about how much I love woodies. But they don't seem to be taking me seriously."

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Six Flags New Jersey Cited for Human Rights Violations

Amusement park industry insiders were startled this morning by news that Amnesty International, the international human rights watchdog organization, has cited Six Flags New Jersey for “heinous violations of acceptable conduct toward its peoples.”

Although famous for its far-reaching and often successful efforts to fight against the imprisonment of citizens for political or religious beliefs, as well as efforts to end inhumane punishments such as torture and the death penalty, the organization has never before mounted a campaign against an American amusement park.

Said Amnesty representative Enrique de Conejo, “typically we focus our letter-writing and protest campaigns against major countries. In this case, however, we simply could not ignore this amusement park. We will set an example with Six Flags in the hope that other parks will end their own human rights violations.

Notable in Amnesty’s list of “unthinkable atrocities” is the staggeringly painful, poorly maintained, and ungreased wood racing coaster Rolling Thunder, which de Conejo referred to as a “barbaric insult to the free peoples of the planet Earth.” The Arrow looper known as Great American Scream Machine is labeled “a cruel and brutal assault on the dignity of park visitors, who only wish to think and speak freely, and not be subjected to violent cranial trauma.” However, the top target for Amnesty International’s focused mailing campaign will likely be the Viper, an insidious “torture rack” designed by a team of psychopathic Japanese scientists. Said de Conejo, “it is amazing that, in these enlightened times, an allegedly ‘free’ nation would openly practice the torture and degradation of its innocent civilians.” De Conejo then winced as he and reporters heard the pitiful wails of unspeakable agony wafting over from the latest trainload of Viper riders.

Six Flags Great Adventure remained defiant. “Give us a break here,” said park rep Lucifer Stallings. “We’re about to add our fourth B&M, for crying out loud. And we took those migraine-inducing torture devices off Chiller. Our park is making progress, and the radical group Amnesty International is just trying to impose its Eurocentric views on something that's important to our culture!”

If Amnesty International’s campaign proves successful, reports indicate the group may add other potential targets, such as King’s Island for its construction of The Beast, Vortex, and Son of Beast, Dorney Park for refusing to remove Hercules, and Vekoma for what sources describe "an unending series of attempts to inflict intense pain."

--JCK

Sunday, November 10, 2002

ACE Members, Flaunting Policy, Discuss Something Besides Coasters

Word has been leaked to ARN&R that two American Coaster Enthusiasts were witnessed discussing topics that had nothing to do with roller coasters during the Funtown Fling event this past season. Enthusiasts are advised by authorities to be careful approaching these individuals, as they are presumed to be dangerous.

“I had my guard down, and they just nailed me when I wasn’t prepared,” said Pennsylvania coaster enthusiast Dan Bjerkin, 34. “I was waiting in line for a ride, and these two guys were talking about something besides roller coasters, which really should have been a huge red flag. I ignored the warning signs, though. Next minute, one leans over and asks if I knew the Canes-Noles score. What the hell are Canes and Noles?”

Vermont enthusiast Sue Spackley, 47, was also disturbed by the two non-coaster-discussing ACE members. “I don’t know what these guys were thinking. Everyone knows the acceptable topics for ACErs to talk about or have any knowledge of whatsoever: track lubrication methods, what seats are best, what gauge of track companies use, what the latest innovations for S&S/Arrow will be, whining about restraints and park policies, and how often each week your mother yells at you to go get a job and move out of her basement. I eavesdropped on these morons, and, within the space of 15 minutes, they talked about how their careers were going, an issue of The Onion, the fall foliage, several team sports, some guy they went to school with and couldn’t stand, filming techniques of Hitchcock, and even the dire financial state of symphony orchestras in America. One of them even apparently has a wife, and the other guy asked how she was. Obviously, their priorities are way off. I’m sending a letter to the ACE Disciplinary Committee.”

Located by ARN&R, the two enthusiasts, identified as Pennsylvanian Richard Neywitz, 28,and North Carolinian Kirk James, 30, were defiant toward ACE and its members. Said Neywitz, “Well, we love riding coasters and we talk about them more than our families would like, but it’s not like coasters are the only thing on the planet worth discussing.” James then chimed in, saying, “We made time to bitch about how much Vekoma sucks, and we were talking about some sections of various CCI rides we really enjoyed, but then I think we wandered off into discussions about politics and the Pulitzer Prize literature nominees. There IS more to life than reading coaster web sites all day long, after all.”

Authorities are considering serving warrants on the “two supposed enthusiasts” after an incident of possible assault at Funtown. After meeting Neywitz and James, ACE Member Jason Padilla, 27, suffered what was believed to be a mild heart attack, one he claimed was caused directly by James attempting to inquire if Padilla had seen the new DVD releases of any Kurosawa films. The guilt of James and Neywitz is in doubt, as some medical experts are convinced that the apparent heart attack was actually a gas reflux reaction caused when Padilla digested two entire roasted turkeys and a half-gallon of gravy at the ACE picnic immediately prior to the unprovoked attempt at conversation.

Bucking the trend, at least one ACE member had nothing but positive thoughts about the two non-coaster-discussing enthusiasts. Said Connecticut’s Tim Jolly, 46, “One of those guys told this really filthy joke to the other about someone named ‘Dubya.’ I had never heard of any ‘Dubya’ before, but I assume he must be one of the new engineers working for Intamin or B&M. I thought it was cool they let me in on the inside scoop like that.”

--JCK

Friday, November 08, 2002

Breaking News: Coaster Track Seen

Coaster enthusiasts were rocked late last night by news of an exciting coaster track spotting in northern Florida. Alert American Coaster Enthusiast and Florida Coaster Club member Alton Thompson, 14-year-old described by his dermatologist as "a great challenge," noticed the new track while being driven by his mother to his weekly Dungeons and Dragons game with best friends Marshall Fine, 14, and Marty Warshaw, 13.

"We passed this big flatbed truck on I-10," gushed Thompson. "There was, like, all this blue coaster track on there. I think it was B&M, but it might've been Intamin. It was really wide gauge, though, so I bet it's a new 4th dimension ride that B&M hasn't advertised yet!"

Thompson, whom experts have identified as staggeringly unlikely to get laid before his 40th birthday, proceeded to post his illustrious and insightful opinions to numerous coaster sites, including CoasterBuzz, Thrillnetwork, Screamscape, Coasterglobe, and even the long-dormant Thrillride. As there was not a single other coaster enthusiast aware of a giant new blue B&M or Intamin ride being erected in northern Florida, speculation ran rampant as to whether this ride would be merely an independently owned Jacksonville Beach concession, or perhaps was a sign that the long-awaited opening of Six Flags Live Oak might be nigh.

When located by ARN&R staff for an exclusive interview this morning, the driver of the flatbed sighted by Thompson proved surprisingly ready to speak about his cargo of brand-new coaster track sections. Said Billy-Ray Helms, 45, "What the hell are you talking about? I'm carting a load of new sewer piping to the Wal-Mart opening north of Jacksonville. Now get out of my way before I run you over. Moron."

--JCK

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Proposal: Strong Federal Regulation of Amusement Park Shows

In a last-minute push for votes, Congressional candidate Robert Urlacher (R-OK) made a bold proposal today, urging the creation of a new federal agency to heavily regulate the dozens or hundreds of musical, magic, and other shows at amusement parks nationwide.

"The time has come to say 'Enough' to mediocre high school student actors performing scenes from The Music Man to a poorly-recorded soundtrack. It is really, really, really time to say 'Enough' to stunt shows with acting worthy only of second-grade plays. And we must stop the movie tie-ins that make Keanu Reeves look like freakin' Richard Harris. I propose a new agency to preview all proposed shows with full power to veto their production and, if necessary, jail or execute the participants."

Urlacher's opponent, Janet Franklin, seeking to avoid looking soft on bad shows, said she'd go further: "We should summarily execute all people who have been in, or attended, one of these shows."

Friday, November 01, 2002

Intamin Sales Rep Makes Fun of B&M

Robert "Bobby Man" Linnell, new salesman for Intamin, says he's figured out a great way to get parks to buy Intamin rides rather than those manufactured by renowned firm Bollinger & Mabillard.

"I tell them, 'Look, just take out the ampersand in their abbreviation and you'll know what kind of coasters they make.' You know, 'cause then you've got 'BM,' know what I mean?" said Linnell, nudging ARN&R's reporter repeatedly. After observing the responsive puzzled look, Linnell sighed, "BM -- bowel movement. Like poop? Ringing a bell here?" After shaking his head, Linnell mutterred, "Stupid media don't know a great sales line when they hear it."

Linnell, who came to the amusement industry from a three-year career selling siding door-to-door, has previously referred to Arrow Dynamics' coasters as "pointing nowhere but down" and called S&S Power "Stupid & Stupider."

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Premier Parks to Premier Convict Cove

Murderers. Rapists. Thieves. Engineers. Imagineers. For many prison inmates, designing amusement park attractions and thrill rides is the only taste of freedom they'll ever get. Although inmates are not able to attend "Convict Cove," a new Theme Park solely created by convicts from penitentiaries located all across the US, Premier Parks sees ride design and engineering as a new form of redemption for the common criminal.

In a comment involving the redemptive power of amusement park ride design, deputy warden David DiGuglielmo of SCI Graterford, a maximum-security state prison in Pennsylvania, believes that "Not giving inmates things to do is dangerous. They need outlets. They need ways to occupy their time. Some of the inmates -- before they got into ride design engineering -- were difficult people."

Inmates awarded good records can design together as long as they produce an upcharge attraction every three months. Holding on to a top notch staff of designers can be a problem. Adding to the pressure of the attraction itself, a design team can lose its privileges if the attraction is poorly attended. "It's hard to keep a quality design team together in here -- you have people going home all the time, you have people getting in trouble and getting put in solitary... you have to keep those spots filled if you want to keep your planned opening date."

This can be a problem, adds inversion coaster designer Troy (25 years for armed robbery), because, "It ain't like the street, where you can put a flyer out or a newspaper ad. We can look right around and we know who's here, and we're stuck with them."

As each attraction's debut date approaches, the design team must conduct its own publicity, prototype their attraction extensively, and finish all their regularly scheduled individual chores right up to the frantic last minutes before the attraction's premier -- where a rough, rowdy crowd of families, screaming babies, and destructive teenagers await.

Owners of traditional design firms are furious. "Steal my job they did," said famed B&M designer Walter Bollinger, speaking, oddly, in a Yoda tone of voice, perhaps reflecting an inability to write a Swiss accent. "Design coasters they know not how." After his ARN&R interview, Bollinger flew to the United States and robbed a Pennsylvania bank, hoping to become part of the SCI Grateford team. "They're doing great work in flying coasters," said Bollinger at sentencing.

--RAS

Friday, October 25, 2002

Inside Track to Return "Better Than Ever, Real Soon Now," Says Wyatt

Mark Wyatt, beloved founder of Inside Track magazine, held a triumphant news conference yesterday among throngs of admirers, announcing that the magazine will return "real soon now."

IT, according to Wyatt, went into a rebuilding phase several years ago. "The subscriptions were never lost, and everyone who sent in money -- and thanks to everyone who kept sending me money, by the way! -- will get their issues. We didn't stop publishing. We just...slowed it down. A lot."

The wait will be worth it, according to Wyatt, who was occasionally hard to hear over the cheers of coaster enthusiasts. "It's going to be so much better than before. We'll have pictures and articles and editorials and I'm hoping that my moustache and I will be on TV again. Hello, Discovery Channel! So everyone out there, just go ahead and send me your subscription payments now and you'll get the next issue in a matter of days. Or weeks. Maybe several weeks. You can't rush quality."

Rumors indicate that the first issue after the rebuilding phase will feature a cover story about an up-and-coming coaster firm called "Bolliger and Mabillard" and a preview of a brand-new exciting company called "Custom Coasters Inc." It also will provide exclusive stories that Wyatt says will "blow the doors off the industry" -- about a supposed (if improbable) claim that Premier Parks will take over all of the Six Flags parks, go on a buying spree, and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new rides.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

"Dracula" at FrightFest Getting Way Fewer Girls Than Expected

When Tony Murray saw the ad in the newspaper for Six Flags Magic Mountain's hiring of actors for its "FrightFest" attraction, he was immediately attracted to the Dracula role. Having recently seen The Lost Boys, Interview With a Vampire, and various other vampire movies, he knew one thing was true of all vampires: They get girls.

"I figured I'd leer menacingly at the girls and they'd just fall apart, and I'd be going home -- in costume, of course -- with a different girl every night," says eighteen-year-old Murray, a recent high school graduate. "But the best that happens is they scream and giggle and then keep walking through the haunted house. None of them leave their phone numbers or even seem to know that I'm not animatronic."

Also reportedly disappointed were actors playing Dr. Frankenstein and Hannibal Lecter. Oddly, the actor playing Casper the Friendly Ghost reports that he has "been scoring every night!"

Monday, October 21, 2002

Disney To Rid Haunted Mansion of Ghosts, Evil Spirits

Disneyland announced yesterday that it would be hiring an exorcist to rid one of its most popular attractions of reported ghosts and evil spirits. "These things have been popping up and frightening park guests," claims Disney spokesperson Casper Royson. "Witnesses claim these otherworldly beings inhabit virtually every room of the ride. This may not have been such a big problem if there were only one or two of these creatures, however, our investigators have turned up literally hundreds!"

Several park guests have left the ride shaking in fear. "Yeah, there's a whole bunch of ghosts in there," stated 14 year old Mike MacDonald. "One ghost even hitched a ride in our doom buggy!"

"This has been going on for years, right under our noses," points out Royson. "We plan to clean the attraction for the park's 50th anniversary." A search is under way to obtain just the right exorcist to perform the job.

Higher ranking Disney officials also plan to look into the attraction which appears in its sister parks. "We simply cannot have the spirits of the dead scaring unwary visitors. The Mansion is supposed to be a fun, family oriented attraction. Not a haven for spooky miscreants."

-RAS

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Medieval History Day Goes Poorly At Castles 'N' Coasters

Attempting to emulate the success of larger parks' "Physics Days," Arizona-based Castles 'n' Coasters' management thought they would play to their strengths: castles. So they planned an elaborate Medieval History Day, inviting doctoral students from all the regional universities to attend.

Response was underwhelming, to say the least. "I study a subspecialty of agricultural literature common in medieval times, and they're trying to get me to come eat huge roasted turkey legs at an amusement park?" asked Rick Fineman, a Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona. "First of all, the huge roasted turkey legs are well-known to be renaissance in origin, and second, those castles are totally not medieval. Plus, I hear the coasters they have there suck."

The one group that came out in force was local high school drama clubs, who dressed, without exception, in capes and Birkenstocks. "Aye, the park is full of saucy wenches!" said Eugene Rocken III, a junior at Phoenix Regional High School.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Six Flags to Eliminate Coasters, Add Football

In a bold attempt to increase slacking park attendance, Six Flags announced yesterday that it will substitute football for its roller coasters.

"Statistics have proven fans are more willing to wait through an hours-long football game rather than up to 120 minutes for a two-minute thrill ride," claims park chain spokesperson Walt Favre. "We plan to build between 3 and 4 stadiums per park -- think about the cash flow we'll have coming in when we fill those babies up!"

Favre also points out that guests would be able to take bathroom breaks or get refreshments and not lose their place during a game, unlike the strict linejumping rules at the current ride-oriented parks. Throughout football's off season, SF parks would re-create famous Super Bowl moments with more elaborate half-time shows.

While player injuries are expected, guest injuries are predicted to be drastically reduced. And the thrills won't be reduced: "There are quite a bit more ups and downs as well as turnovers in a football game."

Six Flags fan Bianca Williams thrills over the idea. "Imagine, visiting a theme park and then seeing replays all day long on ESPN. You cannot do that with a roller coaster."

-- RAS

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

FastPass Riders to Get Hot Towels, Beverages

Six Flags Theme Parks announced today that guests who purchase a "FastPass," a special pass to skip the lines for major thrill rides, will also be given hot towels during the loading process and a complimentary beverage of their choice. In addition, an opaque curtain will be installed on most coasters that have a FastPass lane so that FastPass riders will be separated from the rest of the train (now called "coach" or "economy class" by the park company).

The chain is said to be considering adding separate luxury bathrooms, fully-reclining seats, and personal video systems for FastPass customers. The future may see non-FastPass customers being restricted to an entirely separate portion of the park where only one-half-ounce bags of pretzels and six-ounce cups of RC-brand soda will be available for purchase.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Frontier City Acts Up

In what child psychologists describe as "classic oldest-child behavior," Oklahoma City amusement park Frontier City has reportedly been constantly acting up, seeking the attention of its parent company, Six Flags Theme Parks. "At first it was little things," said Dr. Mike Goldman, a Tulsa-based psychologist who specializes in oldest child issues. "Like Frontier City would refuse to clean up its queues and would sometimes run its coasters without the level of braking directed by its parent. But now it's really escalating -- the other night, it stayed open until 3 in the morning, just sitting around talking about girls."

Frontier City was the company's first amusement park. At the time, the company was called Premier Parks. After taking over the operations at Six Flags parks nationwide, the company changed its name and all but abandoned its first park, "putting it in the position of the unwanted child from a first, sort of embarrassing, marriage," said Goldman. "But if Six Flags stays firm but loving, encouraging the positive but giving Frontier City a timeout every time it acts inappropriately, I think they can work it out."

At press time, reports indicated that Frontier City was contemplating body piercing and/or tattoos.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Due to Typo, Paramount Parks Celebrate Columbo Day

The word came out from corporate headquarters: Paramount Parks were to celebrate Columbus Day in grand style, with appropriate theming and costumed characters.

But, due to an unfortunate typographical error in the memorandum, all of the Paramount parks around the country instead celebrated the coolest of all detectives, Columbo. Peter Falk impersonators got calls for work like they haven't gotten for years, cigars and trenchcoats were sold out in local stores, and visitors had an unusual day at the park.

"I was just in line for Hypersonic when this kid -- couldn't have been more than eighteen -- comes up to me. He's got his tie loosened, his collar sorta half up, and a trenchcoat. And that cigar -- what was up with that?" asked Barbara Piccolo, a guest at Paramount Kings Island this morning who had the day off from her government job. "And he starts grilling me like I'm a murder suspect or something and talking in this weird gravelly voice. They've got a funny way of celebrating Columbus Day here."

(Editor's Note: Yes, two old detective show-themed articles in a row. Go figure.)

Friday, October 11, 2002

Lower Quarterly Results Blamed On Really Good Rockford Files Episodes on TV Land

Paramount Parks, trying to explain lower attendance at its regional theme parks in the past quarter, didn't blame most of the standard targets -- inclement weather, the lingering effects of 9/11, and so on. Instead, it attributed the drop to a really good stretch of Rockford Files episodes on TV Land.

"It's the darndest thing," said chain CFO Brian Marvin on an analysts' conference call. "Just as the summer was reaching the stretch where we usually do best, we noticed a drop. And our employees were coming in tired, too. Then we figured it out: TV Land is showing The Rockford Files after midnight, and this summer they were showing episodes from the height of the show's oeuvre. Like, the other night, Rockford ended up in New Jersey -- man oh man, was he out of place there. And then there was that one where he disguised himself as a coffin salesman -- that was a classic!"

Marvin then started giggling and humming the show's theme song and refused to stop, ignoring all further questions.

"Dee doo do-do-do, dee-dee-dee-dee-dee doo-doo..."

Thursday, October 10, 2002

German Exchange Student Not At All At Home In Oktoberfest Section of Busch Gardens

Jakob Schmidt, a German exchange student staying with a family in suburban Washington, D.C., was reported to feel "not at all at home" in the Oktoberfest section of Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

His host family, the Gardners of Rockville, Maryland, had brought him there "for a little taste of the old country," says Dave Gardner, the student's "host dad." "We figured he probably missed the liederhosen and sausages-on-a-stick that are known to be so popular in Germany, and Busch Gardens does a heck of a job with the theming, so we packed up the family and headed down for a surprise weekend," said Gardner, who has never been overseas nor more than 300 miles from home. "But we got there and walked into the German-themed section, and you could see the disappointment on his face. I guess he was hoping for more black turtlenecks and techno dancing or something. I thought he'd be into the polka dancing a little more."

Schmidt, reached for comment, said it took him a full half-hour to determine that the theme was supposed to evoke Germany. "It is utterly unlike anything I have ever seen in my home country. It's like the park thinks everyone in Germany froze in time starting in about 1875. And hello, serving Bud Light? You'd get your ass kicked in Germany if you served Bud Light."

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Cedar Fair Tries to Convince Analysts It Should Trade Higher Based on Its Cool Stock Symbol

Cedar Fair, L.P., a publicly-traded partnership operating close to a dozen amusement parks and water parks, held a special conference call with stock analysts after the markets closed yesterday to emphasize that the symbol for its partnership interests is so cool, the unit price should be increased on that alone.

"It's 'FUN!' Don't you get that?" queried Brian Withers, Cedar Fair spokesman. "F-U-N. It spells 'fun,' what our guests have. Every time you type it into your computer, you'll smile. When you see it go across the ticker, you might even giggle. C'mon, guys, that should be worth at least a buck a share." After the analysts sat in stony silence, Withers spelled out F-U-N with arm motions and sang a short song about the joys of holding stocks with neat abbreviations.

Cedar Fair closed yesterday at 20.85, unchanged for the day. In after-hours trading, however, the stock was up sharply at $23.20, suggesting the call was successful.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Enthusiast Planning to Get Really Into Porn During Offseason

As the amusement park season comes to an end, many enthusiasts start thinking about what to do with their free time during the following six months. Some do crafts, others travel, and still others obsessively visit coaster-oriented sites every 45 minutes hoping for an update on what program the flat rides at their home park will be running.

But Paul Fedder has decided to go in an entirely different direction: pornography.

"I figured, that's something I can obsess about even more disturbingly than I do coasters, it allows me to maintain my hours-at-a-time on the computer I'm already used to, and it'll educate me enough that I'll be a real catch once I enter the dating pool," said the seventeen-year-old Fedder, who says he's "saving himself for college girls."

Fedder has already obtained several false adult identification numbers for access to those sites that require age verification, and used his dad's credit card to obtain over five hundred dollars in PayPal funds for paying for private sites. He says he's still getting the lay of the pornographic land, but thinks that he'll gravitate towards "classic porn, just like I love the classic wooden coasters, going up and down and up and down and up and down..." His voice trailed off.

"I gotta go."