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.


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."


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."

Friday, October 04, 2002

Magic Mountain to Provide Botox Injections In Line

Six Flags Magic Mountain announced yesterday that, in a new cross-promotional deal with a local plastic surgeon, Dr. Harry Thomas, the park will provide a small booth for its guests to receive Botox injections while in line for various major rides. As part of the deal, Dr. Thomas's customers at his traditional practice receive $4 coupons for admission to Six Flags.

"Our guests have always responded well to our lemonade and other in-line merchandising opportunities, and this was just another way to enhance it," said Mary Gallagher, spokeswoman for the park. "Our rides will make you scream, but your face will be entirely serene while you do so!"

If the deal goes well, Dr. Thomas is considering adding breast implants and simple facelifts to the procedures done at his booth, and Six Flags is considering expanding the program to include a full-fledged spa, complete with mud bath and full-body massage.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Launched 4-D Wooden Coaster Joke Getting Really Old

Participants in the AmusementTalk discussion group confirmed today that a member's incessant joking about a "launched 4-D wooden coaster" is really getting on their nerves.

"Sure, the first time LinkinCoaster mentioned it, it was sorta funny. Sorta. But now, any time anyone brings up any rumor of a new coaster going in anywhere -- or even a new flat ride -- he always posts something about how he heard it was going to be a launched 4-D wooden coaster," says a member who goes by CoasterElder. "Sometimes he'll elaborate on it a little bit, saying it'll have a splashdown section, or maybe a loop. But none of it makes it funny."

This is not the first time LinkinCoaster has been ostracized for running a joke into the ground. He has previously posted fifteen times within a four-day period about his claim that Shockwave at Six Flags Great America would be retracked with wooden track and enclosed.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Paramount Parks to Change Cleaning Supply and Services Vendor

In a long-rumored development, Paramount Parks announced in a letter to its season passholders that it would change the vendors for its cleaning supplies and services. Clean-U-Rite of Cleveland, Ohio, is out, and Cleanin' Stuff of Cincinnati is in.

First rumored on Screamscape and hotly debated on CoasterBuzz in a discussion that reportedly became so personal that restraining orders were required, the change is expected to be implemented shortly after the final park closing this year. The loser in the dispute, Clean-U-Rite, insists that the quality of its service will not go down during the final Halloween events: "The fake blood, the slime, and the fog residue will all be gone and the parks spotless. Even if some people in this business don't have class, we do," said Joe Frederick, company spokesman. Frederick then had a coughing fit, during which the phrase "Paramount sucks!" was clearly audible.