Thursday, July 31, 2003

Hersheypark Announces New-for-2004 Attraction: Pony Ride

Following months, and perhaps even years, of speculation, Hersheypark appears ready to announce its new-for-2004 attraction. Although many felt that a new B&M Hypercoaster might be a possibility, later rumors and the proposed footprint seemed to indicate an Intamin Rocket Coaster. Still, no word was forthcoming until the park posted large banners indicating: “Get Ready To Start the Stampede, Something big’s coming to Hersheypark in 2004. Round up your 'pardners' - the secret’s out August 5th at High Noon.”

“That really had us excited,” said ACE member Geoff Baker, 25. “We thought a stampede theme would fit well in the existing area of the park, and the footers seemed to indicate a Rocket ride was likely. We’re just waiting for the official announcement, but we all know what the thing is, and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Surprising Baker and pretty much every other person remotely interested in Hersheypark or roller coasters in general, it was learned today that the park would indeed not be receiving any Intamin products. Nor, for that matter, would any coaster at all be forthcoming. Instead, the park released a statement through Screamscape to this effect: “There’s a cloud of dust on the Horizon, and when it settles there’s gonna be 10 wild horses in the corral!”

At a press conference later in the day, former VP of Operations Franklin Shearer was trotted out to lend his excitement to the official announcement, and to explain the Screamscape blurb. “We’ve got a real thrill for all you cowboys and cowgirls next year,” he exclaimed. “Get ready to experience the extreme terror and thrills of a real live…Pony Ride!”

Confused enthusiasts initially thought Shearer meant to make a joke, but it turned out to be completely factual. According to the park, guests will wait in a “highly themed atmosphere” while in line, then individual riders will be led into the pony corral. From there, “the Rodeo Technicians will help the rider mount a pony, which will then be led around in a few circles inside the pen, achieving top speeds of over 4 miles per hour.” Guests will then have a wide variety of gift shop products available to commemorate their once-in-lifetime thrill experience: cowboy hats (“management not responsible for the loss of headgear not secured before riding”), T-shirts, onboard ride photos, and cruel leather whips.

Shearer noted that a big launched coaster would be out of place at a family-friendly ride environment such as Hershey’s, and that a fun attraction for the entire family made more sense for everyone involved. He also pointed out that “ponies break down a lot less than Top Thrill Dragster.”

ACE members are already complaining about capacity, with some wondering aloud at the press conference whether 10 of the animals would be enough to keep the potentially huge lines moving. One member pointedly asked Shearer whether there would be any Fifth-Row Ponies made available for “Guests of Larger Than Average Size,” to which Shearer replied that “someone would look into it at some point.”

Absolutely Reliable News & Rumors Jumps the Shark

Recently, a disturbing number of unflattering comments about the lack of humor being produced lately by ARN&R have been appearing in coaster forums, coaster club gatherings, ARN&R's email inbox, ARN&R's weekly raucous press conference, the New York Times, and, oddly enough, on Iron Chef. Aside from the statements by national humor experts that they “far prefer the Onion,” “declared the entire WEBSITE not funny,” thought “this site sucks,” threatened to sue (yes, it’s true) and strongly disapproved of the continued ARN&R focus on mullets, gravy, Jessica Alba, and enthusiasts wasting loads of time “flogging their thunder dolphins,” there was brought up the troubling question of whether ARN&R had already Jumped the Shark. Sources close to ARN&R report that, sadly indeed, this is true. Pop culture experts are reportedly stunned with the Dark Angel-like swiftness with which the fledgling amusement satire blog committed its Shark Jumping.

At 6:oo PM on Tuesday, July 30th, the intrepid reporter JCK donned a bathing suit, life preserver, water skis, and leather jacket, greased his hair back, smiled, and went roaring across Lake Erie within full view of Cedar Point. Upon reaching full speed, JCK performed a dramatic leap over a large shark inexplicably and ominously located in his way. Landing amid a huge and impressive splash of lake water, JCK turned to his throng of female admirers, holding his thumbs up and saying “Aaaayh!” Most observers believe this pathetic stunt demonstrated the desperation the site has reached in trying to create any humor at all for its mass of literally pairs of eager readers.

“I really don’t see why our website running a promotion where we had one of our writers jump a shark is indicative of failure or a downturn in our blog,” said the Editor-in-Chief. “This was merely a new way to explore and develop a character loved by millions…hundreds…well, some of his friends, anyway. I guess. But the point is, our website is certainly as viable and popular and meaningful as it has ever been.”

The Editor-in-Chief (who requested several times for reporters to address him as Supreme High Admiral without success) then detailed a substantial list of story ideas that would be developed this season on ARN&R. “We’re always looking for ways to stretch our characters and keep the audience on edge,” he said. “So we have a number of plotlines and special tricks in store to keep everything smart and fresh. For instance, we’ll have a number of guest stars. Whitney Houston will come sing for Rick Shroeder and the cast of ARN&R, and Paul Ruben will appear with Nancy Reagan to denounce drug use. We have not received commitment on this, but our casting department informs me that we are about 85% likely to have a spectacular cameo appearance by Charo that features her acting skills and some dancing and singing. I believe she has also recently written a very profound Requiem Mass that should feature prominently in the episode.”

He continued: “And we’ll also have a number of Very Special Articles, including the one where someone gets touched funny by that guy in the back of the shop, and maybe one of the writers has to decide whether to lose his virginity, or perhaps someone gets a really awful grease smear on their rare Boblo Island shirt after riding Raptor in the rain, and it just won’t come out no matter what. We’ve also realized that our current cast is going to need a little help staying fresh and at the forefront of national attention, so we’ll be adding some new writers next week: Cousin Oliver, Godzookie, and Mark Wyatt. And of course we will have a wedding episode to conclude the season. And it might even be a cliffhanger!” The Editor-in-Chief then visibly squirmed with delight in his seat.

Votes have been flying in at the Jump The Shark webpage, as ARN&R haters share their opinions of when they feel the website Jumped the Shark. The most popular votes, aside from the obvious literal jumping of a shark by JC ”The Fonz” K yesterday, were for the following: Gravy Mentioned for First Time(10/6/02), JCK Allowed to Post Articles (approximately 11/8/02), Porn Alluded to for First Time (10/8/02), Jessica Alba Referenced for First Time (12/19/02), and one strange vote for ARN&R Now Locatable Through Google Search for “Suck on Barney Ass Dripping With Vaseline" (approximately 7/29/03).


[Editor’s Note: Reports that the jumped shark in question was not a real Lake Erie inhabitant, but in actuality was the not-entirely-convincing mechanical shark from the Jaws attraction at Universal Studios in Orlando, are unconfirmed at this time.]