Thursday, April 20, 2006

Marineland Revisits Dragon Mountain Theming

Dragon Mountain, an Arrow four-inversion steel coaster located at Marineland, is one of the more unusual rides in existence. Part of the reason for its uniqueness is its sprawling layout, part is for some intriguing elements such as the dark tunnels and bowtie double inversion, and part is because of the bizarre unfinished theming that has permeated the area around the track since the coaster was first erected in 1983.

Some of the theming has always been in place, including the ominous carved entryway leading to a cavern containing the coaster's loading area. But other areas, primarily a massive volcano and a large recreation of nearby Niagara Falls, were never completed. Strangely enough, the decision to abandon these theming elements was made well into the ride's actual construction, so both large structures were partially built, but never brought close to fruition. Instead, passengers on Dragon Mountain have for years been treated to the gorgeous and inspiring sight of two huge piles of filthy, rusting steel that form the barely-begun volcano and waterfall.

ARN&R is pleased to report that Marineland has listened to the thousands of complaints it has received over the years, and has finally begun the long-awaited task of finishing the elaborate theming for this coaster. Soon visitors will not be faced with hideous, completely oxidized steel frameworks but with incredible scenery.

Of course, that scenery won't be exactly what people are expecting. Indeed, the park's managers felt that the original ideas had become overplayed and cliched in today's market, so they wanted to go for something more distinctive and original. With that in mind, the plans for a fiery volcano and roaring set of falls have been replaced with a fresh, creative, avant-garde interpretation, where the ugly metal supports are merely covered with a giant Hefty bag.

The new garbage-bag-enshrouded, corroded, collapsing metal is anticipated to be ready to entertain throngs of smiling visitors as soon as this weekend.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Park Patron Educated by Pencil-Necked Geek

According to Midland-Odessa cow semen milker Billy Ron Hunt, he recently learned some interesting facts about Six Flags Texas during a visit to the theme park with some friends. Unexpectedly, the informative tidbits were gleaned not from park brochures or ride operators, but from a pencil-necked geek standing nearby in the massive queue for Titan.

"I was telling my buddies about how Titan was the tallest coaster in the world and this little nerd a few people away leaned over and said that I was wrong, and that the world's tallest coaster was actually at another Six Flags in New Jersey. Who woulda thunk it?"

But that was not all the education the group received from the dork. At various points during their wait for a ride on Titan, they were fortunate enough to have the geek lean in and correct their errant views about roller coasters. For instance, they were told in no uncertain terms that the Texas Giant was not the first roller coaster ever made, that the Flashback did not feature the most loops of any ride in the country, and that Mr. Freeze was not a ride worthy of consideration for top ten steel lists. The last bit of news was the most interesting to the group, as all four of them had Freeze ranked in their top three until learning from the nerd how stupid their coaster opinions were.

"It was real great having someone tell us all that stuff," said Hunt. "We never woulda known. It was so interesting that I still remembered most of what that guy said even after I kicked his ass."


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Yale Library Gets Surprisingly Low Marks

In a recent review by the Coalition of American Libraries, the libraries of Yale University were given a surprising thumbs down, as COAL derided the collection as "underwhelming" and "deficient in scholarly works in some important areas of modern research." The review came as more than a mild shock to the departmental heads at Yale's libraries, considering that the overall university collection ranks as the fourth largest in the United States (after only the Library of Congress, Harvard, and the Boston Public Library) and for decades has been acclaimed as one of the top scholarly research institutions in the world. So what led to the poor scores?

"Roller coasters," said COAL's Vice President of Academic Library Review P. Piers Woodhouse IV. "Or, should I say, the near complete lack thereof."

Woodhouse derided Yale for maintaining a roller coaster literature collection that consists of a mere two books, Robert Cartmell's Incredible Scream Machine and Todd Throgmorton's Roller Coasters. "The Cartmell book is a classic, and they do get some positive points for at least having that one," he said. "But to have such a woefully inadequate set of texts on coasters, and not a single Discovery Channel special or Robb Alvey onboard video in their media holdings, is truly pathetic."

"It amazes me how this university has squandered its ample library funds," Woodhouse added. "They have this utterly huge main library, Sterling Memorial, with fifteen floors of books, and entire massive branches devoted to the Divinity School, music, arts and architecture, science, and many other disciplines. There should be a completely separate branch to house a massive and world-renowned coaster-related collection, and they don't even devote a single shelf to one. Bah!"

Woodhouse also complained about the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale, a translucent marble facility that houses valuable and fragile books, in particular two original Gutenberg bibles. "This just shows how little interest Yale is taking in a field as important and relevant as roller coaster research," he said. "To think that a special display would be made for anything created by the insipid star of Police Academy and Can't Stop the Music, while the works of David Bennett and Mark Wyatt lay ignored, is a travesty."

He also pointed out that although Yale is in "excellent shape" in "relatively obscure and unimportant areas" of its holdings, such as British literature, math, history, and political systems, it was unfortunately also "criminally deficient" in a number of other disciplines, including Star Trek novels, classic Dungeons & Dragons dungeon master guidebooks, Steven Seagal movies, and hardcore Japanese stroke mags.

COAL stated in its official criticism of Yale that the university would be given six months to substantially improve its insufficient collections or risk losing accreditation from the Coalition.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Can't Let This Boo-Boo Go

Okay, we try to realize that reporters aren't always going to know a bunch of geeky coaster terminology, so we give them some leeway when they write about our hobby. Frankly, if we busted the media for not recognizing the difference between a suspended and inverted coaster, or got pouty because someone failed to report who did the trackwork on our favorite ride, it would just be silly. That's the enthusiast's job to worry about that stuff, and ARN&R's job to make fun of those enthusiasts. As long as reporters get somewhere in the correct ballpark, that's cool. After all, we don't tell the photojournalists what F-stop to use if cloudy but backlit conditions (though, now that we think about it, we actually could if we really felt like it and saw them doing it wrong), so why would we care if they make a distinction between a new ride's ejector versus floaty air and crap like that?

However, we've got to draw the line somewhere when it comes to media ignorance of our hobby, and that line is here, where a reprinted Washington Times article refers to Six Flags America's removed Iron Eagle flat ride/torture device as a "roller coaster." Please.

There's also the usual local media's fawning over Mark Shapiro as he grandstands at yet another Six Flags property, something of which we've grown extremely weary after the fortieth time. The combo is sufficiently grating enough to make this our Site O' the Weak.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Thanks For Your Patience

To anyone who is actually still bothering to check for updates on a regular basis (we're thinking of you, Peter and Darryl, and probably no one else...), we thank you for your support. And even if you aren't bothering to check very often, we still appreciate your understanding and patience. It's been pretty insane at the ARN&R Towers of late, as we try to supplement our massive and lucrative ARN&R holdings with a bunch of other jobs (you know, for hot tub repairs and aggressive corporate takeovers and such). As certain of the editorial staff have been growing more accustomed to their new schedule of working over 24 hours a day, every day, rest assured (not "be rest assured," which is incorrect, is a pet peeve of ours, and makes you sound like a cretin if you say it that way) that article updates will soon begin flowing in, if not quite at the same frantic level of old, then at least with far better regularity than the past couple weeks.

Thanks again.