Thursday, July 25, 2013

Breaking News You Won't Believe

Once upon a time, there were competitions. In those battles, the victors took home the accolades and the spoils. The losers went home and hoped it wasn't a battle to the death or for pink slips. And for those who don't know pink slips means racing cars and the owner keeps both cars. It's old drag racing terminology and not any of that new fangled top thrill dumpster type of drag.
Now when competitions stopped being exciting and the people got bored, they invented the "awards show." Now you've heard of the one for movies, television, broadway, and perhaps even the one run by the Entertainment Sports Programing Network. For those that aren't familiar with it, I recommend contacting the Cable News Network or perhaps the Columbia Broadcasting System. But, we digress.
At this time in the seasonal theme park calendar, we pause to prepare for the granddaddy of all award battles royale. Only this one couldn't be more predictable. The Golden Tickets were started by an industry publication around the time that Dick Kinzel decided that if a ride wasn't good enough he'd just put a building around it. And then it still wouldn't be able to run in the rain. Now the Tickets of destiny are designed to help decide the best and the brightest and the shiniest based on the voting of "industry experts."
Let us now define "industry expert." The Encyclopedia Galactica and dictionaries made by Webster and the Institute for Directed International Operational Theoretical Studies all have the same definition as the Hitchhiker's Guide. It defines industry expert by asking "expert on what?" In this case, we seek the sub-entry on competitions and voting for awards. These manuscripts define experts as two drunk dudes holding a giant jamaican banana that cost the park $4 but took them 3 hours a day for 3 weeks and a total sum that could feed a theme park employee for a year. Not an actual year, just the amount of time until they finally run away after the last gate locks in October.
The other experts are listed including the guy running the nacho stand who hasn't showered in 2 weeks, a CEO, a "reporter", a guy with a twitter feed, 3 people from Canada so they can call it international, and the first 5 people to ride the Flying Turns. The last group of "experts" is 497 lonely guys who only leave their mother's basements to cast their annual ballot. And of course to make their weekly trip to worship at the alter to Snoopy and Kinzel known as Cedar Point.
How else can you vote the Point in your eye as "best" for as long as it's been since they saw a non-related woman. They tried to throw us off for almost that long by saying King's Island had a better kids area. This was a decoy. DECOY!!! Let's place bets now. Best kids area to the Island, Cleanest and Friendliest will be a fight between Dollywood and Holiday World. Best New for 2013 will be Gatekeeper (if we haven't found the keys first). Best New Wood to Outlaw Run which will fight voyage for overall Wooden Supremacy. And if the "fanboys" win, Millennium Fastest Of Roller Coasters Ever (for 3 months) will take the best steel crowny thing.
Keep your Golden Tickets. We're gonna stick to the Bronze Nacho Chips because they've gone bad award thing. Maybe then Kentucky Kingdom can finally win.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Institute for Directed International Operational Theoretical Studies Dedicated in Switzerland

For decades, the best and the brightest have studied the difficult questions of the theme park world. Why does the gate instantly dictate the front of the park? Why can't patrons be trusted to pilot their bumper cars without hitting each other as a prelude to a lawsuit and thus require a center island? Why must certain companies be allowed to design new attractions that will ultimately look really stupid and feel similarly?

Those are the difficult questions. There are others. Some easier and some vastly more complicated. For these, the Institute for Directed International Operational Theoretical Studies was dedicated in a remote corner of Switzerland earlier this week. The Institute is a joint venture between many of the major regional park chains and the slightly less popular ride manufacturers that's names start with such letters as V and I.

The organization was founded as a think-tank to evaluate, research, postulate, and wildly guess the answers to slightly less important questions. Why should we waste our time running 3 trains on a coaster with a 2 hour long line and no mechanical or staffing reason against it? Why shouldn't we build the nacho stand as close to the entrance of the roughest coaster in the park that just happens to be the furthest possible point from a custodian or the parks entrance? Why would we want to make sure that the closest money making areas (food stands and gift shops) to the park entrance are the last to close?

The organization is staffed by a group of trained experts that have minutes of experience dealing with the public. Most of the research is being conducted using guest code-named 'peeps'. And in situations regarding the number of custodians required at a given time, they are building rides that would usually kill a man based off of the rare unused Vekoma designs.

Their most recent project gauged the average time for a maintenance technician to reply to a down time scenario. The time to repair was irrelevant as the longest clocked time in that scenario was 2 minutes to reopen. An attraction dubbed 'Wooden Coaster 1' for this experiment averaged a response 4 times faster when there was more than one technician on duty.

The statistics are staggering. But the folks at the Institute for Directed International Operational Theoretical Studies say their methodology is fool proof and been repeated through 3 generations of testing systems. Some in the industry fear the technology was out of date before they formed the institute, but the founding partners think that it's the best thing since Arrow Dynamics broke the 200 foot barrier.

We here at Absolutely Reliable salute the brave founders of the Institute for Directed International Operational Theoretical Studies and their mascot Clark W. Griswold. We hear they have a fair team this year for the company softball game. We hope the I.D.I.O.T.S. do well in their upcoming game.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Five Banners Pushes the Limit

Six Flags Over Texas is planning to make the Texas Giant look like an old woman who lives in a shoe. In partnership with one of the top manufacturers of "high" "quality" attractions, Six Flags has entered into negotiations to beat the current record holder on "high" entertainment. We keep saying "high" because if they aren't smoking the Kingda Ka, then we at ARN&R are scared to death.

Vekoma, yes we said that name and if you've been with us for a week or more like 5 years (that's you nacho stand man) then you're picturing that same "high" quality. Vekoma has entered into negotiations to build the worlds first coaster 'Tetracoaster.' We don't know if that's a thing yet, but if it isn't we're claiming it now and will have our people sue your people. 500 feet of sheer Vekoma pain, err . . . umm . . . thrills. Yeah. That's it, thrills.

The best part is that the designers are pulling out all the best tricks we've learned over the past few years. First, there'll be an epic station. Complete with steel and wood that looks like some ancient deathtrap. Second, the slightly less epic need to open 6 months late because of a terribly designed heart-line roll. They are planning right now what they'll replace it with, but they're still going to design it and discover the error after the testing process starts. Finally, this 500 foot lift experience will be via CHAIN lift. None of those fancy, unreliable cable or LSM based technology. Chain. Do they even make that much stuff. Sufficient to say, half way up there'll be a station with a bathroom, gift shop, and pizza joint just in case. At 450 feet there'll be one final trash can like you find at the local drive-thru joint.

The best part, as if the last 45 minutes weren't epic enough, is that at 510 feet when you finally hear the chain and the kid in 3.3 shouting "MAKE IT STOP!!!" you'll start to drop. 505 feet straight down at 97 degrees of dropping goodness. 300 feet later you'll be at 85 degrees. Once you clear the 505 feet, they've announced the epic plan of oneupsmanship against Cedar Fair. That's right boys, girls, and assorted life forms (that's politically correct according to the Supreme Court this week) 505 feet into a BANKED TURN. Not an over-banked turn that'd be wide and practically a sideways loop. Nope, 30 degree left turn over a parking lot after dropping 505 feet.

Sufficient to say, next years "521st annual ARN&R Reliable Acon to piss off ACEr's CON" will be held at Kings Island. We don't want to be there for the first ever Vekoma that makes RCT Peep killing look tame.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Boomerangs Still Belong in the Outback

Recent news of trouble with Six Flags Saint Louis's latest "new" "ride" installation have led the entire industry to collectively stand up, face Missouri, and shout "DUH!!!"

When Vekoma, and the fear should start there, envisioned a small footprint coaster, the industry was excited.  It was smaller to allow for more nacho stands, gift shops, and depressing won't you let me put you on a giant scale in the hope of winning a stuffed moose while a carny yells in a microphone that we hope doesn't work complexes.  It would be much more cost effective by requiring only a $5 increase in the gate price as opposed to the usual $10 plus a parking increase and making that signature snack food cost double for no apparent reason.  The industry also enjoyed that for the first time they wouldn't need to hire a crew of 15 to operate it plus a gift shop stuffed full of merchandise that no one would buy.  Including of course the aforementioned moose in a logo t-shirt and an on-ride photo that the carny just happened to also be in.

With such great creative names as "boomerang" and the ride being installed in every Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and cheap mom and pop park North of the Equator, it was only a matter of time before the faithful developed their own names.  Among them "bitch slap, worthless POS, giant waste of money, and of course head spin."  The later of which was used by Cedar Fair during the great Geauga Lake debacle of 2004.  For more information see Kinzel v. Geauga Lake Fans, Staff, and everyone who didn't get rich off of Paramount Parks circa 2007.

Sufficient to say, with a reputation like this, the industry is well placed to look at their colleagues in the MidWest and go "what did you expect?!"  Seriously though, if you are forced to choose between a sharp stick to the eye or riding a Vekoma boomerang, think really hard.  They'll both just about kill you and suck worse then a Vekoma SLC.  The history of which is soon forthcoming as we've just discovered a new document written by one of the men who dreamed up that creature, before being forced to ride a boomerang till he died.

Which only took one time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gatekeeper Mystery Solved At Last

Fan boys have long wondered the great mysteries of Cedar Point.  Does 12E mean anything?  Will Dick Kinzel by released from the Carbonite?  What well loved attraction will they tear out next in a hope to beat Magic Mountain to the title?  Will the Golden Ticket ever go to a good park?  And most intriguing, why do they keep building rides that have to close during the lightest breeze at a park next to a lake?

These legends and more have been solved in the past.  But now the greatest mystery emerges.  Gatekeeper has two keyholes.  First, who has the keys?  Second, what happens if one or both of them are turned?  Third, do they have to be turned like the scene in the beginning of Wargames?  Or is it more of a Hunt for Red October thing?  Or perhaps Crimson Tide?

According to sources close to someone who thinks they know a guy working at a nacho stand rumored to be on the Cedar Point peninsula, the first key was buried beneath the former concrete pad of the Wildcat.  The source isn't sure is the key is still there or not, but we have been told that "dancers" and "singers" that now call the area home have attempted to locate it in the hopes of ensuring they won't be kicked out when it is determined that they were never meant to be allowed to torture the human race.

The whereabouts of the second key are still unknown.  But the same guy who may or may not work at a nacho stand has ventured into the secret command center and discovered the mystery that the keys cause.  If both keys are turned at the same time,  the "reverse lycene contingency" is engaged.  This causes a certain group of animatronic lizards to return to their alive state.  According to the book left open on the counter, the lizards are tasked with charging towards Florida to destroy a mouse.  Not without picking up their leader, creator, and former chief executive who will lead them to victory while riding a tyrannosaurus.
For now the keys are safe.  If something does go wrong though, you're all on your own.  

Thankfully, we own an island off the coast of Costa Rica.