After a successful Q&A earlier this year, we are now back with a new Q&A session on August 9th. It’ll be the start of more-frequent Q&A sessions. Each session will have a particular set of topics to stay current and fully get an opinionated discussion going. (Rather than very general questions). The first one is coming up on Tuesday night, August 9th! Continue reading “California Coaster Kings SUMMER Q&A on August 9th”
This past Sunday night, we finished our weekend visit to Magic as we usually do, watching the end of the magnificent show that is Full Throttle Nights. This week, however, it was special because we had a post show interview with DJ Nel and Ricky Rocks, the stars of Full Throttle Nights. We first met with DJ Nel, and hit it off immediately. He is a fantastically nice guy; as personable as his performances lend him to be. We learned that before Six Flags had contacted them, Ricky and Nel never worked together, an idea that is almost unbelievable due to their unbelievable synchronization. Nel worked for Disney Cruises and Ricky traveled the world performing at nightclubs. However, when they first met, they hit it off, as Nel was a former drummer himself, and knew many of the techniques that Ricky had perfected. Another amazing thing we learned, is that the shows are not rehearsed. Whatever Nel chooses to play, Ricky improvises a beat that goes hand and hand with the song being played. The two also split responsibilities on coaching the other acts of the show. DJ Nel helps work with the Full Throttle Dancers, and Ricky works with Velocity to make sure they are on point. Both are stoked about Voodoo Nights and Holiday in the Park. They are as excited as us for the new additions of pyrotechnics to the stage for Voodoo Nights, which just need a bit more approval before they can go up. As for Holiday in the Park, they couldn’t tell us much, but all we know is, like usual, “Six Flags Magic Mountain is going big!”
As we were at Six Flags Magic Mountain today, were actually some interesting things changing that were worth the attention. So here we go;
X2 had both flamethrowers working all day! (We stood and watched it forever, and rode it, to make sure it was functioning ride after ride). Even at noon there were a bunch of people buying tickets. Once inside the park, no lines really! That’s Red’s Revenge in the distance! Ready for Fright Fest? (For those who don’t recognize it, it’s the old Flashback queue/ storage area, that has been entirely enclosed to become a HUGE new maze!) If you participated in the ‘save driving’ campaign over at Golden Bear, you got to ride Revolution and Viper ’til 9, although the park closed at 8! (We didn’t do it, since we had a small interview with DJ Nel and Ricky Rocks).
Very exciting! The Waterfront restaurants received new colors and paint! It looks fresh, and not as fallen apart and rotten like before! Let’s hope the water actually returns some day! Superman was closed all day! Not sure why, we’ll try to find out soon. There was a cool band playing at Katy’s Kettle, we haven’t seen that before. Very NICE touch! The new maze is being constructed right now. It will make the entire Willoughby’s collection complete! The Garden of Darkness will replace Black Widow that used to be housed in the pagoda for the last 2 years. Funny, yet depressing to see Deja Vu on a new Magic Mountain shirt… haha.Full Throttle nights now runs weekends only through Fright Fest! We had an awesome interview with DJ Nel and Ricky Rocks, which will follow this week. Regarding COLOSSUS, the track that wasn’t used for a while, (before it closed even) is missing the track for the pre-lift. The announcements are Thursday the 28th, so stay tuned, but it is very likely going to be Twisted Colossus, an Iron Horse masterpiece. But that’s officially a rumor. 😉
This past Thursday, we had the incredible chance to sit down and chat with the Amazing Michael Turco of Six Flags Magic Mountain’s show Magic and Mayhem. We luckily, have seen this show preformed many times; a great way to beat the heat, and see fantastic illusions, direct from the Vegas Strip. We watched the show for one final time, and then met with Michael after the performance. We first asked him about how Six Flags approached him for the show last year. They had heard his name from down the line, having heard of him from his shows in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and his appearance on America’s Got Talent. As soon as his stint at Planet Hollywood in Vegas finished up, he headed to Valencia to star in Six Flags magic Mountain’s 2013 show D’Illusions. As it turns out (and as we figured due to its comparison to Magic and Mayhem), D’Illusions was not Michael’s show. He was only the featured illusionist, payed to preform tricks that were not all his own, hence the name D’Illusions featuring Michael Turco. After preforming at Fright Fest 2013, a show Michael referred to as much more in your face and intimate due to the smaller performance space, Michael returned for the 2014 season with his own show, Michael Turco’s Magic and Mayhem, the same name that his show at Planet Hollywood was called by. We asked Michael if he brought in his own performers or if they were hired by Six Flags. The answer is a combination of both, as his performers do receive top billing, however many of the dancers are hired by Six Flags. This is the reason that you may see some Full Throttle Dancers at Magic and Mayhem or vice versa. Magic and Mayhem began pre production in March, and features some tricks from the original Vegas show, in a 30 minute action packed segment. According to Michael, Magic Mountain’s show features tricks only from the original Magic and Mayhem, however not all. Also, the Vegas show is much more spread out, and gives time for Michael to explain stories behind each trick, as sampled in Michael’s second trick in Magic Mountain’s rendition, but in no other parts of the show. Michael told us he will be back for Fright Fest, and then will go on tour. We discussed Fright Fest a bit with him, and if it were’t for the Total Darkness Maze, he’d preform in the Magic Moments Theater during Fright Fest too. Additionally, Michael Turco helps design shows like Voodoo Nights during Fright Fest! He currently is starring on the show Master’s of Illusion on the CW Network. His future at Magic Mountain after that is unsure, but we are hoping that he will not make himself disappear from the Magic Moments Theater any time soon. We finished our interview with a brief chat about the park. Unfortunately, Michael is not a roller coaster fan. Even growing up in New Jersey, he went to Great Adventure less than 5 times. Unfortunately, this means he will not fulfill our request to make Colossus reappear.
Here’s us with Michael Turco. Sean on the right, and Ryan on the left.
We couldn’t meet up with Roger Ross during our visit to California’s Great America, so we asked him to do a digital interview with us, he kindly helped us out! Here’s the result.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Roger Ross, Public Relations Manager
I spent most of my career working in professional sports and am now a proud member of the amusement park industry. I regularly visited Great America as a kid when visiting my grandparents. Now I bring my own family to Great America. I truly believe amusement parks are part of Americana and visits are one of our most greatest childhood memories.
For how long have you been working for California’s Great America, what’s your position inside and background California’s Great America?
I’m in my second season at Great America and enjoying every minute of it. Working in an amusement park allows us still be a kid at heart and have fun with our job every day.
Has there been any down-sides of replacing removing Stealth for Boomerang Bay?
Boomerang Bay has been a tremendous hit with our guests. Having a water park included with admission provides two parks for the price of one and delivers an excellent way to cool off in the California sun.
Has the repaint of Flight Deck have anything to do with the Levi’s stadium next door?
Flight Deck was ready to be refreshed and we feel the new color scheme provides a great visual for guests in the park and those looking out from Levi’s Stadium.
Has the repaint of Flight Deck caused it to become more popular?
Flight Deck’s new color scheme has definitely reenergized the fan base about a great ride.
How will the Levi’s stadium be beneficial to CGA’s future?
With Levi’s Stadium being built on the Great America parking lot, there is definitely a lot of synergy between the two companies. It has further enhanced Santa Clara as an entertainment hub in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. Great America will host the Red Zone Rally pregame event in our new Great America Pavilion. The 18,000 sq. ft. facility will feature Gold Rush Cheerleaders, Sourdough Sam and alumni before games with more than 40 televisions. Admission will provide an all-inclusive package for food, soft drinks, beer and wine and you can then walk across the parking lot for kickoff.
A little bit of info about Levi’s Stadium by CCK; In 2006, the San Francisco 49ers proposed a new stadium in place of Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the city of San Francisco denied this, and ideas moved to the city of Santa Clara, thus Levi’s Stadium was born. The stadium opened July 17, 2014, and hosted a MLS soccer game between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders played in front of 48765 fans. The first 49ers game will be played there on September 14th. At first, Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers appealed to the NFL to not schedule any Thursday or Monday night games, due to parking discrepancies. Fortunately, before a response, the team formed an agreement with the Santa Clara Golf and Tennis Club in order to allow 21,000 parking spaces on the course during game days, allowing the total parking capacity to be 31,600. Parking has been announced to cost $40, 10 more than it was at Candlestick. It has been anounced that Levi’s Stadium will host Super Bowl 50, WWE Wrestle Mania 31, and an 2015 outdoor NHL hockey game between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. (More on the parking agreement between CGA and LS below).
What’s the parking situation now CGA and Levi’s stadium share parking lots?
There was a plan in place with the original agreement. Great America will be closed for 49ers home games and we have plenty of parking for Great America guests during our operating season.
Are rides operating during Haunt?
With a few exceptions for rides needed as part of a Halloween Haunt mazes, most rides are in full swing. Haunt guests can experience Gold Striker, Demon, Flight Deck, Drop Zone during their Halloween Haunt visit.
How did CGA approach Aerial Ice Extreme?
Entertainment is a big part of who we are and we wanted to take our show experience to the next level. Our entertainment manager is unbelievably creative and raised the bar for 2014. The show combines aerial performers dazzling above the stage, trampoline artists reaching new heights and ice skaters performing amazing stunts. It truly is a must see when visiting Great America.
What’s the most popular show at CGA?
Hands down Aerial Ice Extreme. We are also proud of our On Broadway show, which brings the best of Broadway to the Bay Area, and #Playlist, an outdoor performance that delivers today’s top hits.
We think California’s Great America is well on it’s way back to fame! Thanks Roger for some insights!
Two Sundays ago, we had the honor of interviewing “Captain” Lee Munro. That’s right! Here at CCK we had the honor to interview THE Captain Lee. We went to see the Tiger Show at Odin’s Temple of the Tiger (one of our favorite shows, especially since it’s a very educational demonstration), and met with Captain Lee immediately afterwards. We began speaking of Tsunami Soakers, a true favorite of Lee’s, who, like us, couldn’t believe the shear immensity of water that riders get sprayed with.
We then talked a lot about his history with the park. He began his career at Marine World Africa USA as just a tiger trainer. Throughout the years, he earned his way up, mainly earning trust from the park, due to his exposure time with the coverage of Odin and his famous water actions. He explained to us the transition from Six Flags Marine World to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. In this explanation, he showed us how the name change made sense. The park was more than a Marine Park. It encompassed thrills, animals, and marine life a.k.a the entire animal kingdom. Hence the name became Discovery Kingdom. In 2010, when the Temple of the Tiger was added, tigers had an option (one could say) to move to the new exhibit next to the stadium, or stay at the old exhibit in the back of the animal section. Captain Lee explained to us that some tigers didn’t mind the new location next to Boomerang Coast to Coaster, with the noises, so they stayed at the new habitat next to the stadium, those who disliked it were placed back in the older exhibit in the back of the park!
We asked him about the former 4D theater (now storage space), and if it would ever re open and why it closed. He responded by saying that that is a commonly asked question, however, there isn’t an answer given. As for why it closed, it was too expensive to maintain, however, although the building is used for storage now, it is still set up as a theater on the inside and could easily be cleaned up and re opened in a short period if time.
We also started talking about the maintenance of the dolphin pools, and it became clear that there is a dive-team of about 5 people that cleans every single pool about once a week! As we were speaking of dolphins, we asked Captain Lee how the relationship between Six Flags and Cirque Dreams started. The park was looking for something alternative, and decided to move the dolphins to the larger Toyota Stadium, since Shouka left, and a huge stadium like that needed to be optimally used. The park wanted to offer a acrobatic show, and to keep it on the Discovery Kingdom side, they chose to feature some dolphins. Captain Lee mentioned that there are often complaints that the dolphins are not featured enough. But he then explained that people should understand that Drench! is their dolphin show, and Splashtastic is an acrobatic show with dolphins as side act.
We asked Captain Lee if animals were part of Fright Fest, and the answer was pretty clear… Besides the Dolphins, the animals are not featured in Fright Fest. One may ask why… Well, as captain Lee described; the animal adventure section of the park always closes before sundown, which is necessary to take care of the animals and make sure they’re good for the night. Because the tigers for example turn into ‘monsters’ as soon as it gets dark, and act like totally different personalities! (A little awesome fact, an insight we weren’t slightly aware of ’til the interview).
We then entered a series of questions of our favorite ride, Superman: Ultimate Flight. Captain Lee told us he hasn’t been on it since opening day, because he rode it non-stop that day, doing live feeds while on board. We asked what his thoughts on all of the clones popping up, and his response was that it is a great ride, that was designed by Premier Rides, and he didn’t mind. We asked about why Superman was a portable model coaster, and it is strictly do to the location, as both Zonga and Pandemonium were portable as well.
We finished with a big question, “What makes DK better than any other park?” His response was simple. He explained that it contains everything for the entire family. It has thrills and animal exhibits and almost everything in between. This is why James Reid Anderson refers to Discovery Kingdom as “the Gem of Six Flags Parks”.
We’d like to thank Captain Lee for meeting with us, we had a great time at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, like always!
On August 6th 2014, the 2014 Scary Farm preview was held in the Charles M. Shulz Theatre. Media was welcomed into the theater at 6.30PM by the hosts in appropriate make-up. Short after all season pass holders that picked up a wristband were let in. The actual preview started a little after 7PM. Before the showing actually started, several scare-actors were walking around the theater doing their… you know, scaring thing. 😀 First Elvira made her appearance as she’s back for this year’s Scary Farm!
Then suddenly a loud gunshot had everyone focus on the center isle. The Calico resident announced that the Hanging will return in 2014!
From then on, the host of the show Jeff Tucker, which we interviewed, guided the announcements.
First up were the Skeleton Key and Ticket information! Then all maze-designers of Scary Farm came in, which would all talk a bit about their new mazes and projects!
First up were the returning mazes!
Next to the return of Trick or Treat, Dominion of the Damned will return with a new Monarch. The QUEEN will return!
Forevermore, a popular maze based off of story-telling horror of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories will return.
Pinocchio Unstrung will feature new rooms based off of original scenes from the book, and it will have a Skeleton Room this year!
Black Magic with a new Skeleton Room will return, right next to Xcelerator!
One of last year’s most popular mazes, The Gunslinger’s Grave will return! (To great appreciation by all fans at the preview!). Of course Scary Farm ain’t Scary Farm without Calico Mine Ride’s the Witch’s Keep!
Jeff Tucker and the designers then moved on to talk about the new mazes!
The first one being the HUGE Sound-stage like VooDoo maze! Guests get to choose their own paths through the horrific bayou swamps!
Next up was the gruesome Toothfairy maze that had every single person present on the edge of their seat. This will be a real mind-player. The dentist office will never look the same!
They then announced the new version of TRAPPED. Trapped; Lock and Key! ‘This year Trapped returns with more rooms, more intricate puzzles and a shocking finale more extreme than any experience ever presented at Knott’s Scary Farm. You become part of the terror and are forced to face your darkest fears, confront your inner terrors and descend into the madness of a maze with no way out. Trapped is not for the squeamish as the challenges are darker and more terrifying than any that have come before.’
The crew then announced the Scare Zones of 2014! Starting with the original Haunt Ghost Town Streets.
The VERY popular Boardwalk CarnEVIL!
And the Fiesta Village… Fiesta de los Muertos!
Then this year’s mystery box was going to get opened! Announcing a limited available Scary Farm Season Pass! Visit the Scary Farm website NOW to get yours for the discounted $65! (Only for KBF Season Pass holders!).
And when it seemed all done… the theater was suddenly under surveillance of Special Ops! As they made their grand entrance!
And they announced an all new interactive Scare Zone over at Camp Snoopy, where guests fight zombies with laser-guns! Special Ops: Infected is free with admission!
Then after all the announcements, all season pass holders were required to leave, and all Media was sent to the top of the theater for a ‘Light Reception, with Interviews’. It was more than light, with great food, 2 bars, scare actors and a lot more!
We scheduled two interviews, one with the host of the show, and Supervisor of Live Shows and Event Emcee Jeff Tucker, and one with Lana Hanneman, the Knott’s Scary Farm Creative Director.
Both have been working with Scary Farm for 20 years now, and Jeff usually works with the actors and has some input on the mazes and themes. He got to design parts of Trapped this year, which he’s really excited about! Lana has been designing mazes for years and has put Scary Farm on a level that competes with the very best. She explained to us that it’s no longer about the quantity of Scare Zones and Mazes, but about the quality! We asked both if Cedar Fair’s taking over had a good influence on Scary Farm. And both agreed! Lana explained that her crew got much more freedom to create new mazes and attractions. Jeff told us that Cedar Fair allowed them to make it larger as the event was extended by 2-3 weeks, allowing the park to set up a more well-rounded Scary Farm experience!
Thanks for reading, please comment and share! All prices and Scary Farm attractions, mazes, and scare-zone details will follow this afternoon! We have lots more info for you!
During our most recent visit to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, on July 27th, we weren’t able to chat with Charles Laureano, but he was excited to do a digital interview with us. Here’s the result.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and role inside Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
Well I’ve been in the business for about 11 years now. I started out in Retail at Knotts Berry Farm (The General Store in Ghost Town when I was 16). When I turned 18 I got a job in Ride operations working Riptide and Perilous Plunge. I started my career here at DK in 2007 where I worked my way from a front line team member to where I am now. I guess you could call me a jack of all trades; while my primary responsibility is running the rides department and ensuring a superior and most importantly safe product, I do a lot around the Kingdom. I’ve built haunted houses for fright fest, built the Christmas tree during Holiday in the Park, I’m even a certified mechanic on all of our amazing rides and attractions just to name a few. Outside of the park I’ve also also have been a safety instructor at the AIMS conference and this year I’m also going to be working with IAAPA in November.
Like everyone else I enjoy movies, traveling to all sorts of theme parks and building/showing my race car (a widebody Evolution IX).
At Superman Ultimate Flight, what’s the reason the park uses the lower switchbacks without TVs or shade first?
We’ve got 3 switchback areas and that’s the 1st to fill every morning. We then tier back as we get busier.
How common is a miss-launch on Superman Ultimate Flight?
Not common at all. Superman happens to be one of the most reliable Coasters I’ve ever operated.
What is your opinion of all clones of Superman Ultimate Flight coming to parks around the world?
It’s a great product, and amazing ride. The more people who get to experience the ride the better!
Are there any complaints related to the newly installed seat-belts on Superman Ultimate Flight?
Not at all, it really doesn’t affect the ride experience at all.
After Superman Ultimate Flight stalled in 2012, SFDK placed an evac/maintenance platform on top of the structure, can you clarify it’s use?
Its purpose is not really an Evacuation platform. It makes our inspections on the attraction mush easier to complete.
What are some typical practices that maintenance endures while taking care of Superman Ultimate Flight?
Really this rides inspection is similar to most others. Everything from checking the base of the rides supports to inspecting the trains. We annually break down the train and inspect every piece as we do with other coasters.
Did you have a chance to ride V2 before it got altered to match the 150ft city limits?
I did not, I’ve actually never been on a standard Impulse coaster. I’ve been on V2 and Wicked Twister at CP.
Was any of the track, or supports, reused while altering, or was it all new?
The back tower was shortened and uses the same track. The tower over the main plaza was all new track and supports.
What are some typical practices that maintenance endures while taking care of V2?
The inspections are very similar to Superman. The one major difference is the time it takes to alight the train properly between the LIMS, Reaction fins and the track. Because the train is much larger and LIMS being more complex, the process is much more time consuming on V2.
When did SFDK decide that Roar needed to be re-tracked?
The up-keep of a wooden coaster is complex and time consuming. While fresh wood isn’t always used (as it was over the 2013 offseason) we are constantly replacing and maintaining the track. We decided to re-track the 1stdrop early on in 2013.
How much wood is used to re-track Roar? Is there more re-tracking in store?
It’s a lot! Really I’m not sure on the exact figure.
With all the recent Rocky Mountain Construction rides at Six Flags parks, can we expect any RMC related rides in SFDK’s future?
What’s RMC?!!! I kid I kid, I know a lot of the guys over at RMC and it’s a great company who makes amazing rides. As far as an SFDK edition RMC…….I guess if I’ve learned one thing in the last 11 years, it’s that nothing is every 100% certain till you see vertical construction.
How often does Medusa run all 3 trains simultaneously? What makes it difficult to do so?
We rarely run 3 trains. We also have 1 in the middle of a rehab, now that was are year round we will always have at least 2 trains in operation.
Why were the trim-brakes removed on Medusa? (The ones before the drop, and coming out of the Zero-G-Roll).
Simple, we didn’t use them at all. No trims = better ride, I’m sure you’ll agree.
What happens if the Medusa trains dislocate in the station, and the floors can’t move up into position?
We have 2 types of mobile evac platforms. One set for the catwalks on the lift or brake areas and a specific set that fits the train in the station in the event the floors do not perform as expected. In most cases however we are able to move the train in forward or reverse to “park” it correctly.
What are the core mechanics behind Tsunami Soaker?
It’s actually pretty cool. You have a tea cup ride on what is essentially an elevator lift system.
How often does one of the guns malfunction?
Not very often, Mack designed an ingenious way of making those guns work.
On Friday the 25th of July 2014, what happened to Kong that resulted in temporary closure?
Nothing serious, the ride re-opened the 28th after we received a part that had to be shipped.
Is there any chance of seeing new trains (Vekoma Freedom Flyers perhaps) on Kong in the near future?
Probably not. But again you never know!
There’s a new platform built over at the Kong storage track, what is it for?
It makes inspections on the train much easier to complete.
Kong is clearly one of the most criticized rides at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, what does the maintenance team do to prevent as much criticism?
Why so Kongfrontational? Haha, Kong is regularly cared for in the same manner as all of our other rides.
Is there any chance of new MK1212 trains on Boomerang Coast to Coaster?
Probably not. But again you never know!
In the past Boomerang CtC seemed to experience many technical difficulties related to the catch-car. What are these problems?
We have the normal Boomerang “troubles”, not any different from the one ran at Knotts.
Now the park is opened year-round, when does scheduled maintenance for Boomerang’s only train take place?
We make a re-hab schedule based on the needs of the park, so its changes from time to time.
All 3 of your water rides completely soak riders, which one holds most water, which one’s most popular, and which one’s most expensive to maintain?
White Water holds the most, Tsunami Soaker is the most popular and there really isn’t a huge cost variance between the 3.
Does the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom maintenance-crew maintain both rides and animal exhibits?
We have 2 separate teams, the facilities maintenance team assists the animal folks with maintaining animal exhibits.
We’d like to thank Charles a ton for getting back to us so quickly, and giving us some great insights of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s rides!
On July 27th we visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom again. We visited to do an update, but also to have an interview with the park’s spoke person; Captain Lee. Here’s the Update part of our day, more on the interview will be posted soon.
Roar is back to two trains, after running one for half the summer.
VooDoo, after quite some time, has a working fountain installed again. The great thing about it; the fountain doesn’t change in height, so the riders in the front row may actually get wet!
Splashtastic was now running official shows, rather than the previews in June. This meant that the dolphins were featured in the show again. During our interview with Captain Lee, it became clear that after pool maintenance in Merlin’s Dolphin Harbor (the Splashtastic Stadium) there wasn’t enough time to prepare this years act, and incorporate the dolphins in it before the shows would start. Thus the park ran ‘preview’ shows without dolphins for the first couple of weeks. We’re glad to see the dolphins back!
In the interview, Captain Lee brought up a great point. Most visitors expect the dolphins to play the main role in Splashtastic. But that’s not what the show is supposed to be, so for those who think that the amount of dolphins isn’t enough, please realize that Cirque Dreams Splashtastic is an acrobatic cirque show with a small side act of dolphins. The actual dolphin show, centered around… well… DOLPHINS, is located next door, in the Toyota Stadium. Drench! is the official Dolphin Show of the park, and it’s a great one!
Moving on from the one stadium to the next, let’s talk about Drench!. You’ve probably seen us mention the new Dolphin Show in every update this year, last time we were at the park we noticed that the sides of the pool were very green, though the water was actually very clear. (See picture below).
Thus, we decided to figure out how the park cleans the pools, especially since the water and pools in Toyota Stadium were now cleaner than before. Captain Lee explained to us that Six Flags Discovery Kingdom actually has a team of about 5 divers that clean all the pools weekly. The algae is on the sides of the pools, due to the low concentration of chlorine. (This low concentration of chlorine is for the health of the Dolphins). The dive-team comes in once a week, and uses machines that scrub the walls to clear all algae. The walls will then be blue for a day, but the water will be green as all algae is now spread through the water. Then after a day or so, all water has been filtered, and the water is as clear as it was during our visit, ’til the next ‘pool-clean’!
Our interview was actually right after the 2nd daily Temple of the Tiger show. We can’t emphasize enough on how great and educational this ‘show’ is. Very unique, modern, and very animal friendly. A must-see next time you’re at the park!
Talking about tigers, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has 2 new tiger cubs! Guests can drop by the animal nursery to view two adorable new Bengal cubs – meet Kismet (female pictured) and Faruk (male) – guests can see them during daytime operating hours.
We’re pretty sure we all know Magic Mountain installed several new photo-booths. But so has Discovery Kingdom now. The photo-booths all have themes related to the park. Though the Boomerang Coast to Coaster themed one is located on the opposite side of the park… 😉
Speaking of Boomerang Coast to Coaster. Many questioned whether that was the real name, as the actual ride entrance logo states just; ‘Boomerang’. The park installed a smaller sign under the ride’s cobra roll, with the actual ‘Boomerang Coast to Coaster’ logo!
2 days before our visit, Kong unexpectedly broke down and was stuck on the lift hill, the guests were taken off the red train (the one that was stuck on the lift-hill), and Kong has remained closed for safety checks ever since. Kong was waiting for a spare part that needed to be sent in, and Kong reopened the day after our visit, Monday the 28th. It was hard to get a good shot of the red train stuck on the lift, as it was close to the station, but here are our tries 😀 .
And a picture for the wonderful look of the ride. (Let’s not mention the feeling one normally experiences, but it was closed anyways).
We don’t have a picture of it, since we kept our devices in lockers for the rides. (Strict SFDK locker policy, save time and purchase lockers anyways). But Medusa’s 3rd train, that is currently in maintenance, seems to be complete. Normally when we visit the park there’s always one train half incomplete on the storage tracks, but this time it looked as if the train may start operations pretty soon! (Here’s another Medusa shot from during our trip, look at that cool looking station!)
It was a wonderful day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and there’s always insanely much to do, but with the great whether we decided to hit up all water rides again. Tsunami Soaker is just amazing! (In case you haven’t read our Tsunami Soaker review, click here). And of course we rode White Water Safari, which was very popular that day, we thankfully didn’t have to wait in line (thanks Captain Lee!), but the line extended all the way down to the Bird Theater. Also… we don’t remember getting so insanely wet on it last time, but during this visit there wasn’t a single piece of clothing that stayed dry on the Intamin water ride!
That about sums it up, more on our interview with Captain Lee will be posted soon, in one of our specials. Thanks for reading, please comment, share, etc. For the same weekend’s California’s Great America Trip Report, please click here.
Up in Northern California, there are these two amazingly talented personalities, Kris Rowberry, and Nicholas Laschkewitsch. Both are experts in the Theme Park Entertainment Business, and are constantly bringing new ideas, such as the T.V. Concept; GREAT AMERICAN THRILLS®, and ‘The Lost Parks of Northern California’.
Kris currently works at KLIV-AM 1590 in San Jose, as a Producer and fill-in
Board Operator. Kris is the host in the ‘Lost Park’ series, writes all the scripts and
assist in post-production. Kris stated; ‘Nicholas is my camera-man, producer, does much
of the research and edits the episodes masterfully’. Nicholas is a student at Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA. He’s studying mechanical engineering to hopefully become a roller coaster designer and work in the themed entertainment industry. He is also an
Assistant Regional Representative for the Northern California region of the
American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE). Below you’ll find a picture of both, Kris being on the left, and Nicholas on the right.
KRIS: Tell us a little bit of your relation with the amusement park world.
For me, it started back in 1993 – that’s when my Father forced me on the Tidal Wave at Great America. Somewhere on that shuttle loop, I lost my fear of coasters and decided to enjoy myself. I haven’t looked back since!
What are some of the GAT concepts? Tell us a little about GAT.
Well, Great American Thrills® is more than just another amusement park fan site. It’s an entire brand that aims to up the ante when it comes to quality amusement park programming and websites. I don’t necessarily cover one park, or an area of parks – we’re more about providing a quality internet experience for all of our viewers and visitors.
You’ll notice that the name of the brand is highly stylized – and that’s on purpose. I believe so much in the brand, that I had “Great American Thrills®” trademarked, and that came through late last year. I see it growing far more than just a website – but as an entire internet and television destination.
What do you hope to achieve with GAT?
I really hope that we’re able to up the quality of programming online and on television when it comes to amusement and theme parks.
When I first had the inspiration to create Great American Thrills®, I knew one thing – I did not want to do the “same old stuff” when it came to amusement parks and roller coasters. There had to be another niche to fill out there in the coaster community.
True, there are other sites out there that do videos (and do quite well I might point out), so why try to compete with that, when you can open up an entirely new niche?
Once I teamed up with Nicholas (through ACE), we were able to narrow that niche down, and simply ran with it. Now, after seeing that success with “Lost Parks of Northern California,” we’re looking at making our biggest mark yet – a theme park show that actually tells a story AND brings in social media – and doesn’t just shout at you through your TV screen. But, we’re going to need the coaster community’s help to get it on air!
Below you’ll find the TV Concept.
Purely based on your experience and say you could work at either, would you rather work for Cedar Fair or Six Flags, and why?
Well, considering I’ve worked at both CGA (when it was PGA) and Six Flags (when it was Marine World), it be tough to say. I’ll say Cedar Fair for the rides when I’m off the clock and Six Flags for having animals come into the office to say “hello” every now and then!
What is your favorite country, coaster-wise?
Well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say the good ‘ol United States of America – but I had the privilege to experience park operations in Germany and Austria back in 2010 – and we as Americans could really learn quite a bit from how Europeans were able to cut through red tape and efficiently operate their parks and rides.
What ‘Lost Parks’ do you plan to visit in the future?
Let’s see – we’ve found 30 parks now through our (Nicholas’) research. Obviously we want to highlight the well-known parks, such as Playland-at-the-Beach and Frontier Village. But the beauty of “Lost Parks” is that we get to re-discover lesser known parks, such as the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition, Shadow Cliffs and Windsor Waterworks.
In many cases, these smaller parks actually have better stories to tell!
What is your favorite ‘Lost Parks’ episode?
Ugh, this is like asking what my favorite coaster is! Sentimentally, I’d have to go with Pacific City. Going into it, I had no idea that a park existed there – let alone closed because of foul odors. Plus, it gave us carte blanche to say “poo” whenever we can in the series. Thanks for being a trailblazer for us, Mike Rowe!
Below you’ll find the very first ‘Lost Parks’ episode, Pacific City!
What parks do you plan to visit for/with the GAT?
That’s the best part – we’re not sure yet! One of the fun features of Great American Thrills® is that it’s designed to feature parks that may not necessarily get the limelight as the “Big Three” usually do. A fan of Knoebels, who sends us a tweet or post has just as much of an opportunity to be on the show as a person tweeting from Disney, Magic Mountain or Cedar Point. So long as there’s a great story behind a park, I would be delighted to head out there to capture it!
What are your thoughts on California’s newest coasters; Superman Ultimate Flight, Full Throttle, Coast Rider, Manta, and Gold Striker?
Look at the spread and variety of those coasters: Launched steel, family steel, wooden. I think it shows that the market has balanced itself far better than it was, say a decade ago. There’s really something for every member of the family – and that’s where west coast amusement and theme parks – and really parks across the country need to keep heading.
NICHOLAS: Tell us a little of your relation with the amusement park world. I have been an amusement park fanatic ever since I rode my first roller coaster at five years old. Before I joined ACE in February 2009, I didn’t really have much of a deep involvement in the amusement park world – ACE allowed me to do so. Also, after joining the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), many more doors opened to job opportunities along with just getting the chance to meet people who are well known in the industry.
What company would you like to work for when it comes to the themed entertainment industry? Over the years, I have toured many different themed entertainment companies such as WDI, Technifex, R&R Creative Amusement Designs and Garner Holt. While there are many to choose from, I have always dreamed of starting my own company in this field. Time will tell.
Are you interested in working as an Imagineer, and why? The tour I was given at WDI a few years back definitely sparked my interest in pursuing the career of an Imagineer. The thought of alone of working for Disney just excites me. It’s definitely a difficult company to get into, but very prestigious.
What are your jobs and responsibilities at ACE? I currently hold two titles with the American Coaster Enthusiasts. Since January 2011, I have been an Assistant Regional Representative for the Northern California Region of ACE. Duties in this position include working with local parks to plan events, manage social media outlets for the region such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and assemble our regional newsletter! My second position at ACE is the Video Promotions Coordinator for ACE Worldwide, Inc. In this position, I manage the national YouTube channel for ACE that has just recently launched here – videos will be going up in the near future!
What are some of the difficulties you have experienced while working on ‘Lost Parks’? I would have to say that the biggest difficult I have experienced while working on Lost Parks would be just getting the word out there. When we first started this project in January 2013, it was like talking to a brick wall. The start is always the hard part; finding people with photos of parks or those who event went to any of the lost parks was not easy. After going through four episodes now, our list of connections and contacts has grown substantially, which makes the production process all the more production, and fun!
What Californian park offers the best entertainment, and what Californian park offers the best themed entertainment, and why? I really am not a fan of ranking parks, but, if I had to pick, in terms of best entertainment, I would have to go with California’s Great America. The shows they put on during the summer 2013 season were amazing and the shows that were exclusive to their 2013 Halloween Haunt event blew my mind to say the very least. With regards to the park that offers the best themed entertainment, I have to go with the Disneyland Resort as a whole. It really is a challenge to get above the caliber that the parks down there offer.
Which do you prefer; a completely immersive Dark Ride or a well-themed (open-air) Thrill Ride? Even though roller coasters are my true love and passion, I would actually prefer a completely immersive dark ride. It saddens me that a lot of parks these days don’t add (or have to begin with) dark rides. They add a lot to a park and with the technological advances in dark rides seen recently; it should be a no-brainer to add one. Speaking of dark rides, Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood was phenomenal.
How long have you been with ACE and what are some of the highlights of your time in that community? As mentioned earlier, I joined ACE back in February of 2009. Over the last 5 years, I have met many, many new friends, most of which I wouldn’t have met without being in this club. ACE has also allowed me to get better at photography and videography which has been a big help with Lost Parks. Lastly, it has helped to get my name out there in the industry that I hope to soon “work” in!
BOTH: What is your favorite Californian park?
KR: The one we’re currently at! 😉
NL: I may be biased, but it has to be my home park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It’s hard to beat that old-school charm and setting. Plus, the Giant Dipper is such a classic! Got to love an old wooden coaster on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
What are your thoughts on the Timber Mountain Log Ride refurbishment?
KR: A national chain taking the time to completely refurbish a classic attraction? How can you NOT like this move?!? One can only hope that the new management at Knott’s continues reviving the “tradition” that seems to have been lost in recent years, in lieu of just building coaster after coaster.
NL: When I knew Garner Holt would be taking on the refurbishment for this well-loved attraction, I knew it was going to be in good hands. While I have not seen it in person, the POV’s and photos I have seen make me want to ride it badly. I commend Knott’s Berry Farm for going back to one of their older rides and making it new again. More parks need to follow suit.
What are you expecting for the Calico Mine Ride refurbishment?
KR: I don’t expect anything – that way, when I do go ride it, I’ll be happily surprised! Honestly, any work to update and revamp a ride with a history like this one has…it speaks louder than words for the people in charge of the Farm and their priorities right now.
NL: Let’s just say that I have high expectations based on the Timber Mountain Log Ride refurbishment! It will definitely be an exciting time when both Timber Mountain and Calico will be open together once again – I can’t wait to see the result.
What is your favorite Californian coaster, or ride?
KR: Wipeout at the Santa Cruz beach Boardwalk. That cycle, coupled with the indoor nature of the ride – gets you as close to a “European ride cycle” as you’ll every experience in the US.
NL: Since it’s so hard to pick, I’ve assembled my favorites into categories:
Classic wooden: Giant Dipper; Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Modern wooden: Gold Striker; California’s Great America Steel: SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight; Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Dark ride: Transformers: The Ride; Universal Studios Hollywood
What do you think of the rumor that Flight Deck will be repainted and re-themed to become ‘Touchdown’?
KR: Do you remember the “Rebel Rocket” hypercoaster rumor that burst out of Great America back in 2003? My point being, I’m not buying this one, either. That red paint would certainly lend itself to an “Afterburn” theme, however…
NL: We (ACE) held an event at California’s Great America on March 1st to get an off-season tour of the park and presentation of what is new for 2014. The new paint is looking fabulous in person, and there was no word on a name change – I highly doubt it will happen.
Which Californian park do you visit most frequently?
KR: For me, it’s California’s Great America. It helps that the park is along my commute to the radio station.
NL: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – home park!
Which of the following is your favorite and why? Superman Ultimate Flight, Full Throttle, Coast Rider, Manta, and Gold Striker?
KR: Ugh, a Sophie’s choice! I’m just glad to see such a variety of “e-ticket” rides opening up in the Golden State.
NL: Easily, Gold Striker. Every time I ride it, it feels like I am riding it again for the first time. Relentless, wild, never-ending are words I would use to describe Gold Striker. It is DEFINITELY a world-class roller coaster.
What jobs have you had in the Amusement Park industry?
KR: For two summers, I took market research (I.E. surveys) from guests at (then) Paramount’s Great America and (then) Bonfante Gardens. I also worked as a Picnic Coordinator at (then) Waterworld Concord and (then) Six Flags Marine World. Goodness, am I dating myself by saying that?!?
NL: No jobs other than ACE – yet!
We thank Kris and Nicholas for their assistance in this interview! We wish them luck with their GAT concept, and ‘Lost Parks’ series! Make sure to help them out by contacting cable networks and promote GAT! Visit the GAT site here. Tweet GAT here, and find GAT on Facebook here!
Visit the ACE NorCal website here. ‘Like’ Facebook page here. Follow their tweets on their twitter here.
You must have heard of the recent Silver Bullet repaint… One of the main guys behind it all, is Steve Hickey. Steve Hickey has been working for Baynum for a long time now, and is currently Baynum’s Lead Foreman.
Steve Hickey has been so friendly to let us interview him, and sent us footage and information of projects he worked on. We really appreciate it, and to personally thank him for the great interview, we’d like to dedicate this interview to Derek. As Steve himself stated; ‘Derek, one of my best guys and very close friend was shot and killed’. He also implied; ‘It was one of the darkest days of my life and we miss him very much.’.
In memorial of Steve’s good friend and colleague, we thus dedicate our first interview to Derek Garland.
What is the most difficult project you’ve ever worked on?
Hands down X2, many times a coaster will have its unique challenges. That’s what gives it it’s own personality. Due to its overwhelming size, X2 had them all. The end result was worth the effort.
Which/how many different countries have you worked in?
I have worked in China and Mexico. These projects are some of the best memories of my career. In China we rode bicycles to work just as the locals did. I rode the rice fields that I’m sure no outsiders had ever seen. If the locals did it we did it, including the where-and-what we ate. I worked there under the direction of Chuck Hendricks. Mr Hendricks is now building the Grand Texas Theme Park outside Houston TX.
Is there a difference in color from up close versus where the public can see it from a further distance?
No, but, what the color does do that you don’t think about is effect the expansion of the steel. Dark colors absorb heat and increase expansion. This can be somewhat offset by the the gloss level. Some rides are very sensitive to this and thus it’s a major factor in color selection.
Were you interested in being a professional painter of any sort before getting into this industry?
I remember being a kid and having to help paint our house. I hated it. Thinking; I don’t know what I will do when I grow up, but, I will not be a painter. How’s that for irony.
What are the different techniques you use when painting a wooden coaster versus a steel coaster? As I said earlier, each coaster has its own personality. Woodies are no different. Because of their tiered blocked construction they’re not as difficult to access. They do have challenges you don’t see on steel rides. In the high stress areas the board fasteners sometimes break and it may not be manifest until you step on it. Then you know real fast it’s loose. With that said, the carpenters know where these area are and constantly monitor and rebuild these high stress areas. When you visit a theme or thrill park you simply cannot imagine how much effort and money goes into making sure your visit is enjoyable, and above all, safe.
What is your most frequently visited theme park (work)?
This really varies as parks go through cycles and many times a ride will be repainted because it or the area around it is being re-themed. For instance last year I worked in 5 different parks and that’s just my crew. Baynum Painting has other crews they utilize and each has its own specialized skill set that determines what crew will best fit the upcoming project. Many years ago I painted a ride at California’s great America then on to Astroworld in Houston then on to Six Flags in New England. I remember thinking, working on West Coast, Gulf Coast, and East Coast in the same year was pretty spectacular.
What is your most frequently visited theme park (outside of work)?
Kings Island, Cincinnati Ohio. I live very close to it.
On average how many people work on a paint job for a coaster?
Although it varies depending on the scope of work and the schedule. I have seen as many as 30 men on a Wooden Coaster. Some small flat rides may only require a few.
What is the worst weather to paint in?
That’s a great question. Coatings can be formulated and modified to accommodate almost any environmental condition. For instance a moisture cure urethane designed to be applied in a cold wet environment simply will not cure in a hot dry environment. A traditional urethane would be a better choice in that scenario. Now as for the painters, cold and wet is the worst!And when bad weather takes over, it’s time for yet another repaint. Lucky Steve, not everyone gets to climb a Batman Clone! (Batman The Ride, Six Flags Over Texas)
How do parks approach /contact you?
Baynum has a great marketing team and is in contact with their clients continuously.
What are some techniques for painting rides over water?
This is one of the things that gives a ride it’s personality. We have work baskets called ‘Spiders’ that allow us to work from the top down verses from the ground up as you would in a man lift.
What are some techniques for painting rides in thicker vegetation, such as in forests?
We have has some instances where extensive clearing of the vegetation took place. Typically we are limited in working around heavy growth. It must be cut back to allow access.
What are some techniques for painting rides that are tougher to reach due to the terrain?
This would be treated the same as if it were over water. Get the spiders out. As Steve told us; ‘Getting this equipment to the top of this hill was a real challenge.’ To get the equipment there, he told us; ‘I had to use this 10,000 lb forklift to get this all terrain man lift in place. We have to do some extreme things at times.’
What is the toughest inversion to paint?
That’s a tough call, but, there sure are some fun ones out there to ride.
How do you paint the inside of a wooden coaster’s structure?
We kind of touched on this earlier, on a Woodie you work from the structure itself. The real trick here is fall protection. From a steel structure or a man lift this is very straight forward. On a wood coaster you need literally hundreds of anchor points. Life lines are run vertically in each bay, as we call them. When you climb into a bay, a life line is there waiting for you. This can be very costly and time consuming. Just one of the things you don’t think about when you pay the gate price and enter an amusement park.
Do you paint water rides, and if so, what coat do you use to keep the paint on as long as possible?
Yes, I have painted many water rides. They face a greater challenge than typical rides, and the water and chemicals added are very aggressive from a corrosion standpoint. Further complicating the issue is water rides always have vibrant colors and these are prone to fade quickly due to the chlorine. Although we do have some tricks to help prolong these, water rides will always require a disproportionate amount of maintenance.
Is it tough when painting rides that go over or through another ride?
What makes this so tough is generally park management would like the other ride, or pedestrian area that it goes over, to remain unaffected. Tatsu at Magic Mountain is the best example I can think of. It has not yet been repainted but it’s time is coming. That one will be a real challenge.
What is the tallest you’ve been while painting a ride?
The Eiffel Tower at Kings Island. It’s a 1/3 scale of the real one. I painted the needle on top just for the bragging rights. That was 25 years ago, I leave that kind of thing to the younger guys now. They need their bragging right too.
Do you also paint scenery on more themed rides?
Personally no, I mentioned each crew has things that they excel in. Baynum has some guys who are real good in this situation.
Do you paint the track or supports of a coaster first?
Personally I like to start at the point where the ride exits the station and make my way around the ride. Logistically this is not always possible. I do try to keep my projects systematic, these things can spread out so much it is easy to get overwhelmed. It also helps me keep track of what is prepped and ready for paint.
What is your favorite ride that you’ve worked on in California?
Although I will never forget X2, my favorite in California is the Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk. Working in that setting is truly special. I painted it 15 years ago, it was just repainted this past year by Walker Hopkins and his crew. Although I really wanted to be part of that project Walker and his guys did a fantastic job.
What coating process do you use for maximum color lasting?
In general terms polysolixanes and urethanes are the most common. Fluoropolymers are making some advances in the market share but their cost and limited ability to be field applied have kept their use limited.
Do you ride rides before and/or after you paint them?
The crews love to. I have several vertebrate fused together in my neck as a result of a fall on a wood coaster many years ago, so my coaster riding days are over. The beast at Kings Island was always my favorite. That was also my first coaster to oversee the repainting of.
What Californian parks have you painted for?
Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk
Six Flags Discovery kingdom
California’s Great America
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Knott’s Berry Farm
I also got to visit Never Never Land. Baynum painting was scheduled to paint some of the attractions there. It just ‘Never Never’ materialized.
Do you paint rides that are in storage?
This type of repaint is called a ‘Lay Down’. A ride will be dismantled, repainted and reassembled at a new location. We have completed many of these.
Steve did the ‘Lay Down’ for Boomerang (St. Louis), after the original Flashback from Six Flags Over Texas was dismantled, and needed to be repainted.
What ride would you like to paint the most? (One you have not yet worked on)The project I want most to be part of is Superman Krypton Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, TX. The way that ride incorporates itself into the landscape, running parallel to the rock wall and plunging over the rock wall toward the lake below is something special and I want to be part of it. It has so many features that would make it unique. Thus far it has never been repainted, when it is I hope to be there for it.
What is the one park you would like to work in year around? If I had to choose one park to stay at, it would be Fiesta Texas. It sits in an abandoned rock quarry. The lake under Superman Krypton Coaster has the best bass and bluegill fishing you can even dream of. In general I have a fascination with Texas and can definitely see myself calling it home someday. A very very close second would be Magic Mountain. I love the area and the people there.
Do you have any formal training?
I have been trained and certified by NACE (national association of corrosion engineers) as a level 3 inspector.
I also hope to instruct the NACE inspector program in the future. I should qualify for this privilege in a couple more years.
Additional footage for the interview!
Steve has traveled to almost any major theme park you can think of, he told us the following about the above picture; ‘Chang at Six Flags Louisville KY (former SF Kentucky Kingdom, currently scheduled to reopen this Spring as ‘Kentucky Kingdom’). I painted this ride twice. This is the first repaint. Several years later it was relocated to Six Flags in New Jersey (SF Great Adventure). We removed all the old coating and repainted it to its current green and black, now the Green Lantern.’
Steve also worked in the now defunct Astro World, he stated; ‘This goes 20 years back to the Viper at Astro World in Houston TX. We had to climb on and install rigging points on top of this structure. They just didn’t think about how it would be accessed when it was built. I was a young man on this one.’
Steve doesn’t only paint roller-coasters when he works at Amusement parks, he also painted Kuahuea at Six Flags Mexico. The first picture below will show you the crew he worked with while painting the triple S&S tower. (Steve is to be found in the middle of the men). The second picture shows the progress as one of the towers did not yet receive the repaint, and the others did. It also shows some techniques.
Steve Hickey has worked on many Baynum painting projects, many coasters released in the Baynum video, have been painted by Steve Hickey and crews.