“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
We visit theme parks to get away from the humdrum of normality to escape (albeit queued up for hours) into an imaginative realm. Therefore, it’s imperative that the amusement park industry stay ahead on technology so that the experiences they offer surpass what’s available in our own backyards. Hopefully, theme park executives have witnessed the ingenuity of Canadian Michael Davis’s invention:
an authentic, honest to gosh, real-life hoverboard.
It’s almost as if he’s the Green Goblin or an air warrior from the clouds descending to us heathens below on his personal helicopter. Now imagine this technology in play in a stunt show in, around, and above water. Need I say… GLORIOUS! Then once the audience has had their fill of awe, they can be wooed into a high-priced up-charge attraction (complete with “we dare you to sue us” liability forms) where park goers can live out their Back to the Future 2 dreams. Well done Mr. Davis. Now it’s up to you Disney and Universal. (I’m sorry Six Flags, but we don’t need you tinkering with your low budget theatrics.)
Lady Bug Tamer
For my three hundred sixtieth coaster I decided to pull a 360 degree turn. While I visited Marineland in Niagara Falls, Canada for the first time in late May, I purposefully skipped their kiddie coaster. It was symbolic to hold off until the 360th spot became available. If my parents had taken me as a child to Marineland, chances are the Lady Bug Coaster, then called the Tivoli Coaster, would have been my first coaster. I desired to take this special ride back to my childhood. How fitting to hop aboard the Lady Bug Coaster for the first time at #360. I guess you can say I’m a romantic rider.
North Tonawanda’s Enchanting Carousel Kingdom
By Stephen Cravak
Nestled amongst tree-lined avenues of a Buffalo suburb, resides a hidden gem. A testament to human passion and preservation stands a relic of America’s industrial past and its continued pursuit of amusement. When on Thompson Street in the heart of North Tonawanda, your eyes need to be peeled for a red brick complex built in 1915. Inside its crimson walls organs serenade and horses run wild. You will enter not a re-creation, but a true representation of the past. Welcome to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.
The museum has been treating visitors to a merry-go-round of insight into the area’s rich contributions to antique carousels and children’s ride production. The building served as the primary facility for the Allan Herschell Company.
Hop aboard living history!
According to Carousel historian and collector Charlotte Dinger, Allan Herschell was born in Scotland in 1851 later emigrating to Buffalo, New York. After seeing a carousel in New York City, he was determined to begin building steam-operated merry-go-rounds. His first company the Armitage Herschell Company was unable to survive two fires and economic downturn. Herschell’s passion for carousels led him to continue on by joining forces with his brother-in-law to form the Herschell-Spillman Company. It’s not surprising that it was a mere 2 years after Herschell’s retirement that he jumped back into the carousel business. Founding the Allan Herschell Company, the fourth carousel producer in North Tonawanda, Herschell competed against the Spillman Engineering Company, who conveniently removed his name. Continue reading
Ralph to the Rescue?
Upcoming Animated Feature Well Suited for Disney Attraction
By Stephen “Crave” Cravak
Pixar’s Brave audiences were treated to the first glimpse of Walt Disney Animation Studio’s next theatrical production, Wreck-It Ralph. Slated for release on November 2nd, the movie promises to be a hip departure from folk-lore inspired classics. From the 2 minute plus trailer, there also doesn’t appear to be a damsel in distress. Instead, the hero of the story is a donkey kong-esque villain who dreams of being a hero. In many ways, Wreck-It Ralph promises to be the “Toy Story” of the video game world pitting original main characters within an existing world of pop icons.
When it comes to turning movies into attractions, or attractions into movies, Disney has a resume long enough to empty your ink cartridge. Especially with the ability to include classic 80s and 90s villains from Super Mario, Sonic, Pac Man, and Street Fighter, Wreck-It Ralph would lend itself well to any Disney park. The film’s pixelated logo has a nostalgic look and would look appealing on a T-shirt. A hyper cast member could easily jump into the costume of the title character or the mario-esque Fix-It Felix. While there is a Sonic Spinball themed coaster in Tokyo, the amusement industry has long ignored video games as potential tie-ins. Wreck-It Ralph provides Disney with the chance to strongly promote one of its own, non-Pixar films, while tapping into a lucrative industry. Continue reading
The fine folks at CWMania are pulling out all the stops for arguably the season’s best Coaster Event: Leviamania! This year, Canada’s Wonderland unveil’s Canada’s first 300 footer, a Bolliger & Mabillard (respected steel coaster designers from Switzerland) hyper coaster. On Sunday, May 27th, Leviamania will force open Canada’s Wonderland’s gates at 7:30am for mind blowing exclusive ride time (meaning the rides are open for event goers only!) on Leviathan, classic Arrow Dymanics looper Dragon Fire, Intamin Drop Tower, and the revered wooden twister Wild Beast. If that wasn’t enough, seasoned coasters and even a novice enthusiast will faint during the Wonder Mountain walk-up, behind the scenes tour of Leviathan and Dinosaurs Alive (incl. admission to this brand new pay extra attraction), and a Q&A session with park officials. Your stomach will also be treated as an honored guest with breakfast, lunch, in addition to classy coffee and cake. In case you show up topless, you’ll even receive a Leviamania T-shirt! But that’s not all, there’s even more exclusive ride time in the evening on 200+ hyper coaster Behemoth, the launched Backlot stunt coaster and Skyrider stand-up coaster.
As a teacher in Florida, I served as Activities Director and organized heaps of events. Just looking at this itinerary, I’m aware of how much blood, sweat and tears have gone into putting on this event. As fellow amusement park enthusiasts, we all should show our appreciation by getting in on the action and registering today for Leviamania!
Registration is open now until May 6th. To register for this event simply visit CWMania. PayPal, Mastercard, Visa accepted. Spots are filling up fast, so be sure to sign-up today! Please note, you must first active a CWMania membership (absolutely free). Be sure to join their Facebook page as well.
For construction photos and video of Leviathan click here.
While in-line for the Spin Bullet at Tokyo Joypolis guests can treat their eyes to a buffet of “oh no you don’ts.” I found this video hilarious as it highlighted all the probable dangers instead of hi-lighting the coaster’s safety features. I could see this video being effective for an American park’s unruly and ignorant vistors, but this is Japan, where politeness reigns supreme. Perhaps this informative video is meant for the foreign tourists. Regardless, this foreigner appreciates the round of giggles it gave me. Apologies on the audio as the park’s soundtrack dilutes the video’s Japanese narration.
The dramatically lame conclusion to the epic Flume Fun trilogy. Crave attempts to devour a scrumptious cheeseburger while on board the Adventure Cruise at Space World in Fukuoka, Japan.
Flume Fun 2 at Hirakata Park in Osaka, Japan.
This is what happens when I have free time at an amusement park: