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Everything posted by printersdevil78

  1. I think I stayed at that exact same hotel when I went to Dollywood 17 years ago! The pool looks familiar, anyway, and I know it was a Holiday Inn. Is Haunted Golf still open in Pigeon Forge? That place, cheesy though it may have been, cemented my life-long love of miniature golfing.
  2. Love that train! Great job! The multi-color versus white lights discussion is a hot topic of debate in the "letters to the editor" section of my local paper each December. It's kind of a moot point, really. My co-worker and I were just discussing today how everyone around here seems to use blue lights. Because, you know, that just screams "Christmas." My dad decided not to put up lights this year (and I never do, apartment living and whatnot), but in past years he's tried to incorporate some sort of "theme"--which none of the rest of us really ever understood. Basically all the bushes got colored lights. Then white icicle lights hung from the porch. Then rows of evenly spaced blue lights covered the ground under the bushes. The white lights, he said, were supposed to represent snow. The blue lights were water. Why the multi-colored bushes were floating on the blue light "water" is anyone's guess. But somehow it made sense to him.
  3. I always love hearing about how meetings and such take place in actual attractions. Like when they have management briefings at Lincoln Theater. I just can't imagine going into a building like the Carousel of Progress (OK, America Sings) and doing business. I'm lucky if the rooms I end up having meetings in have windows. Yours had Audio-Animatronics!
  4. No idea how long these attractions sat intact inside their buildings before being gutted; however, I assume America Sings was gone fairly quickly, as many of its Audio-Animatronics were repurposed for Splash Mountain, which opened in 1989, one year after America Sings was shuttered. The only ATIS Easter egg I'm aware of in Star Tours is the microscope used in the Inner Space attraction appearing on screen as an item being moved by a space-age crane just before your shuttle leaves the launch site. Speaking of Star Tours and America Sings, maybe someone "in the know" on here can shed some light on what I believe was a misnomer on my tour guide's part during the "Walk in Walt's Footsteps" tour I took a few years ago. I had always heard that the two work droids in Star Tours were originally geese in America Sings. I've even seen photos where two of the geese were removed from America Sings. However, the tour guide said the AA droids actually were originally the two hosts from America Sings, the eagle and the owl (fuzzy on their names; America Sings closed a couple years prior to my first trip to Disneyland). I'm thinking the guide was just misinformed, as A) Star Tours opened in 1987, a year before America Sings closed, so it would have been difficult to remove the host AAs without installing replacements, and B) the guide also told us that the final construction cost for Disneyland in 1955 was (switching to Dr. Evil voice) "one MIIIIIIIIIIILION dollars." I asked if he hadn't meant $17 million and was told no, he was pretty sure it was only $1 million The cornbread chili included with the tour was good, though. And the guide let me have his cheesecake since he didn't want it!
  5. I'm a part-time author with a full-time job in public relations. I didn't need engineering courses for my career path, but some part-time classes might have been nice in helping me design a structurally sound brick wall against which to bang my head some days....
  6. All my baseball cards from when I was a kid are at my parents' house, but the name sounds vaguely familiar. I'll have to check when I go back home for Christmas. In the meantime, here are a few Camden Yards shots from earlier this year. The old lettering from the front of Memorial Stadium (R.I.P.) is now part of a memorial to war veterans at the entrance to Camden Yards. I actually got one of the old seats from Memorial when they tore down the stadium. Miguel Tejada The Oriole Bird's real name is Feathersby, but there probably are only a half dozen or so people who know (or care about) that. I happened to read it once in an old newspaper article about the day they retired Brooks Robinson's number.
  7. During the week I wear a suit and tie (well, a tie, anyway). But two days a year I wear a suit and beard. Red suit, that is. As in Santa Claus. I've been my hometown chamber of commerce's official Santa since 2001 for the town's annual Breakfast With Santa and Christmas parade. Since 2005, I've also been the official Santa for my local Jaycees chapter's annual Children's Christmas Shopping Tour, during which we take some 200 underprivileged children Christmas shopping at Wal-Mart on our dime, complete with snacks, kids' movies, etc. It's a real community event, complete with volunteers from nearby high schools, local colleges and Wal-Mart itself. This year the chamber canceled the breakfast, but both other events were still on--and on the same day! From 4 a.m. (the requisite time to squeeze into the suit for the 4:45 a.m. shopping tour--held early so as to disturb as few Wal-Mart shoppers as possible) to helping my dad (who's chaired the parade the past two years) pick up parade markers at 10 p.m., it was a full day to say the least! I thought it might be fun to share what Santa does in a day (or at least on my day). One sentence of clarification before the good stuff: For obvious reasons, I made sure to crop out any faces of underprivileged children who may have appeared in the shopping tour photos or delete those pictures altogether (which is why there are no photos of them with Santa). But rest assured, when you're there in person and see the faces of those 200 kids and dozens of community volunteers who turn out before dawn to make sure those children and their families get a Christmas each year, it really is an amazing experience! The judges' stand in front of City Hall was elaborately themed. Inmates painted the maritime scene in the background, while a local paint shop designed and donated the 2-D flats in the foreground. The bi-plane also included interior detailing the parade viewers would never see, including this cockpit. In addition, they designed the wings to fold back onto the roof of the plane for easy storage in case the local chamber of commerce wants to use this for additional parades in the future. More detailing. The inmates designed and built four of the floats used in the parade this year, including one for the local Girl Scouts chapter and one for a nearby Christian school. Sadly, I didn't get photos of either of those two. Back to this year's float, here's some of the detailing. The inmates really do an amazing job. My dad, who works at the prison (as does half or more of the town), actually founded the parade float program as a rehabilitation option in 2000. It's the only one of its kind in the nation that I'm aware of. The big green thing on the back is a crab dressed as an elf, as seen in this picture. Since my hometown is known as the "Crab Capital of the World" (yeah, we didn't make jokes about that in high school or anything), it makes sense. Even the local beauty queen is named Miss Crustacean! The kiddie pageant winners are similarly dubbed Little Miss and Mr. Crustacean. By comparison, last year's float was a motorboat (which made sense since this is a maritime community). That's me in the front! Three hours later I was in my hometown, checking out my ride for that night's parade. It's a different float each year, made by inmates at the local state prison. This year we had a bi-plane theme (obviously). The chimney on the front hid the generator that powered the lights, and the propellor actually spun! We stayed so long that we actually hit the change-over from breakfast to lunch. Travis went back and got lunch from the buffet, too... just because he could! ...while the rest of us went down the street to the Golden Corral buffet. Wal-Mart manager (and fellow Jaycee) Kevin enjoyed a bowl of cheese balls for breakfast... Snack time! Nothing says 6 a.m. dining like cheese balls and Sunny Delight. And this would be the wrapping area. Each child has the option of having two gifts wrapped (many buy presents for their families as well as themselves). Wal-Mart donates all the wrapping paper, and employees volunteer as wrappers. The biggest hazard in this area is getting run over by the kids who are so eager to try out their new bikes, they try to ride them to the wrapping stations! These would be those buses. Trucks from a local appliance store follow behind on the return trip to deliver the kids' purchases. For anyone who's never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart employee break room, now's your chance! On shopping tour morning, it's transformed into the kids' party room, complete with snacks, movies and Christmas cards to color. Chaperones Kristin and Matt prepare to board the buses that will take the kids back to their parents. But the best part of all: Little Miss and Mr. Crustacean voted me the best entry in the parade, so I got this cool trophy (with a crab medallion on top, naturally)! I had already left by the time the announced they winners (three and a half hours sitting in an open-air float in 40-degree weather is enough--not to mention the santa pants don't have a zipper...), so they convinced the kids my mom, overseeing the judges' stand, was Santa's wife and presented it to her in my honor. I think she was a little offended that the kids thought she looked old enough to pass for Mrs. Claus! My chariot arrives on the parade route! I even had a costumed Rudolph as my pilot. Between the two of us and our driver, we threw $115 worth of candy and small toys to kids along the street. Money well spent. And this section brought up the rear. This section blew Disneyland-style "snow" over the crowd on both sides. The highlight of any parade in this region is the float sponsored by the prison itself. The inmates worked a combined 1,100 hours on this year's three-part entry, representing the movie "Happy Feet." (Also a cheat since it's from another daytime parade--but at least it was a parade from this year!) This one's kind of a cheat since the picture is from a different parade (from last year, as the gas prices on the sign in the background attest), but he was in the parade, and it's kind of a neat addition--the Lone Ranger. Re-enactors played Lord Calvert and Lady Somerset. The Jaycees were here, too! Instead of throwing candy like everyone else, though, they gave out free glow necklaces.
  8. Jojo19799, that's awesome! What was your principal's name? If he played for the O's at any time from 1954 to the mid-'90s, there's a better-than-average chance I have his baseball card.
  9. I lost 50 pounds in four months during my freshman year of college, but that's nothing compared to this! You da man, Robb! Da man with the socks.
  10. Agreed! When I was 15 (back before ANY of us had cell phone cameras--or cell phones, for that matter), I got to take a special tour of the park during its first season as part of an academic achievement program for Maryland high school students. It was amazing! I still remember the turkey dinner they served us in the normally restricted Camden Club (their version of Club 33). Years later, when I was in college, I attended Orioles Fan Fest and got to take pictures from the dugout, in the locker room, in the training room, etc. Even in the areas normally open to the public, Camden Yards is a great park. I have some nice pictures somewhere of the scoreboard, some of the outside areas and the on-field festivities during Eddie Murray Day, when they officially retired his number. I was also in a couple of the crowd scenes when they filmed "Major League II" there in the early '90s (with a temporary blue paint job, it served as a stand-in for Municipal Stadium--you can see Baltimore's iconic Bromoseltzer tower and an ad for the Sheraton Inner Harbor in some scenes). If I ever get an HDTV, maybe I'll buy the DVD and see if I can catch myself on freeze frame!
  11. Cool! So now that your fame is confirmed, if I send an SASE, will your assistant send me an autographed photo? Or do I have to wait in line for an hour and pay $75 like I had to do for Hank Aaron?
  12. Oh, the things that keep me up at night.... I recently treated myself to an early Christmas present (er, "holiday" present; I'm not sure state employees are allowed to say "Christmas" anymore) and bought the preview edition of Kevin Yee's new book, "Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member 1987-2002." So tonight I get to page 157 and find: "No discussion of CM shenanigans is complete without mentioning one of the most common forms of Cast Member tomfoolery: sneaking around locations other than one's own. Robb bravely infiltrated the Matterhorn and took his picture next to the Abominable Snowman, and also made it into closed attractions America Sings and Mission to Mars." Suddenly I find myself thinking, "Hmmm... I've seen a picture of Robb with the Abominable Snowman, wearing what appears to be a Disneyland CM costume, no less." So 'fess up, Robb: Are you the aforementioned infiltrator, or is Kevin writing about some other former Disneyland employee who happens to spell his name with a cool double-B? Jason "Inquiring Minds Want to Know" Rhodes
  13. Wow! These are absolutely amazing! I've seen the Flintstone Freeway art before, but I can't recall where. The rest are new to me. I think the one with the mushrooms, though, is of the Gulliver's Adventures birthday area referenced in the first image and not of Smurf Village. Also looks like they had a potential franchise in mind for the Yogi Bear Picnic Restaurant--not just for theme park use. I wonder who the character cut-outs on the roof would have been. Cindy Bear and Ranger Smith, obviously, but who else? I remember Hanna-Barbara Land at Kings Dominion (before Smurf Mountain was even there). Of course, I also remember back when "theming" meant actually building something out of fiberglass and not just painting a picture of the "character of the day" (i.e. Fairly Odd Coaster) on the signs. The standards were there--Scooby Doo's Ghoster Coaster (my first credit at about age 7), Boulder Bumpers (Flintstones-themed bumper cars) and Yogi's Cave (re-themed to Treasure Cave the last time I was there)--but they also had a number of rides based on "lesser" cartoons. I specifically remember a kiddie helicopter spinner themed to the Space Kid-ettes. In addition to the traditional characters (Yogi, Scooby, Quick Draw McGraw, etc.), they also had a Hong Kong Phooey walk-around character. From the looks of this concept art, the desire to base attractions on lesser cartoons was in full force with everything from Space Ghost and Sea Lab 2020 (if that’s what it is—I can’t decide whether the background is supposed to be space or ocean) to Winsome Witch, Moby Dick and Precious Pupp (I'll bet most people on this site have never even heard of those last three). I wonder what the process was to choose which themes to use back then. Was it “Here’s the entire Hanna-Barbara catalog. Have fun” or “This is our new Saturday morning lineup. See what you can do to promote it”? If the latter is true, it seems incredibly short-sighted. But they had to know what the most popular characters and cartoons were. Why waste time on the ones that had only 13 episodes instead of focusing mostly on the Scoobys and Yogis of the H-B universe? I guess the Hillbilly Bears shooting gallery was never built, but at least they had some small representation at Kings Dominion. A parking area was named in their honor. I remember wondering who they were at the time. Anyone know what cartoon that moon buggy ride was based on?
  14. Hey Craig, While you were in OC for Jolly Roger, did you also hit up Trimper's for the Tidal Wave? Though it's within walking distance of the pier, it's not part of the Jolly Roger franchise (Trimper's has been there about 80 years longer--and narrowly escaped demolition for condos this year). If so, add another one to the list!
  15. So far this year: Trimper's Rides Jolly Roger/Pier Rides Hersheypark Coming in two weeks: Disneyland DCA Coming in two months: MK Epcot DAK Disney's Hollywood Studios
  16. Great trip report, Natalie! I was there yesterday and had planned to do a TR, but you beat me to it! Trying not to repeat, here are a few of the highlights. (No rain for us!) Oh, and also, a gratuitous Jack-o-lantern shot from ZooAmerica (free with paid admission to Hersheypark in the Dark). Goodbye, Hersheypark! See you next year! Na na na na na na na na, Bat Lemon! I got a credit on Trailblazer. Or as we took to calling it, "Small Thunder Mountain." An on-ride photo of Storm Runner! OK, so technically the ride I was on when I took it was the Monorail, but still.... Frankie says relax. Also, go left. Splat! ...snowman on the other! This decoration has a split personality. Scarecrow on one side... What do you get from a Hershey fountain? Why, Hershey squirts, of course! So what does a vampire Hershey bar eat, anyway? Guess who? Welcome to Hersheypark. Now eat me! Pippin's is now the Tudor Grill. Avoid the chicken and waffles! How can we make the Chocolate World gift shop more realistic? I know! Add real shoppers! How can we make the chocolate factory ride more realistic? I know! Add singing cows!
  17. Sick days... gotta love 'em, right? While in a Nyquil-induced coma today, I had a dream involving Theme Park Review that I thought I would share. If nothing else, maybe it's good for a few laughs (and not a stern warning of things to come): The curtain rose as my friend Kris and I were reminiscing on the beach at Ocean City, Md., some months after a nuclear holocaust. Most of the buildings (along with the amusement parks and miniature golf courses) were gone, but we saw a lone tent in the distance. Drawn to it, we found it to be a gypsy tent, the inside of which was set up like some kind of makeshift general store with a bar. Kris was excited to find apples (which apparently were in short supply) and bought six of them. We were then invited to stay, have a Natty Boh and watch the Ravens game (because apparently even nuclear war couldn't disrupt the NFL season--or the cable feed or electrical grid, for that matter). Not being much of a football fan, I elected to drive home instead. Depressed, I began scouring the Internet (also not disrupted by nuclear bombs) and came across a story on CNN.com about one webmaster in California who sold roller coaster videos and apparel with his site's name on it for years in an effort to fund construction of a secret bunker where he, his family and a few close friends could remain safe in the event of a nuclear attack. That man's name: Robb Alvey. The report went on to say that due to the instability the attacks had caused in the California infrastructure, Robb was moving his operations to the East Coast and building a new Theme Park Review headquarters in Linthicum, Md., that could withstand everything from hurricanes and earthquakes to another nuclear attack. It hailed Robb as the one gleaming hope for the survival of mankind. Even at that point I didn't realize this was so preposterous that it had to have been a dream! The story concluded by giving the location of the new headquarters building and saying Robb planned to celebrate that day, just 30 minutes from the time I read the story, by throwing a cookout at the new facility for all TPR members. "Well," I thought to myself, "I'm a TPR member!" Sadly, Linthicum is a good two-hour drive from my apartment. I was depressed again. Until I decided on a whim to check Orbitz and found out that a USAirways flight from my municipal communter airport to Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Linthicum had been reduced to just $30 and was leaving in 15 minutes! I dashed to the airport (OK, drove, really), caught the flight and took a cab to the new TPR site. There stood a gleaming modern stainless steel skyscraper, at least ten stories tall. At first I wasn't sure I was in the right place. After all, Lucy the Elephant from Margate, N.J., was inexplicably in the parking lot right next door. But my fears were quelled when I spotted an open-air computer terminal against the rusted chain-link fence that separated the TPR property from Lucy, inviting me to sit down and try a "coaster simulation." I sat in the desk chair directly in front of the terminal and clicked the mouse. A random POV coaster DVD played, but I was confused. How was this a simulator and not just a movie? Then I saw the hand-written note taped to the corner of the terminal. Turns out the "simulation" normally consisted of Jahan's standing behind the desk chair and shaking it while the DVD played, but he was busy inside grilling hot dogs for the cookout instead. Before I had time to contemplate that grilling the hot dogs indoors technically defeated the literal intention of a cookOUT, I turned around, looked up and saw a sight that gave me goosebumps: Robb Alvey himself, the savior of the human spirit, standing nobly in front of one of the building's hermetically sealed windows, looking for all the world like that grainy picture of Alvar Hanso from that orientation film on "Lost." I went inside and immediately was surrounded by the TPR gift shop. One item in particular caught my eye: a Pedro bobblehead from South of the Border with a "Theme Park Review" sticker sloppily applied over the "SotB" logo. At that point Robb and Elissa enthusiastically entered the room and introduced themselves. I asked about the bobblehead, and Robb told me that after the first attack, he sent wave after wave of faithful TPR volunteers--many to their deaths--out into the rubble of destroyed amusement parks and tourist traps in an attempt to salvage the relics of America's theme park heritage for future generations. Duplicate items, like Pedro, were rebranded with the TPR logo and sold in the gift shop to help pay for the new building. I noted the price: only $3.95, with several available. I bought two and had Robb autograph them both--one for me, one to sell on eBay (you know, since CNN was calling him the savior of mankind and all). Then I noticed something (or more specifically, someone) was missing and instinctively thought the worst. I barely got the question out when Elissa informed me that yes, KidTums was safe, just down for a nap in a separate, secure area of the TPR complex. Relieved, I started to follow Robb through a doorway in the back of the gift shop as he informed me if I needed anything at all during my stay at the TPR complex, I should just ask Jahan. Turns out that in exchange for giving Jahan space in the radiation-proof bunker back in California, Robb forced him to sign papers making him his slave for life. "Two hot dogs, Jahan!" he called back. "We have a guest!" I smelled the hot dogs, but never got to see what was on the other side of that doorway, for that was the very instant I woke up hacking and coughing and aching for my next Nyquil fix. Fin.
  18. By land, Baltimore, D.C. and Philly are about equidistant from me at about 2 1/2 hours in different directions. By water, Norfolk, Va., is also about an hour away.
  19. Age: 29 Middle Name: Franklin Pet Peeve: People who spend more time complaining than fixing Color of your bathroom: It's supposed to be white, but it's mostly yellowish off-white now Best Movie of ALL time: Back to the Future Best Song of ALL time: Tiger Rag Best TV Shows: Futurama, Lost, The Office, My Name is Earl, King of the Hill, Leave it to Beaver Favorite Band/Artist: The Beatles Favorite Rides at Disney Parks: The Haunted Mansion and Soarin' Over California (and seasonally, It's a Small World Holiday) Yummiest Ice Cream: Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough Vanilla If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be: Walt Disney Morning Person or Night Person: Night person Pets: None, but I unfortunately am set to inherit two dogs and a cat, who come as a package deal with my girlfriend Favorite Color: In a perfect world, all colors would be equal Where you would go for fun (not an amusement park): Movies Coke or Pepsi: Coke Opinion about Peanut Butter and Jelly: It's about time for the UN to step in and try to work something out between these two Best Vacation Spot: Either Vegas or Southern California Cook or Go Out: Go out Beach, Desert, or Mountains: Beach--I live 30 minutes from it
  20. No, she couldn't. But maybe she'll outgrow it and lead a normal life anyway
  21. Well, I do like contests. Especially when the grand prize is a bag of crap! Ah crap, our most renewable resource. After careful consideration, the judges inform Lou that riding a four-foot-tall animatronic giraffe doesn't count as a "plushie" credit. Richard, meanwhile, is just happy to be getting some kind of attention. Poor Richard.
  22. I'm not sure which I'm more excited about in this update--seeing that Mister Donut is still around (they all closed up in my area quite some time ago) or learning that Fanta Melon is available not only in liquid form, but as a frosty frozen treat! Oh, and the park looks pretty nice, too.... Love those old restaurant logos, by the way. Did anyone else notice that the Denny's sign in the first Japan mini-update was the original "wacky lettering" design instead of the too-shiny-and-polished current corporate America version? Jason "Suddenly Craving Moons Over My Hammy" Rhodes
  23. Hi, my name is Jason--long-time lurker, first-time poster. I've been an amusement park fan as long as I can remember and even wrote a book about them in a historical context a couple years back. The first theme park I can remember going to was Kings Dominion when I was about 5 (which would have been 24 years ago). My home amusement park is Trimper's Rides in Ocean City, MD, though as far as "theme" parks go, I guess the closest is Six Flags America (and the closest "real" theme park would be Busch Gardens Williamsburg/Europe). I've never seen a donkey in real life. Professionally, I work in public relations. I'm very active in my local Jaycees chapter. And... that's really all there is to know about me. Which is kind of sad, really, when you consider I easily have been able to condense nearly three decades of life into three small paragraphs. Sigh. Jason "I Think I'm Going to Go Cry Myself to Sleep Now" Rhodes
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