Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Immersive Irony Experience Theme Park Podcast - Rob Pilatus Memorial


Alan is joined by Jerry Brick, General Manager of Lake Compounce to talk the history of the park, Wildcat's 90th anniversary and refurbishment, Boulderdash, historical rides, their partnership with the Haunted Graveyard haunt event, their newest coaster Phobia, Milli Vanilli, and more!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Disneyland Story (1954): Parkscope YouTube Tuesday #1

Jeff

We begin our anthology of Parkscope YouTube Tuesday with the special that started the Disneyland anthology: Walt Disney’s presentation of “The Disneyland Story.” This pilot episode of the Disneyland TV series literally was the one that started it all. Without the success of the TV show, who knows if Walt would have been able to build so many of the dreams of Disneyland.


This TV special was Walt’s big reveal of Disneyland to the general public. Before this show aired in 1954, nobody knew what Disneyland was (and for the most part, as we’ll get into later, after the show was over they still didn’t know). But it was Walt’s marketing brilliance that allowed the general public to embrace him, Disneyland, television, Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan, Alice, 20k, Sleeping Beauty, the Tru-Life Adventures, and Davy Crockett all in one show.

Walt’s marketing brilliance came strictly from the spot-on execution of his plans, as if he were the Mozart of family entertainment. To wit: the Disneyland TV debuted a whole 11 months before its namesake park’s opening day.

Let that sink in for a minute. The public was pounded with the message of Disneyland almost a full year before anyone would be able to see it! The fact that Walt held everyone’s attention for so long , like an expert ringmaster tantalizing the audience for the grand finale, is a testament to his underrated and sublime showmanship.

“The Disneyland Story” is at once a TV special and a series pilot episode. It was a TV special in that it was hyped as an event in itself. Though Disney had contracted with ABC for several episodes (which turned out to be much, much, much, much more), “The Disneyland Story” is an introduction of sorts, a thesis statement to what Disney’s TV presence was going to be. Walt made it very clear that TV was, as he put it, “my way of going directly to the public.” And as he did, the public would be privy to every shot in the Disney arsenal. Walt would advertise everything from his earliest successes with Mickey Mouse to his upcoming animated movies, covering within the show’s short span of time a chronology ranging from 1927 to the future of 1959. In essence, it was Walt’s first controlled introduction to the world.

Let’s walk through the video, as Walt would if he were here watching with us.

...and look who made it back with you!

Disneyland begins with as simple a thesis as can be: “Each week as you enter this timeless land, each of these areas will open to you…” How coyly Walt integrated his patented storybook opening into television format! Make no mistake, that is exactly what we’re witnessing. Walt very cleverly devised his Disney anthology around the lands of Disneyland. Coincidentally, Disneyland’s lands just happened to be connected with Disney’s biggest themed projects at the time. One wonders if Holidayland and Lilliputian Land bit the dust for just this reason; since money was so tight during construction, perhaps Walt triaged the situation and jettisoned the lands that did not tie thematically into major Disney projects that American audiences would recognize? It would certainly make sense from a business perspective, though I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason. But the Big Four Disney Lands, Walt is careful to point out later, all can be tied to major Disney projects: Tru-Life Adventures for Adventureland, Davy Crockett and Paul Bunyan (and Pecos Bill, etc.) for Frontierland, Peter Pan and Alice and Dumbo and Snow White for Fantasyland, and Walt’s upcoming space documentaries for Tomorrowland. The man certainly knew how to sell a franchise!

As you watch the special unfold, you’ll realize that not only does the audience not know what a Disneyland is, from the looks of things even Walt barely knew! Of course he had it all bouncing around in his head, but think about how little of the park he actually shows! Besides the Peter Ellenshaw-lit wall map and a Main Street scale model, all we the audience are privy to by way of attractions are an African Queen-style tugboat for Adventureland, a steamboat for Frontierland, a castle for Fantasyland, and a hanging monorail and spaceship for Tomorrowland. That’s it! That’s literally all we see. In fact, we don’t even see any concepts for Fantasyland whatsoever! Just a nice few dozen shots of the front of the castle. And yet, had it not been pointed out, I’m sure we would have barely noticed. Walt is genuinely excited about the place, and sells it beautifully, despite the lack of many specific details. But boy, we sure want to drive to California to see the place!

One other small thing to note: in the introduction, Frontierland is mentioned first. This could be for several reasons, and since the wall map over Walt’s shoulder suggests the Jungle Cruise is still looking to be in the southwest zone we see today, it wasn’t for a clockwise tour around the park. Most likely the intro of Frontierland first was a combination of the booming popularity of Westerns at the time, as well as Walt’s own desire to get into the television western scene by introducing Davy Crockett as the first recurring character on the Disneyland show.


I also love that the narrator refers to Fantasyland as being “the happiest (land) of them all.” Brings back memories of “The Happiest Place on Earth” and “The Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed,” doesn’t it? Boy, those were the days, huh?

The special goes into full documentary mode as we take a visit to the Disney Studios in Burbank, and get a CircleVision view of Mickey Avenue. As we Disney nuts know, this version of the Disney Studio was Walt’s first real Disneyland: the first pedestrian space where he could control the facets of its design, layout, and aesthetic. Walt very much wanted the Disney studio to be for his artists and workers. The animators’ windows face just the right direction to achieve maximum sunlight throughout the day. The back areas were complete with softball fields, which many employees played during lunch. The studio was Walt’s first “Happiest Place on Earth.”

The narrator (note we haven’t even been introduced to Walt yet!) dives right into the “goings on” at the studio, which coincidentally happen to fill the audience in on the biggest “coming attractions” Disney would be releasing soon. We visit the set of Disney’s biggest live action movie of the decade, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And look at how succinct yet complete the introductions are: we see two famous actors (Douglas and Lorre), the comedy sidekick (Esmerelda the Seal) and the big special effects extravaganza (James Mason vs. The Squid) all within a few seconds. That’s all we need to know about the movie to make us want to run to see it now! And we follow it up with Disney’s big blowout animated movie of the 1950s: Sleeping Beauty. We here the lovely Aurora singing her signature song (random aside: the version sung in the show is the exact same way it sounds when the movie was released four years later! Was the soundtrack really dubbed that early?). We also get a glimpse of Marc Davis and Milt Kahl modeling a dancing Aurora. Disney nerdgeek heaven!

As Walt is never one to let five minutes go without a silly joke of some kind, we’re next taken to the “Music Department” where the Firehouse Five Plus Two somehow stepped into a crossover universe with Jimmy Macdonald and the sound effects team to play the weirdest assortment of junk instruments. Oh fine, let’s all have fun at the musicians’ expense. I’m sure the trombone player is being paid enough for it.

We’re finally introduced to Walt a full 3 ½ minutes into the show (again, the master storyteller can really turn up the suspense). What follows is pure Disney and theme park geek bliss. Supported by a great script from master writer Bill Walsh (who wrote the scripts for many of Walt Disney hosted segments, as well as the shooting script for Mary Poppins and many other classic Disney movies), Walt gives one of his all-time best hosted segments, despite the fact he looks terrified to be in front of the camera. But, as we know, that was all part of his Midwest charm. And boy, does it work.

Note how John Hench’s legendary portrait of Mickey is shot first, before Walt makes his appearance. Walt had the shot in mind the whole time: Mickey is the star, and the main connection between Walt Disney and his audience. And, since Walt would later utter his famous line that “it was all started by a mouse,” there is no question that Mickey would appear first.


And there’s Walt, with his signature lean. The “I’m not used to speaking in public and have no idea what to do with my hands” lean. But by golly, he still pulls it off, because he’s so damn sure of what he’s saying he would have to stand on his head for anyone to notice his posture. He notes (again, before the park is introduced) that he and Mickey have “an old partnership.” And then, he says, “we (note the “we,” meaning he and Mickey and the entire Disney Company) would like to share with you our latest and greatest dream.” What a setup!

He then shows the famous wall map and notes to the audience that “Disneyland the place and Disneyland the TV show is one and the same,” answering the potential “when is the three o’clock parade” question in the audience’s mind. Next, he proudly announces that Disney has a whole 230 acres to play with, and shows the world exactly where Anaheim is on the SoCal map. Presumably, so people can buy up the surrounding real estate and make a fortune on tiki motels and pirate buffets.

One of my favorite moments is when Walt spells out what he wants Disneyland to be, which at this point is still in a state of flux: Disneyland would be “Unlike anything else on earth…a fair, an amusement park, an exhibition, a city from the Arabian Nights, a metropolis of the future…a place of hopes and dreams, facts and fancy, all in one.” You’d have to say it was beautifully phrased, ladies and gentlemen. Yet this was not quite the final vision. After all, the city from the Arabian Nights would turn into a city from French Polynesia and the metropolis of the future would be the plastic rocket and balloon stand of the future until 1959.

Though, the phrase certainly filled its purpose. For one, Walt of course wanted to get his audience excited for the exotic places Disneyland would take them to, places where until then they could only see in the movies. I think he also stated Disneyland in this way to pull the audience off the scent that Disneyland was an amusement park. To be fair, it was really a combination of an amusement park and an historical exhibition, combining standard amusement park staples like carousels and dark rides with pack mule trips and the like. But remember, at this time the amusement park had become a bad word in the American zeitgeist. So Walt wanted to pre-empt any thoughts of the amusement park his audience might get once they finally see Dumbo and the Tea Cups by tantalizing them with visions of exotic and exciting locales.

Another example of his genius: note how Walt points out that the TV show WOULD BE BROADCASTING FROM DISNEYLAND upon its opening “in 10 months’ time.” And then, he says, he would like to show you “how we’re getting ready.” Holy cow, what a setup! TEN WHOLE MONTHS of waiting and anticipation. A promise of what would surely be one of the biggest broadcasts of television history up to that time! And now here’s a glimpse of what we’ll see! Modern producers literally couldn’t do it any better.

Thus begins the tour of Disneyland that isn’t. Of course, still completely on course, Walt leads with the land that has the most substance in its Disneyland park presentation: Main Street. It’s the only land where we get to see a scale model. And because of this scale model, boy, color our appetites whetted. Walt’s description of Main Street is succinct yet complete. As we saunter through the Main Street proper, Walt points out the train station and the plaza (complete with a band concert park, no less) before telling us that “straight ahead lies the heartline of America,” and that Main Street is “Hometown USA” just after the turn of the century, when electricity was replacing the gas lamp. It will have the “color of the frontier days, combined with the excitement of the upcoming 20th century.” He ends the camera tour by saying it is “the most important spot in the nation.” Do you think he’s fond of his Marceline hometown or what? Walt loved Main Street down to the core. And that leads to the set up of the most famous shot of the show, at 5:30 where we look right at Walt above the castle from a train station view. The pitch for the shot is literally perfect.

Walt explains that the Hub is “the heart of Disneyland,” and like “the four cardinal points on the compass, Disneyland has four cardinal realms…four different worlds where our TV show will originate.” Again, Walt has an uncanny ability of teaching us these concepts in the simplest language so that everyone can remember, and not only remember but become excited for them!

This segway gives Walt a chance to explore the shows that will be upcoming based on the four cardinal lands of Disneyland. Each segment is cleverly introduced with an artist rendering of the land it represents, to give an audience a feel into the theme of the area.

Frontierland is first (starting at 6:15), where Walt will be introducing tales of frontier folklore (Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett). He sets up his Davy Crockett series by retelling the Davy Crockett folk story, and then having Fess Parker sing George Bruns’s legendary ballad for the very first time. As everyone knows, Davy Crockett turned into the first smash hit for Disney on television (to be followed by Zorro and others). Synergy never sleeps at Disney.

The Adventureland segment is by far the strangest (starting at 9:30). Ostensibly an introduction to the Tru-Life Adventures, the audience is subjected to scenes around the world of “interesting people,” which somehow includes both native dancing in Africa and bull-riding in Spain. Sure. And of course let’s not forget the futility of the cameraman to film the penguins, who were too interested in him to actually do anything entertaining (so of course they go with the obvious solution and throw a mirror into the middle of everything to “distract” them, which just led to them wandering up to the mirror and wondering what the hell it was).

16:00 starts the Tomorrowland segment, where Ward Kimball makes his debut to talk about the upcoming series of space-related documentaries that would be shown on Disneyland. Tomorrowland, is about “understanding what lies before us,” which is hilarious to us because this is 1955 we’re talking about. However, once we regain our perspective, think about how scarily accurate some of Disney’s future predictions are when you realize people did not make it to space until 1961. And not only that, but Ward and his team provide descriptions of atomic-powered space stations and trips to Mars. No seriously, they talk about Mars like it’s going to be a walk in the park after we get to the moon. And we have an appearance by the Ward Kimball Common Man! Always a treat.


The Fantasyland segment starts at 20:00 and it’s practically nothing unless you really like Song of the South. There’s no view of Fantasyland besides the castle, and Walt just shows us a glimpse of a few animated movies before strangely diving into the Laughing Place scene from Song of the South. Talk about random. And I think Parkscope is now on some FBI watch list for playing a segment from Song of the South. Though, Walt does make a lovely portrayal of Fantasyland when he says it’s a place where “hopes and dreams are all that matter.” We love you, Walt.

"You're welcome, Parkscope!"

Thus begins the meatiest part of the show, which is the Mickey Mouse segment. And by golly, Walt will not go away before you know Mickey’s entire life history. We learn about his, shall we say, “rambunctious” years of the late 20s (when he had quite the teenage hellion streak about him), his time with Pluto, his teaming up with Donald and Goofy in Lonesome Ghosts, and his solo piece de resistance effort in Fantasia. Of note, this was before the Mickey Mouse Club debuted, which means that Mickey was not doing well in popularity. In fact, at the time Donald was far more popular than Mickey. Walt used this segment to remind audiences how great Mickey was, and was an opening salvo for the full-throated attack that would come later starring Annette and the Big Mooseketeer. Walt would never give up on the ol’ Mouse, that’s for sure.

We end the show with a glimpse into the next Disneyland episode, where Walt featured the TV debut of Alice in Wonderland. One can assume Walt chose this particular movie because of all the animated movies released during the 1950s, Alice was the least popular. I’m sure Walt felt this was a way to try to re-ignite Alice in the minds of the American audience.

As we end the show, “When You Wish Upon a Star” plays through the end credits, forever connecting the Disney castle park with that timeless Disney anthem. Amazing how so many of these tropes were set up from day one.


And so ends a milestone event in both television and theme park history. The most significant point I got from re-watching this classic is the fact that Walt Disney is such a bloody good storyteller and salesman. The man literally is selling a flea circus at this point in Disneyland’s conception, and yet here he is trotting out phrases like “The Heartline of America” and “a place of hopes and dreams.” He connects all of Disney’s history so well in just one episode of television, providing a thesis statement for the entire country as to who Walt Disney is and what he stands for. I honestly can’t think of a better introduction to Walt’s brilliance. 


Joe

It would be a lie to say the Disney company has always been profitable, stable, and independent. Constantly over the years various projects have been sold to others, outside work contracted, sponsorships signed, and internal projects promoted. It wasn't till the Eisner/Wells duo in the 80s and 90s that made the Walt Disney Company a powerful standalone entity.

The Disneyland Story pulls double duty as not only a theme park promotion item (for a park opening over a year away) but as a sort of media perpetual motion machine. New TV shows and specials would be developed under the Disneyland brand, and as such, would end up in the theme park. The theme park would then inspire developments on the TV show. And to boot it was all sponsored and funded by someone else's money. Brilliant!

While The Disneyland Special features specials guests and what TV shows you can expect, the park is hardly covered. While discussing Adventureland (nee True Life Adventure Land) such things as the Jungle Cruise is still a nebulous concept. And it's not just that, Frontierland doesn't mention mule rides, Fantasyland doesn't talk about flying elephants or tea cups, and Tomorrowland was barely finished by the time the park opened! The only land that seems to get any attention was Main Street USA (Hometown USA) with a sweeping shot of the model somewhere in Glendale. This is probably because Walt didn't have any movies or plans for shows based around the turn of the century.


The framework for future specials could be seen though. Special guests were present in some form, there was singing (oh the future specials will get to singing), pan media coverage, executives, and Mickey. The focus is never on the individual rides or singular experiences as much as it is about the concept, the feeling of Disneyland. Viewers get the vibe of Disneyland more than a travelogue, which is what the next Disneyland special turns into (with spectacular results...)


Thanks for reading and watching with us. Tube in next week for Parkscope YouTube Tuesday #2!

--Jeff (@ParkScopeJeff) and Joe (@parkscopejoe)


The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Nevada

In the mid-20th Century, the state of Nevada began to move towards a different kind of society than its neighbors in California or Utah. With mineral resources, little water, and harsh terrain, it was our nation's least populated state. To counter act this and encourage development, Nevada chose not virtue, but vice. Counties could license legal prostitution and the state welcomed casinos. When Castro overthrew the Cuban government, Vegas became the de facto replacement, with money pouring in to build increasingly large and ostentatious hotel resorts, and Reno soon after being developed in a similar manner.



By the 1980s, themed resorts were the craze in the state. When talking about "known" amusement entities in Nevada, we're talking primarily about the big Vegas casinos constructed during that era. Among the rides and attractions still open after the maturation and consolidation period of the early 2010s:

-Circus Circus Las Vegas and the Adventuredome is still the primary home for families visiting The Strip, with a large indoor theme park and multiple roller coasters.

-New York, New York is home to the Big Apple Coaster, previously known as the Manhattan Express. This 200 foot-plus Togo coaster is the largest attraction the Japanese manufacturer had built in the United States before their US operations were taken over by with Premier.

-Stratosphere's High Roller Coaster is gone, but the Big Shot S&S Tower attraction and a pair of flat rides still operate on the side of the 1,000 foot plus tower. The Big Shot is perhaps the most iconic ride ever built by S&S.

-Buffalo Bill's in Primm, just over the stateline from California, has the huge Arrow hyper coaster Desperado, as well as a motion theater and a log flume. The S&S Turbo Drop located here has not run in well over a decade.



There were many more to potentially mention: Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton, Race For Atlantis at Caesar's Palace, Speed: The Ride at Sahara, and MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park. There's also the rides that were designed and never went up: one old tale is that Custom Coaster International had a 8,000 foot long wood coaster to run along the mountains in Primm at Whiskey Pete's. After Desperado failed to make the kind of impact hoped, the idea was scrapped.



Another thing that was scrapped was Wet N' Wild's location on the strip south of Sahara. After closing the region went without a proper water park for many years until two opened in a span of mere months. The new Wet 'n' Wild is a subsidiary of Village Roadshow, the group responsible for the nearly identically named-but-different Wet 'N' Wild Australia parks, and not the George Millay run chain that started in Orlando. Along with them is Cowabunga Bay, operated by Shane Huish, a long time theme park enthusiast who's old Youtube channel is filled with all sorts of classic and rare park content. The two water parks feature all the kinds of super modern water slides that the major manufacturers can bring to bear. Should you be up north, Sparks' has Wild Island for the Reno area residents.



This is not a surprise to tell anyone, but Nevada is generally hot. Really hot. During the summer, temperatures soar well over 110 and stay there for months. When things are this hot, outdoor attractions are not well received. Indoor ones get a lot more play, and nothing gets more play than arcades. Vegas has two enormous ones on the strip at Excalibur Hotel & Casino (Fantasy Fair) and Gameworks north of MGM Grand. Off strip on Flamingo Blvd. is the Pinball Hall of Fame, operated by the man who once was in charge of the Pinball Pete's arcade empire across the upper midwest's college towns. Well over 100 games are playable here, including some of the rarest in existence. Reno, like in most instances, tries to keep up with the Jones', but in a low rent way. The Boomtown Casino has a sizeable arcade with some small amusement rides, and Circus Circus Reno has been renovated to join their carnival games and circus acts together for additional synergy.



Reno does have some advantages over Vegas, most namely that its northerly and mountainous location makes it cooler in summer and better for outdoors fun. Whitney Peak Hotel opened as the Fitzgerald's, but when gambling revenue cratered and the parent of the Fitz went under, it went to auction and emerged as a rock climbing/adventure themed hotel. Most notable is that one entire exterior wall of this 16 story building has been turned into a massive climbing wall for its guests. Grand Adventure Land in the Grand Sierra Hotel & Casino (the former MGM Grand/Bally's) has a small attraction park of its own with mini golf, go karts, and a Skycoaster.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Super Nintendo World Concept Art & Rendering Leaks

Last week concept art and computer renderings for the original pitch for Super Nintendo World leaked. Now the flood gates opened with more art, renderings, and inside information leaking. We'll be breaking down what the leaks are showing, what has changed, and what is remaining the same.


This is the general layout and original entrance to Super Nintendo World. In this version guests would enter through Peach's castle (located roughly where Animal Actors is now) into a large indoor area. The indoor area would feature a Nintendo World Store, a Pokemon area (not elaborated on), Luigi's Pizza (don't think too hard about what they'd do with the other Luigi's Pizza), a small tea cups like ride with Koopas, and a Bullet Bill TTA-like ride.

Going clockwise around the land is a Kirby young kids area with one ride and a kids wet/dry play area. We believe this Kirby area has been cut, which is a shame as it would have been a fantastic memorial to the late CEO of Nintendo Satoru Iwata (he worked extensively on the series).


Next up is Donkey Kong Island which takes inspiration and setting from the Donkey Kong Country series. The first attraction is a large kids play area tree fort similar to the one Donkey Kong has at the beginning of each game. The second attraction is an outdoor coaster using the boom coaster patent. This coaster will be a new attraction and not a retheme of the Woody Nuthouse coaster. At this point we the coaster is remaining in the final plans but have not heard if the kids play structure remains.


Mario Kart. Practical. Real. Insane. The concept has evolved since the initial proposal above but the ride will retain the same scope and scale as the concept art. There's a debate about the use of projections and "AR" glasses in the ride to replicate the battle items during racing. Our understanding is some sort of AR will be used to show the shells, bananas, and other items on the track but how that is implemented might still be in development.

Also in the concept art is a Bowser's Airship ride and Luigi's Mansion interactive play area. These concepts seem to be sacrificial lambs for Mario Kart; when the budget restraints hit these will be the first attractions removed so the Mario Kart ride doesn't get touched. We have not heard of these attractions coming to the final version of the land.


Next up is Hyrule/The Legend of Zelda, an area we believe that has been cut from the final plans. In prior released (above) images you can see a preshow with Princess Zelda and the implementation of the 'puzzle moving theater' patent. Other famous areas from the series like the Great Deku Tree and Kokiri Village show up in the land along with an "interactive area".

What is not leaked, but expected to be coming to the land, is the Yoshi dark ride. The Yoshi dark ride will be an all ages ride aboard Yoshi ride vehicles. With the refocus on Mario and Donkey Kong only for Phase 1 the Zelda area, smaller attractions, and Kirby area have been jettisoned to future expansions in other parks.

Copyright Universal Parks and Resorts and Nintendo 2016
We have heard that sections of KidZone will start phased closing for demolition and construction starting after Halloween Horror Nights 27. Hopefully an official announcement will come soon afterwards.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Introducing: Parkscope YouTube Tuesday!

And now, Parkscope is very proud to present…the most exciting announcement since the creation of the Parkscope Blog!

No, we’re not announcing the next Marvel movie. Sit down in the back of the class.

Joe and I have been talking about re-igniting Our YouTube Channel for some time now, and now that we’ve got it back up and running, we will be very pleased to be hosting a regular feature.

Every Tuesday evening, we will be posting a new video to the Parkscope Blog YouTube Channel. We’re huge fans of theme parks and old Disney stuff, so we are going to scour the archives for classic material we know theme park nuts will love.

ALL THE CLASSICS

And we’re not just talking about the classic stuff, either. Joe and I will be firing up the old VCR (and the new VHS conversion software), the DVD player, the Laserdisc…whatever player…and bring to you folks all the ridiculous theme park nonsense that’s fit to print. And let me tell you, in the last few decades we’ve gathered quite a collection, and we’re very excited to be sharing it with all of you!

No, Seriously. All the classics.

In addition to these videos, we will be posting an article on Parkscope about the video: its history, its fun facts, and its moments of unintentional hilarity. Joe and I will be taking the lead, but we’re also going to have plenty of writers do guest articles for these videos. Trust me, they’ll pop up like supervillains in Fantasmic. Or like complaints at Volcano Bay (too soon?)

We hope you take the time to watch the videos with us and laugh along, and we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do. And I’m not kidding folks, we’re going on real nostalgic overdrive for a long, long time. Hold on to your hats and glasses, this is Parkscope YouTube Tuesday.

Remember, Use Your Head, Don’t Lose Your Head,


Joe (@parkscopejoe) and Jeff (@ParkScopeJeff)


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #126 - Spring Trip Report Blow Out!


Alan, Jeff, and Joe talk about the mess of an opening of Volcano Bay, the inevitability of Pandora doing "well", Flight of Passage ride system issues, Nintendo announcements (no, not the leaked plans), Mean Streak 2.0 teaser, and Kennywood's 2018 plans. Finally they all talk about their trips over the past month to Cedar Point, Lake Compounce, Hersheypark, Holiday World, Kennywood, Carrowinds, and more!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeParkscopeNick,  ParkscopeLane, and Sean.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Did YOU Know Parkscope is Now on YouTube?

This is an official announcement of the Parkscope Broadcasting System. In the case of an actual emergency there will be lots of high-pitched noises buzzing to the tune of “Let’s Go **So and So**” that you hear every five seconds at a basketball game.

Pictured: footage from NBA Finals, Game 5

Parkscope is now on YouTube! Huzzah! I know that’s what you all wanted to kick off the summer.
We’re going to be posting our Unprofessional Podcast Hour to YouTube. Check out our page here all you’ll see we’ve snazzed it up with every Unprofessional Podcast within the last year. From now on, every podcast will also be posted to YouTube. We also have a couple more playlists, “Disney” and “Other Theme Parks” with some other cool (but mostly random) content.

IT'S SO SHINY *sniff*

So why should you care if our podcast goes to YouTube? Because YouTube can offer something our other sites cannot: ALERTS! That’s right, if you subscribe to our channel you can click the bell icon…


…And you’ll get an alert every time we download a new podcast! So no more guessing when Joe will find a new brewery or when Lane can find an underground bunker with wi-fi at SunTrust Park. You’ll immediately get alerted once a new Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast is available!

We’ll also be providing LOTS more content on our channel throughout the year, more than you can ever want (and that’s a guarantee!) A detailed announcement will be forthcoming later this week.
Until then, enjoy listening to us ramble over the internet on our new channel that we're so excited about that we're providing a paragraph-long hyperlink and be as thrilled as we are for our new ride! Now repeat after us … **Let’s go Parkscope** **clap clap clapclapclap**

Watch and be free!

Joe (@parkscopejoe) and Jeff (@ParkScopeJeff)



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Intel Briefing: Super Nintendo World

Image copyright Nintendo and Universal Parks & Resorts 2017
I've been a Nintendo fan for over 20 years now. I'm looking out from my living room couch at my Nintendo Switch, N64, Wii, and Wii U. In my bedroom is a 3DS XL and I've previously owned a GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS, and DS Lite. In college I nearly lost a semester to perfecting my Mario Kart Double Dash game (Birdo & Yoshi FTW) and I waited all day for a Wii at a Walmart in Dayton, Ohio. I'm only slightly bragging but mostly enthusiastic for Super Nintendo World news. I've known about mall tours and a one off stint in the 80s at The Disney Village Marketplace, but Nintendo has never had a theme park presence like this.

I can and probably will get into a longer discussion on podcasts, twitter, forums, and here about how this is the next Harry Potter for theme parks; a property loved and celebrated that has seen little theme park coverage that will expand the customer base of the parks and attract existing theme park fans. Instead today lets cover some of the known knowns and some intel we've received.



First, Osaka. Universal Studios Japan will open the first Super Nintendo World in early 2020 prior to the Summer Olympics. The project will cost 60 billion yen, or roughly $545 million USD; for comparison all of Hogsmeade in IoA, Diagon Alley, and Hogwarts Express cost roughly that amount.  The one confirmed attraction, Mario Kart, will use state of the art technology to recreate racing through the courses found in the game. But unlike the game you will not be seeing this on a screen. To summarize a design motto of the whole project: "If guests wanted to see these worlds on a screen they would be playing it on one of our consoles." This is Nintendo video game worlds come to life, not "ride the movies". The second attraction in Japan is expected to be a high tech dark ride using innovative "omnimover" ride vehicles themed to the Yoshi games.

Copyright Nintendo and Universal Parks and Resorts 2017
So what about stateside? Hollywood will be getting a Super Nintendo World, but details on our end are sparse. We expect a copy of the Osaka land to open in Hollywood with an opening date dependent on when the Summer Olympics happen in that city. With Comcast's cash and ambition I do not expect a six year turn around between Osaka and Hollywood for Nintendo like that happened with Hogsmeade. But where will the land be located? Again we're not sure, but with Universal expanding the Starway it could be expected to open up on the lower lot replacing many Sound Stages currently being removed.

Copyright Nintendo and Universal Parks and Resorts 2016
Orlando is where things get interesting. Projects have settled into place and Super Nintendo World is looking to open in 2021 at Universal Studios Florida. Mario will be evicting Barney, Curious George, Animal Actors, and possibly the existing parade building to build an expanded Super Nintendo World. Orlando will offer the Mario Kart and Yoshi rides in addition to the much rumored Donkey Kong coaster concept rumored and previewed in patent filings. Similar to the mine kart segments in the Donkey Kong Country games, guests will race through the jungle and make impossible jumps (see below) as they try to get Donkey Kong's bananas back from King K Rool (we can only imagine that'll be the story).

Universal is pushing the interactive elements of the Wizarding World even farther in Super Nintendo World by incorporating Nintendo's own products into the land. Shigeru Miyamoto has stated Nintendo Switch functionality will be incorporated into the lands. We're not sure how so it will interact with the land, such as exclusive games or character skins. Frankly, I think it's a bad idea to design a permanent land around a $300 piece of technology that has lifespan of five years before a new $300 object, with different inputs and requirements, is released. Remember the Apple Lightning Cable was only introduced five years ago. Even without a Nintendo Switch the land will be full of piranha plan AAs, moving coins, and "Start A" buttons to press.

Food and beverage is now a staple at any amusement park with Pandora's wine and even Cedar Point's beers by BrewKettle. Nintendo will be no different and may even step the game up as the food offerings at Universal Studios Japan and around the country are more intricately themed than in the USA. It's interesting to see if Japan's kawaii designs will make its way to the states in a spurt of "authenticity" or if local chefs might reimagine the offerings.

Mario is not the only popular and influential world created by Nintendo but it will be the first represented at Universal Studios. Similar to how the first Harry Potter expansion was initially called "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" before the branches for Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were created, the Super Nintendo World moniker can work till a "Super Nintendo World - Mushroom Kingdom", "Super Nintendo World - Hyrule", and "Super Nintendo World- Pokemon" open.

This fall I'm excited to visit Pandora, in 2019 I'm very excited to see what Disney cooks up for Star Wars, but nothing touches my excitement for Nintendo. Please stay with Parkscope and our podcast over the next few years as we approach the opening to Super Nintendo World.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Super Nintendo World Breaks Ground in Japan for 2020 Opening

Universal and Nintendo held an official ground breaking ceremony early June 8th, 2017 in Osaka, Japan. The land is opening in early 2020, in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics.


Orlando's version is expected to open in either late 2020 or early 2021.


This post will be updated with more information as we receive it.

Immersive Irony Experience Theme Park Podcast- George Millay Memorial Episode


It's a family affair this week as Alan is joined by his cousin Tom Dion to talk about UFC vs boxing, gambling advice, and Tom's years as GM and auditor of various water parks around the country. They talk about how Tom got into the industry, riding slides as "testing", awkwardly auditing water parks for safety, applying for jobs in Tanzania, how a park handles a catastrophic event, and life advice for anyone looking to get into the industry.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Nebraska



The 16th largest and 37th most populous state, Nebraska is another place generally associated with agriculture and little else. Those who have traveled across its vast interior are probably trying to get somewhere that isn't Nebraska, and the reputation of being void of substance has carried almost anywhere I've ever gone. It wasn't always that way: In the early 1900s, the Henry and Robert Jenner created a zoo and amusement park in the small town of Loup City and filled with things they had acquired from travel abroad. There was an egyptian themed building filled with mummies, samurai armor, and of course live animals. Valva Park, now known as Tuxedo Park in Grand Island, offered mechanical rides and vaudeville performances to entertain crowds from all around. Harry King built a substantial full size wood coaster at King's Park in Norfolk which operated during the 20s and 30s, but didn't make it to see the post-war era.



The most famous park to have ever existed in Nebraska is Peony Park of Omaha. It had opened for business in 1919, and while it never had any huge wood coasters or dark rides, it's location in the biggest metro area of the state made it the most recognizable attraction. The park slowly fell victim to poor capital expenditure choices and maintenance issues, as well as the most insidious killer of urban parks: post-segregation racial sentiments. It wound up closing in 1994 as the family members it had been left to pulled the plug on further spending and attention, leaving the state with, at that point, no real amusement park.



Now taking the void it left, Fun Plex isn't much more than a glorified family entertainment center, but it probably has a similar number of attractions to Peony. The coaster here, named "Big Ohhhh!" also happens to be a similar ride to Peony's largest coaster, but is actually a bigger model identical to the rides formerly present at Daytona's Boardwalk Amusements and still at El Paso's Western Playland. North Platte is where one can visit Cody Go Karts, a small fun park with a smattering of small rides, and that pretty much concludes the Nebraska "amusement parks".

And yet, like Kansas to the south, Nebraska has a surprising number of permanent rides at fairgrounds, as well as other unexpectedly big attractions. Nebraska as a whole is surprising when more broadly viewed: the western tail of the state is pockmarked with small glacial lakes and rolling hills. There's mountains and cliffs on that far edge, while there's the mighty Missouri River running along the east border. There's variety here, you just have to drive awhile to find it.

During research to do this piece, 4 counties were identified as having their own county-owned carnivals:

Dundy County Fair: Rides here include a Tip-Top, Kiddie Boats, Eli Wheel, Bumper Cars, old style Simulator attraction, 1942 Herschell Carousel, Tubs of Fun, and Go Carts.

Furnas County Fair: Eli Wheel, Super Slide, Tilt-A-Whirl, and a few other smaller portable style attractions.

Gosper County Fair: a 2009 article lists, "kids' Ferris wheel, electric cars, swings, a carousel, a miniature steam train and an octopus ride."

Saunders County Fair: Their website lists: "Ferris Wheel, the Casino, the Scrambler, a roller coaster, and the Octopus along with a various selection of kiddie rides."



While there a many municipal aquatics facilities, the most worthwhile attraction in the state that's non-profit run/operated is Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Having received plenty of money from local monster corporation Berkshire-Hathaway, it is one of the nation's best zoos. In addition to the animal exhibits, there's a steam-powered train with a 1.8 mile loop run, skyride, and carousel. For those looking more into the nature side of things, the domed-desert climate is among the world's largest, and also contains the largest nocturnal animal exhibit (Singapore's Night Zoo being exempt from this, as it is an entire separately ticketed zoo). Speaking of trains, there's a Chance CP Huntington in use at Stolley State Park in Grand Island.



Of all the state funded projects to cost a lot and aspire for much, few went as far as the Great Platte River Road Archway, often simply called "The Archway." Towering over I-80 in the town of Kearney, it has been rumored to have been built on contract with the Walt Disney Imagineering, though no specific names seem to be tied to the project. It's an audio/visual tour of the history of this part of the great American west that's been done with impressive detail, but most don't know precisely what the gigantic structure above the freeway actually is.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Montana

Montana's place in amusement park history is primarily in the past. With no presently operating roller coasters permanently housed in the state, it is generally considered a "dead zone" for most enthusiasts traveling through the Mountain West seeking rides before the appreciable natural beauty of its vast wild spaces, giant peaks, and fly fishing streams. Since it has been without real amusement rides for so long, there's also little collected knowledge available. We here are Parkscope like to clear up some of these mysteries, and Montana will be little different.

(Lake Avoca)

Prior to the Depression, two amusement parks came and went. Butte's Lake Avoca was home to "Lake Amusement Park," and Great Falls had Riverview. Neither park has much material to look at now: a poster was uncovered from Riverview and sold at auction in 2013, while Lake Amusement Park has but a single postcard online of the bath house. A third park, Columbia Gardens, had much more success. It had opened in 1896, and became the dominant place of amusement in Butte for nearly a century. It would be "joined" by Leon Park in Miles City in the 1930s. I put joined in quote marks because there's not much evidence of actual amusement rides at Leon Amusement Park; a pool and dance hall sure, but not really so much rides. According to a geneology.com article that is virtually all the known internet history of it's operation, Leon Park was sold in the 1950s and burned down mysteriously in 1968. People from the area recall the remains of the dance hall standing for many years afterward, though a search now clearly indicates that it is all gone.



Columbia Gardens, however, stuck it out until 1973. The mineral resources the park sat on top of made it worth more to the company that owned it than the park, and thus it was shut down for a strip mining operation. Home to a wood coaster, classic carousel, flat rides, and a dance pavilion, the park was being investigated for a move when it caught fire in November 1973. With that fire, any hope for a future Montanan amusement park effectively became lost. Today, the Spirit of Columbia Gardens Carousel is a privately-funded effort to try and recreate the lost carousel of the park and establish it on a new space inside Butte's Stodden Park. Things are progressing, and with luck, they'll be done by the end of 2017's summer.



In the present day, the closest thing to a proper amusement park in the state of Montana comes in the form of places that are primarily water parks. Big Sky Waterpark in Columbia Falls, MT has a classic carousel and cheap bumper cars slapped into a water park to give the state it's largest overall center of amusements. Woodland Water Park in Kalispell, Splash Mountain in Missoula, Electric City in Great Falls, and Last Chance Splash in Helena round out the traditional "outdoor" community water park offerings. There is also The Reef, a not entirely gigantic indoor facility in Billings that's part of Big Horn Resort. As of now, there are no alpine coasters at the ski resorts of Montana, but there are alpine slides at Whitefish Mountain Resort, which are arguably more fun and decidedly more dangerous.



With a state income tax under 7%, and no sales tax, Montana is certainly "business friendly," but also generally lacks services at the state and county level. Unlike many states where the existence of amusements may, at the local level, be subsidized or paid for outright from local budgets, Montana has precious few such things and they are all funded via private money. Many which were built with federal funds were converted in time when expenses became high: The Great Falls Civic Center, for example, had its ice rink converted into convention center space in the 1980s. The Great Northern Carousel and "A Carousel for Missoula" have come together in the 2000s as ventures of local business people and community leaders to have something for kids to do outside of hunting, fishing, and methamphetamine use. A rare exception to this is the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, which is home to a carousel used only during the fair and a mini golf course available throughout the entire summer.



While there are precious few roller coasters and no small trains, there are water slides, carousels, and  museums. The Western Heritage Center intends to communicate the story of those frontiersmen who ventured into the Great Plains to find something - anything - to call their own. Deeper into the mountains, one stumbles across the likes of Old Fort Benton, as well as Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitor Center in Hardin. These may be without rides, but feature period buildings and costumes in an attempt to better get you, the guest, to grasp what life was like in turn of the century Montana.



There are some roadside attractions worth mentioning as well. The Montana Vortex is a classic gravity house style attraction that has gone the extra mile to invoke "energy vortexes" and "Sedona" because people who think they can draw power from crystals worn around their neck are generally total imbeciles capable of falling for anything. Amusement Park Drive-In in Billings physically has rides, but they were badly damaged in a flood and didn't open for 2015. The rides still appear on Google Maps, but there are no references to them on their Facebook or Twitter accounts.



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #125 - A B&M Hyper in Every Park


This episode Lane briefly joins us from the SunTrust Park to lay out his plan to fix all of WDW for less money than it took to build Pandora, Joe talks about his Cedar Point trip, Sean talks about visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour in England, and Nick cuts in and out of connectivity. We also discuss Pandora previews, Volcano Bay media day, locals overhyping projects, The Shining and Conjuring at HHN, new hotels, Sesame Street, and then answer your non-theme park questions!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeParkscopeNick,  ParkscopeLane, and Sean.

The Hidden Rides and Themed Attractions of...Missouri

Few states can manage to embody so many of the contrasts of the American Midwest in the way that Missouri can. Geographically, it's larger than New York or Florida. There are the plains and wetlands of both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. There's vast rolling farmland, as well as forests, mountains, and enormous lakes (many of which are man made). Around the rural beauty is also the unfortunate backstory of Missouri's slave state status and continuing racial turmoil in its urban areas. For outsiders, Missouri is a place anchored by two cities on opposite corners - Kansas City and St. Louis. Both cities have a pall of decay and despair about them with the ever changing global economy increasingly leaving them behind. Outside of those metropolitan strongholds are the capital (Jefferson City), college towns (Columbia, Rolla, Cape Giradeau), and a major resort destination (The Ozarks, anchored by Branson).

As always with the series, we start with that which is known:



-Six Flags St. Louis opened as the third of the original Six Flags parks under the moniker "Six Flags Mid-America". The name was changed during the Gary Story years after the chain expanded and took on new facilities in Chicago, Louisville, and Cleveland, but the name has stuck even since. Unlike Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Over Georgia, which saw ownership stakes retained by the Wynne family, Six Flags Over Georgia is a wholly owned by Six Flags Inc. facility and thus requires a certain amount of cultural anthropology to see much of what was original to the park remaining as it has crumbled away over time. Highlights of the current lineup include the John Allen out-and-back Screamin' Eagle, the GCI wood coaster American Thunder, the launched Premier coaster Mr. Freeze, an Arrow log flume, a train ride, (Six Flags Mid America logos still in cast iron), and a Sally Justice League dark ride.



-Worlds of Fun was, I hear, a really cool looking regional themer in the late 90s before Dick Kinzel and Cedar Fair went about tearing all the charm out of it in stages. The park that exists now has a GCI woodie that is generally well regarded (Prowler), a Morgan hypercoaster that is generally well regarded, and a train ride that actually went back to having staged robberies of late. The raft ride (Fury of the Nile) might actually be a top 3 attraction at this park which lacks really solid show facilities or a dark ride.



-Silver Dollar City is where the Herschend empire got started. Aesthetically similar to Dollywood, it has a number of really awesome aspects that Dollywood just can't match now: The Flooded Mine boat dark ride, the Grandfather's Mansion fun house, the fact that the first attraction here was a real life cave big enough to fit hot air balloons into, a top mine train coaster, a great custom S&S launched ride in Powder Keg, and oh so much more. SDC is one of my favorite parks in the world, no doubt about it.

-The St. Louis Arch and Museum of Westward Expansion are visited by several million people each year, and in addition to the one of a kind elevator system, the underground museum features an array of animatronic figures detailing the colonization of the Wild West.

...and from there, we go to that which is unknown....

BEYOND THE GATEWAY



St. Louis is home to the state's largest metro population, and it shouldn't surprise people that it also has some of the more interesting attractions I'll be noting. The first of these is a modern creation: The City Museum. Not merely just a museum, but a sort of "fun house on steroids", City Museum was the brain child of Bob Cassilly, an artist who realized the potential in an abandoned shoe factory to create an interactive art installation unlike any other. Like other fun houses in the world, there barrels to roll in and slides to go down, but this "fun house" also has an array of interconnected tunnels, miniatures, pinball machines, a safe, opera posters, an airplane, and more jungle gym-esque equipment to climb on than can reasonably be imagined. When this series is over and done with, City Museum will be near the top of the list of awesome things to see.

St. Louis has other above average sights to see as well. The St. Louis Zoo is a free admission zoo (rare) which occupies part of the grounds of the 1904 World's Fair held here. A 4-D theater and Chance CP Huntington Train offer non-animal attractions. Union Station will soon be home to an aquarium and Chance 200-foot ferris wheel in addition to the impressive projection show already taking place in the main hall. Staying in the area and closer to Six Flags is the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, another AZA accredited institution.

Finally, we head to a county park to get a look back into living history. Faust Park in Chesterfield has two carousels; one an 1898 Armitage-Herschell, the other a 1921 Dentzel. The older of the two was converted to electric operation from steam, but the engine has been retained as a museum piece.

WALK IN WALT'S FOOTSTEPS

Walt Disney is probably the most iconic and important figures in the theme park industry, and much of what made Walt who he was occurred in Missouri. He grew up in the town of Marceline and later in Kansas City, where he established his first animation studio before moving to LA. As such, for the ardent Disney fan, Missouri offers an interesting glimpse unto better understanding Walt Disney: The Man.

Starting in Marceline, The Walt Disney Hometown Museum features a number of artifacts related to the man, his animation, and even the parks. In 1966, the Midget Autopia ride was donated to the city of Marceline along with an ampitheater, and though a spirited attempt to bring the ride back via Kickstarter was made in 2015, the effort fell short. In February 2016, the Marceline City Council voted to demolish the ampitheater and track where the Midget Autopia cars once ran. An Arrow Arrowflite Freeway Ride, Idlewild Park in Pennsylvania still operates a ride nearly identical to Midget Autopia to this day. Knoebel's Grove also operates what is likely a Arrowflite Freeway. As for the town itself, remember that this was the model for Main Street USA, Walt's tribute to small town America.



Over in Kansas City, the primary amusement park of Walt's childhood had closed by the mid-1920s. However, what does certainly still exist is Country Club Plaza. Opened in 1923, this was the first shopping mall/mixed use facility intended to be accessed primarily by automobile. It also appears on this list because the building exteriors have been heavily themed to resemble the Moorish architecture of Seville, Spain. This is also one of the early adopters of that now famous theme park tradition of garish Christmas lighting arrays and accompanying lighting ceremonies. While it's opening would have been significant, and the eventual effect of its innovations seemingly influential to an almost obvious degree, Country Club Plaza is not often mentioned in relation to Walt's development.

Kansas City also has another big mixed use development of note in what is known as Crown Center. Merlin operates both a Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center in the shopping complex. "Crown" is for the Hallmark logo, as this is abutting corporate headquarters and the Hallmark Visitor Center. Architecture and disaster buffs might also note that the Sheraton Crown Plaza here opened as the Hyatt Regency, and was the scene of a horrific disaster in 1981 where 114 people were crushed to death in an atrium walkway collapse.

FLANDERS' VERSION OF LAS VEGAS



Branson is not a boom town. The best days for this city were in the mid 90s, when musicians and entertainers from around the globe packed enormous theaters filled with Middle American tourists seeking escape. As the demographic who made Branson what it is died off, and was replaced with lower income people with less interest in bluegrass music or comedy bits about Soviet Russia, hotels stopped getting filled. Branson USA, a new build park in the 1990s, was purchased by Herschend to effectively close it (they left it standing and abandoned in clear view for many years) and cut competition. Theaters are empty with grass poking through the parking lots. Meanwhile, Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg has boomed, suggesting that there is only room for one such tourist draw.



In lieu of all this, two mountain coasters will be operating in Branson in 2017. The first, at Branson Mountain Adventure Park, actually opened last year. The second, currently under construction, replaces the Cool Off Water Chute, an early concrete water slide that predated Wet N' Wild and River Country. They join a bevy of existing attractions, such as the Professor Hacker's Lost Treasure Golf location and its train ride to the first hole and the Hollywood Wax Museum. The latter even has the throw-ins of the "5D" Castle of Chaos interactive theater attraction and Shoot for The Stars Mini-Golf (which may actually be slightly racist in its depiction of your manager, whom offers encouragement at each hole while describing your ascent in Hollywood).

Herschend operates White Water, a fairly compact water park near the main drag in town, and that competes primarily with a couple of indoor water parks as well as Big Surf (no relation to the Arizona park). With Cool Off Water Chute being dead, the most unique slide to the state is gone with it.

UNCHARTED MISSOURI

Outside the major cities, few bother to roam. I can't say I really blame them. But those who have came back with information about some weird parks. Bless them and their spending of money.



Hydro Adventures in Poplar Bluff isn't really near anything you'd go to, but since opening in 2003 has slowly obtained an audience. Since 2015, the dry ride options were added, and it is now home to the largest coaster in the state (an SDC built Galaxi) outside the big chain owned themers. There's a mix of cheaper Italian and American built rides otherwise. In the city of Osage Beach, halfway between Columbia and Springfield, is Miner Mike's Adventure Town. It is a classic, but large, family entertainment center. The rustic frontier theme is above average for the genre, but being honest, its primary function is children's birthday parties.



St. Joseph's is home to the Patee House, a museum complex that features a truly one-of-a-kind ride. The "Wild Thing" carousel, carved entirely by Bruce White, was taken in from the local mall. White is actually the guy responsible for the horses Applebee's restaurants use as flair/decor in the restaurants. That's not the only strange carousel in the state either. Perryville, a town located southeast of St. Louis, has a Herschell-Spillman carousel dating to 1905 which operates only for the 3 day run of the Annual Seminary Picnic the first weekend of August.