Tuesday, September 12, 2017

YouTube Tuesday #10: Scream Parks: Inside Six Flags Magic Mountain

Can you handle 200 Davids conquering Goliath? You’re about to find out!

Full disclosure: I grew up close to Cedar Point. It’s where my family and I liked to spend Memorial Day weekend since I can remember. We’d load up for 2 days/1 night at the Hotel Breakers (which, for the first 15 or so years of my life, was a complete piece of crap hotel. Thanks Dick Kinzel) and spend 2 VERY uncrowded days at the park (HERE’S A SECRET: Cedar Point is DEAD on Sunday/Monday Memorial weekend). Many, if not most, of my fondest amusement park memories come from the Queen of American Watering Places. And, since I grew up with Cedar Point, Six Flags Magic Mountain was evil.

It was. I (along with Joe and most likely anyone else in our tight age bracket and who didn’t live close to a SF park) first learned about Six Flags Magic Mountain (and SF in general) through an annual “Math and Science Day” math contest in the early 1990s. Every year during elementary/middle school, our classes would go into the library to watch the VHS introduction to the math contest, which took place from Six Flags Magic Mountain and featured the overly-hyped Michael Keaton Batman and Looney Tunes characters as they…talked about maths. And we’d all want to do better at math so we could win a trip to “Math and Science Day” at SFMM. And of course, though they were supposed to be talking about math, we got a glimpse of all the rides, coasters, and character encounters at SFMM. And we all thought, “cool, Six Flags is like Cedar Point but with Looney Tunes and Batman.”

Well played, Six Flags marketing team. Well played. But as we got older, we learned of the coaster war between CP and SFMM. And, since CP was in our backyard, we had nothing but disdain for SFMM. And in fact, we refused to visit Six Flags whenever we traveled to a nearby city just out of sheer spite. Six Flags was to Cedar Point as Universal was to Disney in the mid-1990s: an alien parasite that must be shunned and destroyed.

My first visit to a Six Flags came in 1999, when Geauga Lake became Six Flags Ohio. At that point I was old enough not to have a weird grudge against Six Flags any more (okay, I still did a little), but the fact that Geauga Lake would be getting a B&M Floorless, a CCI Woodie, and an Impulse (as well as a Vekoma Flyer the next year) I was absolutely over the moon. So I got a season pass RIGHT AWAY.

That leads us to just recently. I finally was able to visit Magic Mountain a few years ago, and the first time I went was with Joe (I think, I might have gone once before that). And it is legitimately an excellent thrill park. Though, the fact that the middle of the park is a literal mountain makes walking around annoying. But riding Superman, X2, Tatsu, Terminator (at the time), Riddler’s Revenge, etc. for the first time was going into a candy store. And I was impressed they still kept the pleasant central plaza area with the fountains, as well as all the green on the mountain. Those are memories I’m certain an uncountable number of SoCal residents have from their childhoods, just as Joe and I have memories of Cedar Point.

In 2000/2001, the Discovery Channel was on an absolute tear with theme park documentaries. I don’t know if there was an executive there who was obsessed with roller coasters, or if they got huge ratings on the initial shows they released in the late-1990s, but they seemed to be making them every five minutes. This particular show focused on Six Flags Magic Mountain, and was to my knowledge the first of a series they hoped to call “Scream Parks.”

One would assume, for example, that calling the actual show “Scream Parks” would begin a continuing series. You would expect, too, that most likely Cedar Point would be next. But instead, the next year Cedar Point would get its own show, called “World’s Largest Amusement Park.” And to my knowledge, the Scream Parks series would never really get off the ground.

Which is a shame, because Discovery Channel seemed to have a good thing going here. The show is framed with the periodic storyline of “building a new coaster,” as the construction of Goliath in 1999/2000 is explored in full detail during some transition points of the show, from the conceptual stage, to design, to the construction of the load area, to the testing, and finally to 200 DAVIDS RIDING GOLIATH DURING THE OPENING CEREMONY. Which, let’s be real, is brilliant marketing. Well played again, Six Flags marketing team.

I think this kind of series could have really took off. Think of the potential of doing a show on each of the major “Scream Parks” around the world. They could have followed the construction of Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure, or Hypersonic XLC at King’s Dominion, or Lightning Racer at Hersheypark, or Powder Keg at Silver Dollar City, or Voyage at Holiday World, or Manta, or any one of 100 Supermans. The possibilities are endless.

And, as I said in last week's Busch Gardens article, even though these amusement park shows seem to take us through the same behind the scenes activities (“look how big our central kitchen/gift shop/maintenance sheds are!”), since these areas are different at every park, it always seems new. So, tethered to the storyline of Goliath rising, we get some behind the scenes roller coaster maintenance footage (safety inspections on Viper, sensor maintenance on Riddler, , as well as some great footage of the tool crib, the landscaping with the Facilities Manager, the vehicle maintenance on the Batman stunt show, the communications center, Bugs Bunny World, and the restaurant kitchens.

But my favorite part starts at 35:38, when we see the FrightFest segment, and the behind-the-scenes of how they do the monster make-up and some scary effects. As a HHN fan, this made me happy.

“Scream Parks are all about thrills. If you don’t have major roller coasters, you’re never going to be a Scream Park.” –Six Flags PR Guy

Oh, and one last thing. Since apparently I fell asleep or something while recording this, there’s an old-school Apple iMac “Think Different” commercial starting at 29:32. You’re welcome, internet.

--ParkScopeJeff (@ParkScopeJeff)

Other YouTube Tuesday Features:

**Send Jeff a line at HamGamgee@gmail.com. We appreciate your feedback!

No comments:

Post a Comment