Thursday, April 30, 2020

Immersive Irony Experience Theme Park Podcast: 2020 Coaster Season (?) Memorial Episode

Alex and Alan talk mostly about the world of tomorrow, and we don't mean EPCOT. We literally mean the world...and tomorrow. Also some stuff about Indiana Beach and Alan's poor choices of YouTube viewing.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It!

Image copyright Walt Disney World Resort 2001.
It was impossible to escape Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in the late 90s.

The imported British game show was an instant hit when ABC started broadcasting their version in August 1999. Millionaire found a perfect balance between its regal presentation, the charm of its host Regis Philbin, and drop-dead simple premise: answer a series of questions of progressing difficulty to win a million dollars. After a short run in the fall of '99 the show was quickly renewed and a larger show order was requested. 

Every network wanted their own prime time TV game show featuring dramatic lighting, tense music, dark backgrounds, and a personable host. Greed, Weakest Link, 21, 1 vs 100, and more attempted to cash in on the Millionaire rush. ABC ran the plane into the ground, showing Millionaire several times a week (new episodes and reruns) plus specials with celebrities and more. Viewership figures dropped and the primetime show was canceled in 2002 but a condensed half-hour version debuted for daytime syndication soon after.

In the middle of Millionaire mayhem, Walt Disney World announced an interactive stage show version of the game show will debut at Disney-MGM Studios. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It! opened in April 2001 in Soundstage 3 at the Studios. Disney-MGM Studios Entertainment (not WDI) faithfully recreated the New York set with the addition of several large projection screens and 600 seats. The 25-minute show largely played out like the one on TV with three major changes: 1) contestants were picked from the full audience (who had little gamepads to select A B C or D) 2) each question had a time limit to answer 3) instead of cash prizes contestants won "points" with each major milestone featuring pins, hats, jackets, and the million point prize consisting of a trip to see the show record in New York.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #193 - Concierge For All with Len Testa

It's a full house with Joe, Lane, Mike, Nick, and Sean! This week we welcome back to the podcast Len Testa of The Unofficial Guide and Touring Plans to discuss all the craziest happening in the world of theme parks. Topics include The Bobs, the future of the Disney Cruise Line, how the parks could reopen with COVID-19, hotel deals, writing the Unofficial Guide, and the guest ratings for the latest additions to the parks.

You can find Len at, The Unofficial Guide, and Disney Disney with Jim Hill.

Universal Patents Autonomous Vehicle Transit System

We keep saying this but one of the most interesting Twitter bots to follow is Universal Orlando Permit Bot. The bot scrapes various government sites to pull applications, permits, and patents for the resort. We have been able to track progress on attractions like Diagon Alley, Kong, Velocicoaster, and more through these permits.

Today the bot scraped up a handful of USPO patents including a very interesting one.

Autonomous Vehicle Transportation Systems and Methods covers autonomous vehicles on the ground that interact and can board gondolas for park travel. The general gist of the patent focuses on the systems and communication paths between the autonomous vehicles, gondola systems, and a control station. The patent applicant is a director at Universal Creative, having worked in the company for 13 years.

Image from USPO application.
While in the abstract the patent talks about inner park travel among locations it's easy to see how such a system would easily apply to between park transportation. Even looking at the patent image you can easily see what could be I-4 with USF and IoA in the upper left, Volcano Bay in the lower left, and new resorts and Epic Universe on the right.

Because Universal applies for a patent does not mean they are actively looking on a project involving it or that their examples are analogous to what they're planning. A massive gondola system over private properties and public roads is a legal nightmare. It's also possible the actual systems are overstated or blue sky.

What the permits applied for today do show is an ambitious plan for Epic Universe and the future of the Universal Orland Resort.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #192 - Captain Geech Shrimp Shack Shooters with Justin McElroy

Joe and Sean are cooped up in their homes, dodging cabin fever, and longing to visit the parks again. So we invited fellow theme park fan and comedy legend Justin McElroy of My Brother, My Brother & Me to the podcast! We talk about all our favorite things from the Disney parks, what a path towards reopening them would look like, our favorite restaurants at WDW, and more.

Visit to check out Justin and his family's universe of podcasts, videos, and books.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Parkscope Unprofessional Podcast Hour #191 - Remembering Astroworld

We are back baby! With nearly every park in the world currently closed, Joe, Alan, and Alex decide to discuss another park that closed in 2005: the odd duck Astroworld. Opened in 1968 and designed by the same man who brought us Six Flags over Texas, Kings Island, and Hersheypark; Astroworld offered an assortment of prototype and innovative attractions to the Houston area for nearly 40 years. We talk about its opening, our experiences at the park, the reasons for its closure, and cover some of the noteworthy rides inside the park.