Month: April 2019

The Best Amusement Parks In America

So winter is long gone, and summer is here! It is pleasant, smells fresh and calls for a bright day out with family and friends. The first thing idea to make optimum use of the sunshine galore, that floods our mind is to schedule a picnic or plan a vacation somewhere in the mountains. However, if you are accompanied by serendipity and good fortune, you could even plan a trip to America, live the American dream and frequent the best amusement parks that America brags of. Therefore, without much ado, let us enlighten ourselves about the best amusement parks and prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

Disneyland

A name that comes to our mind the moment we think of America is Disneyland, well, after The Statue Of Liberty of course! It would not be an exaggeration to think of Disneyland and America as synonyms, and for a good reason. Otherwise known as the ‘happiest place on Earth,’ Disneyland Park is located in Anaheim, California and serves as a home to a perfect amalgamation of classic as well as contemporary rides. You could unleash the nerd inside you by enjoying the Star Wars themed clips, on the Hyperspace Mountain, which is known to be the park’s hotspot;  or enjoy a ‘Jack Sparrow’ moment on the Pirates of The Caribbean boat cruise. All things said and done, this piece of marvel conceptualized and designed by Walt Disney takes the first spot on this list.

Universal Studios

Now I have always been a sucker for Harry Potter and everything even remotely associated with the name. Thus, I know how a quintessential Potterhead would feel when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter suddenly becomes all too real. Universal Studios situated in California is a dream come true for all the Hollywood nerds and film enthusiasts. From a tour of the Jurassic Park to a ride on the Hippogriff, Universal Studios has more than what one could ever fathom. Witness a T-Rex wrecking havoc in the park or enjoy some butterbeer, Universal Studios shall never fail to entertain you!

Magic Kingdom Park

Enfolding Cinderella’s castle, which is the signature of every movie under the banner of Disney, Magic Kingdom Park in Disney World is a part of Disneyland. It is situated in Lake Buena Vista and has been known to play host to a swarm of tourists smitten by the magical world of Disney, every year. The Space Mountain forms the hottest ride in the park and is a holy grail to all the thrill seekers out there. Also, make sure to try out the Splash Mountain if you want a surge of adrenaline rush pumping through your veins.

So, the next time you plan for a trip to America, make sure that you visit these very best amusement parks to churn memories, enough to last a lifetime. America is known as the superpower not without a reason, and these aforementioned amusement parks are just a few among the many others, that give a person a taste of the much sought for ‘American Dream.’

Tips To Know Before Visiting An Amusement Park

It’s a dream long nurtured by many of us, to visit Disneyland at least once in our lifetime. Most of us have slogged day in and out in offices to work towards an endless nothing, to give a name to a goal that does not even have a shape or destination. Thus, it only seems fair that we get to live our dream, probably that of witnessing the majestic castle of Cinderella in the Magic Kingdom or chasing our passion for a thrill on the Pirates of The Caribbean boat cruise in Disneyland. Now we cannot be certain that our dreams would materialise, but what we could do is be prepared if the opportunity presents itself to us, and embrace the good with open arms. All of these deep, intense philosophy that you have just read is only to broach the subject of the essential tips that one must follow while visiting an amusement park. The interested lot out there, read on; and the ones who are not, read on anyway.

Reach early, like really early

Okay, so first things first. No person in their right minds would want to wait in line. No, not even if it is for the world’s most loved amusement park. Thus, reach super quick, even before the gates open. It is just going to enhance your amusement park experience. Do not laze around, because you have put in a lot of money, effort and time just to be here. Amusement parks, especially the ones like Disneyland and Universal Studios do not know a dull day. Thus, you need to be there before everyone else, or at least try to, to avoid the bubbling crowd.

Buy your tickets beforehand

This part is non-negotiable. The Internet has been a boon to humankind, so make use of it. Buy your tickets for the entry to the park online, since almost every amusement park provides online links to buy tickets. This way, you do not have to wait in line for long hours to buy your ticket and can make an entry pretty quickly. You will also have more time to explore every nook and cranny of the park.

Get it all chalked out

For every plan to work out without impediments, you need to have another plan. Think of it as a blueprint. Do your research before you leave for the day and know exactly where and when you need to be. Amusement parks can overwhelm you and leave you breathless. Thus, it is important to have your steps marked out, lest you will just be wasting time.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes

Ditch those heels and skin-tight jeans and slip into something more comfortable. I’d suggest you instead go for classic sneakers. Nothing kills the fun and sport like uncomfortable shoe bites and clothes that leave you gasping for air. It is an amusement park, so it needs no mention that you will have to walk and run around a lot because if that is not what you are doing, you are doing it wrong!

Keep your electronics charged

Do I even need to spell this out? I mean, you have not travelled all your way to Disney World, only to find that your phone or camera charged out. So charge those electronics the night before you leave and bring back the coolest pictures home. Memories are all we have at the end of the day.

Follow these few tips, and you are good to go. A visit to an amusement park, after a long and arduous journey, should be worth every penny. Do not let trivial things ruin your joy!

In Memoriam: Star Trek the Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton

Opening in January 1998, Star Trek the Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton was a living testament to the Star Trek franchise. Containing both a museum and a simulator ride, as well as a recreation of Quark’s Bar from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek the Experience was a must see attraction for Star Trek fans. Originally operated by Paramount Parks (and later Cedar Fair after their 2006 acquisition of Paramount’s Parks division), the Experience remained at the Hilton for 10 years.

Guests entered into the History of the Future Museum, which contained many of the actual costumes, props and set pieces used in the various Star Trek series and movies. Guests could peruse the displays at their leisure, and at the end of the Museum, a small corridor formed the queue for Klingon Encounter, a highly immersive simulator ride. Guests would enter what seemed to be a mundane motion simulator loading platform. The lights would suddenly go out, and when they came back on, guests were stood on the Transporter Pad of the USS Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. This transition has always fascinated me, and to this day I have no idea how it was done. I’m sure I could find out, but I don’t think I want to know. One thing is for sure though, it was awesome.

Guests then entered a replica of the Bridge of the Enterprise, before being lead to the Shuttle Bay (after a shaky encounter in a Turbolift) and joining the Enterprise for a battle with a Klingon Bird of Prey over the Las Vegas strip. Whilst breaking no new ground in simulated attractions, the immersion and detail in the ride made it a wonderful testament to the Star Trek franchise, and the return of Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and Levar Burton for the ride’s film and pre-show segments was most certainly welcome.

In 2004, following the final season of Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek the Experience expanded with the opening of Borg Invasion 4D, again an immersive simulation of a Borg attack on the Copernicus Research Station. Utilizing a 4D cinema, guests were surrounded by live actors in full Borg regalia in the pre-show segments, and an awesome ride film for the show segment. Kate Mulgrew, Robert Picardo and Alice Krige also returned to their respective roles for the film.

Declining attendance, as well as contractual issues between Cedar Fair and the Las Vegas Hotel, finally meant the demise of Star Trek the Experience in 2008. The closing ceremony was open to the public, with Avery Brooks and Garrett Wang in attendance, and longest serving cast member April Hebert was awarded with a United Federation of Planets banner. Later in 2008, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman hinted that Star Trek the Experience would reopen at either the Neopolis Mall or the nearby Freemont Street Experience. However, no deal was ever reached and many of the Experience’s set pieces have now been sold off or destroyed.

All in all, Star Trek the Experience was a true delight for Star Trek fans, and Theme Park fans could revel in the immersion and detail that went into the attraction. Be ashamed of yourself Las Vegas for letting this true gem slip away!

In Memoriam: Universal Studios Dubailand

Universal Studios Dubailand is an odd subject for In Memoriam, in that it was never actually built. Work began on the site in 2008, but stopped when the global financial crisis hit. We covered Universal Studios Dubailand in last week’s Podcast (shameless… utterly shameless plug), and the site has sat abandoned since 2009.

It’s a shame, as the publicity material for Universal Studios Dubailand, as well as the models that were created for this Park were exciting to say the least. At least five lands would have featured, including Hollywood, New York, Surf City, Epic Adventures and Legendary Heroes. The first two lands would be similar to their Universal Studios Florida counterparts, with the New York area featuring a Ghostbusters Dark Ride. Surf City would have been a boardwalk area, and Legendary Heroes would feature Revenge of the Mummy, as well as the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad from Islands of Adventure. Perhaps more excitingly though, Epic Adventures would have featured Jurassic Park, Waterworld and a set of duelling coasters themed around 2005′s King Kong reboot.

Work began on Universal Studios Dubailand, with a gate constructed, and visible work on the Park’s central lagoon. There was also talk of a Jurassic Park themed hotel. All exciting stuff, but alas, the Park, and the entire Dubailand project in general, is dead. The gate sits abandoned, being slowly reclaimed by the surrounding desert. It’s a sad thing indeed.

The plans for this Park were ambitious, and like everything in Dubai, the complex would have been huge. However, all is not lost, as in November 2012, Dubai’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the renewal of large-scale construction projects like Dubailand on the outskirts of Dubai, including the construction of the World’s largest shopping mall. He also stated that this mall would feature a Universal Studios family entertainment centre. What this entails exactly, and whether it will carry the moniker of Universal Studios Dubailand is unknown, but it certainly breathes new life into the possibility of a Universal Studios Park in the Middle East.

You can find the site for the Park, owned by Tatweer Holdings, Universal’s partner for the project, here, and you can also check out some awesome construction photos over at Theme Park Guy.

What do you think? Would you have travelled to Dubai to see this Park? What would you like to have seen here? Let us know in the comments!

Feature: The Granada Studios Tour

If you don’t hail from the United Kingdom, you may have never heard of Granada Studios. The reality is, the Studios, based on Quay Street in the city of Manchester, are the oldest working production studios in the United Kingdom. Home to shows such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, Countdown, Take Me Out and perhaps most famously, Coronation Street, the studio has been operating since the 1960’s.

If you aren’t familiar with Coronation Street either, it is the longest running Soap Opera in the World, and a British institution. In the 1980’s, Granada TV decided that opening their backlot and soundstages, particularly the Coronation Street set, would add an extra revenue stream to the somewhat underdeveloped studios.

And thus, the Granada Studio Tour was born in 1988, and exceeded visitor forecasts in its first few years of operation. Following the same formula as bigger and better financed studio parks, such as Universal Studios Hollywood, the Park featured rides and attractions that were unparalleled in their setup and execution. It could be argued that the UK has a decidedly average and linear theme park market, and the Studio Tour offered an attraction unlike any seen before.

It quickly became a tourist mecca for the North West of England, and the City of Manchester in particular, and continued to exceed visitor projections. The entrance to the Park contained a New York, Times Square style series of facades, with actors playing New York City Police Officers, and was accented with authentic New York taxi cabs and other vehicles.

The Motion Master attraction, a motion simulator ride, set to the movies Aliens and Robocop on an alternating basis, and a 3-D cinema rounded out the entrance area. Live shows were performed throughout the day, and an extremely popular and critically successful House of Commons attraction, where guests would watch a spoof debate in a replica of the British House of Commons, was one of the many unique draws for potential visitors to the Park.

A backlot tram ride, taking visitors down a recreation of Baker Street from the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, culminated in the tram being stopped at a recreation of Checkpoint Charlie, where the tram was boarded by actors portraying German military officers, who would interrogate guests aboard the tram.

News: Fast & Furious Supercharged Attraction Name

Filed at Universal Studios Hollywood

Inside Universal, in an exclusive news feature, is reporting that Universal Studios Hollywood has filed Fast & Furious Supercharged as a brand is listed a name to be used for the purposes of an attraction, and the filing seems to relate to a new tour animation for the Park’s Studio Tour. Fast & Furious Extreme Close-Up has sat standing but not operating at the Park for some time, and was generally derided upon its debut in 2008.

The filing does match up to the rumoured Fast & Furious attraction that will be built on the site of the former Mummy’s Tomb tour animation. Construction has already begun on that site. See below for an image of the permit filing, obtained by Inside Universal.

 

In Memoriam: ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter

There are many classic attractions at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, but rarely does an attraction achieve such cult status as Tomorrowland’s now-defunct ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter. The attraction replaced the aging Mission to Mars attraction, and opened in December 1994. It then closed for some months for re-working, as then Disney CEO Michael Eisner deemed it not scary enough. The attraction is notable for breaking away from the family friendly Disney attraction mold, as a sign at the attraction entrance explicitly warned of its intense nature and unsuitability for children.

The attraction contained a detailed back story, in which guests were invited to see a demonstration of advanced teleportation technology from the X-S Corporation. After watching a pre-show, guests sat in a circular theater, where the company’s CEO decided to transport himself into the chamber. Along the way, his signal is intercepted by a planet, and a monstrous alien arrives in the chamber instead. After it escapes, it menaces guests, using a pioneering combination of binaural sound, water and physical effects, in complete darkness, to create a truly unique attraction.

ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter began life much differently however, with the original designs for the attraction calling for an experience based on the Alien series of films, and would be titled Nostromo, after the ship from Alien. The film was deemed to scary, and not at all fitting with the Disney image. Alien had made an appearance in sister park Hollywood Studios however as a show scene on The Great Movie Ride.

George Lucas worked on the project, and ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter featured Tyra Banks, Tim Curry, Jeffrey Jones, Kevin Pollak and Kathy Najimy. A Disneyland version was planned as part of the Tomorrowland 2055 project, which was ultimately scrapped with the financial failure of the Disneyland Paris Resort.

So what happened to ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter? The attraction closed in 2003 to make way for Stitch’s Great Escape, a far tamer version of the original show, featuring the alien character from Lilo and Stitch. The replacement has been heavily panned by Theme Park Critics and casual guests alike. However, Stitch sells toys, and Disney will make far more money with the current iteration than it did with the original.