Sunday, December 15, 2013

Successful Book Debut this Weekend and the Kennywood Holiday Lights!

The book debut yesterday at the GOCC Party at Kennywood went wonderfully! It was a great day. Kennywood played host to the event and it was an honor to be able to debut the book in the over a century old Parkside Cafe at Kennywood. (The book is available through the drop down menu near the top of the page)

The project is the culmination of years of taking photos, lots of writing, researching along with interviewing over twenty different important folks from ride manufacturers/designers such as GCI, Gravity Group, PTC, Mike Boodley, Steve Okamoto, Charlie Dinn and others, along with amusement park legends such as Dick Knoebel, Paul Nelson of Waldameer, Murl Clark of Dutch Wonderland, Andy Quinn of Kennywood and others such as Rick Sebak of WQED. The 152 page book with hundreds of photos provides a great insight into the history of Pennsylvania amusement parks and a practical blueprint towards visiting the parks of the state with the most wooden roller coasters. Also covered are very neat landmarks around the parks such as the Yuengling Brewery, many state parks, historic landmarks and other cool things.
Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip Book Buying Options

The way in which this book has come together and had a very successful debut at the party, we could not be happier. It is with great joy that I can tell you this. The project has been in the back of my head for a very long time, but I never had the time to do it. I was blessed with an injury and subsequent chronic condition that gave me the sitting time to be able to complete this finally and it was a blast and really kept me together. I could not be happier. 

Enough talk about the book though. Even though the weather forced the Kennywood Holiday Lights to not open for the public on Saturday Night, the wonderful folks at Kennywood still turned on the lights over a short period for us to enjoy, including the light show over the FROZEN lagoon. What a strange sight to see compared to the way the water looks in the evening with the beautiful Racer and Jack Rabbit lights reflecting upon the water during the summer. They even turned the lights on their beautiful Dentzel carousel. It is always a treat to just be near that carousel, let alone see the dazzling lights at night.

The lights were simply spectacular!
I love the toy soldiers! Always one of the coolest lit things at the park
The landmark windmill on the way out. Overall, it was a really great day. Kennywood was a great host for us and the debut of our book was wonderful. If you are interested in the book, you can get it through the drop down menu near the top of the page. Thank you!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Our newly released book! Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip

Available at the top of the page in the drop down menu:

With the official release at the GOCC party today, here is the announcement we have told you about for the last few days. After many years of photo taking, a long time of having the concept and some drafts together and then getting a serious injury that gave me the sitting around time necessary to kick this into gear, we have created our book "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip: A Photographic Road Trip Highlighting Pennyslvania's Historic Amusement Parks and Some Interesting Places." We have spent thousands of hours writing, editing, researching, compiling thoughts and completing interviews with so many awesome and important folks in our industry, including ride manufacturers, designers and park pioneers. Also included are quotes from huge park fans and even the great Rick Sebak of WQED! The fruits of our efforts are finally realized and it makes me a little emotional thinking about it.

We have created this book as a blueprint to visiting all of the historic and wonderful amusement parks the state of Pennsylvania has to offer. This state has more wooden roller coasters than any other state in the nation and every single one of these coasters is covered in depth throughout our book. We also cover other classic rides and modern thrills as well. What better thing to do before or after visiting a park than visit some of the wonderful neighboring attractions to these parks? We cover many neat local landmarks to the parks that you may have not even known existed.

From start to completion, working on this project was a joy and I am glad to offer you the fruit of our toils. The book is available. The drop down menu at the top of the blog or bottom of the post shows you what to do to get your hands upon our work. Thank you!
Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip Book Buying Options

Friday, December 13, 2013

Myrtle Beach Pavilion 2006, Final Season and Reflection

We will have a big announcement tomorrow! Stay tuned!

The Myrtle Beach Pavilion was a wonderful little seaside park in Myrtle Beach. It was a small, 11 acre amusement park, similar in size to it neighbor down the street, the wonderful Family Kingdom. Pavilion operated as a traditional amusement park from 1948, on. Pavilion really traces its history back more than a century since it was home to a seaside dance hall. A mainstay in most amusement parks from that era, dance halls/band shells/ballrooms are something that are so critical to both amusement park and American history in general. If you ask your grandparents or great grandparents, there is a good chance their first date was at one of these dance halls, dancing to live bands like the legendary Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and others, eventually breaking down many barriers in the battle for civil rights, but I digress.
The dance hall was a venerable place, having burnt twice with the third building lasting until a real estate developer felt it right to tear it down and replace it with a field. The plight of this park is very similar to that of Six Flags Astroworld, if you are more familiar with that. Just as infuriating.
Photo Credit to Newsplusnotes and I think it was sourced from Google Earth in roughly 2006. You can see the Hurricane Category Five coaster forming the backdrop. The building in the lower left corner is the old dance hall that we were talking about. Middle bottom of the park you can see the log flume and their old dark ride. On the far right you can see their rapids ride.
Zoom ahead to 7 years to 2013. They turn a thriving amusement park in the center of a tourist area into a barren wasteland. "We've got real estate of value! We need to tear down this amusement park ASAP"

This is pure conjecture, but I would imagine that since the closure was decided sometime around when Hard Rock Park was announced, the owners likely thought they had more value in the real estate than the park. The thought was likely that it would be squashed by the competition from Hard Rock. I regret they tore down this park for nothing but I am also glad they gave us a season of warning as opposed to many recent closures with no warning. At this point, the park land is in perpetual vacant standing like Astroworld and Geauga Lake. At least the wonderful and venerable old Family Kingdom, an absolutely must visit park, is still only a few blocks down the street. 

Myrtle Beach Pavilion was a very nice little park with a fun selection of rides including an Arrow log flume
Named fittingly
The centerpiece of the park was the relatively recent, but member of the cursed CCI class of 2000, Hurricane Category 5. Classmates Villain and Mega-Zeph are also gone or pretty much gone. The only g-trains I have ever found bearable were the ones on Hurricane. 

In this final picture, you can see some of the canyon theming for their rapids ride, complete with faux mountains, high tension power lines and more. It was right next to the road so it was funny to hear the distinct sounds of riders screaming "WHOAAAA AHHHHHHH" that you only hear on river rapids style rides. You can also see their waveswinger, which I think was perfectly placed near the center of the park. 

The park had a small, but decent collection of flats including the wave swinger, Huss Enterprise and Calypso. The Hurricane coaster had a helix surrounding the ride, making for a pretty disorienting effect. 

The Arrow Wild Mouse variant is probably my favorite of the genre. The rides are super smooth and have some wonderful airtime. 
This was the view from the ride's station. The poor ride did not have a chance. It was ripped apart mercilessly like Villain. I really enjoyed the ride. The way I will always remember the park is through this ride on it. Looking one way at the mammoth coaster. The layout felt very long, speedy and powerful and the drop felt huge. It was 100 feet tall but it really felt closer to 150 if that makes any sense to you. It just felt huge. A very enjoyable ride for me. I will always remember this specific moment though, about to ride the Hurricane off into the sunset, feeling the warm ocean breeze and that smell of sand and saltwater. Pavilion was a great place to spend an evening and that is how I will always remember it. Now does anyone want to buy it and resurrect a few old Schmecks and the Riverview Bobs? 

Don't forget, the wonderful and venerable Family Kingdom with Swamp Fox, the John Allen classic, and a 1923 PTC carousel that was removed from another sad closure at the famed Casino in Asbury Park, Springsteen's hometown. 

Available now is our 2015 calendar. It is on early-bird special and available through this link!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Favorite B&M Hyper Poll!

Be sure to vote for your favorite B&M Hyper! What is not to love about a B&M Hyper?

Please support us and get a pretty 2014 calendar that comes down from 16.49 to 11.50 plus free shipping with promo codes FBC18 and FREESHIP. It will make for a great gift for someone or for yourself.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Helping Conneaut Lake Park over the Summer

It was an honor to be able to help out the park this summer, doing some restorations to the Devil's Den Darkride. I drove from Pittsburgh to spend the day helping the park on a day off. Earlier in the summer I dropped in to ride the newly reopened tumblebug and the new and improved Blue Streak. I must say that I was fantastically surprised with both. The progress the park has made since 2010 restoring the Blue Streak is really something else. Lenny Adams and crew have made that ride top notch once again. I was shocked at the difference. I rode it a bunch of times because it was that great. The strides the park is making are huge, thanks to the team efforts of everyone involved.

You can check out this article from back over the summer when folks came and put in time to help out the park. Be sure to watch the video because they interview me!

Please support us and get a pretty 2014 calendar that comes down from 16.49 to 11.50 plus free shipping with promo codes FBC18 and FREESHIP. It will make for a great gift for someone or for yourself.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Poll Results: Arrow Megalooper

Vortex Kings Island
  54 (41%)
Viper Magic Mountain
  17 (13%)
Anaconda Kings Dominion
  15 (11%)
Shockwave SF Great America
  7 (5%)
Great American Scream Machine Great Adventure
  18 (13%)
Viper Darien Lake
  8 (6%)
Dragon Mountain Marineland
  10 (7%)

The runaway favorite, which is also my favorite, is the Kings Island Vortex! I love this ride. I love the way it uses the terrain, the order of inversions and more. This ride can go head to head with most roller coasters. This Arrow megalooper is still terrific, even as it approaches 30 years old. I would take it over many modern loopers. I also think this and Magnum are the best Arrow coasters. 
The second favorite is the long-extinct Great American Scream Machine. 
In 3rd is the SFMM Viper. Photo from Joyrides
Please support us and get a pretty 2014 calendar that comes down from 16.49 to 11.50 plus free shipping with promo codes FBC18 and FREESHIP. It will make for a great gift for someone or for yourself.