In the Parks - Goes Green for Magic Mountain, Disneyland, DCA and Universal
by, 06-30-2011 at 09:01 PM
It's a superhero sized day for In the Parks. The Green Lantern has officially opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain and we were there to bring you the first reviews. Next, over in Disney California Adventure, Goofy's sky school has finally opened. But is it a better ride? Cars Land sprung a leak this week and the walls around the Paradise Gardens Restaurants finally came down. There's even an update from Universal Studios Hollywood. And we round things out today with an exclusive interview about Sinister Pointe and this year's Haunt, Queen Mary's Dark Harbor, and more.
Ready for a long Holiday weekend? Prepared for huge crowds in the park? Then let's get to today's wonderful update . . .
Here is what is IN THE PARKS today!
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Six Flags Magic Mountain regains the coaster crown with its 18th roller coaster, The Green Lantern. This is the first ride of its kind in the United States and features 8 person cars that spin freely along a vertical serpentine and swooping track of neon green steel.
Today also marks the opening of a newly re-themed land at Magic Mountain called D.C. Universe. Along with Green Lantern, you'll find Batman: The Ride, The Flash and Wonder Woman.
D.C. Universe opens
The backside of the arch features the villains
As part of the opening ceremonies, park President, Bonnie Rabjohn, welcomed the crowd of eager thrill-seekers and comic book fans to be among the first to ride.
After a few opening remarks, Bonnie welcomed the writer and head of D.C. Comics, Geoff Johns, who welcomed the crowd and explained how excited he was to be part of yet another great D.C. Comics based coaster.
With that, the man of the hour, The Green Lantern took the stage and asked the crowd to join him in reciting the Green Lantern oath....
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!
A blast of green pyro...
A rain of confetti...
This new ride...
Is good and ready!
All were invited, at that point, to enter the queue and hop on board.
The queue and entry plaza are surprisingly well themed for a Six Flags park. Guests enter the Ferris Aircraft facility and the line wanders into the pre-show building.
Entering the building below the loading platform we see a very stylized crash scene.
Wandering into the next room screens are playing footage of the Green Lantern during training.
We round a corner and the line is divided into a left or right path. Either is the same as there is no bad seat on this ride.
Half the queue goes to one side of the track, half to the other. Each vehicle can carry up to 8 people 4 on each side of the track. The seats sit back-to-back.
How was the ride? Watch the videos below and see for yourself.
The new coaster is pulled up a unique chain lift and then let loose on the squiggly track layout. The passenger cars are free spinning. They twirl and balance much like a Ferris wheel carriage with 360º flip capability. There are some pretty intense g's pulled on the drops, either negative or positive, depending on how your car is turning.
The ride is certainly something special. But, (isn't there always a 'but') the ride time is less than a minute. Couple that with high-maintenance slow loading and high demand to ride a new attraction and this attraction is sure to have insufferable waits all summer long.
Our advice? Get to the park at opening and head straight to the back of the park to D.C. Universe.
If you don't get to the park in time and find an unacceptable wait time on Green Lantern, you'll find plenty in the area to enjoy as well. Really! The new D.C. Universe is a nicely themed area (for a Six Flags park). Aside from the Green Lantern, you'll also find Batman: the ride inverted coaster. It's intense but still fun.
Next is the re-themed spinner, Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth.
SO GLAD they showed this classic flat ride some love instead of just destroying it.
They even attempt to tell the story of the characters.
And then lastly, there is the newly refurbished spinner, The Flash: Speed Force.
SirClinksalot and son take a spin on Flash
Even if you aren't a thrill seeker, there is something for everyone. D.C. comics fans will go nuts uncovering the little bits of detail that Six Flags took the time to add to the area.
Wish Superman would use his powers to clean up after himself once in a while.
The residents of this building.
The new Six Flags coaster is a great effort and a one of a kind attraction. But, due to strong g-forces, this ride isn't for everyone. Six Flags has another hit coaster on their hands which is well worth a visit to the park.
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Now, let's go from the thrills of Six Flags to the more family friendly attractions of the Happiest Place on Earth. Both Disneyland and California Adventure will be offering patriotic fireworks this weekend.
4THOF JULY FIREWORKS
At Disneyland, a smaller tribute to America will run during the fireworks tonight through Sunday and then a larger version will run on the 4th of July. Remember that Disneyland holiday fireworks are very popular with the locals and the park can become extremely crowded and even reach capacity on the 4th of July. Arrive as early as possible to secure your spot. If you find Main Street too crowded, Small World Mall offers an acceptable alternative to watch the show with much less crowding. Or, catch the early Fantasmic and stay to watch the fireworks from the Rivers of America area (finding a good spot for the early Fantasmic is always a challenge on a busy day and can be as difficult and frustrating as finding a good fireworks spot on Main Street). Below are some shots from last years show.
The show is a great diversion from the normal Summer fireworks and a suitable patriotic tribute to this great land of ours.
What's new on our MiceTube station? Sarah's back with another edition of MiceChatter, our weekly look at the Disney parks. Clocking in under 3 minutes, we think you'll find this video to be a whirlwind of fun! Click below and see for yourself.
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MAIN STREET U.S.A.
The Emporium on Main Street U.S.A. is being refurbished. The main shopping floor (which becomes a frenzy of last minute shoppers each night at closing time) has been walled off, although the rest of the store remains open.
The Coca-Cola Rocket in front of the pizza port has returned from behind scaffolding looking shiny and new.
Frontierland's Big Thunder Ranch is dressed up and ready for the 4th of Jully this weekend. Meanwhile, yet another outdoor vending location gets a refurbishment.
So patriotic and fun.
The ODV cart up against the FastPass machines for Big thunder
have now gone behind walls.
We took a ride on the Jungle Cruise recently and noted that, while still wonderful, the wild is in need of some tender loving care.
Still a great beginning.
The elephants look great.
No need to avert your eyes ladies, these fellas all have their trunks on.
The monkey business scene is currently running minus
the major water explosion effects.
The crate (of MiceChat Gumball Rally fame) is missing from this scene.
The joke, "The most feared animal in the Jungle, His Mother-in-law." doesn't work if the elephant has been removed from the scene.
The hippos need to have some algae scraped off of their heads
Overall, the ride is still wonderful immersion and a low key escape for the whole family, but it could certainly use a few touch ups.
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Goofy's Sky School is finally open and the walls around Paradise Piers restaurants have come down exposing the beautiful new park-like setting. We also have shocking pictures of a massive leak in Cars Land this past Tuesday. And of course there is a ton of work being done in preparation for the main gate refurbishment for us to share.
WORLD OF COLOR 4TH OF JULY EDITION:
Attention World of Color lovers. A special holiday version of the show will run today through the 4th of July. If you've never seen the show before, don't forget to pick up a fastpass early in the day at Grizzly River Rapids. OR buy a picnic meal with reserved seating for a less stressful experience (while quantities last).
BUENA VISTA STREET:
The new Pan-Pacific entrance is totally out from behind scaffolds and the final bits of work are happening to make this the new Main Gate functional. The first tree has been planted just past the new gates too. This is going to be beautiful.
At the Carthay Circle Theater, metal forms and drywall arches can be seen
on the bottom left of the building. Red Car Trolley Tracks snake in
front and the new fountain will be off to the right.
The back side of the Carthay Circle Theater.
Cars Land sprung a leak on Tuesday night sending a high pressure plume of water high into the air.
Downtown Radiator Springs is really starting to come together.
Details are emerging in the sculpting.
The butte is looking more rock-like every day
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.
REDWOOD CREEK CHALLENGE TRAIL:
Recently, the characters from the film UP were added to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. This is a very appropriate addition to the wilderness section of the park and seems to work well.
A little scavenger hunt that children can do in the area
culminates in the new show at the Camp Circle.
The show is cute enough and certainly does what it's
supposed to do which is entertain the kids. Just look at those happy faces!
Our only complaint is the awkward way they empty the theatre. After the short 7 minute show ends, guests are invited to take a picture with the characters from the film as they exit. But what if you don't care for the photo op? Well, you could attempt to snake by the large line of people trying to take a pic with their favorite Up personality (and this is even encouraged by the Cast Members who do everything they can to accommodate) but, the exit path is pretty narrow. Any attempt to go past other guests is met with unhappy responses at they assume you are trying to cut in line. The situation could be alleviated if they would just allow guests not wanting to visit the characters to exit through the route they entered.
NOPE! Don't exit through the entrance. CM's are stationed outside to make sure that doesn't happen.
GOOFY'S SKY SCHOOL:
Well, here we are! Goofy's Sky School is now open. Is it any different? Any better? Not really. It's really the exact same ride with a minimalist new Goofy theme. No music, no enclosure, just a re-theme of the same painful coaster. However, the Goofy overlay does work and is far more pleasing to the eye than the garish cacophony of day glow, line art, and street signs that cluttered the area in its previous life. But, at the end of the day, it's still just a temporary carnival coaster sitting in a sand pit . . . it just doesn't look as bad as it once did.
The chicken yard overflow line.
Funny Goofy theme along the queue.
The billboards do try to give the ride a story by sectioning it into lessons.
The animation on the billboards is very minimal
Thematic cut-outs do little to hide the mish mash of metal supports.
While a step in the right direction, Goofy's Sky School still feels like a temporary attraction which could be packed up by carnies and sent to the next town at the end of the fair.
PARADISE GARDEN RESTAURANTS:
The walls came down around the Paradise Garden Restaurants on Thursday to reveal a very lush park setting to enjoy two revamped eateries. Both The Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta are scheduled to open on Friday July 1st. From what we could see, this is yet another fine step in the rescue of this park.
The beer hut opened briefly on Thursday
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Last Halloween, the famous Queen Mary ocean liner docked in Long Beach California was decked out in spectacular spooky style by one of Southern California's top design firms, Sinister Pointe. They assisted in production and design at last years "Dark Harbor" at the Queen Mary and it was the highlight of our Haunt season. Sinister Pointe specializes in very immersive, fully themed haunted walk-throughs and experiences. In year's past they have unleashed fiendishly scary haunted houses, mazes and settings around the Orange County and Los Angeles area, all designed to get your spine tingling. Their mazes often weave guests into the action as active participants in their surroundings, allowing them to take their time, rather than be rushed through in a single file herd.
Sinister Pointe's headquarters are in Brea California, in a run-of-the-mill business park. Aside from the black lettered moniker on the front of the building, nobody would guess that this is the epicenter of nightmares.
Sinister Pointe Creative Director, Jeff Schiefelbein
Creative Director, Jeff Schiefelbein, agreed to take a few minutes out of his crazy schedule to speak with MiceChat's Fishbulb about creations for this year's haunts and beyond. We held our conversation on a loading dock at Sinister Pointe: Brea where the latest creation is currently under construction, the sound of nail guns and shuffling lumber echoed in the warehouse as we began our interview.
The construction site.
Fishbulb: First, we'd really like to thank you for the amazing thrills and chills your mazes always induce. let's just get the important stuff out of the way . . . What have you got planned for this year?
Jeff: Well, this is our first year in this new building, so it's just going to be one maze this year.
Fishbulb: Just one?
Jeff: For here, in Brea, yeah just one. It's going to be a little larger in size. Next year we might trim a little bit of it off and try to make two mazes in this space. There are a lot of areas in the building that we still aren't using. We are hoping that by year two or year three we have a few mazes and we may even end up building out into the parking lot.
Fishbulb: Do you think you might eventually expand into any of the other buildings?
Jeff: Actually, we have spoken with a few of our neighbors who have their leases ending soon so, who knows. We might expand into their spots. This is a cul-de-sac. So, in five years, we may be able to have this whole end of the street.
Fishbulb: That would be great!
Jeff: Don't know how likely that is, but it would be cool.
Fishbulb: Tell me about the maze you are building here in front of us.
Jeff: You know, we haven't actually determined yet if we are going to call it something or just go with our name. We've been Sinister Pointe and Sinister Pointe presents…
One of my favorite haunts, out in Utah, was a place called Rocky Pointe. Every year they would have a different theme and different mazes but they were still Rocky Pointe haunted house. So I'm kind of torn. Should we keep our name or make it Sinister Pointe presents, "whatever."
Fishbulb: I think you should stick with SInister Pointe. Everybody knows that name.
Jeff: Yeah I agree. So this year we are going for an old house, in a HIlls have Eyes kind of style. A lot of deformed inbreds, mixed with chainsaw massacre stuff in a broken down house in the middle of nowhere and you have to make your way through it.
One of the inbred masks
Fishbulb: That's awesome stuff. So, you have this location in Brea, but what else are you doing?
Jeff: We are involved with a maze up at the Winchester Mystery House up in San Jose, and then we are doing one in Pennsylvania.
Fishbulb: Sounds like a lot of work. Are you involved with Queen Mary's Dark Harbor again this year? Or is that something you can talk about? You pulled off last year was really something special.
Jeff: Oh thank you! You see, I was hired under the production company that was brought in and they did an amazing job and they just knew what they were doing. And I don't' think they had ever even done a haunt before. I think that was their first one.
Fishbulb: Kind of unreal.
Jeff: It was pretty wild. Last year, we met with them in January. Production really didn't get rolling until late July or August. Whatever happens I hope to get back on board again. That was pretty amazing experience.
Fishbulb: Where do you pull your crazy ideas from.
Jeff: Nothing comes from one place. I go to the conventions, I watch hundreds of movies. I may see a huge prop that somebody makes and think, "Well I don't like what they did with that," and I will build on that idea and make it my own. I really just pull from a lot of different places.
Fishbulb: One maze that people are still talking about is the "Fear" maze that you did two years ago. Guests had to complete different tasks to proceed through the maze.
Jeff: We are going to be doing that type of thing again this year in this maze. There will be rooms where you physically have to go in and figure out what to do. At this point, the maze will have at least eight of those rooms.
The Door Gag as Jeff called it.
There's a double edged sword about being an independent haunt. We don't do the big big numbers, so people can take their time because it's not about churning out people. On the other hand, the wait times can get quite long. We are pushing our marketing to make it clear that this is an interactive maze, so if people can come on a Thursday or another night when it might not be so crowded they should. We need to space people out and that's what people have come to really love about Sinister Pointe.
Fishbulb: What is scary to you?
Jeff: Scary to me? The Exorcist. I get the cold sweats and everything. I think that was one of those movies that I was forced to watch as a kid, you know, with a bunch of my cousins and they made me watch it and it just freaked me out. Monsters, creatures, not so much. But it's very unsettling to me if it's anything to do with exorcisms and possessions and stuff. Even Emily Rose, when she started talking in Latin and, man, it just gets me. Those things creep me out. Things that make you question, "is that real, or can that happen?"
It also creeps me out being here at the construction site for this maze alone by myself at 2am at night. That's just creepy. I mean, you're here alone and you hear a noise because the building is settling, or you hear a hammer fall at the other end of the building. And then the more you start thinking about it the more you get yourself worked up and, yeah. Being alone here is very spooky.
Alone at the construction site.
Fishbulb: What haunts did you go to last year?
Jeff: I went to Knott's, I went to The Darkness in St. Louis, but other than that not much. I plan to see more this year for sure.
I've actually been going to Knott's for years and have caught myself complaining that it's getting worse and worse; but at the same time, I've noticed the past couple of years that the detail in their mazes, they're really doing some quality stuff.
Fishbulb: Yeah, I was just talking to them about their new maze, Endgames. It's going to be pretty amazing.
Jeff: I'm really excited to see it. I also want to make it to my buddy Mike's haunt, The Empty Grave.
Fishbulb: We are big fans of the Empty Grave too! Can you tell me about the maze you are working on at the Winchester Mystery house?
Jeff: Yeah, it's going to be big. At least a 15-20 minute walkthrough but I can't tell you too much because we are tying to keep that one under wraps. We are also working with a haunt called "Horror Hall" in Pennsylvania. As well as a couple more prospective sites. So we are pretty busy.
Fishbulb: How long will this one in Brea be?
Jeff: I'm guessing, with all the interactive stuff, and all the stopping, it will run around 15-20 mins.
Fishbulb: Are there any tricks that you are really excited about for this year that you are hoping to pull off in the maze?
Jeff: There are a bunch of things that we are doing this year, a lot of things, that we have never done before. One set piece in particular I am really excited about, if we can get it to work the way we think it will, it will be bad ***.
This year, there will be a lot of things, lots of cool stuff with interaction and testing your fear. There will be things with electricity and things with blenders. We also are working on a few rooms with an illusionist to create a particular set piece that will be a real mind bender. Lots of mirrors involved and we are hoping that we are going to be able to pull it off.
Jeff demonstrates a scare.
I want the set to come to life. I want people to feel as if they are somewhere else for a little while. Along the path people will be able to choose which path they take. At certain points, they will have to choose to go left or right. Oh, and that's another thing that we will probably offer, an all-night pass for people that want to go though the maze several times and try all the different variations.
Fishbulb: Have you set the dates yet?
Jeff: No not yet, we are looking at the last weekend of September. I know we will be opening prior to October.
Im so excited. I mean, It's so great that we now have a permanent spot. There are details that I want to add to this that I know I will never get to. But, since it's going to be permanent, I'll be in here two weeks after Halloween is over working on the things for next year. This is going to be a great maze.
Fishbulb: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me Jeff. We really look forward to experiencing the maze when it opens later this year.
Jeff: Thanks for stopping by. Come back again.
If that didn't get you totally psyched for Halloween, then perhaps you should check your pulse. The Sinister Pointe Maze in Brea will be featuring immersive sets, interactive scenes and multiple paths. A roughly 15 minute walk-through attraction that will have a variety of story lines and possibilities. MiceChat will be making a special event trip to SInister Pointe this fall as part of the MiceChat Nights of Horror. Look for more information soon.
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F!an chimes in with an excellent update from Universal. This Friday marks the end of CityWalk's face lift and the start of the "CityWalk Plugged In" Summer concert series. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday all Summer long, you can enjoy free live music at the brand new, state of the art stage just in front of the CityWalk Cinemas. Performing bands and their set times can be found at www.citywalkhollywood.com
Construction has finished on the CityWalk stage and the huge video screen has been installed.
A very large Katy Perry
The new facade of the cinemas is complete and the portals will be done any day now.
Lights strung over the entrance to the cinemas.
Jurassic Parking Structure portal
Much needed shade has been added to the new permanent security check point just outside of the main entrance turnstiles.
A new streetmosphere act recently debuted on Baker Street. Similar to the windows on New York Street, the residents of Baker Street interact with guests like any good British neighborhood.
An aging rock star and a nanny (she was definitely no Mary Poppins)
New color scheme for the directional/information towers near the queue.
A peek at the new construction on an extension to the Studio Tour queue. This area used to be the tram unload area.
We all love construction photos and the bigger the attraction, the better.
Unfortunately, this one is all but totally enclosed now. Not much left for us to spy on.
Construction has started on two of the rumored six mazes for this year's Halloween Horror Nights.
Construction has started in the Mummy extended queue. The incinerator prop has been spotted in the area.
The rumored sixth maze is supposed to be in the JP extended queue but no signs of anything HHN related has been seen yet.
Maze construction went into overdrive in the T2 extended queue. All of the walls have been installed. It appears this maze uses the same layout as last year's House of 1000 Corpses.
THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!
If you are craving more summer fun, don't miss our guide to the top 20 attractions of summer in Southern California. There is SO much more to do this summer than you may realize, and much of it is very affordable (and in some cases free).
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Today's update was brought to you by the following members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: F!an, Monorail Man, Sir Clinksalot, Captphoebus, Fishbulb, and Dustysage.
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We'd like to wish all of our readers a safe and happy holiday weekend! Get out there and celebrate America In The Parks!