The BLOGFlume—Out of the Bag

Cedar Fair selling attractions and details about Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: August 17, 2005 at 8:09 PM

Dropping Off
Point Buzz 8/16/05
Screamscape 8/16/05

Intamin Freefall attractions built in the mid 1980’s apparently are going out of style. The drop rides, which look more like giant mousetraps than thrill rides, have been workhorses for a number of popular theme parks around the world. However, the welcome has finally worn off with Cedar Fair, LLC. The theme park chain has recently announced that two of them are for sale. Mr. Hyde’s Nasty Fall at Geauga Lake and Demon Drop at Cedar Point are available for purchase for a mere $250,000. Who needs a house when you can have one of these beauties? I’ve never been a huge fan of these types of drop rides, mostly because of the noise. The ride consists of a simple elevator system, which lifts a 4-person car to the top of the tower. The car is pushed onto the drop track, and let go. As the car reaches the bottom of the drop, the track levels off until passengers are laying on their back, then through an ear-shattering brake run. The car is then switched back onto the loading track below. It’s a very simple system that has run without major incident, but most people would agree that these attractions look and sound archaic, and they will likely not be missed, especially when compared to the newer drop rides from Intamin and S&S. Cedar Fair has stated that if the attractions are not sold, they will remain in the parks. In the case of Cedar Point’s Demon Drop, the removal of the attraction would give the park flexibility near the front of the park for another major attraction, and open up the ability to build a coaster on the northeastern section of the parking lot (sound familiar Six Flags?). There have been rumors circulating about Cedar Point building a parking garage, which would give them the flexibility to use the northeastern parking lot for an attraction. However, the removal of Geauga Lake’s version may just help to clear the clutter of attractions in that section of the park. This means that the potential removal of these drop rides are more a part of long-term plans than any attractions that may debut next year, which begs the question: what is Cedar Point going to add, if anything, next season?

Also, as some TPI readers have reported, Cedar Point has ended their Freeway system. The “virtual queue” system is being evaluated by the park, and its future is in serious jeopardy. The system worked by giving guests hand stamps for the attractions they wanted to experience with a decreased wait time. The system seems easy on paper, but from my experience, was more or less useless. The biggest problem was that the stamp kiosks did not open until usually 11 am to distribute the stamps, so people who wanted a stamp would start standing in line to get a stamp as soon as they got into the park. While the lines quickly disperse after the kiosks open, those guests who did not spend the 30 minutes or more in the line were either left without a stamp, or a ride time near the end of the day. Also, the Freeway system did not account for ride downtime, or ride closure. So, if you had a Freeway stamp for Top Thrill Dragster at 5:00-6:00, and the coaster was down for the day, you wasted one of your Freeway stamps (one for each hand). The “merge” areas, where Freeway guests combined with the guests waiting in the normal line, still left a 15-20 minute wait for most of the coasters on busy days. As far as virtual queuing systems go, the Freeway system was probably the worst, and its elimination is not surprising. Despite the apparent “low tech” nature of the system, it probably wasn’t any cheaper to operate than other computer based systems. The park probably went through more ink than a Sharpie factory, and the staff required to distribute the stamps and manage the merge points was probably nearly as expensive as a computer system. It was nice of Cedar Point to try to address the problem of incredible lines, but their simplistic solution was liable to fail eventually.

Nemo Subs
The Disneyland Report 8/1/05

Some more detailed information has started to roll out about the new Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Despite the 1+ year construction time for this attraction, it will be very much like the original attraction with only a few 21st century updates. The ride will incorporate the eight original ride vehicles and track. The guests will hear the fish talking through the submarine’s hydrophones, and see the characters swimming by the windows. So what’s so special about this attraction? It seems that Disney is going to create an ever-changing environment that will also be dependant upon where you are sitting in the submarine. The attraction will also feature some of the most advanced projection systems in the world to allow the characters appear in 3-D. As the different characters swim by, Nemo will pop up from time to time, but will only be visible from certain perspectives. Like a real fish story, some guests will say, “Look, there he is!” only for the rest of the guests to question their ocular perception. I’m still not sure why it’s going to take so long to get this attraction up and running, unless it’s the Disney marketing machine at work trying to build attendance following the 50th anniversary. While it would be great for this attraction to open next spring, Disneyland really doesn’t need to add anything right now with a newly-reopened Space Mountain and all of the pomp and circumstance of the 50th Anniversary going on until the end of next year. However, it’s difficult to “fathom” that Disney could not make updates to the ride system to make it even better for a more modern experience. The way that this attraction is shaping up is that it will be very similar to the old attraction (Jungle Cruise underwater) with some fancy projections of Pixar characters, which has the possibility of being nostalgic, but disappointing.

Readers' Opinions

From Jason Lester on August 17, 2005 at 9:38 PM
Nemo sounds interesting and should be a nice addition to the park. I was always a fan of the older version's campy feel. Let's hope with all the technology and features going into Nemo, it can retain the original's charm.
From Ted Heumann on August 18, 2005 at 11:45 AM
Disney can't alter the ride too much or else they will have to comply with Americans with Disabliblties Act (ADA). If they change the ride vehicle at all, Disney will have to make it wheelchair accessible. If they do nothing, then it doesn't.
From Derek Potter on August 18, 2005 at 2:48 PM
I still think CP should have kept the freeway system. The freeway booths were usually only open for an hour or two anyway until they distributed all the stamps...not much of a strain on staff if you ask me. I know that the freeway system didn't account for ride downtime and it could be a bit of a pain, but it still was nice to cut in line once a day for each ride.

It makes sense that they are selling the two Intamin freefall drops. Cedar Point has the Power Tower, and Mr Hyde's fall at Geauga Lake was down for most of the season last year. It's probably getting to be a pain to keep these aging, low capacity attractions up, so if there's a buyer, I say sell. The rides are a good time, but outdated and overmatched by the newer Intamin freefall towers and SS Power Shots. As I said in another thread, it looks like they are finally getting ready to shine up that corner of the park, and I forsee Disaster Transport doing a disappearing act as well in the near future.

From Chuck Campbell on August 18, 2005 at 7:24 PM
I have no problem with the retaining the cheesier elements of the Submarine Voyage--part of its charm, actually, like the old animatronics on the Jungle Cruise. But adding the digital projections sounds like a fairly major undertaking and a significant enhancement, seems to me. There was one other little touch that Miceage reported sometime last year, if Disney decides to keep it in. A buoy covered with seagulls will be floating in the sub lagoon, and each time a sub floats by, the gulls will perk up and chant "Mine? Mine?"
From Jason Lester on August 19, 2005 at 10:31 AM
See, I like things like that and think they're going to really spruce up the ride. I'd love to see some incredible projections in the ride. But I also want the campiness to remain. I'm just a little worried that with all the new stuff going into the Subs, they won't keep their charm. Hopefully they can pull it off and create a great ride.
From patrick sayre on August 20, 2005 at 1:26 AM
I have too say I am not too happy wih what I am hearing reguarding the Subs in Disneyland.

This is like dressing a pig...if there was nothing wrong with the pig in the first place why dress it up?

If there was something wrong with the will still be a pig, albeit a pig in a dress!

As much as I liked the campy early 60's,swinging Frank,Dean,and Sammy subs complete with breasty mermaids...the thing took forever to load,had horrible capacity per hour numbers,and quite frankly had not aged as well as that other camp classic "the Jungle Cruise"..last I hear they required a ton of maintenance and still broke quite a bit.

What is needed is a modern dose of Disney, which by all reports can be found at Disney Sea in Tokyo...or currently being built in Orlando...high tech attractions that are meant to draw you into the action while still being engineered for profitability and reliability. Attractions that don't make you long for what, was but what will be.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on August 20, 2005 at 7:14 PM
Well,DisneySea is actually the best Disney park in the world.The theming is so great and the cleanliness is excellent.The hi-tech rides are the best I've ever seen.Also,Raging Spirits.Everyone said that it will be as rough as Indy ride in Paris.


It's so smooth!But next time let see Tower Of Terror in September 2006.The cost to build this Tokyo Version is the most expensive in the park(US$191 million).

From Jeff Sohns on August 24, 2005 at 2:43 PM
I totally disagree with your assessment of the FREEWAY system at CP. I loved it. It may have been usless at to a point to Raptor, Mantus & XL2000, but FREEWAY was great for TTD and Millenium Force. Have you ever waited even on slow days at these two rides? They are almost consistantly 1-2 hours wait. The hand stamp not only basically guaranteed 15-20 minute wait to get on, but also gave you that extra incentive to wait and extra 15-45 minutes to ride the front car. Also, so lets say that the ride does break down. I'd rather it broke down while I'm in the FREEWAY line than waited an hour + in line and it breaks down. I most definitely would rather have it than not at all. So you wait 30 minutes for the hand stamp guy to get there. Millenium Force is first starting around 11AM or 12PM. It's about 50 people per hour. We would always allow 100 or 150 people to go ahead of us to get a 3-4 ride stamp or later. You could then go get some lunch. Come back, and at 2PM get in line for a TTD stamp. They start at 4-5 PM ride times. We would get 2 rides within 2 hours of one another and almost always ride the front car. It was great. If you wanted to get real creative, bring some finger nail polish remover along and remove your first stamp after you rode or remove it and get a stamp
later at night. I loved the FREEWAY system because I was almost always guaranteed 2 get to ride TTD & MF with little wait time.

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