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