The BLOG FLUME - Déjà Vu All Over Again

Another hurricane. Another charge against Tigger. Another version of Roller Coaster Tycoon. Another Cirque du Soleil show. And one more stupid reminder of America's most horrible day.

Written by Robert Niles
Published: September 16, 2004 at 12:21 PM

Hurricane Ivan Blasts Alabama, Kills 11
Associated Press - Sept. 16

Ivan missed Florida's theme parks, but let's start today's Flume with an acknowledgement of the pain, confusion, distress and loss that many folks in Alabama are experiencing today. Folks in Central Florida certainly ought to be able to relate. Best wishes to our friends and readers on the northern Gulf Coast and we hope y'all make it through this okay.

Acquitted Disney Worker in Trouble Again
Associated Press - Sept. 16

Michael Chartrand, the former Tigger character actor at Walt Disney World who was acquitted of groping a guest, is out of work once more. Disney suspended the cast member after two souvenir photographers reported that Chartrand shoved them while perfoming as Goofy at Animal Kingdom last month. Chartrand's lawyer told the Orlando Sentinel that the photographers shoved his client back as all three were, well, goofing around.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Pre-Order Bonus/Demo
Press Release via GamerFeed - Sept. 15

Okay, as a long-time computer junkie, I avoid video games the way ex-drunks ought to avoid bars. If I go there, I know I ain't ever gettin' out, so I just stay away. But since I know many TPI readers enjoy a little (or a lot) of time with Roller Coaster Tycoon, I bring you this press release as a public service.

The third version of the thrill-ride design video game is available for pre-order. In addition, those who order before it goes on sale November 2 can download a "coaster pack" of several RCT rides designed by John Wardley, of Nemesis and Oblivion fame. The Wardley coasters are available only during the pre-sell and won't be included in the regular version of RCT3.

  • Order Page for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3

    New Cirque du Soleil saga `Ka' coming to life at MGM Grand
    Las Vegas Review-Journal - Sept. 16

    Cirque du Soleil fans, you can now put a name on the troupe's next show. "Ka" will debut in November at the MGM Grand hotel/casino/mall/stadium/(but not a theme park, 'cause they closed that)/etc. in Las Vegas. Tickets are on sale now through the Cirque website.

    "Ka" is an Egyptian term for a person's spiritual double. The show will trace the lives of two twin spirits, seperated at birth. Okay, half the audience won't get that, 'cause they'll be too busy marveling at Cirque's usual blend of acrobatics, dance, stunts and puppetry. The "official" opening, meaning the alcohol-fueled press junket, for the show will come in February.

  • MGM Grand counts on 'Ka' to fill coffers

  • Target: Tower of Terror
    MiceAge - Sept. 16

    I know that many of you have come to expect a fair amount of Disney-bashing in the Flume, so here's your fix, courtesy of Al Lutz's most recent Disneyland update. It's a spectacular shot illustrating Disney's lack of attention to detail in juxtaposing the burned-out Tower of Terror over the rest of California Adventure. It's the fifth photo down on the page....

    Readers' Opinions

    From J. Dana on September 16, 2004 at 3:11 PM
    Well, if that's not enough Disney-bashing, here's some more. Seems that Oriental Land is doing what needs to be done stateside. Read on:

    Oriental Land to Invest 140 Bln Yen in Tokyo Disney Theme Parks

    TOKYO (Bloomberg) – Oriental Land Co., operator of two Disney theme parks near Tokyo, plans to invest a total of 140 billion yen ($1.28 billion) as the company aims to attract more visitors to its theme parks. Oriental Land will spend 90 billion yen by 2008 to improve and add attractions at its Disney theme park complex. The company may also invest 50 billion yen over three years to build hotels and theaters within the resort facility. “We plan to make Tokyo Disney Resort more attractive,” said Kazuo Kato, Oriental Land senior managing di-rector. “To increase the capacity of Tokyo Disney theme parks is our most important business strategy.” Orien-tal Land may sell bonds to pay for part of the expansion, Kato said. The company expects sales for the fiscal year ending March 2007 to increase 7% to 360 billion yen from 336.5 billion yen last fiscal year. The company also forecasts operating profit will reach 45 billion yen in the third year. Oriental Land, based in Chiba near Tokyo, pays royalties to California-based Walt Disney Co. The company said 25.5 million people visited Dis-neyland and DisneySea theme parks last year and the number may rise in the year that ends March 31, 2005.

    Comment: I haven't been, but I'm chompin at the bit to see what can happen when real creativity meets real money.

    Here's another Oriental Land Company factoid newsstory:

    Tokyo Disneyland Produces Anime

    TOKYO (Nikkei Net) – Oriental Land, a subsidiary of the Tokyo Disney Resort, is producing a new anime aimed at 2 to 6-year-olds. Their character set to appear in the anime is named "Neposu Naposu", who first appeared in a series of picture books. Furthermore, Oriental Land plans a 15-minute educational show tenta-tively called "Neposu Kodomo Club" (Neposu Kids Club). The show is set to broadcast on the BS Digital Satel-lite Network in October, with a DVD release following at a later date.

    A little free advertising for the Mouse:

    Alaska Airlines Offers Kids Fly Free to Orlando

    SEATTLE (PRNewswire-FirstCall) – Alaska Airlines is offering its popular Kids Fly Free promotion to Walt Dis-ney World Resort in Orlando, Florida for travel now through December 15, 2004. The offer is valid for children ages two to eleven accompanied by an adult with the purchase of an Alaska Airlines Vacations package by September 30, 2004. Plus, travelers can save up to 40% at select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels between September 30 and December 15, 2004. Vacation packages include round-trip airfare from Seattle, Portland or Boise to Orlando, airport transfers via Mears Transportation, three or more nights accommodations at selected Disney Resort Hotels and Disney's Ultimate Park Hopper Ticket with Advance Purchase Savings, which pro-vides unlimited admission to all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks, Water Parks and more. Additionally, vacationers staying at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels will receive two Disney trading pins and one of the following Choice Features per room: one round of miniature golf at Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course or Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature golf, the chance to display up to two images on one Leave A Legacy tile at Epcot, $25 off dining at Planet Hollywood located in Downtown Disney West Side or a specially designed Disney Character poster.

    And some Six Flags news:

    Six Flags Builds New Water Park in Gurnee

    GURNEE, Ill. (PRNewswire) – Six Flags officials have announced plans to build a massive new water park on a site next to Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, IL. Carrying the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor brand name, details of this 13-acre, outdoor water park include a Caribbean theme with more than 25 major water slides, the world's largest interactive waterplay structure and a 500,000-gallon wave pool. As guests enter the new Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park, it will feel as if they have just stepped off a vacation cruise ship onto a private Caribbean island. This "shore excursion" will provide Six Flags Hurricane Harbor guests with a vacation – full of water attractions for the whole family. Island music and lush landscapes will provide the backdrop to a fabulous collection of water slides, erupting water geysers, rafting options, waterfalls, beach areas and lazy hideaways. At the porthole to this tropical get-away is the adventure river where guests can float down a relax-ing river through waterfalls and rich landscaping while circling a large portion of the new water park. A gigantic, half a million-gallon wave pool will produce ocean-like waves every few minutes and dozens of water slides will tower above the park offering a variety of high-speed thrills. Anchoring Six Flags Hurricane Harbor will be the world's largest interactive waterplay structure, Skull Island, complete with seventeen towers connected by swinging bridges and net climbs, intertwining children's slides and hundreds of water gadgets, jet sprayers, water blasters and more! Connected to an additional 23,000 square-foot activity pool geared for the park's younger guests, this area provides countless play opportunities for families. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor will have its own entrance plaza and admission, separate from the theme park. Ticket information, operating hours and season pass information will be available soon.

    Okay, folks, back in a previous email I said something about building a theme park in cold weather. It didn't sit well with some people. Well, if a theme park in cold weather is used only during part of the year, then a water park in northern Illinois is gonna be used even less. I don't blame Six Flags for trying to grab some summer-time crowds, but early spring and nearly all of autumn is too nippy for dipping in northern Illinois. And don't write me and say how dumb I am for saying that: I lived there for 16 years, and northern Illinois is COLD! Yeah, we had good summers. But we wore jackets nearly into late May sometimes. There aren't too many water parks in California that i'm aware of (I'm sure there are some). If it's not the best bet in Cali, then surely it's not a good thing in the cold north. Of course, maybe you northerners are made of tougher stuff than us wimpy Californians and Floridians.

    And finally, gearing up for the all-important Halloween season, here's one attraction that'll sure please:

    Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts Halloween Tours in Abandoned Prison Complex

    PHILADELPHIA (PRNewswire) – The massive Eastern State Penitentiary – a gothic, castle-like structure in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood – was once the most famous prison in the world. With stark towers and fortress walls 30-feet high, Eastern State was designed to intimidate. It was home to such frightening charac-ters as Al Capone and the flamboyant bank robber, "Slick" Willie Sutton, but stands today in ruin, a lost world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. This is the home of the nationally renowned haunted attrac-tion Terror Behind the Walls, recently ranked 9th best haunted house in the US by HauntWorld magazine. The event runs from September 24 to October 31. Nights vary. Terror Behind the Walls begins at 7 p.m. each eve-ning, and does not affect operation of the daytime, historic tours. The event is comprised of four separate at-tractions within the 11-acre Eastern State complex. The high-startle, low-gore experience includes Hollywood-quality special effects, digital sound, special effect lighting, animatronic creatures and custom designed props. All four haunted attractions are included in the admission price. All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark.

    Instead of creating a new story, I just decided to add these news stories onto Robert's Blog Flume for today.

    And let me say, that dumb Tigger/Goofy character worker...sounds like a junior high student trying to be funny, except for he's probably 25 and just exceptionally stupid. You can be fired for sleeping on the job at Disney but, apparently, not for fondling and shoving. Can his ass and stop being so wimpy, Disney. If your characters are you last remaining vestige of glory, you'd better shore up that last remaining vestige.

    From J. Dana on September 16, 2004 at 5:16 PM
    I apologize for the long posting...I should have directed you all to the online articles. Sorry, Robert. If there's a way to fix it, let me know. Otherwise, hope you all can plough through it. Oops.
    From Robert OGrosky on September 16, 2004 at 6:47 PM
    Yes, us northerners arent as wimpy as the fine people in FLA/CA!!!!
    I think the waterpark if done correctly will be a big success, as evidenced by the success of two waterparks in Wisc. Dells as well as the hotels that have major outdoor waterparks to go with the massive indoor waterparks.
    If priced correctly and not t gouge people then i think combo tickets will sell very well as families will enjoy spening time in the water park and alot of other guests would rather spend time wading in the wave pool than waiting 1.5 hrs for popular rides and warm/busy days. PKI thought it was worth the money as they re-did there water park and if im right its still part of the general admission and not a additional charge like it will be at SFGAM.
    A question for those who go to SF parks that have water parks that charge extra for admission, how much more are season passes for both parks, and how much more to get into the park for a combo day pass??
    From Derek Potter on September 16, 2004 at 7:28 PM
    The waterpark sounds promising, but it's Six Flags, so I'm not holding my breath here. Waterparks are the current trend for installation, so it seems only natural that SF would do it. Why they chose Chicago is a mystery to me. Granted it is one of the better parks in the chain, but how about giving those poor folks in New Orleans some cooling off. The waterpark would be put to much better use there, and it would give the park an identity other than the park formerly known as Jazzland. There are plenty of SF parks that need more help than SFGam.

    As for RCT 3, I can't wait. It looks like a million bucks, let's hope it plays that way too. Hope you all have your computers updated. The system requirements are kind of steep, but the game looks just fabulous. I look forward to losing some sleep playing that game.

    From Kevin Baxter on September 17, 2004 at 1:30 AM
    I don't know... I raced out to get RC2 and played through like four of them and gave up. Maybe if there is more of a challenge to the games. I like them well enough, but once you figure out what the formula is, you can beat them all. This is especially disappointing if you play SimCity games, where tiny little things can affect Sim happiness. Theming in the RC games seems to only affect your happiness, and it shouldn't be that way.

    Anyhow, totally looking forward to Ka though not looking forward to paying $99 for the cheap seats! Cirque du Soleil is getting seriously insane on ticket prices in Vegas. Sure, the spectacle of O should be one of the priciest tickets in town, but Zumanity, a show without a lot of flash, will cost you $85 to $95 for orchestra seats! That is ridiculous.

    I like the second article where everyone is all wondering whether MGM's "gamble" will pay off. DUH! Mystere has sold out for going on 12 years. O has sold out since it started. And people will be more inclined to gamble, eat or party in the hotel - one which does irritate many people with its massive size.

    The thing that irritated me most, though, is them claiming O was the first theater built specifically for a show. Treasure Island was built with the Mystere theater as part of the plans. But I still can't believe that even it WAS the first. Sure, most showrooms are built so ANY show can go in there, but there have been many that have built to the needs of the first show to go in there?

    From mark walker on September 17, 2004 at 6:45 AM
    Robert, I know you don't really like video games but just to let you (and Kevin) know, RCT3 is going to be the best PC game ever! Kevin, I didn't even know there was a so-called "formula" for RCT2 but this game is going to be different. I love roller coasters and making my one ones but RCT is the closest I can get to the real thing and I don't think RCT is even close to "The Sims". No offence Kevin but I think your a bit of a slimeball for saying that.
    From Robert OGrosky on September 17, 2004 at 10:28 AM
    While i agree that with SF building the waterpark you have to keeps your hopes low, i disagree with the idea of putting in into SFNO.
    The park doesnt have the attendance to justify the expense of adding a waterpark there. SFGAM has a masssive base of seasonpassholders who will ikely buy a combo pass and has attendance that justify's investing the money in the park as they is much more lilelyhood they will get a return on there investmen than at SFNO.
    From Robert Niles on September 17, 2004 at 10:42 AM
    Next week, I'm planning on adding some wikis to the site (for the vacation tips pages and such.) Perhaps I should create an RCT wiki, where folks can post tips, strategy, links to custom coasters, etc.?

    (FYI, ICYDK, a wiki is a Web page that anyone can edit -- to add, clarify or correct information on a specific topic. One person posts an article, then instead of adding comments below, other readers can add to or change the article itself. So it becomes more like an ongoing encyclopedia entry on the subject. See Wikipedia for an illustration.)

    From Kevin Baxter on September 18, 2004 at 2:11 AM
    The Sims and SimCity aren't the same things. But SimCity and RCT are basically the same idea, but SimCity has about 1000 extra things you have to pay attention to. The RCT games, while fun, weren't all that different from each other. Hopefully RCT3 will be, but I don't have too much hope for that.

    Oh, as for the Condor Flats runway picture, I don't think it is that big a deal... considering I had no clue that was supposed to be a runway in the first place! SPECTACULAR theming there.

    From mark walker on September 18, 2004 at 10:10 AM
    Kevin, the new RCT is going to be in 3D. A nice change from the 2D games.
    From steve lee on September 18, 2004 at 12:45 PM
    Kevin, there's some game footage of RCT3 on While I agree with you that the theming is really just there for the players' enjoyment, I have to say that this version looks incredibly different from the previous incarnations. Is the "formula," as you put it, still going to be there? I dunno, but I do know exactly what you're talking about when you mention it. But the graphics on this one blow the others away. If the game plays as well as it looks, this may be one that's worth your time.
    From Ben Mills on September 18, 2004 at 4:21 PM
    RCT was a great game, but its just a shame they were too scared to actually do anything with it for the sequel. But it looks like 3 should have some cool developments, such as the firework show designer.

    I'm still kinda worried about the 2D to 3D translation of RCT. So many games have lost their appeal and playability by jumping into three dimensions that I really hope Atari know what they're doing. I was a huge fan of the Worms series, but I got so pissed off with Worms 3D that I just gave up on that within days. Although, there were many more things wrong with that game than just the graphics, such as the inclusion of Junior Senior on the soundtrack...

    Tho it is nice to know that RCT3 will come with the option of "classic view" for retro gamers like meself.

    We're getting wikis? My, you're becoming ambitious Robert... ;-) Nah, good on ya.

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