Monday, March 27, 2006

Kings Dominion & Hanna-Barbera

In the good ol' days Kings Dominion and Hanna-Barbera went together like Disneyland and Mickey Mouse. If you bought a Kings Dominion T-shirt it had Yogi Bear on it. If you were getting your picture taken with a costumed character it could have been Scooby-Doo or even Captain Caveman. And at the end of the day when you were looking for your car in the parking lot, your car could have been parked in George Jetson row 3 or Huckleberry Hound row 7.

But times have changed and the Hanna-Barbera stable of characters are not as relevant as they were in my childhood! The children's section of Kings Dominion used to be called "The Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera!" It's now called "Nick Central" and more and more of the Hanna-Barbera stuff is being removed in favor of Nickelodeon themed attractions. At King's Island, KD's sister park in Ohio, this year will see the debut of an all new Nickelodeon Kids Area that completely wipes out their old Hanna-Barbera Land. I'm afraid the same will happen to the Virginia park in the next year or so. I have very many fond memories of the H-B gang at Kings Dominion.

Before they ride off into the sunset for good Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear and a few other Hanna-Barbera superstars are making one more appearance in the park in a very unique way. This summer Kings Dominion will be the new home of "The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera" ride, my all time favorite amusement park ride that debuted at Universal Studios Orlando in 1989 and resided there until 2003 when it was replaced by....a Nickelodeon ride!

It's not very often that a theme park attraction gets another life at another park, so I'm very excited to ride this ride again. It's a motion simulator ride, and Kings Dominion already has a dual-screen simulator theatre so it was probably at a low cost to add this attraction to their line-up.

I'm sure the pre-show to the original ride will be cut from the KD experience, but after waiting over an hour in the blazing Florida sun you were ushered into a small pre-show area where via video Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera briefly showed how their artist create animated films. They are currently working on Jetsons: The Movie, and we meet Elroy Jetson who tells us a little bit about their new movie. Then H-B resident villain Dick dastardly pops up with his side kick Mumbley and they protest that they are not staring in the next Hanna-Barbera production. Dick and Mumbley quickly hop into a computer generated rocket ship, kidnap Elroy and then take off. Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo step in, and promise their bosses that they'll get Elroy back safely with the help of the people in the audience!

At this point, the automatic doors to your left open up and everyone proceeds into a big room and grabs their own four-person rocket ship. (Kings Dominion's theatre is set up like a traditional movie theatre with rows of seats, but I suspect the effect will be just the same!) Your rocket ship is loaded into a large rubber band sling shot and you are catapulted into the cartoon world of Hanna-Barbera. Of course your seats motions match the action on the screen!

After a cloud of cartoon mist settles down, you come upon a spooky old castle as the Mystery Machine races by and bumps you off the road. Scooby and Shaggy are at the wheel of the van, and you follow them into the castle and through all sorts of dark passage ways and haunted rooms all the while chasing Dick dastardly and Elroy. After many obstacles, Dick flies his ship into a cartoon vortex and you are right behind him.

Suddenly you are chasing Dick, speeding along a barren desert. There are some mountains up ahead, as you approach the mountains the music starts to clue you in on where you are headed next. As you reach the top of the mountain and get a peek over it, the soundtrack is pumping the theme to "The Flintstones" are you are smack in the middle of Bedrock. Your ship heads straight for Fred in his Bronto-crain. Fred slides down the back of the dinosaurs tail and into his car and you're off on a wild car chase through Bedrock. Of course at this point in the ride, I was totally hooked and if I wasn't poured into the ride vehicle with the safety restraint digging into my gut I would have tried to jump out and stay in Bedrock.

After many great gags in Bedrock, you end up in Outer Space and the chase continues with The Jetsons. There is a trip through a space amusement park, including a ride on a roller coaster and finally the space police catch up with Dick and rescue Elroy who is reunited with his family and you the rider are thanked by Yogi and Boo-Boo and returned home!

What a great ride!!!

The Universal ride used to empty out into a great Animation Exhibit with lots of hands-on stuff about animation and great photo ops! Then there was a Hanna-Barbera gift shop where I spent much time and money!

Kings Dominion will no doubt just have the movie, but it will still be great to see it again! I was last on it in 2001! Make sure you check it out this summer.

Keep an eye out for two more articles I'm going to write about two of the greatest attractions at Kings Dominon that are no longer there and no where to be found on the internet: Yogi's Cave and Smurf Mountain!


Chuck South said...

You have one of the most amazing memories I have ever come in contact with. I barely remember what state Kings Dominion is in.

Ed South said...

Kings Dominion is in Doswell, VA. (about 20 mins. north of Richmond)

Mitch Hodges said...

I know what you mean about the loss of the HB characters at Kings Dominion. Way back in the Stone Ages (OK, Summer of 1981) I was Captain Caveman at Kings Dominion! I took my family there in 2005, and it really had lost a lot of that charm it had then. Still some great rides though, and my kids still talk about riding the coaster "Dad helped build", the Grizzly. I worked the construction crew between the 1981 and 1982 seasons.

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