Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Return of the Clash

When I was younger, one movie that I used to watch over and over again was Clash of the Titans. Hey look! There's a new version coming to theatres this weekend:

To help celebrate the new movie and their new line of Yoplait Greek Yogurt, the generous folks at Yoplait want to give you a Nourish Your Inner Goddess gift pack, as seen below:

All you have to do to get your hands on these goodies is tell us about a movie that you have fond memories of watching over and over again when you were little. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog or send us an e-mail by 11:59pm Friday, April 10, 2010. One winner will be selected at random, please make sure we have some way to contact you.

This promotion is courtesy of Yoplait who has provided the free product, information, and gift pack through MyBlogSpark™.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

True American History

Last weekend we visited the recently updated National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. Among the many historical artifacts found within the walls of this Smithsonian museum, I was delighted to find a piece of artwork featuring the first family of American history: The Flintstones...

And here's the description that accompanies the piece:
This Flintstones picture can be found in the Artifact Walls exhibit on the first floor of the museum.

On a slightly related note, I heard on a podcast interview with Adam Reed (the creator of Sealab 2010, Frisky Dingo and Archer) about an early job he had with Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera. One of his first assignments with the company was to watch every episode of The Flintstones and note which episodes did not contain dinosaurs. It turns out, a church was doing a cross promotion with a snack cake company giving away Flintstones videos, and the dinosaurs went against the beliefs of the church. I always get excited when I hear any little tid-bit about The Flintstones, but I thought this one was particularly funny. No matter what your religious belief system is, you certainly shouldn't be threatened by a silly, completely fictional cartoon show from the `60's. And if the thought of dinosaurs saying "It's a living!" while pulling elevators, acting as bridges and cranes offends you, than maybe your church should pick another cartoon to give out free videos of! "It's a living!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hampton Landmarks

If you've ever stayed at a Hampton Inn than you know that they decorate the property with numerous black and white photos of everyday American life. Not only are there photos on the walls, but they use them on room keys, room number plates, elevators...anywhere they can. It's kind of like staying in a giant Jones Soda bottle. The photo of the photo above was taken in an elevator at the Hampton Inn in Portage, Michigan. (I didn't snap it...I just found it on Facebook.) The picture is, of course, of The Little Red School House at Maryland's own Enchanted Forest. Pretty neat to see the little park represented all the way out in Michigan. The picture shows the school house being refurbished and repaired for it's new home at Clark's Elioak Farm. Ya see, Hampton Inn has a program they call Hampton Landmarks where the company (Hilton) donates time and money to fixing up local historical landmarks. It turns out Paris' daddy forked over a nice chunk of change to help get the Enchanted Forest back on it's feet. Like I said, it's pretty neat to be out in Michigan (or anywhere away from home) and see a little piece of the Enchanted Forest taking an elevator ride with ya!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Deleted Scenes: Kings Dominion

Last week when I posted my unused pictures from Storybook Land, I got to thinking about all the pictures that I snap at amusement parks (and other various places that we visit) and never end up using. So I though I'd open up some of those old picture files and see what goodies await inside. For the most part, I don't think any of these pictures have made it to this blog, of Flickr or Facebook. They're nothing special! We're calling the new department "Deleted Scenes" and first up is one of my very favorite amusement parks to obsess over: Kings Dominion! These pictures are from a July 2007 visit.

The above photo is of a game building that has looked pretty much the same for as long as I can remember. So many things have changed at Kings Dominion that it's nice to see this old fashioned, Country Fair-style building still standing. Behind the building sits a huge arcade that's always been a favorite spot to be trapped in when it rains.

There was a time when landscaping was almost as big of an attraction as the rides and shows at an amusement park. Over time, space becomes more valuable and maintaining a piece of property just to look at becomes no longer cost effective. Why spend money grooming a nice flower garden when you could just tear it up and slap down another Dippin' Dots stand and make some money. This waterfall, located in whatever they were calling Hanna-Barbera Land that year, was just about the last bit of decoration squeezed in between all the kiddie rides.

Cave Kids was a very brief Flintstones spin-off from 1996 which featured the preschool aimed adventures of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm along with Dino. The show only lasted 8 episodes and aired on a handful of PBS stations. It's an odd choice for a reference in a theme park, but for a while the Infant Care Center at Kings Dominion was connected...in name only...to The Flintstones. (According to Kings Dominion's website, the name is still in effect!?)

When Paramount owned the park, they brought in alot of movie and television properties for almost no reason at all. They added the Happy Days Diner layover to an eatery originally built as Stan Mikita's from the Wayne's World movie. In fact, the park had a whole Wayne's World Land for a short while, but that was a silly idea that was dated from the moment in opened. The Happy Days Diner is now cleverly named The Juke Box Diner.

Here's another bizarre choice for a property to name a restaurant after: Tomb Raider Grill. They had a Tomb Raider ride which had nothing to do with the game or movie Tomb Raider, and it is now rethemed as well. The dining spot is now called Trail's End Grill. While it was Tomb Raider Grill you could dine on overpriced hamburgers and chicken strips while listening to the sound track of the Tomb Raider movies at very loud levels. Also, the fixins' bar had like lost treasures on top of it, or something like that. Whatever...it's all gone now!

In the original layout of Hanna-Barbera Land there were three Yogi Bear themed attractions grouped together in one spot. Yogi's Cave, Boo-Boo's Tree Swings, and Ranger Smith's Jeeps all sat together. Yogi's Cave closed a long time ago, but the swings and this jeep ride still hung on. I always loved the design of this jeep ride, which used Ranger Smith's Park Ranger uniform hat as it's inspiration. The Hanna-Barbera element has been completely removed from Kings Dominion this year and the kiddie section will be rechristened as Planet Snoopy. According to the website, this little ride will now be simply known as just Jeep Tours. I have a feeling the hat will remain.
Kings Dominion's 2010 season kicks off Friday, April 2.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Jersey Wonderland

Last summer I shared quite a few pictures from my trip to Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. I did a post about the park in general, which you can read here. I also did a separate article on Storybook Land's really neat Alice In Wonderland walk-through attraction, which you can revisit by clicking here. Today I'm including a handful of pictures that I took but didn't use in my original post. The picture on the right is a shot of the "underground" portion of the Alice in Wonderland attraction. This igloo-like tunnel if fairly visible from within the park, but you don't really notice it when entering the Alice attraction from it's entrance.

Recently, Storybook Land added a Tea Cups ride which they installed directly across from their Alice in Wonderland walk-through. The park has themed the mini-area into a Wonderland of it's own. Here's the funky caterpillar sitting atop his mushroom in the gardens surrounding the Tea Cups ride.

In the Alice attraction, kids slide down the rabbit hole via a sliding board. As you can see from the art work on the wall, Disney's Alice movie was a HEAVY influence on this show.

More Disney "inspired" artwork...

Here's an additional shot of the elaborate card maze that serves as the exit to the underground walking experience.

And finally, a shot of my kids getting off the Tea Cups ride. The ride is a pretty standard model Tea Cup ride, but the park has decorated nicely to fit in with the Alice theme.
As I said last summer, Storybook Land is a true hidden jem! You would do you and your family a favor by making plans to visit this summer. Their 2010 season begins March 27!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Hanna-Barbera in Wonderland

Now, I wouldn't have done an Alice in Wonderland week here at WWoB if we couldn't find some way of working The Flintstones into the picture - so today we present the television special Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This. Hanna-Barbera produced this 1966 ABC special that presented an animated retelling of Lewis Carroll's story. This time, instead of falling down a rabbit hole, Alice takes a tumble into her TV set and meets Sammy Davis' Cheshire Cat and Zsa Zsa Gabor's Queen of Hearts. Janet Waldo provided the voice of Alice, you'd probably recognize her voice as Judy Jetson...and a million other Hanna-Barbera female characters.

Making a guest appearance on the program were Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble - together taking on the role of the caterpillar, after all in this production it's a two headed caterpillar! Fred and Barney perform the musical number "They'll Never Tear Us Apart".

It appears the show has never surfaced on VHS or DVD, making it perhaps an ideal candidate for Warner Bros. new Archives Collection DVD-R service.

Here's the very groovy opening and closing segments along with the original sponsors...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Enchanted Wonderland

Today, another theme park attraction based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This one is gone, but not forgotten!

The super awesome Enchanted Forest, which I grew up just down the road from, was also home to a unique Alice in Wonderland ride. The Teacup Ride - as it was officially called - is pictured above. The photo was in the parks brochure along with the description: See how the adventurous Alice in Wonderland becomes ensnarled in her many fabulous adventures deep underground. Visit this subterranean fairyland when riding the Teacup Ride to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and into the Court of the Queen of Hearts.

The Teacup Ride was essentially a train pulled by a giant teapot. Guests could sit in oversized teacups or there were also benches available for those who couldn't handle the thrill of sitting in a big cup. The tea party train would take a brief trip through the park before entering a dark tunnel. Eventually, the train would stop and guests would disembark the train and follow the story of Alice in Wonderland through a walking tour.

The walking portion of the attraction featured scenes from the story recreated in huge three dimensional dioramas. Some of the scenes you would walk right through. There were other portions where you traveled through tight cave corridors and along bridges through cavern like scenes. I remember walking through the courtroom scene which was both scary and intimidating for a kid. The huge card soldiers stood on both sides of you, and the wicked Queen of Hearts was staring down at you above the room's exit. The day-glow lighting and musty, creepy atmosphere probably didn't help things either! In all honesty, this attraction (along with a few others in the park) down right scared me and I can remember skipping it on a few visits.

The ride closed before the rest of the park met it's fate. The Teacup Ride did not pass safety inspections and was closed for the 1994 season. Most of the figures from inside the ride are lost but pieces of the Teacup Train have been restored and are now a part of Clark's Elioak Farm.

Here's a recent photo of my boys and I sitting in one of the Teacups from the ride:

And here's the Teapot, which housed the engine and the driver:
Both of these are part of The Enchanted Forest Maze attraction at the farm.

And finally, here a wonderful photograph of the teacups sitting in the closed park deteriorating. This photo was taken in 2005, shortly before or right around the time the Enchanted Forest was starting to be saved:

Monday, March 01, 2010

Riding Through Wonderland

There's a big new Alice in Wonderland movie coming out this weekend. My son is really looking forward to it and I'll probably take him to see it. But besides the 1951 Walt Disney movie, I wouldn't really consider myself a fan of Wonderland. However, I did come up with enough Wonderland related ideas to hold our first theme week here at WWoB.

When it comes to amusement park rides, Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Mad Tea Party ride has been duplicated so many times at other parks, that the term "Teacups" is most often used to describe the ride at any park. At the Disney parks, the popular Scrambler ride was built with cars resembling tea cups and the whole ride was given an Alice in Wonderland theme using the Mad Hatter's Tea Party scene as it's inspiration. East Coasters who have only ever been to Disney's Florida park might be surprised to know that in Disneyland Alice is also the star a very cool dark ride.

The Alice in Wonderland ride is similar to other rides in Fantasyland but for some reason I think of all the Disney storytelling dark rides, Alice in Wonderland really hits the nail on the head! Here's a YouTube video of the ride...as with all ride videos, this video isn't perfect. These rides were built to experience first hand, but the clip does give you a feel for what the ride it like:

While searching for this video I found out about another Alice in Wonderland ride. This one stands at Pleasure Beach Blackpool in England. According to whoever posted this next video, the ride was built in 1961 by the Arrow Dynamics Company after a licencing agreement with Walt Disney Productions. I don't know if that's true or not. The Alice in Wonderland story is in the public domain, and this British ride doesn't seem to borrow much from the Disney film, actually the song playing in the ride sounds an awful lot like "I've Got a Golden Ticket" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (???)

Again, this is an amature video - and half of it is out of focus, but it's neat to see a glimpse into this other Wonderland attraction.
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