...that's worshiping in style!
Friday, July 30, 2010
...that's worshiping in style!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
My thoughts....the poster is actually pretty awesome. It's bright and colorful and it stands out from most of the other movie posters for current movies. I'm sure somewhere along the brainstorming sessions somebody came up with a poster featuring a close up of Yogi and Boo Boo's face tinted blue with a tag line of something like "Pic-a-nic Happens". But the poster does focus in on pic-a-nic baskets which should be the main theme of any Yogi Bear project.
The design of the two main characters is probably what is going to off-set most people. When I first heard of the film, I was expecting them to use real bears or at least CGI realistic looking bears but these designs are pretty dead on to what Yogi and Boo Boo would look like in real life. They are much more on-target with their classic counterparts then say Alivn and the Chipmunks or Garfield were in their big screen epics.
What has me most excited about the possibilities of this movie is an interview I read with director Eric Brevig. Alot of times these pre-film interviews with directors are just all hype and they say what ever they think will help to sell the movie, but other times I read these articles and I'm thinking, "Are you %&$# kiddin' me!?" Like the director of the new Tom & Jerry live-action film who said something along the lines of, "Yeah, I watched a few of the old episodes with my kid but we're going in a whole new direction." What!?!
Yogi Bear director Eric Brevig says, "I wanted to make a movie that's a comedy in which some of the characters are bears, as opposed to a kid's film." That's somewhat refreshing...if it's true. What I really liked was: "Well, I think the world of Yogi is a timeless world, and I've gone to great lengths to avoid specific things in the movie that tell you the time period —for example, people don't use cell phones in the movie, [the park rangers] use walkie-talkies. The things we take for granted — BlackBerrys and so forth — they don't really exist in the Yogi world; it will have a classic feel to it." That's some smart thinking, my friends.
This dude sounds like he might be smarter than the average director. You can read the whole interview here.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The story behind Tiny World begins with a man named Ernest Helm who started building miniature houses as a hobby. After he finished one house, he'd build another...and another...and another...until he had himself a whole village. There's about two dozen or so buildings on display in Tiny World, all laid out on a cozy tiny path that winds through Helm's picturesque backyard.
It's not really even a tourist attraction. There's no signs pointing you to Tiny World, there's no brochures at the local visitor centers. Tiny World actually sits out in the middle of nowhere along a winding, narrow road. There's not even a sign in front of Tiny World. While hunting this place down, at first I drove by it and only slowed down when I noticed a tiny church on the side of the road. There is a small parking pad and a castle entrance which invites guests to "Look" but "Please Don't Touch". If it wasn't for the entrance, you'd feel like you were trespassing.
Here's the Tiny World Courthouse, or course they only handle small cases. Tiny World is also home to a farm, a ski lodge, several churches, and a mill. It's a weird little roadside oddity because it literally sits in someones backyard. As you walk along the trail to visit the various pint-sized locations you stroll right next to the family's pool and along their covered patio.
However, it looks as if Tiny World hasn't had an active mayor in a year or two. The mini-attraction hasn't fallen into complete disrepair, but it's apparent that it has not been attended to in over a year or two. Debris from trees covers the pathways and several of the buildings are starting to show their age and a little bit of neglect.
I looks as if at one time Tiny World had an operating railroad. In fact, much of Tiny World looks like it was wired for electricity. There are a few miniature street lights that line the path through Tiny World, however there are more that appear to be missing. The paddle wheel of the mill looked like it one time turned, dumping tiny bits of water into the tiny pond. And there are Christmas lights on some of the buildings. Based on internet chatter, Tiny World used to be quite the holiday display come Christmas time.
That's not to say that Tiny World isn't still a cool thing to see. It's an amazing piece of work especially when you consider it wasn't built for profit - just to pass the time. The attention to detail is outstanding. Inside the Tiny World schoolhouse are rows and rows of desks, each with teeny-tiny books and papers and a students name on each desk. Some of the other buildings are filled with plenty of little details too..
...and check out the crazy detail inside the Tiny World restaurant:
The real world would be a better place if there were more miniature villages built in dude's backyards...I'm just sayin'!
Read a more in-depth article and review at Roadside America or if you can't get enough of me talking about the place you can also read an addition review of Tiny World that I had published on Roadside America's Tip Page.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
*Help spread the warmth of Wonderful World of Blog by hitting the share buttons at the bottom of posts that you like. You can share via e-mail, Twitter, Facebook or something called Google Buzz which I guess I should look into exactly what that is!?!
*In the left hand column, all the way down past the blogroll you will find a list of popular topics and subjects discussed on the blog. (Also known as labels or tags.) Click away to bring up a page full of multiple blog entries that show just how obsessed I am with certain things!
Monday, July 19, 2010
I really enjoy the nature film that Disney has been putting out under the Disneynature banner. It's nice when the company does something in line with their heritage and the Disneynature films are a nice throwback to the old True-Life Adventure films that Walt Disney believed so much in. The new films aren't near as good as the old ones. The new Disneynature films could benefit from being a lot more playful and a little less like a museum IMAX film. Either way, both Earth and Oceans were way more entertaining that other junk I've recently plopped down $8.50 to see.
So, while checking out Walt Disney Home Entertainment's website the other day I was pretty excited to see that they've got a new Disneynature title set for release on DVD the same day as Oceans DVD premiere. On October 19 The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos should pop up on DVD shelves:
This film, while new to American audiences, came out in France in October of 2008 and then the following year in the UK. I'm excited to get my hands on a copy.
Disneynature's next big screen epic, African Cats, is scheduled to hit theatres on Earth Day next year.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Here's another dorky fact straight from Wikipedia: "Of note is the fact that Peppermint Patty refers to Snoopy as "the little kid with the big nose," which is in line with the content of Peanuts in 1967 when the original strips were drawn. In the actual strip, Peppermint Patty did not learn Snoopy was a dog until 1974 and never referred to him as a "kid with the big nose" afterwards."
The excellent DVD release of this show also features 1966's Charlie Brown's All Stars, which is one of my very favorite specials and I'll be happy to recite most of it word for word...if you like. And it also has It's Spring Training, Charlie Brown from 1992 which never aired on television. The DVD is out of print, but not hard to find...or you can just watch Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown tonight on ABC!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Planet Snoopy now covers the area formerly called Nickelodeon Central. Four attractions have been given an overhaul. Nickelodeon Space Surfer, a giant swing ride, has been given a new color scheme and rechristened Flying Ace. The water playground known as Green Slime Zone is now called Snoopy's Splashdance. A nice reference to a mid-80's Peanuts special, but just a new sign was added - nothing else. Paramount Showplace, which recently housed a live show featuring Nickelodeon characters and originally presented a dolphin show is now Peanuts Showplace where the show Camp Snoopy Day can be seen. (Except on Thursdays, which is when we were there.)
The most effort has been put into the Rugrats Turnpike which is now Joe Cool's Driving School. It's pretty neat...and we have enough pictures of it to share it with you tomorrow in it's own post.
An odd addition to Planet Snoopy is this giant moon bounce which isn't listed on the park's website or in the guide map at the park. It didn't look open when we passed by it, either.
Among all the really cool stuff they have in the store, there are plush of all of Snoopy's brothers and sisters. Where else are you gonna be able to take home your own Marbles, Spike, Andy, Belle or Olaf? Well played Cedar Fair merchandising department...well played!
And look at this....Franklin and Pig Pen even get their own plush! How cool is that? Franklin never gets any love!
The strangest thing in Planet Snoopy is that instead of playing the jazzy Vince Guaraldi Peanuts music that everyone instantly associates with Charlie Brown cartoons, through out Planet Snoopy they were playing Hannah Montana songs. Schroeder would be mortified!
They are off to a good start with Planet Snoopy, but they need to keep going with the rest of the kids section and bring it all together under one Snoop! Some of the other kiddie rides need a Peanuts makeover. Perhaps next year we'll see the rest of Kings Dominion's kiddie section get the same attention as other parks in the chain. Until then...Good Grief!
Monday, July 12, 2010
The most exciting news...for me, at least, on this trip was I was able to go on rides that I haven't been able to for many years. Around the mid-90's, my careless lifestyle had caught up with me as far as amusement park rides were concerned and my size prohibited me from fitting into the safety restraints on most thrill rides. After a few trips to various parks where I wasn't able to ride roller coasters I pretty much closed the roller coaster riding chapter of my life and settled for the merry-go-round instead.
After having a heart-attack in November, I severely curbed my eating habits and added exercise into my life for the first time. I've been able to drop 70 pounds in the past 8 months and one of the most exciting benefits is that I had no problem fitting into any of the rides at Kings Dominion. I was able to revisit old friends like the Rebel Yell and the Grizzly. (I estimate I haven't been on any of Kings Dominion's coasters since 1993.) In addition to the Anaconda and the Hurler I also got on the Backlot Stunt Coaster and the Ricochet. All of them - GREAT RIDES! But I have to say that in my older age, the twisting and looping of Anaconda left me a little queasy.
Of course, being the cartoon loving kid that I am/was, one of my favorite rides in the park had always been the kiddie coaster Scooby-Doo. It's now called Ghoster Coaster, but no matter what you call it - I was elated to be able to fit into the ride's smaller cars and ride it with both of my children. (It was Tanner's first "big" coaster and he absolutely loved it!)
Elias also added a few more "big boy" rides under his belt. He loved the Avalanche bobsled ride and the Backlot Stunt Coaster, which is a bit intense but he conquered it twice! I also really enjoyed the ride. It's a roller coater with a little story and show attached to it, something Kings Dominion doesn't typically do. The cars of the coaster actually look like little sports cars (They were originally designed to resemble the getaway vehicles from the movie The Italian Job.) The train of cars blasts off from the station and swirl around three levels of a parking garage before dodging through traffic and several police cars. The train then comes to a stop in some sort of warehouse setting, where a helicopter starts to shoot at you. You then blast off again, into a tunnel for some fairly extreme twists and turns in the dark before crashing through a billboard and landing in a drainage ditch. Pretty fun little ride!
They still have the crazy upside down ship ride at the front of the park called The Berserker, and they still have their stand-up roller coater Shockwave. Both - rides I've never been on and will probably never get on! There's two newer steel coasters that I also opted out of: Dominator and Intimidator 305 which is tall. I mean, really, really tall!
Kings Dominion is still home to one of the best white water rapids rides White Water Canyon. And they still have their original log flume ride, Shenandoah Lumber Company, which has not been altered since it debuted in the 1970's. Nice touch!
Unfortunately, there is alot of the park that has been changed too much over the years. When Paramount Pictures took control of the park in the early 90's, they started to make sweeping changes throughout the park. Most of the changes were to brand the park with Paramount owned franchises and also to promote new movies and TV shows. This is the time in the park's history when the Wayne's World section of the park was introduced. A well executed addition, but a ridiculous idea for something that is so permanent like an entire themed area of the park.
Some of the natural beauty of the park has been lost over time as well. In some spots of the park there are too many things shoehorned into a small amount of land. Rides are squeezed in between other rides and there are way too many Games of Chance and Dippin' Dots stands. (Really, how many Dippin' Dots stands does one park need. Is it really that popular!?!) The Grizzly is a great wooden coaster that was originally designed out in the woods. The queue for the ride took you way back into the woods and you couldn't really get a good look at the ride until you were on it. That is a major design element of the coaster. That illusion is lost today, as the wooded area around the ride was torn down to make way for a go-cart track, an arcade and a Dippin' Dots stand!
A go-cart track in a world class theme park like Kings Dominion is a horrible idea! It was added under the reign of Paramount and I would hope the parks new owners, Cedar Fair, are considering removing it. First of all, it just cheapens up the park. Anybody can go 10 miles in any direction from their home and find a go-cart track. Second, the track just sits there unused because why would anybody shell over another $8.00 to go on a ride when they just spent $50.00 to get into your park and go on rides all day! I would really like to see Kings Dominion remove the go-cart track and add another ride or just plant some trees and leave the Grizzly back in the woods where it belongs.
This year also marks the first time in the park's history that the association with Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters has been completely eliminated. Paramount took over the park at a time when Hanna-Barbera was fading in popularity and Nickelodeon (a division of Paramount) was looking to further brand itself. Slowly the park lost the original Hanna-Barbera Land to Nickelodeon Central. Out went Scooby-Doo and Yogi Bear and in came Spongebob and the Rugrats. This year Kings Dominion removed the final elements of Hanna-Barbera and all the Nickelodeon and began to bring in Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts characters to Planet Snoopy. For me, the Hanna-Barbera characters have always been as important to KD as Mickey and Co. are to Walt Disney World. If I had to choose another group of characters to move in and take over hosting duties from Yogi and the gang I can't think of a better property than Peanuts. It's timeless and has a universal appeal to children and adults. I'm going to save further discussion of Kings Dominion's new Planet Snoopy section for the next post...
Here's a few more things I'd like to see Kings Dominion take care of to spruce up the park: #1 Work on the outside of the park. The drive up to the parking lot booth is nothing - there is no show quality what-so-ever. Some flags, some landscaping and some repaving would go a long way. Currently the parking lot rows are numbered in colorless A1, B7, C13 signs. The original KD had all the parking lot sections named after Hanna-Barbera characters. Let's break out some new colorful signs so the next time I visit I can park in Pig Pen 4, Peppermint Patty 16 or even just Snoopy 1.
#2 - Get rid of all the chain restaurants. This actually goes for alot of parks because I know Hersheypark does the same thing. Who goes to an amusement park and gets Subway or Chick-Fil-A or Panda Express!? Why is there a Cinabon and a Starbucks on King Dominion's International Street. Same thing like the go-carts, it looks cheap and it's not out of the ordinary. I can toss a pebble of my porch and hit 3 Starbucks, they don't belong behind a $50 admission gate.
#3 - Bring Back Entertainment. Kings Dominion now has three shows, one of which is just people singing in the street. Little ol' Dutch Wonderland is a fraction the size of KD and they have 5 times the entertainment options. Where's the country music show? Every park should have a country music show!
#4 - Don't add another bazillion dollar roller coaster until you fix up some neglected areas of the park. The former Wayne's World section is just kind of there. It's a bit empty and needs alot of attention. Also, the kids area needs alot of work - mostly in themeing, but there is some awkward space where stuff used to be that they need to fix up.
#5 - Don't rush everybody out at closing time. They were directing foot traffic through the front gates at closing time quicker than a Zu-Zu Pet fueled stampede on Black Friday. We were not allowed the luxury to shop International Street (their Main Street) at our own leisure. They seriously wouldn't let me cross the street to shop the other side! Hey Kings Dominion, the only attraction on International Street is "spending money!" You really should let people stick around and spend as much as they want. Disney World wouldn't dream of even hinting at kicking a single soul out the front gate until every wallet has been sufficiently drained!
Those are just a few of my suggestions. Kings Dominion: still a great park, filled with many memories and still able to make new ones! Check back tomorrow for a look at Planet Snoopy...
Thursday, July 08, 2010
My family and I are lucky enough that we had recently made the 35 min. trek out to Mr. Ed's on a beautiful afternoon this past spring. The little shack on the side of Rt. 30 housed thousands upon thousands of elephant items that the owner, Mr. Ed, had collected over the past 40+ years.
In addition to figures and stuffed animals there were old toys, promotion items, jewelry...anything you can imagine with an elephant on it! The collection was originally displayed in two very long rooms, but recently the collection had busted out of the museum and began to line the walls of the shop surrounding the Elephant Museum. In recent years, Mr. Ed also put some work into the outside of the museum where there were many large elephant statues as well as a beautiful fish pond and some neat little paths.
Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum was also home to a wonderful candy shop that sold all sorts of candy for very reasonable prices. All the standards were there, along with tons of hard to find candies and some old fashioned varieties that you just can't find anywhere else. On our most recent trip, my son was delighted to find a maple sugar cake, which we had read about in an old book.
Old fashioned, low-tech family attractions like Mr. Ed's are as common as they used to be...and that's a crying shame! The collection at Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum is truly irreplaceable. Luckily, Mr. Ed has already announced that he plans to rebuild and reopen his elephant mecca very soon. I will miss the original museum, but I also can't wait to see what Mr. Ed has in store for us next!
You can read a newspaper article about the fire: here.
There's also this photo page that I made after my first visit in 2005, which can be viewed by clicking here!
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
I'll explain the ride in geeky detail by taking a quote from The Art of Stop Motion Animation: Wisdom Manufacturing, Inc. in Sterling, Colorado, first introduced the 40 passenger Astro-Liner in 1977. There are two designs, one a NASA two-stage rocket and the other a vessel that would be right at home in the pages of a Jules Verne novel.
The Astro-Liner is a hydraulically controlled ride whose moves are synchronized to a film that the passengers view from inside the rocket. The film is projected from behind a rear projection screen, which serves as the cockpit window. The film, combined with the hydraulic movements of the vessel create the feeling of truly travelling through space.
Filmed in 35mm, the film was then printed down to Super-8, which used to be the projection system for the Astro-Liner until video came along. Now the ride uses a video projection system.
To put it simply, riders enter the spaceship shaped tubular theatre , grab a seat, and watch a movie as the ship raises up at an angle and then tilts from side to side. There's no seatbelts or safety bar, so you really do have to hold on as the spaceship rocks slowly but to about a 60 degree angle. The screen used to look like a cockpit and the front window of the spaceship. Over the years, Dutch Wonderland has kept up maintenance on the ride and recently installed a large screen High Def monitor to show the same old 8mm film, but now stored digitally. The screen is a bit smaller than the original version, and a wee bit of the effect is lost because of it...but you take what you can get.
Here's a shot of the interior of the ship...
The movie is very similar to Disney's Star Tours rides. Your ship breaks free from a loading dock and then proceeds on a crazy out of control voyage through several different parts of the galaxy.
They used to have one of these rides at Ocean City, MD. I remember the film on that version ended with the ship making a free-fall decent into an amusement park. Supposedly, the park you were riding the ride in...but It didn't really match up with the layout of the rides at the boardwalk.
At Dutch Wonderland, across from the Astro-Liner they added a newer ride VR VOYAGER. The ride is a souped-up 2000's version of the Astro-Liner. Honestly, I don't think it's near as fun as the original 1970's classic but it's very cool of DW to house both rides across from each other. They even have a sign that explains the significance of the two rides...
Dutch Wonderland has several spots where they pay homage to the parks heritage and that's a swell touch!