Friday, December 11, 2015

White Christmas

Why isn't this version on the radio every 20 minutes?

Marilyn McCoo and the incomparable John Davidson nailing WHITE CHRISTMAS on a 1983 episode of SOLID GOLD!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Marshmallow World

There is nobody on the planet today even half as cool as these two guys.  Watch Dean Martin and his pal Frank Sinatra breeze through a performance of A MARSHMALLOW WORLD on a December 21, 1967 episode of THE DEAN MARTIN SHOW.

Legend has it that NBC wanted Dean Martin for a show so badly, that they only made him work one afternoon a week. He would come in a record the show without any rehearsal and it ended up working quite well for the show. The laid back feeling rolled over to the guests too! Watch Frank just go ahead and pull up his socks while singing on national television:

Compare that to this next clip, which I assume is from a few years later...I'm not sure ol' Dean even knows where he is:

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Christmas Song

This is the real deal, right here...Nat King Cole singing his signature holiday tune - The Christmas Song.

Nat King Cole believed that smoking cigarettes gave his voice the nice crisp, low tone he was known for. He was known to chain smoke several cigarettes in a row before recording, often smoking three packs a day. He died in 1965, just a few months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

A Christmas To Remember

In 1984, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were both huge mega stars at the top of their game. When they got together, people just couldn't get enough of it. One of the many specials they did together was the peculiar KENNY & DOLLY: A CHRISTMAS TOGETHER.  The entire special is on YouTube, I've watched it - and I'm not sure why. But here's Kenny, dressed as Handy Smurf, and Dolly, dressed as a 5 year old's Christmas arts and crafts project, singing their huge hit A Christmas To Remember along with a cast of 20 some store window mannequins...

Monday, December 07, 2015

Silver Bells

This week we're featuring some YouTube clips of various Christmas songs from various sources. Join us all week for festive holiday fun, won't ya!? First up is the odd pairing of Bob Hope and Olivia Newton-John lip synching SILVER BELLS.

Silver Bells is one of those Christmas standards that you assume has just been around forever, but it's origins are actually directly connected to Bob Hope. The song was written for the 1951 comedy musical THE LEMON DROP KID staring Hope along with Marilyn Maxwell and William "Fred Mertz" Frawley. The movie debuted in March of '51, but in Christmas 1950 a recording of Silver Bells was released sung by Bing Crosby. When the record became such a huge hit, the movie studio quickly brought the stars back in to film a more elaborate musical number to do the song justice.

The song, of course, became a classic and Bob Hope used it as his signature Christmas song and performed it almost every year on his annual Christmas special. He asked Olivia Newton-John to join him in a performance in his 1977 descriptively titled special THE BOB HOPE ALL STAR CHRISTMAS COMEDY SPECIAL. Along for the ride in the special was Christmas staple Perry Como, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and The Muppets!

Sadly, nobody has uploaded the entire special (at least I couldn't find it) but here's Bob and a much younger Olivia (uncomfortably) flirting through a snow covered Burbank soundstage singing the holiday classic:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Ultimate Netflix Christmas Episode List

Saved By The Bell "Home For Christmas"
Christmas television programing continues to gain popularity with each passing year. What used to be a few prime time specials every December has turned into 24 hour Christmas movie channels, marathons of Christmas Specials and Christmas episodes and more and more new original Christmas content making it to our screens each year. It's a great time to be a Christmas TV fanatic. Christmas themed episodes of beloved television series have become just as much a part of some people's holiday viewing traditions as Rudolph and Charlie Brown. There are several DVD compilations of vintage Christmas episodes and of course the closer we get to Christmas, the more you see jolly episodes of reruns airing. A great place to find loads of Christmas from television's past is Netflix - which features not only the latest "binge-worthy" trending series but plenty of goodies from the last several decades.

We've scoured the merriest corners of Netflix to compile a fairly comprehensive list of Christmas Time Episodes from a variety of series. The Netflix interface varies from platform to platform, so we've included the Season and Episode Number for each episode for the easiest searching. Happy Viewing!

About A Boy S2E8 "About A Christmas Card"

Ally McBeal S1E11 "Silver Bells"; S2E10 "Making Spirits Bright"; S3E7 "Saving Santa"; S3E8 "Blue Christmas"; S4E8 "The Man With the Bag"

The Andy Griffith Show S1E11 "A Christmas Story"

The Bernie Mac Show S1E7 "A Christmas Story"

Bob's Burgers S3E9 "God Rest Ye Merry Gentle-Mannequins"; S4E8 "Christmas In The Car"

Bojack Horseman "Bojack Horseman Christmas Special" (individually listed)

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That "The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas"

Cheers S6E12 "Christmas Cheers"

The Cleveland Show S1E9 "A Cleveland Brown Christmas"; S2E8 "Murray Christmas"; S3E7 "Die Semi-Hard"; S4E6 "`Tis the Cleveland To Be Sorry"

Crossing Jordan S1E10 "Blue Christmas"

The Dick Van Dyke Show S3E13 "The Alan Brady Show Presents"

Doctor Who S2E1 "The Christmas Invasion"; S4E1 "Voyage of the Damned"

Everybody Loves Raymond S2E12 "All I Want For Christmas"; S3E12 "The Toaster"; S4E11 "The Christmas Picture"; S5E11 "Christmas Present"; S6E12 "Season's Greetings"; S7E11 "The Thought That Counts"; S8E10 "Jazz Records"

Frasier S1E12 "Miracle of Third or Fourth Street"; S3E9 "Frasier Grinch"; S5E9 "Perspectives on Christmas"; S6E10 "Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz"; S7E11 "The Fight Before Christmas"; S8E8 "Mary Christmas"; S10E10 "We Two Kings"; S11E11 "High Holidays"

Friends S7E10 "The One With the Holiday Armadillo"; S9E10 "The One With Christmas in Tulsa"

Futurama S2E8 "Xmas Story"; S4E2 "A Tale of Two Santas"

Girl Meets World S1E16 "Girl Meets Home For The Holidays"

Glee S2E10 "A Very Glee Christmas"; S3E9 "An Extraordinary Merry Christmas"; S4E10 "Glee, Actually"; S5E8 "Previously Unaired Christmas"

Handy Manny E19 "Flicker Saves Christmas"; E20 "The Ayala"s Christmas Extravaganza"

House, M.D. S3E10 "Merry Little Christmas"; S5E11 "Joy To The World"

House of Mouse "Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse" (stand alone)

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S6E13 "A Very Sunny Christmas"

Jessie S1E10 "A Christmas Story"

Last Man Standing S1E10 "Last Christmas Standing"; S2E7 "Putting A Hit on Christmas"

MacGyver S5E11 "The Madonna"

Malcom In The Middle S3E7 "Christmas"; S5E7 "Christmas Trees"; S6E6 "Hal's Christmas Gift"

30 Rock offered up several holiday episodes during its seven season run.
M*A*S*H S5E15 "Dear Sis"

Melissa & Joey S3E16 "A New Kind of Family Christmas"; S4E2 "A Melanie & Josiah Christmas"

Murder, She Wrote S9E9 "A Christmas Secret"

NCIS S6E11 "Silent Night"; S7E10 "Faith"; S9E11 "The Newborn King"; S10E10 "You Better Watch Out"; S11E11 "Home Sick"

New Girl S1E9 "The 23rd"; S2E11 "Santa"

The Office (U.S.) S2E10 "Christmas Party"; S3E10 "A Benihana Christmas"; S5E10 "Moroccan Christmas"; S6E13 "Secret Santa"; S7E11 "Classy Christmas"; S8E10 "Christmas Wishes"; S9E9 "Dwight Christmas"

The Office (U.K.) S2E7&8 "Christmas Special"

Orange Is The New Black S1E13 "Can't Fix Crazy"

Parks and Recreation S2E12 "Christmas Scandal"

Pee-Wee's Playhouse "Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special" (individually listed)

Psych S5E14 "The Polarizing Express"

Quantum Leap S3E10 "A Little Miracle - December 24, 1962"; S5E11 "Promised Land - December 22, 1971"

Rules of Engagement S5E12 "Little Bummer Boy"

Rosewell S2E10 "A Rosewell Christmas Carol"

Saved By The Bell S3E24&25 "Home For Christmas"

30 Rock S2E9 "Ludachristmas";  S3E6 "Christmas Special"; S4E8 "Secret Santa"; S5E10 "Christmas Attack Zone"

The Twilight Zone S2E11 "Night of the Meek"

The Vicar of Dibley S2E2 "The Christmas Lunch Incident"; S3E2 "Winter" (There is also a whole section of Vicar of Dibley Christmas Specials which lists four more episodes)

The Wonder Years S2E3 "Christmas"; S4E9 "A Very Cutlip Christmas"; S5E9 "Christmas Party"; S6E10 "Let Nothing You Dismay"

The X-Files S5E6 "Christmas Carol"; S6E6 "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"

Missed any good ones? Drop us a line or leave a comment!
Netflix availability as of 11/12/15

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

10 Favorite Dutch Wonderland Attractions

Just the other day, Fox News posted their list of 10 Best Attractions at Dutch Wonderland. It seems like an odd choice for an article by a national website and just like the Fox News we're all come to love and admire on television, the story has more than one factual inaccuracy. Either way, the article made me think, "Well, I should do a list of favorite DW attractions!" Just about every attraction at the park is hit with one member of my family or another, but this is a sampling of the things I enjoy most at the Lancaster park...

Astroliner  Long before every theme park had a motion simulator ride and even before Disney perfected the art by taking us on a Star Tour into the Star Wars universe, the Astroliner would provide similar thrills by rocking back and forth while a movie showed an out of control space mission on the cockpit screen. This ride would pop up at carnivals and beach-side amusement areas and I loved it. Whenever I saw one of these set up, I would beg my parents to let me ride it. I even have fond memories of riding it at Dutch Wonderland when I was little.  Dutch Wonderland installed the ride in the 70's and tried to sell it shortly before 2000. When they couldn't find a buyer, DW decided to spruce up the ride and present it as a piece of amusement park history. Now the ride serves as one of the parks more unique attractions.  The 8mm rear projection film has been replaced with a wide screen TV and a DVD of the original film, but the experience is still good old fashioned fun. (There's a more modern version of the ride, the VR Voyager, housed right across from this amusement park antique.)

Decades of Dutch Wonderland Dutch Wonderland offers quite a bit of live entertainment for a park of it's size. As season pass holders for three years I've probably seen at least a dozen different shows in the park. To celebrate the park's 50th Anniversary in 2013 they added Decades of Dutch Wonderland which offers a brief history of the park but a pretty darn good soundtrack of hits from the 60's through today. Most of the musical show offerings at DW consist of a two person cast, Decades benefits from four live actors as well as Duke The Dragon (who doesn't sing, but he can dance!) The show basically plays like a mini-concert and if you look around in the middle of the show, you'll see more than one parent tapping their feet or bobbing their head to this great collection of songs.

Double Splash Flume This is a fairly standard Log Flume style ride but it is a nice one, where the track sits in the ground instead of above like most others. The ride has two drops, the first one is small but produces a surprising splash. The ride out to the main lift is enjoyable. There used to be statues of animals and a mist tunnel along the way but the animals have retired and the mist shut off. You still get a nice scenic trip with great views of the roller coaster and a nice way to cool off without getting drenched. It's also nice that there is no height restriction so the whole family can ride together.

Dragon's Lair This is one of the park's earliest attractions, even though it has been altered greatly since opening day. Little log boats, similar to the ones on the log flume ride, take you on a nice relaxing ride around a small lake in the front of the park. There's not much action here, just an experience similar to renting a boat for an afternoon and peacefully cruising the local lake. The boat is guided by an underwater rail, but steering wheels on each log boat give kids the opportunity to drive. There are a few animated and non-animated pretend animals along the way before entering the dragon's lair itself. The dragon in question, is Duke, the park's lovable mascot represented by a huge audio animatronic that pops up out of his mountain home every so often to laugh and sing. Once you are greeted by Duke, you boat takes a quick tour of inside his mountain for a brief glimpse and a look at Dutch Wonderland's own "back side of water."

Exploration Island Last year, Dutch Wonderland took a neglected portion of their park (a large island along the back end of the park) and spruced it up into one of the most modern and heavily themed areas of the entire park. Exploration Island is now the home to 20 audio-animatronic dinosaurs that you can visit along Prehistoric Path, a short walking trail with great views of the various dinosaurs. Some of them are animated, some of them make noise, some you can ever control. None of the dinos are too tall or frightening keeping the parks target audience in mind. A nice touch is that similar attractions at other area parks have an additional entrance fee - but at DW, the dinosaurs are included with every admission ticket. The dinosaurs are also visible from the islands two other rides; the Gondola Cruise and the newly renovated Sunoco Turnpike - which was moved from the middle of the park to the island and expanded to triple in length. Exploration Island is also where you will find Dino Dig, three large sandbox areas where kids can use excavation tools to uncover dinosaur fossils. The entire island experience is enhanced with terrific atmospheric music and sound effects as well as it's own dino-filled gift shop.

Kingdom Coaster  You wouldn't expect a real, honest-to-goodness roller coaster at such a little kiddie oriented park, but Dutch Wonderland's wooden coaster is the real deal. A family coaster that provides every bit of fun as a bigger coaster, just minus the first drop. Kingdom Coaster was the first project of Custom Coasters International back in 1991. Since then, CCI has gone on to be the largest manufacturer of wooden coasters in the world. The coaster hits speeds of 40 MPH and features plenty of air time, sharp curves and a pretty intense helix near the end of the ride.  In the evening hours of the park, it's not uncommon to be able to stay on the ride and go multiple trips without getting off the train. Sometimes they don't even slow the train down through the station - and that's a unique experience you'll never get at a bigger park.  On more than one occasion, the kids and I rode 5 times without stopping - nowadays one trip around at a time is enough for me!

Monorail Not many parks have a monorail, in fact Dutch Wonderland was one of the first to have one after Disneyland.  Dutch Wonderland's monorail leaves a very vintage looking station in the middle of the park and travels a loop around most of the grounds. You'll get a bird's eye view of the adjoining Mill Stream Campground as well as some of the behind the scenes areas of the park. The monorail also travels through the park's wooden roller coasters at a couple different points. The ride also takes you out of the castle walls and into the parking lot through an old abandoned monorail station and out along Rt. 30 in front of the park. Kids often have a fun time finding the family car in the parking lot. This is another of the park's great relaxing rides and I'm happy to announce that as of mid-2015, there is a new (updated) recording that plays in each monorail car to accompany your ride.

Tug Boat Sadly, the Tug Boat (and it's sister vessel the Lady Gay) has been out of commission for the entire 2015 season. The park's website listed the attraction as temporarily closed until recently when it stated the ride would be shut down for the entire season. The Tug Boat was just another boat ride, that actually traveled the same path as the Gondola Cruise, just along the outside of the island. What set the Tug Boat apart from all the other boat rides at Dutch Wonderland is that it was a free floating boat that did not ride on a track or rail, and required a real boat captain to pilot the ship alone the Mill Stream Creek. It was a great ride though, that allowed you to take in more of the surrounding nature than the other boats allow. This ride was a favorite of my kids as well, and we hope it makes a comeback before our season passes expire.

The Wonderers Music plays such a key role in the theme park/amusement park experience and few things can top a live band strolling the grounds. The Wonderers are a 4-5 piece band that stroll throughout the park playing classic kiddie tunes, a few hits you might recognize from the radio and they have more than one Disney song up their sleeves. The best place to catch the guys is in front of the One Room School House, next to the Off-Road Rally. There they often stop a play a few numbers before continuing a loop around the park. We've also seen them stop in front of the Celebration Theater. One of our favorite bits is a TV theme song medley they do, where guests shout out the names of the shows to each theme. The Wonderers also make an appearance at the daily 5:30 Funsation Celebration show and every night at the exit of the park at closing time. This is a group of talented guys you won't want to miss.

Wonderland Special   Man, I loves me some amusement park trains! Dutch Wonderland has an especially nice miniature train ride. The excursion starts off with a trip through an abandoned diamond mine before making it's way out into the park and zig-zaging through the grounds showing off most of the park's offerings. The train even goes over an old fashioned authentic Amish covered bridge. The station for the train is the very first thing you see upon entering the park, so the lines can get quite long at the beginning of the day. On days where the lines are long, DW is able to run two trains at a time to cut down on the wait.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Christmas In July

Today check out my guest post over at  Christmas TV History where I answer some questions about one of my favorite subjects - Christmas Specials! And if you're joining via hopping over from Christmas TV Party, then Welcome! Here's a few Christmas related links from years past you may enjoy...

My Top 50 Christmas Viewing List

8 Christmas Songs I Never Need To Hear Again

Crabs For Christmas

Greatest Christmas Movie Ever!

He-Man + She-Ra + Christmas = Awesome

More Posts tagged Christmas Specials

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hey, Remember Treasure Planet Was A Movie People Paid To See Once

The other night the kids and I popped in Treasure Planet, Disney's 2002 animated futuristic adaption of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island. It's one of the last few Disney animated classics that my kids haven't seen yet, and I myself only saw it once upon it's theatrical release. At the time, it was a rare misstep for Disney Animation but having had another odd flop a few years earlier with Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) it was to signal the end of Disney's decade long reign of producing classic animated fare year after year. Now, Treasure Planet sits on a growing list of titles like Chicken Little, Bolt and Home on the Range as lesser loved and lesser known Disney Animated Films.

So it is with some trepidation that I started up the movie. For me, Disney films are best when they are about princesses and magic and funny animals. They are at their least inviting when they are trying to do something outside of the "Disney Box." Treasure Planet is not a bad film but it's one main flaw runs throughout the entire film. The character design of almost the entire cast is unpleasant and perhaps uninspired.

A dog/man scientist, a cat/person captain, a rock thing is a suit, a lobster, a spider...none of these really played for laughs. The human characters are all bland, and the Long John Silver character is supposed to be half machine half something else...I'm not sure what.

The story is tight, the action is good, there's plenty of humor...although a Star Wars reject character that only speaks through rear-end noises seems a little low brow by Disney standards. I just can't get by how ugly and unappealing the characters look.

Two characters stand out as having a traditional Disney look; a little floating shape shifting blob called Morph and a crazy robot named B.E.N who is voiced by Martin Short. These are the only two characters that could even support any merchandise from this movie. And that's kind of the strange thing about this movie, because even though it's only 12 years old - I don't think the suits at Disney would even finance a movie nowadays that wasn't chockfull of characters that would easily translate into plush toys, action figures, T shirts or the 100 Million other things they need to make a movie a real cash cow nowadays.

In the end, Treasure Planet is not as bad as it's legacy would lead you to believe. It's based on a time tested story retold by master storytellers who chose to step a little too far out of the magical world of Disney for their visual inspiration.

Monday, July 13, 2015

This Is The Best Ice Cream I Have Ever Had

Imagine you've only ever seen your favorite movie on a 20 inch television screen. Now imagine seeing that movie on a 70 ft. Imax screen. That lame analogy is my way of describing the depth of flavor you'll feel when you take your first taste of Mr. G's Old Fashioned Hand Made Ice Cream. It is hands down, the best ice cream I have ever tasted!

Mr. G serves up his outrageous ice cream from a century old building in Gettysburg's tourist area. In fact, Mr. G has such a great location - Abraham Lincoln walked by the place on his way to give the Gettysburg Address. If you don't believe me, check out the trees on either side of the building. They both have plaques confirming Mr. Lincoln's passing by! I'm sure the building was used for something less exciting than ice cream back then, but it's still a cool distinction.

Mr. G's is a quint little shop that is pretty big on fun. The inside is not too big and it can get pretty tight in there on nights when the line stretches out the door. Each day Mr. G offers up only a handful of flavors. You won't find crazy designer flavors like Ben & Jerry make. You'll find a pretty typical collection of ice cream flavors. But the homemade work that goes into each batch of ice cream can be detected the second you take your first lick. I'm sure it has to do with the amount of butterfat or whole cream or some science mumbo jumbo like that...I don't know, all I know it is easily the best tasting ice cream I have ever had!

The shop offers a few other selections like Root Beer Floats, Milkshakes, Sundaes and even soft serve, but it's the homemade hand dip scoops that have people buzzing about this Summer sweet spot! My personal ultimate indulgence at Mr. G's is a waffle cone with a scoop of Birthday Cake Batter and a scoop of Chocolate Peanut Butter. I always ask for the latter scoop on top so I have easy access to the huge chunks of thick peanut butter floating in the chocolate goodness. My wife like the fruit based flavors like their super fresh tasting Peach or the yummy Dreamsicle, The boys did Mint Oreo while my younger daughter is just happy with anything you put in a cone and then hand her!
There is a little bit of seating inside the historic building and plenty of seating outside all around the place. Another big attraction at Mr. G's is the number of Ring and Hook games they have set up on their property. This is the simple game of trying to swing a small ring attached to a string onto a hook on a pole in front of you. If you've never played this game it might sound easy, but it takes a certain skill to get the hang of it. The best part is, it keeps kids mesmerized for hours. My kids have literally spend half an afternoon standing there playing it, while I lounged at a nearby picnic table eating my daily caloric intake and scrolling Facebook. The game has become so popular at Mr. G's that have even organized some tournaments help periodically throughout the season.
When you're done with your ice cream you can stroll through the rather large Mr. G's Gift Shop located in a separate building directly behind the ice cream shop. Back there, Mr. G sells Gettysburg souvenirs as well as a few keepsakes of his own place. They also carry a full line of Life Is Good apparel as well.
Mr. G's Old Fashioned Home Made & Soft Serve Ice Cream is a great way to cool off in the middle of a hot summer day. It's located right in the middle of all the tourist fun of historic Gettysburg at 404 Baltimore St.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chalk It Up!

Our town hosts an event every year called Chalk It Up where everybody is invited to the downtown area and given a square of sidewalk and some sidewalk chalk and create a temporary work of art. Everybody from little kids to professional artists come out and make all kinds of cool creations on the walkways in front of the downtown businesses. We've been wanting to take part in it for years, this year we finally made it down. The kids had a blast. Here's a look at our process and our finished product (which we were all pretty proud of!)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Amusements For You in 2015

Spring is in the air and all the theme parks and amusement parks are rolling out new attractions for the upcoming Summer season. Here's a rundown of what's new behind the admission gates of some of the parks in the region...

Kings Dominion updates it's water park and gives it the new name Soak City. Besides the name change and facility upgrades the new park will feature several new attractions. "Hurricane Heights, the 65-foot tall slide complex features three thrilling new attractions. On Paradise Plunge, thrill-seekers will step into one of three chambers and wait anxiously for the floor to drop out from underneath their feet, sending them in a high-speed, almost vertical free fall through a series of loops and s-curves in a translucent flume. Aqua Blast will send riders twisting and spiraling through an enclosed chute featuring four intense 360-degree loops across 449 feet of slide before they’re dropped out into a pool of water. A wet and wild adventure will await guests on Thunder Falls as they climb into a single or double raft before being launched down a series of intense drops and turns." There will also be a new kids area.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg debuts a new roller coaster: "In the rich tradition of the classic Italian daredevils, no single man wowed the crowds like Tempesto. Busch Gardens’ daring new roller coaster, Tempesto, lets riders take center stage and recreate his signature stunt. Guests daring enough to take on Tempesto will race into unbelievably tight turns at 63 miles per hour and defy gravity as they roll through a complete inversion 154 feet in the air. Busch Gardens® newest thrill coaster features three launch experiences and Tempesto’s signature loop-the-loop."

Hersheypark in Pennsylvania also has a unique new roller coaster. "Laff Trakk is the first indoor, spinning, glow-coaster in the United States. This family friendly house of laughs spins riders through an exciting adventure of sights and sounds complete with glimpses of colorful characters, a dizzying hall of mirrors, and more!"

 Impulse is the largest construction project in Knoebel's history. The traditional amusement park in Elysburg, PA has added a major new coaster to their lineup. "This steel tower coaster will consist of over 2,000 feet of track throughout which the ride will reach speeds of over 55 miles per hour. To begin the ride, the cars will be pulled via a chain lift up a 98-foot vertical hill, creating anticipation for what’s to come. Following the ascent to the peak of what is called a top hat hill, is a 90-degree free fall drop."

Dorney Park in Allentown, PA offers a new swing ride, Cedar Creek Flyers, to it's guests in 2015.  Riders will sit in one of eight “eagles” suspended from arms 28 feet in the air. As the ride spins, the eagles will swing outward – and riders have the unique opportunity to control their flight experience from mild to wild!"

Another variation on the swing ride with debut at Dutch Wonderland. “Bon Voyage Balloon Chase will take guests on a magical ride in one of eight flying hot air balloons where every seat has a view. The ride soars to lofty heights of 20 feet while rotating clockwise. Your balloon will ascend and descend as it spins; while the wheel at the center of your gondola basket lets you control the direction and speed of your spin."

For Six Flags fans, Six Flags America presents a shiny new version of a carnival classic, "Bourbon Street Fireball, a wild looping coaster. Our new coaster will seat riders in a forward and backward, face-to-face position for a pendulum style take off with multiple 360° revolutions. Just when you think you can’t take any more, the train will suspend upside down and reverse course for additional loops!" A similar ride will also debut at sister park Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, with the name El Diablo.

Quoted information from park's press releases.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Treasures From The Bottom of the Dresser

I've had this button since before I can remember...
I'm pretty sure my parents bought this on a very early visit to the park when I was maybe just an infant. I can remember this hanging on a cork board outside our basement playroom when I was very little. I haven't seen the pin in years and then just this week it turned up in an envelope of stuff from my childhood home. Pretty cool button, no doubt, but the back of the button gives us s little piece of Amusement Park Obscura that I love...
Check out the original price tag sticker from a very early 70's Kings Dominion gift shop. Super cool! 

I also unearthed this sweet pressed penny...
In case you're not a connoisseur of fine tourist attraction souvenirs such as myself, a pressed penny 
Is created by dropping two quarters and a penny into a machine, turning a crank and smashing and imprinting a picture onto your authentic U.S. one cent piece.

  Now, the mystery here is figuring out which park this came from. The design of Fred is from a mid-90's make over of Fred, with the bigger nose and playful pose. Most of the Hanna-Barbera elements were removed from Kings Dominion during the 90's which leaves that the coin could also be from Universal Studios Florida. Universal hosted their own Hanna-Barbera attraction in the 90's, so it's possible it could be from there. I don't remember getting it who knows where it came from. It's cool and looks great buried under my socks in my dresser. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Frozen Breakfast - A Cereal Review

I'm a firm believer that every G and PG rated movie should have their own breakfast cereal. I'd go so far as to say we've even been robbed of Hunger Games Flakes and Guardians of the Galaxy O's too but there certainly is no good reason why it's taken the fine folks at Kellogg's over a year to come out with a breakfast cereal based on the mega hit movie Frozen. But in this day and age of minimal grocery store tie-in's, I shouldn't complain when they finally get some good old fashioned Disney cereal on my breakfast table!
The cereal is simply described on the box as "Sweetened Cereal with Marshmallows." Back in the day, you'd have to come up with how the shape of the cereal related to the franchise it was based on. Ninja nets or Donkey Kong barrels were some good eatin' back then. Now, they don't find the need to come up with anything as long as the colors of the marshmallows follow the scheme of all the other merchandising. The marshmallows however, have been identified as Snow and Ice Crystal Marshmallows. So we got that going for us. The shape of the cereal pieces is a generic square, the exact same mold used for Kellogg's new Jif Peanut Butter cereal. They must really be getting their money out of the new Kellogg's Square Cereal Machine!

Frozen cereal tastes about as average as any other quick cash grab cereal would. Not quite as tasty as Lucky Charms, but pretty similar. The squares have a little bit of a sweetened varnish that keeps them from getting soggy and gives the little squares a nice flavor. The mini marshmallows are standard fare and will remind you of all the mashmallow based cereals you had as a kid.

Of course there is no prize inside the box, but what is really a let down is that the box has a cover image on both sides. There are no Frozen Fun Facts or a maze or nothing on the back of the box, and having something to read at breakfast time is a must! The box is a self-proclaimed Collector's Edition, it is shinny which is kind of cool...but at least a maze helping Olaf find his carrot nose or something would have liven up the clip art filled box.

Bottom line: My two year old daughter was beyond overjoyed when I took the box out of the grocery bag and she danced around the kitchen hugging it and singing "Let It Go" for 20 minutes - and I suppose that's what it really is all about...and not something to please a 41 year old guy obsessed with cereal based on movies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Another Pointless List of Every Movie I Watched Last Year - 2014 Edition

Man, I watched a lot of Super Hero movies this year!
Edited 2/5/2015: Per request by a reader, I have added the date of each screening and took it one step further and also added the venue or source for each film. DVDs from Netflix are labeled Netflix DVD, while Netflix is used for films streamed through their service. Simply DVD is used for films from my own personal library.

So here we go with the complete list of every movie I watched in 2014:

  1.  Saving Mr. Banks (2013) 1/2 Frank Gettysburg 10
  2. High Noon (1952) 1/6 Netflix
  3. We're The Millers (2013) 1/9 Netflix DVD
  4. Fantastic Four (2005) 1/10 DVD
  5. The Way Way Back (2013) 1/12 Netflix DVD
  6. Lovelace (2013) 1/13 Netflix
  7. Mel (1998) 1/14 DVD
  8. Critters 2 (1988) 1/16 DVD
  9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) 1/16 DVD
  10. The Lone Ranger (2013) 1/18 Netflix DVD
  11. Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) 1/19 DVD
  12. Turbo (2013) 1/19 Netflix DVD
  13. The Great Muppet Caper (1981) 1/21 DVD
  14. Loving Annabelle (2006) 1/21 Netflix
  15. Meet The Spartans (2008) 1/22 DVD
  16. Blue Jasmine (2013) 1/23 Netflix DVD
  17. Daredevil (2003) 1/24 DVD
  18. The Starving Games (2013) 1/26 Redbox DVD
  19. Secretary (2002) 1/27 Netflix DVD
  20. Don Jon (2013) 1/30 Netflix DVD
  21. Doctor Strange (2007) 1/31 Netflix
  22. In A World... (2013) 2/3 Netflix DVD
  23. A.C.O.D. (2013) 2/3 Netflix DVD
  24. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013) 2/6 Netflix DVD
  25. The Lego Movie (2014) 2/11 R/C Hanover Movies
  26. Flowers in the Attic (2014) 2/11 Lifetime
  27. The Rescuers (1977) 2/13 DVD
  28. The Rescuers Down Under (1990) 2/14 DVD
  29. Enough Said (2013) 2/18 Netflix DVD
  30. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animation (2014) 1/20 The Majestic Theater, Gettysburg
  31. Iron Man &  Hulk: Heroes United (2013) 2/21 Netflix
  32. Austenland (2013) 2/23 Netflix DVD
  33. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013) 2/24 Netflix DVD
  34. Caddyshack (1980) 2/27 DVD
  35. Ass Backwards (2013) 3/3 Netflix DVD
  36. Dallas Buyers Club (2013) 3/4 Netflix DVD
  37. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (2011) 3/6 M-Go
  38. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) 3/10 R/C Hanover Movies
  39. Sleeping Beauty (1959) 3/14 DVD
  40. Frozen (2013) 3/18 DVD
  41. Muppets Most Wanted (2014) 3/26 R/C Hanover Movies
  42. Escapade in Florence (1962) 4/10 DVD
  43. Condorman (1981) 4/11 DVD
  44. The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) 4/15 DVD
  45. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) 4/17 R/C Hanover Movies
  46. A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) 4/18 DVD
  47. Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue (1953) 4/21 VHS
  48. Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2014) 4/25 Netflix DVD
  49. Honey, I Blew Up The Kid (1992) 5/3 DVD
  50. Rescue From Gilliagan's Island (1978) 5/5 Netflix DVD
  51. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) 5/7 R/C Hanover Movies
  52. Josie and the Pussycats (2001) 5/9 DVD
  53. Iron Man 2 (2010) 5/10 DVD
  54. She's All That (1999) 5/12 Netflix
  55. Godzilla (2014) 5/15 R/C Hanover Movies
  56. Captain America (1979) 5/20 DVD
  57. Iron Man 3 (2013) 5/30 DVD
  58. C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979) 5/31 DVD
  59. The Flintstones (1994) 5/31 DVD
  60. Bananas (1971) 6/2 DVD
  61. Escape From Tomorrow (2013) 6/5 Netflix
  62. X-Men (2000) 6/12 DVD
  63. Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014) 6/12 Netflix DVD
  64. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) 6/20 Netflix DVD
  65. Dear Mr. Watterson (2013) 6/21 Netflix
  66. Ernest Goes To Camp (1987) 6/26 DVD
  67. All's Faire in Love (2009) 6/27 Netflix
  68. Planes (2013) 6/30 DVD
  69. Good Burger (1997) 7/3 Netflix
  70. I Know That Voice (2013) 7/3 Amazon Prime
  71. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) 7/5 DVD
  72. RoboCop (2014) 7/9 Netflix DVD
  73. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) 7/14 DVD
  74. Ernest & Celestine (2012) 7/17 Netflix DVD
  75. Smokey and the Bandit (1977) 7/19 DVD
  76. Summer Rental (1985) 7/26 DVD
  77. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) 7/30 DVD
  78. Yogi Bear (2010) 7/31 DVD
  79. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) 7/31 R/C Hanover Movies
  80. Captain Ron (1992) 8/1 DVD
  81. Pack Up Your Troubles (1932) 8/10 YouTube
  82. It Felt Like Love (2013) 8/11 Netflix
  83. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) 8/13 R/C Hanover Movies
  84. Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014) 8/14 Frank Gettysburg 10
  85. Fierce Creatures (1997) 8/15 DVD
  86. Cross My Heart (1987) 8/18 DVD
  87. Heaven Is For Real (2014) 8/24 Netflix DVD
  88. Angel (1984) 8/25 DVD
  89. Ping Pong Summer (2014) 8/27 Netflix DVD
  90. Back to School (1986) 8/29 DVD
  91. Every Other Day Is Halloween (2009) 8/30 Amazon Prime
  92. They Came Together (2014) 9/1 Netflix DVD
  93. The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story (2014) 9/3 Lifetime
  94. Trust Me (2013) 9/4 Netflix DVD
  95. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) 9/5 DVD
  96. UHF (1989) 9/6 DVD
  97. Up The Creek (1984) 9/7 MGM HD
  98. Divergent (2014) 9/10 Netflix DVD
  99. Waiting For Guffman (1996) 9/11 HD Net Movies
  100. Bears (2014) 9/12 Netflix DVD
  101. The Other Woman (2014) 9/17 Netflix DVD
  102. Dumbo (1941) 9/21 DVD (outdoor screening)
  103. Non-Stop (2014) 9/25 Netflix DVD
  104. Stay Tuned (1992) 9/28 Netflix DVD
  105. Quick Change (1990) 9/29 HBO
  106. Fed Up (2014) 10/1 Netflix DVD
  107. Space Station 76 (2014) 10/5 Redbox
  108. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014) 10/26 R/C Hanover Movies
  109. Hocus Pocus (1993) 10/27 Lifetime
  110. Ernest Scared Stupid (1991) 10/29 DVD
  111. Sex Tape (2014) 11/5 Netflix DVD
  112. Her (2013) 11/6 Netflix DVD
  113. Jitterbugs (1943) 11/8 Netflix DVD
  114. A Cookie Cutter Christmas (2014) 11/10 Hallmark Channel
  115. Big Hero 6 (2014) 11/14 R/C Hanover Movies
  116. Snow Bride (2013) 11/24 Hallmark Channel
  117. Video Games: The Movie (2014) 11/25 Netflix
  118. Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990) 11/28 DVD
  119. Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014) 11/30 Lifetime
  120. Farewell Mr. Kringle (2010) 12/2 Hallmark Channel
  121. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) 12/3 R/C Hanover Movies
  122. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 12/4 DVD
  123. Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (2013) 12/7 Netflix DVD
  124. Jingle Bell Rocks! (2013) 12/16 Amazon Instant
  125. A Very Brady Christmas (1988) 12/18 ABC Family On Demand
  126. Jingle All The Way 2 (2014) 12/21 USA
  127. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) 12/23 DVD
  128. Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas (2011) 12/24 DVD
  129. Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas (2004) 12/28 DVD
  130. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) 12/28 DVD
  131. It's A Wonderful Life (1946) 12/28 DVD
  132. The Road to Christmas (2006) 12/31 Lifetime

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

10 Favorite Films From 2014

It just wouldn't be a blog without some sort of year-end review of the best movies in 2014. Since I don't see anywhere near a sampling of all the movies to come out in a year, I always do a list of the 10 best movies that I saw for the first time in the past year. This year's list is exclusively made up of titles released in the last year or so. I only saw 132 movies this past year, in contrast to the previous years 200+ counts, and I relied on alot of old favorites throughout the year. Plus, as I've mentioned last year - having a baby in the house cuts down significantly on movie watching time!

Saving Mr.Banks (2013; dir. John Lee Hancock)
Of course a movie featuring Walt Disney as a character is going to make this list of best films of the year. Tom Hanks brings my idol to life opposite Emma Thompson as PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. It was neat to see a number of people who I've spent my life reading about portrayed in dramatic fashion by an all-star cast. The film is actually more about PL Travers than Walt Disney, but it's still a charming tear-jerker of film.

Non-Stop (2014; dir. Jaume Collet-Serra)
A super tight thriller with Liam Neeson as an air marshal being framed for a terrorist attack that is about to happen on the plane he is on. There's so many quick little shots in this superb movie that throw you off the trail of who's behind the crime that it becomes an exhilarating ride from most of the film's run time. They also employ quite a few neat techniques to make texting an interesting thing to watch in a movie. This is Liam Neeson's best action film since the fantastic first Taken picture.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014; dir. James Gunn)
This is a popcorn blockbuster done to absolute perfection. Everyone in the cast is fantastic, the action is top-notch, the story easy to follow, and even the somewhat familiar space opera settings seem fresh this time around. What stood out the most for me with this movie, was the relentless sense of humor running throughout the entire flick. Even straight-up comedies have trouble keeping the entire movie funny, and this Marvel blockbuster was just painfully funny all the way through. I loved it! Easily the funniest of the Marvel films, and also the most accessible to those who haven't followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014; dirs. Anthony & Joe Russo)
One of the coolest events of the past movie year was how much this Captain America sequel tied in with Marvel's Agents of SHIELD TV show. Although I would have liked to have seen more characters from the small screen crossover to the big screen, it was still a hoot to have this big budget action/thriller wrapped up with one of my favorite television shows. The action sequences here are top notch and the storyline relevant to today's headlines. This was a real tense, action-packed film that also had a great sense of humor throughout.

Don Jon (2013; dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
A funny and delightfully vulgar romantic comedy with a great cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly and Brie Larson.

The Lego Movie (2014; dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
As you've probably heard by now, there is no reason a movie based on building block toys should be so darn good. Yet, pretty much everyone agrees that The Lego Movie was one of the most fantastic movies of the past year. The movies manages to take us to a place we've never been, and give us a really good story mixed with hilarious humor from beginning to end. Unlike other toy based movies, it's only later when you are walking through the isles of Wal-Mart do you realize how much product they were selling us.

 Dallas Buyers Club (2013; dir. Jean-Marc Vallee)
Simply put, this is one of the only Oscar-contender kind of flicks I watched this past year and it was really good. Matthew McConaughey is fantastic as real life Ron Woodroof, a guy who contracts AIDS and helps other AIDS patients get the medicine they need. Jennifer Garner is also in this, she's always very good and Jared Leto is superb in this as well. I had no idea who Leto was before watching this, but he won the Oscar for best supporting actor - so you know he's good. McConaughey was also awarded an Oscar for her performance here.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014; dir. James Bobin)
The Muppet's 8th big screen outing was my favorite movie of the past year! It's not at the top of my list just because it's a Muppets movie, it's because 24 years after the death of Jim Henson - they finally nailed a Muppets production in the exact style of the old Muppet movies and shows. Gone are the literary adaptions or reunion attempts of the past four movies and instead is a zany, music filled crime caper that's big on laughs and little on plot development. There's at least a dozen superstar cameos, a soundtrack filled with goofy toe-tapping tunes, and the zany and irreverent sense of humor that made the Muppets a household name back in the 70's. Muppets Most Wanted is easily the best Muppets production since the passing of Jim Henson in 1990, and even though their last film, The Muppets (2011),  has it's loyal a life long Muppets aficionado I declare this film ten times better!

They Came Together (2014; dir David Wain)
True parody is dead. Over the last 10 years of so, parody has been watered down to just pointing something out or making a pop culture reference and leaving it at that. Then along comes They Came Together, which not only pokes fun of every contrivance of the modern romantic comedy, it also offers up zany puns, visual gags and hilarious set pieces to boot. Hands down the funniest movie of the year, this under-the-radar comedy is destined to find it's fans one day.

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014; dir. Tim Hill)
I saved this one for last because I know it's inclusion pretty much negates my entire list but hear me out...This was a funny movie! Now, honestly the 10th spot on my list should have gone to We're The Millers or Enough Said or even High Noon but I wanted to include Grumpy Cat because when was the last time a TV movie (on Lifetime no less) tried to be silly and zany AND actually pull it off?! The Christmas TV movie has become a genre which is here to stay. There are literally dozens of new Xmas made for TV movies each year now. Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever attempts to skewer those flicks with this silly caper about a mall robbery and a young girl who befriends Grumpy Cat and tries to save the day. I had zero interest in Grumpy Cat before this movie, but my kids and I laughed out loud several times at the feline festivities. (Also, it was directed by the same guy who did Muppets From Space!) This will definitely be required holiday viewing next Christmas time in our household!

What were some of your favorite film discoveries of 2014?

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