Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Opening Day Review

For many years I would write an opening day review at the beginning of the season. The last one I wrote was in 2006, corresponding to when I started to work at Worlds of Fun again. This year, I finally decided to take a crack at it again. Previously, I had reviewed seasons 99-06, and many of the opening day reviews were very critical. That is one thing that I am happy to say has drastically changed. Not to say that there are no critical points in this review. However the improvement over say 1999 and 2000 seasons is as different as black and white.

This will also mark the beginning (hopefully) on our park updates which we hope to post every one to two weeks. So stay tuned if you can’t head to the park, then hopefully we can bring the park to you!

Jeff and I hit the park in two waves. Due to multiple circumstances we didn’t arrive at the park until Saturday about Noon, and then spent several hours at the park on Sunday too. Not counting the hours of course we drove the train.

Worlds of Fun over the years has run some great promotions, and it seem this season is full of them. Of course it started off with overnight camp out, 500 people attended, when the park expected only a small fraction of that amount. I didn't attend, though now looking back I wish I had. Not much of a camper you see. :)

I have to give the park PR credit, it was a GREAT idea, and I will most definitely be attending next year! For those that have missed it the park is also running a great anyone for the kids price on Sundays until June 4th. I believe you have to pick the coupon up at any metro Subway, but its more then a 50% discount off regular price, $19.95 per person.

For 2010 the season didn’t start with any major new rides, or attractions, just several new updates. Now as much as many of us would like to drive a bob cat into the “main” (back) gate, it’s still there. However, the park for the first time in several years has made some small investments into the gate. Of course they added this nice fountain…

Plus a new sign is waiting in the wings, in an undisclosed location (otherwise known as the paint shop). We caught a glimpse of it on the way out Saturday night, and its looks nice. It incorporates the new font (not the old Partridge font) and also incorporates a globe, snoopy and a hot air balloon. We will provide photos once it makes its appearance. Much better then the old sign, which is rather falling apart.

I have to say in many ways I am what Jeff has called a purist. I really don’t like things changing. Especially when it comes to the theme. I like the themed world flags, the themed music, the themed restaurant names…. I guess two out of three isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty darn good! Last year, after Celebrate America, the park kept up the American flags, and Americana music, throughout the entire park. I may be the only one that feels this way but I was thrilled that the park brought those small, yet integral parts of the theming back.

So moving into the park proper. The park itself was quite busy for an opening day. In fact I would have to say it is the busiest opening day I have seen since 1999. Scandinavia itself didn’t see any major changes, except the return of some Roll out the Barrel, and Swiss Miss Yodeling Lass (Yes I am sad). Voyager itself got its queue-line wood work sanded down and repainted, though you really can’t tell. Which is good.

Moving on to the Orient section. The themed fish feeder looks like its down for rehab. The fish themselves though are already out and about, and are quite large. So I wonder, did the park a) buy some rather large koi fish right before the beginning of the season, b)Did the koi survive the OFF SEASON? C) did the koi fish enjoy a warm off season in the duck pond? Does anyone really trust that games guy to feed the fish?

You can see the difference between the old wood (the roof support post) and the new wood detail.

So, Bamboozer station. I can’t believe no one has commented on this, or simply no one has noticed. For me the Bamboozler station is one of the coolest looking stations in the park. So it’s always nice when its gets its detailed woodwork taken care of, instead of letting it fall apart. I had Jeff photo take a photo of one section of the station that shows the old and the new. You can definitely tell the difference.

Americana has had some of the most work done though, so let’s move their next. Of course there are the restaurants that received new roofs (Pizza Pier/Gyro Express), which looks nice, but Front Street is the star of this show. Who ever thought that some wood and paint would make such a big difference?

Interior of the Emporium. Notice the counter is no longer a square island. It looks so much better!

Peppermint Patty's. Interesting history factoid, this shop used to be called Sharon's Yum Yum Shop. Its sign is hanging in the Ambassador Ambam (break room).

Peppermint Patty’s, and the Front Street Emporium also received some TLC on their interiors too. Peppermint Patty’s has a beautiful new counter and brought back some of the fine candies. The Emporium received a new floor, and a new positioning of the counter. No the counter itself is not new, but it looks much better, and from what I have heard functions much better as well!

Most would also not notice the work outside of Front Street, on the Front Street (sunken) fountain. During the off season the fountain inner workings had been removed. As pessimists both Jeff and I had though that possibly the sunken fountain was being gutted for the new "main" entrance fountain. Nope, it was removed to be repaired and painted. It looks nice.

Onto Timberwolf. I was excited to ride it again after riding it during the off season. I unfortunately didn’t get to ride it on Saturday. Due to the surprisingly large turn out, and the fact that Timberwolf only running one train, the line was quite long. After riding it on Sunday though I do have to agree with my previously mentioned commentary. It is an improved ride. Its been a little bit better after every off season for the last three years. Besides the ultimate desire of seeing the thing completely re-tracked, this is the next best thing. At least it’s getting some love.

ELI also received some surprising love, it had its brass shinned up, which hasn’t happened a whole lot in the past. It looked good.

So moving on to Europa, Autobahn. Autobahn is still Autobahn, which makes me happy all by itself. (Or in Jeff's alternate universe its still DFB, Der Fender Bender) It received some unusual work over the off season, specifically several new walls where put up. The first set of walls on the left hand side is a good addition in our opinion. It hides the unsightly view of car innards spread out all over the place. The right side walls though were built for storage. The garage door is not the most beautiful thing in the world. But hey it is still Autobahn! (Can you tell I am happy about that). Also the floor itself appears actually larger then it had been in previous years. I do hope it still receives a new roof over the next few months though.

A few of the concrete blocks installed throughout Europa.

Europa has also seen quite a bit of work preparing for the 2010 main new attraction. Snoopy’s Hot Summer Lights. Overall seeing the work progress and hearing some of the plans I think it should be a great new attraction, especially for families. On that topic concrete squares have appeared sporadically through the Europa section. We have heard that these will be used for various scenes spread through the lighted attraction. Sounds cool and I am excited for June.

On Sunday we got the chance to catch the new Moulin Rouge show, British Invasion. Jeff and I have conflicting opinions about the show. I really liked it. Yes, it was different, but that was a huge breath of fresh air after the same old, same old, year after year after year. Like previous shows there were a few highly talented singers, and like I mentioned it just felt fresh and the singers seemed to be having a good time, which makes all the difference.

Exhibit #1, King Tuts, with some new signage, but still King Tuts.

Exhibit #2, Congo Clearing, makes way for Junkyard Burgers?

I won't say anything, I won't say anything...

Moving onto Africa, we checked out a few of the shops and restaurants. First I think that Moroccan Merchant is one of the overlooked nice shops in the park. It really is themed and laid out VERY well. But there is no one ever there! Onto to the restaurants and here I will compare two, King Tuts Hot Dogs, and Junkyard Burgers (Congo Clearing). King Tuts still keeps its themed sign, yet also had a tasteful hot dog sign below it. Congo Clearing on the other hand, is completely re-named, and the name just doesn’t strike me as tasty. Junkyard? Plus the sign… goodness the sign. Maybe if I don’t think about it the sign will simply disappear? Form your own opinion.

On the complete flip side again we have the park making an effort at keeping the theme, with the somewhat garish African themed masks on the Congo bridge. (Garish and African do have a tendency to go together so that’s not necessarily a negative). Yes, they were added LAST year, but I didn’t get to talk about them last year.

Of course last there is always Prowler. Prowler is great as usual, spectacular is actually more accurate. Looking back many of us remember how the 21st century started in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Not exactly the most memorable. Certainly disappointing. In the span of ten years what had started out as quite painfully one of the worst times in park history, has been turned on its head to finish out the decade with a very positive outlook. Overall, I see the park headed in the right direction. There is a pent up demand and while I hate to jinx anyone or anything I have a feeling this will be a good season.


Patty C said...

Thanks for your play by play of the park. It is nice to hear that there are still some of us out there who loved things about the park in the early years. "Hang on tight and have a nice ride!" I miss that. Thanks for sharing. I won't get a trip in until far into the season this year, but it will be worth it!

rlm7in said...

The new (read "corporate") font sucks. Like so many other matters to which the park is subject, it suffers further under the homogenizing influence of current ownership.

Thanks exclusively to the systematic devaluation, dismantling and removal of the park's original flavor and identity, I haven't been back in years, and I ain't goin' back.