Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Oceans of Fun 2013

Well nursing school is over once again for this semester, so finally some time to write a blog on Worlds of Fun!  Jeff got a chance to go out about two weeks ago and take a look at whats going on at Oceans of Fun, which thanks to the decision to unite the parks is now actually part of Worlds of Fun, but still known as Oceans of Fun... Confused yet?

As many know Oceans of Fun is getting a massive new slide complex for 2013.  Some may be thinking... why is Oceans getting something for Worlds of Fun's 40th Anniversary?  It does seem odd, but I have to admit planned or not its following a pattern.  Think, for Worlds of Fun's 10th anniversary? (1982) we got Oceans of Fun.  For WOF's 20th anniversary (1992) Oceans of Fun got Monsoon (we I guess WOF did too), and for WOF's 30th anniversary (2003)?  Yep, WOF got shafted once more, Oceans of Fun got Paradise Falls.  So who's going to argue with tradition?

If you haven't yet seen the New for 2013 attraction take a look at the new for 2013 attraction page here.

Here is a look at where the new slide complex is going.  The handicap parking is to the right, wave pool (out of view) is to the left. 

A little bit of a different view, here you can see the end of the green astroturf pool deck for the wave pool.

But new slides arn't the whole story... Oceans of Fun is getting a well needed facelift, and pretty much every attraction in the park is getting atleast a little love..

The adult wave pool, which has pretty much remained unchanged for 20+ years will have a new look next year.

The wave pool already does, and it looks nice, the old blue and white was getting rather old.  Though I do have to admit that I will miss this old OOF logo...

 And yes, even the locker rooms too.

Take a look at more photos and discuss on Facebook! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Oceans of Fun Changes Coming in 2013

With the recent announcement of the expansion of Oceans of Fun there have been a lot of questions.  Why combine the parks now?  What’s happening to Diamondhead?  So with many questions swirling in my mind I thought I would ask Brandon Stanley at Worlds of Fun a few questions to offer some understanding behind the changes coming up for the 2013 season. 

The big question, on my mind at least, is why the parks were combined.  Sure when all the Six Flags parks started adding on the mini-water parks (Hurricane Harbor), I thought that if oceans was going to be combined surely that would have been when it would have happened. But no, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.  

Ground breaking at Oceans of Fun in 1981.  I know this isn't 100% a historical blog but I had all these cool old Oceans of Fun photos and I have never had any reason to share them...  They are shattering a bottle of water, against an earth mover.  Pictured here are: (from left to right) Bob MacGregor (president of Kansas City Chamber of Commerce), Pat Tierney (president of the convention bureau), David Rismiller  (president of Commerce Bank), Lee Derrough (General Manager of Worlds of Fun), Jack Steadman (president of Worlds of Fun), Chuck Boyd (Direct of Missouri Division of Tourism), Bill Linscott (of Linscott, Haylett, Wimmer and Weat) and Gary Maggert (Engineer for Burns and McDonnell)

First, a little history.  Oceans of Fun opened in 1982, it was extremely unique, toted as the worlds largest water park when in opened on May 22, 1982, spread over 60 acres, and costing over $7 million dollars in construction.  Many of the highlights from that year are still with us, the 1 million gallon Surf City wave pool and the fifty foot tall Diamondhead water slides still holding onto their crazy names, Waiki Wipeout, Maui Wowee and Honolulu Lulu.  In 1992, for the park’s 20th anniversary, the park made a second unprecedented decision… to combine the parks, sort of.  With the same day gateway people could visit both parks on the same day, but they still continued to operate as two separate gated parks, and Monsoon would become known as the “border patrol” between the two.  

 Monsoon, shot in the early 90's not long after the combination of both parks under the Same Day Gateway.  Several years ago the crew of Monsoon created a crew shirt that said "Monsoon Border Patrol" which they truthfully have been since 1992 until last weekend...

A few years ago, when the Paramount Parks joined the chain, the Gold and Platinum passes were introduced to season pass holders.  With most electing to go with the Gold pass, most pass holders now had admission to both parks included in one pass.

From Brandon Stanley at Worlds of Fun, the expansive group of Gold Pass holders and the fact that they already pack Oceans of Fun was one of the reasons for the decision to combine the two parks.  The other?  Group sales.  Group picnics have been the lifeblood of amusement parks and theme parks since the beginning of time it seems.  Even back at the turn of the LAST century they were the moneymakers for parks.   Group ticket sales at Oceans has been low says Stanley at Worlds of Fun.  So by combining both parks it gives them the opportunity to offer both parks to future groups, and use the picnic facilities at both parks as well.

So did combining the parks have anything to do with competition from Six Flags across the state?  Stanley states that the park doesn’t generate much attendance from that region, so the competition aspect never seems to have entered into the decision.  Plus from a personal point of view (mine), we all know Oceans of Fun is better then Hurricane Harbor anyway. (Am I biased?  Possibly)

Diamondhead under construction!

So 2nd big question.  What about Diamondhead?  Worlds of Fun is saying, Diamondhead is staying for now.  So all those that love Waikiki Wipeout, or Honolulu Lulu, they aren’t going anywhere, and you don’t need to throw away that super sized bottle of tylenol.  The only thing that is going at Oceans it appears is Captain Kidd’s, the pirate ship water play area, but it will be replaced.  The plans on that have not been finalized.

Last question and probably most important to some people (who don’t have a season pass that is I guess).  Price.  First, it appears that there will be a staggered price with spring and fall, offering a discount over the summer season when both parks are open. Second the actual price?  No official news yet. 

 Sorry for the crookedness, but its pretty cool.  Some original concept artwork of Oceans of Fun.

So we have (some) answers, and Worlds of Fun’s 40th anniversary is shaping up.  When I was a kid, I probably went to Oceans of Fun about 3X more then I ever went to Worlds of Fun, I have lots of memories.  From playing in the sand at Neptune’s Lagoon to spending hours camped out in front of the Diamondhead slides.  The biggest thing I remember is how we all used to say that the only thing that divided Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun was a fence.  Remember Mamba and Monsoon weren’t there yet, so you couldn’t actually SEE Worlds of Fun from the Oceans of Fun picnic area. I have to give credit where credit is due, Lamar Hunt, Jack Steadman, Lee Derrough, they were forward thinkers back then, water parks were barely in their infancy, the first Schlitterbahn, the granddaddy of all water parks had only opened in 1979, three years earlier.   So it was a big risk to build such a large, expensive, expansive waterpark in Kansas City at the time.  It was a good decision.  Let’s hope that Oceans of Fun’s good fortune continues far in the future.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Worlds of Fun Park Update 08/05/2012

So with Jeff working on Patriot, I decided to head out on my own to Worlds of Fun on Sunday August 5th, 2012.  Of course the weather being below 100 degrees certainly helped, but the main reason was for the Hot Brass group that WoF had advertised for on their Facebook page.  I can never turn down free live music. :)

I showed up right around 1pm, and though hurrying in I took a picture of the gate still decorated in "Celebrate America" garb.

I spent the vast majority of the next two hours enjoying the music of Hot Brass: US Air Force Mid-America division.  I really don't have a lot of family members that have been active in the military past or present, but it never ceases to amaze me how those that serve the country dedicate their entire life to the service.  So a big thanks to all the members of the military that both shared their musical talent with those at the park on Sunday and all those that may be reading this today. 

Overall I was REALLY impressed, they group were incredibly eclectic, playing a wide variety of music, as well as a wide variety of instruments (many played multiple instruments!)  I even shot a quick video of one of the tunes... Sweet Home Alabama.  I apology for the quality. :)

While I have some idea who was behind bring this group to the park, it was a GREAT idea.  I would love to see more of this type of live entertainment in the park.

This little girl quite literally STOLE the show... She was so adorable!

Of course during the festivities who should show up? 

Phileas Fogg and his female companion... which I have to admit... I don't know her name (Nellie Bly).  Yes that's a 1976 map... trust me the temptation was great to ask how much he would take for the map...  :)

 After the show I headed out to Americana... Now for those WHOLE 2 OF YOU who read my blogs you might remember my comment about Blue Water reappearing at Worlds of Fun.  It wasn't just a one time occurrence either.  I made several sightings of what I used to term the "mystical blue waters" of Worlds of Fun.  (hey I was a kid).  Actually as I found out later on, the blue water is algaecide... and it works.  I don't see algae anywhere.  Plus look how nice it looks... PRETTY...

Yes, that was a nice photo unfortunately further on in Americana... there were many sightings of these.  *sigh*  The barrels themselves aren't horrible after all it's just theming right?  (HA! JUST theming...) But it is way past tiring watching parts of the park quite literally fall apart. 

On the Facebook page a few days ago I posted this photo...

I thought it would be cool to see what this looks like today...  Really I was expecting these photo comparisons to be glaringly horrible.  Surprisingly it isn't as horrible as I expected.  Yes I would much rather have my Sky Hi back... However shade is nice too.

 That was a lot of fun... lets try that again.  Then...

And Now... You can't even see Der Fender Bender/Autobahn anymore... That might not be such a bad thing...

 So while in Europa I had to make a pit stop, and saw this sign on the door to the bathroom... For those that remember there used to be these nifty signs on the doors that said something along the lines o "Worlds of Fun has the cleanest bathrooms in the United States... if you find something out of order.... yada yada yada"  Well those as you might imagine vanished several years ago.  They were and still are far from the cleanest bathrooms in the United States.  However this sign gives me hope.  Lets see how it works.

Of course later on in Africa I spied this from the Africa midway.  It was in plain view... (So no I didn't open a door, or walk or even approach a non-guest area, The showing of this picture does not in ANYWAY indicate that it is EVER okay to enter into a non-guest area... Disclaimer over).  However.  The sign does no good in a grounds closest.  So what am I as a guest made to think?

Now who of any of us goes to a park to go to a bathroom?  Well yes they are important.  But we are all there to ride the RIDES.  I have been reading some reviews, and hearing comments from other park ambassadors that will remain nameless... So in order to form my own opinions of ride operations I figured I should ride some rides.  So I did that.  UGH.  UGH.  UGH.

Where do I start?  Yes its hot, its been insanely hot, awful no rain.  I am sure there have been a few (a FEW?! probably dozens) stops at first aid for heat exhaustion.  Hey folks I was ONE of them back in 1994.  Security had to come up to Skyliner and force me away from my ride, in a wheelchair mind you, as I was about ready to collapse.  So to complaints about heat... forget it. There should be no excuse for completely ignoring your guests.  Chit chatting with your co-worker is fine when no one is riding, and you have empty boats... empty trains whatever.  NOT when you have guests trying to exit a boat, car, train, etc.  At least, glancing the way of the exiting guests is REALLY not a bad idea. Its called doing your job.

Notice I am not complaining about not smiling, friendliness, etc.  That would have been nice too. However, I was SHOCKED by the fact that I noticed several ambassadors not even paying attention to their ride.  I am not one to point things that ambassdors do wrong out on this blog, but really.

Now there is another department, that was friendly, welcoming and actually showed a few smiles through the day... Games. 

 I am waiting for someone to complain about this... I think its hilarious.  A refreshing bit of humor...

And now for something completly different... As we have previously seen on previous blogs, the old Zinger tunnel is located near those orange fences on the right.  It looks like the old track ties that used to frame the entrance to the tunnel, have finally been pulled out.  It looks like whats left of Zinger is giving one last fight...

 So I finished up my day catching a show at the Moulin Rouge, "Stay Tuned" was playing.  It started a little slow, but I really enjoyed the show. 

More Photos on Facebook!

So that's it for this go around.  Hope everyone has a great week and like always see you in the park!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Worlds of Fun July 8, 2012

Wow, I only  just realized I haven't done a blog update in almost 3 months!  It doesn't feel that long.  School does that to you I guess.  To be truthful I was away from the park for over a month.  I finally got the chance to get back out there this weekend, so I spent about two hours Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.  Lots of things have changed.. some things haven't at all.  Not necessarily a good thing as you will soon see.

When I walked up I noticed first that the park was all decked out for Celebrate America.  I also noticed the park was played its old Americana track everywhere.  I call it the OLD Americana track, as it is no longer played in Americana, but after hearing it for years, and years, definitely old Americana track.  It was, not surprisingly about 1,000X better then the horrendous pop music that they have been playing lately.This is true even in Scandinavia (though a bit odd in Africa I have to say...). In Americana specifically, which has been playing well.. JUNK, its amazing how much it adds to the atmosphere.   It just FELT right. In this day and age of homogenization, when the people up at Cedar Point are dead set to make every other Cedar Fair park JUST like them (did we not learn from Six Flags?), I don't expect change back to the old cool themed music in all the sections of the park.  However, I have to say it really makes a difference, and with the economy being as poor as it is, and the temperatures being as high as they have been... Amazingly Silver Dollar City was busy.  Worlds of Fun is not.  Why is that I wonder?  Atmosphere I bet has a lot to do with it, and music DOES make a difference.

Okay off that soap box.  So before heading in I saw this sign...


Last night my visit didn't start so positively.  I stopped at the Grand Carousel first.  I noticed almost immediately that the 2nd chariot was AWOL.  I am assuming it is out for repair, certainly it can't be to make a 80 year old carousel accessible?   Unlike the music in the park there have been a lot of repairs going on around the park as we shall see.

One thing I really wish they would fix, and three months later it is way past the whole "its the start of the season and we can't get everything done" excuse.  Hello green towers still?

Now with all of that being said, there are a few good changes happening...

Those old steps in Scandinavia finally received some love.  Though I have to say... I find this humorous that you can still see the holes from where the park removed the ORIGINAL hand rails.

Landscaping is one overall department at Worlds of Fun that I have almost no complaints about (the grass is a little brown... but really who's isn't?) Landscaping looks good, truthfully, better then it has in a few years at least.  I love these new urns through the park. Plus I am seeing a lot of areas that had several scrubs barely hanging on to life, replaced.  This is a good example.

Another thing in Scandinavia I noticed... (and around the park too), does everyone remember how all the water in the park used to be dyed blue?  Then they stopped doing that several years ago and all the water started getting all... well you know not smelling like roses.. The blue dye is back. Everywhere.  I like it.  I don't understand my strange infatuation with the blue water either, just go with it. 

More pretty flowers/plants.  Unfortunately I think very few people notice it.  This is in front of the old Zinger station.  Which speaking of...

You know those people that asked why I put up photos of the old Zinger tunnel from 1999 and wondered why I listed it under Construction 2013?  Well here is a little explanation... Hmmmm... (If you have no idea what I am talking about see here)

Another look from the old Zinger bridge (from the train), looking down.  Definitely something afoot going on here...  Its not obvious from the photo but many of the old zinger footers that were left have been removed.

More work going on here, near Prowler. 


Last shot in Africa section, the deck near Mummy's Yummy's is taped off and getting part of its deck replaced.  Though I don't have photos of it, many of the other various decks in the park have been repaired, most notably the Ripcord/Patriot smoking deck has received some work lately as well.  I'm not sure if these were "absolutely necessary" repairs, or "we should get it done since eventually it will need to be done" repairs, either way, its a good thing since they could have just demo'd both.  Like that path in Scandinavia...

One last thing... as I am sure some of you know, I haven't been updating this blog as often lately because I am in nursing school.  I also haven't been doing a lot of historical blogs, because they take a long time to do, lots of research, and scanning (no digital cameras back then).  I am planning on doing a series on the seven original 1973 park rides still operating in the park.  I am looking right now for any good stories that people might have about any of these rides (Voyager, Fling, Scambler, Octopus, Depot, Autobahn, Taxi's and Dutchman), either from an employee's or guests stand point. I will not post names if you would like your name to be removed.  However, if you have a great story you would like to share please feel free to e-mail me at jlovesee@sbcglobal.net, or send a message to me on Facebook from here.  Hope everyone enjoys their week, and hope to see everyone at the park!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Opening Review

So in the last 15 years I have written 11 opening day reviews.  There are some not so memorable, so ugly you just want to look away, opening day reviews I had to write.  2000 comes to mind… nothing like, "We will open the rides at 35 degrees.." then "We will open the rides at 45 degrees" and then (I kid you not) "we will open the rides at 55 degrees" … and and by the way our new ride stinks, and we never opened up the Orient Express the season before like we should have so that's all anyone cares about… Followed by the 2004 season opening day, when Orient Express was just removed and Spinning Dragons was sitting as the worlds largest lawn ornament, in its place… Or it could be the 2003 opening day when the park basically re-opened looking exactly the same as it did in October 2002.  So why am I bringing up all these old seasons past?  Primarily, because I have spent the last few days reading the Worlds of Fun Facebook page, and people complaining about how unprepared and "disastrous" the 2012 Worlds of Fun opening day was.  Disastrous?  Seriously? Nope, not even close.

In reality this opening day wasn’t all that bad.  Yes there were a few snafu’s, a few wet behind the ears ambassadors, and some not so great weather,  but after all there were no tornadoes, the rides all ran, (mostly) and personally? I had fun. Speak for yourselves other facebook people.

So onto the day.  Due to a 0 Dark 30 clinical I didn’t arrive at the park until 4pm.  On arriving I was pleasantly surprised and HOW busy the park was.  I don’t think I can remember when both C &D were both full on opening day.  It hasn’t been the last 10 years.  I kind of feel bad for those people who I told that opening day would be dead.  Sorry. 

It used to be we would park in G lot at this point.  We can’t do that anymore because of preferred parking.  When this was introduced last season, both Jeff and I weren’t  thrilled.  To me this is the biggest money grab of anything WOF has concocted lately, yes even more then the Fast Lane thing.  YOU DON’T GET ANYTHING EXTRA! Its G lot! I parked there last year this time for free!  Atleast give people a covered parking area, bottle of water or something.  For those that use it, really?  Regular parking is 10 feet away, same distance to the entrance.  H lot.  Atleast at Silver Dollar City I get a closer parking spot and feel I get something for my money. 

*Disclaimer: Since SOME people don't have a sense of humor I should mention the covered parking comment was a JOKE.*

Rant over

So as we walked into the park, I spied these new ornamental “cacti” ready to go into Americana.  The old “cacti” are looking a bit thread barren so maybe these are replacing them.  They look nice.  I like the  “working towards the theme” theme that we have going on here.

Cacti Topiaries

So as we moved towards the gate, pretty much everything else looked the same, flags are still there (good thing), and we noticed the first ADA addition.  Instead of having the replace the gate (dang it!), they found a way to get around the non-ADA compliant hill into the park, and built a gradual ramp located behind guest relations.

The ADA complaint ramp at the Scandinavia Park Entrance

On entering the park I realized the park was just as crowded inside the gate as out in the parking lot, it’s a great sign, and the first thing that caught my eye, was the Plaza Gifts sign.  Now don’t get me wrong I think Scandi Skees made a remarkably nice transition from arcade to shop, but man, that’s a BIG sign. The new Plaza gifts is really nice though, its very Cedar Point-like, and I say that in a good way.  The old doorways are all gone, excepting one, and replaced with windows (one original doorway headed towards Voyager is still a door).

The new Plaza Gifts

Inside Plaza Gifts

The old Baltic Bazaar is still with us too, originally I had heard that it might be demolished to have a new structure built.  Personally, I am glad they kept the original structure.  Its received a bit of a face-lift, and new signage.  Norma’s Funnel Cakes (which returned as Norma’s on the map a few years ago), is Norma’s on the sign now too.  I don’t know if the park realizes this, or you the reader realizes this, but Norma’s is an original Hunt Midwest name, named after Norma Hunt.  (Lamar Hunt’s Wife), making it one of only two restaurants in the park to still be named after someone from the park’s Hunt Midwest days. (The other being Big Jack's named after Jack Steadman)

Norma's Funnel Cakes

(For those interested the others included: Lamar’s Libations in Europa, Daniel’s Dannish Deli in Scandinavia, Clark’s Livery Post in Americana, and Rick’s Café in Africa)

I have been avoiding this, but I have to mention it.  The music. Jeff, my husband and fellow WOF nut job, has beaten me down to acknowledge that popular music may MAY be okay for the park entrance, because it is the park entrance.  What about lower Scandinavia?  Come on it really needs some themed music, yodeling.  Something Scandinavia-like.  You have to give me some credit for atleast trying. 

New Trees near Skyliner
Some good news, Orient HAS themed music.  In fact most of the park does!  That’s where we headed next.  Not much has changed.  All rides were up and running, and Bamboozler looks like it may have gotten some light work over the winter.  On a completely different subject let’s talk about trees.  If you remember from last year, many (dozens) of Worlds of Fun pines succumbed to a relatively new killer pine disease.  In the Orient (especially near Skyliner) several were removed.  Good news, these pines have been replaced by new young trees.  In fact, as we will try to highlight MANY of the old diseased pines that were removed last year have been replaced.

Moving on to Americana a few minor changes, Pizza Pier and the surrounding food joints received new picnic tables and new concrete.  I wish they had replaced all the concrete in that area, but still it was a nice surprise.

Near Pizza Pier, new concrete and picnic tables

Of course, one of the eatery options on the park  is Caribou Coffee, which opened in the old Pig Pen’s (plush animal shop).  Now I’m not a coffee drinker, but if I was, it’s a nice looking place to get coffee.  And for a positive outlook, atleast its not that coffee chain that starts and ends with “S”, yeah you know the one.  Also suprisingly enough the prices are extremly inflated, coffee runs about $3-4 each.

I also really wanted to make a comment about the photos on the wall,  including Cotton Blossom, Sam Panda, and some original park concept art.  I’m not sure what others think about it, but I think it’s a nice touch.

The new Caribou Coffee

Inside Caribou Coffee

One of the framed photos on the wall in Caribou Coffee

We next moved on to Timber Wolf.  The good news?  Timber wolf not only had both trains assembled and ready to run (an improvement over previous seasons), but they were RUNNING both trains.  That's good, but truthfully, I shouldn’t be mentioning that as an improvement, it should simply be done.  Timber Wolf the ride on the other hand… Can we just give GCI a call and re-track the whole thing?  Yeah I know lots of $$$ but really even I didn’t enjoy it all that much and I usually really like Timber Wolf.  Yes it was fast, and I think there was some airtime in there, but I was so concerned about holding on and not being beaten to a pulp, that I hardly noticed.

In another improvement (should be happening anyway) ThunderHawk was open.  If I was the park I would have certainly made sure it was open for opening day, I think it was closed 75% or MORE of last season.  

The old Uncle Sams Skeeball Hall, now Snoopy's Arcade.  There used to be a large trim piece above the door that was removed at the end of last season, instead of simply being repaired.

The old Uncle Sam’s Skeeball Hall received some new landscaping and trees around it, and some new doors (from the look of it) but the building itself really needs some love, both inside and out.  A lot of its trim was removed last year, probably due to wood rot, which is sad.   Of course it is now home to the parks only remaining skeeball machines. 

Wacky Worm gets a new theme, but is a little late to the party. 
Next to Timber wolf is another coaster… Wacky Worm, Cosmic Coaster, still Wacky Worm to me.  (Hey that rocketship isn't supposed to have FEET) Yep its not open for opening day.  Originally, I was planning a long-winded harp about how every ride should be open for opening day.  AND every ride SHOULD be open opening day, especially when you have a winter that has on 3.9 inches of snow.  Can someone remind me again what ride maintenance does for half of the off season? I want that job.  There really is VERY little that bothers me more then rides not being open on opening day.  However, there is one thing that bothers me more, and that’s mud slinging.  Lately on Facebook I have seen a lot of whining, about simple human mistakes. It seems like a lot of supposedly mature adults forgot what it was like to work their first day of their first job when they were 16 years old, and are following a rather disturbing trend in the US of expecting everyone (except themselves) to be perfect.

Worlds of Fun may NOT be perfect, and as you will see soon in my Europa review, they are FAR from.  Worlds of Fun is ran by human beings, who make mistakes, and while I firmly believe we should learn from mistakes and not keep repeating them year after year, after year (cough cough cough), some small degree of learning curve should be expected on the first day of the season.

Now with that being said one last comment about Planet Snoopy and children’s rides in general.  So last year the park added eight new family/children’s right?  But did they REALLY ADD 8 rides?  No.  In the last two years the park has gotten rid of Bouce-A-Roo’s, Head Over Wheels, Pony Promenade, and Too Too Train.  That’s four.  So the 8 new rides is really fuzzy math.  Still the ride subtraction/addition is a positive number, the park still ended up with 4 new rides overall.    And I don’t care who you are I will take the Grand Carrousel of Bounce-A-Roo’s any day.

So Europa. I have to wonder if the powers that be realize the park really has a section called Europa.  Walk through it, take a look at the rides, shops, restaurants.  Yeah.  There is enough there for me to write 50 pages about.  Honestly, I am beginning to think maybe the park should bulldoze the entire section, leaving of course Le Taxi Tour and Flying Dutchman (hey I LIKE Flying Dutchman) and of course rebuild it. Last year I harped about Autobahn and its pathetic seven cars in operation.  This year… the same thing.  Now I know money does not grow on trees but this is just pathetic.  Right next to Autobahn is State Fair Mini Donuts… in Europa.  This is the snack stand formerly known as Lamar’s Libations.  What I have a hard time understanding is that the park can return Norma Hunt’s namesake, but not Lamar Hunt’s?  Plus the signage is just extremely tacky, and I have yet to see it open this season. 

Then there’s Taxi’s, FOUR whole cars. FOUR..  There are FIVE parking spots at the loading dock, but only FOUR cars.  Well that’s a whole whopping capacity of a hundred or so an hour. This is on a ride that used to operate with 18 cars on average.  

Some shabby looking trim in Europa.

Not only is State Fair mini donuts not open, but neither is Bonici Bros (atleast that I have seen), and its façade is looking especially shabby.  Now that might be made worse by the fact that the rest of the park is looking better, but wow.  Unlike Arrow Taxi Cars, and Bumper cars I know for a fact that sandpaper and paint is pretty cheap. (wood trim isn't horribly expensive either) I just get this feeling that if Europa could talk it would be screaming “help me!”.  Really the poor section hasn’t had a new ride since 1977, 34 years. 

A couple of good things going on in Europa though, Jeff was able to check out the new Trax show at Moulin Rouge, and commented that it was a really good show, sort of along the lines of the old Tivoli show.  So definitely check that out.  Europa also, like western Americana and the Orient still has its themed music! 

The new Trax show at Moulin Rouge
 Last thing about Europa, the Europa/Africa hill is sporting this nice new landscaping wall...

A new landscaping wall on the Europa/Africa hill/
So moving on to Africa.  Of course the big update is Boomerang’s paint job.  Looks nice, and its good that they also took care of the station and metal walkways they were looking really bad.  Couple other things, Same Day Gateway/Ride and Slide Gateway has been replaced with an ADA compatible entrance.  Opening day it wasn’t open, but second weekend it was.  Checked it out, looking good. 

While were in the area (near Mamba and Prowler) I thought I would add a few comments about the new Fast Lane.  First its $50 per person for those unaware, which is a)expensive and b)probably means not a lot of people will be using it.  Couple of things I noticed, on at least Prowler and Mamba, the Fast Lane queue works very similar to Fast Pass at Disney, those with Fast Lane don’t get RIGHT on, the lines join up at the station, so if they want the front, they still have to wait for the front.  Again as long as the park runs decent capacity (two trains when the line is out of the station for example), then I'm okay with the Fast Lane idea, not my most favorite thing in the world, but okay with it.  

However, I still have to voice a concern of both Jeff and I.  What if for example Patriot is running one train and the line is down the stairs and around the station, people are waiting 45 mins plus for a ride, which is basically being run at half capacity.  A Fast Lane user may bypasses a line, but they are bypassing a line that SHOULDN'T EVEN EXIST.  In this case I see Fast Lane as a simple money grab.  The park COULD take the cheap and easy route and run into disgruntled park guests or they could do the right thing, and run capacity.

Sorry for the bad quality photo, Gorilla Grill

One of the big name changes besides Norma’s is the change of Congo Clearing to Gorilla Grill.  I am going to say something that some may not agree with.  Its themed appropriately, and as much as I liked the name Congo Clearing, I really like the new signage for Gorilla Grill, its bright and makes that restaurant really stand out. 

As far as Prowler (besides it being just a great ride) for those that remember opening season last year, we had to wait about a month before even the second train was fully assembled, so it’s a good sign that not only is the second train fully assembled, but both were running. 

So moving into Scandinavia once again. Lower Scandinavia, isn’t changed much, it has the same music selection of Upper Scandinavia, basically popular music.  Are they on the same track?  Guessing so, am I asking for to much to have themed music in atleast HALF of Scandinavia?  Well I can try.

Not a great photo, but if you clip to expand you can get a better view

Oslo’s Chicken and Waffles is another one of those restaurants I have yet to see open, but I have to admit, I really like the logo, putting a chicken in a Viking helmet on the logo, just speaks old Worlds of Fun to me for some reason.   Maybe its just I’m a girl and I think its cute.  Why a chicken in a Viking Helmet is cute, is like questioning why giant plush panda balls are cute, they just are (check out Plaza Gifts)  Still waiting for the restaurant to open so I can see live and in person the concept of Waffles and Chicken.  Supposedly a southern dish, we shall see.

The new ADA compliant entrance for Viking Voyager

So that’s it, another opening day in the books, and next year May 28, 2013 we will be celebrating the park’s real 40th anniversary.  There have been some dark years in there, and I would like to say I think its all clear sailing ahead, but there are still a lot of problems that I see that need attention.  However, I think the park has made clear, obvious strides between last year and this year, and it looks like attendance is reflecting that, here’s to a great 2012 season! See you at the park.