Trip Report: Southern Ohio Winter Solstice Event

February 28, 2003


Last night, the Southern Ohio region of ACE held its first (hopefully annual) off-season coaster fanatic gathering.

The event was helf first at the Forest Park Golden Corral restaurant. First up was a buffet dinner, followed by the formal portion of the evenings events.

After dinner, our new Assistant Regional Rep, Brian Neal introduced himself, then announced that there would be two speakers that night.

First up was Mike Graham of Gravity Group (formerly CCI).

Mike presented first a model of a project they are working on called the "Splinter" coaster. This coaster conept was introduced at IAAPA this year, and is based on the technology they gained on the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain project (LoCoSuMo). The coaster is a severely twisted, wild mouse looking design with lots of severe turns and nice dips and drops throughout. It uses the LoCoSuMo style cars that will allow for tigher curves, and is being aimed at smaller parks. V.2 of the LoCoSuMo style train will feature a different restraint system and no canopies on top of the cars. The selling point is to be able to fit an exiciting wooden coaster into a very small plot of land.

And speaking of LoCoSuMo, Mike mentioned that Project 14 for Gravity Group was to design the special over water platform for Air Crow, the new Larson Flying Scooters at Indiana Beach.

Moving further along, Mike talked about Hades, the new wood coaster going in at the park known as Big Cheif Kart and Koaster world, and soon to be known as Big Chief Mt. Olympus. He did not give many details about Hades except.

* It will be larger than Zeus

* It will feature at least one tunnel

* It will run a PTC train. (Which means it is not the "Splinter" coaster referenced above.

* There will be an artist rendering on the Gravity Group website in the near future.

He also mentioned that Mt. Olympus will switch from a pay-per-ride system to pay-one-price. Apparently the new owner has some different ideas than his father had about running the place. The park is to be expanded as well as more parking.

Then Mike had a couple give away items, and everybody received a Gravity Group business card, and a Gravity Group magnet.

Mike then shifted gears to a coaster project of another type. Gravity Group is also involved in the soon to come out Coaster Dynamix coaster model. This model which was first shown at No Coaster is for a B&M style inverted coaster.

The model looks like a cool toy, andis a snap together with no glue involved, and is highly customizable. You start with a baseplate that has a grid of predrilled holes in it to accept the support poles, then track supports attached to the poles with waht look like clamps to allow them to be changed vertically with ease. Then the flexible track design attachhes to the track supports. To illustrate a small section of a kit was brought in that showed a coulple inversion elements. The kit shown had reddish supports and yellow tracks, but it is believed the final released product will be more like the Raging Bull color scheme. Esitmated list price is about $500, and for an additional $80 they are planning a mini camera with which you can take POV videos of your model coasters. More information is to come out on the web within the week, including a pre-order reservation form.

Marketing plans include the coaster enthusiasts groups as well as hobby shops. Mike then gave each person a sample 6 inch piece of track spine, 6 track ties, and 2 track rails with which you can make a small track segment. (Yellow track), in pre selaed bags.

Then Mike sat down, and our second presenter, Jeff Seibert stepped forward.

Jeff had a rollercoaster book, and a folder full of older PKI memorabillia which could be passed around the room for viewing. Jeff then set the scene for PKI 2004.

The parks ultimate mission is to become like a Universal Studios or MGM Studios like park This years marketing campaign will return to the Hollywood entertainment themeing. In addition the live entertainment package is getting a big shot in the arm. The Paramount Theaters in all Paramount parks have been gutted and are being totally redone with new seating (with armrests), new sound system, new video systems, and a new show, The new show will be a "Making of the Movies" type show. where members of the audinece are called on stage to recreate scenes from famous Paramount movies.

Additionally there will be a character show in the disued Enchanted Theater, and when the shows are not in session the theater area will be a meet-the-characters photo opportiunity area. More characters will be added to go along with I suppose enw Nick shows. Jeff also promised a bigger better concert series in Timber Wolf, and on Saturdays, live music at Bubba Gumps, and in Boomerang Bay.

However, the showpiece appears to be a new parade, to be run once daily and twice a day on weekends, it will be a parade based on the Nickelodeon shows, and will feature huge floats designed by the same firms that to the Mardi Gras parade floats.

Jeff then took us back a few years in the time machine to better explain the PKI masterplan. It seems that PKI has things planned through 2007. The masterplan started in 1999.

1999 saw the improvement of a relatively dead area of the park called "Adventure Village" (Which was meant to be a temporary stand in name from the time they got rid of the safari until the masterplan started). As you know Action Zone in 1999 got Face/Off, Drop Zone, a movie theme, and a big old makeover. 2000 continued the Action Zone project with Son of Beast.

Then in 2001, the dead Nick Splat City area was revitalized as Nick Central with the Reptar, Wild Thornberry's River Adventure, new character area and more, which blended with a 1998 revitalization project oh Hanna Barbera Land to bring the park an outstanding kids section

2002 saw the Rivertown revitalization with new facades, the Tomb Raider attration.

2003 they redid International Fountain and spruced up International Street. ('Don't you just love spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on stuff people won't notice"), along with adding the Scooby Doo interactive dark ride, Delirium and the new motion movie.

2004 they are going to be revitalzing what Jeff called "The ugliest waterpark on the planet" He said when they built Waterworks they built a lot of slides, and no shade, and no place to just hang out. Despite several additions the waterpark had all the soul of putting a bunch of water slides in a parkig lot. So, to counter that, millions and millions of dollars are going into Crocodile Dundee's Boomerang Bay. The waterpark will continue to be FREE with park admission AND park admission is holding steady with 2003 rates.

Jeff went over the Tazmanian Typhoon (the big funnel slide, which was the hottest waterpark toy of 2003), PKI's is supposed to be the biggest and first with a tube conveyor system. Other aread include the Octopus Racer, the hybrid tube slit, speed racing slide, on a mat, face first, on your stomach concept. Kookabura Cove, a nice tranqiul lagoon with in pool bar service, and 81 degree heated water the cabanas, Jackaroo's Landing water play structure complete with the dumping barrel. With the exception of the old Fast Tracks speed slides, which were not popular and were removed all your old waterpark favorites are coming back. large amounts of money are being spent on landscaping and theming and terra-forming as the RCT crowd would say to really make the area special.

2005 will bring ???????? in a certain big section of the park that hasn't had any major changes since 1996. While Jeff would not give us any infomration on ???????? he did say that we should start to see work on ?????????? in the middle of the summer.

Jeff also would only answer a question on Winterfest by saying "Thats an interesting questtion." He did say it was early to go out shopping for hats and scarves however.

In regards to the big sign which fell over last September (We don't even build them like that anymore), Jeff said that if all goes to plan the new sign will be up in mid July. No details about the new sign excpet that it would be timeless and fit the Hollywood theme. My question, if the new sign is timeless does that mean the digital clock is gone?????

Asked about the Beast 25th Anniversay, he mentioned that except to the enthusiasts and park staff, anniversaries have not really done that well as marketing campaigns, as evidenced by the fact they still have Beast 20th merch on hand. He did say that the Beast is being re-done this year with a new special effects package, but true to Jeff's nature, if you want to find out what those might be, you'll just have to come out and ride it. He did mention the Q-TV monitors in the Beast queue would be showing a documentary on the making of the Beast. He also mentioned they experimented with some new track structure technology on the turn off the first drop on the Beast and were satisfied with the results, so this year they are trying to apply the same technology to the Rose Bowl Helix of Son of Beast.

In regards to an event for the Beast, Jeff announced that the OFFICIAL Beast 25th anniversary event is BeastBuzz. Sponsored by CoasterBuzz the event promises a picnic meal, behind the scenes tours of Son of Beast, Tomb Raider and Beast, and ERT after the park ends. Price also sounds right at $16 for season pass holders, and a reasonable price for those that need park admision. Registration flyers for BeastBuzz were distributed.

After Jeff's preentation, Jeff gave away 5 door prizes, drawn at random, each one included a free ticket to any park in the Paramount family, a ticket to the Boomerang Bay media day, and a voucher for a free beach towel.

The formal portion of the program then ended and there was time for playing with the Coaster Dynamix model, taking photos of both gravity Group models, looking through Jeff's PKI folders, mingling, raiding the chocolate chip cookie rack.

The event then moved to a different venue before continuing.

We then made the real short drvie to Wonderpark. Wonderpark is a jungle themed FEC at Cincinnati Mills (Forest Fair Mall). Wonderpark happens to have a Miler kiddie coaster with a helix, that they call Boa Squeeze. Although no formal ERT was included we did manage ITOT. I got 4 rides on Boa Squeeze, some got more some got less. Though the line was cleared at park close so everybody had the rides they wanted. Hey, how cool is it to have a riding event, in Ohio, in February. And talk about those headchoppers, there is a point of the ride that the ceiling of the room apears to be mere inches from your head.

Wonderpak itself, has had a transformation in the arcade since my last visit. they opened with about half redemption and half video. Now all the video games are over in one corner, and the floor is almost all redemption and no pinball to be had. They did have a Dance Dance Revolution (Max 2, 7th Mix, Japaneese) located right at the base of the coaster exit stairs. Coincidence?

We all stayed until park close, there was a group photo taken in front of the coaster station area, and the mingling continued out in the mall parking lot.

All in all a very fun event, they should do stuff like this more often.

David "Off Season Coaster Fix Obtained" Bowers

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