Friday, December 8, 2017

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Roller Coaster

2016’s summer blockbuster Jurassic World was filmed in the parking lot of the abandoned theme park Six Flags New Orleans. In the image below you can see the midway of the fake theme park setup in the parking lot of the former real one (which has since been removed):

Jurassic world six flags new orleans

A sequel to one of the highest grossing movies of all time is scheduled to be released in summer 2018, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also has an odd theme park tie-in: they built a real working roller coaster to film a sequence in the movie.

A behind the scenes video posted to Universal Pictures shows the gyro-sphere, the hamster ball “ride” from Jurassic World has been placed onto a car and mounted to a roller coaster track with a green screen stuck on the back. The Jurassic World roller coaster takes one sharp drop before hitting the brakes.

Judging by the newly released trailer, it looks like they used the roller coaster to film the part where the hamster ball flies off the edge of a cliff and into the ocean, surrounded by other falling dinosaurs. It’s cool for them to build something to get real reactions from the actors. It looks like it even has some wicked airtime!

We don’t know who manufactured the track, but our best guess is it was a custom job by the production studio or some other small/unknown of shop outside the amusement industry. On first glance the Jurassic world coaster may look like a B&M job due to the rectangular spine (a shape I don’t think I have ever seen anyone else ever use before), but on closer inspection, the size ratio of the backbone and rails is all off for B&M, as well as the fact the track does not look very smooth and like it was hastily assembled. Would not be surprising. It was probably only needed for a few takes then was probably scrapped. If anyone knows more please fill us in!

And if you’re reading this Universal, please create a real gyrosphere ride for your parks!

Friday, November 24, 2017

2017 Gift Guide for Roller Coaster Fans

The 2016 holiday shopping season is upon us and if you’re on the hunt for that special gift for a friend or family member who happens to be a roller coaster fanatic, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve organized our gift ideas into several sub-categories of books, games, toys, and more.

Roller Coaster Video Games

Roller Coaster Tycoon World — the long-await sequel to 2004's Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 — is now available. The game is touted as the "newest installment in the legendary RCT franchise" with "fan-favorite features as well as incredible new advancements! Buy Roller Coaster Tycoon World online for $19.24 (as of this posting)

Finally, RCT fans can experience all the fun from the original RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 games with a new incarnation that combines the best elements of both classic titles! RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic theme park sim came out on mobile and tablet devices back in December 2016 and was a massive hit. Now, RCTC is available on desktop PCs as well as MAC computers. No, this is not the terrible, micro-transaction riddled mobile game RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, nor the poorly reviewed PC game RollerCoaster Tycoon World. This is RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, aka the fan favorite Chris Sawyer originals, rolled into one masterful game. Get it from Steam for $19.99 – totally worth it.

Or you can get the classic RollerCoaster Tycoon Triple Thrill Pack instant download for just $9.99, my personal favorite!

Planet Coaster has brought the roller coaster and theme park simulator genre roaring back to life. The game has received rave reviews, and was made by the developers of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Like RCT3, Planet Coaster allows players to design and manage their dream theme park, as well as ride their roller coaster creations — and share them with other players. Planet Coaster is available for purchase on Steam for $44.99 (as of this posting).

Roller Coaster and Theme Park Books

Coasters 101: An Engineer’s Guide to Roller Coaster Design by Nick Weisenberger will show you how roller coaster designers spend hundreds of hours creating, tweaking, and re-imagining ride paths to push the exhilaration envelope while carefully maintaining the highest safety standards. Features design example problems real roller coaster engineers face in the field today as well as career advice for any aspiring roller coaster engineers.

50 Groundbreaking Roller Coasters: The Most Important Scream Machines Ever Built by Nick Weisenberger is a comprehensive list of the most influential scream machines that drove the evolution of the modern roller coaster. It's a new and interesting look at roller coaster history. What makes a majority of the roller coasters listed in this book even more impressive is the fact that they were designed using pencil and paper rather than computers.

Nowhere in the world is there a more bizarre theme park than Happy Fun Land. Nike Farmington’s twelve years of thrill-seeking and roller coaster riding has brought him to exotic locales like Perth, Australia, Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands, and Santa Claus, Indiana. He’s marathoned a roller coaster for ten consecutive hours and conquered the world’s tallest and fastest. Yet nothing has prepared him for the insanity of Happy Fun Land and it’s mind blowing attractions: a drop ride with no brakes and a death simulator, just to name a few. Will Nike survive his hilarious adventure through the world’s craziest theme park? 

Theme Park Design and the Art of Themed Entertainment is the most thorough book on theme park design available. David Younger’s book is literally a textbook on every single aspect of theme parks you could think of, with quotes from real designers with priceless knowledge. Reading Theme Park Design is like taking a college course on the subject, and your professors are Walt Disney Imagineers. I recommend if you want to go from RollerCoaster Tycoon to real life theme park designer!

American Coasters 2 by photographer Thomas Crymes. The pictures are large and crisp. The colors are vivid. The book’s simple design places more emphasis on the photographs. Nothing beats seeing pictures of roller coasters printed on a physical page (sorry, internet). The book is available on Amazon for $30.36 (as of this posting).

Roller Coaster Sets, Toys, and Models

Roller Coaster Challenge Logic and Building Game is 50% logic game, 50% roller coaster building set, and 100% awesome and educational. Select a Challenge Card and set up the Posts and Tracks as shown, then Determine where to add the indicated pieces to the grid. When your Car successfully rides the Track from Start to Finish – You win. Get it for $25.49 on Amazon.

There are several interesting K’NEX roller coaster sets available this Christmas season and none of them use the traditional chain liftK’NEX Crossfire Chaos Roller Coaster uses a rubber band style launch system ($34.99). The Web Weaver Roller Coaster Building Set uses something I’ve never seen before on a K’nex coaster: an air-powered car. The vehicles have fans on the back so you can build a track that can be set horizontally or turned vertically and the car will still complete the circuit, no chain lift required. ($42). Clock Work Roller Coaster Building Set uses a clock-hand mechanism to lift the car to the top of the 2.6 foot high hill. ($25)

VR is becoming bigger and bigger in the amusement park industry so why not get a Samsung Gear VR headset to play around with at home? Especially since many theme parks are now releasing 360 degree videos for their coasters.

Amazon Prime Membership. If you haven’t joined Amazon Prime yet, why not? I do almost all my shopping online and I get free two-day shipping on nearly everything. You can also borrow books, watch movies, and stream music. Click here to start your 30-day free Amazon Prime trial membership.

What gifts are you getting your coaster enthusiast friends? Which coaster gifts are you hoping to find under the tree this year? Discuss in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

25 Extreme Drop Tower Rides

Besides your roller coasters, carousels, and Ferris wheels, a staple attraction of any major amusement park is the drop tower ride. While common today, these freefall attractions don’t have a long, hundred-year history like the roller coaster or amusement park. The first tower rides didn’t appear until the 1980s and didn’t start catching on until the 1990s when the technology and ride experience improved enough to make them “can’t miss” attractions.

What are the tallest, fastest, and most extreme drop towers ever built? Find out all this and more by reading 25 Extreme Drop Tower Rides. You'll learn about the history of the drop tower as well as all the different seating configurations and where the most terrifying freefall rides can be found.

Download it for FREE to read on Kindle between April 14 through 16, 2017. Follow this link to get it on

Monday, February 20, 2017

Support Mystic Timbers First Rider Auction

I'm super excited to get to ride Mystic Timbers, the new wooden roller coaster at Kings Island and front runner for best new coaster of 2017. I will be participating in the First Rider Auction where Kings Island and Cedar Fair Charities are joining with the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation to give us fans a chance to raise money for a great charity and be some of the first people to ride Mystic Timbers. 

The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation is "a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing life-changing experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in the Cincinnati area."  They have created numerous community outreach programs in the past that benefit local hospital and their patients.

If you have a dollar or two to spare, I would appreciate it if you could donate through my fundraising page, in order for me to help reach and surpass my goal:

mystic timbers layout whats in the shed

Mystic Timbers features a 109 foot tall lift hill, speeds of 53 miles per hour and 3,265 feet of track in the woods. Kings Island is teasing a mystery finale to the ride: "what's in the shed?" My guess is some kind of media presentation generated by Holovis. Be sure to stay up to date on the ride's progress via the official Mystic Timbers website. And look for my review of Mystic Timbers in April!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Adventures from the World's Craziest Theme Park - Part 1

Never in my life had I visited a more bizarre theme park. Twelve years of blogging about roller coasters and thrill rides had brought me to exotic locales like Perth, Australia, Kaatsheuvel, Netherlands, and Santa Claus, Indiana. I conquered the infamous “dog fart” coaster at BonBon-Land in Denmark. I survived the Abyss at Adventure World that’s so crap-your-pants scary they literally have underwear dispensers waiting for you at the ride’s exit. Yet nothing had prepared me for the craziness that is Happy Fun Land. And no, it wasn’t crazy because I saw kids shitting on the sidewalks like when they opened Shanghai Disneyland. This was a different kind of crazy altogether.

The adventure began when I received an invitation to attend a “sneak peak” preview of Happy Fun Land before it opened to the general public. China’s amusement park industry was booming and the newest themed entertainment mecca was about to come online. In order to ensure a successful launch, they were looking to build world-wide buzz through any and all media outlets. They reached out to reporters, journalists, columnists, podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, and theme park nerds from all over the world, including Thrills and Chills, to come visit their resort. The preview event would occur over the Chinese New Year holiday before the grand opening celebration. The idea of being the crash test dummy for what would surely become a world-renowned vacation destination was quite thrilling while sitting at home in Medium-Sized Town, USA. It didn’t take long for me to begin wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.

My adventures began when I landed in Shanghai Airport and was greeted by a smiling, twenty-something year old holding a handwritten sign: “Nike Farmington.”

 “Hello!” I waved as I greeted him. “I’m Nick, nice to meet you. By the way, it’s spelled N-I-C-K.”

“I’m sorry for spelling your name wrong. I’m Eric. E-R-I-C,” he said with reasonably good English.

“That’s a very authentic Chinese name you have there.”

“My parents named me after their favorite musician: Eric Clapton.”

Eric would act as my guide and interpreter over the coming days. He was assigned to me as I spoke no Chinese or had any clue where I was going, as this was my first visit to the enormous country. And perhaps to keep an eye on me as well.

The Happy Fun Land resort was located in New Suzhou, which is about an hour-and-a-half east of Shanghai. Unfortunately, our travel situation was fucked up from the start. I wasn’t allowed to drive because foreign and international drivers’ licenses are not recognized in China. I would need a Chinese driver’s license, passport, and a residence permit before being legally allowed to operate a vehicle. Eric didn’t own a car himself so driving ourselves wasn’t an option. Eric informed me the railways would be exceptionally busy due to the holiday. In fact, I’m told the Chinese New Year is the world’s largest human migration as millions of Chinese workers travel home to their families. Apparently, the trains are so overcrowded travelers wear diapers for their multi-hour long journeys home. No thank you to that. It seemed like our best bet was to take a taxi. And thus I got to experience the trip’s first thrill ride - the drive to Suzhou.

“The way I see it, traffic in China is a free-for-all,” my cousin Jim explained to me over a beer the night before I flew out. He had spent three months overseas for his job in the automotive manufacturing world and attempted to give me an idea of what to expect. “There appear to be no road rules at all, and if you survive the day, you’ll do it all again the next day. The stoplights that they do have must only be for decoration. They don’t have traffic circles in China either. Traffic circles only function if people follow the rules, hence they don't work there. A roundabout would only add to the chaos.”

“I’ve been on the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world, I’m sure I can handle it,” I said.

“Just you wait and see! Taxi drivers drive in the middle of two lanes so they can swing into either one of them as needed. According to my made-up insurance statistics, the most dangerous cars are green and driven by the Chinese.” Jim thought he was hilarious. But I was about to find out if he was right or not.

After navigating us through the sprawling terminal building, Eric flagged down a taxi cab and negotiated the rate with the driver. Jim had also warned me that, “as soon as you climb into a taxi, the very first thing you do is fasten that seat belt, pull it as tight as you possibly can, and grab onto anything that feels or looks sturdy.” Well, to my delight, this particular cab didn’t have a working seat belt. I had barely sat down and closed the door when we suddenly veered out into the street into the chaos of traffic. As we darted in between cars I was left with clutching onto the seat in front of me until my knuckles turned white. Eric must be used to the traffic as he cracked many jokes with our driver in rapid Chinese, most I assumed were at my expense. I thought that was about as funny as ejector seats in a helicopter.

I had to quickly put it out of my mind; however, as we veered across another street and nearly died for the sixteenth time this trip. In America, us coaster nerds are always touting the safety of theme parks by using the same old quote “you’re more likely to be injured on the way to the amusement park than by riding a roller coaster.” I quickly realized this might be even more true in China. Luckily, we arrived at the Happy Fun Land welcome center in one piece. Unfortunately for me, this short trip turned out to be the easiest and most uneventful travel of my wacky, life-changing vacation.

Want to keep reading?

Check out Happy Fun Land now!