The title of Jesus as King is alluded to in various passages in the Bible. In the Catholic Church, a feast of Jesus King of the Universe is celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year in late November or early December. King Jesus rules from Heaven. Sometimes Heaven is thought of as a castle or a mansion, so it’s fitting that the main park icon would be associated with Heaven.
Cinderella’s Castle would be transformed at Miracle Kingdom in several ways. The blue accents on the Castle would become gold–a main color associated with Christ and His Kingship. The rest of the stonework would take on an Ivory color, which is sometimes associated with natural light. The 6 mosaics in the Castle would be re-themed to key moments in Jesus’ ministry: His Birth, the start of His Public Ministry, His Death, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and His Heavenly Coronation.
I love soccer, but I also love theme parks. Some of the countries represented in the World Cup are known for their theme parks, but others aren't really. As time allows, I'll focus on the most creative theme park in the countries represented in the World Cup.
USA (Disneyland): The USA is where things really got rolling for the theme park industry. I will be using the best, unique theme park for each country. Although something could be said for the Magic Kingdom, Epcot (joke: World Showcase is generally into soccer, but Future World is more about golf), Animal Kingdom, or Universal Studios Florida being the top park in the US, Disneyland gets the nod for its history, annual attendance, and attraction make-up. It's latest attraction is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It also boasts the Imagineering Forum's favorite rides (albeit ranked for WDW) of Haunted Mansion (#1) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (tied for #2). Indiana Jones Adventure and the Matterhorn are a couple of rides that you'll find at Disneyland but not at WDW.
Qatar (Lusail Winter Wonderland): The host country for the World Cup is getting a new theme park this month. Over 50 attractions are located there. The location and the colors make it look like it would be rather photogenic.
Netherlands (Efteling): One of the best theme parks in the world is Efteling. It features great dark rides including Symbolica (which won Theme Park Insider's best new dark ride award) as well as coasters like the Baron 1898 dive coaster.
For an Imagineering take on Efteling, check out @TheSorcerersApprentice project:
Thread 'Efteling ~ World of Wonders'
Wales (Oakwood Theme Park): I was tempted to go with the theme park that has a people-powered coaster and a solar-powered coaster, but Oakwood is going to be your best bet for thrills. The roller coaster Bounce goes beyond vertical and tops out at 95 mph. Drenched is not your typical shoot-the-chute as it’s drop is 100 feet.
Japan (Tokyo DisneySea): many consider DisneySea to be the top theme park in the world with its many nautically-based lands (although ironically, Sindbad's Storybook Voyage is the only proper water ride) that are rich with details. The Fortress Explorations is a great walk-through attraction. The Nemo & Friends SeaRider is a unique motion simulator style ride. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea uses submarines to take the guests "under water" (although not really under water unlike the earlier attempts at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom). But the highlight of the park is the Journey to the Center of the Earth thrill ride.
Come face-to-face with the Himalayan Snow Ghost with Scooby-Doo and the Gang in this ride based on “That’s Snow Ghost” from season 1! Although the show takes place in the U.S. near the Canada border (perhaps in the White Mountains of New Hampshire), the ride is set in the actual Himalayas–home of the Snow Ghost (before his death, he was the Yeti). The queue is the Wolf’s End Lodge lobby complete with a stuffed white timber wolf and props that build the suspense of what is to come. Although it is peak skiing season in the region, there are no other guests in the hotel. At one point, guests watch the proprietor Mr. Greenway explains to the gang (in skiing attire) that they better lock their doors or else the Snow Ghost will get them and turn them into ghosts. An occasional wolf howl is heard, too. Close to the loading station, guests hear Fred instruct the gang to hop on the snowmobile train and head up to the top of the mountain to see if they can find the Snow Ghost.
Guests board a snowmobile train to begin their climb up the mountain. On the first lift hill, the gang hears the roar of Snow Ghost. As they climb the second lift hill, they see the Snow Ghost near the top of the mountain. As the guests near the top, they see what remains of a rope bridge that the Snow Ghost has seemingly dismantled. Fred is overheard saying, “Uhoh, we’re losing traction. Hold on tight!” The train now goes down the mountain backwards. At one point, the train stops and they see the Snow Ghost on a screen with dynamite. “Dynamite?!” the gang shouts in unison. The train continues down the mountain forwards now with increased speed. It now approaches a large animatronic of the Snow Ghost holding Scooby-Doo over his head and then letting out a muffled cry as they begin to roll down the mountain. At the base of the mountain, guests see the unmasked Snow Ghost–it’s Mr. Greenway!
Bible: Matthew 26:36-27:48, Mark 15:23, John 19:28-30, Psalms 115-118
In Bible World, The Mad Tea Party teacups ride is transformed into The Last Supper Cup Spin in Gospel-land. When Jesus celebrated the Last Supper on what is called Holy Thursday, he celebrated a Jewish seder meal for Passover. Traditionally there are four cups that are drunk from at such a seder meal (see, for example, https://tomperna.org/2015/04/02/the-four-cups-the-last-supper-and-the-cup-of-consummation/). The first 3–the Cup of Sanctification (“kiddush”), the Cup of Proclamation (“haggadah”), and the Cup of Blessing (“berekah”)--were all drunk by Jesus at the Last Supper. Although the 4th cup called the Cup of Praise (“hallel”) was not drunk by Jesus at the Last Supper, Dr. Scott Hahn and other Biblical experts say that Jesus drunk of it on the Cross in the form of a sponge filled with vinegar.
The ride system remains the same–6 cups in each of the 3 turntables. Each turntable contains 2 of each of the kiddush/haggadah/berekah cups. At the center is the hallel cup with Jesus’ words “I thirst” on one side and “It is finished” on the other. The music for the ride is the Hallel Psalms (115-118).
With a little re-theming, the popular Magic Kingdom flat ride will give Bible World guests a chance to spin with this important event in Jesus’ earthly life.
I began a Scooby-Doo World theme park last October with a Scooby-Doo Haunted Mansion (see scooby-doo-haunted-mansion.html). The ride layout is similar in layout to Pirates of the Caribbean.
Taking much of its inspiration from the season 1 “Go Away Ghost Ship” (1969: 2 years after Disneyland's Pirates opened) guests will encounter a mystery on the Red Sea with Scooby-Doo and the gang. Guests board rowboats in search for the Ghost Ship. The line “Dead men tell no tales” takes on new meaning as Captain Redbeard’s ghost seeks to wreak havoc on the high seas. The ride starts by a narration of the freighter captain C.L. Magnus telling Mystery Incorporated about one of his ships being hijacked by Captain Redbeard. He then describes the legend of the captain. During the main part of the ride, guests will pass by the ghost ship surrounded by fog with Captain Redbeard cackling. The gang gets on-board the ship and is chased away by the crew of Captain Redbeard. A later scene takes place in the underground lair of Skull Island. The town scenes involve the gang getting chased around by the ghost pirates and the ghost sword. At one point, Scooby and gy ride a jackhammer. At the end of the ride, Redbeard’s Ghost is unmasked to be C.L. Magnus. He had hijacked his own ships to profit from items on-board. The fog surrounding the Ghost Ship was caused by dry ice.
Although the focus is on the characters and story of “Go Away Ghost Ship,” other pirates are based on ones found in “The Ghostly Creep from the Deep” with the Harlem Globetrotters and the movie “Scooby-Doo and Pirates Ahoy.”
I have started a new discussion on Imagineering Design at the WDW Magic Imagineering Forum (https://forums.wdwmagic.com/threads/imagineering-201.979083/). It's called "Imagineering 201." It's not the most basic of Imagineering theory but it builds upon fundamental ideas. I'm basing the "lessons" off of sections in David Younger's "Theme Park Design" book (http://www.themeparkdesignbook.com/), which is essentially the textbook on theme park design (and which I received as a present at Christmas). We are starting with the 5 senses and will move on to other ideas as I make time for posts.
Exodus Land was always planned to be a part of Bible World, but it took a group project (as part of a competition) to give some special attention to it. The group project was a revisioning of the Magic Kingdom as The Great Movie Ride park. I was tasked with creating a land for The Ten Commandments (starring Charlton Heston). Although we switched plans to do a Finding Nemo park in Sydney, Australia instead, I kept my write-up to incorporate into the blog here.
The entire Exodus land in Bible World is based on the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston. Hence, the land is also nicknamed “Ten Commandments Land.” It is located on the left side of Miracle Kingdom (formerly the Magic Kingdom), although the exact land area will be determined at a later stage. What follows is the listing of the attractions and food for the land.
Red Sea Walk-Through
This might be the most famous scene from the movie…now recreated in theme park form! As guests leave the shoreline, they walk past a statue of Moses who is striking the ground with his staff. In sort of the reverse of the water effects at Poseidon’s Fury at Universal’s Island of Adventures, guests walk between two walls of water. As in the movie, the sea bottom has some boulders scattered about.
The Plagues of Egypt dark ride
The plagues are seen in the movie. Guests can experience these scenes from the movie through an Omnimover ride. For more details, check out:
Golden Calf spinner ride
Bible: Exodus 32
Moses has gone up Mount Sinai to be with God and await his message. As the wait becomes many days (and even weeks), the Hebrews grow impatient and lose faith. Dathan is the new leader and he instructs the group to construct a golden calf as an idol. The priest Aaron aids in the gold plating. A person (Lilia) is ordered to be sacrificed followed by revelry and other sinfulness.
Guests are thrust into this movie scene where they will experience for themselves the people’s celebrative energy (without the evilness of their actions). The golden calf shimmers without blinding or giving off heat. At night, colored lighting helps to produce the shimmering effect. The middle eastern music is upbeat (and picks up tempo during the ride) and features the sounds of trumpets, tambourines, drums, and flutes/piccolos. Remnants of the things that were used to forge the golden calf–metallic jewelry, chalices (and vessels of alcohol), and plates (and half-eaten food, especially meats)–are seen throughout the queue. Guests climb aboard smaller versions of the calf, although they are silver in color (with differing colored jewel accents). Each of the 16 ride vehicles can hold 4 guests (2 rows of 2), with the guests in the front row controlling the pitch of the vehicle (much like the familiar Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride). The ride lasts 90 seconds.
Big Thunder on Mount Sinai roller coaster
Bible: Exodus 19:16-25
Having warned the Hebrews to prepare for the third day, Moses ascends Mount Sinai. On the third day, there are peals of lightning with thunder that shakes the mountain and its base. At first the mountain is surrounded with a dark cloud, but later on the air is filled with smoke and a sound like a trumpeting shofar.
These scenes are recreated in the runaway mine train style coaster.
Meal of Freedom
This restaurant memorializes the scene from the movie where the Hebrews eat the passover meal so that they get spared that night. Now called a seder meal, Jews celebrate this meal annually on the day of Passover. Some Christians also celebrate a seder meal close to the date of Holy Thursday.
There are three main dining rooms, with one room’s meal starting every 30 minutes. The host cast member explains the seder meal’s food items and their significance: karpas (parsley or celery in salt water, maror (horseradish), chazeret (romaine lettuce or endive), charoset (apples or dried fruit with spices), beitzah (roasted egg), zeroah (roasted lamb shank bone), matzoh (unleavened bread), and wine (or grape juice for those under 21). Ritual elements are also explained while leaving some time for parties to converse at their tables. The room resets for the next meal–90 minutes after the previous one.
Food in Flight
This quick service establishment provides the two foods that the Israelites ate for 40 years in the desert–manna and quail. The manna is a type of bread with a hint of honey in it. The quail wings come in different flavors (similar to chicken wings).
As with many of the people who were in-person for or watching live the “Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products” at the 2022 D23 Convention, I’m primarily interested in the rides at the Disney parks. As such, I was rather disappointed at the presentation.
The presentation was limited in details (especially for new announcements). At some specific times, it felt more like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with song/dance numbers. It was also rather slow; at one point, I was saying, “There’s 13 more minutes and there hasn’t really been anything announced!!”
There were some demonstrations of things coming to the parks, notably a walk-around Mandalorian with Grogu (cool!) and a giant Hulk in a helmet and a suit (not as fluid or believable as people were expecting). A Figment walk-around puppet is coming to Epcot, but that’s a far cry from the hope of getting a revamp of the Journey into Imagination ride. Disney Cruise Line is getting another ship (called Treasure) as well as a port-of-call in Australia, but that doesn’t excite me. Ride-wise, there were more details at D23 regarding Zootopia coming to Shanghai Disneyland and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure replacing Splash Mountain at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in late 2024. A big upcoming focus for the parks will be when the Frozen lands open at Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney Studios in Paris, and Tokyo DisneySea (as part of a larger Fantasy Springs land). Those lands all look rather neat, especially the one in Tokyo. We also got word that the area in Paris will get a Tangled flat ride. The biggest surprise was over at California Adventure–the previously-announced Quinjet E-ticket ride is getting downgraded to some sort of Avengers multiverse screen ride (details are limited at this point).
The most interesting part of the Parks presentation came at the end, when they did “Blue Sky” Imagineering. Unfortunately, the D23 Convention is a poor time for Disney to do Blue Sky Imagineering, because that means they haven’t finalized plans yet. DSNY Newscast does a good job of summarizing the where and the how of the possible projects:
D23 EXPO 2022 | Walt Disney World's EARLY EXPANSION PLANS - Disney News
In short, the project that looks the closest to being green-lit is Moana for Animal Kingdom–it looks like it would be comprised of a spinner (a re-theme of Triceratops Spin) and a flume ride (which would maybe take the place of the theater where Finding Nemo: the Musical is located). They also indicated that Zootopia might also have an area in Animal Kingdom, which would probably lead to a re-theme of Dinosaur. Over at the Magic Kingdom, they showed some very loose concept art for a Coco-themed land near Big Thunder Mountain. They also mentioned that Encanto could have a land there. And then there was a Villain’s Land briefly mentioned. This portion of the presentation was not formalized so there’s a high chance that none of them will see the light of day.
Disney was tasked with trying to keep up with Universal as they build Epic Universe. By not having much to announce, Disney is letting Universal take the lead in the Theme Park War for at least the rest of the decade. The market share (and enthusiasm among fans) is going to keep tilting more and more in-favor of Universal.
I believe that the D23 Convention is the most exciting planned announcement of theme parks in the industry. Tomorrow (Sunday, September 11 at 12:30 p.m. CST) will be the theme parks presentation at the 2022 D23 Convention in Orlando. The Orlando D23 Convention, held every 2 years (although it has been 3 years since the last one due to COVID) has the best overall announcements. Some rumors are getting out there about what will be announced.
Universal is working on adding their 3rd Orlando theme park (for what it’s worth, I call Volcano Bay a water park). One possible Imagineering prompt, which has been done before, would be to come up with the 5th gate (i.e. park) for WDW. However, it looks unlikely that Disney will announce a 5th gate at D23.
More likely, Disney will try to "plus" its current 4 parks. For me, I think there's 2 things that Disney should for sure announce. The first is that Disney should announce a replacement to Chester and Hester's Dino-rama at Animal Kingdom. DSNY Newscast is of the opinion that The Jungle Book will be the IP to take the spot as the recent movie did well in the international box office. Prior to hearing this, I was thinking an Ice Age family coaster would be the most suitable replacement. It could be probably something like Big Thunder Mountain in style with some set pieces and Audio Animatronics to better tell a story. Alternatively, Disney could go ahead and double down on Indiana Jones (with the upcoming movie) and theme an excavation coaster. If they go that route, it might be time to re-theme the Dinosaur dark jeep ride to Indiana Jones. DSNY Newscast also thinks that Up would be another option for a replacement.
Secondly, Disney should announce a Colombia pavilion with an Encanto Casa Ride at Epcot. It makes a lot of sense due to how popular the movie was. It seems to be a pretty natural fit for World Showcase, which could still use some new attractions/countries even after the addition of Ratatouille. DSNY Newscast also believes that Disneyland’s Tarzan’s Treehouse, which Disney has announced is being re-themed but they haven’t said what, will be Encanto. The treehouse will be a faster turn-around than a ride.
DSNY Newscast is also predicting that Journey into Imagination at Epcot will be overhauled to feature Dreamfinder again and classic Figment. If that’s the case, there will be a lot of excitement among hardcore Disney fans who find the current version of the ride as something that leaves something to be desired.
There are a few other things that DSNY Newscast is predicting. Walt Disney Studios in Paris had announced in 2018 that a Star Wars land was coming to the park. However, in recent months, the Disneyland Paris president has said that that land had been brought back to the drawing boards. One possible replacement would be Avatar–an IP that is already represented in Animal Kingdom. Another hopeful prediction would be the People Mover making its return to Disneyland as part of the Tomorrowland revamp. Also, there will probably be some fireworks announcements–one for Disneyland and one for Disneyland (perhaps Happily Ever After).
I plan to watch the presentation live on YouTube. Next week, I’ll do a reaction to the announcements.
Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH) is the premier park owned by Cedar Fair (the company that also owns my local Valleyfair). Excluding Top Thrill Dragster (which is currently not operating due to an investigation surrounding an injury a bystander suffered), the park has 15 roller coasters. The park is located on a peninsula on Lake Erie that also includes a water park, a hotel, beachcraft rentals, and some restaurants. This was my second time to the park; I went once about 10 years ago with a friend but we weren’t able to ride any of the top coasters (we waited 2 hours in line for Millennium Force, but it shut down twice).
My morning began with Mass and breakfast at the Motel 6 along I-75 in Sidney, OH. The drive to Cedar Point took about 1.5 hours. I wasn’t aware of any shuttle to the park (although I saw one later), so I paid the high parking fee at the park.
I was planning to meet up with an acquaintance from the Imagineering forum who has a season pass to Cedar Point, but he suffered some car trouble on the way there. I found out that I’d be alone for the day after I rode my first ride–Valraven dive coaster. With a couple of straight-down drops, it was already an improvement over my first trip to Cedar Point.
It is difficult to reconstruct the entire visit a few months afterwards, but I’ll try. Many of the coasters did not have a place to leave a bag on them (unlike the coasters at Valleyfair), so I found places to hide my bag while I rode. I rode some of the other coasters on the left side of the park. Blue Streak is an old wooden coaster that still is delightful to ride. There is the Raptor inverted coaster that set records when it opened. Iron Dragon is a suspended coaster that isn’t high speed, but it’s still fun. I rode the Rogarou floorless coaster twice.
Millennium Force is worth describing, in part, due to my long anticipation for it. The lines were much shorter this time around–10 minutes the first time, and 20 minutes the second time. There’s some cheesy space-techno music when you get to the show building. Millennium Force was the first coaster (in 2000) to exceed 300 feet. It has an accelerated lift hill that helps get the train to the top quickly. And then it’s all speed from there!
Once a world record holder (the first coaster to pass 200 feet in height), Magnum XL-200 is showing its age! This bumpy and jerky ride was not worth a second ride even without any wait!
In great contrast to Magnum, the Rocky Mountain Construction designed Steel Vengeance was a ride that I couldn’t get enough of! It’s a steel coaster that uses wooden supports but it does rolls that it seems like it shouldn’t be able to do. Perhaps the first sign that something was different with this coaster is the fact that there are metal detectors in the queue. If anyone (including myself the first time) had any sort of metal (or anything that was not secure like a hat), they had to be locked in a locker (luckily, they were free this time). Those who cleared the metal detector benefited from a slightly-shorter ride. From the first big drop to the end, the coaster rolls you every possible way. I rode it a second time.
Maverick had a bit of a wait, but it was well worth it! It is a steel coaster that features a launch up-hill and into a beyond-vertical (95 degree) first drop. Gemini is a racing coaster that features two tracks.
The other coaster I rode was Gatekeeper, a winged coaster that I was beginning to black-out on (I didn’t ride that a second time).
Although not a coaster, Windseeker was my favorite memory from my first trip. It is a 301-foot tall swing ride, which looks particularly great at night. This time I rode it, a woman got escorted off the ride for having her phone out during the ride. The ride had to re-start. I rode other rides such as the Matterhorn (a circular gondola style ride), Troika, maXair, Tiki Twirl (an ode to an Imagineering friend), Midway Carousel, and Cedar Downs Racing Derby (a high speed carousel-style ride that closed out my day).
One non-coaster that I want to describe a little bit more is the new Snake River Expedition. As can be seen in the pictures, it’s a highly-themed boat ride with narration similar to the Jungle Cruise at Disney parks. The boat makes a few stops on the ride where some dialogue and action takes place. Although the narration wasn’t anywhere close to the Jungle Cruise, I’m hopeful that Cedar Point can hone it over time.
Food offerings in the park were pretty high quality and had short waits. I had some BBQ brisket for lunch and then an Italian sandwich for dinner. I had considered eating at Melt, which is a famous grilled sandwich shop in Cleveland, but decided against it due to the price and time required. I also celebrated a major Supreme Court decision with a draft beer in the park.
I watched a couple of shows, too. There was a saloon-style show that was well done. The evening ended with what I would best describe as a show choir performance on a big stage.
Overall, it was a great day, and I was happy to just get into my room at my hotel (since there wasn’t anyone working the front desk)!
The next day, I visited the Merry-Go-Round Museum in downtown Sandusky. I grew in awe of the artsmanship that goes into crafting all of the animals. The visit ended with a ride on a Merry-Go-Round; I rode the papa sea monster.