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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > TR: PKI Phantom Theatre guided tour !!

TR: PKI Phantom Theatre guided tour !!

RobLec RobLec Profile

Posted:
8/16/02 at
10:27:09 PM

Yesterday evening, about 16 coaster and darkride enthusiasts were treated to a guided tour of the Phantom Theatre building at PKI. There were a lot of familiar faces I've seen before but just a few I actually know by name: Carol Holmes ("acer") and Shaggy, who later introduced me to Sparky. My older son and frequent riding partner Jeff came along as well. So happens that Phantom Theatre debuted the same year that I started taking our kids to Kings Island (though BGT was actually their first park).

The director of DAFE (Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts) was there passing out DAFE.org buttons to everyone. We were soon joined by Jeff Siebert and David Mandt of PKI Public Relations and walked into the exit of the old Phantom Theater. It's strange to not hear the Maestro taunting us in that little vestibule!

The loading & unloading platform was unchanged, and everyone was snapping pictures of the theatre cars/seats and those impressive chandeliers hanging overhead. We then walked out into the queue area, which again has been essentially untouched, except that the posters have been removed from the walls. These were the supposed theatre bills for the characters such as Helga Bovine and Willard Warbler. I for one would be willing to bet that the posters are now in someone's memorabilia collection. Recent patrons of PKI who may have never actually gone thru the queues (as PT was normally a walk-on) have probably never even noticed these posters.

Jeff Siebert gave us some history of the attraction, and introduced us to "Mr Animatronic", the maintenance man who has been responsible for PT for the past six or eight years. I think his name was Steve (sorry if I got that wrong). He and his sidekick would later show us some of the "guts" of Phantom Theatre.

None of the effects were operating, but it was good to once again see the Maestro staring down at us from up in the balcony. Unfortunately, as we would later see, he was the only character still in his original location. But those spooky 3D statue busts in the hallway were still there and lit up. They have always been among my favorite of all the effects.

We walked back thru the loading platform and into the actual ride area. All of the picture frames and the characters behind them had been removed. But there were still many of the decorations hanging on the walls, and it was easy for those of use who've ridden a thousdand times to tell where each of the scenes were and what went on there. We were reciting the lines of the poet and the usher and spouting expressions such as "Oh Noooo", "Curtain call already" and of course "close that door!". With the work lights on we could see the ductwork that would blew cold air on us and the mirror where the usher appeared. We joked that Mighty Bosco had finally gotten his door open and the stage hand escaped the rope that had held him suspended for ten years. The lighting board was still there but of course the stage manager character was gone. "This is no place for fooling around. Backstage is for performers only!"

At this point we were taken thru a side door and were shown the underlying track mechanism for the ride transport. Beneath the floor was very typical looking tubular steel track, and each car has a pair of load-bearing wheels and two pairs of lateral wheels, much like any steel coaster except there were no upstops that I could see. Steve (Mr Animatronic) filled us in on some specifics. There is a 220-volt motor beneath every third car and a hot bus runs along the far side of the track (on the inside of the track circuit). The speed setting is variable from 0 to 10, which they usually ran at 7, providing about a 5 minute ride. They intend to speed it up a bit for next years new attraction. The mechanism which positioned the seats by rotating the cars utilized an extra third track, and worked much like the tracking mechnism on the "X" coaster.

We walked past the central theatre venue area, now nearly empty, and into the "prop room" area of the ride where the gargoyle and mummy etc were located. In this area is where they had moved most of the other figures from the ride. Most of the props in that immediate area were still there, including a real player piano where the Maestro used to stand with sheet music spinning over his head. Except for a few dead keys, the piano is functional and my son tried to play a few bars of the very familiar Phantom Theatre theme music.

Off the side of the prop room was a loading dock where all of the theatre's anamatronic characters had been collected for transport to some storage facility. It looked as though they had all gathered there for a farewell party. Shaggy got his picture taken with Helga Bovine.

We were then led into the adjacent control room for the entire ride. It was a small room but really impressed the engineer in me. There were six racks of mixer/amplifiers, numbered 1 to 52 for each of the ride's sound effects which were pumped thru 100 speakers located throughout the ride. Another smaller panel had hundreds of individual toggle switches which could be used to manually activate each of the characters individual body movements, presumably for maintenance purposes. We chatted with Steve about the mechanics of the animatronic characters, which operated on pneumatic air and he explained how, by varying the voltage going to the various solenoids they could tweak the movement of the characters' body parts.

He explained to us that the ride was divided into four distinct "scenes": the lobby was one scene, then everything up to the usher with no legs (hurry along now, the show is about to begin), then the central theatre venue in which we saw all the characters perform (the scene behind the glass) and then finally everything after that, basicly the piano, the prop room and the furnace.

We went back out into the ride area (with the mummy and gargoyle, centurian and giant mouse etc) where David held a drawing for a door prize. And the winner was ... drum roll please ... Carol Holmes, a very worthy recipient indeed. She won a package of PKI 20th anniversary memorabilia, which was the year that Phantom Theatre first opened, with some marketing brochures and a poster and a video tape of a Phantom Theatre ride-thru. (PS Carol - pls let us know when we can see that video!).

For the last part of the tour, we walked thru a small workshop located in the very center of the ride circuit and into the inside of the grand theatre venue, the glassed-in area. It was surprisingly sparse in there, as anyone who has ever ridden PT when the ride was stopped cold tell ... the characters aren't actually on the stage. The only things on the stage were the balcony structures, Garbonzo's cannon, and the Maestro's organ, which was really just a box with a keyboard painted on it.

All of this was actually located behind five HUGE panes of 1/2 inch thick glass. David explained that these pieces of glass were so large that they had to cut a hole in the roof of the building in order to get the glass in place. The characters themselves had then been located on the outside of these glass panes, facing away from you, the ride spectators, so that what you actually saw was the reflection of the characters. Which is how they accomplished the ghostly, etherial appearance of these characters. When you looked upon the theatre scene from the ride, you were actually looking thru two layers of glass. I had always wondered exactly how they did this (Shaggy remembered the name for this special effect, though I could not).

Walking back thru the workshop, Steve showed us some of the molds they used to form replacement masks for the characters. Their faces were for the most part rubber and they did wear out after a while. He also told us of some of the things they've had to go thru in the course of keeping a one-of-a-kind attraction up and running. We left the building about 8PM, again thru that little "you'll be back" vestibule, and Jeff Siebert handed each of us an original press release photo and a logo sheet of the Maestro and his Phantom Theatre as a souvenier.

Thanks Jeff! This tour was a wonderful thing for you and Dave to do for us all. Special thanks to Mr Animatronic and his assistant, who gave us all that inside info, and thanks to Shaggy for passing this along to the rest if us!

Our evening hadn't ended yet. We chatted briefly with Shaggy and Sparky, then my son Jeff and I enjoyed a ride on Adventure Express, had some ice cream and headed back for what was to be our night ride on the Beast. But we found only a two-train wait for the #2 seat (hey, I'm not complaining!) so it was a dusk ride instead.

And so we ended the day which had begun 12 hours earlier enjoying the early morning ERT in the Action Zone, a Gold Pass benefit known as Thrill Seeker Thursday, after which we had stopped outside the gate to buy our 2003 Gold Passes for next year.
As the Maestro says "You'll be back".

Hope you enjoyed this ... Thanks for reading it!
Rob LeClaire

Re: TR: PKI Phantom Theatre guided tour !! by chillforce chillforce Profile at 8/17/02 12:01:16 AM

Thanks for that Rob, it sounded like a very interesting event. Are you sure that was not rigged for Carol to win? LOL. Sounds like you all won though, with those little souveniers.

Again, Great Job by Jeff and his counterparts for what was a tremendous oppurtunity.

Ed

Re: TR: PKI Phantom Theatre guided tour !! by Masher at 8/17/02 12:51:48 AM

Thanks for the fine TR Rob. As a DAFE at heart it was quite an interesting read.

Enjoyed your post, Rob! MommaBeast ~n/m~ by MommaBeast MommaBeast Profile at 8/17/02 12:54:50 AM

Fun, fun, FUN! by Shaggy Shaggy Profile at 8/17/02 1:52:30 AM

Thanks for the trip report Rob. It was good seeing you again. I had not realized it had been waaaay back in Novemeber that we had last seen each other, but indeed it was. A flood of memories came back to me when you said that, of those last rides on Beast that evening and for the season.

Actually last night's tour was the most fun and interesting thing I have experienced at PKI in quite a while. I raved about it to Mr. Siebert in a phone conversation today. He said that it was indeed a success and hopefully they will be able to do more similar things in the future! I love many types of rides and very much enjoy the experience of riding them, but truthfully seeing the inner workings is often more fascinating for me.

A few comments:

> Yesterday evening, about 16 coaster and darkride
> enthusiasts were treated to a guided tour of the
> Phantom Theatre building at PKI. There were a lot
> of familiar faces I've seen before but just a few
> I actually know by name:

There was a good sized group, and so many familiar faces indeed. I knew (or at least was familiar with) about 2/3 of the people there. And I never knew that half of them read URC. As I alluded in another post, it made me realize how many "lurkers" are out there!

> The director of DAFE (Darkride and Funhouse
> Enthusiasts) was there passing out DAFE.org
> buttons to everyone. We were soon joined by Jeff
> Siebert and David Mandt of PKI Public Relations
> and walked into the exit of the old Phantom
> Theater. It's strange to not hear the Maestro
> taunting us in that little vestibule!

The Maestro's dialog in the vestibule is the one area where I am not up to speed. I never spent much time in there waiting through the queues so I never got his specific speech memorized. Too bad, maybe I'll find someone who does know it someday to help me out. In the meantime, it will remain one of the "Mysteries of Phantom Theater."

> Jeff Siebert gave us some history of the
> attraction, and introduced us to "Mr
> Animatronic", the maintenance man who has
> been responsible for PT for the past six or eight
> years.

His name was indeed Steve and he was very kind and patient with us on the tour. I thought to myself "He either thinks we are completely nuts, or he appreciates our interest." Let's hope it was the latter ;-)

> None of the effects were operating, but it was
> good to once again see the Maestro staring down
> at us from up in the balcony. Unfortunately, as
> we would later see, he was the only character
> still in his original location.

Actually a few more characters remained in their original locations as well... the usher leading to the grand theater hall, the Gargoyle and Mummy in the prop room, as well as the two handymen that shoveled coal in the furnace finale still remained in place. But as you said, the rest all had been placed uniquely elswhere. It was like a smorgasboard of fun for me. Having all those figures so close and touchable was a dream come true. I must have goofed in pictures with half of them! Although I learned my lesson when I got a mouth full of "angel hair" fuzz from behind the poet-reciting statues comedy/tradgedy mask... blech!

> We walked back thru the loading platform and into
> the actual ride area. All of the picture frames
> and the characters behind them had been removed.
> But there were still many of the decorations
> hanging on the walls, and it was easy for those
> of use who've ridden a thousdand times to tell
> where each of the scenes were and what went on
> there.

Although I was laughing and reciting lines through this part of the tour, it was actually the moment when reality hit me. I was nearly devistated to see the characters already all gone (Thank goodness Mr. Siebert had prepeared me beforehand so I would not be in shock when I saw the characters missing... it still hit hard.) Even though I knew that they were going away, it was the first *true* moment I had of thinking "Oh my gosh, this thing is getting torn out!" It was actually very sobering for me.

> At this point we were taken thru a side door and
> were shown the underlying track mechanism for the
> ride transport.

I am glad you caught most of the specifics. I was toward the back of the group for the first half of Steve's explanation and missed most of it. I did worm my way up front to touch and see the track and mechanisms first-hand. Thanks for your explanation then about the "X" track that turned the vehicles.

Now, Jeff thought me a moron at this point, because I never knew how the conveyance device worked. I exlained to him that I would have never guessed it was like roller coaster track and had drive motors underneath the cars. Honestly, I thought that the turntable had played a part in the movement of the vehicles and acted as sort of a cog or gear that basically kept things moving. It was truly fun to get to see underneath things. It was also funny to discover that as cars passed the "usher" scene that behind the cars was the large garage access door leading to the maintenance access and ecology was staffed there. Had I worked ecology, I would have been tempted to bang on that door all day to frighten guests on board ;-)

> We walked past the central theatre venue area,
> now nearly empty, and into the "prop
> room" area of the ride where the gargoyle
> and mummy etc were located. In this area is where
> they had moved most of the other figures from the
> ride. Most of the props in that immediate area
> were still there, including a real player piano
> where the Maestro used to stand with sheet music
> spinning over his head. Except for a few dead
> keys, the piano is functional and my son tried to
> play a few bars of the very familiar Phantom
> Theatre theme music.

The piano amazed me because it was real. I always thought it a sophisticated prop built for the ride. According to Mr. Siebert, the piano will remain at PKI and will be used elsewhere.

> Off the side of the prop room was a loading dock
> where all of the theatre's anamatronic characters
> had been collected for transport to some storage
> facility. It looked as though they had all
> gathered there for a farewell party. Shaggy got
> his picture taken with Helga Bovine.

That Hilda is one big gal! Very.... voluptuous. But imagine my surprise when I discovered she stuffs her bra ;-) Don't ask me how I figured that one out. ;-)

> We were then led into the adjacent control room
> for the entire ride. It was a small room but
> really impressed the engineer in me.

It impressed me too. But this is where I was lost. It amazed me seeing all the componenets required to operate that ride. However, to try and comprehend or repeat it is a whole different story. This is a classic example of a time when I realized just how many specialists are required to keep things working at parks. Imagine the huge task of being there when a ride such as PT is installed and having the great task of learning how to fix/operate all that equipment seemingly overnight. My hat is off to those fellas.

Just outside this control room is where most of the figures are now stored awaiting crates. They will be stored and not sold or relocated (for now) until Paramount Parks decides their eventual fate. It is good to know there may be a possibility they may crop up elsewhere. I just hope the lot stays together. Jeff and I had a melencoly moment away from each other where we both put on our sad faces in saying a final good-bye to them. But of course Mr. Siebert shook us out of it when he propmtly said... "Oh well, out with the old, in with the new!"

> We went back out into the ride area (with the
> mummy and gargoyle, centurian and giant mouse
> etc) where David held a drawing for a door prize.
> And the winner was ... drum roll please ... Carol
> Holmes, a very worthy recipient indeed.

Very deserved. I know she will treasure it as much as anyone could! Congrats Carol!

> For the last part of the tour, we walked thru a
> small workshop located in the very center of the
> ride circuit and into the inside of the grand
> theatre venue, the glassed-in area. It was
> surprisingly sparse in there, as anyone who has
> ever ridden PT when the ride was stopped cold
> tell ... the characters aren't actually on the
> stage. The only things on the stage were the
> balcony structures, Garbonzo's cannon, and the
> Maestro's organ, which was really just a box with
> a keyboard painted on it.

Well, almost.... a few characters were actually on stage when the ride was still operational. I believe Hilda, a few of the baclony figures and Lyonel Burymore were pysically on the stage set but the rest were there in ghostly form via the "illusion."

> All of this was actually located behind five HUGE
> panes of 1/2 inch thick glass. David explained
> that these pieces of glass were so large that
> they had to cut a hole in the roof of the
> building in order to get the glass in place.

These panes of glass were the biggest I have ever seen. It is funny to know that they are just going to break them rather than salvage them, but really how else do they expect to get them out. They must weigh a ton. How lucky the stone thrower must be!

> The
> characters themselves had then been located on
> the outside of these glass panes, facing away
> from you, the ride spectators, so that what you
> actually saw was the reflection of the
> characters. Which is how they accomplished the
> ghostly, etherial appearance of these characters.
> When you looked upon the theatre scene from the
> ride, you were actually looking thru two layers
> of glass. I had always wondered exactly how they
> did this (Shaggy remembered the name for this
> special effect, though I could not).

This effect has been around for centuries. It is called "Pepper's Ghost." It was developed by illusionists for early stage performances in Europe. Bascially, illusionists used to have large glass panes in strategic places on stage and then had ghostly dressed actors hidden in the orchestra pit. Through a method of light reflection, the images of the actors would reflect on the stage glass thus creating the visual effect of a see-thru spirit. Walt Disney imagineers were responsible for generating the modern day version, as it was perfected for the illusions in Disney's Haunted Mansion. Phantom Theatre's "big" scene operated in the same manner as Disney's ghostly ballroom scene. Basically what riders see is a reflection on glass combined with the real sets and props that are dimly lit behind the glass. Figures are simply located above and below the ride vehicles although the guests do not know it. The most complicated part of the illusion indeed involves disguising the seams between the large panes of glass. In both Phantom Theatre and the Disney Haunted Mansions, the creators fooled the eye by using what appear to be roof support columns in the theatre/ballrooms to hide glass seams. To the untrained eye it just looked like normal everyday necessary colums, when in reality they served the purpose of window sills.

> Walking back thru the workshop, Steve showed us
> some of the molds they used to form replacement
> masks for the characters. Their faces were for
> the most part rubber and they did wear out after
> a while.

And drip. Many of the masks when viewed up close were turning back to liquid latex and were runny and gooey. Steve explained to me that when a mask wore out (which happened every 1-2 years) they simply called the manufacturer up and told them the mask number they needed. Being made of latex, time, heat and constant movement often causes the latex to heat up and re-liquify thus it runs and the mask deteriorates. The manufactuer still has all the original clay head molds sculpted for the figures 11 years ago. They pull the mold from storage, then produce a new head of foam from it. These squishy foam heads can be compared to a soft version of a styrofoam wig stand (you know those white heads that wigs and toupees are stored on) that feels like a nerf football. From there, the latex is applied to the foam head, dried and painted to character specifications. The foam head was then shipped with the mask on it to the park. When it arrived, the mask was pulled off the foam head and placed on the figure. The shipping head was worthless at this point but many were just kept on hand. Thus in storage at the park there were many heads of the characters lying around. The masks are all labelled in two places as to signify the character they were for. Names are located inside the mouth an on the the back of the masks(the latter hidden by wigs). That way, when one is removed, they know which figure (since there are several different figures of the same characters)it belongs to.

> Jeff
> Siebert handed each of us an original press
> release photo and a logo sheet of the Maestro and
> his Phantom Theatre as a souvenier.

Did you notice that the promo picture for the ride was taken before the ride was finished? How so? Well the furnace room was one of the first completed scenes and easily accessed. The picture (of "surprised" human actors pointing and yelling ironically) was taken from the unload turntable perspective. The giveaway fact that the ride was not completed is that the "coal" shovelers were on a blank floor and there was no coal in place yet.

> Thanks Jeff! This tour was a wonderful thing for
> you and Dave to do for us all. Special thanks to
> Mr Animatronic and his assistant, who gave us all
> that inside info, and thanks to Shaggy for
> passing this along to the rest if us!

It was indeed. It was easily the best behind the scenes tour I have taken at PKI. I cannot wait for more. Daivd and Jeff go out of their way for enthusiasts. They really have embraced us and I truly treasure all that they are doing for the true fans of PKI.

> Our evening hadn't ended yet. We chatted briefly
> with Shaggy and Sparky, then my son Jeff and I
> enjoyed a ride on Adventure Express, had some ice
> cream and headed back for what was to be our
> night ride on the Beast. But we found only a
> two-train wait for the #2 seat (hey, I'm not
> complaining!) so it was a dusk ride instead.

Sparky and I were able to hit Adventure Express, Racer, Vortex twice and capped off the evening on TR:TR all of which were a walk on! Sparky even managed a flyer ride in there too! This all happened in the course of about 1 hour. Not too bad!

Earlier in the day we had been at LeSordesville Lake (TR forthcoming) and then headed to PKI at around 5. Prior to the PT tour, we managed rides on Beast and Drop Zone and Sparky did Congo Falls. It was a remarkable day all around!

Shaggy

Re: Thanks for filling in the chinks, plus addl thoughts by RobLec RobLec Profile at 8/17/02 12:30:25 PM

> The Maestro's dialog in the vestibule is the one
> area where I am not up to speed. I never spent
> much time in there waiting through the queues so
> I never got his specific speech memorized.

Actually I was referring to the taunting that goes on in small vestibule where riders normally exit the ride. This was also the doorway thru which we entered the building for the tour, and I know that you know what the Maestro says at that point: "So you think you escaped, did you? You'll be back. You'll be ba-a-a-ack".

As far as the speech in the queue area, it has always been difficulty to make out just what's being said there. Anytime I've been in there long enough for the Maestro to go thru his cycle, it was so crowded that the dinn of the crowd obscured his monologue. But I do know that the voice used in the lobby was different than the Maestro's voice used throughout the remainder of the ride.

> His name was indeed Steve and he was very kind
> and patient with us on the tour. I thought to
> myself "He either thinks we are completely
> nuts, or he appreciates our interest." Let's
> hope it was the latter ;-)

I'm certain it was the latter. There were some more electrical specs I would have been interested in, but did not want to draw him away from the rest of the group.

> Actually a few more characters remained in their
> original locations as well... the usher leading
> to the grand theater hall, the Gargoyle and Mummy
> in the prop room, as well as the two handymen
> that shoveled coal in the furnace finale still
> remained in place.

Yes you're right about the coal shovelers, but I hadn't noticed the usher still being there.

> Although I learned my lesson when I got a
> mouth full of "angel hair" fuzz from
> behind the poet-reciting statues comedy/tradgedy
> mask... blech!

I saw the look on your face and was curious what had happened!

> Even though I knew that they were going away, it
> was the first *true* moment I had of thinking
> "Oh my gosh, this thing is getting torn
> out!" It was actually very sobering for me.

The old place will truly be missed. There's a lot of fond memories in our family, as I've mentioned before.

> I am glad you caught most of the specifics. I was
> toward the back of the group for the first half
> of Steve's explanation and missed most of it.

And you picked up on a few things that I had missed.

>I did worm my way up front to touch and see the
> track and mechanisms first-hand. Thanks for your
> explanation then about the "X" track
> that turned the vehicles.

There were a few things I intended to mention at this point in my original TR. Jeff told us the ride's capacity was 1800 riders per hour, which is phoenomenal. The track (I would guess) is about two feet off the sub-floor thru most of the ride, and then slopes up to about 5 feet for the grand theatre scene, and as we know, slopes back down in the prop room. I'm not sure I buy his explaination about Morgan installing a lift so they could call it a coaster. More likely, they needed the additional elevation in order to accomplish the Pepper's Ghost effect, and the added height provided a convenient place to provide maintenance access to the underside of the vehicles.

> It was truly fun to get to see underneath things.
> It was also funny to discover that as cars passed
> the "usher" scene that behind the cars
> was the large garage access door leading to the
> maintenance access...

All of the wheels which ride on the track are those synthetic rubber-coated type wheel (all you coaster people know what I'm talking about), which provides a smooth ride. Most riders were probbaly never aware that the "floor" of the theatre was actually elevated several feet above the actual floor of the building. Steve stated that they will need to cut the steering ("X") track and reweld it for the new ride so the cars will rotate differently. I pity those maintenance workers who will have to work in such tight areas.

> Now, Jeff thought me a moron at this point,
> because I never knew how the conveyance device
> worked. I exlained to him that I would have never
> guessed it was like roller coaster track and had
> drive motors underneath the cars. Honestly, I
> thought that the turntable had played a part in
> the movement of the vehicles and acted as sort of
> a cog or gear that basically kept things moving.

I too had wondered just how the coveyor actually worked. I had envisioned the cars riding on casters and following a steering track, as many older dark rides do. I figured there was probably a giant chain laying on its side and running thru a raceway, with giant cog wheels at those places in the ride where the cars went around corners. I just wasn't sure if the loading turntable was driving or was driven. I would guess now that it is driven by the passing cars, and in hindsight my vision of the giant chain seems rather ludicrous.

> The piano amazed me because it was real.

Steve said there were two scrolls for the player piano, but I missed what else he said about it.

> It impressed me too. But this is where I was
> lost. It amazed me seeing all the componenets
> required to operate that ride. However, to try
> and comprehend or repeat it is a whole different
> story.

I felt right at home in there. Hey, maybe I could get a job!

> Just outside this control room is where most of
> the figures are now stored awaiting crates. They
> will be stored and not sold or relocated (for
> now) until Paramount Parks decides their eventual
> fate. It is good to know there may be a
> possibility they may crop up elsewhere.

Perhaps we'll see the Phantom Theatre, or at least some of the characters, at some other Paramount park sometime in the future.

> Well, almost.... a few characters were actually
> on stage when the ride was still operational. I
> believe Hilda, a few of the baclony figures and
> Lyonel Burymore were pysically on the stage set
> but the rest were there in ghostly form via the
> "illusion."

I'm pretty sure the figures in the balcony were reflections. But at this point, it's a moot issue as we'll never know for sure! And thanks for filling us in on the Pepper's Ghost effect.

> The manufactuer still has all the original clay head
> molds sculpted 11 years ago. They pull the mold from
> storage, then produce a new head of foam from it.
> These squishy foam heads can be compared to a
> soft version of a styrofoam wig stand (you know
> those white heads that wigs and toupees are
> stored on) ...

Yup, I know exactly what you are talking about. And I'm glad you caught all that, too, as I had noticed the foam heads stashed in the corner of the theatre and a couple on the workbench, but I was still in the theatre room when all that was being explained.

> Did you notice that the promo picture for the
> ride was taken before the ride was finished? How
> so? Well the furnace room was one of the first
> completed scenes and easily accessed. The picture
> (of "surprised" human actors pointing
> and yelling ironically) was taken from the unload
> turntable perspective. The giveaway fact that the
> ride was not completed is that the
> "coal" shovelers were on a blank floor
> and there was no coal in place yet.

Yes, someone mentioned that there was no coal in the photo, but I had assumed that the coal had merely been added later on.

> It was indeed. It was easily the best behind the
> scenes tour I have taken at PKI. I cannot wait
> for more. Daivd and Jeff go out of their way for
> enthusiasts. They really have embraced us and I
> truly treasure all that they are doing for the
> true fans of PKI.

Just please keep on keeping us informed. Should we ever lose touch, my email is: Rob at Leclaire dot com.

> Sparky and I were able to hit Adventure Express,
> Racer, Vortex twice and capped off the evening on
> TR:TR all of which were a walk on! Sparky even
> managed a flyer ride in there too! This all
> happened in the course of about 1 hour. Not too
> bad!

I was surprised that so many rides were walk-ons. Only today did I realize that last Thursday was actually the last normal weekday of full operation. They go on reduced hours this coming week.

> Earlier in the day we had been at LeSordesville
> Lake (TR forthcoming) and then headed to PKI at
> around 5. Prior to the PT tour, we managed rides
> on Beast and Drop Zone and Sparky did Congo
> Falls. It was a remarkable day all around!

Did you notice that the first drop on Beast is now trimmed? I felt it that night, and then this morning during ERT I actually saw it, about 1/4 way down the first drop. The brake is still solid black with factory paint. I don't know when it went in, but I swear it wasn't there a week ago.

I can only hope and pray that with the drop now trimmed, they may eventually remove the trim at the crest of the second hill. I know several people who have been physically injured on that brake.

Well, guess i've rambled on enough. See you around I hope.