TR: GOCC Holiday party at KI (with IB info)
This year the Great Ohio Coaster Club held their annual Christmas party in the International restaurant at King's Island. In the past they've usually held it in northern Ohio, where the majority of the club's members live. It turned out to be the coldest day of the season so far.
The day began with a walking tour of the park. Laurie and I passed on that as I've already seen the park torn down for the off season, and besides normally have to do quite a lot of walking around KI every summer and don't walk so well anyway. We waited in the restaurant for the crowd to return, overlooking the empty fountains, the Eiffel Tower and that curious giant wooden structure behind Delirium ;) Several of the guests commented that it was so cold they could not operate their cameras.
Mike Graham of the Gravity Group gave a quick video presentation about some of their installations this past year: Wooden Warrior, Zippin Pippin, an impressive small traditional woodie they've built in Sweden, and a new massive double racing woodie in China. There was some good on-ride video and computer generated simulations. The new China coaster features a unique new element, sort of like a double opposing trick track they're calling the "High Five". The Timberliners are apparently working well in Sweden, and though that is a fairly small coaster they are confident about their installation on Voyage (though nearby HW did not present at this event).
Best news of all came from the next speaker, as the new PR rep from Indiana Beach gave a lengthy presentation regarding some much needed infrastructure improvements at the park. I had previously been advised to disregard any gossip regarding the park, so all of this was very good to hear. Granted, it was nothing to get excited about... new bathrooms, an improved entrance and parking, plus some "human powered" attractions such as ziplines (as part of their "Green" initiative), some ride relocations and major re-tracking of the wooden coasters. He admitted to a serious culture clash between the new owners and longtime employees, but made it clear that IB is here to stay.
Dinner was absolutely delicious, featuring prime rib and I'm certain must have been catered as it was far beyond what we've come to expect from most park events. Then S&S's new sales rep presented some videos touting their international stature as a major rides manufacturer. One of their towers will be featured in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, so watch for it.
Dollywood sent a video presentation of their new Flying Eagle (I think) coaster that will be opening this year... looks quite impressive, somewhat like a cross between Arrow's X and B&M's dive trains, with seats suspended on either side of the track. Looks like a lot of fun, but we'll probably wait a year to work out any kinks.
The final speaker was King's Island's Don Helbig. Of course there was the well known waterpark expansion for the park's 40th anniversary (sorry if a bunch of coaster enthusiasts didn't get real excited about that), and of course he pre-empted any obvious questions about SOB with a brief "no decision yet" remark, but he also mentioned that they are trying to return the park to its glory days under Taft with an emphasis on decor and landscaping. He also said that the show Ghost Hunters had filmed in the park and the episode focusing on the park's rich urban legend heritage will air sometime on a Wednesday in January.
The day ended with awards for the best members' photos and door prizes. We picked up several pieces of Geauga Lake memeorabila and snuck out early (okay, Firefox's spell check informs me there is no such word as "snuck") as it was getting late. Overall it was one of the more club memorable events.
EDIT: Somehow the Flying Eagle became the Fling Eagle, so while I'm editing I should toss out a giant Kudo to Cathy Schwab who has done an amazing job as president of GOCC for many, many years. Thanks Cathy for all you do!
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Unless it's undergone a name change (entirely possible I might have missed that)..Dollywood's newest is called Wild Eagle. Again, I may be off.
Thanks for the report. Sounds like a step in the right direction for IB. Maybe I'll get there someday.
> Unless it's undergone a name change (entirely possible I
> might have missed that)..Dollywood's newest is called Wild Eagle.
> Again, I may be off.
You're probably right. That's why I included "I think", as I wasn't taking notes. Still, Flying Eagle seems like a cool name..... better even than "fling eagle" ;)
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That's great news for IB. I was hoping to make a trip there next summer, but was in doubt after hearing the recent conflicts the park staff were having.
You said Flying Eagle, and I immediately thought of KI's old flying scooters. Damn do I miss the Flying Eagles! One of the, (if not the) best flat ride I'd been on.
Thanks for sharing your experience at the celebration. It sounds like an awesome experience!
> You said Flying Eagle, and I immediately thought of KI's
> old flying scooters. Damn do I miss the Flying Eagles! One
> of the, (if not the) best flat ride I'd been on.
Don even specifically mentioned the Flying Eagles when he was asked about whether or not there would ever be a KI campground again. He said that if CF had bought the park earlier (i.e., before the CBS split), that perhaps the campground, Flying Eagles and antique cars might possibly still be there. Not sure I'd agree, but I was pleased to hear that they are once again trying to improve the eye appeal of the park.
BTW he told an amusing anecdote about why they don't allow event participants to sit in the coaster cars during such off-season tours when the trains are are torn down. Back when the new trains for DB had first been delivered, they wanted some promo photos of him sitting in one. Naturally he pulled down the lapbar... but then after a few minutes they realized there was no way to release them. They even had to call B&M to find out how to get him out.
> Thanks for sharing your experience at the celebration. It
> sounds like an awesome experience!
Thanks for the response! I wish we had time to travel to such events as IAAPA. I'm glad when there is some event close by that we can attend without taking a week off work and spending a couple hundred bucks on gas.
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Wonder who the PR Rep for IB is as they hired Sherry Vogel last year who is a local.
Sad to say but am still skeptical about what they say about IB's future. From what I hear, Morgan RV has many legal troubles. And NIPSCO shut off the power (!!!) to the park last fall due to non-payment. Offices currently at the northern campground.
> Wonder who the PR Rep for IB is as they hired Sherry Vogel
> last year who is a local.
The names on the program are Chris Peters and Gary Quasebarth. I'm not sure which one spoke but I'm guessing it was Chris. Seemed like a nice guy. He showed slides of the management team, which I guess was Sherry and Gary, who as I think he said came from Seaworld.
He did mention that they had faced a number of problems last year and had to make a "tough decision" to close the park early. No mention of the power being cut off, but OTOH if they intended to cut the season short probably had to meet payroll before utilities (just my guess). Of course, it's the job of PR to "spin" the facts.
Thanks for the info. Gary Q is the new GM; hired after John Collins was fired.
From what I gather, Gary has family in area and does want the park to do well. Unfortunately, the corporation out of New York keeps a tight rein on things.