THEME PARK ADVENTURE – LATEST NEWS AND FEATURES

Theme Park Adventure has been an industry standard for fans and professionals alike for the past 21 years. Predating the internet, TPA began as a printed newsletter that reached enthusiasts around the globe as we covered such stories as Luxor Las Vegas’ First Anniversary, the construction and opening of The Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland Resort, the creation of Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World, and the Farewell Season of the Main Street Electrical Parade in Anaheim. At the same time, Theme Park Adventure was also unintentionally becoming the pioneer of covering Halloween events, such as Knott’s Scary Farm in Buena Park, California. Over the past two decades, TPA has indulged in the haunted attraction industry, from small home displays to professional stand-alone Halloween events and major theme park productions such as Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights! Our fan base consists of many haunt enthusiasts and producers – an unintentional portion of the themed entertainment industry that we are thrilled to be a part of on an on-going basis! TPA owners Rick West and Johanna Atilano are both professionals within the themed entertainment industry, making this site not only an incredibly fun hobby, but a valued and important part of their lives; a creative and informative extension of who they are and what they do professionally. Each month, Theme Park Adventure hosts large mixers, which fans and themed entertainment professionals attend in a virtual who’s who that is absolutely open to everyone! Theme Park Adventure has become more than just a magazine or fan site; we are a community of creative individuals who share a love of entertainment, theme parks and the spookiest season of them all – Halloween! We invite you to sit back and enjoy all that we have to offer here, from stories and reviews to videos and image galleries; partake, discuss, and become part of the TPA community we we take you on a ride through the past, present, and the future!
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Sinister Pointe 2016: Fear the Mark Serves up Terror in Multiple Ways

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Sinister Pointe 2016 - Fear the MarkSinister Pointe, a company that is renowned throughout Southern California and beyond for its highly-detailed, interactive haunt attractions. This past summer, Sinister Pointe thrilled fans at Midsummer Scream by announcing that they would be unleashing a new kind of terror for the 2016 Halloween season: a walk-through experience called Fear the Mark.

In 2015, Sinister Pointe produced an escape room type of attraction, rather than the traditional walk-through experience they’re most known and loved for; it was fun and well-executed, but definitely was a big departure from the type of haunt the company had produced for years. The announcement that the group was returning to its walk-through roots was very well-received by everyone in the haunt community. Knowing what Sinister Pointe is capable of, and understanding the creative need to move forward and try new things, we were very curious and excited as well to see what Jeff Schiefelbein and his team were going to bring to the table for 2016.

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Queen Mary’s CHILL 2016 Features Enchanting All-New Alice in Winterland Theme

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queen-mary-chill-2016_6One of the biggest holiday events in Southern California is CHILL, held each year at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. We went this past weekend to check it out, and although Mother Nature decided it was time for some much-needed rain here in the Southland, we had a really fun time exploring everything offered at this year’s CHILL. The popular winter event takes place just off the ship, including the massive dome where Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose used to reside.

In years past, the largest component of CHILL was its Ice Kingdom attraction – a collection of very impressive ice sculptures, including a reproduction of the Queen Mary’s bow and several ice slides for guests to enjoy. The ice sculptures were featured at the event for the past 4 years, and so, management decided it was time to change things up – if guests are coming back each Christmas season to enjoy CHILL, it’s got to be kept fresh and evolving, otherwise interest will begin to fade. Change things up is exactly what they’ve done this year with the introduction of Alice in Winterland, a large-scale walk-through interactive attraction developed for Queen Mary by Mycotoo, a creative design firm in Los Angeles. TPAers may recall that Mycotoo also developed this year’s new maze, Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising, for Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest.

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Santa’s Village in California Opening Date Set for December 2, 2016

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sv4It’s been a long time coming, but it appears that Santa’s Village in the San Bernardino National Forest finally has an opening date – December 2, 2016.

When it was first announced that the beloved old theme park in Skyforest had been bought by businessman/realtor Bill Johnson in 2014, fans everywhere became very excited; rightfully so. After closing its gates in 1998, the defunct Christmas-themed park sat abandoned and neglected for years, its wonderful old rides and whimsical buildings falling into a sad state of disrepair and ruin. Vandals left their mark on the closed park, as did the harsh seasons on the mountain just miles from Lake Arrowhead. Over the years, occasional interest was sparked by news of a potential buyer – but nothing ever came of it. When the property was purchased by Johnson, that was a huge step in the right direction, giving us all hope that the little theme park might be restored and returned to operation with a lot of love and a truckload of investment money. The price tag in 2014 for Santa’s Village was reported to be in the neighborhood of $5-6 million. When the 154-acre property was purchased, we cautioned strongly beginning with our May 15, 2014 story about the park possibly re-opening that it would require a lot more than that to get the property back up to modern codes, rebuild its infrastructure, add new attractions, and hire a year-round team, along with seasonal employees.

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Rotten Apple’s Not So Enchanted Forest 2016

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Rotten Apple 907 Not So Enchanted ForestFor the past 26 years, Halloween fans have flocked to Rotten Apple 907 in Burbank, California, to visit one of the most elaborate home haunts in Southern California. This year, the Rotten Apple team put its twisted spin on popular childhood tales, creating the Not So Enchanted Forest.

Entering the foreboding Not So Enchanted Forest through a storybook facade, guests stepped into a dark, heavily-landscaped woodland. A small footbridge carried folks over a babbling brook toward a small cottage in a clearing – but not before a spooky tree a la Snow White’s Scary Adventures or even the Haunted Mansion advanced menacingly! This set the stage perfectly for the family-friendly frights that waited ahead in the darkness of the Not So Enchanted Forest.

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Fire and Law Tribute Days at Knott’s Return

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Fire and Law Tribute Days at Knott's Berry FarmOnce again, Knott’s Berry Farm is offering free admission to the park for active fire and law enforcement personnel from November 28 to December 16, and then again from January 9 to January 31 as part of its annual Fire and Law Tribute Days promotion.

As a way of saying “thank you”, Knott’s Berry Farm extends this offer for free admission to active members of fire and law enforcement agencies plus one guest per valid ID. Branches included in this offer are: ATF Agents, Bailiffs, California Dept. Of Forestry, California Highway Patrol Officers, City, County, State and Federal Police (sworn officers and civilian employees/support staff), City, County, State and Federal Fire (sworn officers and civilian employees/ support staff), Correctional Officers, County Sheriff Officers, Ambulance Company Emergency Medical Techs, Department of the Youth Authority, District Attorneys, FBI Agents, Homeland Security, Police Explorers, Peace Officers, Probation Officers, Reserve/volunteer Fire/Law employees, Sherriffs, U.S. Forest Service Personnel, U.S. Marshals, and Wildland Firefighters.

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New Universal Orlando Volcano Bay Details Erupt

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Volcano Bay details include Krakatau Aqua CoasterToday, Universal Orlando Resort released new Volcano Bay details that provide great insight to what guests can look forward to when the water park opens in early summer 2017.

Volcano Bay – Universal’s third park in Orlando – will be themed as a tropical paradise, with sandy beaches, lush vegetation, carved stone tikis, and water-based adventures for the entire family. The park’s icon is Krakatau, a 200-foot-tall volcano, which will steam and smoke throughout the day. After dark, Krakatau’s caldera will glow brightly as lava erupts skyward into the night sky.

The park’s featured ride (I personally have a hard time calling water slides “rides”) will be a thrilling attraction called Krakatau Aqua Coaster. This slide will propel guests riding in unique canoe-like vehicles through the dark caves and mysterious interior spaces of the park’s volcano; the vehicles will have the ability to race uphill as well, thanks to linear induction motor technology. Aqua Coasters are becoming fairly commonplace, popping up at water parks and on cruise ships with increasing frequency. What will likely stand out here, is the level of theming and experiential detail that Universal is no doubt, lavishing on this attraction.

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VanOaks Cemetery Home Haunt 2016

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VanOaks Cemetery 2016Each Halloween, Theme Park Adventure visits a lot of haunts and attractions around the Southland; everything from major theme park events to intense, theatrical productions. People often ask me what my favorite type of haunt is, and the answer is always the same: home haunts. In my opinion, home haunts are Halloween – the fact that someone has taken the time to spook-up their home with some decorations for the benefit of their neighborhood – it just doesn’t get better than that. VanOaks Cemetery is one of those home haunts (also referred to as “yard haunts” or “yard displays”) that captures the magic of Halloween – and our adoration each season.

Located in Sherman Oaks, California, VanOaks Cemetery is the creation of Halloween enthusiast Derek Young. During the off-season (for haunters, that’s the rest of the year), Derek is a creative director here in Los Angeles. He is also Co-Founder of SoCal Valley Haunters, a group of spook-makers that work year-round to create props and special effects for home haunts around Southern California.

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Hot Butterbeer at Universal Studios Hollywood

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hot-butterbeer-at-wwohp-ush-3Hot Butterbeer – say it again, and say it slowly with your eyes closed… Hot… Butterbeer… It’s the stuff dreams are made of, and it’s finally come to Universal Studios Hollywood after fans have been begging for it since the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter here on the West Coast!

There are three different types of Butterbeer, the mythical drink from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise: regular, frozen, and hot. Hot Butterbeer was introduced to fans at Universal Studios Florida in 2014 – and is by far, the sweetest of the three, since the company altered the sweet level of regular and frozen (no one will confirm, but everyone knows Butterbeer isn’t as sweet now as when the Wizarding World opened). Much like Mexican hot chocolate, hot Butterbeer is thick and creamy in consistency, the legendary white froth melting away into the liquid, mixing into sugary bliss. Whether you end up sipping or chugging hot Butterbeer, it is an experience that most Wizarding World fans relish.

Universal has decided to make hot Butterbeer a seasonal treat, which I totally get – but also hate. Here in California, where it’s not unusual to see temperatures in the 80s and 90s Christmas week, the idea of holding a hot beverage until the Holiday Season is kind of absurd. I assure you – Potter fans would plunk down their cash year-round for hot Butterbeer, just as they do for the frozen version even on chilly nights.

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Screenshot Productions’ The Rope 2016

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rope-2I’ve been buried, re-lived my birth, discovered fear and explored the afterlife. Screenshot Productions has managed to put me into various realms throughout the year, and all have managed to affect me differently. My experience with Screenshot’s latest production, The Rope, was quite different than the rest – it was interactive. I wasn’t walking through alone, I was with others. We ran around and interacted, and I was pleasantly surprised with this vastly different approach than what I’m used to.

10:00 PM, and I’m alone in downtown Los Angeles. I was thrilled for once to see others parked and standing around me. Traditionally, Screenshot produces shows that require the guest to walk through alone, offering a unique, personalized, intense and intimate experience. As little as I knew about this certain production, I was curious to see how this would play out with different audience members in one show.

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Midsummer Scream to Return in 2017

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Halloween fans, rejoice! Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival has announced its 2017 return to the Long Beach in a teaser video this morning – the first treat of the day for fans far and near!

Presented by Creepy LA and Theme Park Adventure, Midsummer Scream is the West Coast’s premier Halloween, haunt and horror convention, taking place Saturday and Sunday July 29 and 30, 2017 at the Long Beach Convention Center.

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