An audition for American Idol

Rayvon Owen in Rejoice! 2011Four years ago, a young man from Richmond, Virginia, auditioned to be in our musical shows.

Rayvon Owen was invited to join us for the 2011 season, and we’re so glad he did.

My middle son, John, worked tech for the shows that season. He remembers Rayvon as a really nice guy, with a voice “as smooth as butter.”

Fast-forward four years and Rayvon has another audition.

Tomorrow night.

In San Francisco.

For American Idol.

You be the judge:

We wish Rayvon the very best tomorrow evening. We plan to cheer him on and remember fondly his summer with us, as a “smooth as butter” vocalist in our Rejoice! and Legacy shows.

And when are our auditions for this season? They’re coming up on March 1. Check out our Holiday World Audition Information here on our website.

A Minecraft look at Holiday World

… and Splashin’ Safari.

And even our Santa statue:

Santa statue, Minecraft style

At first, I really felt badly that I’d missed the “hey, take a look!” tweet from the creator of this impressive Minecraft rendition of our parks:

… by several months.

But when I noticed the date of the tweet and saw it was posted the day before our big Thunderbird roller coaster announcement last July, it seemed likely that anyone who was this big of a fan would understand one overlooked missive.

Matt, for one, is thrilled. Although our park president admits he’s a bit puzzled by the Minecraft phenomenon, his six-year-old son – Drew – has it all figured out.

First, middle-child Claire, 10, proclaimed the park tour legit.

The Raven, Minecraft style

Drew quickly corrected his big sister, “No. It’s better than legit.”

Big thanks to WolfStrike150 for the three months of devotion in creating our park on Minecraft – can’t wait to see v2.0!

The height of anticipation

One of the most  common questions we receive when we add a new roller coaster is, “How tall do you have to be to ride?”
And then a few also ask, “How tall is too tall?”

Andy on Thunderbird roller coaster

Meet Andy.

He’s on the high end of the measuring stick.

Andy is one of our four Attractions Managers. He was sweating it for a while when we announced Thunderbird.

… because he loves roller coasters and could hardly imagine coming to work every day without being able to ride our new steel coaster.

Thunderbird is a wing coaster, meaning your feet are dangling. Sometimes straight down and sometimes straight up.

And oftentimes in between.

Oh, and there are all sorts of “near misses” along Thunderbird’s flight route. You know, like the tunnels on The Voyage? Where you know that there’s plenty of room, but still instinctively duck your head as you careen toward it?

Yes. Those.

You already know about Crow’s Nest. And Thunderbird’s dance with Voyage.

There’s also this.

Thunderbird's keyhole building

In roller coaster terminology, it’s called a “keyhole building.”

And it’s under construction as we speak.

We’re an efficient bunch, so we use it twice. Thunderbird will “crash” through this barn a-comin’ and a-goin’.

It will be awesome.

Where is it located? Right across from one of Voyage’s tunnels.

Thunderbird's keyhole building, across from a Voyage tunnel

Stephen said it felt like Voyage was photobombing Thunderbird today.

Thunderbird and Voyage

Here’s another view:

Thunderbird roller coaster's twists and turns

Meanwhile, how is beanpole Andy doing? Will he get to ride? (And will he forgive me for that beanpole crack?)

Yes! As long as he doesn’t grow any more – and rides Thunderbird without shoes – he should be good to go. All 6’6″ of him.

Here’s our entire Out To Launch Bunch, Attractions Managers Andy, Jennifer, Lori and Alex. Just hangin’ around, ready to ride …

Back to that earlier question about minimum height to ride Thunderbird roller coaster? Riders must be at least 52″ tall, which translates into 4’4″.

We’re at T-minus-96 in our daily countdown. And the excitement is mounting!

These dummies are ready

There’s something about test dummies.

They’re very eager.

Case in point:

Thunderbird car

Thunderbird will have two trains. One is here already and the other will arrive next month.

Testing begins in February, but the dummies don’t care. When you want a front seat for the first launch, you don’t mess around. You make arrangements to be available.

To answer the many questions about how we’ll choose the first riders for our Media Preview Day (yes, we’re already hearing from reporters and news crews wanting to broadcast live that day), we will launch an online auction in the coming weeks to determine those lucky riders and raise funds for a great cause. Details to come!

The Maintenance Men

Congratulations to Andy, Tim, Tom, Michael, Sean, Clint and Bob for achieving AIMS certification today following a week of Safety School.

In Orlando.

Andy is one of our Attractions Managers and the other fellows are part of our Maintenance Team.

We’re sure proud of them for passing their certification test and have even arranged for a mini-heatwave for their return to Santa Claus tomorrow.

Tomorrow. When there are 98 days left until Opening Day.

Thunderbird countdown

Launchtime is quickly approaching … who’s starving for a ride?

Season Pass discounts are at their deepest right now – and expire this Thursday at midnight (January 15). So if five hours of Thunderbird roller coaster rides, along with The Voyage, Crow’s Nest, Mayflower, Turkey Whirl, The Raven, The Legend and more sound like your kind of Friday evening, be sure to get your Season Passes now. Our new Easy Pay option? Thanks to those who suggested it – the monthly payment plan is a big hit!

Season Passes: 6 Perks You Might Not Know About

We’re fast approaching the last day of our current discount for Season Passes (midnight January 15). Still on the fence? Here are six perks you just might not know about:

1. We’re not going to save this one for last, because it’s the one we’re most excited about: Thunderbird Preview Night on Friday, April 24, from 5:00 to 10:00 pm CDT. Season Passholders only will be invited to visit for five hours of fun riding Thunderbird, The Voyage, Crow’s Nest, Mayflower – and lots more! And if you live close by (or want to take a lovely drive this spring to check out Thunderbird from the highway), you can take advantage of our Early Season Pass Processing Dates, so you’re ready to stroll right through our gates on April 24.

2. Discounts: Use your Season Pass in the park for 10% savings in our shops and restaurants. There is also special discounted pricing for Season Passholders who attend Rock the World and HoliWood Nights. Plus, you can add HoliCash to your Season Pass – no need to wear a wristband!

Fourth of July Fireworks 768x3843. An obvious perk is that Season Passholders can stop by for just a few hours, just for a discounted meal and a show, or for a late afternoon swim. I’ve even spoken with some moms who bring their smaller children over a few mornings each week for Santa’s Storytime and lunch before heading home for nap time. If you enjoy fireworks, you can celebrate the start of the weekend each Friday evening in June and July with Friday Night Fireworks (July 3, 4 and 5 we even call it a “Fireworks Extravaganza“!).

4. Season Passholders quickly realize that a less-than-perfect weather forecast can be a great day to visit. Fewer families tend to visit when stormy weather is predicted, so lines are shorter – and often much shorter. If the day does include a storm, you won’t mind cutting your day short or waiting for rides to reopen, because you know you can come back again and again!

5. Are you a scrapbooker? The head shots on our Season Passes provide a sweet way to keep track of the years as your little ones grow from riding Dasher’s Seahorses to Scarecrow Scrambler and from The Raven to Thunderbird.

6. Here’s a tip from our new Guest Services Manager, Angie: Either keep the Passes in your car, so you don’t forget them at home on the counter, or spend an extra $5 per Pass to have a second one made. That’s also handy if you want your babysitter or grandparents to keep a set on hand.

We’ll also have Discounted Bring A Friend Days – details to come! And this is our first year to offer an Easy Pay option, with a monthly installment plan.

We’re just over 100 days away from Thunderbird’s first flight – we hope you’ll join us!

 

 

It’s never too cold for puns

Every weekday morning, after dropping James off at school, I pop in my earbuds and call my parents in Connecticut for a quick chat.

This morning, it was my dad who answered.

He didn’t even say hello.

Dad: Zero!

Me: Two!

Weather you like it or not, it’s here.

Winter.

Please stay safe and stay warm as we count down the days to spring!