Stars Wars Lands Influence May Reach Further Into Disneys Hollywood Studios

June 26, 2013–
So exactly what would an expanded Star Wars land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios entail?
That’s been the primary question about the hot topic of an estimated $200 million-plus Star Wars-based area reportedly being built at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
One of my sources, who asked to not be named, told me there’s some truth to the Star Wars land talk and Disney may see it as the largest expansion in park history.
To find out just what that expansion might entail, I reached out to yet another source who seems to have a magical way of knowing things about Disney.
“My understanding is the Star Wars expansion will be similar to the Harry Potter expansion featuring new attractions, new creative merchandise and food and beverage options, as well as re-purposing older rides with the Star Wars theme,” said Chad Emerson, a Disney author and expert.
That seemed in line with what I was hearing, but Emerson said he’d heard chatter on something else that intrigued me.
“There also have been conversations of re-themeing the Fantasmic! night show and introducing a new fireworks show with a Star Wars theme,” Emerson told me. The Fantasmic! show is on the opposite end of the theme park from its current Star Wars-themed area. He said that thought process by Disney shows the Mouse doesn’t see Star Wars as a ‘single area’ type of addition, but rather, as playing a larger role in the entire park.
“It’s not just an isolated land I hear they have in mind, and they are not just seeing this as a way to revitalizing a part of the park. Disney is seeing this Star Wars brand as something that will be sprinkled elsewhere throughout Hollywood Studios and elsewhere through out the resort,” he said.
If Emerson’s information is on point, then it paints the picture that Star Wars is being envisioned to become the crown jewel of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and more than just some new land.
By Deborah Fitts


Quassy Amusement Park: Spash Away Bay

June 26, 2013–
Founded in 1908, Quassy Amusement Park has grown from a lakeside picnic grove with a dance hall and carousel into a full-fledged family amusement and waterpark. Home of the award-winning “Wooden Warrior ” roller coaster – voted 23rd best wooden coaster in the world among theme park/coaster experts in 2012 poll (more than 150 coasters on the ballot). They have added many new rides and attractions in recent years, yet are careful to maintain the heritage of the historic property.

Quassy took the plunge into water park attractions in 2003 with the introduction of Saturation Station, the first WaterColors interactive modular play unit constructed in the world. At center stage is a huge tipping bucket that dumps more than 300 gallons of water onto the guests below. Add cascading fountains, water cannons, two slides and other activities – and yes, plenty of H2o – and you have Saturation Station.

And seeing is believing when Independence Day fireworks light up the sky in “3-D” over Lake Quassapaug for the 11th consecutive year at Quassy Amusement Park here. Special “3-D” fireworks viewing glasses will be sold for $1 on July 4th at Quassy to benefit Healthy Eyes Alliance. The glasses will be on sale starting in the afternoon until they are sold out.

The park will again shoot its 10:15 p.m. fireworks display from barges anchored offshore so everyone attending the park that evening will be able to enjoy them.

Sponsoring the event are: Naugatuck Savings Bank, Pepsi, Price Chopper, WTNH-TV News 8, and Voices newspaper. Parking on July 4th is $7 at Quassy with the park opening at 11 a.m. Quassy Beach and Splash Away Bay waterpark will operate until 7 p.m. with the remainder of the park staying open until after the evening fireworks.

Quassy Amusement Park
2132 Middlebury Road
Middlebury, Connecticut
By Deborah Fitts

New LIGHTS Make The Big Wheel CAMERA Ready at Knights ACTION Park!

June 26, 2013–
The Big Wheel at Knight’s Action Park & Caribbean Water Adventure has been a fixture of Springfield. Now, the classic Ferris Wheel has been upgraded with an all-new LED package that will light up nights along I-72 and provide Springfield, Illinois with a spectacular new ‘knight’-time landmark.

“The Big Wheel has been viewable from I-72 since we added it, and it’s been our calling card,” offered Doug Knight of Knight’s Action Park. “We’ve had residents call and thank us for having the lights on year-round. They know they are home when they see them. Like anything, if we’re going to be identified with it then we want to make sure it’s as memorable as possible.”

The new LEDs on The Big Wheel produce over 250 color combinations on nearly 1,000 LED modules covering the sides & spokes of the Ferris Wheel. “We can run the lights for over twelve hours and never have a combination repeat itself,” stated Knight. “It’s like an all-night fireworks show every evening!” The new system is the first of its kind on a permanent installation in the state of Illinois.

Knight’s Action Park & Caribbean Water Adventure are at exit #96 off I-72 in Springfield, Illinois, right next to the Route 66 Twin Drive In. A tradition for fun, excitement, sports, games, and entertainment, Knight’s Action Park & Caribbean Water Adventure continue to invite guests of all ages to come to “…where the action is!”

For more information, contact Doug Knight (217) 546-8881.
By Deborah Fitts

“Idlewild Park a Perfect Fit For The Very Young and The Young at Heart”

June 26, 2013–

There are no huge hills or thrills at Idlewild Park. No terrifying steel coasters, no rides that spin and toss you until you’re turning green. No drops from terrifying heights or skyscraper-size swings. No, the pleasures of this 136-year-old park located about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh are simpler — but just as worthy.

Idlewild is a wonderful park for the very young, or just the young at heart, with 370 acres of whimsical storybook exhibits; a vintage Ferris wheel, carousel, wooden coaster and other old-school rides; a huge children’s minipark; and wooded areas and shaded picnic groves and pavilions.

By Deborah Fitts

SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team Returned Three Sea Turtles This Morning

June 27, 2013
Orlando, Fla. – Three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were returned to Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville on Florida’s central east coast, this morning after rehabilitating at SeaWorld Orlando for several months.
The sea turtles were part of 36 brought to SeaWorld Orlando on December 23, 2012, by the U.S. Coast Guard, after being rescued from cold stress just off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. Due to the effects of cold stress, two of the turtles developed pneumonia and the third had small wounds to its carapace. As of today, 34 of the 36 sea turtles have been returned.
The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles measured approximately 70 centimeters in length and weighed 7 – 10 pounds, all gaining approximately 3-6 pounds while in SeaWorld’s care.
After being medically cleared for today’s return, the park’s Animal Rescue Team transported the turtles to Playalinda Beach at Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore.
In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the waters. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades.

So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued 45 sea turtles and returned 35.
If you see an injured marine animal, you can help by calling the FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.
All turtle rescue footage produced by SeaWorld under FWS Permit Number MA7701911

Photo caption: SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team today returned three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles to the waters at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida following months of rehabilitation at SeaWorld Orlando.
Broll includes:
SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue Team loading sea turtles into SeaWorld Rescue vehicle.
SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team returning three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles to the ocean at Canaveral National Seashore on the east coast of Florida.
For more information, contact:
SeaWorld Communications: or (407) 363-2280

By Deborah Fitts

Carousel Returning to Walnut Beach: Ribbon Cutting Will Be July 4th

June 26, 2013–
There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony July 4 for a merry-go-round at Walnut Beach. This monument pays tribute to the history of carousel rides at the beach.

A carousel is coming back to Walnut Beach.

For many years there was a carousel at Walnut Beach, and residents working to bring that part of the city’s history back are smiling. Several city groups and an amusement ride owner have come to an agreement, and a carousel is in the process of being set up in the beach parking lot.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for July 4 at 10 a.m. at the beach. It will be the official opening of the merry-go-round ride, according to Susan Patrick, a member of the Walnut Beach Arts & Business Association.

The association spurred the idea and the Park, Beach and Recreation Commission OK’d the concept, pending an acceptable contract between the city and the carousel vendor.

Amusement rides at the beach date back to the 1900s, according to the city history book “Sand in Our Shoes.”

A merry-go-round was located in a large building called the Barn, at the end of Naugatuck Avenue on the beach; there may have been a roller coaster not far from it, the book states.

The hurricane of 1938 devastated the area, and many of the rides were destroyed. But people still went to the amusement park until the 1940s. That’s when attendance started to dwindle.

“A merry-go-round fire seemed to be the death knell for our little park,” the book states.

But in the 1950s, beach residents Frank and Les Smith leased the property from the Stowe family, installed a new merry-go-round, and refurbished some of the rides, the skating rink and some stands. The beach was once again home to amusement rides, until redevelopment brought an end to the park.

George Whitham, whose family owned the original amusement park, recalled in “Sand in Our Shoes” that his two favorite features were the penny arcade and the merry-go-round.

The latest carousel will be at the beach July 4 through Labor Day. Patrick said the city’s recreation commission will gauge public approval of it and decide if it will return next year. The Walnut Beach Arts & Business Association will seek feedback on a Walnut Beach carousel Facebook page.
By Deborah Fitts

NYC 1910 Carousel in Queens Gets Landmark Status

June 26, 2013–
NEW YORK — New York City is home to many landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building to churches and theaters. Now, a 1910 carousel hidden away in the woods in Woodhaven, Queens, has joined their ranks.

The Forest Park Carousel, featuring a colorful menagerie of 46 hand-carved horses, as well as a lion, tiger and deer, was unanimously declared a landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday.

Commission Chairman Robert Tierney said that the carousel had special character and is “beautifully created.”

The brightly-painted amusement ride features two tiers and three different rows of animals and chariots, and also has an ornate band organ manufactured by the A. Ruth & Sohn Organ Company in Waldkirch, Germany. It was created by celebrated Philadelphia carousel maker D.C. Muller & Brother and is one of only two D.C. Muller carousels left in the entire country — the other is the 1912 Midway Carousel in the Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio.

The Forest Park Carousel was originally made for Lakeview Park in Dracut, Mass., and was restored and moved to the 500-acre Forest Park in 1973. It has run into trouble with operators over the years but opened again to the public in 2012.

“Even when I was a young boy, I knew the carousel was special,” said Alex Blenkinsopp, communications director for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “The carousel is here to stay, and we couldn’t be happier.”

The Forest Park Carousel is the first in the city to become an individual landmark in its own right. It is one of six operating carousels in the city’s five boroughs, and one of three amusement rides to be named New York City landmarks: the other two are the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone in Coney Island.

By Deborah Fitts