Thursday 4 September 2014

Theme Park Holidays

The Theme park has become a major factor in many different people’s holidays’ plans and itineraries. They give you a chance to go and lose yourself in a world of entertainment, thrills and attractions for a day or more.

The humble beginning of the Theme Park can be traced back to 1946 with the opening of Santa Claus Land in Indiana but amusement parks go back even further than that and can trace the movement towards the origin of a theme park. This can be seen with Blackpool as a major amusement park player from the UK with Coney Island coming from the states in the 1800’s.

The era of the early 1900’s was accustomed to the golden age in park history. American’s were becoming more affluent and not having to work every hour under the sun to earn an honest day’s wage, they had a need to be entertained in a fantasy world. Kiddie Parks were introduced to the industry; roller coaster development became a top priority and the future looked good.

Of course, this boom became a decline during the war periods as money was less available, people had moved out of cities to the country and couldn’t move around easily leaving the void to be filled by television. Once out of the war era though, we see the giant leap forward to what we know as a theme park today. One of the major game changing philosophies of parks was the move from pay as you go to an all-inclusive entrance fee. There are arguments from both sides as to which is better but generally the consensus is to have the one price fits all system, this was for reasons including the parks saving money on hiring ticket takers on the rides and actually investing in development of the rides.

Disney is still the biggest player in the market with its parks in the states counting for over half of the annual revenue for theme parks with over 50 million visitors to its parks base in the states alone. Not surprisingly it was the theme parks in California that was the market changer, Disneyland theme park made history to allow a park to encompass and create many different themes in one park.

Today one just has to put the word theme park into a search engine on the internet and you are presented with literally hundreds of choices of parks, worlds and lands worldwide. The one certainty in the market is it is forever game plan changing and adapting to the more demanding needs of citizens of the world. As long as that need for fantasy remains, they are here to stay.

Disneyland California Holidays

The Disney franchise resides all over the world, most having heard of Disneyworld in Florida but the truth is that it all started and traced back to the original, Disneyland in California. The only park to have been overseen by Walt Disney himself in the 1950’s, the doors were opened in 1955 and has since become the most visited attraction park in the world, second only Disneyworld in Orlando.

Some interesting and occasionally lesser known facts about the park include…
Visitors cannot purchase alcohol in the resort unless they are members of Club 33, a private club in resort. However, before you start thinking about membership, I must tell you there is 4 year waiting list and don’t forget the $10,000 membership fee and annual fees on top.

The Matterhorn bobsled ride was the first ever tubular steel continuous tract roller coaster in the world. More interestingly, there is a basketball court located inside the top of the mountain for cast members to use on their break! The park receives over 2 million phone calls a year and the most popular request? You’ve guessed it, can I speak to Mickey Mouse please!

Visiting a theme park is hungry business and this is proven with the 4 million hamburgers guests consume in an average year! The park is open 365 days a year, the happiness never ends! There have only ever been 4 unscheduled closures reported since 1955 including the day after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Originally, the entry ticket to the park was for the park only, you then purchased tickets for each ride individually. It wasn’t until 1982 that an ‘inclusive’ option was given and the individual ride ticket was dropped. The cost in 1982 for an all-inclusive ticket? $12.00. Compared to the average price of $96.00 in May 2014, it still represents very good value for money.

Walt Disney originated many concepts that have become theme park standard worldwide. It was Disney that started to liken employees as Cast Members, their uniform as costumes, the employee area backstage, public area onstage and the visiting public are referred to as guests. This all adds to the experience of a guest likened to that of being entertained, the experience being overseen by ‘Stage Managers’.

If the experience of the press on the opening day of the park was to take precedent, the park may never have survived! The temperatures were high, the abundance of celebrities all turned up at once, a plumbers strike meant the water fountains had run dry and numerous ride breakdown’s all added to a day Walt would probably want to forget! All was forgiven though when he invited them back for a second private day to see the park in its full glory.

The first ticket was sold to Walt’s brother, Roy Disney and was purchased from the then manager of admissions at the park, Curtis Lineberry. No visit is complete without an original Disneyland California holidays.

Visit Cable Car Museum while on your Holidays to San Francisco

Ask anyone what they associate San Francisco with and usually the answer is the Golden Gate Bridge. The lesser mentioned attraction is the humble cable car yet it is an intrinsic part of the history of San Francisco to the present day. If you think carefully, you would not be able to name a film that had been set in San Francisco that didn’t have mention of the cable car!

While on your holidays in San Francisco ask yourself - How did the cable car come to exist? Story has it that it’s inventor, Andrew Smith Hallidie saw a gruesome accident where the steepness of the roads, wet cobblestones and a heavily weighted vehicle could roll backwards and literally drag the horses to their death.

While there is no room for a full lesson on how the cable cars work, the basis lies that there are powerful electric motors that drive wheels that pull cables through a trench in the street below, centred under the cable tracks. Each car then has a mechanical grip that will latch itself onto the rope where the grips man can take or drop the rope depending on whether he has a need to start or stop the car operated by a grip man. Running along the lines, they do come to an end where they are turned around on a giant turntable; the public could help with this manoeuvre until the 1970’s came and the health and safety act!

Driving the trams is a highly skilled and labour intensive job where need for good co-ordination is a must. Because of this intensity, there have only been 2 grip women to this date, namely Fannie Mae Barnes and Willa Johnson. Maybe a reader of this blog will accept the challenge and become the 3rd ?

Interestingly, the famous social activist Maya Angelou once worked on the cable cars herself; she even dropped out of her school at the tender age of 15 to do it. She also set the records as the first African-American to work for the transport company, despite the jibes and taunts of the management as integration was still very much a new way of thinking.

Nearly destroyed totally by the earthquake of 1906, it remains in operation today as the world’s last manually operated cable car system and is in the History Books as an icon of historic places. It is a must for any trip to San Francisco (if anything because the hills are a lot more challenging than they look in the city!).

Fancy knowing a bit more after riding this moving monument? There is a comprehensive cable car museum located in San Francisco where you can learn all about this fascinating transport system.