Category: Interviews

Interview with Jennifer Lauerman of Nickelodeon Universe

Posted on July 25, 2011 in Interviews by

We were able to sit down with Jennifer Lauerman, marketing director of Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor Theme Park in America located at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The park operated as Camp Snoopy from 1992-2006 and The Park at MOA from 2006-2008 before opening as Nickelodeon Universe in Spring 2008.

We talked about how the park is doing so far this year, considering the massive heatwave that’s hit Minnesota recently, and we also talk about how they market such a unique and challenging park to guests. There are also hints to big new things coming soon! After our interview, I was given the chance to ride “Brain Surge,” the park’s newest thrill ride. I will have a complete review up soon of this thrilling and intense attraction.

Make sure to check out Nickelodeon Universe’s website and “like” them on Facebook!

Listen below or download here.

Interview with Ed Hart of the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Group

Posted on December 20, 2010 in Interviews by

We were privileged to be one of the first to talk to Ed Hart, the leader of the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Group. The group is the new operator of Kentucky Kingdom, the park in Louisville, KY that was closed down by Six Flags earlier this year. Ed was a key player in the 1989 revival of Kentucky Kingdom, and led the park to having more than 1.3 million visitors his last year in control in 1997.

You can find the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Group on Facebook, Twitter, or their website.

Some new details from the interview:

  • The park will reopen in 2012, if the group can get all the proper funding.
  • The new roller coaster will be built by Bolliger & Mabillard (exact details such as type will be announced later).
  • The water park will be doubled in size.
  • A dedicated parking lot for the park will be built that will feature free parking.
  • Prices of food will be priced competitively with outside food vendors to keep guests in the park.

Listen to the interview below or download it.

Interview with The Gravity Group’s Michael Graham

Posted on October 3, 2010 in Interviews by

Recently, I got a chance to interview Michael Graham of the Gravity Group.  The company has been producing top notch wooden coasters even though it is just a few years old.  Some examples of their work include, the world’s number 1 coaster: The Voyage at Holiday World, The Ravine Flyer II at Waldameer, Hades at Mt. Olympus along with many other award winning wooden coasters.

Mike, it’s  pleasure to be able to interview you!  I can’t wait to hear your responses to some of the questions I have.  So let’s jump right in: The Gravity Group is a fairly young company when compared to some other roller coaster manufacturers.  How exactly did the Gravity Group form?

When we were laid off from Custom Coasters, and it then went bankrupt, we liked what we did and wanted to continue doing it.  We started out consulting on a number of smaller projects including the Raven upgrade to two trains, and then in the fall of 2004 we began our first ride, Hades at Mt. Olympus.  Eight years after our inception we have now completed 5 roller coaster designs with 4 more opening next year.

Of all the Gravity Group coasters you have worked on, which has proven to be the most challenging to design?

This is an interesting question as each ride has posed its unique challenges of site constraints or other random features.  I would say the Timberliner project probably has been the most challenging as our goals for the product were set very high, and it has been a different exercise than producing another ride design.

Source: Holiday World

Which project was the most fun to work on?

The Voyage may have been the most fun as it was such an epic design.

Gravity Group is a wooden coaster design firm, but has the company ever looked into working on steel coasters?

We often brainstorm about delving into other ride styles, but development is a very involved and time-consuming process.

The Timberliner is a revolution in a wooden coaster trains.  The cars are described as being able to smoothly navigate the track among many other features.  How exactly did the concept of the Timberliners come to be?

For a very long time, there has been a need for a ground up new design for wooden roller coaster trains.  Significant changes have been needed to address maintenance, comfort and capacity.  After discussing parks’ needs, we felt that these were the key objectives that we needed to address

Source: Gravity Group

Source: Gravity Group

Have a good number of parks expressed interest in the Timberliners for their existing wooden coasters?

Yes.  They are designed to be compatible with existing tracks and our data clearly shows that tracks will breathe a breath of fresh air when running the lighter more nimble Timberliners.

2011 will be the first year two Gravity Group coasters open up in the same season.  Could 2012 bring two or more as well?

One never know what the future holds.

Source: Grona Lund

Just a few weeks ago (August 9, 2010) Gröna Lund in Sweden announced the addition of a new Gravity Group coaster.  How long ago did the park approach the Gravity Group?  And how long in general does it take from conception to opening day for one of your coasters?

We have been talking to them for quite a few years.  With the ability to make the super tight turns, we were able to provide them with a very unique ride with a tiny footprint compared to that of typical wooden coasters. This enabled the park to do the ride for 2011.  Often the conceptual design is done in conjunction with zoning hurdles so sometimes it is quick while other times it is iteration after iteration. Once all systems are go, it typically takes less than a year from design to completion.

We really appreciate you giving Park Thoughts and it’s readers an opportunity to get an inside look at the Gravity Group!  Can you give us an insight at what the future holds for Gravity Group?

We plan to keep making improvements in what we do and how we do things.  We will continue to focus on designing the best roller coasters on the planet, now coupled with the best trains on the market.

Well, once again Mike, thanks for the interview!  We really appreciate it.

An Interview with Don Carson

Posted on August 14, 2010 in Interviews by

Recently, I got a chance to interview Don Carson, an illustrator and artists for theme parks.  He has worked on several projects ranging from Disney classics such as Splash Mountain, to Universal’s Island’s of Adventure’s latest addition of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Don has been the industry for more than 20 years, and is an expert at what...

Interview with Captain Lee of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Posted on June 4, 2010 in Interviews by

Six Flags Discovery KingdomWe were able to sit down and talk to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s very own Captain Lee Munro, Animal Ambassador and Media Spokesperson. Listen to our interview from Odin’s Temple of the Tiger as we discuss what’s new for 2010, how the park is dealing with the tough economy and the new “coaster wrap” ads.


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Park Thoughts Interviews Holiday World

Posted on May 16, 2010 in Interviews by

Since it’s opening in 1946, Holiday World in Santa Clause, Indiana has grown to become a power house in the theme park world.  When the park originally made its debut, it claimed the title as the first theme park in the world.  It began as just a small getaway where families could have fun riding the few attractions.  Now, Holiday...

Interview with Brandon Stanley of Worlds of Fun

Posted on July 26, 2009 in Interviews by

Worlds of Fun

I was able to take a few minutes to talk to Brandon Stanley, Public Relations Manger at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, MO. Take a listen to our interview below! We discuss everything from how the season is going, to Prowler, plus we get his thoughts on Cedar Fair’s announcement of possibly selling the park earlier this year.

A big...