• October 2021

    The Return of Halloween Events

    The Return of Halloween Events Theme Parks Announce Scarefests After 2020 Hiatus By Erik Chalhoub I’ve been surprised over the past few weeks as theme parks throughout the state have been slowly announcing their Halloween offerings this year.Curious, mostly, over how events that rely heavily on “in your face scares” can survive and adapt in a world where a pandemic rages on, and where social distancing is still prominent. The parks have so far been mum on what modifications their Halloween festivities will have in light of Covid-19 and its variants. Will plexiglass separate the monsters from the guests? Will capacity inside mazes be extremely limited, therefore requiring reservations? We…

  • August 2021

    Back in Rythm

    Getting Back in Rhythm Theme Park Operations Slowly Return to Pre-Pandemic State By Erik Chalhoub We all get a little out of practice when we haven’t done something in more than a year. Tucking in our shirts, interacting with colleagues in person, handshakes…the rust is real. The same is happening at theme parks, with most reopening in April and May after a year of Covid-19 closures. I’ve heard horror stories of three-hour waits on GhostRider at Knott’s Berry Farm, where ride operators finally decided to put the second train on the track to speed up the queue … an hour after the park closed for the night. Ouch. Countless rides,…

  • July 2021

    Water Parks

    Getting Back in the Water South Bay Shores Highlights New Water Parks By Erik Chalhoub Growing up, I used to be very timid when it came to trying a different theme park attraction. I was even nervous about riding the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, even though I had ridden it many times before.But once I went on my first upside-down roller coaster at age 18 (I was a late theme park bloomer), I haven’t looked back since. I’ll try any ride at least once. I’ve even been on a slingshot-type attraction as well as a “skycoaster” before, no problem.Yet, when I look at the seven-story Shark…

  • June 2021

    The Return of the Theme Park

    The Return of the Theme Park Reopenings Abound After More Than a Year of Closures By Erik Chalhoub What a month June will be. Or I should say, “can” be. It all depends on us.By the end of May, just about every theme park in California reopened after more than a year of closures. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, as well as the Six Flags parks in Northern and Southern California, got a jump on the rest by reopening select rides on April 1. SeaWorld San Diego reopened April 12, followed by Universal Studios Hollywood on April 16 and Disneyland on April 30. California’s Great America and Gilroy Gardens reopened…

  • Always Amused
    May 2020

    Ride Again

    Will You Ride a Roller Coaster Again This Year? BY ERIC CHALHOUB I was going through old photos on my phone the other day when I came across one I took of RailBlazer at California’s Great America back in December.It made me wonder: Have I yet to ride a roller coaster this decade? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Even more unfortunate is the idea that I have no idea when my next coaster ride will be. And we’re almost halfway through 2020.With the coronavirus barely showing signs of letting up, theme parks around the nation are gearing up for a possible summer without thrills. At the beginning of April, most…

  • April 2020

    Proper Theme Park Hygiene

    Proper Theme Park Hygiene Ways to Stay Healthy During Your Visit BY ERIK CHALHOUB March was a rough month. With spring pushing winter out of the way and Daylight Saving Time making the days last longer, it should’ve been a great month. But there was something big missing. When Disney announced it would close all its parks at least until the end of the month, the dominoes began to fall. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk not only shut down its rides, but also the arcade, Boardwalk Bowl and Cocoanut Grove. California’s Great America delayed its traditional March opening. Six Flags closed all of its parks nationwide. Just about every other…

  • social media theme parks
    February 2020

    Getting Social with Theme Parks: Always Amused February 2020

    Getting Social with Theme Parks Always Amused February 2020 By Erik Chalhoub Love it or hate it, social media is a world-changing phenomenon that has changed society for better or worse. It’s definitely made it better for us theme park fanatics. It was hard to imagine just 10 years ago how active parks would be on social media today. At the turn of the last decade, many parks seemingly created accounts on various social media platforms just to claim ownership of a handle (i.e. @cagreatamerica), and rarely did they post anything beyond a ticket sale or advertise an upcoming event. Now, however, social media has become an essential part of…

  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk holiday
    December 2019

    Finding the Right Gift for the Thrill-Seeker: Always Amused December 2019

    Finding the Right Gift for the Thrill-Seeker Always Amused: December 2019 By Erik Chalhoub Have a theme park fanatic in your family, but don’t know what to give them for the holidays? You’ve come to the right article. It’s a well-known fact of life that theme parks are an expensive hobby: tickets, season passes, parking, hotels, airfare, etc. are not kind on the wallet. But savvy shoppers looking to give the gift of thrills this holiday season know the who, what, when and where for the best deals. Here are some suggestions that will hopefully make your shopping easier. To Pass or Not to Pass? In a previous column for…

  • amusement park lost stuff
    November 2019

    Secure Those Articles: Always Amused November 2019

    Secure Those Articles Cell phones, hats are dangerous on rides Always Amused: November 2019 By Erik Chalhoub “Loose articles” — The term sounds like the name of a ‘90s-era grunge band or a poorly-fact-checked news piece. In fact, it is a scourge that is afflicting theme parks across the nation, and it’s getting worse. The good and bad news? We are to blame. But that also means we can be part of the solution. Loose articles refer to anything you bring with you: cell phones, wallets, sunglasses, hats, keys, change and any other knick-knack that is small enough to carry easily. When guests take these things on a ride without…