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Thank you for your interest in blogging for The Park Fanatics! We can’t wait to see what you bring to the team. Before we send you off, we need to make sure you understand the rules about posting on our blog. It is very important that you follow these rules. Failure to follow these rules could lead to account suspension and/or termination. If you see any violations yourself, please report them to ParkFanatic@gmail.com.
- Keep Post Content PG-13 and Under – This means no nudity, excessive profanity, excessive gore, drug references, or sexually explicit posts. If the content in question would change a movie to “Rated – R,” then double check with site admins before posting. Content that is acceptable: Make-up/gore from haunted attractions, skimpy outfits/ costumes (as long as all “naughty bits” are covered), Alcohol, etc.
- No Brigading, Witch Hunts, or Attacks – Do not post any inflammatory content directed at a person or entity. We are not here to start fights or cause drama. Do not post anyone’s personal information or private contact info. You CAN post negative reviews and opinions, but keep everything as civil as possible.
- Acceptable: Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry Festival Leaves Fans Dissapointed
- Not Acceptable: Knott’s Food is Disgusting, Boycott The Boysenberry Festival.
- No Politics – No Trump, No Hillary, NO POLITICS.
- No Racism, Sexism, or Hate Speech – NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Do Not Include Advertising Links – This includes personal Amazon Associates links, PayPal, or other revenue generating links. Feel free to link to another website in your post, but make sure those links open in another window or tab.
- Do Not Use Copyrighted Images, Music, Videos, or Content – Try to only use your own pictures and writing. If you quote something in your blog post, include the source. If there is a copyrighted image that you would like to include, contact the owner and see if you can get permission to use the image. ALWAYS include a source and try to link the image back to the place where you found it. You may use anything in our “Media Library” in your posts.
WHAT IS ALLOWED?
- Feel free to promote yourself, your website, and your social media accounts – Please make sure that these external links open in another tab or window.
- Speak your mind and opinion – If you did not like something about a trip or event, then tell us in your post! Just remember Rule 2. No Brigading or Attacks.
- Use of Theme Park/ Business Logos – Feel free to include any logo or brand in your posts. You may also use any image from theme park press releases
- Use of Our Logos and Promo Images – You can find them in our “Media Library” or pull them straight from the website. If you need something specific or a custom promo image, contact the admins. We would be happy to help you out.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at ParkFanatic@gmail.com.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a blogger for The Park Fanatics! This post will help you understand how we process our blog posts for our website. If you are familiar with WordPress then this will be a pretty simple refresher course. We mainly wanted to create this for people who are not as familiar with the WordPress platform. If you are familiar with WordPress, Skip to the bottom to our final checklist. This explains things that pertain to our website theme and layout. Lets get started, shall we?
This is our home page. Scroll to the very bottom right to access our “Blogger Portal.” Alternatively, you can type www.parkfanatic.com/wp-admin into the address bar.
Type in your username and password here to log in. This will take you to your WordPress Dashboard as seen below:
ADDING A BLOG POST
The WordPress Dashboard is your home for all things blogging. Head over to the side bar and click “Posts.” This shows all of our blog posts and podcasts. Almost everything we add to ParkFanatic.com is through the Posts tab. You may look through them to see how they are formatted. This can be quite helpful if you need help figuring out an issue with formatting. Now, let’s try adding a new blog post. Click “Add New” at the top of the “Posts” page
This is an empty blog post. Add your Title and start typing out your text. Do not add your images yet. Instead, type place markers for each image that you can replace later. SAVE FREQUENTLY. WordPress saves automatically in case your browser closes, but click “Save Draft” to create a draft that you can revert back to in case of an emergency. If you royally mess up a blog post, you can reload from a previous draft, saving you a lot of time. After you type out your post, It should look something like this:
Now that you have typed out your text post, save your work and get your images ready. This includes resizing, editing, and correcting the orientation of your photos. After they are ready, we need to add them to our “Media Library.” The easiest way to add images is to click “Add Media” at the top of the blog post editing page. You can also add images through the sidebar. Click “Media” on the sidebar, then click “Add New”
Next, select the “Upload Files” tab and then click “Select files.” Select your picture files and open them. DO NOT CLICK ADD TO POST. We will add the images to your blog post one at a time. Once they are uploaded, close the Media Library.
Now that your images are uploaded to the Media Library, you can add them into your blog post anywhere you’d like. Highlight the image marker that you’ve placed in your text post and then click “Add Media” again. Select the image you’d like and insert it into your post.
Go through your post and replace each image placeholder. Next we will resize the images to the correct size. There are two ways to resize your image. First, select the photo you would like to edit. You can either:
- Select the node on the corner of the image and drag it to the appropriate size. I recommend around 500 to 700 px on the longest side of the image. NOTE: When you resize images this way, they appear blurry in the WordPress editor. They will appear just fine when published. If you would like to preview the final result, click the “Preview Changes” button on the top right sidebar.
- Select the Edit tab on top of the image. This will give you a wide arrange of options to edit your photo.
- NOTE: In the edit tab, make sure the “Link To” option is set to “Media File” on EVERY IMAGE.
- Note: This does not change the actual file size, only the way its displayed. If you have excessively large files, you should resize them beforehand.
ADDING GALLERIES TO YOUR POSTS
If you have 2 or more photos that you would like to display, you can display them in a gallery. This makes your images much easier to navigate once published. Start off by clicking the “Add Media” button again, then click “Create Gallery”
You will then be able to choose the amount columns you would like in your gallery. I suggest 3 columns whenever possible. Change the image size to Medium. MAKE SURE to change the “Link To” option to MEDIA FILE. This is very important to make the gallery display properly. Then click Insert Gallery.
And here is the result:
Whoops, I chose a portrait and two landscapes. That looks kind of funny, doesn’t it? Keep this in mind when choosing your photos.
ADDING OTHER MEDIA
You can also add Youtube videos and audio to your posts if you would like. Simply embed the youtube link on the post for it to display on your page. So this:
displays as this:
You can also add audio if you would like. Simply drag the audio file from your computer into your post for it to display as a playable file. Keep in mind if it is copyrighted material!
FORMATTING YOUR POST
After you have added all of your text and media, you may have to tweak your post for it to display how you would like. This includes adding headings, checking for unnecessary gaps, and final touches on photos. Also take this time to double check your spelling and grammar.
Adding a heading is simple. Type the text where you would like to display your header, then highlight the text. Select a header option from the dropdown menu.
Oops, notice how there is a gap above this text? That shouldn’t be there. While editing a post in WordPress, it can be hard to see little things like this. Make sure to check your work using the “Preview Changes” button on the right hand sidebar. Find and fix any gaps and formatting issues before publishing.
FINAL PROOFING CHECKLIST
After all of this, there are a few, final things that you need to check before you click “Publish.” These only pertain to Parkfanatic.com. If you are using this resource for something else then check your work, since this mostly pertains to our appearance and theme.
- Hide Featured Image. Change this to YES.
- Select your thumbnail image. The image you want as your thumbnail must be the first picture on your post or specifically uploaded as the “Featured Image” in the Themify Custom Panel (find this at the bottom of page)
- Link all images to “Media File”. On every image, click the edit button and make sure the “Link To” option is set to “Media File.” This ensures that those reading on mobile can zoom in to see the details on photos. This is very important.
- All media must be centered. Do not put text next to images. It displays horribly on mobile.
- Categorize your blog post in the “Travel Blogs” category. Find this on the right hand sidebar.
- Did you check your work with the “Preview Changes” button?
- Click Publish!
FINAL STEP – CHECK HOW YOUR POST DISPLAYS ON MOBILE BROWSERS
Now that you have published your final draft on ParkFanatic.com, Take a moment to check your post on a mobile device. Sometimes a post will look great on a web browser, but the formatting will look funky on mobile. Check your work and make any final adjustments. Don’t forget to update your post if you change anything!
Writing by Garett Simcox
Photography by Bishoy Ghobrial and Garett Simcox
Time for some more holiday fun! We stopped by The Queen Mary in Long Beach to check out Chill! This Holiday celebration takes place every year on the grounds of The Queen Mary. If you are familiar with their popular haunt “Dark Harbor,” then you know this location very well. The gruesome skeletons and terrifying monsters have been replaced by spirited carolers and colorful christmas lights. It’s nice to see the place so cheery after our last encounter with the haunted ship. Even from afar, The Queen Mary looks quite inviting with its sparkling smoke stacks.
They really did the place up nice for Chill. Christmas lights adorned every building and walkway, along with your standard candy canes and wreaths.
After entering the event, you are greeted by a gigantic Christmas tree that is right out of Miracle On 34th Street. Gingerbread shops and food vendors adorned the walkways.
I will always be amazed by the beauty of The Queen Mary. It makes for the most spectacular backdrop around. Paired with the christmas lights and the flurry of seasonal decorations, it is truly something out of a winter wonderland. You can’t find scenery like this anywhere else in the world, and that alone makes these events so special.
After perusing the vendors and food, we hi-tailed it into the dome. This is where they had their Alice and Winterland lighted garden display. Along with a merry go round and a really fun inner tube slide, this dome is where a majority of the attractions were located.
It seems they have done away with their ice sculpture roots. Prior years featured frozen ice sculptures in a maze like configuration telling whatever story they had chosen that year. A parka was graciously given to you to on loan to keep you warm through the below 0 temperature. Take a look at some of the pictures from 2015:
Alice in Winterland was pretty spectacular. It was a really fun change from last years Scrooge. The new ‘light garden’ design was very unique. The thin fabric stretched over metal forms looked really cool when lit from inside. It is a shame that the traditional ice sculpture design has been scrapped, but overall we really enjoyed this new interactive experience. On top of that, you won’t freeze your fingertips off anymore!
The maze told the story pretty well, although it seemed a bit disconnected at some points. It was basically one giant photo op with all of your favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland. Most of the scenes had an interactive element as well. Guests with an ‘Elf Pass’ received a complementary pair of bunny ears with a small chip located on the top. When you passed by an interactive display, the system would read the chip and magical things would happen all around. Most notable interactions were the Cheshire Cat appearing out of thin air, and a few wintry paintings jumping to life.
Aside from the dome, you can find a few more attractions outside. The creepy Michael Jackson swings from Dark Harbor still remain, although they seem to take on more of a nostalgic charm during the holiday event. These are indeed from Neverland Ranch.
One of the cutest attractions had to be the giant, manually operated rocking horse. I’ve only ever seen this macro version of a classic rocking horse here at Chill! According to their website, it’s the largest rocking horse in the world!
Overall it’s a pretty fun event. We decided to skip the Ice skating rink because we are lazy and out of shape. We did everything else in about an hour. If you really wanted to do absolutely everything here, you could probably circle the event in 3 hours or so. We always have a really good time at The Queen Mary events. They are so unique and really hit the spot when you’re looking to satisfy the holiday itch.
Here is my gripe with the events at The Queen Mary. It costs a LOT of money to enjoy the entire event. We were invited here to check out Chill on a Media pass, which makes it easy to enjoy since everything is free. Planning on buying a ticket? That’s $35 an adult and $25 per child (age 11 and under). Family 5 packs start at $139 and go to $150 on Saturdays. You can also buy a front of the line pass for $15 a pop, which we never had to use since the lines were empty. Want to go ice skating? That’s another $15 for a 45 minute session. Hungry? Almost all of the meals are$ 12 and over. Hot Chocolate is $5. Bottles of water are $3. General Admission gets you Alice in Winterland, Ice Tubing, A ticket to the 4D theater, and access to the event and the ship for the day. Most of what remains is an upcharge from the parking ($18), to the swings ($5), to meeting Santa Claus ($15).
The price point is really disappointing since the event is so much fun. The Queen Mary puts on a pretty elaborate attraction in such a spectacular and unique event space. What I wish they would do is fashion this event in the style of a European Christmas market. It should be free to enter, but each attraction would cost a ticket price. Hell, even if they stung me for the $18 parking, I’d still show up to the event 2 or 3 times during December. As a Long Beach local, It is so nice to have such a fantastic event right here in the city. Unfortunately, most locals don’t want to spend upwards of $50 just to park and walk into the holiday celebration, just so that they can spend even MORE money at said event. It’s even harder to justify the cost when you can easily see everything Chill offers in a few hours.
If you don’t care about the money, then definitely check out Chill at The Queen Mary. It’s fun, it’s special, and it’s in an amazing location that is worth seeing. If you are on a budget, I’d say buy those Christmas gifts before buying tickets to Chill.
We would like to thank the people at The Queen Mary for inviting us out to check out Chill! We really did enjoy ourselves at the event. Check out their website at www.QueenMary.com/events/chill and see the ship for yourself. Its pretty spectacular.
On the Season 2 Finale of The Park Fanatic Podcast, we welcome Disney Legend, Bob Gurr to the show! Bob Gurr is known for his work as a Disney Imagineer, Ride Designer, and as the Father of King Kong Encounter at Universal Studios, Hollywood. The enormous 30 foot tall animatronic was a technological marvel at the time of its debut. Bob tells us all about how he designed the show, including the exploding helicopter and the legendary King Kong himself. Join us on this journey through theme park history.
Stay tuned to the end of this episode for a special surprise announcement.
Share or RT our episode promo on any social media for your chance to win a King Kong print autographed by Bob Gurr!
www.BobGurr.com <—- All Things Bob Gurr
www.TheStudioTour.com <— Great resource on The Studio Tour at Universal Studios.
On Episode 225 of The Park Fanatic Podcast, our good friend Rick West of Theme Park Adventure joins us once again to discuss his adventures in Orlando during this years IAAPA Convention. In this XL sized episode, we talk about all of Rick West’s theme park visits including Walt Disney World, Funspot, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure, and much much more. We also talk about what the coolest things on the floor of IAAPA were this year! If you are a fan of theme parks (which I would hope you are if you made it this far) then this massive plethora of rides, theme parks, bars, food and entertainment is just for you! Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight to Orlando, for some insane theme park fun!
The Summer of My Life
By: The Skateboard Philosopher
I’ve been to Canada’s Wonderland, my home park, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada so many times I lost count years ago. I spent my thirteenth birthday in Florida and was fortunate enough to experience Disney World, Epcot and Busch Garden’s them park in Tampa. I have always loved theme parks, roller coasters and losing myself in the experience. I would often day dream about taking a road trip to all the legendary parks, my own endless summer. Finally nearly 30 years later I was able to live this dream. Although it wasn’t the half year trip from my teenaged fantasy, I did get to take four trips during the Spring and Summer of 2016.
First trip was early April. My wife Chris and I set our sights on Doswell, Virginia. The home of Kings Dominion. I am a complete rollercoaster junkie so this park was a perfect fit. It has the near perfect mix of speed, uniqueness and pure fun coasters. From Avalanche – their bobsled ride to Volcano – a hanging launch coaster that blasts out of an amazing manmade volcano it was epic! There was ice and snow covering everything when we left Ontario, but by the time we hit this latitude it was full-blown Spring time with blossoming flowers. The park has great atmosphere, awesome rides and cool themes. We only had one day but luckily this time of year the weather is great and the crowds were minimal.
The next stop on this trip was the pride of the Carolinas, Carowinds. As you walk up to the main entrance you see a line down the center of the park. North Carolina sits to the East and South Carolina to The West. Their attraction ride is Fury 325. This is a 325 foot tall metal monster. Not only is it one of the biggest, fastest coasters in North America, it’s also the only coaster to cross a state line.
The second time I was able to sneak away from work for a while was in June. I used it to zip across the border to Michigan’s Adventure. My wife and I had just fulfilled our dreams by purchasing a camper van and this was our maiden voyage. We stayed at Muskegon State park nearby and had two great days at the park. This is by far the smallest park in the Cedar Fair chain and unfortunately it was apparent that it doesn’t get a lot of love. The rides are a little old, but the park is clean and their selection of water attractions was amazing. Even though it was a little chilly to be splashing around, we still spent an afternoon on waterslides. The parks saving grace is Shivering Timbers, the 5th longest rollercoaster in the world and ranks among the best woodies on the planet. Shivering Timbers is probably the attraction that enticed us to visiting this park in the first place. There is more airtime than an NBA slam dunk tournament and it’s by far the best wooden coaster I have ever ridden.
In mid July I squeaked out a few days of camping, well camper vanning to be honest onsite at Six Flags Darien Lake. I feel like theme park junkies like to bash on Six Flags a little, but this was one of the best experiences I’ve had at any park. It was during a serious heat wave in New York state so their massive waterpark was the destination multiple times a day. It’s not the biggest park, but it has some unique rides like their hypercoaster Ride of Steel, a blast tower and the Orange County Choppers themed Moto Coaster. The latter being a unique Zamperla motorbike coaster where you actually ride miniature sport bikes. The lines were short and the campground was well kept. Their nightly laser pyrotechnics show was mind blowing! The other plus is that the campers entrance has no attention paid to it by staff. A variety of coolers full of food and drink were rolled right on into the park every morning as parents would stake their claim of quality, shaded spots at the water park. Fathers would huddle in circles as their children ran amok all day long in this chlorinated paradise.
In between all these trips I was of course still faithful to my home park in Toronto, Ontario – Canada’s Wonderland. The love I have for this place could fill ten blog posts, but I wanted to make mention as it filled in all the gaps between road trips and kept my coaster count climbing. As most coaster enthusiasts know we need to top up the adrenaline rush frequently.
My wife and I had a cycling trip set as our last vacation in August but being the incredible wife she is, the suggestion was made to trade riding bikes for riding coasters. After 3 decades of longing I finally fulfilled my 13 year old dream of going to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Again, we jumped in our beloved camper van and hit the road. This time joined by fellow coaster junkie, my brother-in-law Mat. We found a KOA Kampground just around the corner to call home base. In reality this was just a place to park for the night, cook a meal and shower. We were at the front gates of Cedar Point by 8:55am each morning and stayed until every coaster was parked for the night. This place was everything I imagined it would be and it certainly lived up to its title of “Roller Coaster Capital Of The World”! There is too much to get into here and to demonstrate that point even further we spent 3 entire days at the park and hadn’t even made it to every corner. I’ll highlight some of my favourite rides though and give my impressions of the park.
As you drive in you see the skyline of twisted steel tracks along the horizon. The variety of coasters is absolutely mind boggling. It’s a perfect blend of styles, sizes, manufacturers, materials and design. There is truly something for everyone. We screamed on Intamin’s Maverick with it’s 95 degree initial drop and high fived competing passengers on Arrow Dynamics steel hybrid racing coaster Gemini. We held our hands high on the drop of the world’s first giga coaster -Millennium Force, braved Top Thrill Dragster’s G-forces and dangled over the precipice on the brand new dive coaster Valravn. We rode the 100 foot tall giant swing Skyhawk more times than I can count. It’s one of my favourite rides of all time and also one of those rides where every time you pass by the minimal line up draws you in for a quick swing. The park is dazzling at dusk where we enjoyed the combined view of a breath taking sunset and flashing midway lights from their drop tower. By the time we dragged our exhausted bodies from the park on the last night, heads spinning from loops, banked turns and giant drops, we all agreed – annual trip!
My 13 year old self would be beaming with pride and most likely teary eyed to know that I was finally able to make that youthful dream a reality. That all these years later I still haven’t fully grown up. That I’m still able to laugh like a kid, see the world through the lens of youth and lose myself if only for little bursts of time.
The Skateboard Philosopher
On Episode 224 of The Park Fanatic Podcast, the boys sit down with Rick West of Theme Park Adventure and Midsummer Scream to talk about the classic Disneyland attraction, The Haunted Mansion. Since it’s opening, the Mansion has consistently wowed guests with it’s spooky fun atmosphere, it’s incredible illusions, classic characters (The Hatbox Ghost, The Hitchhiking Ghosts, The Bride, The Ghost Host) and music. This is an episode not to be missed if you are a Haunted Mansion fan! We have behind the scenes stories about what it’s like to work the cobweb filled halls of the Mansion! Now hop in your doom buggie and come on a delightfully spooky journey through The Haunted Mansion!
On Episode 223 of the Park Fanatic Podcast, because of their unfortunate mishap with the last recording and how the guys did not want to leave everyone hanging; they recorded a mini episode! The guys cover a myriad of topics including Garett’s Coaster Corner, Sinister Pointe Holiday Maze, Knott’s Berry Farm new rides for 2017, the new drone show at Disney Springs in Orlando and a GREAT review by listener Jordan Driver all about Scareowinds!
- Knotts Berry Farm 2017 Announcement
- Mystic Tymbers Construction Update
- Invadr Construction Update
- The Joker Construction Update
On episode 222 of The Park Fanatic Podcast, we bring you our Indy Haunt Halloween Spectacular! Special guests Bishoy Ghobrial and Nikki Montoya join us to discuss all 12 independent haunts that we visited over the 2016 haunt season. Some of them are Pro-Haunts, some of them are Home Haunts, one of them is even an Escape Room. Check out the list of links below for all of the haunts included in this episode. We hope you have a happy and haunted Halloween, Fanatics!
- Sinister Pointe
- Field Of Screams – Haunted Stadium
- Motel 6 Feet Under
- The Haunted Rose
- The 17th Door
- Cross Roads Escape Games
- Coffin Creek
- The Backwoods Maze
- Rotten Apple 907
- Reign Of Terror
- Urban Death – Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater