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Six Flags making Monster Mansion of Monster Plantation

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Six Flags making Monster Mansion of Monster Plantation



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Friday, September 26, 2008


Twenty-eight years ago, Six Flags Over Georgia came to ride designer Gary Goddard with 25,000 square feet in a dark building with a stream running through it. Goddard’s team took the hull of the Tales of the Okefenokee ride and made it Monster Plantation, one of the park’s oldest attractions.


This year, park management came back to Goddard with the same 25,000 square feet and curling river, plus nearly three decades of nostalgia. They had a request: update it, but don’t ruin the memory.






They’ll call it Monster Mansion and open its doors in May 2009. Designers want a brighter, fresher, dusted off version of the five-minute boat ride. They’re holding on to the classic parts — yes, the catchy, kid-sung tune of the ride will continue to play — but it’s getting a makeover to make it last.


“It will be memory,” Goddard says, “Times 10.”


Here’s how they built the monsters and their picnic, then and now.




Then: After 13 years of guiding visitors through Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus stories, Six Flags dismantled the Okefenokee swamp ride in 1980. It wanted a new ride for kids, families and maybe even finicky teens.


Monster Plantation was born in the imagination of Al Bertino, a longtime Disney animator and Imagineer. When his young granddaughter pretended to be a monster, he realized they could be playful, scary and familiar to all.


Former Disney ridemakers designed and built the project; it was Goddard’s company’s first big one, even. They did it during a whirlwind nine months for about $3 million, and opened it in 1981.


Now: Goddard says there was talk at Six Flags of demolishing the Plantation to install a new ride, but it would’ve crushed fans who rode it as enchanted children, love-struck teens and eventually as parents looking for nostalgia and air conditioning. “This is part of Atlanta, it’s part of our thing,” said Goddard, who lives in California. “How can we keep the best of what’s there and freshen it up?” The renovation volleyed to some of the Plantation’s original creators, including Goddard and his company, Gary Goddard Entertainment, which designed the Georgia Aquarium and Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow.




Then: Characters were inspired by the monsters’ southern home. There’s Mizzy Scarlett, the hostess of a monster picnic who extends the invitation to human guests; Buzby, a fun-loving, beanie-wearing kid monster named for former Georgia Gov. George Busbee; and a character often mistaken for a sheriff. His title is marshal, thank you very much, and his name is Billy Bob Fritter. (His faithful dog, the one beside him as he warns humans not to go into the monster marsh: Fritter Bitter.)


Now: Plantation fans worried about “commercialism hitting the place,” that Scooby Doo or Looney Tunes would replace Atlanta’s monsters, said Robert Ulrich, an American Coaster Enthusiast regional representative who lives in Marietta and rides Monster Plantation every year.


Not to worry: Goddard says they’ll re-outfit characters, brighten up their fur and feathers and add new monsters, too. But they won’t build anything found in video games, TV and movies. It’s unusual these days for theme parks to create original, story-driven rides, says Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com. “The key is that the ride has to make an emotional connection with the audience,” Niles said in an e-mail.




Then: Monster Plantation was cutting edge technology at the time. It was the first attempt at an animatronic ride of that scope outside a Disney park. It relied on more than 100 original characters and hydraulic fluid pushed into pneumatic cylinders. More than 7,000 feet of wire connected the monsters to a central computers. Over the years, the park didn’t make many updates or changes; the original craftsmanship held up.


Now: Designers could have pulled out the animatronic monsters to make the ride a computerized video thrill, but Goddard wasn’t interested: “They can see that in the movies,” he said. “That’s the whole point — there’s something physically there in front of you.” Some technology will get an update, though, especially lights, special effects, water effects and the audio system, that will play a freshly mixed version of the famously cheery monster song.





The Monster Plantation theme song has been getting stuck in riders heads for 27 years. Designers for the renovated ride considered changing it, but expected fans to be outraged.


Here are the original lyrics of the song, as provided by Six Flags; they didn’t all make it into the tune played on the ride. Click here to hear the song as it plays at the monster picnic.



Oh, come on now, you’re invited!

To what?

To a picnic!

What kinda picnic?

Monster picnic, but humans are allowed today.

So, join the monsters at the mansion.

Relax and come inside, relax enjoy the ride!


If Six Flags develops some strong working partnerships with both Mack rides and Gary Goddard we may see some interesting new rides.

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Shapiro and the rest of them have said from day one of taking over that they wanted "Disney" style rides, and it doesen't get any more "Disney" than Monster Mansion. I hope someday our fair park get's something like this.

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The Monster Plantation song that is currently used is simply one or two lines now on a continuous loop. It isn't bad when you are traveling through the mansion but when the boats back up into the unload area the song seems like a brain-washing technique. Over and over and over! :blink:

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"...You're invited, to our picnic, monster picnic, where humans are allowed to go. Let's join the monsters at the mansion..."


After living in Atlanta for a year, I heard that song SO MANY TIMES! Just walking by you hear it playing... :wacko:

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  • 7 months later...

Press release from Six Flags:


Bring Your Little Monsters!


New Monster Mansion unveils more 4D effects than any other ride in the world


AUSTELL, Ga., May 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Beginning Saturday, May 16, guests at Six Flags Over Georgia can experience the new and improved Monster Mansion family dark ride featuring more 4D effects than any other ride in the world. Monster Mansion boasts eight new animatronic monsters, a major makeover to the existing 97 animatronic monsters and upgraded technology guaranteed to have the young and young at heart returning to ride again and again.


The four-minute boat voyage through Monster Mansion allows human visitors to witness, and for the first time, actually take part in the Monsters' family reunion picnic. Twelve new interactive elements will keep guests engaged and entertained as they witness a close-up encounter with a monster in the marsh and feel the heat from a chili cook-off among several other surprises. The ride's new Monster photographer and his faithful assistant, Nestor, will be on hand to capture every moment.


Gary Goddard, world-renowned design consultant and founder of Gary Goddard Entertainment (GGE), created Monster Plantation in 1981 and is the mastermind behind the re-design. Goddard also constructed the integral elements of the Georgia Aquarium, including the hub that leads to the aquarium's five exhibits and Deepo's Undersea 3D Wondershow. In 2007, GGE created the Glow in the Park Parade - an amazing display of light, sound and motion being presented at several Six Flags parks.


"The transformation is unbelievable," said Goddard. "When Monster Plantation made its debut in 1981, the technology was cutting-edge. More than 25 years later, we have so many more 'toys' at our disposal and the end result is an absolute delight. Monster Mansion is destined to become a fan favorite for the next generation and their families."


Designed exclusively for Six Flags Over Georgia, Monster Plantation was consistently voted one of the park's top attractions and its lovable cast of characters soon became as iconic as the ride itself. Buzby, the kid monster who wears the propeller hat, is named after George Busbee, who served as governor of the state when the ride opened. Mizzy Scarlett is loosely named after Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind and serves as the chair of the Monsters' welcoming committee. These popular characters and others are all returning with a makeover in the new Monster Mansion.


In addition to the new Monster Mansion upgrades, the park will also unveil a new retail shop and mini-museum adjacent to the ride aptly named the MonStore. Here, patrons will find Monster Plantation and Monster Mansion items available for purchase, including plush monsters, apparel, jewelry inspired by Mizzy Scarlett and more.


Six Flags Over Georgia is currently open weekends and will begin daily operation May 22. Season Passes are still available at the lowest price of the year - $49.99, which is only $10 more than the main gate admission price.


For more information on Monster Mansion and other rides, specials events and pricing, visit www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia.

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  • 2 months later...

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