Theme Park Adventure

Theme Park Adventure (TPA) launched in September of 1994 by Rick West. Theme Park Adventure began as a printed newsletter called “The Brake Zone,” which was distributed to fans around the world. In those early days of black and white print, Theme Park Adventure covered such events as Luxor Las Vegas’ First Anniversary, the closure of the Disneyland Skyway, Knott’s Scary Farm’s 22nd Annual Halloween Haunt, Terror on Church Street in Orlando, and the on-going construction of The Indiana Jones Adventure Temple of the Forbidden Eye.

As readership grew, The Brake Zone featured additional industry happenings for its readers, such as the opening of Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World, Montu at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and the development of Six Flags Hurricane Harbor at Magic Mountain. The Brake Zone grew in length, and began to be recognized by theme park executives throughout the business as a legitimate publication. In the months to come, TPA would create longer issues of The Brake Zone to commemorate special events such as the farewell to Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade and the opening of Indiana Jones Adventure Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The newsletter’s on-going coverage and attention paid to Knott’s Berry Farm’s annual Halloween Haunt event would play a major role in the growth of Theme Park Adventure in the years to come, according to the publication’s website.

By the late ’90s, Theme Park Adventure had switched course from The Brake Zone and began developing content for the Internet. At first, publishers posted images onto a BB-Edit system in GIF format. Then, as technology ramped up, they began hosting JPEG images online.

Before ending the printed publication, Theme Park Adventure produced two book-sized “Feature Issues.” One was a 170-page history and behind-the-scenes look at the Imagineering process of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean attractions featuring interviews with industry legends Marc and Alice Davis, Marty Sklar and Tony Baxter. The second book was a 70-page look at the creation of Tarzan’s Treehouse at Disneyland, featuring interviews with Imagineers Tony Baxter and Bob Baranick, as well as a special written introduction by Tab Murphy, the screenwriter of Tarzan for Walt Disney Studios. Both books were created in close partnership with Walt Disney Imagineering, and signaled a new chapter in TPA’s history. Over time, Theme Park Adventure’s relationship with Knott’s Berry Farm and those behind its annual Halloween Haunt event grew. TPA went on to provide extremely detailed coverage of the Haunt.

According to the company’s website, Theme Park Adventure was the first to cover the Scary Farm in depth in print; the first to bring Haunt to the Internet; and was the first to begin offering videos of the mazes and shows for fans online.

In the summer of 2014, TPA Founder & Editor Rick West was named in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards as one of the nation’s top 10 theme park bloggers.

From November 2012 to March 2016, Rick and Johanna served as core creators & producers of Scare LA, a large-scale Halloween & horror convention in Southern California. They grew the event from 3,000 attendees in its first year to over 10,000 in its third. In March of 2015, Rick West and Johanna Atilano became part of the founding group behind Midsummer Scream, a large-scale Halloween, haunt and horror festival that made its debut in July 2016 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Rick is the event’s Creative Director, and Johanna is its Producer. Rick and Johanna are also active members of the Themed Entertainment Association.

Rick West is a Show Writer at Rethink Leisure & Entertainment in Burbank, California. He has also worked for other themed entertainment companies including Thinkwell, BRC Imagination Arts, The Producers Group, Wyatt Design Group, Apogee Attractions and The Hettema Group. Johanna Atilano works full-time for BRC Imagination Arts.

Contributor: René Carson

Related Entries