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Survey says: This game show is goofy
Hilarious “Theme Park Trivia Show” will have you in stitches
When I started this gig some thirty years ago, virtually nobody was doing what I wanted to do. I had to make it up as I went along. Granted, there aren’t a heckuva lot of theme park journalists today, but thanks to the Internet and the democratization of media, I now have some colleagues who ride (and review) the coaster rails with me.
It’s not just folks writing about attractions, of course. With the advent of Web sites, blogs, social media, YouTube, podcasts, and other digital forms of communication, there is an explosion of content devoted to seemingly every topic and audience under the sun. The level of specificity can be astonishing and overwhelming. Still, nothing prepared me for the “Theme Park Trivia Show.”
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The first time I discovered the YouTube program, I convulsed in fits of laughter and nearly fell off my chair. How’s this for ultra-niche content? The opening features the house band, Disco Yeti and the Mineral Kings, a quartet enthusiastically performing a cheesy, generic game show song. For folks unaware of Disco Yeti or who have no context about what “Mineral King” means, the silly band would still generate a chuckle. But to those in the know (or at least to me), it’s pee-your-pants funny.
As an “About Theme Parks” subscriber (and thanks for joining in the fun; wait, you’re not a subscriber? Hey, fix that right now!), it’s highly likely that, like me, you are firmly in the know about parks and attractions. The “Theme Park Trivia Show” speaks our language. You owe it to yourself to check it out. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the peeing.
The concept is fairly simple. It is a game show based on, well, theme park trivia. Two contestants compete against one another by answering park-related questions and scoring points. They get to pick from six categories, some of which are incredibly clever, if supremely stupid. Take Imagine Ears, for example. Players had to determine the identity of famous Disney Imagineers by looking at photos of–wait for it–just their ears. Understandably, earlobe-adorned Joe Rohde was a gimme.
The person coming up with the wacky categories and puns is Ryan Ritchey, the creator of “Theme Park Trivia Show.” He is also the announcer, the host, all three Mineral Kings, and yes, Disco Yeti. For his day job, Ritchey is a video producer, which helps explain the near broadcast quality of the program. Shot in a studio with a green screen and embellished with great graphics and other high production value, the show has a wonderful look and feel–which you wouldn’t necessarily expect for a program that celebrates and has snarky fun with parks and attractions minutiae.
As a child, Ritchey’s family made annual road trips to Walt Disney World and other parks, and he was ecstatic about them.
“They presented a world that somehow made more sense to me. It was the way I wanted things to be,” he says. “I fell in love.”
Ritchey decided he wanted to somehow get involved with the industry and actually auditioned to be Goofy at Disney’s Florida parks. That didn’t pan out, but he used his filmmaking skills to develop “After the Fair,” a feature-length documentary about the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, which prominently featured four attractions developed by Walt Disney Imagineering.
About four years ago, he started kicking around the idea for the “Theme Park Trivia Show.” When COVID reared its ugly head, and folks became comfortable using Zoom and similar services, Ritchey says he realized the pandemic might be the perfect time to launch the show. He shot the pilot and posted the episode in July 2021.
The contestants, who participate remotely, are fellow park geeks such as Matt Roseboom, the owner and editor of Attractions Magazine, and Doug Barnes and Robert Coker of the podcast, The Season Pass. They engage in nerdy, and often funny banter as they tackle questions from categories such as “Sherman or Not Sure, Man.” (Songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman composed many classic songs for Disney films and parks, including “it’s a small world.” But you knew that, right? Oh, and yes, grammar police, the famously annoying Sherman Brothers ditty intentionally substitutes lower-case letters for initial caps. As parks and attractions cognoscenti, you knew that as well, right? That’s why you’d get a kick out of the show.)
Another show category Ritchey is proud of is “One Little Spark,” which was about theme park fires. Speaking of “One Little Spark,” he is thinking about introducing characters to the game show, including Fragment.
“Fragment is Figment’s jaded brother,” Ritchey explains about the puppet that will be debuting soon. “He’s had a rough life.”
Oy. Somebody get me a urinal, stat.
Have you seen the “Theme Park Trivia Show?” Are you enough of a park nerd to be a contestant on the show? If you answered in the affirmative, what is the nerdiest thing you have ever said or done when it comes to parks and attractions?
The next edition of “About Theme Parks” will be published Friday this week. That’s because Dollywood will be making a major announcement that day about its 2023 project, which the park promises will be its largest single attraction investment ever. I’ll have all of the details.