Just like the TV networks, theme parks have a prime time: the entire summer. And because it's also a sweeps period to measure the market, they "counter program." Here's a look at the highlights for this summer:
Universal Studios Tour has a whole new backlot area which will be available to the public next Sunday. Built right up next to Victoria Station on a parking structure roof, the backlot will have four sets: a '50s Americana, Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street, the Moulin Rouge area of Paris and around the corner, the seedier side of Paris. There will be dining areas as well. The sets will be actual working sets, utilized in films and TV. Also in the same area, there's a 2,500-seat special events theater where there will be concerts all summer. On the schedule: Taylor Dayne and Nocera next Sunday, a salsa festival July 9 and 10, and various promotional concerts in association with radio stations. Labor Day will see the reappearance of the popular mariachi festival in the theater.
At Sea World's new Nautilus Amphitheater, entertainment goes under the stars beginning with the Oak Ridge Boys Aug. 2. Also on the slate, Stan Getz and George Shearing Sept. 9, the Judds Sept. 15, Anne Murray Sept. 23 and Count Basie Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald Oct. 16. Concertgoers can enter the park after 5 p.m. Every night through Labor Day the live entertainers will vie with the star-billed fish.
In addition to the normal fare, the Queen Mary complex is throwing two new entertainments your way this summer (through September). First is the Big Bash, a nightly fest that include fireworks and varying special events. Then there are the new Queen Mary Ghost Tours, which take you and yours into the big liner's scarier locales: the corroded, vacant boiler rooms; the abandoned third-class staterooms, and more. The new tour plays on the rumor that the Queen is haunted by at least three separate spirits, one of which is a sailor who was crushed to death by a waterproof door during a drill. But you'll have to scare up an additional $7 per person on top of the basic admission, to take in the Ghost Tour.
Just opened at Knott's in the 2,100-seat Toyota Good Time Theatre is Knott's Superstar Ice Spectacular, a musical revue on ice that salutes the Olympics with jazz and contemporary music. The show stars Canada's Shaun McGill and South Korea's Jean Yun and features America's No. 1 pair skating team, 1988 Winter Olympics bronze medalists Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard (through July 4) and "Ice Capades" and "Holiday on Ice" star Tiffany Chin (from July 9-22).
At Magic Mountain, abracadabra! Expose materializes in concert at the Showcase Theater June 24. Also on that date the fireworks show, "Strictly U.S.A." opens with a bang at Mystic Lake. It will be held nightly at 9 p.m.; dark Mondays. July 12-Aug. 22, the Kurt Thomas Gymnastics America show leaps to the stage, a presentation of athletics and dance, set to music, with choreographer Kurt Thomas heading the cast. Various times daily. Dark Mondays.
Meanwhile, over at Disneyland fireworks will light up the skies at 9:30 nightly, starting Saturday. And the 60th Birthday parade and Birthday Bash will be presented daily at the park's central hub: Central Plaza at the top of Main Street.
At the Mahala Amphitheater in Wild Animal Park, the Kingston Trio and Glenn Yarbrough will light up the night July 2 and 3.