Phineas T. Flagg: does the name sort of ring a familiar bell? Maybe because the name sounds like Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days" or Phineas Finn in the Anthony Trollope novels?
Well, don't be confused. If the Six Flags Corp., the developer of nine suburban theme parks, gets its way, Phineas T. Flagg will be a household personality here by the end of the summer.
Six Flags today unveiled Phineas Flagg, an eccentric, brilliant but entirely fictitious person. He will be the central figure of the soon-to-be-opened Six Flags "urban entertainment center" housed in a 90-year-old renovated power plant at the Inner Harbor here.
"He's the glue that ties the power plant together," said Six Flags marketing director Larry D. Norton at a press conference.
He outlined a string of colorful turn-of-the-century entertainments -- all "bequeathed" to Baltimore by the "legendary" Phineas Flagg -- including a Magic Lantern Theatre, Circus of the Mysterious, Chamber of Science and a 3-D style "Sensorium" movie complete with sounds, smells and seats that shake and rattle, like the "feelies" of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World."
The center, the newest attraction to hustle for tourist dollars in the popular Inner Harbor, is scheduled to open July 1.
Admission, officials said, will be $7.95 a head for adults, $5.95 for children aged 4 to 11 and free for those under 4. Norton said the center will employ 300 persons and is expected to attract about 6,500 patrons daily this summer.
Norton stressed that the center is a unique experiment in "urban entertainment." It is enclosed and does not have the large-scale rides and exhibits of outdoor suburban theme parks.
A ferris wheel, carrousel and locomotive originally planned for the center were abandoned because of space limitations.
Six Flags officials staged a press tour of the massive power plant today, promising reporters that the center will open on schedule, despite similar assurances two years ago that it would open in 1984.
"The construction is very much on target," said building guide Fran Cartwright, stepping around sawhorses and piles of lumber.
Norton said the exhibits and shows are being built with the latest in computer technology.
The Magic Lantern Theatre, for example, he said, will feature computer-controlled mechanical dolls and a large portrait of Phineas Flagg will be animated by 20,000 filament-like fiber optics interplaying with special lights.
"In the Chamber of Science, there will be spark jars and lightning going up and down pylons," Norton said.
The entertainment center, originally estimated as costing $19.8 million to build, will cost about $25 million by the time it opens, he said, plus $185,000 annual rent to the city, which owns the building.
Asked if Phineas Flagg's name was designed to be associated with Phileas Fogg of Jules Verne fame, Six Flags spokeswoman Lis Silby said, "Not as far as I know. The only thing that was deliberate was the play [of words] on our own name."