Friday, July 21, 2017

California's Great America Teases 2018 Addition + Announcement Date Set

© California's Great America
California's Great America has started to have fun with fans of the park, teasing them with hints of what's to come in 2018.

The above image was shared by the theme park, taken looking through a cutout in the construction wall that has gone up around the work site.  A large sign has been placed in the open area beyond the sign, a directional post that has "summit trailhead" at its top.  A smaller sign on the very top of the sign lists "SR1 Summit" - SR1 has been the code name for the new attraction that the park has used.

Three additional signs can be found on the post, Accelr8, Indimid8 and Domin8.  Obviously these are name of roller coasters at other Cedar Fair parks, and also probably represent what the new ride will do to riders, but the use of the number 8 in each of them has me stumped.  At first I thought this might mean that the new attraction will be the park's 8th coaster, but they actually have 8 right now.

Just what the sign means may be nothing more than a hint to the ride's theme in the end, but it looks like we won't have to wait too long to find out the details.  The park has apparently sent out invitation to the ride's announcement, which is set for August 16th at the park.  The above image of the invite was posted to Instagram, and also gives some hints about its potential theme.

Right now the guesses for the ride are narrowing down, but most are still betting on an action packed coaster just over 100 feet tall.  Personally, I can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hersheypark Drops Most Exciting 2018 Hint So Far - Is A Coaster On The Way?

We are now four clues into Hersheypark's teaser campaign for their 2018 attraction, and this week's hint is by far the most exciting to date.  The clues started at the end of June with a hint that made it pretty clear (to me, at least) that the expansion will be taking place within The Boardwalk, Hersheypark's water park.

I haven't covered the subsequent clues on NPN, so let's take a look at what I've missed.  The second week's clue was "there is a light at the end of the tunnel," which I can only take to mean that whatever the attraction is it will have a tunnel.  The third week was "it's a race to the finish," which got me thinking maybe this was going to be a popular mat racing water slide.  That would have the capacity needed in a busy park like The Boardwalk.

© Hersheypark
Now here is this week's clue.  Go ahead and take a moment to figure it out.  Go!

Okay well if you didn't get it yet, the clue reads "this makes number fourteen."  Now that's exciting because Hersheypark currently has 13 roller coasters, so now it stands to reason that the park will debut their 14th in 2018.

But, considering how the the park is heavily hinting toward The Boardwalk expanding next year, I would wager that we could see a water coaster added - not a traditional wood or steel one.  Not that that's a bad thing, as water coasters a very popular at parks across the globe.

If we run with the water coaster idea then the thought of having a tunnel makes sense, but the racing aspect feels a bit off, unless the park is going to actually add two racing water coasters!  Or perhaps a water coaster and a mat racing slide?  Originally, the park's website had "attractions," plural, in the webpage description, however I just noticed that it now says "attraction."  Interesting.

Things are getting exciting!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Six Flags Entertainment's CEO Makes Sudden Exit From Company

In a surprise announcement today, it was revealed that Six Flags Entertainment's CEO, John Duffey, has departed the company.  In his place is now James Reid-Anderson, who previously held the title of Chairman and CEO at the company from 2010 through 2016.

James Reid-Anderson
John Duffey was CEO of Six Flags for only 17 months, starting in the role in February, 2016.  Six Flags' official statement says that he "retired" from the company, and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that he did not leave due to health or performance issues, instead citing personal ones.  Mr. Duffey had taken on the CEO role as Mr. Reid-Anderson kept the Executive Chairman title, so as to be able to spend a bit more time with his family - though he never fully left Six Flags.

James Reid-Anderson commented in the official release, stating that “Six Flags is the leading regional theme park company in an extremely attractive industry, and we have significant global growth opportunities in the short, medium and long term.  I am very proud and excited to rejoin the operating team and look forward to executing our business strategy. We have had seven record years in a row and I believe that the best is yet to come. I do want to wish John all the very best for the future and to thank him for his major contributions during his excellent tenure with the company, including his time as president and CEO."

The stock market reacted negatively to the announcement this morning, though the losses were recouped slightly by the end of the trading session.  Mr. Reid-Anderson has a bright personality that quickly made him popular among park fans, with them looking forward to each year's announcement video.  Looks like we will see his return soon for the 2018 announcements!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Six Flags Over Georgia to Retire Georgia Cyclone on July 30th

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Six Flags Over Georgia has announced that their wooden roller coaster, Georgia Cyclone, will close forever July 30th, 2017.  No immediate plans for a replacement for the ride have been announced.

This gives fans of the coaster about two weeks to get in their final rides.  The coaster was one of many that were originally built to mimic the layout of the famous Coney Island Cyclone.  It opened in 1990 and has given nearly 9 million rides since, according to this story.

© Google Maps
Built by the Dinn Corporation, Georgia Cyclone stands 95 feet tall and features a 79 foot first drop.  The maximum speed the trains hit over the 2,970 foot long course is 50 miles per hour.

Although the park isn't saying what will be coming in 2018, we have seen Six Flags close several wooden roller coasters mid-season to prepare them for transformations.  All of these past examples have then been turned into modern scream machines from Rocky Mountain Construction, and I doubt anyone would be upset if that happened in this case.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Disney Parks Announce A Slew of New Rides, Attractions and Developments at D23 Expo

© Disney
Yesterday's Parks presentation at the D23 Expo in California turned out to feature a massive set of announcements about rides, attractions, hotels, experiences and more that are headed to the Disney parks in North America and beyond.  Let's dig in!

First up is the announcement of the full name of the Star Wars themed area being built at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Named Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the land will open first at Disneyland in 2019 and then later that same year at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  The lands will both feature two signature attractions that "put guests in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance."  While not all details have been released there are more from the Expo shared here.

Another part of the growing excitement for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was the gigantic model of the land that was on display at the Expo.  Thankfully for those of us far away and not at the Expo, Disney filmed this fantastic video of the area as if we were walking through it.  Certainly looks to take immersive to the next level.

Walt Disney World in Florida had a total of 4 new rides announced at the Expo.  Two of them are headed to Epcot.

© Disney
Located in a currently undeveloped backstage area behind the France pavilion will be Ratatouille, a ride inspired by the existing one at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris.  The 4-D ride mixes huge physical sets with 3-D animated sequences that have riders shrunk down to the size of a mouse.  The journey takes passengers on a hair-raising trip through Gusteau's restaurant.  To check out a video of the existing ride in Paris, click here.

© Disney
Epcot's Future World will see Ellen and her Universe of Energy attraction close for good this August 13th, to be replaced by a brand new Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride.  Very little about the attraction (ride system, etc) was revealed, but the Guardians are definitely moving into Epcot.  The concept art released does not appear to give us any hints, either.

Both Ratatouille and the Guardians of the Galaxy ride should be ready to open in 2021 for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration.

© Disney
The Magic Kingdom will also have a new attraction in 2021 when TRON Lightcycle Power Run opens adjacent to Space Mountain.  The ride will go up in previously undeveloped land, and no attractions will close for it to be added.  The ride is expected to be a clone of the ride of the same name at Shanghai Disneyland, which has received rave reviews since it opened last year.

As its core the ride is a launched coaster from Vekoma who's lighting alone is a serious visual feast.  If you want to take a spin on the Shanghai version, click here.

© Disney
Disney's Hollywood Studios will be retiring the Great Movie Ride (operates until August 13th) in order to build Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, a unique dark ride that will be the first ride-through attraction to feature Mickey in Disney history.

Riders will join Mickey and Minnie as they enter one of the pair's famous cartoon shorts, becoming a part of the zany action.  The dark ride will not require 3-D glasses, and from a quick preview shared at the Expo looks to feature plenty of projection mapping special effects to create ever-changing environments.

The Imagineers working on the ride are promising that it will be a fitting replacement for the Great Movie Ride, and is one of the "boldest... most impossible" things they've ever made.

No official word on the ride's opening date, but it wasn't listed as for the 50th anniversary so perhaps it'll be sooner.

© Disney
The presentation also touched on various other additions, almost too much to list in one post.  There's a summary of all announcements here, which is a great place to start reading.

These other announcements include:

•  The grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios will take place in Summer 2018.

•  A brand new gondola system, named the Disney Skyliner, will connect several Florida resorts to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

•  The Magic Kingdom will add a large new theater off Main Street U.S.A., based off of Kansas City's Willis Wood Theater.  No show was announced for the new facility.

•  A new restaurant will open soon adjacent to Mission: Space at Epcot.  It will be set in outer space as a highly themed experience.

•  Pixar Pier will replace Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure, adding new theming to the existing land, and both the Avengers and Spiderman will eventually call the park home.

Friday, July 14, 2017

News Profile Points to Busy 2018 for Rocky Mountain Construction

Rocky Mountain Fans rejoice!  A new profile by a local news station points to a very busy 2017 for the popular roller coaster manufacturer.  While the story does not say all these projects will open in 2017, they do say that they have 7 different projects being worked on right now, with one of them being shipped to Japan.

So even if that's 6 new projects for North America, that leaves 4 new rides that we're not yet aware of (when you remove the two fairly obvious Cedar Fair projects).  Of course there could be rides for Europe or perhaps their first in booming China, we don't know quite yet.  But it is promising news nonetheless.

What we do know about the U.S. coasters is that Rocky Mountain Construction has come up with a new train design, or an improvement over their current rolling stock.  Fred Grubb, the company's owner, stated in the story that the U.S. coasters will be receiving this new design.  He also said that next year's round of new coasters will see new records set, such as tallest and fastest (but not necessarily those two).

The reporter who went to Rocky Mountain's facility got to take a spin on the Raptor prototype that is currently set up, and filmed a point of view.  While we've seen the ride running before we haven't had this type of footage - certainly looks like a fun time!  At this point it seems almost certain that we're not far off from seeing a Raptor installed at a park... but where?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Coasting For Kids Returns This Summer at Three New Parks

Coasting For Kids, a popular fundraiser for the Give Kids The World Village, located in Kissimmee, Florida, will be returning for Summer 2017.  The event was held across the Cedar Fair network of parks through 2015, and took last Summer off.  Now the event is being put on at three new amusement parks: Frontier City, Quassy Amusement Park and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

The event is a fundraiser for the Give Kids The World Village, which "provides weeklong, cost free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families."  Many in the amusement park industry have worked to support the facility and their goals for many years now; the industry and Give Kids The World have a natural fit with one another.

The event is now structured such that individual parks can choose to hold the event if they like, so major kudos to the three parks that have stepped up so far.  The format is also slightly different, instead of a focus on roller coaster marathon riding like in the past, now participants who raise $100 or more are able to enjoy the parks for a day with special perks like exclusive ride time on popular attractions, meals, and prizes for top contributors.

The events will be taking place at Quassy Amusement Park on August 16th, at Frontier City on September 9th, and at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on September 16th.

If you're interested in participating, you can go to the Coasting For Kids website and register for any of the events.  You can also donate to existing teams if you want to support them in a great cause!  And you never know, perhaps even more parks will step up before the end of the year and hold the event!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Two Thrilling New Rides Now Open at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

© Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Just in time for the busy summer season, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has opened their two new thrill rides.  Part of a $14 million expansion, the attractions are already drawing new riders to the famous seaside amusement park.

Decked out in colors that are sure to make the ride seen from afar, above is the first of the two new rides - Typhoon.  The ride features two passenger cars with floorless seats.  Each car completes several full rotations during the experience, both forwards and backwards, fully inverting riders as they go.  The top of the ride stands more than 60 feet in the air and it was manufactured by A.R.M.

© Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's second new ride is named Shockwave, and it stands an impressive 65 feet tall.  Riders are positioned in motorcycle-style seats, facing outward, on a giant ring.  The ring both spins and rocks back and forth up the "U" shaped track, giving a mixture of spinning weightlessness.  Manufactured by Zamperla, Shockwave has been placed on the park's upper deck adjacent to the Undertow roller coaster.

The park has done even more than the two new rides this year, including a remodeled entrance area where Typhoon is located.  They have also renovated their Fright Walk haunted house, made changes to the popular Vault Laser Maze Challenge and added new food offerings.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Skyline Attractions Confirms First Skywarp Instillation for 2018

Skywarp, a twisted new thrill ride dreamed up by Skyline Attractions, has been confirmed to be making its worldwide debut at a park in 2018.  Just what park remains a closely guarded secret, at least for a few more months.

The ride's concept was premiered at the annual IAAPA trade show back in 2016 and will be Skyline Attraction's largest ride instillation since the company was formed.

The attraction features a continuous track layout that twists two separate trains through dual Immelmann inversions.  Each train seats 16 riders, half facing forwards and half backwards, and the trains "duel" throughout the experience.

It's a bit easier to see the ride in action to fully understand how it works, and this promotional video that Skyline Attractions made does that perfectly.

Skywarp stands 62 feet tall and the 32 riders per cycle make for a theoretical capacity of 800 riders per hour - a good amount for what would be considered a flat ride.  The ride's thrilling nature doesn't stop it from having a 48 inch height requirement as well, so a broader set of park visitors will be able to ride.

The location of the first Skywarp is set to be revealed at this year's IAAPA trade show, which takes place in mid-November.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quassy Amusement Park Announces Water Park Expansion for 2018 Season

© Quassy Amusement Park
Showing that it is never too early to announce plans for the following year, Quassy Amusement Park has spilled the beans on a significant expansion of Splash Away Bay for 2018.  Located in Middlebury, Connecticut, the amusement park's 2018 addition will be the largest ever in the park's history, including the addition of the Wooden Warrior coaster in 2011.

The main element of the plans is a new slide tower that will bring the total number of slides inside Splash Away Bay to 15, to be built in an area by the water park currently home to picnic tables.

© Quassy Amusement Park
This drawing of the slide tower shows that there will be two styles of slides featured.  Both provided by Proslide, one will feature the company's TantrumTwist, a tube slide featuring two small funnels along the path downward.  This slide will use two person tubes that oscillate up and down the walls of the funnels before splashing on down the rest of the way.  The other to slides will be traditional tube slides with both open and enclosed sections.

Quassy's Splash Away Bay water park has grown significantly in the past 15 years, starting with the original water play structure and growing season after season.  The park will also build the brand new Splash Away Bay Cafe & Deck next year, a food outlet located adjacent to the beach and lake serving hungry water park guests - and also featuring a rooftop deck seating area.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A New Round of 2018 Teasers Posted for Three Major Parks

© Hersheypark
Another week... another round of new teasers for several park's new-for-2018 attractions.  Let's start with Hersheypark, which has now moved to having a full website for their 2018 additions.  The park isn't being at all shy about letting us know that something is coming to The Boardwalk, the park's water park.

Just what will remain a mystery for now... but it is worth noting that the webpage's title is "2018 Attractions" - the "s" is encouraging.  It looks like there will be new clues posted each week, the first of which is posted above, so we'll have to see just how many of their cards they will show before announcing.

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion is back at it with their 3rd tease, seen above.  This week features a photo of apples and the text "3. Better than none."

The text is making me think that last week's clue might indeed mean that the new ride will have 20 moments of air-time, which is better than the 4 Hurler had.  (But did it have 4?)  I only think that because this week's to me means the new coaster will have 3 inversions, which is better than the zero that Hurler had.  We'll see.

Looking at the background text this week I see the words Down, Rotten, Side, Candy, Apple, Grove and Up.  Some repeating from the previous weeks, and some new ones... confusing ones like Rotten.  Not sure what that could mean!

© Jeffrey Siebert
Finally, we now have Six Flags Fiesta Texas starting a bit of a hint campaign as well.  The park's President, Jeffrey Siebert, who has a long history of interacting with the enthusiast community, has started posting some teaser images on different Facebook pages.

Above is one posted that mentions that "time flies around here!" with the image.  I take that to mean that something must be removed to add whatever 2018 brings.  He also posted one that asks if we're ready for "the next adventure" with an image of the text 2018.  Then there's also this one of the word Tonight over a city skyline... I'm not sure what this one means either.  But we know something worth teasing is coming!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fun Spot America Expands with New Park Purchase in Georgia

Fun Spot America theme parks, which has two locations in central Florida is on a path to expansion.  After greatly growing both of the existing parks, including a wild new wooden roller coaster this season, the company has moved out of the state and purchased an existing family entertainment center in Fayetteville, Georgia, which is just over 20 miles South of Atlanta.

The park being purchased is known as Fun Junction USA, which opened in 1990 according to this news story.  The park currently offers a wide variety of amusements and attractions including two go-kart tracks, several mini-golf courses, zip-lines, laser tag, and both adult and kiddie rides.  According to the park's website the larger rides include a Spider, a 44 foot tall drop ride, a Screamin' Swing and the Scream'n Eagle, a galaxy style roller coaster.

© Google Maps
What is most interesting to the purchase is that after they rebrand the park as a Fun Spot America, which may happen in 2018, they have a lot of room to expand the park if they want.  The news reports 95 free acres to be developed, which allows for a full master plan to be drawn up as to where the new owners want the park to go.

That's exciting considering what Fun Spot did with the Orlando location when they obtained land for expansion.  A couple of roller coasters and plenty of other rides were added to create a very nice mini-amusement park.  If anything like that develops at the new site, that would be a major plus for the people living near the park!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Park at OWA Set to Officially Open on July 21st

© The Park at OWA
Not much longer to wait!  The Park at OWA has announced that their official opening date will be July 21st, 2017, just a few weeks from now.  The new amusement park is part of the larger OWA development in Foley, Alabama, which will feature overnight accommodations along with a large shopping, dining and entertainment area.

The Park at OWA has also updated their web page to include details on all the rides they have, along with hours and ticket information.  The park has been exclusively been supplied by Zamperla for rides, featuring 21 in total.  There are rides aimed at all park visitors, from small children to adults looking for thrilling attractions.

Above is a video that the park shared of their biggest ride, Rollin' Thunder, going through test runs.  The coaster features a vertical lift hill, 115 foot vertical plunge and several inversions.  There will be two other roller coasters, a spinning wild mouse style ride named Crazy Mouse and for kids the Southern Express.

Other thrill rides include an Air Race, an Endeavour named Alabama Wham'a, Twister, which has a spinning and inverting pendulum, and Freedom Flyer, a vertical swing ride.

All day tickets are listed as starting at $34.99, with a season pass running $89.99.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Vekoma's Latest Ride - Lech Coaster - Looks Amazing

© Legendia
We already knew that Lech Coaster, at Poland's Legendia theme park, had a great looking layout but now we have on-ride proof that the ride looks, well, amazing.  It just opened to the public yesterday, but fans are already sharing footage from the ride's preview day.

Vekoma hasn't always been known for the most comfortable multi-looping steel coasters, but here's hoping that Lech Coaster is smooth and comfortable!

I hope so because the ride has a twisted series of elements and interactions with theming the park installed (see photo at top) that look top notch.  The trains appear to carry their speed really well throughout the course, hopping in and through elements such as a "reverse sidewinder," a heartline roll through a building and a corkscrew.  The twists, turns, extreme banking and fast direction changes are what have me the most interested, though.  Lech Coaster appears to have something planned for riders from the moment they dive from 131 feet in the air at 59 miles per hour to the final brakes.

If you want to see the on-ride video, check out the video below, it takes place after the off-ride shots which are just as good.  There has to be significant air-time on that one hill!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Night Comes to Life at SeaWorld Orlando's Electric Ocean

SeaWorld Orlando has debuted a brand new nighttime entertainment extravaganza, named Electric Ocean, giving a totally different feel to the park once the sun goes down.  SeaWorld Orlando describes the event as one that "transforms the park into an imaginative and immsersive undersea world that glows, entertains and excites."

© SeaWorld Orlando
A main hub of activity for Electric Ocean can be found at the Club Sea Glow, a massive dance party held at the park.  Family friendly in nature, the party features world-class DJs and up to 35 live performers, such as the puppeteers seen in the photo above.  There are also dance acts that interact with guests, the popular "laser man," cirque-style performers and more.  Specialty food and retail items are also offered, such as interactive RFID accessories that glow and react to the beat of the music.

Other elements of Electric Ocean include the live shows "Sea Lions Tonight" and "Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night."

© SeaWorld Orlando
A major new addition to the park is Ignite, a nighttime spectacular that takes park on the theme park's central lake.  The show is massive in size and features a powerful music score along with synchronized water effects that blast up to 100 feet in the air.  Combined with intricate lighting, laser projections and more effects the show is impressive, even for the Orlando market.

© SeaWorld Orlando
Ignite is also a fireworks show at heart, with plenty of them going off throughout the performance.  There are also fire cannons that shoot towering flames into the air.  Ignite ends with a huge finale that combines all of the different special effects with fireworks - the perfect way to end a day at the park!

In addition to Electric Ocean SeaWorld Orlando also recently opened Kraken Unleashed, a new virtual reality roller coaster experience.