Saturday, August 31, 2013

Worlds of Fun Introduces Steelhawk for the 2014 Season

New in 2014 at Worlds of Fun is Steelhawk, a 301 foot tall swing ride that will "spread its steel wings at a 45-degree angle at a speed of 8 rotations a minute swinging riders for a 60-second flight" - all at an impressive height above the ground.  Steelhawk will seat 32 passengers at a time for the journey up to the top of the tower, where unparalleled views of the surrounding area will be available.  Steelhawk will be at least 100 feet taller than any other ride at Worlds of Fun.

“After combining Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun in 2013, we wanted to come back immediately with a major new ride for our guests. SteelHawk takes riders higher than any other ride currently at Worlds of Fun. SteelHawk will be a spectacular showpiece that will be seen for miles,” says Frank Wilburn, Vice President/General Manager.

Steelhawk will be built across from the Patriot inverted roller coaster in the Americana section of the theme park.

Any for anyone wondering, yes, Steelhawk is a transplanted ride - formerly Windseeker at Knott's Berry Farm.  At first it was not totally clear whether Steelhawk was new or the Knott's ride, but that has been cleared up via official comments from the park in this news story.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Canada's Wonderland Building New Interactive 4-D Dark Ride for 2014

Dark Ride fans rejoice - a Cedar Fair park is building a brand new, high-tech dark ride from the ground up next season!  Today Canada's Wonderland announced Wonder Mountain's Guardian, an interactive 4-D dark ride that will be built inside the park's famous Wonder Mountain.

The park is holding back on a lot of the specific details of the attraction, but has released a general description of the adventure.

"Wonder Mountain’s Guardian begins with a perilous climb up the side of Wonder Mountain then plummets into its core traveling through five different layers of this dimensional world.  Riders will encounter mythical creatures as they navigate 1,000 feet of coaster track through a desolate forest, underground lake and Draconian City. The quest culminates as riders enter the dragon’s lair for the ultimate battle with a heart stopping finale that will shock thrill seekers of all ages."

The ride will feature cars that have laser guns for each passenger, allowing them to score points as they blast at targets along the way.  4-D elements will include "simulating wind, movement and more."   Manufacturer Triotech will provide the ride, and they promise "real time graphics and the fastest, most accurate targeting system that will contribute to create an ultra-immersive and interactive experience."  Park officials and Triotech are promising a ride that is both one of a kind and totally unforgettable.

The official announcement was held at the park early today on the news, and a member of the Triotech team was there, along with the park's spokesperson.

Some additional details came out during the broadcast, including that the ride will first climb to the 60 foot level of the mountain as the ride begins.  The ride will be based "heavily on graphics" and use 3-D technology, meaning riders will wear special glasses on Wonder Mountain's Guardian.  The ride will also feature the "longest interactive wall in the world" according to Triotech, and the scoring aspect of the ride is expected to make it very repeatable for riders.

The ride sounds very promising, and I'm almost glad that no additional images or video was released, it keeps much of the experience a mystery.  Frankly I'm just super pleased to be writing about a new dark ride experience that Cedar Fair contracted to be built - I can only hope this attraction finds much success so that other parks in the family may one day receive something similar!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Six Flags Mexico Transforms Medusa Into Hybrid Coaster for 2014

Fear not, out of all the Six Flags announcements today we still have one more rather exciting one to cover.  The conversion of out-of-shape wooden coasters into modern thrillers will continue next season at Six Flags Mexico where Medusa Steel Coaster will open.

The hybrid coaster is receiving the Rocky Mountain treatment, with new steel track going on top of the existing wooden structure.  The result, frankly, looks amazing.

The wooden version of Medusa at Six Flags Mexico opened in 2000, and was a Custom Coasters International design.  The ride had a very unique and twisted layout which lends itself perfectly to a Rocky Mountain makeover.

The Steel version of the ride will feature three inversions, including a twist right at the start of the first drop!  Plenty of highly banked turns and two more barrel rolls can be found in the rest of the layout.  The ride stands 98 feet tall and will reach 58 miles per hour.

As with the two previous rides to receive this style of makeover, Medusa Steel Coaster will have two all new trains fabricated for it - complete with decorative Medusa head on the front.

The scale of the first two rides to undergo this transformation were much bigger than Medusa, so I'm anxiously looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.  Granted Medusa is not a small ride, but when compared to New Texas Giant and Iron Rattler it sort of is.  Definitely one to watch for next year!

Flat Rides Make a Comeback at Six Flags Parks in 2014

A nice trend seen in today's announcements is the addition of tradition flat rides to many of the Six Flags parks.  Granted some are much more modern, but the style of the rides being built represent something that you could say had been missing for many years at several parks.

Six Flags New England is going to build the world's tallest tower swing ride, named the New England SkyScreamer.  Granted the ride is big, but still a flat ride at its core.

The New England SkyScreamer will lift passengers up to over 400 feet in the air, swinging them around at speeds reaching 40 miles per hour.  The attraction will be more than twice as tall as any other ride at the park, and will give some astonishing views of the area surrounding Six Flags New England.

Following the success of the Texas SkyScreamer, installed this season at Six Flags Over Texas, the New England version is sure to become an instant landmark for the theme park.

Both Six Flags St. Louis and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will be adding the Tsunami Soaker to their attraction lineups next season.  The interactive water flat ride features a tea cup style motion combined with individual water blasted at each seat.

This style of ride successfully debuted this year at La Ronde, and guests loved the ability to blast other riders as they twirled around - so much that the chain decided to build more of them!

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom also announced that they will now be open year round, including weekends during winter months they previously closed.  Also, due to the exceptional reception to Cirque Dreams Splashtastic this year, the show will return again for next Summer.

Alright, a coaster is not a flat ride, but that's only one of the new additions to Six Flags America in 2014.  Set in a brand new Mardi Gras themed area, the park will add the Ragin Cajun spinning family coaster, along with the French Quarter Flyers, a set of Flying Scooters.

"Guests will discover a celebration every day as snappy jazz and zydeco tunes pour into the streets of Mardi Gras. The entire area will be a party inspired by the energy of New Orleans with delicious foods, exciting games, tasty beverages and fun retail items to match the lively spirit of the South.

“Not one, but two new rides and a completely new look will bring the celebratory style of the Big Easy to Six Flags America,” said Rick Howarth, park president. “The new Mardi Gras area marks a considerable expansion to our excellent collection of rides and a major enhancement to our theming.”

At this point I believe it is still speculation, but the Ragin Cajun coaster could be being moved to Six Flags America from Six Flags Great America.  Six Flags America sounds like they have a promising new area on their hands, with new theming coming along with the two new rides.

The Great Escape is going for thrills next year with the addition of the Extreme Supernova, a pendulum style flat ride.  Seating sixteen passengers with the feet dangling below the gondola, the Extreme Supernova will rotate and swing riders up to 50 feet above the ground, almost inverting them.

To be located near the Comet roller coaster, the new ride is definitely one for thrill seekers.  From the concept art and video on the official website, it appears as though this will be a Zamperla Midi Discovery.

Our friends up North at La Ronde have a new Demon to fear, at least in the form of a flipping new flat ride coming to the amusement park in 2014.

Seated back to back on a giant gondola, riders will be pulled like taffy once the ride begins.  This includes fully inverting riders during the course of the dizzying action.  To make things even more fun, there will be fountains located under the ride that will shoot up at random times, potentially soaking riders.

Two parks will also see their children's areas expanded, including new rides and a general refreshing of the grounds.  Six Flags Over Texas will totally renovate their section for small children, adding new rides and providing more shade and comforts for families.

Six Flags Magic Mountain will also renovate their Bugs Bunny World, and add another kiddie coaster to the mix - the park's 19th overall.  While certainly not for little kids, the park will also run Colossus and Batman the Ride backwards for a limited time during the season.

Water Park Additions Coming to Several Six Flags Parks in 2014

Also new in 2014 are several additions to water parks across the Six Flags chain, including an entirely new park within Six Flags Over Georgia, named Hurricane Harbor.

Replacing the former home of the Southern Star arena, the new water park will be the largest expansion in Six Flags Over Georgia history.  The tropical themed water park will feature lush landscaping and amenities that are meant to creating a relaxing atmosphere for visitors.

This rendering of part of the new water park comes from this news story, and shows off the additions.  There will be an 800,000 gallon wave pool, along with two water slide towers.  A new children's area named Paradise Island will also be built.

One slide tower, Tsunami Surge, will combine a bowl slide with a dramatic drop at the end where rafts climb high up a wall before heading back down.  Another set of slides, Bonzai Pipelines, have three different courses including another bowl and enclosed sections.

The new Hurricane Harbor will be included in the park's general admission and is already planned to be expanded in coming years.

Hurricane Harbor, located adjacent to Six Flags Magic Mountain, will build the Bonzai Pipelines, a pair of dramatic water slides.  "After reaching the top of the five-story tower, guests step into the enclosed vertical capsule where the floor drops out beneath them, sending riders free-falling 40 miles-per-hour down the slide. Launch programming may be varied so that all riders launch at the same moment, or in sequence."

Dive-In movies will also start to be shown in the park's wave pool, along with new food options and expanded park hours.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas will build the Bahama Blaster in 2014 in their water park, White Water Bay.  The complex will contain four different slides, all of which will start with a drop-floor launch capsule.  Two of the slides will feature straight drops downward, and two will feature horizontal loops - sliders will reach a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour.

“Bahama Blaster is the thrilling centerpiece of an entirely new tropically themed White Water Bay expansion for 2014. We will also be announcing additional new water park attractions and guest amenities in the months ahead,” said park president Martin Bozer. “This year, the Iron Rattler hybrid roller coaster reset the bar for epic thrills. This extreme White Water Bay addition will further define Six Flags Fiesta Texas as the region’s premier vacation destination.”

World's Tallest Freefall Opening at Six Flags Great Adventure in 2014

I love when the really good rumors are true!  Six Flags Great Adventure will be the home to the world's tallest freefall ride when it opens Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom on the side of the Kingda Ka roller coaster in 2014.

41 stories above the ground, 415 feet to be exact, is how high Zumanjaro will lift riders before letting them freefall downward at a maximum speed of 90 miles per hour.  To make the trip even more intense, the freefalls will operate while Kingda Ka trains zoom up and around them, creating exciting interaction between the rides.  Zumanjaro will consist of three separate towers, each of which will seat eight riders at a time when they make the 30 second trip up to the top of the ride.

 "Zumanjaro solidifies Six Flags Great Adventure’s dominance as the Northeast’s thrill capital,” said John Fitzgerald, park president. “This is precisely the world-class, record-breaking attraction our guests have come to expect from Great Adventure. Zumanjaro is destined to top many ‘must ride’ lists in 2014."  The name Zumanjaro is inspired by the park's 2013 addition, the Safari Off Road Adventure.

Access to the new tower rides will be from a "newly-themed animal section adjacent to Zumanjaro will feature mischievous and playful Anubis baboons native to Africa. For nearly 40 years, these baboons were a favorite of Safari visitors, but not included in the new Safari Off Road Adventure."

“Throughout this season, guests have inquired about the baboons. We can finally announce that they will be the stars of this newly-themed area,” Fitzgerald said. Guests will be able to see the lively primates, also known as olive baboons, up close in their new habitat formerly known as Safari Discoveries. These members of the Old World Monkey family “have a highly organized social structure and their interactions are fascinating to watch,” he added.

With the new comes the announcement of the removal of one of the park's roller coasters, Rolling Thunder.  Opened in 1979, the dual track pair of coasters have given over 42 million rides during their lives.  It sounds like some of the land that Rolling Thunder occupied will be utilized in next year's expansion.  Rolling Thunder will close for good on September 8th.

Next door to the theme park, Hurricane Harbor will build the Cabana Cove, an area offering a selection of cabanas available for rent.  Included in the area will be a new Tiki Bar that will offer beverage service to the cabanas.

Personally I cannot wait to try out Zumanjaro - few rides really bring out that true feeling of fear quite like a freefall!

Goliath to Dominate Six Flags Great America in 2014

Here we go!  The start of Six Flags announcements for 2014 - we shall begin with one heck of a large coaster addition to Six Flags Great America, so big you could call it Goliath.  Well, that's what the park is calling the ride, anyway.

The new coaster will break three world records for wooden coasters when it opens, it will stand the tallest at 180 feet, feature the steepest drop at an astonishing 85 degrees, and hit a new fastest speed of 72 miles per hour.

Designed by Rocky Mountain, the coaster will stand 165 feet tall but utilize a first drop into a below ground tunnel to achieve the full length of 180 feet.  Goliath will again pass through the same tunnel later in the ride's path.

The rest of the ride's course features a bunch of "jaw-dropping maneuvers including three over-banked turns, a 180 degree zero G roll, an inverted drop and an inverted zero G stall."  The ride fits into a long, narrow plot of land but takes advantage of all the space available.  Aver the first plummet stands a tall "overbank top hat" that turns the train around.  After another dive is a negative g floating hill, then a dive loop that the park labels as a 180 degree zero g roll combined with an inverted drop.  A new element, the "inverted zero g stall" follows that, with another turnaround, hill, then the final brakes.

The park released this b-roll animation of the ride, which shows plenty of off ride shots as well as a complete on-ride.  The "inverted zero g stall" is one interesting element, and appears to include plenty of hang-time for riders.  The train enters and inverts fully, continues on upside down, then reverts back the way it came instead of completing a traditional roll.

It appears as though Goliath will utilize the same track system that Rocky Mountain created and used on Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City.  The ride's steep first plunge is going to give riders to amazing air-time!

Just look at the train in this rendering the park released, only five small degrees away from being totally vertical!

This is the first full inversion that the trains will encounter, the dive loop or the 180 degree roll / inverted drop as the park calls it.  It's amazing to see the type of twisted and inverting elements that Rocky Mountain's designers are able to come up with using these new track systems!

Construction on Goliath is slated to begin soon, and the ride has a planned Spring/Summer opening at Six Flags Great America.  You can check out the official website for the ride at this link.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dorney Park Building Snake Pit Slide Tower in 2014

Slithering into Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom in 2014 will be the Snake Pit, a new WhiteWater West designed water slide tower containing six separate slides.  The news was announced today at the park, and consists of not only the new Snake Pit slide tower but also a host of other renovations at the water park.

The overhaul of Wildwater Kingdom will be in celebration of its 30th anniversary, having first opened in 1985.  When complete plans call for $8 million to be spent in 2014, with $4.5 of that on the new slide project and $3.5 going toward other renovations.
Snake Pit's nearly seven story tall structure will go up on the hillside in the center of the park and replace the Riptide Run, which was an original attraction from the park when it first opened - the Lily Pads activity pool will also be removed.  Additionally the ending of the Jumpin Jack Splash slides will be changed from a catch pool to individual run-out troughs.  The new slide complex will have three different types of slides, Python Plummet, the Constrictor, and Boa Blasters, all providing thrilling experiences.

As described by the park, "riders step into one of the three chambers of Python Plummet where, after an anxiety-filled countdown audible, a trap floor drops out launching Guests down a high-speed nearly vertical fall through a series of flat loops and s-curves.  The longest free-fall drop slide takes riders on a nearly 450-foot long adrenaline rush.  In addition to this intense experience, Guests can also choose between three different tube slides. The Constrictor spirals riders through an enclosed chute with four intense 360-degree loops across 449 feet of slide.  Twin Boa Blasters shoot Guests down a series of high speed drops and banks as they hold on tight to a single or double tube."

The park also released this concept art for Snake Pit, which shows that the slides will be in the same layout as the tower that was opened at Worlds of Fun's Oceans of Fun this past season.  That complex received great reviews and was well received, so it is no surprise that it is being duplicated.

Other renovations to the water park include additional seating, new changing rooms with electronic lockers, upgrades to the sound system, overall painting and more.  It sounds like the park will be prettied up head to toe!

Just to give an idea of where the major work will take place, above is an aerial shot of Wildwater Kingdom.  The series of pools the run from the top of the image toward to the left, down a hill to the bottom is Riptide Run, to be removed.  Jumpin Jack Splash is the yellow, orange, and blue slide tower that will no longer empty into a pool.  Below that is the Lily Pads and then the Oasis, an adult area pool.  I would imagine that Snake Pit will take up most of this area, which was actually once home to another slide complex, the Torpedo Tubes. 

“With this major expansion to Wildwater Kingdom we will continue to bring a best-day-of-the-summer experience to our Guests that makes Dorney Park the entertainment destination of choice in the Northeast,” states Michael Fehnel, Vice President and General Manager of Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom.  “We chose this multi-slide complex to offer our Guests an entirely new variety of water slide experiences.  Now with 26 slides, Wildwater Kingdom is the perfect place for summer fun.” 

Dorney Park also announced this past weekend that All Wheel Sports, its popular extreme biking and sports show, held in the 600 seat Good Time Theatre, will return in 2014.  The show had a very successful run in 2013 and often played to a full house.  It sounds like next year will be another exciting one for the park!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cedar Point Adding New Family Fun in 2014

Cedar Point has announced a major renovation to their Gemini midway for 2014 that will include two new family rides and a totally refreshed and modern look.

As expected, the area will undergo a major placemaking effort that will include the new attractions in a much more appealing atmosphere, including new pavement and stringed lights across the area.
© Cedar Point
The above concept are for the new Gemini Midway shows all the changes that will be involved.  The new attractions will take the place of a section of games as well as several older kiddie rides.  The park's Frog Hopper will be moved, renamed to Woodstock's Airmail, and become a part of Camp Snoopy, and the Jr. Gemini will have its entrance moved inside Camp Snoopy and will be renamed Wilderness Run.  Also noticeable in the concept art is some retheming of some Camp Snoopy rides that previously did not have a specific Snoopy appearance.

Located where the Frog Hopper was is the Lake Erie Eagles, a set of Flying Scooters.  "Riders on Lake Erie Eagles will sit in one of eight ride carriages that are suspended from arms located more than 28 feet above the ground. As the ride begins its cycle, the carriages will swing outward simulating the sensation of flight! A paddle on the carriages will allow guests to alter their flight experience from mild to wild! Lake Erie Eagles is manufactured by Larson International, Inc., Plainview, Texas."

Cedar Point's second new ride addition is Pipe Scream, the extended coaster-like version of a Disk'O.  The ride will be set up bordering Wilderness Run, replacing the games area and a couple kiddie rides.  It will extend to the inflatable Snoopy bounce attraction.  "Pipe Scream is billed as “combining the best of a roller coaster and a flat ride in one.” Riders will spin and coast over 302 feet of track, reaching a maximum height of 43 feet above the midway and a top speed of 43 mph! Pipe Scream is manufactured by Zamperla, Parsippany, N.J"

The Point also revealed the start of Hotel Breakers two year renovation plan.  Next year the outside of the classic hotel will be renovated, giving it a fresh new look.  Above you can see the before and after for the changes that are planned.  The following year, during the winter of 2014-2015 the inside of the hotel will see major renovations.

Part of the announcement was also the release of the video below, in which a lucky family got to help spread the good news.  Check it out below.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cedar Fair Announces Large Multi-Year Investment in Carowinds

To kick off an exciting week that will see announcements from all the Six Flags parks, along with many Cedar Fair parks, a multi-year investment in Charlottle's Carowinds has been announced by its owners.

Cedar Fair plans to spend $50 million on the park over the next three years.  The amusement park operator's official press release and a local news sources tout that in addition to creating new jobs the expansion will forever change the park and elevate it into a new category of fun.

Cedar Fair has pointed out in that past that they feel Carowinds is undersized for the market it is in, and so they've created a big plan to expand the park.

"The continued growth in the Charlotte market presents a unique opportunity for our Carowinds amusement park, which we believe is ready for record-breaking attractions," said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's Chief Operating Officer.  "Over the next three years we intend to make several significant investments in both the amusement and water park areas, including new rides and attractions, new and upgraded food locations, and general infrastructure improvements.  We plan to expand the capacity of Carowinds in all areas to appropriately serve its market and provide our guests with a 'Best Day of Summer' experience each and every time they visit our park."

This story mentions that parking at the park may be shifted, but the main entrance will stay where it is but be upgraded.  Cedar Fair COO Richard Zimmerman said “We’ve got some exciting things in terms of what you’re going to see when you arrive at the park.” To me that sounds like we could see a GateKeeper sized expansion in that area in a couple years.

Read more here:

When the series of expansions is complete, Carowinds will be Cedar Fair's fourth largest park, I would believe behind Canada's Wonderland, Cedar Point, and Kings Islands.  No details on new rides have been released as of now, however it sounds like we can expect some of those during this week.  It is also unclear at this point if the expansions mean an entire new section tot he park, but a decent sized water park expansion seems like something we can count on.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about what Cedar Fair has planned for the park, and seeing it come to fruition!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

From The Vault: Miracle Strip 1995 Brochure

This week's From The Vault features on a brochure from one of the most commonly missed amusement parks, Florida's Miracle Strip.

This brochure is dated from 1995, though was sent to me the following Summer.  Not sure why they did not have updated materials for 1996, but it doesn't really mater much.  Miracle Strip was located in Panama City Beach, and had its final season in 2004.

The park consisted of Miracle Strip, which had coasters and rides, and the nearby Shipwreck Island, a water park.  The property offered the "Double Parked" ticket plan which gave visitors entrance to both the amusement and water parks on different days, if they liked.

I would be doing myself a disservice if I did not point how that the creatures in the upper left are creepy - I'm not sure many kids would want to have their photo taken with those park mascots!  This center section features shots of many of the parks rides and slides.

The Starliner wooden coaster was the biggest of the thrills, a classic John Allen design.  The coaster is currently in storage and will hopefully be rebuilt eventually by the operators of the New Miracle Strip park.

Plenty of other rides can be seen in these photos as well, such as the Musik Express, Sea Dragon, the Shockwave, and Wave Swinger.

Miracle Strip also offered some live entertainment as well, as seen on the schedule above.  Shipwreck Island Water Park, which still operates today, dominated the second panel of this section.  Nothing better than beating the Florida sun with a day at a water park!

The center of the brochure featured these no frills maps of both attractions.  Other attractions that are often mentioned as being missed were the indoor rides that fans loved.  These include the Dungeon (indoor Tilt-a-Whirl), Dante's Inferno (indoor Trabant), and the Abominable Snowman (indoor Scrambler).  Another sure highlight was the Haunted Castle, a classic Bill Tracy designed ride through dark ride.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cedar Point Teases 2014 Announcement

© Cedar Point
I have no clue what we're looking at in the image above, and that's exactly how Cedar Point seems to want it - at least for now.

The park will make their 2014 announcement on Tuesday August 27th - just a handful of days from now - and has been releasing some rather blurry teaser images along the way.  Your guess is as good as mine on what the images are trying to show us!

With GateKeeper having opened just this year, I can't see Cedar Point going in a very thrilling direction in 2014.  I would think a ride or attraction that would appeal to the whole family would make a perfect choice.  One thing is for sure, it sounds like the placemaking work that they have planned with be kicked into high gear next season, at least from the park's quote in this story.  Comparing the renovations that are planned to Extreme Makeover means some drastic changes must be in store!

Check back on Tuesday when we'll all know what the park has up their sleeve.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scott And Carol Present - Kings Island's Banshee Goes Vertical!

New Banshee teasers now line the fence, showing the logo and various views of the rides concept artwork.

The transfer area was the first vertical assembly of Banshee, appearing on August 21st.

These are the first tracks supports that went up August 22nd.

Here's a close up showing where the track will bolt to the bottom side of the supports.

Here is the whole area, from the Eiffel Tower, as of August 22nd.

The first sections of Banshee's wine red track are laying on the ground, surrounded by the rides cobalt blue supports.

From the Eiffel Tower we captured this aerial view of the transfer track area.

There are plenty more cobalt blue supports waiting to go vertical.

More cobalt blue supports, along with some wine red transfer track pieces.

These two lonely looking pieces of the wine red track are set off by themselves, hopefully many more pieces will join them.