Friday, July 31, 2015

Universal Studios Japan Building Jurassic Park B&M Flying Coaster

© Made_in_USJ
Universal Studios Japan has started to build a brand new, custom designed Bolliger & Mabillard flying roller coaster in the Jurassic Park themed area.  That much we know for sure, based off the photos of the ride already going vertical - one of which is above.  This photo makes the supports look very dark, but they are more of a brown than black, with light green track.

The photo comes from user Made_in_USJ on Twitter, who has nearly daily updates from the park.  While a custom flying ride is exciting news, especially when in Jurassic Park, I wanted to know more about the probably-Pterodactyl themed ride's location in the park.  After scrolling though plenty of photos of the ride work, and comparing to aerials of the park, I came up with this:

Photos © Made_in_USJ
At the top is an aerial of Jurassic Park The Ride at Universal Studios Japan, a mirror image clone of the U.S. rides.  Starting on the left is where the ride has already gone vertical.  The red L shape is the track and supports that are in place, and the photo below it was taken from the bridge heading into Jurassic Park.

That area appears to mostly be extended queue for the ride, some of which seems to have been cleared out for the new coaster.  The entire entrance area to Jurassic Park seems to be walled off at this point for construction, actually.

On the right are footers that have been placed in the main splash pool for the ride - the three small dots.  The photo below is of the completed footers, it is hard to tell in this photo but they've been very nicely themed like rocks.

Also of note, and you'll have to click this to see it larger, is that the park can be seen clearing a former backstage parking lot in updated views.  Before is on the left, after on the right in this image.  The lot was located just across a canal from the edge of Jurassic Park, right where the track has started to go up.  Could be totally unrelated, or maybe not.

So it appears as though this new coaster will be fairly large, running the entire length of the Jurassic Park ride - I would guess mostly over the adjacent walkways, but who knows.  I'm quite interested to see more of the ride go up, and hopefully they announce it soon since this isn't much of a secret anymore!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nickelodeon Universe Building New Shredder-Themed Thrill Ride

A brand new thrill ride will be opening at the Mall of America's Nickelodeon Universe theme park this November, named Shredder's Mutant Masher.  The attraction will be themed after the Ninja Turtles' famous villain Shredder and visitors will become a part of his evil mutant experiments.

Shredder's Mutant Masher will be spread out over 5,000 square feet of the park by the Eastern entrance, featuring a family-friendly 48 inch height requirement.  The ride will replace Danny Phantom's Ghost Zone, and utilize retail space that will offer both Turtles and other Nickelodeon merchandise.

© Nickelodeon Universe
Riders will enter the ride's themed queue to find they are in a "mad-scientist-like lab where they pass hazardous material containers and remnants of past mutant experiments."  Eventually riders board the swinging pendulum style ride (seen in the background of the above concept art) and head up to 50 feet in the air.  At the end of the ride, with the "mutation" complete, riders can see their "mutant photo," where they'll have additions like "horns, bug-eyes and other super-imposed features."

“Shredder’s Mutant Masher will be a complete interactive experience for kids and kids-at-heart alike. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand, or just looking for a new way to defy gravity in Nickelodeon Universe, this ride will deliver thrills from the moment you get in line,” said Jill Renslow, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Mall of America.

While not announced by the park, the ride appears as though it may be one of KMG/Chance Ride's popular Revolution attractions.  Shredder's Mutant Masher is the second ride themed to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Nickelodeon Universe, the first being the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock ride that opened in the spring of 2012.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Carowinds' Fury 325 the Focus of New Travel Channel Show

Debuting this Sunday, August 2nd at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel is a new episode of Epic Attractions that is all about Carowinds' Fury 325.  The show, titled "The World's Tallest and Fastest Gigacoaster" was partially filmed back when the massive new roller coaster was under construction, and looks at several steps of the long process that went into creating the attraction.

The hour-long show will be hosted by "amusement park expert Chris Perry" and "shows just what it takes to build a record-setting roller coaster from the ground up."

© Carowinds
The show will feature a visit to the B&M track manufacturing plant in Ohio, back when the pieces of Fury 325 were being made.  It also features a look at the "topping out" of the ride, the controls and computer system of the attraction, and some of the first non-water dummy rides given by the coaster.

For more information and show repeat times, check out the Travel Channel's webpage.  Sounds like a show that's not to be missed!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Luna Park to Open First-of-a-kind New Ride "WindstarZ" July 30

© Luna Park
Making its world-debut on July 30th will be a new Zamplera designed ride called WindstarZ, opening at Luna Park in Coney Island.

The WindstarZ is being advertised as providing the "experience of hang gliding," while also allowing riders to control their "flight experience" in a unique way.  The park had previously written that riders will "control the movement of the wing and and the seats" on the passenger's gliders, which actually are controlled by the air movement around the glider wing.

© Luna Park
Here is a test shot of the circular ride in action, just try to ignore the gloomy sky above it!  After looking a bit closer at this image of the ride vehicle and this one here, I'm thinking riders will use the bar in front of them to extend the wing upward that will create a bit of a lift off as it spins.  The WindstarZ has 12 arms, each of which seat 2 riders.

There are no inversions of any sort as part of the experience, in fact Luna Park lists the ride under the Mild Thrill category.  Still, it is an interesting concept... I'm thinking if you can use the wind to lift up, perhaps a bit of a drop could also be done for a quick negative-g thrill?  Either way we can all find out in two days when the ride opens at Luna Park!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort Now Open + 2016 Announcement Date

© Dollywood's DreamMore Resort
Today marks the official grand opening of Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, which has been built as part of the greater Dollywood complex in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  The resort features approximately 300 guest rooms and is full of amenities and special features for its guests.  The addition is a large one, part of a ten year, $300 million expansion of the entire Dollywood property - including the theme and water park.

“Seeing DreamMore Resort open really is a dream come true for me,” says Dolly Parton. “It brings me back to when my whole family would get together on the front porch catching up and swapping stories. I want families to spend the day experiencing the fun of our parks, then come to this beautiful resort to spend time together making even more family memories!”

© Dollywood's DreamMore Resort
In addition to the convenience of being close to both Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country, the DreamMore resort boasts the Song & Hearth full service, breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant.  Other amenities include storytelling areas, live entertainment, a great lawn for events, indoor and outdoor pools, kid's play areas, and even a spa.  Those staying at the resort get also perks like transportation to the front gates of the theme and water parks, a TimeSaver pass for each guest, and park early entry.

With the resort now open the next chapter in the property's development is ready to be revealed, set for August 7th.  According to this article, Dollywood will announce the "largest single attraction" in the park's history for next year.  Can't wait to hear more!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Heard On... Six Flags and Comcast Q2 2015 Earnings Calls

Six Flags released another record quarter for the end of June, 2015, at least in terms of revenues - however not in actual earnings.  The company had its usual conference call and while there isn't any big news, here are some notes:

• Revenue for the second quarter grew $10 million and attendance grew 9% to 8.9 million visitors.

• The park's active season pass and membership base has exploded, up 32% over 2014.  This is a huge part of the 9% increase in attendance for the quarter.

• The season pass and memberships have hurt per caps; down 5% during the quarter ($2.18).  Admission per caps decreased 7% and in-park spending was down 2%.

• Six Flags recognized $10 million in revenue for the parks under development in Dubai and China - they hope to be able to talk about those deals in more detail soon, and announce new ones.

• The chain is seeing a very high percentage of season pass holders move on to being members at the end of the first year - creating a trend of increased visitation.

• All-season dining passes have been a "home run" for Six Flags, and they plan to continue to focus on them in the future - also working on the retail side of things.

NBCUniversal, a part of Comcast, also held a call detailing the earnings and results for the Universal theme parks located in the U.S. for the 2nd quarter of 2015.  Since the parks are a small part of a gigantic company, they don't spend a ton of time on them but things certainly seem to be going well.

• The second quarter was another for the record books as the theme parks saw a 25.7% increase in revenue to $773 million, and operating cash flow increase 44.9% to $354 million.

• The massive growth is due to Diagon Alley and the continued success of the Orlando property, which has created double digit increased in two-park tickets at the resort and record per cap spending.

• At Universal Studios Hollywood the new Fast and Furious Supercharged attraction on the Studio Tour has led to double digit attendance growth at the park already.

• The company pointed out that five years ago they made about $400 million from theme parks, and this year will probably be that plus about one billion dollars.  Yes, billion.

•  The theme park segment is seen as a "major growth driver" for the company for up to the next 20 years - so expect the massive trend of expansion at the parks to (happily) continue.  They still want to have at least one major new attraction at each of the U.S. parks each year.

• The Orlando resort grew attendance 21% during the quarter - a huge increase.

• NBCUniversal is still "excited" about growing in the rest of the world, including China and "other parts of the world" that they haven't talked about yet.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dorney Park Christmas in July + Haunt Update - 7.25.15

A little update as Dorney Park celebrates Christmas in July, plus there's plenty of other work already going on around the park for the fall.  Upon arriving at the gates I noted this new bag check set up, much more elaborate and with better signage than previously.  It stinks to have to have this process in place at any park, but it seems in the world today it is a necessity - so at least it is clear and organized!

Dorney Park is celebrating their Christmas in July event with decorations on the main entrance, a festive holiday garland adorning the structure.  Pretty nice touch if you ask me - this is also where the collection bins are for Toys For Tots.  The entire park was playing Christmas music, too!

Those who wanted to get in the spirit could have a Christmas dinner meal, take part in a 5k run, or - as seen above - get a photo with Santa Snoopy.  Located at the Old Time Photos, guests could have their photo taken with the adorable pup... and as the park pointed out that could make a great 2015 holiday card!

Inside Good Time Gifts the park had this tree up, with select holiday merchandise as well.  Seen on the table here are the "ugly Christmas sweater shirts," a cute idea.  I believe everyone who had tickets for the Christmas dinner meal received a shirt as well.

Being that it is a beautiful Saturday in late July, the park was packed.  They were parking in over, over, overflow space (I unofficially count there as being 4 overflow areas) and on this gorgeous day Wildwater Kingdom was packed.  See above for an example of that - the tiny dots in the background are all people!

However, even with the park this crowded things were moving along like a well oiled machine: there were tons of staff all over, I didn't see a single window closed at any food stand, retail locations had plenty of employees, etc.  If anyone ever wonders why Dorney Park has seen plenty of money put into the water park, this is why!

Moving into Dorney Park, things are already in high gear to get ready for this year's Halloween Haunt VIII.  As noted on the sign above, things kick off this year on September 18th, which is a Friday night.  I won't say too much, but I do believe that the use of a witch on this sign is a bit of a hint, or at least foreshadowing.

Focusing in on what was behind that sign, there has been a huge structure put up on the site of the former go-karts.  The look, to me anyway, is that of a farm house.  The walls that are different color on the right are maze walls - you can see more of what's going on from Steel Force.  There are several rooms in the structure behind that facade, and then all along the former go-kart track are props in the process of going up... looked like some undead characters and a tractor of body parts!

Over by Steel Force (this photo taken from the ride's exit staircase), the park has gotten work underway on their new Haunt building.  You can gather the L-shaped layout of the building from this image.  I would expect the structure to continue to go up very fast from this point forward.

That's it for now, hope you're all enjoying a fun weekend at a park (or two!).

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kennywood Ready to Open New 4-D Theater on July 29th

© Kennywood
Kennywood is nearly ready to open its brand new attraction for 2015, a 4-D theater that the park has been working on for many months now.  The theater's first show is Ice Age: No Time For Nuts 4-D, and will be open for guests for the first time July 29th.

According to Kennywood, the story of the new show "follows the manic saber-toothed squirrel Scrat on an epic odyssey in time travel. From the Coliseum of Ancient Rome to the dance floor of Studio 54, Scrat survives everything from Excalibur to the Titanic as he chases after his beloved acorn that's been accidentally lost in time."

"We are thrilled to bring this new 'Ice Age' experience to our guests! The high action storyline engages all the senses with amazing scenes that maximize our in-theater special effects," said Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. "The 'Ice Age' characters are well known and appeal to our audience - families and adults visiting Kennywood will enjoy this show."

The new show runs 9 minutes long and represents a new type of attraction for the park, and also adds one that can keep operating regardless of weather - setting things up to potentially be open for their holiday event.  It will also serve as a wonderful break from the Summer heat for visitors. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Concept Art of Original Valleyfair Plans

© Valleyfair
Valleyfair recently hosted a visit from two of the men who originally created and opened the park back in 1976, Walt Wittmer and Dave Sherman.  While at the Valleyfair the pair shared some original concept art that was created before the park opened, and luckily for us Valleyfair has in turn shared it with us all.

Two of the images are shown here, and reveal a fairly different park from the one that actually opened.  That's not to take anything away from Valleyfair, but it doesn't take long when looking at this art to see the differences.  If anything, it seems the park might have opened with a stronger focus on rides, and less on the extensive landscaping and themed structures seen here.

© Valleyfair
A central waterway appears to have been a focus of the park's concept, with not only a large lagoon featured, but also streams extending out into the park.  The aerial views of the park show several rides that were planned for opening but eventually added in later years - such as the Rails coaster and the park's log flume.

I love when old concept like this surfaces - it's great fun to study the details in the larger images.  You can see those and two more pieces of art on Valleyfair's Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Christmas In July Comes to Dorney Park This Weekend

© Dorney Park
This weekend will be all about Christmas at Dorney Park as the park celebrates July 25th like it is December 25th.  The park will be collecting new, unwrapped toys for the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program at the park's first ever Christmas in July celebration.  Guests who bring a toy for donation this weekend will receive a coupon valid for up to $15 off their ticket admission.  All the toys collected will be held until this winter and used as gifts for children in the local area who are in need.

The toy collection is just a part of the weekend's events, which start with a Christmas in July 5k on Saturday morning - hosted at Dorney Park in partnership with Run Lehigh Valley.

The park is also holding an All You Can Eat Christmas Dinner meal from Noon until 4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday, featuring "holiday favorites as well as cookie decorating demonstrations from culinary chefs interning with the park for the summer. Guests purchasing the meal will also receive a limited edition ugly sweater t-shirt as a part of their package, while supplies last."

Everyone likes a photo with Santa, but everyone loves a photo with Snoopy Santa!  He will be available at the park during a special season passholder Breakfast with Snoopy Santa on Sunday morning, and also at the Old Time Photo location in the park during the weekend.

The event sounds like a blast - I'm really loving the new special events that Dorney Park has been holding this season.  To sign up for the run, purchase meal tickets or to learn more, check out the Christmas in July page from the park.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Manticore Spins Into Mt. Olympus Theme Park

© Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus water and theme park has opened its new ride for the 2015 season, the Manticore.  The ride's name is meant to fit in with the other Greek inspired attractions at the park, and the paint job is meant to help it stand out, I think.  The ride is decked out in some bright rainbow colors, similar to a handful of other tower rides at various parks.  Even the arms that extend to hold the ride's carriages have a rainbow pattern.

Manticore stands 140 feet tall and takes riders on a spinning journey in the air on one of twelve, two-seater chairs.  Like with most vertical swing rides, riders' feet dangle below them as they go.

© Mount Olympus
From back when Manticore was announced I wasn't quite sure which manufacturer was providing the ride, but now that we've got some photos I think it is Zamperla.  When comparing the ride to the photos on Zamperla's website showcasing their Vertical Swing ride, you can see some very similar topper pieces.  The tower structure, lighting and overall statistics, aside from maximum height, also seem to fit. 

The new ride sits in the middle of the outdoor theme park section of the Mt. Olympus property, and gives great views of the surrounding attractions.  Seen in the photo above, Hades 360 still towers over the area, though!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - Kentucky Kingdom's Storm Chaser

Let's hope for a good construction winter without any storm warnings for Louisville, because we want to ride Storm Chaser, the new replacement for the first CCI dueling roller coaster, lastly named Twisted Twins.

Twisted Twins Sign for 2007

Stella near the end of the 2007 season

Stella in July of 2013

This is a section of Lola in July of 2013,,,,And now there's a new coaster coming to town!

The new rollercoaster for Kentucky Kingdom replacing the original "Double Trouble," the original ride name for Twisted Sisters/Twins. Storm Chaser is so big it replaces both coasters all by itself!

Storm Chaser is adding yet another weather related roller coaster to Kentucky Kingdom. With all the active ride elements, it's more like being in the middle of a violent storm than observing one from a distance.

Here is the off-axis airtime hill, from the twisted mind of Alan Shilke.

Riders will be thrust out of the car as they traverse the tip-out corner.

If only there was this much "barren landscape" around Kentucky Kingdom. It's hard to imagine what coasters could be built, but it looks like Storm Chaser will be a great addition to the skyline.

Most of the airtime elements will incorporate changes in direction as well as elevation.

The 140 degree stall turn will be outside the overbank dive.

The corked roll is a new element from Rocky Mountain. So, now that you have seen the still shot, that leaves just one question.... Are you ready to ride?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Another Round of Expansion Planned for Fun Spot America

According to Orlando Weekly, Fun Spot America has another major expansion planned and is about to begin work on it.

Fun Spot America saw a rebranding and major expansion in 2013, adding a significant number of rides to its lineup including two roller coasters.  At the time plans for a water park were announced for an undeveloped area near the park (seen as the dirt field in the background of the above photo), though they have yet to materialize.

Park expansion area highlighted in yellow.
Now according to the article it sounds like the park will be adding more amusements in an "Old Florida District" themed area on the open land.  The recently opened Gator Spot would be joined by a themed area containing attractions such as a dark ride themed to a trip to Florida, a log flume, family spinner ride and a new coaster.  The story specifically says the new coaster would be taller than the park's existing two, but shorter in length.

Fun Spot America has purchased some additional land across the street from the existing park, which is now rumored to be the water park's home.  If they proceed, it could open when their neighbor, Wet 'n Wild closes for good.  That would be a smart move indeed.

It's amazing to see this small park on such a pattern of growth!  Can't wait to hear more details of the planned expansion.