Saturday, July 4, 2015

Lake Compounce to Test Your Phear in 2016

© Lake Compounce
A giant box has been delivered to Lake Compounce, Bristol, CT, and although what it contains is still a mystery it sounds like it may lead to a thrilling 2016 addition.

The box originally had just one sign on it, asking those who passed by what their phobia was.  Each day since a new clue has gone up on the box, highlighting a new phobia: arachnophobia, fear of spiders, coulrophobia, fear of clowns, and most recently claustrophobia, the fear of tight spaces.

The key here appears to be the word phobia, as the park even changed the spelling of "fear" to "phear" on the teases.  I'm sure that will have a connection when the new attraction is fully announced on the morning of July 10th - only a handful of days from now.

For now, those who want to make a guess or talk about the addition can use #whatsintheboxlc on social media.

As for what the park is building, I haven't a clue and will enjoy the teasing leading up to the announcement.  It certainly would be great if it were a new roller coaster, however there are plenty of other great attractions that would fit in well at the park.  I will note though that the park has called this a "once in a lifetime announcement" so I take that to mean something rather substantial!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - An Independence Day Tribute To The Doolittle Raiders

Today, in honor of our country's birthday, we'll look back, on the story of some extraordinary gentlemen, who in their own words, "We volunteered to do a job and carried through." The subject is the Tokyo Doolittle Raiders, who were the first Americans to strike a blow against the Japanese homeland during World War II. 

Courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, here is some historical context:

This close knit group has had annual reunions for over 70 years hosted by many groups and cities across the United States. In 2012 the museum hosted the celebration, complete with a fly over. One of the planes that has participated in several reunions is Georgie's Gal, operated by the Liberty Aviation Museum. Here Jim, one of the pilots, talks about how they honored the Raiders, and all the other aircrew who flew B-25s in WW II:

As the keeper of their stories, there are no more important stories in the history of the United States Air Force than that of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders. Dr. Jeff Underwood, historian for the museum, shares his thoughts:

The diorama is exquisite, including the correct model plane, the goblets, and now something new.

The famous Doolittle Tokyo Raiders goblets, a gift from the city of Tuscon, AZ

Brian Anderson, Sargent at Arms for the Raiders, presents the Congressional Gold Medal

Lt Col Richard "Dick" Cole

Staff Sgt David Thatcher

Brian Anderson, Sargent at Arms for the Raiders had the idea, so let's let him tell the story

The remaining members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Lt Col Dick Cole and Staff Sgt David Thatcher, wanted the Congressional Gold Medal to be displayed here at the museum, instead of the Smithsonian, so this is one of the few available to see outside of the Beltway. Here is their first view of the medal, courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

A gala ceremony was held, welcoming the medal to its new home, and below is a video of what you will see when you visit the museum, along with some other pictures. It's is a nice story, with some words of wisdom from the surviving raiders at this link to the National Museum of the United States Air Force website. It includes the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Commemorative Ceremony. Especially moving was when the gathering rose as one to honor the raiders with  send off singing the Air Force song.

So while today we honor the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, let us all pause and remember that keeping the Declaration of Independence alive requires great sacrifice  from all branches of the service, and many other first responders as well. Please keep them in your thoughts, for without their and their families sacrifices, we might not be enjoying parades, ice cream, and fireworks this weekend.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ride Entertainment Now Operating Pier 62 Carousel in Manhattan

© Ride Entertainment
The operations division of Ride Entertainment has a new member of the family, as the company has announced that they have taken over daily operations of the Pier 62 Carousel in the Hudson River Park in Manhattan, New York.

The carousel was built in 2010 and is a part of a larger development that includes other family attractions, plenty of green space and a skate park.  The carousel is a 3-row menagerie style with interesting characters such as a bunny and sea horses, but traditional horses can also be found on the ride.

© Ride Entertainment
“We are excited and proud to be the new operators of the Pier 62 Carousel,” said David Galst, Ride Entertainment’s Managing Director of Operations.  “With the majority of the carousel figures being inspired by creatures indigenous to the Hudson River area, it is truly one of the most unique carousels in the world.  We look forward to not just continuing the operation of the ride, but to making the Pier 62 Carousel a go-to venue for New Yorkers for birthday parties, live entertainment, and family fun,” he noted.

Ride Entertainment has also brought their "famous free children's shows" to the Carousel, adding another layer of entertainment to the operation.  The shows take place each Sunday at two and four in the afternoon.  If visiting the city this Summer, be sure to stop by and take a ride!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Baron 1898 Now Thrilling Riders at Efteling

© Efteling
A custom designed B&M dive coaster named Baron 1898 is now plunging riders downward into a dark abyss at Efteling in the Netherlands.  The highly themed roller coaster looks like it is part of a long-closed mining operation, with cars slowly being lifted to the top of the mine tower.  After a brief pause the trains, each holding 18 riders, plunge down into a dark tunnel inhabited by the "white ladies" of local folklore.

The coaster's backstory is such that the old mine was run by a greedy man who had local residents work in the mine, digging after gold that he wanted for himself.  Many of the works died in mysterious ways, and today the mine has been reopened and plenty of odd disturbances have been noted.  The story is told though elaborate theming and preshows throughout the ride's queue.
© Efteling
Although Baron 1898 isn't any where near the largest or fastest B&M dive coaster, it's easily one of the best looking.  The custom lift hill support structure adds tremendously to the ride's theme, and all of the 1,643 feet of track are utilized to the fullest.  After the trains come out of the fog-filled tunnel after the first drop they roll through an Immelman and zero-g roll, ending the trip with a tight upward helix and final hill.  While small in size the quality of the ride - both in theme and design - is so great that I think that most U.S. park's would be proud to have such an attraction.

Efteling has released some point of view footage of the ride, check it out below!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two More Attractions Closing in Walt Disney World

© Disney
The winds of change continue to blow inside Walt Disney World, which has announced two more large attraction closings this week.

Disney's Hollywood Studios, which has already announced several closures in recent times, will be adding The Magic of Disney Animation to that list.  The attraction will stay open for two more weeks, closing for good after July 12th.

The attraction is one of the originals from the park's opening years, though only a shell of its former self.  Originally visitors strolled along catwalks looking down at Disney animators hard at work, but that was removed over a decade ago.  Now guests are treated to a film presentation with an actor animator, and then are ushered into an area that has interactive elements and character greet areas. 

No word from the park yet on what will replace the attraction - thought it seems we must be getting closer to the anticipated big announcement of the park's new name and (hopefully) selection of new attractions!

Also going away soon will be DisneyQuest, the interactive indoor theme park that has operated at Downtown Disney, soon to be Disney Springs, since 1998.  The building is expected to be repurposed for the already announced NBA themed restaurant/experience that will be a major tenant at Disney Springs. 

The size of the large building makes it a bit easier to understand how Disney is promoting the NBA Experience as more than just a restaurant and store - they'll have plenty of room for all kinds of interactive features over multiple floors.

DisneyQuest was the first in what was planned to be a whole chain of similar buildings across the nation.  One opened in Chicago but quickly closed, no others made it off the ground.  The Orlando version limped along for years, though almost all of the interactive games and rides are quite outdated in 2015.

A specific closing date was not announced, though it will be sometime in 2016.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Small Dorney Park Early-Summer Park Update

With July, aka the busy season, just around the corner, Dorney Park has started its long stride into the Summer months.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't so great this weekend, as Saturday felt more like a late September day rather than one in late June.  Plus it poured all day.

Still, thankfully Sunday the skies cleared (some) so I decided to make the harrowing six mile drive over to take a stroll through the park.

This big sign is positioned on one of the entrance buildings, and I think it's a wonderful idea.  It's pretty clearly a corporate initiative, so I would think these are probably at all the parks.  Still, it is great to recognize employees that are going above and beyond.  Also note the new Cedar Fair logo used in the bottom.

June has been Lemonade Days at Dorney Park, a series of fundraisers aimed at benefiting the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.  There have been several events held during the month, and this giant sign out front shows the progress to date.  Wonderful work so far!  This weekend was one last event that benefits the cause, so we will expect to see the final total raised soon.

I stopped by the former site of Hang Time to see if anything has changed, and it is still a sea of mulch.  Interesting that no landscaping went in, perhaps there is a plan for the spot.  Or maybe not!  After noting no changes I ignored it and snapped this nice shot of Thunder Canyon.

I like this change - the hill in front of Hydra's cobra roll has received a nice landscaping update.  It is pretty obvious from the photo what that is!  I don't really remember just what was on this hill before, but that probably means it wasn't much of anything.  A nice touch by the park's landscaping team.

Down at the park's former go-kart track there has been some activity.  It is quite hard to see from inside the park, so this is the best I could do.  You can see the area from Steel Force as well - but I don't do photos on rides.  Anyway, since it's already a pretty nice concrete path and was previously used for a Haunt, perhaps something along those lines is underway?

Here is something else that I believe will be for this year's Haunt.  The park was approved to build a new structure in this area months ago, and initial work for it is underway.  It's been a while since we've seen those flag markers in the ground at Dorney, so it was exciting for a moment.  However, this will be a building that will house a Haunt, I believe, wedged in between employee parking and Steel Force.

Earlier I mentioned one last event as part of Lemonade Days, and that was the Ribs 'n' Rides BBQ Festival.  The open field by Steel Force, occasionally used for parking, was filled with tents and cooking areas for those competing in the cook off.  Guests could purchase BBQ Bucks and then try a sample from the many vendors.  As you can guess the entire area surrounding Steel Force smelled heavenly.

I also noticed one more sign that I didn't see on my first Zephyr ride earlier this Spring.  This one pays tribute to some of the park's former rides - another nice touch!

I feel like I was one of the last humans not to have a personalized can of Coke, but finally today that changed.  The Share a Coke truck was at the park, allowing guests to get two personalized cans free of charge.  I won't reveal what names I got on mine!

Finally, I had another lunch at the new Smokehouse Barbecue restaurant today, and I have to urge visitors to check it out while at the park.  We may not be talking about Dollywood level of food here, but this is far beyond what has been offered at Dorney previously!

That's it for now, stay tuned for more updates at the season rolls on.