Sunday, May 1, 2016

Legoland California Ready to Open New Ninjago World with Innovative Darkride

© Legoland California
Starting May 5th, visitors to Legoland California will be able to train, explore and battle in the park's new Lego Ninjago World themed area.  The latest expansion of the ever-growing theme park features all the Ninjago characters along with interactive exhibits that test kids' balance, agility, speed and creativity.

The themed area also includes 22 new Lego models and Zane's Temple Build, and area where visitors can free build with a large supply of Legos.  Rounding out the offerings of Lego Ninjago World are Ninja Kitchen, a new dining facility, and Wu's Warehouse, a retail store.

© Legoland California
The major attraction that will have guests lining up in droves is Ninjago The Ride, North America's first interactive dark ride featuring Maestro hang gesture technology.  The feature retires the traditional 'blasters' found on similar rides, allowing guests to shoot fireballs, shockwaves, ice and more at enemies using just their hand movements.

“We’ve really taken Legoland California’s principle of ‘hands on, minds on’ to a whole new level,” said General Manager of Legoland California Resort Peter Ronchetti. “We’re firing the imagination to another degree taking the idea of using gestures to propel fire, ice, etc…it has never been done before and it’s bridging the gap between the old way of using physical props, bricks, and the like, with the new world of virtual technology.”

Riders collect points as they move through the ride, with winning totals displayed at the end.  Real effects such as heat, smoke and wind make the 3-D experience into a 4-D one.

SoCal Attractions 360 was on hand at the ride's media event, and filmed this tour of the new area, ride queue and the actual ride experience.

Once aboard the 4-passenger vehicles, riders travel "through 13 different scenes encountering villains such as snakes, skeletons, ghosts, Lord Garmaddon (king of the Skulkuns) and ultimately, The Great Devourer…a giant serpent who can only be defeated by all of the ninja riders working together and using all the elements."  The above video shows how riders can tell how they're doing on-screen by following the color assigned to them on the ride vehicle's dashboard.

While the ride and new area are just getting ready to officially open in California this week, the parent company of the parks is already planning similar Ninjago expansions at Legoland parks across the globe, including Legoland Florida in 2017.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

SeaWorld San Antonio Begins Teasing New for 2017 Roller Coaster

This past November, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment gave a look at some of their future plans during their Investors Day presentation.  One of the items shown was a Sea Rescue themed roller coaster, unofficially expected to be heading to Texas at SeaWorld San Antonio.  Here's some of the concept art that was shown during the presentation:

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Initially there was some confusion that this ride might head to the San Diego park, but the similarities to that park's Manta coaster were far too many, and with the Orlando park currently building Mako there really wasn't a need for this ride (at least right now).  So that left the Texas park, already home to two adult, one water and one family roller coaster, to be the lucky recipient of this jet ski themed ride.

Well now there's no confusion at all, as SeaWorld San Antonio has released this short teaser clip about their 2017 addition, for now just called a "new thrill."

The teaser calls for a "new generation of heroes" to "race into action," showing not only plenty of jet ski footage but also sea animal rescues and some animated roller coaster track as well.

The park isn't saying much more about the ride at the moment.  Taking a look around, SeaWorld San Diego's Manta (a Mack ride) features a launched/low to the ground experience that is similar to this new design, but the train seating doesn't quite fit.  Coincidentally, SeaWorld in Australia (unrelated to SeaWorld Entertainment) has Jet Rescue, from Intamin, which looks very similar to the concept art.  Stay tuned for more as it is released!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A New Set of Expansions Planned for the Tokyo Disneyland Resort Parks

The Tokyo Disneyland Resort has provided an update on their future expansion plans, and while pretty different from what was initially announced, there's still some rather neat things coming to both of the Japan parks.

Exact expansion plans have been a bit of a moving target - back in the fall of 2014 the resort announced a 10 year, $4 billion set of expansions, then gave more detail on them in May of 2015.  At the time the plans included a new Frozen themed land for DisneySea and a major expansion of Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland, including an Alice in Wonderland sub-area and more.  This past December the parks announced they were extending the "study period" of the expansions which many thought meant a decrease in the expansion size.

Now things appear back on track, and several new attractions have again been announced - replacing the original plan and speeding things up.  Now the goal is to have a combined 30 million visitors to the parks by 2020, and they will spend 50 billion yen ($460 or so million) a year on new fun to do it.

© Tokyo Disneyland Resort
The large expansion of Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland has been somewhat reduced, with a brand new Beauty and the Beast area replacing Tomorrowland's Grand Circuit Raceway and StarJets.  The area (above) will be home to a major new ride, restaurant, retail and also a 1,500 seat live entertainment theater - all set in the highly themed world of the film.

© Tokyo Disneyland Resort
The Beauty and the Beast section will feature a new ride unique to Tokyo Disneyland, retelling the famous story through what looks like trackless vehicles.  Set inside the Beast's castle, the 8 minute attraction will feature "enchanted serving dish" passenger vehicles and open in 2020.

© Tokyo Disneyland Resort
Adjacent to the Fantasyland development will be a new Tomorrowland ride, themed around Big Hero 6.  The "whip" style attraction features cars pulled by their own "personal healthcare companion" and lively music.  A new popcorn food location will also open next to the ride, aimed for 2020.

© Tokyo Disneyland Resort
Tokyo DisneySea an switched from adding a new land to a major new ride, a copy of the popular Soarin' attractions at existing Disney parks.  Located in the Mediterranean Harbor area, the ride will be meticulously themed as seen in the above concept art - making it fit in nicely with the rest of the beautiful park.

© Tokyo Disneyland Resort
The Soarin' ride will take guests over famous landscapes across the globe, and it appears as though the rider cars will have some unique theming in this version.  The new ride is scheduled to open in 2019.

Both parks will also see major improvements in operations and staff training to support the record number of visitors they hope to obtain.  Plans for post-2020 include developments in all the existing themed lands of Tokyo Disneyland and filling in additional expansion plots in Tokyo DisneySea.

You can check out the entire press release, will much more information and concept art, at this link.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Harry Takes a First Spin on The Joker at Six Flags Great Adventure

© Six Flags Great Adventure
This is "Harry," and he was lucky enough to be one of the very first test dummy (literally) riders on the all-new Joker roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure.  Obviously it takes a rather brave rider to be one of the first on a new coaster, but from the looks of it Harry had what it takes.

And thankfully for us, Harry decided to strap on his chest-mounted GoPro camera, so that we could all experience the thrills and flips offered by The Joker.  Here's how Harry's ride went:

The Joker is a 4-D Free Fly coaster created by S&S, only the second of its kind to open.  Harry's journey took him up to 120 feet above the park, and as documented by the video contained plenty of flips during the ride.

Enough about Harry, though I'm sure we're all a bit jealous of him, it's great to see The Joker coming to life at Six Flags Great Adventure.  The theme park notes that now they will continue on fine tuning the ride's controls, complete exhaustive testing, and obtain New Jersey certifications before visitors can board - that's still planned for Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Laguna Splash - DelGrosso's New Water Park - Nearly Ready to Open

© DelGrosso's Amusement Park
Under construction since the early part of 2015, a brand new $12 million water park expansion and rebranding - named Laguna Splash - is nearly ready to open at DelGrosso's Amusement Park in Tipton, PA.  Anxious visitors to the park will be able to partake in all that Laguna Splash has to offer this coming Memorial Day.

DelGrosso's has totally transformed several parts of their existing water park while adding new attractions to create the water park.  Laguna Splash will be Italian themed, which is evident in the style of the buildings being built and themed in the above construction photo.  The expansion also includes all new amenities like ticket booths, entrance gates, locker rooms, three food outlets and more.

© DelGrosso's Amusement Park
The existing water park already had two slide towers along with a children's play structure, and those are all now a part of Laguna Splash.  In addition to the amenities that really make it a full water park, a new lazy river (seen above) has been added.  The river has a nice zero-depth entrance area to the middle island it creates, with plenty of space for lounging.  The park has shared photos of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that will be adjacent to the river on their Facebook - there really is classic Italian theming throughout the new park.

© DelGrosso's Amusement Park
The other main addition is a giant wave pool, cover more than 14,000 square feet of space with over 311,000 gallons of water.  The pool will feature giant waves with depths of up to six feet - the underwater mural seen above is being carefully painted on the back of the wave house as well.

When Laguna Splash is completed and opened this summer it will be the largest single expansion ever done by the family-owned park.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rocky Mountain's Massive New Coaster in Sweden Making Progress

© Kolmarden
While we have been following the work on the handful of new for 2016 Rocky Mountain projects in the U.S., one very big ride by the company has been steadily rising in Sweden at Kolmarden.

Wildfire is one big ride: 181 feet tall, with an 83 degree, 161 foot first drop, 3 inversions and 4,265 feet of track.  The ride has been further developed since first being announced and is now utilizing steel support structure for the ride's initial lift hill, turn, and first drop (similar to Goliath at Six Flags Great America).  The image above shows the park installing these massive steel supports on top of the mountain that Wildfire calls home.

© Kolmarden
The coaster has many wooden supports already in place on the other sections of the ride; most of the layout twists on and around the side of the mountain.  It's probably one of the most picturesque coaster locations I've ever seen, to be honest.  We only check in on the ride every so often, so here's one of the more recent animations of Wildfire to show what it will offer:

Kolmarden is about as excited as they can be to open Wildfire, and have announced that the coaster will debut on June 18th.  Until then the park has been keeping the ride's website updated with information and videos, and their Instagram account gives nice construction shots as well.  This press release also features some updated concept art showing the steel supports on the lift and drop area.