Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dorney Park Announces New Attraction + Changes for 2015 Season

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom has announced a brand new family ride, a new restaurant experience and a new season pass dining plan for the park's 2015 season.

© Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Visitors will be swinging into next year on the all-new Cedar Creek Flyers, a family friendly ride that will be located next to Stinger on the park's lower midway.  The attraction will be manufactured by Larson International of Texas, and feature eight two-passenger carriages.  As the center of the ride spins, the carriages will be able to fly at a maximum of 28 feet over the midway.  Each car will allow riders to control the "thrill level" of their experience using a moveable front wing.

This style of attraction as long be a fan favorite at parks across the country, and Dorney Park is excited to add it to its line up.  “The Cedar Creek Flyers are a perfect complement to our collection of family rides,” said Brad Marcy, vice president and general manager of Dorney Park. “They build on Dorney’s reputation as a great entertainment value for families with young kids.”

Cedar Creek Flyers will go in the circular area in Stinger's shadow.
Cedar Fair has already successfully introduced the Flyers at several other parks, including Cedar Point and Michigan's Adventure.  The interactive nature of the ride leads it to be a very repeatable experience, and a new attraction at the far end of the park will add a great deal of life to the area.  The location for the ride will be in the already-paved circular area next to Stinger.

Patio Pizza currently © Google
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom have been steadily improving their food offerings over the past few seasons, beginning when they added executive chef Jan Giejda in 2013.  The park was the first to bring Chickie's & Pete's to the Lehigh Valley, and last year created a new Build-Your-Own Funnel Cake stand and debuted a new food truck, along with changing menus throughout the park.

The changes will continue in 2015 as the Patio Pizza stand, located in the center of the park near Dominator, will be transformed into the Smokehouse Barbecue.  The new restaurant will feature "BBQ favorites such as smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and hush puppies."  The unique menu will be created by the park's executive chef, who is "excited to offer our guests a full BBQ style meal, including sides like homemade mac & cheese and southern style desserts.” 

While the bones of the Patio Pizza stand, seen above, will remain, major changes will take place to create an indoor cafeteria style serving area.  The large dining patio adjacent to the restaurant will remain, though final plans are still underway.  I have no doubt that the Smokehouse Barbecue will be an extremely popular spot in the park next year.

Finally, an All Season Dining Plan will be offered in 2015 to season pass holders.  Those who purchase the plan are entitled to one lunch and dinner each day they visit the park in 2015 at locations such as Amore Pizza, Coasters, Burger Barn and the new Smokehouse Barbeque.  More details, including pricing options, are available on the park's website.

It is great to see the ride side of the park see some action after giving Wildwater Kingdom a head-to-toe makeover in 2014!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Could FunTown Pier Return to Seaside Heights in 2015?

FunTown Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ, was largely destroyed after 2012's Hurricane Sandy (two years ago today, to be exact) blew through town.  Then, just about one year later, a fire started under the boardwalk and burned what was left of the park, along with an additional expansive area that included 50+ businesses.

After that you'd think the park's owners would give up, but apparently not.  The park's owner, Bill Major, has plans to bring the park back as soon as next summer, depending on government approvals.
He is seeking approval to rebuild FunTown on an even bigger pier, and feature even larger rides.  He is also hoping for new regulations that would allow him to build attractions up to 300 feet tall.

At the very least the plan is to rebuild the pier as soon as possible in its original footprint, and when that is complete he wants to put in either "a log flume or a big coaster."  I know which of the two I'd pick!

Mr. Major said a lot of rides have been scoped out for the new park, such as a "gigantic" roller coaster and a 250 foot tall Ferris wheel, but he held off buying them until he knows he has permission to build them.

Between Sandy's wrath and last year's fire, there are no attractions left that were salvageable, meaning FunTown will literally be rebuilt from scratch.  Much luck to the owners in the process of rebuilding, our fingers are crossed!

Second B&M Dive Coaster Opening in Europe in 2015

Italy's Gardaland will also be the home of a B&M Dive Coaster in 2015, another smaller one like we saw announced earlier for Efteling.

The ride does not appear to have an official name yet, but it does have an official website that is filled with mysterious videos about the ride.  The park is using the above "point of no return" as a current tagline, while the website also seems to be using a codename of "operation orange."

Which is an interesting codename, since the ride - both supports and track - are white:

This image is from the park's construction webcam, which they unfortunately have edited to keep the lift, turn, and first drop unseen.  If you look close you can see that an old image is being shown on top of those ride segments.

But, since the ride is standing in the middle of the park, there are plenty of current photos floating around.  Check out the entry for the ride on RCDB, and you can see photos of the ride from a few days ago.  After the first drop there is a tunnel, then up into a reverse dive-loop.  It looks like after that it will be a short trip back to the station with possibly one additional inversion.  RCDB states the ride's track at only 1,850 feet long - still 300 feet longer that Krake at Heide Park.

We also do not know the height of the ride or its drop length, but I can't imagine it will be too long before all the details are released!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dollywood Planning Huge Addition for 2016

Last week when Dollywood placed the highest spire of the DreamMore Resort, the Times News ran a story about both the new hotel and the current goings-on at the property.

Here's a link to the story, which also points out that Dollywood is having a really good season, despite a higher than average number of rainy days.

The real reason to check out the article is that it mentions that the park is planning a rather large expansion for 2016, at least according to the Dollywood Company President, Craig Ross.  Here's the quote:

"We're very busy behind closed doors," Ross said. "To plan what we will announce next year as one of the biggest single attraction additions in our 30-year history for 2016. I can't share details, but can tell you plans are underway."

Considering the recent additions to Dollywood - the past ten years included Thunderhead, Mystery Mine, River Battle, all of Country Fair, Barnstormer, Wild Eagle, FireChaser Express and more - the park is on a very aggressive expansion.

As to what the park will build, one would seem to think it is time for a break from roller coasters.  The park could do great with some sort of dark ride, but for it to be one of the largest additions I would think some slick technology might be included.  Water rides are always a solid addition, and can be large projects, but the park has the river rapids and log flume already covered.  For some reason an indoor attraction just seems to fit, but I could be totally off.

With regard to where a new attraction, whatever it may be, could go - well here's one idea.  The crazy long and windy path from the entrance plaza up to Thunderhead (in yellow above) passes by a large undeveloped area.  Sure, the area is another hill - but that hasn't stopped the park before!

I can't remember where, but I believe I read that some early land clearing was already going on in this area as well.  Granted this could be related to some sort of resort-only entrance because it is close to the parking lots, but a big addition over here would help to balance out the park's crowds as well.

Here is one other thought, though this represents a potentially even larger project than just one addition.  The park has said in the past that they want to expand up into the 'train loop' - the area seen here in red in the upper right that is already cleared out and bordered by the train tracks.  To help place the area, the orange circle is FireChaser Express under construction.

The 'loop' is located at a higher elevation that the current park, which is in valleys for the most part.  However, if the train was used to get people up there via a new station, and perhaps one other backup form of transportation, I could see this being the park's 'next frontier.'

But, a lot of infrastructure would need to be put in place to make that area a part of the park - I would think that's the cost of one 'large' attraction right there!  So we shall see if the park takes on a project of that size soon, or works on it in smaller pieces.

Whatever they have up their sleeve I know I speak for us all when we say we can't wait to find out more!

Central Amusements' Latest Plan for Playland + New Ride Design

Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker held a presentation/Q&A session last week with potential Rye Playland operator Central Amusements Inc. (CAI).  The company has remained interested in operating the park throughout the recent years of uncertainty, including when Sustainable Playland was 'chosen' as an operator, only to have them fall apart.

The presentation was held at a local library and is not a formal pitch to run the park, instead it is just to help the public interact with those who want to run the park, share their thoughts, etc.  Another operator, Standard Amusements will have their presentation in about a week.

The presentation was added to YouTube, but warning, when including the question and answer segment it's well over an hour long.  I will admit I only got through just over half.

Anyway, there were a few interesting slides that we have not seen before, and many we have.  To see the progression of CAI plans for Rye Playland, just read through our articles.

The image above shows the most current plan of investments in Rye Playland, showing some big numbers which would represent a lot of new rides and attractions over the next five years.

However, CAI is quick to point out that the $26 million planned could easily be expanded over the years.  They shared this slide of their developments in Coney Island, showing how they promised to spend $23 million there in 5 years, and ended up spending a cool $43 million.

Also, if you were wondering how much the new Thunderbolt cost, will there you have it - somewhere just under $10 million.

Now for that new ride - CAI previously said they would be interested in bringing a world record breaking pendulum ride to the park, but during this presentation mentioned adding brand new items as well, never before seen.

The image above is of the ride they were speaking of, labeled a Giant Air Race.   It looks like they've taken a normal Air Race ride and lifted it quite a bit off the ground during the ride cycle.  It is hard to tell from this concept, but it looks like the ride could be upwards of 100 feet off the ground.  Interesting, no?

If you would like to see the video of the presentation, I will embed it below.  If anyone makes it the whole way through and there are any other interesting items, please share!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Rampage Rides Again at Alabama's Splash Adventure

This past season Alabama's Splash Adventure operated with new owners, and the former ride side of the park sat mostly empty in the summer sun.  Sad, but only temporary.  Dan Koch, one of the park's new owners, made it clear that he had plans to get the amusement park back up and running, and one of his first tasks would be to fix up Rampage, the park's large wooden roller coaster.

© Alabama's Splash Adventure
It took some time, and a whole lot of effort, but Dan kept his word - this past weekend the coaster operated during an event for the American Coaster Enthusiasts.  The early buzz is that the coaster is back and better than ever, flying along the track and delivering plenty of air-time.

The park had to have a crew come during the summer to inspect and fix the ride's track, which is a huge project on its own.  The coaster had sat unused for over two years, which takes a lot of toll on a wooden ride such as Rampage.  The ride's trains also underwent a full rebuild and refurbishment, the shiny new red train can be seen above.

© Alabama's Splash Adventure
Now, after spending well over $1 million to get the ride back up and running, Rampage will be waiting for us all when the park opens in 2015.  The coaster originally opened in 1998 when the park was named Visionland, and features a 120 foot tall lift hill and a maximum speed of over 55 miles per hour.

The coaster was well known as an above average ride previously, and now has had extra care to really make it shine.  Here's to a great 2015 season for the park - hopefully we may even hear of some additions to the park soon!