Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New Simpsons Area Opens at Universal Studios Hollywood

© Universal Studios Hollywood
Many Universal Studios fans were impressed when the company's Florida park opened a real-life Springfield in 2013.  The expansion brought into reality many eateries and other buildings that we've seen countless times on the Simpsons, creating a vibrant and fun atmosphere outside the park's ride of the same name.

Now, Universal Studios Hollywood has just opened (soft opened, technically) their take on Springfield, an even more ambitious version of the famous fictitious town.  This one's big, quite large actually - with one main structure that is housed in a multitude of Simpsons facades, some including extra effects and goodies.

Guests can wonder into Krusty Burger, peek in Herman's Military Antiques, watch the nuclear plant have a brief meltdown, or grab a donut at Lard Lad's or a beer at Duff's.  There's some different offerings in Hollywood not found in Florida, and plenty of additional details as well - though food and beverage offerings remain the goal of the structures.  One could spend plenty of time just exploring the facades, especially if they're a fan of the series.

The size of the structure comes from the need to create a back-end of sorts to the under construction Wizarding World of Harry Potter, helping to seal off that land from the rest of the park while creating a fun new space.

To check out a tour of the new area, including great shots of all the jokes and gags, Inside Universal is offering up a fantastic photo set.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - Hooray for Dollywood's 30th Anniversary!

As always Dollywood kicked off their season with a Season Pass Holder/Media Day. The opening show in the Dolly Parton Celebrity Theater is always the must see event and there was even more reason to attend this season. 

Of course Miss Parton herself, makes an appearance and as usual Dolly makes a grand entrance! She has 30 new things for this year, but we are most excited about the return of the Showcase of the Stars and finding out the details on the mentioned first ever New Years Eve event. She also mentioned they have been visited by approximately 75 million guests during the last 30 years.

Dolly is her unpretentious self, and she really connects with her people, in this case the season pass holders. She also talked about her new website, dollyparton.com, the new home for everything Dolly.

Guests were treated to a wonderful video presentation showcasing Dollywood's highlights from the past thirty years. The crowd cheered some of their favorite memories from days gone by.

The big thing is the new hotel and Dolly mentioned the DreamMore Resort in the video and we did drive by it on our way to Dollywood. The is no way to miss it with this huge sign advertising when the resort opens. This will be "The" resort to stay in Sevier County starting this summer. We can't wait to see the inside, Dolly said that everything wasn't revealed in the previously released information. Another opportunity to create family memories worth repeating in eastern Tennessee.

Construction is moving along and the resort is currently accepting reservations for August 2015.  It dominates the Middle Creek Parkway on the drive into Dollywood and Splash Country and is reminiscent of southern mansions.

Several different acts were showcased from Festival of Nations, and we will include them in a different story. But Dolly had one more surprise in store for the season passholders and the media in attendance, a grand Tennessee finale.

Our thanks to Dolly Parton and the fine folks at Dollywood for a wonderful day! We hope your 30th season is the greatest year ever! That reminds us, we need to go back to the Gristmill for cinnamon bread, we forgot to get some.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Adventureland's Turbulence Coaster Now Complete

© Adventureland
We didn't see much over the Winter month's about Adventureland's (on Long Island, New York) new roller coaster, Turbulence, however the ride is now complete.

The park has released a few photos of the custom design ride, including the one of the completed track (above) just a few days ago.  The ride's electric color scheme makes it nearly impossible not to notice, something I'm sure the park is happy about.

© Adventureland
This photo was from a week earlier, when all of the ride's lower track was set, and just the lift hill and crown needed to be put into place.  The ride's first drop dives downward and then immediately up into a large wave turn, seen prominently in the first photo.  Turbulence is manufactured by Mack Rides and is one of their custom spinning coasters.  There's only a handful of these around the globe, including Sierra Sidewinder at Knott's Berry Farm and Space Fantasy at Universal Studios Japan.

© Adventureland
Adventureland also shared this photo of the ride's cars, which have been delivered to the property.  Turbulence will have two trains, each with three cars - each car seats four riders, two forwards and two backwards.

In anticipation of Turbulence's opening, Adventureland has started a first-rider event, with proceeds going to charity.  Read more about that, and Turbulence, at this link.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

New Gerstlauer "Infinity" Coaster Opening in Finland

Finland's PowerPark will open "Junker" this Summer, a brand new Gerstlauer designed Infinity coaster.  What is an Infinity coaster?  Well I didn't know either, but apparently it is the company's line of coasters that are like The Smiler at Alton Towers - meaning quite twisted, using individual cars and a lift, launch, or both!

Junker will just use one launch, sending cars toward an inverted 131 foot tall top hat at over sixty miles per hour.  The rest of the ride gets a bit convoluted, so perhaps take a look at this layout first:

This comes from Coasters and More - a great European site that always has some of the best news and images around.

So the coaster will complete the inverted top hat, then dive into what looks like a Norwegian Loop at first glance, but it isn't.  It is actually a dive loop immediately followed by a fat-looking vertical loop.  And interesting mix!  After another climb and brief pause, the trains dive into a cut-back, another dive loop, a corkscrew and a final helix before the brakes kick in.  The track spans over 2,800 feet from start to finish.

In addition to a new page for Junker with a press release, there are two webcams that have been set up to see the coaster going up.  Although it was night when this was taken, you can still see that a significant amount of Junker is up!  With a very unique layout and a newer ride system being used, this could be one of the sleeper hits of the year.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - At Look At Carowind's Fury 325

Carowinds held the Media Day for their 325 foot tall, 3:25 long Bolliger & Mabillard Giga coaster Fury 325 on 3/25/2015. Luckily for us they didn't delay the festivities until 3:25 PM.

Here is a wide angle view of Fury 325 from the new guess drop off area. Which may also turn out to be a Fury 325 photo spot. Before the media day opened there was a constant stream of people watching the empty cars cycle the ride.

Cedar Fair has really gone all out in designing their recent coaster logos and Fury 325 is no exception. 

One of the beautiful 32 passengers train at the end of the ride. 

Here's a shot of the turn  around setting up the dive under the entrance bridge.

The train approaching the dive under the entrance bridge,

and exiting out the other side.

One of Fury 325's dive curves

This ground hugging turn leads into the dive under the bridge. Fury 325 makes great use of ground proximity to boost the excitement level during the ride.

This section of track seems to have a musical feel to it.

We hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse of Fury 325, we will have more in-depth coverage to come very soon, once we recover from our whirlwind, marathon trek to experience Fury 325. In the meantime, Carowinds will open on 3/28/2015 and you could go ride it yourself!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Batman: The Ride Topped Off at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Yesterday was an exciting day for everyone at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, as the park placed the final track piece of Batman: The Ride into place.  The 4-D Free Spin coaster's last piece of bright yellow track was from the very top of the ride's vertical lift hill, which stretches 120 feet into the sky.
Batman: The Ride is the first coaster of its kind to open in the world, using both gravity and magnets to flip the cars as riders pass over the undulating track.

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
This wide-angle shot really shows just how impressive the coaster looks - from this view it appears to be much taller than 120 feet!  The relatively simple layout, consisting of mostly gently hills, is structured to allow the unique trains to flip and spin riders in different ways.  The park promises at least six inversions mixed among the vertical drops and hills, though the use of magnets could allow for changes to the experience in the future.

The park also released video of the final track construction, available here.