Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Scott And Carol Present Breaking News - There's More Than Corn in Indiana. Indiana Beach Sold to Apex Parks Group

After eight seasons of trouble and turmoil Morgan RV has finally decided to get out of the amusement park business. Which is great news for those of us who love traditional amusement parks. and great news for the park it's self. The Apex Parks Group announce the acquisition of Indiana Beach Amusement Resort today

In 2016 Indiana Beach will celebrate their 90th Anniversary, It all started with Indianapolis businessman, Earl Spackman creating a sand beach along the shore of the newly formed Lake Shafer. And, had since grown into a wonderful family vacation spot.  

Here is the press release from the Apex Parks Group website

Indiana Beach Amusement Resort Is the Newest Member of Apex Parks Group

Aliso Viejo, CA – September 1, 2015 California-based Apex Parks Group (“Apex Parks”) is pleased to announce the acquisition of Indiana Beach Amusement Resort (“Indiana Beach”). This is the second significant addition to the company since its founding less than a year ago.

Indiana Beach is located on the banks of Lake Shafer in Monticello, Indiana. 2016 will mark the 90th anniversary of the park which has established itself as a true family vacation destination, spanning a total of 376 acres. The amusement park boasts a broad array of family entertainment and thrills; including one of the top wooden roller coasters and steepest drop steel roller coasters in North America. The theme park boasts children’s rides, zip lines, a waterpark, an arcade, miniature golf, traditional amusement park games and much more. Indiana Beach also offers more than 1200 accommodation alternatives, including 42 in-park motel rooms, 114 cabins, cottages & townhomes, over 1180 campsites, and 100 boat docks.

Apex Parks Group CEO, Al Weber, Jr. explains: “Indiana Beach is a fabulous addition for us. We are pleased to work with the park team and local community to grow this jewel of a resort in mid-state Indiana. We look forward to building upon the 90 year heritage of this park and providing families with a life time of great memories.”

The General Manager of Indiana Beach, John Collins, is optimistic about the future of the park. “This is a very big and meaningful step for Indiana Beach. In our 90-year history, Indiana Beach has developed a loyal following of family visitors. We believe the resources that Apex Parks brings to Indiana Beach will provide us opportunity for expansion and improved infrastructure. We're very confident that, as part of Apex Parks Group, we will take this great property and take it to the next level.”

“Over the past 8 seasons we have prided ourselves in keeping the history and nostalgia of Indiana Beach while investing in the future of the resort by upgrading and adding amenities, accommodations and attractions.  This is an exciting time for Indiana Beach," said Bob Moser, former owner of Indiana Beach. “With the decades of experience Apex Parks brings, we are certain they are committed to providing a high quality experience for our guests for years to come.”

Al Weber adds, “Our management team and investor group led by Broad Sky Partners and the Edgewater Funds Group are committed to building Apex into a valuable out-of-home entertainment business. The addition of Indiana Beach is a leap toward achieving this goal.”

Indiana Beach will continue to operate the remainder of its regular 2015 schedule and will be open September 4 – 7 for Labor Day weekend, and September 12, 13, and 19. For park information and operating hours, please visit www.indianabeach.com

About Indiana Beach Amusement Resort
Indiana Beach is located in Monticello, Indiana on Lake Shafer. The amusement resort was founded in 1926 and features a Boardwalk Funway, six roller coasters, 41 rides, a one-of-a-kind zipline over Lake Shafer, an aerial ropes course, Kiddyland, the Shafer Queen sightseeing paddlewheel boat, two campgrounds, rental accommodations, and an on-property hotel. Indiana Beach’s current water park, Ideal Beach, includes the original swimming pool with sand beach, water slides, an action river, and kid’s spray area. For more information, please visit www.indianabeach.com.

About Apex Parks Group
Apex is a privately held company based in Aliso Viejo, California with 13 Family Entertainment Centers and 2 Water Parks in California, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey. Apex Parks Group is currently one of the largest owners of Family Entertainment Centers in the United States. Apex Parks was founded in 2014 to acquire and operate best-in-class out-of-home entertainment assets and is committed to excellence, to the communities we serve, and to delivering value that exceeds expectation. For more information, please visit www.apexparksgroup.com.

About Broad Sky Partners
Broad Sky Partners is a sector-focused, middle market private equity firm that invests in companies in the Media, Communications & Business Services (MCBS) and Consumer Products & Services sectors.  Broad Sky partners with outstanding managers to create sustainable value in companies with strategic importance.  With a focus on driving organic growth, Broad Sky leverages a deep bench of Operating Executives and the significant industry-specific experience of its Founding Partners and professionals to help companies realize their maximum potential. Additional information can be found at www.broadskypartners.com.

About The Edgewater Funds
The Edgewater Funds is a Chicago-based private equity firm with $1.4 billion in committed capital. Edgewater partners with management to help accelerate growth in their businesses. Edgewater focuses on funding high quality middle market companies to add substantial value through capital and experience. Edgewater leverages the experience of its Partners and the Executive Advisory Board who have distinguished themselves as successful CEOs and business leaders. For more information, please visit www.edgewaterfunds.com.

We are very pleased with this news and would like to extend a warm Hoosier welcome to Apex Parks Group! 

Amazing New Fury 325 Documentary Now Available

This one's a can't-miss in my book.  Devin Olson Media, who has put together several short coaster documentaries before, has published their latest which tells the story of Carowinds' Fury 325.

Embedded above, the nearly half-hour film takes us through the entire Fury 325 project, start to finish, and goes in-depth with some of the key player's in the ride's development.  These include Rob Decker, Corporate Vice President of Planning & Design for Cedar Fair, and Mike Fehnel, General Manager of Carowinds.  There's some great insight into the long process of having Fury 325 designed and built, and as we well know the project wasn't exactly a small one so there's a lot of ground to cover.

Make sure to free up some time, turn down the lights and enjoy - many kudos to Devin Olson Media for their work!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Universal Studios Japan's New B&M Flyer Going Up Fast

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
Some new updates on the construction of Universal Studios Japan's new B&M Flying roller coaster, carrying a Jurassic Park theme, have been uploaded to Twitter via Made_in_USJ.  The custom design's full layout is not known to us ride fans just yet, but the construction progress is giving that away piece by piece.

Above is a photo of the newly installed lift, well at least most of it.  The ride will have dual stations to help with capacity, and after the stations is a slight turn and then directly up into the lift.  Unless this ride is much taller than we expect, there should be another stretch of track then the support that will hold the crest of the hill after what is seen here.  It could be the angle of the photo, but here the lift appears pretty steep.  One other thought is that due to the layout of the Jurassic Park area, I'm not sure there will be room for a big swooping first drop like on most B&M Flyer coasters, so there is a chance for a more straight first drop here.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
Before the lift went up the park installed the final track pieces to the ride, which take place just before the brakes.  Those pieces happen to be a nice heartline roll, showing that the theme park isn't afraid of adding inversions to this new ride.  I know the track and support colors are pretty simple, but they look great among the lush setting of Jurassic Park.

As for what comes next, we will have to wait and see.  I did some analysis on how far this ride might stretch in a previous post.  There's still quite a bit to go!

Make sure to follow Made_in_USJ on Twitter!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cedar Fair CEO Talks Future Coaster Additions with L.A. Times

The L.A. Times has published another very interesting article about Cedar Fair (the first being the one about the company scouting for classic flat rides in Europe), this time to talk about the future of roller coasters at the parks.

It sounds like Matt Ouimet has plans for a couple more park front entrances to get "deckerated" like Cedar Point and Carowinds did, with coasters running in front of, or even through them.  The term "deckerated" comes from Rob Decker, principal designer for the company.

The article also confirms that a couple more coasters will be converted like Mantis was into Rougarou at Cedar Point in 2015.  Rumors are swirling that we will see this happen in 2016 on Vortex at California's Great America.  Also of note is that the company's leader doesn't believe in relocating coasters to other parks, noting that if they are no longer popular at one park they're probably better retired for good than relocated.  Good news for Dorney Park!  I kid, I kid.

The article has plenty of other gems and is worth a read for any fan of the company.  Check it out at this link.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Two Kings of Halloween Unveil 2015 Horror Lineup

The 25th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida is quite an achievement, and it's wonderful to see the park celebrating the milestone.

Year year's mix of original attractions that contain throwbacks to popular scares of the past 25 years is especially nice, evenly mixed with popular intellectual properties that are on the big screen today.

In all, Halloween Horror Nights 25 will offer 9 mazes, 5 scare zones and 2 live shows.

Going over the original content first, one of the most anticipated mazes is Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem.  Hosted by former event host Jack, the house will feature both classic Universal monsters and famous characters from the last 25 years of Halloween Horror Nights and revived scenes from some of the best and most popular mazes.

RUN: Blood, Sweat and Fears is based on the premise of being on a twisted game show where participants have to run for their lives... with poor results to be expected.  The maze is based on two previous RUN houses, featured many years ago.

Body Collectors - Recollections is another throwback to previous houses under the same name.  The famous body collector are out once again, this time looking for parts in Shadybrook Asylum.

Finally we have Asylum in Wonderland 3D, a bright and trippy visit into the world of Alice, where things have taken an even darker turn than in the familiar tale.

Most of the major movie-tie in themes were announced previously, but to do a little recap here they are.  We'll have a Freddy vs. Jason maze which should be quite a battle to head through, and of course a very large The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead maze that follows this past season's storyline, and an Insidious house that covers all three films.

The Purge has been used before at the event, but this year will be the theme of its own house.  Finally, the park announced that the American Werewolf In London maze, a huge hit in 2013, will be coming back for an encore at this year's event.

The park's five scarezones all sound quite interesting this year, and include Psychoscareapy - Unleashed where a van of crazies from Shadybrook Asylum have escaped, and Icons - HHN which will feature some of the biggest and best icons that have ever hosted the event.  Another great looking scare zone is Evil's Roots, which appears to be using some 'traditional' Halloween characters, like simple scarecrows, in frightening ways.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure will be back taking aim at pop culture again this year, and Jack's "The Carnage Returns" show will prove he always gets the last laugh.

For more details on Halloween Horror Nights 25, check out the event's official website.

Knott's Scary Farm is back this year and is also bringing back popular mazes and scare zones along with several new attractions.  In total there will be 11 mazes, 3 scare zones and 2 live shows.

One of the bigger surprises of this year's lineup is the return of the use of the Calico Mine Ride as a scare attraction, this year named My Bloody Clementine.  Riders will travel through the mine where Clementine and her father were murdered, and their ghosts are out for revenge.

Another new maze will be Paranormal Inc. - Case #13 The Haunting of Hayden Hill.  Visitors will enter a dilapidated hospital where patients were secretly tortured by staff for years.  Both the spirits of the victims and the demented staff will be on hand to hunt visitors, and Knott's promises plenty of "high flying aerial stunts and scares" in the maze.

Announced earlier, The Dead of Winter is the final new maze this year.  An evil Snow Queen has an army of Viking warriors and is out for blood, eliminating anyone who enters her frozen domain.  The maze will be the brightest the park has ever done, contrasting white, black and of course blood red.  Sounds like an interesting approach, for sure.

The park will also bring back a host of popular mazes, many with new additions, longer sections, and newly designed Skeleton Key rooms.  The park's three popular scare zones, Carnevil, Fiesta De Los Muertos and the Ghost Town streets will also be back.

Live entertainment is also a big part of Scary Farm, and The Hanging will take on the biggest news of the year once again, especially taking some fun jabs at fellow Southern California attractions.  Once again the real Elvira can only be seen at Knott's this fall, in her own show called "Elvira's Asylum," a mix of comedy, music and dance.

To read more about this year's Knott's Scary Farm, click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Carowinds Continues Transformation with New For 2016 Carolina Harbor Waterpark + More

Today Carowinds announced the epic transformation of their Boomerang Bay waterpark into the all-new, greatly expanded Carolina Harbor Waterpark, the main focus of an even larger 2016 park expansion.

Carolina Harbor Waterpark will feature an all new theme along with a host of new attractions, amenities, food offerings and more.  Pulling back to 30,000 feet for a moment, here's a look at the entire new waterpark and what it will have to offer:

© Carowinds
As you can see the transformation is pretty radical, with plenty of new fun mixed in with existing attractions.  The waterpark will also feature its own entrance for guests who want easy access to the slides and pools, and a new exit out of the parking lot by the development.  With the expansion Carolina Harbor will be the largest waterpark in the Carolinas.

© Carowinds
Starting to look at the 2016 additions, this is Blackbeard's Revenge, a six story tall water slide tower that features a total of six slides and three types of experiences.   The tower features Pirate's Plank, which uses a trap door start to plummet riders down into flatline loops, Cannonball Drop which features multiple tight curves in the dark, and Captain's Curse features exhilarating twists followed by large drops into the splash pool.

© Carowinds
Seaside Splashworks is a traditional water funhouse that features over 80 interactive elements, with different levels of play and several small water slides included.  The giant bucket on top will fill with 423 gallons of water, before tipping it down onto the crowd below.  The area will be able to handle a great amount of guests at a time, greatly improving capacity for families.

© Carowinds
A giant wave pool, the park's second full sized one, will be called the Surf Club Harbor and cover 27,000 square feet.  The pool will be capable of generating six foot waves and feature several fountains and jets at the entrance area.  An adjacent stage will allow guests to lounge about with live entertainment present.

© Carowinds
Finally, two new smaller children's areas round out the major water additions in Carolina Harbor.  Known as Myrtle Turtle Beach and Kitty Hawk Cove, the two areas will keep the small ones busy for hours.  Plenty of interactive features like water jets, giant water dropping plants and water channels will be a highlight of the areas, which when combined with Seaside Splashworks will cover an impressive 2 acres.

Carolina Harbor will also feature plenty of amenities to keep guests happy and content.  40 new cabanas, available to rent, will sprout up around the park, 1,100 new chairs and lounges will be added, a new bath house and several sand volleyball courts will be added.

© Carowinds
Food and Beverage offerings in the waterpark will also be improved, largely by the addition of the brand new Harbor House restaurant.  Seen above, the location will offer popular Carolina food such as BBQ and seafood, and have 2,400 square foot patios with plenty of seating.  An all new bar, named Schooners, will also open next year.

Carowinds has launched a very detailed website for Carolina Harbor Waterpark, available at this link.
Outside of the historic waterpark expansion, there's even more coming to the park next season.

A major new live entertainment production will debut next year, named Cirque Imagine.  The 30 minute show will premier next June and feature an "incredible showcase of strength, balance and athleticism."  A similar show has been playing at Kings Island the past few years and regularly fills all the theater's seats, a sign of it's immense popularity.

© Carowinds
Carowinds' new main entrance area will be made even better in 2016 with the addition of a full service Starbucks location.  Covering 3,000 square feet, the location will have indoor seating available for up to 100 guests - that's a pretty big space!

As if all this wasn't enough, Carowinds has even more in store for 2016.  At the end of today's presentation the park gave a tease at what they described as another "world's first attraction" that will open in 2016, and from the tease (see video from Screamscape) it seems to be themed to the popular Plants Vs. Zombies game series.  Very interesting - the park plans to reveal those details in October.