Friday, July 22, 2016

Play Along with Carowinds as they Tease the Park's 2017 Expansion

Another expansion teaser campaign kicked off this week, this time around we have a fairly elaborate story coming out of Carowinds that will lead to their 2017 announcement on August 18th.  The theme park is acknowledging that some news leaked earlier in the year about some classic flat rides that were said to be headed to the park, but poses the question as to whether the news was 100% accurate and if there's more to the story.

For the teaser campaign the park has focused in on their Mayor, Earnest Lee Higginbotham, and his quest to be elected into office again for another 4 year term.  The Mayor has nabbed the help of his 3 friends to create a news hotline that you can call and hear about their plans.  The Higginbotham Hotline number (seen in the image above) lets you hear the Mayor's side of things, but his friends also offer their thoughts and "subtle clues" are embedded in all four recordings.

The park is urging fans to spread the word on social media using #VoteFourMore up until the announcement.  More clues will come with new recordings on the phone line, and guests of the park can unlock hints while on property via the park's app.

I've noticed that the number 4 is used quite a bit in all this, four more years in office, a total of four people doing recordings, and even the hashtag could have a double meaning of four more rides... perhaps.  Could just be a distraction - either way call the line and see what clues you can pick up on!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Must-Read Interview with Cedar Fair's Rob Decker

If you're looking for some great reading about Cedar Fair, A.V. Club has a very informative question and answer interview piece published with Rob Decker, the company's Senior VP of Planning & Design.

The questions cover a ton of ground, offering insights into many aspects of the company's design process.  Everyone loves to wonder what will be new at the park next year, and this story gives a bit of a look into the process.

Take Valravn for example, Rob talks about how the park selected the center of the park to build it in and just why they did that.  As for future additions, he notes that the next three years will be "pretty serious," and while not totally clear it seems like he's speaking specifically about Cedar Point in that regard.

Other parts of the interview cover the emphasis on technology and rides, including the use of virtual reality on existing attractions.  But on the opposite hand, Rob points out that he's wondering if a back-to-the-basics approach might serve guests of modern times well.  To that end there is also plenty of talk about the efforts to obtain, refurbish and install classic flat rides that have been plucked from around the globe.

The article is definitely a must-read for any fan of Cedar Fair, or really parks in general.  Check it out at this link!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kings Island's Big 2017 Reveal to Take Place Next Week

Kings Island has spent most of the summer teasing about its 2017 capital expansion, expected to be a large new ride, and now we know that we do not have to wait much longer to hear the details.  The park will announce the new ride on July 28th at 10:00 pm, and visitors that day will be able to stay and hear the good news at the park.  The nightime announcement remindes me of what the park did for Banshee a few years back, another clue that this is a pretty substantial addition.

The above teaser for the announcement was posted on social media, keeping up with the hints that have been centered on the woods adjacent to the Rivertown area.

Kings Island's homepage features this image along with a countdown clock - only 8 days left as of this writing! - and this one takes us in a bit of a different direction, stating that "nature is taking over."  I would have guessed some sort of animal theme up until this, and honestly this one could still fit with an animal but all the roots in the photo make me there there's more to it.  I love a mystery!

Kings Island Central put this image up on Twitter, looks like the media invite that was sent out for the announcement.  This one is closer to the fallen tree clues seen earlier; a classic truck with some timber in the back of it.  The actual invite also features an obvious timber theme on its background.  The old-time looking truck does seem out of place, though, so who knows.

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Help Vote in Howl-O-Scream's "Victims' Choice" Scare Poll

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is quite excited about this year's Howl-O-Scream, and for the first time is inviting fans to help choose one of the scares in a new haunted house - Circo Sinistro.  The park is calling it the "victims' choice," and through a new website fans can vote to either have to "survive a circle of fire or walk the high wire" in the circus themed maze.  Allowing the creativity to flow, the park is actually taking suggestions for other feats to survive via the voting ballot.

Between the minds of those at the park and the fans of the haunted celebration, I can't wait to see what ends up winning the popular vote!

Circo Sinistro is a brand new haunted house for this year's Howl-O-Scream, described as "not of this world and not of this time," a twisted sounding take on a typical demented circus maze.   The park warns that while inside, "what you see, you soon will be."  Sounds like Circo Sinistro is taking on new permanent acts!

Also new this year will be a terror-tory (scare zone) called Sideshow Square.  Fitting in with the theme of the new haunted house, the area will be filled with "haunts, curiosities and plenty of scares to make you shriek."  In total, this year's Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg will offer 7 haunted houses, 5 terror-tories, and 3 live shows.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Knott's Soak City Water Expanding with New Slides in 2017

Some new documents filed with Buena Park have revealed a planned expansion for the Soak City, located next to Knott's Berry Farm, for spring 2017.  The documents reference a $5 million expansion that will see part of a current parking lot taken over by new attractions.

Above is the area of work, in the lower right, as it is now.  Pretty much a parking lot and the Pacific Spin tornado water slide.  Here is how it actually looks, courtesy of Google:

From the plans it appears as though the park will actually retire Pacific Spin, probably sending it to another water park in the chain that does not have a tornado slide (though there aren't many).  A new fusion slide looks to use the Pacific Spin tower, and beyond it will be a new six slide tower.  There will also be new cabanas and areas to relax.

Here is the fully built out area, showing the expansion to the park.  It will take up a lot of parking lot, but the theme park has purchased two lots from the city that will be redeveloped as parking spaces to make up for the loss.

This image is included in the filings of the new Constrictor Python water slide that would replace Pacific Spin.  The ride uses an extra wide slide design that incorporates tight enclosed turns with sections that are meant to have the raft bounce up and down the side, almost like the tornado slide does.  The OC Register has a story on the expansion which does not mention this addition at all, which is curious, but I don't see why it would be included on the plans if it wasn't being built.  You never know though, perhaps the finished expansion will include only some or all of these pieces.

The major slide addition is a slightly modified version of the tower that has been installed at other Cedar Fair parks, at Worlds of Fun, Dorney Park, Kings Dominion and this year Kings Island and Carowinds.  Those towers all have a constrictor (they're all made by Whitewater West) slide as part of the mix, but the Soak City version will increase the free-fall drops by one to offer four, with two traditional tube slides off the back like the others.  The change makes sense if the large constrictor fusion slide does in fact replace Pacific Spin.

Here is another view of the new slide tower, which will be set back from the park will the new cabanas and other amenities in front of it.  The bright colors will surely attract plenty of guests to the park to check out the addition.  The article linked above does mention that Soak City hasn't been updated since 2006 when Pacific Spin was added, but attendance numbers have steadily increased nonetheless.  Expect an official announcement from the park with plenty more details and the final list of additions later this summer.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Has the Tide Finally Turned for Conneaut Lake Park?

After numerous years of financial troubles that nearly closed the park for good, it seems that Conneaut Lake Park might finally be on a positive track.  Much like the park's classic wooden Blue Streak roller coaster, the park has had ups and downs over the years, but more downs in recent memory.

When the park was going through bankruptcy proceedings in 2014 a new set of trustees were put in place to operate the park, and this year they're actually at a point where they have positive cash flow.  Might sound like a basic business concept to achieve, but things were that bad for this park.

So for in 2016 overall revenue from the park's camping area, rides and attractions, food and retail are up 35% over 2015 - quite significant.  An example was given that now the park can operate for a weekend on $30,000 and bring in $50,000 in cash, where the opposite was previously true.

© Conneaut Lake Park
The park is attributing their increased profits to the overall reduced number of rides and attractions they have right now - keeping offerings smaller right now allows streamlined operations and costs.  That's not to say that they're not looking to expand, in fact this season the lazy river has reopened for the first time in many years.  The park's water slides and kiddie area will open in August as well.

The new trustees are hoping that their plan for operating the park will be approved in bankruptcy court this fall, allowing for stable future years of operations.  The park still has millions in debt to pay back, part of which will be done by selling non-essential land along the lake.

While not totally out of the woods yet, it's nice to see some good news reported about the park for a change!