Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Talk With Cedar Fair's Matt Ouimet + Knott's Dark Ride News

The Huffington Post recently ran a great interview with Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet, just before he was going to head out on a two week 'work' trip that would take him to every one of the companies properties.

That's a road trip I wouldn't mind!

The article focuses quite a bit on Knott's Berry Farm, going over the improvements and additions that have been made since Mr. Ouimet took over.  This includes the renovation of two historic rides, along with Camp Snoopy and Ghost Town.  The hope is that in a very crowded Southern California market Knott's can become the park that in visitors eyes is "uncomplicated, affordable, familiar but still has a few surprises."

The interview also touches on the exciting (and large) expansion that is headed toward Carowinds, as well as Mr. Ouimet's views on keeping the parks individual and his leadership style.

One other thing that Mr. Ouimet is candid about is their desire to find a worthy attraction to go into the former Kingdom of the Dinosaurs building at Knott's, seen above.  He makes mention that depending on how Wonder Mountain's Guardian "works out" at Canada's Wonderland there could be "lessons that we learned" that could be applied to Knott's.  While a dark ride has been rumored to go into the building for years now, this is the first time we've seen such a strong confirmation.

Knott's Network has been publishing photos of work already underway in the building, giving more credit to the theory that the new dark ride might open next year.  Can't wait to get confirmation from the park!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers 2015 Transformation Details

Cedar Point has released some additional images and details for the Hotel Breakers 2015 renovations.  The resort worked on the outside of the hotel's buildings for the 2014 season, but will kick the renovations into high gear this winter, transforming the inside of the property as well.

Above is a brand new entrance to the hotel, giving it a much more welcoming look than it has now.  A covered porte cochere will be constructed at the entrance, along with changes to the entry road and landscaping.

The park is showing off some model rooms for the renovations as well, featuring a mix of bright colors with iconic images of Cedar Point's Ferris Wheel as headboards.  All rooms will feature new flat screen TVs, furniture, linens, beds, and carpeting - refreshing the experience 100%.

Air-conditioning will be added to all common areas, and wifi will cover the resort as well.  A new Starbucks will open inside Hotel Breakers, and a brand new lobby bar will be built.

Cedar Fair's CEO has said in the past that they see Hotel Breakers being the resort's premium hotel in the future, and these changes are certainly a step in that direction.  Looks great so far - the park promises updates as the work takes place this winter.

A First-Timer's Look at Clementon Park & Splash World

It always irks me when there's a park not too far from me that I've never visited.  For whatever reason, Clementon Park & Splash World was on that list, so I finally decided to fix that.  The park sits just below Philadelphia in Clementon, New Jersey, in an interesting location.  The park is right along a road that runs through town, sandwiched alongside Clementon Lake.  It is pretty hard to miss the park, since some water slides are maybe 15 feet from the road!

Like many parks of the Northeast, Clementon got its start way back when as a trolley park, and to be specific way back when was 1907.  That means the park is well over a hundred years old, and has seen a lot of change and adaptation over the decades to survive.  I visited the park on an extremely busy, sunny and hot Saturday afternoon, with the property absolutely filled with family reunions and other picnic events.  A big part of Clementon's business appears to come from their groves, so much so that the grove area even has a separate entrance.

Heading backward a bit in time, Clementon Park really got its name on the map in 1919 when several amusements were added - including the wooden coaster Jack Rabbit, the Mill Chute, and Noah's Arc, a fun house.  The Jack Rabbit closed in 2003, and was located in the open space seen in the lower left of the park map above.  As you can gather, the water park sits on the right, with rides and the midway on the left.  Parking is up front, and the whole property borders a small lake.

As the years rolled by, Clementon Park added new rides when it could, replacing older aging ones.  The park eventually changed hands and the new owners set out on an expansion plan that would modernize the park in the 1980s.  Splash World came online in the early 1990s, and brought the crowds back to the park in a big way.  To handle the masses, more classic rides were removed and replaced with modern flats that had big street appeal.

The most recent owner of Clementon Park is Premier Parks, LLC, which was founded by former Six Flags executives.  They purchased the park from Adrenaline Family Entertainment, which spent several years adding new attractions to the property.

Splash World was absolutely hopping when I visited, and though the skies didn't show it the day was very hot and humid.  Above is a look at the park's latest expansion, a big one that brought Big Wave Bay to Splash World.  Considering the extremely limited space the park has, it is pretty amazing that the pool even fit - several rides had to be relocated in order to make it happen.

This family play tower is named Laguna Kahuna, which like most features a giant bucket but also has a large tower that sprays water.  Another recent addition to Splash World is Torpedo Rush, two trap-door launch slides that went up in 2011.  The rest of the park features a lazy river, a mat racing slide, tube slides, family raft ride and children's play areas.  Considering the popularity of the water park, I wouldn't be surprised to see more expansion take place in that area in the future.

Turning toward the dry side of the park, Clementon is mostly one long midway with a couple small branches coming off of it.  Naturally, that midway follows the border of the lake with buildings and rides on either side of it.  The park's one roller coaster, Hellcat, frames the midway nicely in the background.

The park has a decent variety of flat rides considering its size, some of which are newer and some of which have been around for a while.  Above are four of these, the Flying Pharaoh swings, Sea Dragon, Victorian Railway, and Thunderdrop.  Clementon Park also has a Carousel, Ferris Wheel and two family rides, the Kite Flyer and Samba Tower.

Here is the Ring of Fire, which is positioned right by the entrance gates from the parking lot.  The high energy ride gets a lot of looks as people move in and out of the park - plenty of screaming coming from that one as well!

Kidzland is the park's collection of kiddie rides, which were moved under a large building many years ago.  While not the easiest on the eye, it does protect kids from the sun when they are riding and playing.  There's even a big bounce house and a large climbing structure as well.

Out over Clementon Lake, literally, is King Neptune's Revenge.  This classic log flume has a great setting, with the log's path over the lake at nearly all times.  Plenty of folks were enjoying the ride's final splash as well... cooling them down on this hot afternoon.

But how about that big wooden roller coaster we saw earlier?  It's name is Hellcat, and boy is it one.  Hellcat first opened in 2004 and was named Tsunami, but that was changed after the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean that year.  2005 saw the ride renamed as J2, which was for Jack Rabbit 2 - a confusing throwback to the park's original coaster.  After a few more operating seasons the park renamed the coaster to Hellcat, giving it a more clear and memorable moniker.

Here is Hellcat from the sky, so you can see how it fits in at the park.  The coaster surrounds the park's pavilion area, also bordering the far edge of the park's property.  The first hill stands 110 feet tall, with a 105 foot drop immediately after at a surprisingly steep 62 degrees.  The rest of the ride contains several highly banked curves, a crazy upward helix, and a few air-time hills on the journey back to the station.

Hellcat uses PTC trains, seating a total of 16 riders at a time, though I'm not sure how often they run two trains.  In fact, I don't know that I actually saw a second train when I was there!  Either way, Hellcat means business.  The first drop is steep and fast, and when you get to the bottom and zoom at 56 miles per hour you quickly know the ride isn't kidding around.

The coaster was built by S&S Worldwide, making it fairly unique.  The wooden track is supported by a steel structure, and while they started off with a bang S&S only ever built four wooden rides.  Above is Hellcat's first drop, which has trims near the top to slow things down - however - I did not feel nor hear them when I was on the ride.  I could have missed it entirely, but from hearing how aggressive this coaster is without them I think I may have experience the ride trimless. (Hellcat is extremely aggressive!)

After that first drop the trains encounter this second hill, with a pop of air at the top depending on where you sit.  Things are a bit of a blur after that, but I certainly remember this element:

I think this amounts to a 630 or so degree upward helix that the train absolutely tears through.  It also gives riders a fair amount of force as you bounce around in your seat.  The rest of the ride is a long run back toward the station with a handful of air-time hills along the way.  Some of these give better air than others, then finally there is a last hop up onto the brake run.

I did notice that the heavily banked 180 degree turn before the upward helix has a ton of fresh track on it.  You have to look through the ride's supports in the photo above, but you can see the new, lighter colored wood on the turn toward the left.  The bank is really steep, has to be nearing 90 degrees if it's not, and it needs to be to handle the train's speed.  The new wood was noticeably smoother than the rest of the run, which was appreciated mid-ride.  Bottom line on this ride, if you like rough and wild wooden coasters, Hellcat will be perfect for you.

So there you have it, a quick look at Clementon Park!  I'm intrigued to see how the latest owners plan to keep the crowds coming - focusing on the water park or perhaps putting that open space where the old Jack Rabbit was to good use?  Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Puss In Boots Coaster Announced for Universal Studios Singapore

© Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore has confirmed that they are building a new family suspended roller coaster, named Puss In Boots' Giant Journey.  The new coaster will carry on the Shrek theme found in the park's Far Far Away area, and will include Puss' friend Kitty Soft Paws.

© Universal Studios Singapore
The park released these photos of the ride under construction, but very few other details and no formal concept art for the coaster.  As far as theming goes, the press release only mentions that the ride takes place "in a giant's castle now overgrown by a magical beanstalk" and that it should be completed by the end of the year but no opening date has been announced yet.  I would take a wild guess that the track will be themed as parts of the beanstalk, going off the green color.

Earlier rumors of the coaster being created by Zamperla have yet to be confirmed, but that spiral lift hill does look very similar to the company's Volare coasters.  Hopefully more information on the coaster is released soon, perhaps some hard numbers on the ride's measurements.

© Universal Studios Singapore
Also a part of the announcement was a new stage show, The Dance For The Magic Beans.  Featuring both Puss and Kitty, the show will last for 20 minutes and open in September.  The characters will be available as a meet-and-greet after the conclusion of the show.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Six Flags Fiesta Texas - Rocky Mountain-ing Into 2015?

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Since we last saw Six Flags Fiesta Texas starting to tease about the park's 2015 addition the park has stepped it up a notch.  Just a couple days after our initial post, the park launched a giant balloon that hovers over the Rockville section of the park.  The light bulb-looking balloon is over the park's Motorama car ride, something we pondered the removal of last week, emblazoned with the park's logo on one side and "2015" on the other.  Later, the park sent out this tweet focused on the fact that the balloon is at 92.5 feet in the air.

Parks usually don't do such fun teasing for a small addition, so suddenly they have our attention even more than before.

Now an even bigger hint has appeared - the park mentioned needing a snake wrangler named MK Bozer to help with an infestation in Rockville.  Not surprisingly, there's a truck parked in Iron Rattler's queue that belongs to Mr. Bozer, and his phone number is on it.  210-697-5476.

Calling it gives you a message from the company, stating that they are too busy for new work, as they are working to keep Iron Rattler free of "nasty snakes."

Things get interesting when they mention that "some new urban renewal project in Rockville" has stirred up a bunch of snakes around Motorama.  Having just returned from the Goliath and Medusa projects at Six Flags Great America and Six Flags Mexixo, the snake wranglers now have to deal with this new challenge. 

Wait, what?  They really just named two Rocky Mountain Construction projects, and also are hinting at a new 92.5 foot ride for 2015?  Could Six Flags Fiesta Texas be the first park with not one but two Rocky Mountain creations?  Things have gotten very interesting...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Viewing: Movie Park Germany's New Lost Temple

Movie Park Germany has opened a highly themed new attraction for the busy Summer season, named The Lost Temple.

The attraction utilizes both indoor and outdoor queues to set up the journey that guests are about to go on.  Once inside the attraction building riders head down deep into the earth on a quick moving elevator, then begin to explore the underground temple.  Once the pre-show is complete riders board a large jeep and head out into the rest of the temple - and naturally all goes wrong and there are plenty of angry dinosaurs involved.

The actual ride utilizes a motion based vehicle and several giant domed screens that the action takes place on.  In concept this is similar to what Universal Studios Hollywood did with Kong, and very well done all around.

Check it out below!