Thursday, July 24, 2014

Holiday World Announces Launched Wing Coaster - Thunderbird - New For 2015

The 66 day wait is over!  Holiday World has announced Thunderbird, a brand new B&M launched wing coaster - the first of its kind in the Nation.

Thunderbird will utilize LSM technology to blast riders out of the station at a top speed of 60 miles per hour - in 3.5 seconds.  The trains will feature seating on the outside of the track, with nothing above or below riders.  The coaster will have two trains, each with five rows of cars that seat four guests (a total of 20 riders per train).

The park has decided to heavily theme the ride's station and associated buildings, an example of which can be seen here.  The park will be working with PGAV Destinations on the ride's theme - this is also the company responsible for theming several structures throughout the park in 2014.

Once Thunderbird launches trains out of the station they will enter a 140 foot tall Immelmann inversion.  If you've been watching the construction cam that the park set up, the ride will actually be launching toward the existing park, meaning the trains will be coming toward the camera.  This was something that I didn't expect, I kept thinking the coaster would head outward first, away from the camera's view.

Immediately after the Immelmann, Thunderbird sends riders through a giant vertical loop, 125 feet tall at the top.  At the exit of the loop the track passes directly over the Voyage's path, creating a neat interaction between the two coasters.

Twisting above the ground and through the trees, Thunderbird then heads into two large turns, an Overbanked Horseshoe followed by an Overbanked Elevated Spiral.  The turns move in opposite direction, the first turning to the right, and the second to the left, keeping riders slightly disoriented.

Before you're able to figure out which way is up, Thunderbird flies through a large Zero-G Roll, moving toward the back of the park into another wooded section.  The track begins to hug closer to the ground, increasing the sensation of speed.

For the ride's finale, Thunderbird soars through a dilapidated barn, completing a Carousel turn and a final 360 degree In-Line Roll.  The barn will serve as a "keyhole" element, appearing to come extremely close to riders twice.

After 3,035 feet of track, Thunderbird then hits the brakes and makes its way back toward the station.  In case we lost you during all that, here is a great look at Thunderbird's layout from Holiday World:

This fly-around video also gives a great perspective of the action to be found on Thunderbird:

Thunderbird represents a $22 million expansion, the largest in the park's history, and will open in the Spring of 2015.

Holiday World has launched an entire website dedicated to Thunderbird, with plenty of additional facts, photos, and videos.  Soar on over to check it out!

Kings Dominion Hides Possible 2015 Logo in Plain View

Kings Dominion quietly changed out their scrolling images on the park's website, with one (seen above) advertising Water Works added to the mix.  If you glance at it you might not really notice anything strange, but if you focus in on the Water Works logo you'll see something odd.

When you look closely you'll notice that the general Soak City logo that Cedar Fair uses is hiding behind the current Water Works logo.  Here's a closer comparison of the image with Cedar Point's Soak City Logo:

It would certainly appear that Kings Dominion is hinting at the rebranding of their water park into Soak City for 2015.  This also matches up nicely with persistent rumors that the water park would be the focus of next year's capital additions, along with possible site markings already taking place on property.

We've seen Cedar Fair rename and rebrand water parks into Soak City in the past, specifically at Valleyfair and Kings Island.  Stay tuned to find out what the park has planned!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Scooby-Doo Heading Out of Six Flags St. Louis

Six Flags St. Louis has posted a sign out front of their Scooby-Doo Ghostblasters interactive dark ride announcing that it will close for good on September 14, 2014.  The sign mentions that the ride will be closing for "future improvements," the details of which are still a secret.

Six Flags St. Louis has had a dark ride in the building in question since the park's opening in 1971.  The ride actually uses boats that travel though a shallow river to move guests throughout the many scenes of the ride.  The theme of the dark ride has changed many times through the decades, ranging from the Time Tunnel to Legends of the Dark Castle, ending in Castaway Kids before having Scooby's gang take over in 2002.

Several Scooby-Doo interactive dark rides were built at both Six Flags and Paramount Parks, and Six Flags St. Louis' ranked as one of the longer versions due to its ride system and large show building.  The rides, including this one, were created by Sally Corp., which also put the above video out for the world to see.  Now it will serve as a nice look back at a ride of the park's history.

As for what the future holds for the ride building, there are already rumors that a Justice League theme could replace Scooby.  Sally Corp. created a wonderful looking Justice League ride at Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia, an attraction many have hoped would come to North America soon.  Hard to tell now if this rumor has truth to it, or is just high on the wish list of park fans.  We will find out for sure at the end of August when Six Flags announces all 2015 rides!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Silver Dollar City Closing Attraction + 2015 Announcement Date

© Silver Dollar City
Branson's Silver Dollar City has announced that the park's "world's largest tree house," Geyser Gulch, will closed for good on August 3rd.

Geyser Gulch is a massive "interactive children's playground in the sky," originally costing the park $3 million to build.  There were several main towers, each multiple stories, where kids could shoot foam balls and water blasters at moving targets and find plenty of slides, sirens and other interactive features.  The giant geyser located by the structures would occasionally erupt and shoot water 40 feet into the sky over Lake Silver.

The entire area was themed around that geyser, which was said to have "blown a town into the sky" scattering the houses in the trees.  The addition was able to handle as many as 1,000 kids at a time.

Silver Dollar City has already set an announcement date for what will be replacing Geyser Gulch, August 13th.  You can check out their page for the pre-announcement and sign up for updates and possibly win season passes.  The park is touting a "5-Alarm Announcement," with fire fighter theming throughout the page - looks like the new development will share that theme with sister park Dollywood's recently opened FireChaser Express.

But that's not to say we're looking at a new roller coaster at Silver Dollar City, the common thought is that 2015's addition will be a new firefighter themed area.  Aimed at the whole family, a selection of rides is expected to go up in a new space behind Geyser Gulch, including the S&S Double Shot from the closed Celebration City theme park.

Until the official reveal, you can read plenty of speculation and see some recent construction photos in this thread over at SDCFans.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dropping In On Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure

From the moment it was announced last August that Six Flags Great Adventure would be adding the world's tallest freefall, I was beyond excited to take a ride.  After being on a wide variety of rides, I've found that few still give me a sense of fear like freefalls do.  And, I find that fear to be fun, so it is only natural that the world's tallest freefall would be right up my alley!

Fast forward to now, and after a long winter Zumanjaro is now open and accepting those brave enough to withstand its terrors.  The wait was over and I've finally had my shot at the drop!

Those familiar with Six Flags Great Adventure will recognize the entrance to the Golden Kingdom, a massive themed area that was added to the park in 2005.  The focus of the expansion was on Kingda Ka, still the world's tallest roller coaster at 456 feet - which in a sense is also the focus of this year's new thrill.

As you pass deeper into the jungle-like setting of the Golden Kingdom, you arrive at Kingda Ka's entrance and immediately notice that things look different.  Above is the newly expanded plaza, with the entrance to Kingda Ka on the left and Zumanjaro on the right.  The retirement of Rolling Thunder, the park's former wooden roller coaster, allowed for the new space.  Previously it ran along side of and bisected the Golden Kingdom, and part of the coaster's tracks were where Zumanjaro's entrance now is.

Zumanjaro, created by Intamin, features an impressive entrance gate, fitting the theme of the area.  The park created the name, which features an "African influence" to fit in with its location - and also after last year's massive Safari Off Road Adventure addition.  Once riders are checked for height (they only need to be 48 inches to take the plunge) the journey through Zumanjaro's queue begins.

Why is it a journey?  Well, because Zumanjaro's queue is long - really long - but that's not to say I'm complaining!  It makes sense that it would be a great distance to get under Kingda Ka's main tower from the theme park, so this was expected.  The park has created a very peaceful path, with existing woods on the left, new plantings all around, and plenty to look at on the right.

Yes, I must make a quick diversion from Zumanjaro to point out the spectacular new vantage points of El Toro that are available from the queue.  You can get up close and personal with El Toro's intimidating first drop along with the finale of the coaster - which used to take place in Rolling Thunder's 'in-field' but is now exposed.

But back to Zumanjaro - the queue also gives some seriously pretty views of the tower as well.  Zumanjaro's three drop towers reach a height of 415 feet, besting the previous record holder Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom's 400 feet at Six Flags Magic Mountain.  You can hear the screams of riders on both Zumanjaro and Kingda Ka while in line, though trees do obscure them on parts of the path.  When you do get closer the area opens up and there's plenty to look at...

Like this.  You end up standing just to the right of Kingda Ka's tower, staring up at the rides and wondering if you're making a wise choice.  But onward you'll go, entering a large covered section of the line.  From here on out the view of the tower disappears, which makes things a bit easier on your nerves.  The park has created a single rider line as well, to help fill every possible seats when the ride dispatches.

The covered station for Zumanjaro features retractable roofs that come down and cover the gondolas while in the load position.  Kingda Ka launches two trains while the Zumanjaro cars are loaded and checked, and then the three gondolas are sent up the tower.

As far as the ride seats go, they are very comfortable and unobtrusive, with over the shoulder restraints that do not block the rider's views.  Oh, and they're snug, too, something that you want to feel as the ride slowly starts lifting you up!

After dispatch is called, the cars start the 30 section lift up to the top.  They rise slowly at first, but after a bit they speed up dramatically.  You keep climbing, watching the ground get smaller and smaller and assuming you're near the top.  But you just keep lifting, higher and higher until you're finally 415 feet above the ground.

The views are astounding, and while you only have a handful of seconds at the top it's a feast for your eyes.  On a clear day you can see the skyscrapers of Philadelphia - located 52 miles to the South of the park!

Before you know it you hear the catch cars release your gondola and the plummet begins.  How to put the feeling of the fall on Zumanjaro?  Exhilarating?  Intense?  A rush?  All those and then some!  The memory that stands out most to me is that mid-fall I realized we were still going, falling further and faster.   This is where Zumanjaro's height comes into play, it allows for such an extended period of freefall when compared to most drop rides.  The cars drop down in a matter of seconds (around 4 until the brakes start) at speeds of 90 miles per hour.  Once you get over the shock of falling it's an amazing feeling and one you'll want to repeat.

For fun I took a photo of this car before and after the drop, to see the change in riders' faces - you'll have to click for the larger version to see what I mean.  The top photo was taken as the gondola slowly was heading up the tower.  There's plenty of cool faces, just looking around taking it all in.  After the drop things are radically different - but in a good way!  The looks of excitement are everywhere - and even the serious looking man on the far right has a big grin on his face.

Here's a short video I took of Zumanjaro in action:

The sky wasn't trying to look very nice when I shot the video, so my apologies for that.  I think the screaming riders, falling cars, and immense height of Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom might make up for it!

Provided by Six Flags Great Adventure
Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom is the kind of ride that will stand the test of time.  There's something about falling toward the ground from 415 feet that never gets old - the drop will get you every time!  Make sure to drop by Six Flags Great Adventure and take the plunge!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Teasing 2015 Attraction

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
This photo was tweeted by Six Flags Fiesta Texas, showing off a building in the park's Rockville section that is for sale.  The park had also previously tweeted this photo, showing the building from a wider angle:

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
If you call the number on on the sign in the window you get a recorded message from Rockville Realty, who is listing the property.  They talk of spicing up your life by owning your own business, a "thrilling challenge" that is a part of the "Rockville renovations and renewal projects."  They also mention that that you could be a "part of history in the making," suggesting we "stay tuned for additional information."

So what does the park have up its sleeve?  Not sure at this point, but if you look at an aerial of the park where the building in question is located there is a potentially nice sized area behind it where a ride could go.  The park's antique car ride is back there, which could be moved, removed, or just built over if you really wanted.  Then again, this is all assuming the storefront would be used as an entrance or something along those lines.

The other side of the street has more buildings, and behind them is more undeveloped land mixed among Superman's track.

Oh, and the number is (210) 697-5478 if you want to check it out!