Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Kennywood 1985

Don't be fooled--The photos you are about to see really aren't stills from Adventureland! This is what Kennywood really looked like in the '80s.

Can anybody guess what Kennywood's newest attraction was back in 1985? Alright, they made that one too easy. But in case your brain has already shut itself off in anticipation of the upcoming three-day weekend (for those of you in the States, anyway), they're going to spell it out for you...

Raging Rapids, Kennywood's rendition of the Intamin rapids ride, burst onto the Pittsburgh scene this year. It's a good thing too, because summers can be downright sweltering in Pennsylvania. Want proof? I rode Raging Rapids with a friend on one of those 100-or-so-degree days just a few short years ago, and we were both bone dry in less than two hours!

It always struck me as funny that Kennywood used to count Log Jammer as a roller coaster. They weren't shy about marketing it that way, either. When I pulled out this brochure, I found a small write-up about the park that I had stapled to it all those years ago (which I believe came from a AAA guide book). It proclaimed that Kennywood had four roller coasters and a "water coaster". Had we been living in the age of the internet back then, imagine the controversies this claim would have spawned amongst enthusiasts!

Oh yeah, and in addition to those FIVE roller coasters, the park had some other attractions too. It's unfortunate that these photos are so small, because there are quite a few classics to be seen here. Not all of these rides have survived to the present day, but the return of the Bayern Kurve in 2009 reminds us that with Kennywood, there is always hope! This park's appreciation and preservation of classic rides is virtually unparalleled in the industry today, and that's even more refreshing than a rapids ride in my book.

Looking at this map is bringing back painful memories of the horrible traffic Mike and I encountered getting into and out of Kennywood last summer. The never-ending construction in this state rivals the oppressive heat!! Too bad there's not a ride capable of fixing THAT problem. [cue foreshadowing of future post] If only I had a Sky Rocket...

But No Banana Breath?

Universal Studios Hollywood will officially unveil King Kong 360 3-D to visitors of the theme park starting tomorrow, July 1st. The park just had a big media event for the attraction, which is part of the park's existing Studio Tour.

So what's the attraction all about? Well, it's dark in there, also quite loud and there's of course King Kong. He also has a nasty battle with a dinosaur or two, and I believe your tram car goes along for the battle.

If you want to check out some video of the ride, click here. The attraction is (obviously) presented in 3-D so the picture isn't perfect, but you'll certainly get the idea.

New Amusement Park Apps

As if I don't already spend enough time playing on my iPhone, more and more parks continue to release free apps for us to enjoy.

In the past few weeks I've seen four new ones: Holiday World, Darien Lake, Elitch Gardens, and Hershey Park. All four of them were free to download, and provide lots of information about their respective parks.

There's all sorts of neat details in them, too, for instance Hershey Park has great statistics about all the rides and attractions. They even have the manufacturer listed for non-coaster rides: the park's Monorail has two trains, each with 6 cars, rages from 12 to 35 feet above the ground, travels at 12 mph, opened in 1969 and was built by Universal Mobility! How's that for detailed information.

Similar fun can be had with each of the park's apps, I highly suggest them for any iPhone user.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shoot Those Rapids!

If you can't visit the Point this year (like me) then take a virtual ride on Shoot the Rapids via the park's new HD video on You Tube. I'll have to admit that the traditional era of Log Flumes seems to be over, but this looks like the next best thing.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Aerial Antics: Kemah Boardwalk

Today's Aerial Antics is a tiny one, but that's what happens when you can fit a park into one shot. The aptly named Kemah Boardwalk is located in Kemah, Texas, and in its short life has already survived a major hurricane. The Boardwalk is a combination of small family amusement park and shopping district, all with a nice selection of restaurants as well.

The park even has an Inverter, the subject of yesterday's Amusing Ads Archive! There's also an observation tower, free fall, carousel, wipeout, a handful of kiddie rides, among others. The park really went all out in 2007 when it opened the Boardwalk Bullet.

The 96 foot wooden roller coaster is about as twisted as they come - it even advertises that it has more cross overs than any other wooden ride, 42 in total. It was designed by The Gravity Group and is said to give a really intense ride.

For Bing's aerials, click here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Amusing Ads Archive - Chance Inverter 1999

The Inverter was another of Chance Rides' flashy creations that was sold to a lot of parks, starting around 1998/1999. I think they were also especially popular with the fair circuit, though some large theme parks had them as well.

The single arm version was most popular, as it took rides up 50 ft. in the air while the gondola rotated counter clockwise to the main arm. Only a handful of the double arm versions were sold, and it was usually highly uncommon to see both sides operating at the same time.

The ride is no longer listed on Chance' website, and I believe it was discontinued quite some time ago. The actual ride the Inverter gave wasn't quite as appealing as it looked from the ground, it seemed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Feel The Spirit. Feel The Speed.

Busch Gardens Tampa has launched a new website - - to begin the teaser campaign for next season's big attraction.

The website has several videos on it, but none of them give away much at all. Tall grass, views of what looks like Africa, etc. The videos are titled Power, Agility, Speed, Spirit, Chase, Accelerate, and Agility. I think those words alone are hints enough, considering the plans for the ride that have already been leaked, and the trademarks the company has recently obtained.

Still, it's fun to follow the park's hints and I'm looking forward to seeing the next batch!

Weekly Rewind 6.26.10

Cedar Point has announced that as of today, Shoot the Rapids will be open to the public. The ride was delayed due to problems with the boats, but those have been taken care of. It looks like the minimum height for the ride has been raised to 46 inches with a responsible rider, or 48 inches to ride alone - which is probably disappointing for families with smaller kids.

The Disney Park Blog revealed a new video of testing going on for Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure. I love the smile on the front of the cars! Check it out here.

Kings Dominion has changed the restraints on Intimidator 305 to the softer straps that we've seen on a few Intamin rides before. Reports are that the change is being well received, and that there is no head banging to speak of now on those wicked, high speed transitions.

SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa are ready to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way. Busch Gardens will have a fireworks display on the 3rd and 4th after the park's showing of Kinetix, a high energy rock show. SeaWorld will make the celebration a part of their existing AfterDark event, which includes fireworks every night.

I still think that Glow Fest at California Adventure seems weird, but it continually gets positive reviews, like this one from the Funland Blog. I know better than to judge a book by its cover, and I guess that's what I did anyway with this one. It just looks so tacky during the daytime!

Here is a weird press release from Cedar Fair. They've promoted Lee Ann Alexakos but I'm not sure if her titled changed at all, which was Corporate VP of Marketing and Advertising. The release says she'll now report directly to Dick. Obviously they're not replacing Jack Falfas' COO position. But what's the point of a release telling us who a person reports to?!

For those of us who can't make it to the World Expo in Shanghai, the U.S. Pavilion has launched a fun virtual tour of the Pavilion. You can get a good idea of the offerings that are being presented there. Start your own tour here.

The American Coaster Enthusiasts announced during their visit to Conneaut Lake Park that they were doubling the $5,000 they pledged to restore the Blue Streak, making their total gift $10,000. The park still needs much more than that, but it's a big boost. Leonard Adams, known for the building of Twister at Knoebels, has been hired to perform the restoration of the ride.

Holiday World and Splashin' Safari has announced a new President, Dan Koch. The brother to the late Will Koch, Dan will takeover the responsibilities of running the theme and water park. This will give Will's three children time to finish their educations and decide their own future with the involvement of the park.

Well at least we've got the confirmation that Chang is not going to Six Flags Great America. The park's General Manager was quoted as saying those plans have been cancelled, and the coaster will not be coming to the park. Now we just need another park to confirm that it's being added there and the story is complete!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Bisch Rocco Flying Scooters

Bisch Rocco Flying Scooters have been around for over three quarters of a century, not bad for ride with such a simple concept. While the ride rotates in a circle, riders are able to fly controlling their own scooter tub, with the tubs movable front sail. The scooters were available in either eight or ten tub models, with the tubs, suspended from an overhead support structure by a cable system.

The Flying Scooter has its roots in other amusement rides of the early 1900s including Harry Traver's Circle Swing. Traver's swing involved a similar rotating flight experience, but without the interactivity of Bisch's creation.

Alvin Bisch created the Flying Scooter in the early 1930s, with early prototypes built as airplane pilot training devices. The first scooter model to bear a resemblance to today's tubs was patented in 1939. The original application date was July 21, 1934.

It wasn't long before Bisch and his business partner Ralph Rocco had a huge success on their hands. Dozens of models, eight and ten tub , portable and fixed, began popping up throughout the mid-west. As this 1940s ad touts, the scooters became more popular and more profitable. Rumor has it surplus parts from WWII were used on new and existing installations. It is believed Bisch Rocco Flying Scooters were built through the 1950s.

Coney Island in Cincinnati Ohio had an early set of Bisch Rocco scooters, which were moved to Kings Island when the park opened in 1972. The Flying Eagles were extremely popular and ran at the park until 2oo4, They are still operating today at Carowinds. The Flying Eagles even launched a club of sorts, Flyer Addicts Anonymous.

Unfortunately, much of the history of the Bisch-Rocco Amusement Company has been lost, but the Flyer Addicts are working to piece together that history. Our thanks to the Flyer Addicts Anonymous for all the information. If you are interested in scooters or have any historical items or info you would like to share, check out the Addicts web site.

A Spin on Sky Rocket

NewsPlusNotes is set to have plenty of Sky Rocket coverage coming soon courtesy of Scott & Carol - but I had to post a link to the park's official POV of the ride. What fun!

Talk About Prime Real Estate

Walt Disney World has announced a new residential development, named Golden Oak Residential Resort Community. The new area will be located in the middle of Walt Disney World, somewhat in between the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. The first phase of the development will contain only 30 homes, and the prices for them will range between $1.5 and $8 million.

So I'll never live there! The development comes with all sorts of perks - it will have a golf course, club house, private lake, and VIP transportation and access to the theme parks. The 980 acre Golden Oak will also be home to a Four Seasons Resort as well in the future.

The homes that will be built will all be of a predetermined style, depending on your neighborhood. They are all custom built, but their appearance will fit within certain guidelines. It's like a very private, very rich version of Disney's Celebration.

If you want to read more, or slap down $25k to reserve your plot, check out the Golden Oak website.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Holiday World 2006

When I first saw the news about the untimely passing of Holiday World's Will Koch, I was absolutely floored. As a matter of fact, I'm still having a hard time believing it. While I never had the pleasure of meeting Will, I doubt that anyone who follows the industry does not feel some kind of connection with this man. 'Tis the Holiday World way to make all of its past, present, and potential future visitors feel like family, and Will certainly excelled at that. This week I decided to honor his legacy in my own small way by selecting a brochure that showcases one of the defining moments of his career at Holiday World: the debut of The Voyage.

Did you know that Will Koch is formally considered to be one of The Voyage's designers? Sure, he didn't engineer it. That task fell into the very capable hands of the gentlemen at The Gravity Group. But it was Will's vision that drove the project from conception until completion. No Will = no Voyage. Perish the thought!!

No one can accuse Holiday World of not supporting local businesses! Their brochures could double as lodging guides. International Applause Award-winning parks tend to attract more than just local visitors, and they're going to need somewhere to sleep.

Holiday World's new mega-woodie would open as the anchor ride for an entirely new themed area: Thanksgiving. I'll tell you right now that I was giving thanks for a LONG time after I finally had a chance to ride this coaster in 2008! Just a few of The Voyage's impressive stats are mentioned here, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Will played a critical role in selecting many of them.

But The Voyage did not stand alone. Gobbler Getaway, an interactive dark ride, also opened with this section of the park in 2006. That's one heck of a 60th anniversary celebration!

...And it ain't over yet. Splashin' Safari got its share of the anniversary pie in the form of Bahari River, billed as "an adventure river ride".

As I'm sure you've noticed, this spread is littered with Golden Ticket Awards. Holiday World just can't seem to stop winning them, so why not flaunt them? Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the park already laid claim to the #5 (Raven) and #7 (Legend) ranked wooden coasters in the world when they unveiled The Voyage. It's truly a rarity to find that many great wooden coasters in a single park. Couple that with fantastic theming, a highly regarded water park, and the friendly, personalized service of the Koch family and you've got yourself a must-visit attraction.

If there were a Golden Ticket Award for most colorful driving map in a brochure, Holiday World would win that one every year as well. Perhaps one for most detailed visitor information, too.

Although Holiday World has suffered a tremendous loss this month, I have no doubt that it will persevere and continue to deliver the same superior guest experience that first put it on the map. Will's presence and influence will be sorely missed, but The Voyage's legions of loyal fans (myself included) will continue to silently thank him for many, many years to come.

More Flags, More Fun at Six Flags America Part 2

This is the second part of our look at Six Flags America. If you missed Part 1, start here!

The Gotham City section of Six Flags America features some of the park's biggest and baddest roller coasters. From atop the Sodor Carnival Ferris Wheel I got this shot of two of those rides:

Through the supports of the massive Superman: Ride of Steel you can see Batwing off in the distance.

Batwing is a flying coaster, where riders begin in a sitting position and then are reclined so they are on their backs. At the top of the lift the train flips over and then you really are in a flying position. The ride is intense, and features several inversions.

Superman stands almost 200 ft. tall and has a first drop, seen above, of 205 ft. The drop is steep, and provides wonderful air-time all the way down. From there the ride takes you on a high speed, super smooth ride through more air time hills, along with plenty of twists and turns.

I've been on the ride's sister at Darien Lake, so I did know what to expect before climbing aboard. I had great memories of the Darien version, and Superman at Six Flags America held up to those memories with ease.

Gotham City also has a launched roller coaster, named Joker's Jinx. The ride launches the train directly out of the station at 60 m.p.h. and up into the twisted 'spaghetti bowl' seen above. Some years ago the ride's restraints were changed to simple lap bars, making the ride considerably more enjoyable and comfortable. There's nothing quite like watching the guests' faces in the station when that train launches!

I was quite bummed that Skull Mountain, located in the park's Skull Island section, was closed the day I visited. The unique water flume ride takes guests on a journey through dark tunnels and features a large drop through the Skull seen above. I'll have to experience it on a future visit!

Skull Island also features Roar, a wooden roller coaster. This ride is seriously twisted! Its track crosses over itself many times throughout the ride, making it hard to know what's coming next. There's also a neat section that's like a tunnel, but with open sides. It makes the speed of the ride seem even faster than it already is.

In addition to the brand new Thomas Town, the park also has the Looney-Tunes Movie Town area for the small ones. It's filled with smaller attractions that kids will love, all themed to the Looney-Tunes gang.

If free falling toward the ground is your type of thing, the park has the perfect attraction for you - the Tower of Doom. You sit in an open air car, feet dangling below you, and are slowly taken up to the top. From there you know what happens - whoosh and down you go!

The Wild One is the most historic coaster at the park, and also one of the few wooden rides to ever to have moved locations. The ride originally operated at Paragon Park in Massachusetts. When that park closed, Wild World, as it was known then, moved the entire ride to Maryland.

The ride's been operating here ever since, and remains one of the most popular coasters at the park. It's been reprofiled a bit over the years, but is still giving a great ride. I certainly enjoyed it.

There's plenty more to see at Six Flags America, but that's all the room we have for photos here. If you want to check out the entire gallery of shots I took while there, check out the NewsPlusNotes Facebook page.

And, if you want to plan your own trip to Six Flags America start with their official website - a wealth of information.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Check Out Rejected Amusements

Here's some love from one blog to another - I really like Rejected Amusements, and I think you might, too. The blog covers many amusement park rides and attractions that, for various reasons, either never came to be, or existed for a short time. There's a lot more than you think, especially going back through the decades. As someone who loves to have information on one subject in one organized place, (see: this blog) it's pretty great.

Be sure to click on the "Upcoming" section to see what they've got planned for coverage - you just might be able to help out!

Robbie Knievel at Wild Adventures' All American Weekend

Wild Adventures theme park, Valdosta, GA, has announced that the famous Kaptain Robbie Knievel will attempt a one of a kind motorcycle leap over the park's lake, which will be filled with nearly one million dollars worth of Regal luxury boats. The jump will take place on July 3rd.

More than 30 barges and 10 boats will be used to create the jump ramp, a first of a kind for Mr. Knievel. The jump will start over water and end over water, another first for the dare devil. To date, Robbie has successfully completed more than 250 jumps, and obtained some 20 world records.

The park will also celebrate the 4th of July weekend with fireworks displays on both nights. Head to the park's official website to find out more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Six Flags On The Move. Literally.

First some factual news - Six Flags has announced, err, well filed an 8k with the SEC detailing their plan to formally relocate their headquarters from New York City to Dallas, Texas. The company has long had offices in Dallas, but now that will be the one and only.

They've also cleaned house a bit, naming at least three Vice Presidents that have been let go. Between the reduction in staff and the condensing of the headquarters they will save around $16 million a year.

Now as for the rumor news...

I don't usually post the latest big industry rumors, but this one sounds like it might have some guts. Suddenly the news that Six Flags Great Adventure's Great American Scream Machine is being removed for the ride formerly known as Chang is spreading these interwebs like wildfire.

Why do I think it might be true? Well, for starters most of the Six Flags 50th anniversary projects were Mark Shapiro's decision, and sadly he's gone from the company. New management means new plans. Next, Chang at Six Flags Great America never made a stitch of sense to me. They already have a stand-up coaster! Also, I believe the next round of approvals that Great America had planned for the ride have been suddenly canceled. And as much as Great American Scream Machine is visually impressive and historically significant to the park, well, it hasn't aged gracefully.

The ride is rumored to close on July 1st so I guess if this one holds any water we won't have to wait long to find out.

Aerial Antics: Parque de Atracciones Madrid

Parque de Atracciones is located in Madrid, Spain, and is a member of the Parques Reunidos family - meaning it has a lot of siblings these days!

The attraction got it start in the late 1960s, and slowly developed into a major theme park. A lot of the expansion it has seen has come in recent times and at the hands of Parques Reunidos. It's now a full fledged theme park, consisting of 5 separate areas and filled with rides and attractions.

The park has crammed most of it's roller coasters into once section of the park. At the bottom of the above image is Abismo. This is an extended version of Maurer Sohne's Sky Loop coaster - after completing the lift and inversion, there's a huge banked turn, airtime hill, and overbank before the brakes.

On the left side of the photo you can see the park's Intamin drop tower who's name translates into The Shuttle, but that's probably not right.

This is Tornado, an Intamin designed inverted roller coaster. It is obviously green in the above photo, but has since been painted all black. Intamin hasn't been contracted to do many 'regular' inverted rides, so this one is pretty unique.

This guy was in the first photo but I ignored him on purpose until now - this is Tarantula, a spinning coaster also from Maurer Sohne. It's got a unique layout and actually sits on top of a dark ride where you shoot at giant, you guessed it, Tarantulas. I hate spiders!

The park is full of other flat rides and attractions as well. Among those is the above river rapids ride, Los Rapidos. The park even boasts a serious copy of Disneyland's Jungle Cruise, named La Jungla. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

I included this photo because it intrigued the heck out of me, and also because it's no longer at the park. The slow boat ride you can see took guests past many mythical creatures as it went around a giant tree. The tree was originally an observation tower themed as a crashed and disguised UFO. The park had to close the tower in 1978 due to the lack of proper emergency exit systems but it remained until just this year. I'm not sure if it's open yet, but a Star Flyer ride will replace both attractions.

Click here for the aerials of Parque de Atracciones.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Rewind 6.20.10

In honor of the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this Weekly Rewind will feature some of the better press photos the park has released. Plus, check out some cool 360 degree images here!

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is going to be re-listed on the NYSE starting tomorrow, the 21st. With bankruptcy behind them, the company is once again looking toward future growth - and hoping investors want to go along for the ride.

Now that it's pretty stinkin' hot out side, we're already dreaming of cooler fall temperatures... at least I am! Universal Studios Hollywood is already getting in the mood - sending out the first press info about this year's Halloween Horror Nights. The 2010 event will have more scare attractions and be open for more nights than ever before.

Can you believe that Manta at Sea World Orlando is already celebrating it's first birthday? It seems like only yesterday that Scott & Carol were publishing their great story on the brand new ride! The park has created a video of cool facts about the ride in order to celebrate the occasion. My, my how times flies.

Kennywood is planning on opening Sky Rocket this Friday, the 25th, and they are having a first rider auction to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. If you're interested in bidding, then head here. Update: the auction has been moved to June 29th or 30th!

Helping to cement the rumor that Busch Garden's Tampa's new coaster will sport a Cheetah theme, BGT has posted an image from a marketing survey (in Spanish) that you might want to check out. Looks like that "Cheetaka" trademark might be the coaster's name after all.

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom's Sky Coaster is no longer standing at the park. It seems the ride was leased from a vendor, who has now asked to have it back since the park is closed. The other rides are still awaiting their fate.

Morey's next big coaster - a wooden one that's been planned for years now - is getting closer to becoming a reality. Many approvals have already been obtained for the ride, with more to come. The coaster will span two different piers, making it a rather large and twisted ride.

Knoebel's Phoenix turns 25 this year, another major milestone for any coaster. The park had a celebration for the ride and put some photos from it on their Facebook. I love when parks celebrate coaster birthdays.

This is pretty neat - real time attendance data from the World Expo in Shanghai. As of me writing this the Expo has had over 16.5 million visitors! That's just incredible. They're doing around 400k visitors a day now.

I totally missed this one last week, but Captain EO made it's return to Disneyland Paris on the 12th and excited fans lined up early to see the attraction. Early July will see the return of the attraction to Epcot and Tokyo Disneyland.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Demon Drop at Dorney Park 6.19.10 Update

With major work winding down on Demon Drop, Dorney has reopened the walkway next to the ride that includes Thunder Creek Speedway and the Swan Boats. That means we get a nice up close look at Demon Drop.

Here's the ride's station from the midway side of things. First thought was wow, that's a lot of teal! Then again, everything is still almost exactly the same as it was at Cedar Point, so I guess it fits in that sense.

This photo is to give a view of how close the ride is to the fountain and fish pond that's down there. The tall trees still make the area a nice retreat from the sun, but the fact that the walkway is now a dead end is a bummer.

Also take note of the Demon Drop car on the track. This leads me to believe they've tested it in order for it to be there. But I could be wrong. I know today there were lots of guys in the station and a couple working at the top of the tower.

The entrance area. They have almost everything completed over here, just needs a ride sign, some landscaping and we're set. Even the post for the ride restrictions sign is in.

For those of you who rode Demon Drop at Cedar Point, this should look eerily familiar.

One last look at Demon Drop sitting on the midway. Hopefully she opens soon!