Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Detailing Fun Spot Orlando's Expansion

Fun Spot, which previously announced that they were expanding their Orlando park by 10 acres, has gone to the city planning commission (follow link for current agenda) with their formal plan. There are some interesting surprises along the way, and some great details about what's being planned.

It seems the park is planning the expansion in two phases.  The first will contain a new wooden roller coaster, additional parking, a 260 foot Sky Coaster and other rides and midways.  The second phase will include a suspended family coaster, a WindSeeker and the water park.

Here's a fantastic look at the 65 foot tall wooden roller coaster, said to be being designed by Great Coasters International.  There's two things that jump out right away - a steel structure which hearkens back to the CCI days of wooden coasters and the fact that it is an out-and-back design.

Zooming in a little, even more details are shown.  That turn after the first drop screams GCI with it's banking.  I like how the ride crosses over itself on the return run, too - while it's definitely different from GCI's usual designs, it still has their touch.

A phase two project is this family inverted roller coaster.  After staring it for a while it seemed familiar - looks to be a clone of Grona Lund's Kvasten, a Vekoma ride.  The planning document lists this coaster as only 20 feet high, but I think they might mean in meters, since Kvasten is 65 feet tall.

And then there's this, yes, a WindSeeker outside of a Cedar Fair park!  This is also a phase two ride, one of Mondial's smaller versions that stands 220 feet in height - and also features two ride carriages!  I kid, I know that's just for illustration purposes, but it looks odd.

Finally, here is the layout of the new Fun Spot park when all expansions are complete only without the water park area detailed.  That expansion was previously detailed by the park, however.

This is a pretty exciting transformation for the park!  What was once really a large entertainment area will now really be an amusement park with plenty of modern rides and attractions.  I can't wait to see the construction start - the planning board recommended approval, with city counsel as the next step.

Shambhala Climbs To The Sky

© 2012 Bloggercoaster

PortAventura's new Bolliger and Mabillard mega coaster is really starting to show it's height - all 250 feet of it - as the ride's lift is being set in place.

The new coaster totally dominates the park's other B&M coaster, Dragon Khan, which is showing off some new colors as well.  Plenty of supports for the ride's other features are already in place, such as the fun looking helix turnaround element.

Check out some beautiful recent photos of Shambhala from Bloggercoaster.

Monday, January 30, 2012

X-Flight Reaches High Point at Six Flags Great America

Another new for 2012 coaster has reached its highest point, this time X-Flight at Six Flags Great America.  The ride recently reached its 12 story apex and the park was there to document the occasion.  The new Bolliger and Mabillard Wing Coaster will suspend riders on the outside of the track, with nothing above or below them.

With the lift hill already constructed, crews loaded the apex and started hoisting it up to the top.  Immediately following X-Flight's lift hill is a 180 degree inversion followed by a plummet toward the ground.

X-Flight features a striking red track and black support color scheme, which as shown above really stands out on a crisp winter day.  You can also see the supports for the first drop/inversion combination already in place.

After plenty of heavy lifting the tallest piece was slowly loaded into place, then secured.  X-Flight features 3,000 feet of track and five inversions during its course.  Six Flags Great America has also shared some video of the occasion:

X-Flight at Six Flags Great America has a planned opening of May 2012.

All images © Six Flags Great America

Feel the Skyrush!

© Hersheypark

Major milestone time!  Hersheypark topped off Skyrush today, forever changing the park's skyline.  The 200 foot tall coaster had its crown placed this morning, and boy does the ride look inviting.

© Hersheypark

A lot of great photos of the ride have appeared online, showing off the ride's impressive first drop.  I can only imagine the airtime that will be given as the winged-trains fly down the drop.  Also take notice of how relatively low the rest of the ride's layout is - this is going to be one fast ride.  Can't wait to take a spin!

Introducing the Galveston Pleasure Pier

Landry's has let the cat out of the bag and given us plenty of new details about the Galveston Pleasure Pier, a new amusement facility that's set to open this May in Galveston, Texas.

The pier extends 1,130 feet into the Gulf and will contain a full selection of different rides when it open, set in a "first class, nostalgically themed amusement park."  The entrance to the park will be flanked with one of the chain's popular Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants and a double-decker Carousel.

From the park's announcement video we can see the rest of the rides:

Gulf Glider, a wave swinger style ride
Frog Hopper, a children's ride
Revolution, a high swinging spinning ride
Sea Dragon, swinging ship

Galaxy Wheel, a traditional Ferris wheel
Texas Tea, a family tea cup ride
Pier Pileup, bumper cars
Big Wheelin', a circular kiddie ride on trucks
Rock & Roll, a musik express style ride

Iron Shark, a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter coaster
The Cyclone, a looping fire ball ride
Sky Shooter, circular thrill ride
The Texas Flyer, a 200+ foot tall SkyFlyer
Pirate's Plunge, a log flume

We're all a little anxious to hear more about the Iron Shark, naturally.  It sounds like a custom designed Euro-Fighter, and previous articles mentioned four different inversions.  If we zoom in on the big artwork we can see a bit more.

There's still some mystery to the ride though.  Iron Shark is quoted as being 100 feet tall, which is  average for this style of ride.  We can see some loops and twists on this artwork, but there's really no way to tell if it's at all accurate.  I guess we can assume it'll be blue, though!

The Pleasure Pier will hold a capacity of almost 7,000 guests, and also offer plenty of food, merchandise and game options.  The views from the top of the Texas Flyer are going to be spectacular!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

El Toro Ranked #1 Wooden Coaster

Congratulation to Six Flags Great Adventure's El Toro for being ranked at the #1 spot in the Best Wooden Coaster Poll, an annual undertaking that the enthusiast crowd uses to vote on their favorite rides.

This year El Toro was followed by T-Express and Boulder Dash, both known for providing drastically different styles of rides, yet both quite popular.  Here's how the top ten played out:

I'm happy to see the classic Phoenix at Knoebel's rank 5th, really the only 'old' coaster to make the top of the list.  To check out the full results head over to the Poll's website - which ride do you think came in last this year?

Pleasure Pier's Big Reveal

© Galveston Please Pier

Tomorrow's the big day when all the new rides and attractions will be announced for the brand new Galveston Pleasure Pier.  The 16 rides are already going in, as seen in the above photo and others shared by the park.

We can see a Super Loop and Pirate Ship among others, but some rides are still a bit of a mystery until tomorrow's announcement.  In exciting news we now know that the Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter will be named Iron Shark and feature four inversions, also there will be a 100 foot tall Ferris wheel and an even bigger 230 foot tall swing ride named the Texas Star Flyer.

Can't wait for the full details tomorrow!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Legoland Florida Details Waterpark Expansion

© Legoland Florida

Just recently announced to have a Summer 2012 opening, the water park at Legoland Florida will help change the theme park into a destination, by offering guests the ability to explore two different parks.  While an exact opening date has not been released yet, the park is starting to show off some of the work they have planned.

It appears as though all the attractions that were a part of Cypress Gardens' water park will remain, but all will receive a LEGO theme.  Guests will enter the water park from near the Flying School junior coaster, and fine an assortment of activities awaiting them.

The LEGO wave pool will offer tame waves for families, as will the Build-A-Raft River, where guests can apply LEGO pieces to their tube to make it all their own.  The Joker Soaker will be a rethemed water play structure, and a DUPLO themed kiddie area will be added, complete with shade cover.

The parks' two slide towers, now known as Twin Chasers and Splash Out will also remain, but repainted and refurbished as well.  The park's General Manager is quick to point out that there is plenty of room for expansion, as well.

Friday, January 27, 2012

GCI's 18th Ride is a Beauty

© Great Coasters International

It's been a little while since we've checked in on the progress of Wodan, Europa Park's fantastic looking new Great Coasters wooden ride.  The ride recently had it's last major bents put into place, marking the end of the large vertical construction phase.

Seen above, and in other photos shared by GCI, The ride's turn that interacts with the park's Blue Fire coaster is looking pretty neat.  I like how it crosses over then under the ride in a matter of seconds, only to dive down into a trench right after.

You can also see how far along the station structure is, as well as some of the ride's theming elements more than well under way.  Wodan is going to be one beautiful ride when it opens, no doubt about it.

Hawaiian Falls Roanoke Announces Even More Expansion

Hawaiian Falls Roanoke is proud to be debuting the world's first Double BowlsEye water slide in 2012, a $1.55 million attraction that is sure to make headlines when it opens.

Part of an overall investment of $7.8 million in the Hawaiian Falls chain of parks for the 2012 season, the new ride is without a doubt going to be a thriller.

The ride will launch two separate two-person rafts simultaneously in opposite directions from a 60 foot tall starting point.  Both rafts plummet down a twisting enclosed slide, complete with a light show inside the tubes. 

The rafts then plunge back into daylight as they enter a giant bowl and race each other around, exiting into their own unique porthole and down to the finish line.  This new slide tower comes in addition to a previously announced addition to the same park, Cyclone Fury.  That tower complex will feature four separate slides, and cost an estimated $1.6 million.

The Double BowlsEye slide will be provided by SplashTacular, creator of of 1,000 water park attractions in their colorful history.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Verbolten Track Complete!

Busch Gardens Williamsburg recently reached the end of the line in constructing Verbolten's 2,835 feet of track when the final piece was lifted into place.  Fortunately for us the park has released a series of new press images of the coaster, containing some really amazing shots!

As is tradition, the final piece of the ride that was lifted into place was adorned with flags and an evergreen tree, for good luck.  It appears as though the final piece of track was located near the ride's station area.

While the crane was still on site the park took advantage and snapped some photos from high in the sky.  This gives us a great look at how Verbolten fits into the park's landscape.  Here we see the section of the ride immediately after the second launch, which heads up to the final drop.

Before that second launch is the "event building," which the park has still not released any full details on.  The ride launches up into it, and you can spy some additional structures that have gone up on the building's entrance and exit.  The second launch follows the building's exit, in the bottom of the photo.

As for the final drop, check out this intimidating look at it!  The coaster will pass through a thematic element and then drop directly toward the water below, just as the Big Bad Wolf did.

This gives a great idea of the beautiful view passengers will have for a few seconds before the train plunges down.  The base of the drop goes directly into a tight series of turns which lead back up to the ride's brakes and station.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg also released some footage of the ride along with an interview with Larry Giles, the park's VP of Design and Engineering.  Check it out to hear more about Verbolten's trains, as well as some unique shots inside the event building!

Wet'n Wild Orlando Heads to the Beach

Another part of yesterday's big Universal Orlando announcement was the addition of a gigantic new kid's play area to Wet'n Wild Orlando.  The new area will be perfect for both kids and kids at heart, using a beach theme to create tons of watery fun.

The structure will resemble a giant sandcastle, set among lush tropical landscaping.  Covering an acre of land, the new play area will be the largest of its kind in Florida and actually span over two separate pools of water.

Once guests enter the area and step onto the play structure they'll find over 100 soakers, jets, waterfalls, and cannons along with 17 different slides.  The slides will range in size so there is something for everyone.

The new area - which I'm expecting will receive a proper name later - will replace the current kids' area near the front of the park when it opens this Summer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Universal Orlando's "Year To Be Here"

Universal Orlando made some exciting announcements today about a slew of additions to the resort's original theme park, Universal Studios Florida, as well as a vastly improved ride experience at Islands of Adventure. Tagged as the "year to be here," the resort will be celebrating with new shows, rides, and entertainment.

Technically just outside the theme park's boundaries, the Blue Man Group show will undergo a complete overhaul creating a spectacle with new music, show environment, and technology.  The new show will open in February and will carry and overall theme of exploring the world's obsession with technology.

Inside Universal Studios Florida guests will be treated to Universal's Superstar Parade starting this Spring.

The parade will feature some of today's most recognizable characters from film and television, including the gang from Despicable Me, Hop, Dora & Diego, and SpongeBob SquarePants.  The parade will have interactive elements along with hundreds of performers.

Rounding out the additions is a new ride attraction, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.  The 3-D ride takes passengers on an adventure with the film's stars, including Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes - and of course the minions.  At the end of the journey, which will feature the voices of the film's original cast,  guests will take part in a "minion-inspired" dance party.

Another exciting addition to the park will see the central lagoon transformed into a nighttime water show titled Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories.  The show will be narrated by Morgan Freeman and take guests on a tour through some of Universal's most emotional and iconic films using "waterfall screens" in the lagoon.  Coupled with colorful fountains and pyrotechnics the experience will be a wonderful way to end the day at the park.

As if the ride wasn't already fantastic, the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure will reopen in March with all-new 4k digital high-definition animation.  Making the 3-D scenes crystal clear, the addition will make and already superb ride even better.  Additional upgrades to the ride's sets, new 3-D glasses, and updated lighting will round out the experience.

Elsewhere in the resort the Hollywood Drive-In Golf course will open, allowing families to take part in highly themed mini-golf courses in CityWalk.  A new retail store featuring all the SpongeBob merchandise you can ever want will also open in Universal Studios Florida this year.

Sounds like they really meant it when they said 2012 was the year to be here!

Scott And Carol Present A Look At Legoland Florida - Part 1

Having visited the Cypress Gardens Adventure Park on the last day of operation back in 2009, we were very interested in seeing the new look of this classic Florida attraction. The bright new look begins before you come close to the gate.

My oldest memory was standing around being bored looking at the southern belles in the heat and wishing I had an umbrella to block the sun. This is just one of the sculptures that pays homage to the past.

Everybody loves dinosaurs, and these Lego brick ones proved to be no exception. Seeking out the shade beneath the trees, these colorful beasts amused young and young at heart. A permanent cheery wave greets the guests.

Here is a rare NPN photo of Carol, who thankfully did not have camera envy of this character. That is a whimsical part of Legoland, the sense of humor the artists express in the various sculptures. Notice the girl with the Lego sets, this is just outside a store featuring many of the more popular combinations.

Another popular sculpture, almost half the children passing by had to be restrained by their adults from trying this pose. Listening to the litany of imaginative excuses for why the children "couldn't try this right now" made more than one adult passerby struggle to keep a straight face.

Heading into Lego Kingdoms, impressive dragons, knights, damsels, and other characters abound. Easily the most immersively themed section, it offers shade and a castle that is fit for a Dragon.

Roaring down the track with all his might, the reworked Okeechobee Rampage is a fine Dragon to haunt this castle. With another train and a short "dark ride" section of track added, the characters are only visible when riding the coaster. Luckily for grandparents everywhere, it is a mild family coaster enjoyable for all ages, as long they are 40" tall.

Lost Kingdom Adventure, a Sally interactive dark ride, takes guests for spin through the Egyptian countryside, where they blast away with laser blasters in search of ancient treasures from extinct empires. A highly repeatable ride, it was a cool change on a very warm November afternoon.

Intrepid Lego explorers help in the treasure hunt, complete with animation and humorous stunts. A highly repeatable experience, don't let the line tempt you to skip this ride, because it moves very quickly.

The Coastersaurus, formerly the Triple Hurricane, is themed with dinosaurs, and some of them are animated. A peppy junior wooden roller coaster, the various sculptures enhance the experience and the overriding concern coming back into the station appeared to be young voices asking "Can we ride it again?" Many of the Lego dinosaurs are life-sized and incredibly detailed. The only artistic license granted was in the colors of this thunder lizard.

This full-scale Ford Explorer is made of over 380,000 Lego brick and took over 2,500 hours to create. It sits out front of the Ford Driving School where kids 6 through 13 learn rules of the road and can actually receive their official Legoland driver's license. Hopefully, this incredibly popular attraction will reinforce the message of don't text and drive.

This view of the Coastersaurus is courtesy of the Island in the Sky, which gently raises guests 150 feet skyward and allows marvelous photo opportunities. Especially popular during the ski show, it allows for a panoramic of both Legoland park and Lake Eloise.

The Safari Trek takes you an a ride through the wilds of Africa, complete with some animated creatures that have a surprise for you. Luckily adults without children can enjoy this ride, and marvel at the skill of the Lego artists. Their patience to build all of these models is amazing.

If traveling by boat is more closely aligned with your party's interest, the Boating School allows little captains at least 34" tall a chance to try the helm of electrically powered boats. Here is where we saw the best example of the culture of Legoland. As might be expected, some riders struggled mightily to get back to the dock. The ride attendants quickly got them pointed in the right direction and cheerfully encouraged the drivers, even when the staff had to put on waders and push. An exemplary example of great customer service.

So that is Part 1 of our Legoland visit. A fun filled park with lots of opportunity to burn off energy of the age 2 (36" most rides) to 12 set, and some hidden humor for the adults to also enjoy. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming to News Plus Notes on your computer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pandemonium Site All Cleared Out for SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Rain finally made it to California this winter and seems to have washed away one of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's coasters.

The park posted a picture on their Facebook of an empty Pandemonium site. The ride, its station and part of its queue have been completely disassembled. The site should soon be getting prepped for the new SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight roller coaster, which is scheduled to open this spring.

The park will be reassembling Pandemonium's old station for use as SUPERMAN's station, though it will now be enclosed. I guess third time is the charm as the park will also be reusing Zonga's old station to act as the queue for the ride just like Pandemonium had done.