Friday, June 29, 2012

A Western View - SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight

The big day has finally arrived and SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight is set to open tomorrow at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  The park held it’s grand opening event today and NewsPlusNotes was in attendance.
The ride's entrance
The event got started at about 1030am with Park President, Dale Kaetzel, and San Francisco 49ers Head Coach, Jim Harbaugh, taking the first official ride.  After they finished they came out to say a few words about the ride.  
Dale Kaetzel and Jim Harbaugh take a spin

Dale showed his enthusiasm for the new ride and referred to it as “the best roller coaster in North America.”

Later, Jim recalled his childhood visiting Cedar Point and Kings Island, but said that the new coaster exceeds anything he experienced at those parks when he was young.

Dale welcomes us to ride.
And with that, the ride was open for those attending the event to enjoy.

Superman's back story

The man we are all here for.
The ride queue utilizes the old Zonga station, which later served as a queue for Tony Hawk’s Big Spin.  The queue snakes it’s way past informational signs about Superman’s story as well as giant giant statues of villains.   The queue ends at a large statue of Superman himself before entering the station to board the car.

The ride itself is fantastic.   The launches are quick and intense, but what really surprises is the abundance of airtime, which is enough to easily overshadow any other California ride.  Cresting over the vertical incline into the barrel roll as well as dropping off the “cliffhanger drop” offers unexpected doses of ejector airtime.

Hanging upside down is frightening no matter how many times you do it.
The large barrel roll offers a huge thrill from the hang time you experience as you very slowly roll through.  And the base of the non-inverting loop gives some pretty decent positive Gs.

I think what ultimately makes the ride succeed is how incredibly smooth the ride is as it navigates the course.  The ride rarely isn’t spiraling in some crazy direction allowing the rider easily get disoriented.

Another group taking to the skies
I heard some riders call it one of the best minutes on a roller coaster and many call this the most intense coasters on the west coast while ranking highly on people’s personal top 10 lists.  All in all, it's clear the park has a real winner on their hands that deserves to be ridden by anyone who can make it to the park. 

And now, an exclusive on-ride POV from today's event featuring yours truly along side Bob from Theme Park Review.

SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight Opens to Season Pass holders tomorrow, June 30, at 6am.  The ride will open to the public later that day at 12pm.  I’d like to thank the park for a wonderful event and wish them lots of success with their fantastic new ride!

A Surprise Visit to Jenkinson's Boardwalk

My poor family must get so tired of me finding a park wherever we go, much like a heat seeking missile finds it's target with ease.  Oh well, such is the life of an amusement park blogger, no?

We arrived in sunny Point Pleasant New Jersey for a fun day at the beach.  Naturally on the way there I put two and two together and realized that Jenkinson's Boardwalk also lives there too, and they even had a coaster I haven't been on!  Oh joy!

Jenkinson's Boardwalk was started by Charles Jenkinson - surprised? - way back in 1928 when the area first opened as Jenkinson's Pavilion.  Beaches have always been popular, and it didn't take long for his list of amusements to start growing.  As the area entered into recent history more rides were added, along with large food locations, shops, a fun house, and even an aquarium.

Today the complex includes tons of attractions and games along the boardwalk, with the amusement park on one side and the beach on the other.

The ride selection is actually surprising considering the very tight space in which they are located.  Above is the Pendolo, which is the park's latest thrill ride.  I didn't get to check out the ride too closely, but it looks an awful lot like a Zamperla Midi Discovery.  The pendulum swings as it rotates, quite quickly at that, for a disorienting ride.  Beyond the Pendolo sits a traditional Wave Swinger.

Among the other rides at the park are some bumper cars, a Starship 3000, Tilt-a-Whirl, and plenty of kiddie rides.  They also have one of those wild looking Moby Dick flat rides by Wisdom, and even a Super Himalaya that goes backwards complete with a DJ keeping riders entertained.  High energy throughout the area, for sure.

There's also a large sampling of children's rides, and they even managed to fit a decent sized train ride into the mix, too!

The Fun House is located at the entrance to the amusement area, and sadly I did not get to go in an give it a try.  I know it's quite popular with visitors and takes up quite a lot of space inside that building.  I saw some people exiting the Fun House when they were blasted with air, seemed to give them one heck of a scare.  Excellent.

Roller coasters.  There's actually two of them.  This bad guy is named the Tornado, a small Zamperla powered coaster.  Not technically the same as the very popular Dragon Coasters, it is still very similar.

The park's other coaster, the larger of the two, is the Flitzer.  For the record, I have no idea what Flitzer means, and trying to look it up wasn't much help.  Still, the ride isn't very large, but that makes sense considering its portable nature.

The Flitzer was created by Zierer, and Roller Coaster Database says that there are now only 5 of them operating in a permanent location.  If you would like one that you can move around, it appears as though you can pick one up on Ital for $215,000. 

The ride features several gentle slopes and turns in the first section, followed by a curving downhill where the individual cars pick up some speed.  A couple quick helices and the cars hit the brakes - quick and to the point the Flitzer is.

The cars are neat though, you're able to sit bobsled style.  They also bump into each other in the station which is pretty fun and unusual in our hyper litigious world.  Overall, I'm quite happy to have added this ride to my list.

So there you have it, Jenkinson's Boardwalk!  If you're near Point Pleasant check it out sometime.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hawaiian Falls: The Colony Opens Whirlwind 360

© Hawaiian Falls

The 2012 Summer season marks a year in which the Hawaiian Falls chain of water parks (located in Texas) has seen unprecedented expansion.  All the parks have received a selection of new slides and rides, some of which are quite interesting.

Case in point, the Whirlwind 360 that recently opened at Hawaiian Falls: The Colony. The ride was created by Splashtacular and starts with guests climbing to the top of a 60 foot tall tower.  From there two riders at a time enter a launch capsule and hear a count down begin.

© Hawaiian Falls

In seconds the floor drops out from below riders, sending them down the pair of twisting chutes seen above.  At the end of the drop the riders fly around the bowl structure at the bottom, quickly coming to a stop in a center splash pool.

At first I was curious about how two riders would plummet at the same time - safely, that is - but after checking out this video I understand a little better.  The riders slow quickly, and enter at opposite ends of the bowl, keeping clearance between each other.

Looks like a great attraction, and quite eye catching to say the least with its imposing tower structure.  Perhaps we shall see more of these pop up?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Morey's Pier Opens Two New Water Attractions

New Jersey is filled with a wonderful assortment of seaside amusement and water parks, and Wildwood's Morey's Piers is easily one of the largest and most well known.

The Morey family has amusements spread out over three different piers, two of which contain water parks.  Those two locations, named Ocean Oasis and Raging Waters, are both the focus of the capital spent for the 2012 season.

It may seem almost silly to have a water park located literally next to the ocean, but since the beaches are destinations for hundreds of thousands of week long family vacations each year, it actually makes perfect sense.

© Morey's Piers

Raging waters has totally redeveloped the park's lazy river attraction and renamed it River Adventure.  The experience has been themed top to bottom with what appears to be plenty of woodsy, naturalistic elements.

Many sections feature elaborate rockwork along the course, and in other area large fallen trees erupt with water that cascades down on riders.  Plenty of other waterfalls and even geysers keep those floating around on their toes, so to speak.  There's even a cove in one area that allows passengers to sneak into and relax, if they choose.

© Morey's Piers

While the Adventure River is decidedly a relaxing addition to Raging Waters, the Ocean Oasis park has taken the other route and added a high action slide.

Actually, if we want to be technical they've gone and added six different mat racing slides in one tower from Proslide, known as Wipeout.  One of many such attractions that have opened at water park across the country this Summer, Wipeout puts six different riders, lying forwards on a mat, against each other as they slide down rolling hills and race for the finish.

The checkered finish line and banner add to the race excitement, and as has already been proven at other parks these high capacity slides are always a hit.

Now, Morey's, when's that huge wooden coaster that's going to span two piers going in?  I kid - we think 2012's additions help even better round out an already stellar selections of rides!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Celebrate the 4th at Legoland Florida

Legoland Florida is planning to celebrate the park's first 4th of July with quite a bang this year during the park's Red, Brick and Boom fireworks show.  Spreading the fun over four nights, July 4th through 7th, Legoland's special glasses turn "ordinary fireworks into million of exploding LEGO bricks."

The park will have extended hours each of the four nights, staying open to include the fireworks at 9 pm.  The festivities will also include backyard games on the Mansion Lawn, and guests can also build your own star to add to Legoland Florida's LEGO American Flag in the Fun Town Plaza.

In the evening there will be a dance party in Miniland USA with DJ Renee, and just prior to the fireworks visitors can check out the Battle for Brickbeard's Bounty pirate-themed pre-show in the park's ski-stadiums.

It's great to see the park continue to evolve and expand their offerings! Sounds like quite a fun 4th of July bash for families visiting the greater Orlando area.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Opening Soon: Toy Story Mania! at Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea, the second theme park that makes up the Tokyo Disney Resort, is gearing up for the official launch of Toy Story Mania! on July 9th, 2012.

The ride is already very popular in both Disney California Adventure and Disney's Hollywood Studios here in the U.S., but the Tokyo version marks the first time the ride has moved outside the States.

As the Tokyo resort has been doing for decades now, they've built a fairly amazing looking plaza for the new ride, called Toyville Trolley Park, which fits in among the American Waterfront themed section.

This screen capture gives you just a bit of an idea how the area turned out, and it is from this You Tube video that I highly suggest checking out.

For photos of the new area during the daylight check out this post on a French site.  The area's color scheme is definitely unique, and I'm sure it looks great in person.  Check out how neat the cast member's uniforms are, too!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fresh Silver Dollar City Construction Photos

If there were any doubt that Silver Dollar City's new coaster was going to have some wicked overbank turns that doubt can officially be put to rest.

Some new photos just uploaded today onto Flickr show the current state of the large turnaround being built that will take place after the immensely steep first drop.  The last ledger that has been put into place to hold the ride's track is quite upside-down, and looks rather radical.

This ride just keeps getting more and more interesting with each segment they build!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Western View - Southern California's New Big Hitters

Lately I’ve been focused on photo updates and lost sight of writing articles that are more than just captions.  Today we’re going to switch it up and I’m going to review the 2 major dark rides that recently opened in Southern California, Disney California Adventure’s Radiator Springs Racers and Universal Studios Hollywood’s Transformers: The Ride – 3D.

Radiator Springs Racers

First up is Radiator Springs Racers, which opened last Friday at Disney California Adventure (DCA). Cars Land is the final puzzle piece to the DCA billion dollar overhaul, and Radiator Springs Racers is the star attraction of the all-new land. 

Upon arrival to the park around 7:20am I noticed the usually busy Disneyland looked like a ghost town with almost no one trying to enter the park.  Across the esplanade, DCA had hundreds, if not thousands, awaiting their chance to enter.  It was very clear that Disneyland’s little brother has finally been noticed by guests to the resort.   The majority of the crowd opted to get fastpasses before waiting in line, making it easy for me to sneak into a short 15 minute wait thanks to the single rider line.

The ride begins with a slow, but breathtaking, drive along the land’s amazing rockwork and past a waterfall.  Disney uses spectacular music to emphasis the sites you see.  It’s hard not to get chills as you emerge from a small tunnel and the waterfall comes into view while the great music reaches a crescendo.
Not only does the ride have great theming, but so does that queue.
Next you head into the building getting into a few near misses with Mack, Van and Minny, and even a train.  You’re greeted by the Sherriff, who warns you to slow down, and then hands you off to Mater.  The Mater animatronics are some of the most impressive I’ve seen.   Not only is the face motion spot on, but his entire body movement as he drives looks just as it does in the films.   After some cow tipping shenanigans you find yourself in Radiator Springs where we meet most of the town folk.

Here is where Lightning and Sally separate the cars so they can race along side of each other.  You are sent into either Ramon’s paint shop or Luigi’s tire store.  Both rides I ended up in Luigi’s where you stop and view your car.   Guido quickly drops under the floor and moments later your car’s reflection is shown with new whitewall tires.

Moving from the shops you have a brief encounter with Doc Hudson who gives you some advice and sends you to the starting line.  Again, Disney works their magic as the animatronic looks amazing and syncs perfect with the car audio.  Just as you pass Doc you hear him on the “radio” finishing his instructions before the race.  The switch from the animatronic audio to the onboard audio is seamless as if he never stopped talking.
And then the moment for the big race is here.   Going into the ride knowing it only went at a relatively slow 40mph, I was expecting to only be mildly thrilled.   Surprisingly though, the ride has great positive forces in the banks and even gives you some decent airtime over the hills.

After the race is over you drive into a cavern with taillights jutting from the roof and floor.   This scene was the only one I didn’t care for as the props looked like they were made of plastic and didn’t blend well with the amazing rockwork.  Here you get a final word from Mater and Lightning and then you head into the station to exit.

Overall the ride is amazingly solid and a lot of fun.  The dark ride portion is one of the best Disney has ever done and the race is up there on the thrill scale for a Disney ride.  Radiator Springs Racers gets a strong A grade from me. The ride is sure to be a must for all visitors for many, many years to come, just expect to have to wait.

Transformers: The Ride – 3D

Next up, Universal Studios Hollywood has put in its bid for dark ride dominance in Southern California with the new Transformers: The Ride – 3D.   The ride, which was announced nearly 3 years ago, opened officially on May 25th and has been getting some outstanding reviews.  I set out on a mission the ride and judge for myself.
The entrance is not easy to miss. 
Like Radiator Springs Racers, I was able to utilize the ride’s single rider line and bypass the large 65 minute wait in a mere 10 minutes.  I can’t say enough about single rider lines, as they work sometimes better than a fastpass system for wait times as long as you are ok separating from your group.

Once aboard I had a vague idea of what to expect.  Prior to my visit, I made it a point to avoid any POVs on YouTube and be fully surprised with the experience.  I have ridden Curse of DarKastle at Busch Gardens Williamsburg; so I thought I knew what the ride would be like, at least from a movement standpoint going from screen to screen, but boy was I wrong. 

The ride is incredibly fast paced.  It gets going from the first scene and never lets up.  Drawing from my memory of DarKastle I recall always noticing when we got to a new movie screen, with Transformers the surroundings and videos blended seamlessly.  There was a few times where I felt speechless at the quality of theming and sheer size of the sets, only to realize that huge scene I was looking at was all CGI projections on a screen.  I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such visual quality from a projected film on an amusement park attraction.

Like the park's Simpsons ride, Transformers has humorous and fun videos playing in the queue.
The ride’s story is easy to follow and exciting to watch unfold, and just like Indiana Jones Adventure, the ride never forgets you are simply tourist thrown into an extraordinary story.   Your transforming ride vehicle, EVAC, even talks you and tries to keep everyone calm as he tries to get everyone out of harms way.  I feel like this adds something to the ride, making it easier on the riders to suspend disbelief. 

By the end of the ride, the cars return with laughing cheering guests who are still riding the adrenaline rush.  And this ride succeeds in getting your adrenaline pumping, in fact I’m not sure a non-coaster has ever got my blood pumping quite like this thing.

After my ride I thought about how I would describe this attractions.  It’s not an ok ride; shoot, I can’t even describe it as a great ride.  The only two words I can really say are game changer.  What this ride says is that Universal will no longer back down in submission to Disney’s iron grip on the Southern California market.  This ride doesn’t just say Universal can also build big themed dark rides, it says they can build them better.  I will make one of the boldest statements I’ve probably ever said about a ride; Transformers is the best amusement park attraction I have ever experienced.  My grade for it is an A++.

That will wrap us up this time.  Check back later this week for a brief look at Buena Vista Street before we bring you full coverage of the openings of LEX LUTHOR: Drop of Doom and SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight.

SeaWorld Orlando's Journey To Atlantis

It has been many years since I've been on SeaWorld Orlando's Journey to Atlantis, a combo dark ride and water coaster that opened at the park in 1998.  I remember that the attraction looked really neat when it was announced, complete with a flushed out storyline, plenty of theming, and both water and coaster elements.

Then I rode it and... well... the ride is awkward.  The theming comes across as a little nutty, and between making an attempt at actually following the story (which is quite confusing) and playing name-that-Danny-Elfman music, it's a bit of a blur.  What seemed cool in concept was a bit odd in reality.

I'm thinking about this because there's not too much exciting going on right now, and I happened to be on You Tube and came across a pov of the ride.  Then I found some more, and in the end I wanted to share the ride's kookiness with you all.  Enjoy.


Live The Adventure in 2013 at Silver Dollar City

© Silver Dollar City

At least fans of Silver Dollar City have a date to look forward to for the park's 2013 announcement: August 9th.  At least that is if I counted correctly, going off of the countdown clock that is now posted on the ride's official teaser page for the coaster.

Did I say coaster?  Technically the park isn't even saying that much, but considering there is a good part of a wooden coaster built at the park right now, I think it is a pretty safe bet.

The teaser site allows you to sign up for future details as they are released, something I have no doubt we'll all be waiting for!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cooling Off at Clementon in Big Wave Bay

© Clemention Amusement Park

Phew, today's a hot one here in the Northeast!  Few days are as perfect as this one to cool off at your favorite water park, and if you're able to visit Clementon Park and Splash World their new attraction is just what you're looking for.

The park's Big Wave Bay has opened to guests, which includes 23,000 square feet of rolling waves that visitors can cool off in.  The development, seen above as a finished product, also includes new restroom and changing facilities.

In order to fit Big Wave Bay into the park two existing rides had to be relocated, the Samba Tower and Kite Flyer.  Plenty of new cabanas that are available to rent for the day, and new shade structures are also adding comfort for guests.  On top of all that the park has changed their food options to include a tiki bar for adults.

In all the addition represents one of the largest expansions Clementon Park has ever seen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Something New on the Horizon for Universal Studios Florida?

Fans of Universal Studios Florida have been buzzing the past few days over a permit that was recently filed allowing the park to remove part of their Soundstage 44 building.

The rumors immediately started flying as to what would replace the ride, everything from an East Coast version of Transformers to a permanent year-round Haunted House attraction.  Needless to say, the park's keeping quiet on their plans.

Here is Soundstage 44 from the air, the structure is located near the front of the park by Shrek and adjacent to the Monsters Cafe.  So if a haunted house proves true then that's a nice fit to have next door.  It is a rather large building, having sat unused for a while now but previously home to the Murder She Wrote attraction, then later a live show.

With the Potter expansion coming to the Studios in a several years whatever this turns out to be could be a nice filler attraction.  Or perhaps it is a brand new set of really big bathrooms!  Either way, the park has quickly started demolition so they're moving quick, probably won't be too long till more information surfaces.

Spreading Cheer this Winter at Lake Compounce

Bristol, Connecticut's Lake Compounce amusement park celebrated the first official day of Summer by announcing something that is the polar opposite of today's hot weather: a holiday celebration event.

Named Holiday Lights, the park seems to have taken a cue from the super successful event of the same name that took place for the first time last Winter at sister park Kennywood.  During Holiday Lights Lake Compounce will be covered in twinkling lights, many of which are home to one of twelve different displays.  Each half hour the lights will come alive with a show programmed to festive music.

Activities will also include a ride on the Polar Railway, along with a select few family and children's rides - weather prohibiting of course.  Costumed characters, groups of carolers and fire pits will help keep guests warm both inside and outside during the event.

The man himself, Santa Claus, will also be available for a visit and a photo.  Plenty of gifts and crafts will also be available as well.

Holiday Lights starts on November 30th and runs each weekend until the 23rd of December.  Admission is $14.99 for adults, and $10.99 for kids, but is free for any 2012 or 2013 season pass holder.