Monday, December 31, 2012

NPN's Look Back at 2012

In last year's look back at 2011 I wrote how there was so much to look forward in 2012, so much in fact that it made it pretty easy to say goodbye to '11.  Now that that exciting year will come to an end at the stroke of midnight tonight, I thought we could take a look back at it. A full year for the theme park industry to say the least, we'll just be looking at some of the highlights from each month.  Time warp - let's go!

Technically Legoland Florida opened in 2011, but I'd be remiss if I did not make mention of its spectacular performance in 2012.  Between their first full year of operation, and the reopening of the water park, and the announcement of more new stuff - things appear to have gone quite well for the park.  Scott & Carol posted their coverage of the property in January, introducing our readers to the park in detail.  The month also marked the first day of work for Matt Ouimet as Cedar Fair's CEO - a seemingly small thing that will speak volumes over the next few years.

I'm sorry February, but you're a cold and ugly month.  Still, some things that happened during this month in 2012 had ride fans drooling on their keyboards.  Both Shambhala at PortAventura and Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland reached construction milestones, the former reached its high point and the latter completed its track.  A bright spot appeared on the future of Kentucky Kingdom when it was announced that the Koch family planned to reopen it as Bluegrass Boardwalk.  The plans fell through later in the year, but it was quite a development at the time.

It was still quite early in the year, but March brought the first round of new ride openings.  Scott and Carol were at Dollywood to cover the opening of Wild Eagle, the park's anticipated wing coaster from B&M.  Across the pond, two other large rides opened to passengers for the first time as well:  the stellar looking Wodan at Europa Park and The Swarm, another B&M wing coaster, at Thorpe Park.

Busy, busy, busy - lots of ride openings were the focus in April here on NPN, with a busy schedule of covering them all.  Everyone was waiting to see how Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Verbolten turned out, and Scott and Carol were there to tell us when the ride opened.  Later in the month they headed up North to take a spin on B&M's tallest coaster - ever - which also happens to be over 300 feet tall.  Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland is a monster both literally and figuratively, as the duo reported.  Later in the month I checked out Dorney Park's pair of new offerings, Stinger and Dinosaurs Alive!

Who doesn't love a good surprise?  May started out with one from Cedar Point, that Wildcat would be removed in favor of additional seating for Luminosity.  It's amazing looking back at just how many ride openings Scott & Carol hit this year, as May also saw X-Flight's premier at Six Flags Great America.  It is not often that we write about a whole new park opening in the U.S., but that's exactly what we were able to do when Galveston Pleasure Pier opened in May.  The seaside amusement park in Texas combines classic rides with modern thrills.

One coaster was really the talk of the town in 2012, and we finally got to check out Skyrush at Hersheypark in June.  For any fan of intense rides, Skyrush provides some of the most extreme ejector airtime I've felt.  The Summer also really picked up with new attractions opening on the West coast, and Kevin was there to share the developments with us.  Two big theme parks offered two big new attractions: the entire new Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, and Transformers at Universal Studios Hollywood.  The next big opening was Superman: Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, a unique launched coaster that sits on a small space but packs a big punch.

In between celebrating the country's birthday, NPN also was at the celebration of Six Flags Over Georgia's 45th anniversary in July.  The Summer also marked the 20th anniversary of Dorney Park's ownership by Cedar Fair, which I covered in some seriously lengthy detail for you all.  The (warm) winds of change started to blow as well, with the news that Fiesta Texas' Rattler, Disaster Transport and Space Spiral at Cedar Point, and Kings Island's Son of Beast would be turned to dust.  I set off on one of my coaster-seeking road trips, and documented my trip via several updates.

August was a rather big month for announcing things, both what is coming this year and also what won't be around any more.  Additional items that would be retired included Flashback and the Texas Chute Out at Six Flags Over Texas, and Perilous Plunge at Knott's Berry Farm.  Those may have been bummers, but they were quickly overshadowed by some mega-announcements.  Cedar Point unveiled GateKeeper, Silver Dollar City took the wraps off of Outlaw Run, California's Great America gave the details of Gold Striker, and Six Flags revealed more new stuff than you can shake a stick at for all their parks.

Don't tell the parks that Halloween actually takes place in October, not September.  While it was a little early, NPN was out covering several Halloween events in September, including the Haunt at Worlds of Fun and Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure.  We also launched a new series on NPN, the Vault, showcasing some of the older stuff we have laying around.  New announcements continued during September as well, including news from Kings Dominion, Wild Adventures, and Darien Lake.

The screams of the recently departed continued into October, with plenty more in-park coverage of hauntings across the country.  Scott & Carol got into the swing of things with the Haunt at Kings Island, the Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood, and Six Flags Great America's Fright Fest.  All those scares, I'm glad they survived! Dorney Park celebrated their fifth anniversary of Haunt with another year of screams.  Everyone got a bit of a wicked treat when they got to check out the deconstruction of Son of Beast, for it is not every day we get to see a ride of this size come down. 

The month of November is a big one for our industry, that's when the annual IAAPA trade show takes place.  A series of updates from Scott and Carol kept us in the loop on all the news.  Some of the special announcements included the unveiling of Outlaw Run's cars, and the addition of an inversion on Mt. Olympus' Hades.  Several other updates included plenty of hidden gems that all show off the latest and greatest the amusement industry has to offer.  And as if all that wasn't enough, a brand new water park, Aquatica San Diego, was announced!

Finally, the current month we are saying farewell to, December.  One of the largest news items so far has been the opening of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.  Filled with new rides, shows, and restaurants, the new area has created quite a buzz for its level of theming and attention to detail.  It is also fitting that as the year rolls to an end we take a look at what 2013 has in store with stories like an update of the well underway GateKeeper at Cedar Point and a brand new addition to Miniland at Legoland Florida.

So that's 2012 according to NewsPlusNotes, at least a condensed version of the 558 posts that were written this year.  Thanks to all our readers for stopping by, we certainly look forward to checking out all that 2013 has to offer with you guys!  Happy New Year!