Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NPN's Look Back at the Stories of 2013

Another year gone by, and another year older!  2013 was a good one for park and ride fans, filled with plenty of new attractions, developments and other fun.  There were some surprises along the way, too - let's take a look back at some of the highlights as we head into 2014, shall we?

January brought us news that Knott's was refurbishing the Timber Mountain Log Ride - an important sign in the changes we're seeing from Cedar Fair - good changes that is.  Among other new ride announcements, we found out that Kentucky Kingdom had received a new lease on life, something that we will see play out in 2014.

California's Great America reached the high point on Gold Striker in February, and while freezing in my neck of the woods the park raced onward with construction after that.  The park's new wooden coaster was an important sign of the future of that park.  Other projects that we didn't seen open in 2013 made large announcements, too, including a moved Miracle Strip and proposed changes for Rye Playland.

By March Gold Striker was making mega-progress as seen in this update, and a retiring General Manager at Six Flags Over Georgia was honored.  A newly rebranded water park, Aquatica San Diego, also showed off what guests could expect when visiting the tropically themed park.  Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City opened to the public for the first time, though we would see that ride in depth the next month.

April is a month when we see plenty of construction wrapping up, and this was no exception:  Full Throttle at Six Flags Magic Mountain,  Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Boomerang at Six Flags St. Louis, and the Texas SkyScreamer at Six Flags Over Texas reached new heights.  NPN converged on Silver Dollar City to experience Outlaw Run (and what an experience it was!) and Kings Island started a mystery project.

Ride openings always dominate May.  GateKeeper at Cedar Point was huge news, but we can't forget others like Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus, Antarctica at SeaWorld Orlando, the Texas SkyScreamer, and backwards Batman at Six Flags Great America.  A development that spans multiple years, Universal Studios Florida also announced a second Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We also went exploring and checked out a new park to moi, Worlds of Fun.

The coaster with the most inversions in the world?  Yep, the Smiler opened in June.  Scott and Carol also continued checking out new attractions, including Boomerang at Six Flags St. Louis and igNight at Six Flags Great America.  Full Throttle opened at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and the official reopening date of Kentucky Kingdom was announced for 2014.

The heat of July didn't both us here at NPN, we kept on keepin' on and headed to my home park, Dorney Park, to see what their Summer Celebration was all about.  The ever changing plans for Rye Playland hit the news again this month, this time calling for rides to be a bigger part of the park's future, and one monster of a water slide was topped out at Schlitterbahn Kansas City.  The month closed with rumors that Knoebels' Flying Turns may open this year... something we all had been anticipating for what seemed like ages (and quite literally was!).

August has turned into one of the most action packed months for park fans, and we loved every minute of it!  A special tribute to the Blue Streak at Conneaut Lake was held, an important nod to a struggling park and its past.  We also got to take a look at the hard work that goes into building the Haunt at Dorney Park and the early work underway at Kentucky Kingdom.  And then, BOOM, mega-announcements for 2014:  Dollywood's new coaster and future hotel, Kings Island's giant Banshee coaster, family rides for Cedar Point, a water slide tower for Dorney Park, Six Flags Great America's Goliath, Zumanjaro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Medusa Steel Coaster at Six Flags Mexico, Guardian at Canada's Wonderland, and, phew, SteelHawk at Worlds of Fun - and that's among tons of others, too!

I love the cool days of September, and parks seem to love to keep announcing new things during them.  I'm quite fond of Kings Dominion's 40th anniversary plans, as well as those of Valleyfair - both represent a large change of pace by their operator, Cedar Fair.  Halloween festivities also got underway for the 2013 season with an early look at Great Adventure's Fright Fest, and Kings Island quickly topped out their new for 2014 coaster!

We got a great look at the details of Dollywood's FireChaser Express in October, a ride we're all looking forward to.  On the scary-front Scott got turned into a zombie at Cedar Point's Halloweekends, and Dorney Park's Haunt VI creeped us out as well.  The biggest story of the month though had to the end of the 7 year wait for Flying Turns at Knoebels to open!  Really, it wasn't your imagination, it honestly did open!

November brought us a look at the new Thunderbolt coaster opening next year at Coney Island, and we also got up close and personal with El Loco at the Adventuredome in Las Vegas.  Kentucky Kingdom did a full reveal of what's new when the park reopens in 2014, including a cool new coaster, Lightning Run - a first of its kind.  Scott and Carol attended the annual IAAPA expo in Orlando and reported back plenty of awesome updates of all the exciting news!

Christmas events at parks have been growing in the past few years, and this year Busch Gardens Tampa and Cliff's Amusement Park were some who celebrated the season.  A fan favorite, Hersheypark announced some new family rides for 2014, Falcon's Fury started to head toward the sky in Tampa, and Cedar Fair gave an interesting update to investors which was filled with goodies for park fans.  Our From the Vault series continued to look back at the past of various parks, including this relic from Dorney Park's history.

That's just a snippit, of course, since there was a lot more in the 579 posts we drafted during the course of 2013.  Now as we move forward into 2014 there are plenty of new projects to keep up with, and plenty more history to explore.  Thank you to all of our readers for stopping by this past year, and we wish you a happy and healthy 2014 - we'll see you then!

Happy New Year!