Sunday, July 31, 2016

Vekoma Teases new "Bermuda Blitz" Looping Roller Coaster Design

A brand new sit-down looping roller coaster design has been revealed by Vekoma, dubbed as the Bermuda Blitz, and it looks like the kind of ride you wouldn't mind seeing cloned - perhaps often.

Here's the layout of the ride:

© Vekoma
One of the most exciting features of the design is the use of Vekoma's new MK1101 trains, which feature vest-like restraints that give a comfortable ride experience.

The Bermuda Blitz coaster starts with a chain lift hill to over 160 feet in the air, followed by an extremely steep 90 degree right turning plunge at nearly 60 miles per hour.  Immediately after is a "reverse sidewinder," the ride's first inversion.  What makes the design so temping is that it then features several extreme looking air-time hills and quick directional changes, not just a focus on inversions.  Granted there are two additional corkscrews in the layout, but also tight turns, bunny hops and even what looks like a trick track.

Vekoma released a video of the design in action on Facebook:

The first instillation of the Vekoma Bermuda Blitz is already planned, opening next year in Poland's Śląskie Wesołe Miasteczko as Lech Coaster.  The coaster will have a unique theme, including a giant bird's nest at the top of the lift, according to concept art included in this VHCoasters post about the ride.

Hopefully the great looking track layout combined with the upgraded trains will make the ride a hit.  It's got the stats to make it a "big" addition for many parks!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Scott And Carol Present - Kings Island Announces Mystic Timbers!

Finally, time to get the scoop on Project2017! The addition of Mystic Timbers gives Kings Island 16 roller coasters, and the addition of 3,265 more feet of wooden roller coaster track gives Kings Island the most of that type of any park worldwide. Coaster enthusiasts, especially ones partial to wooden coasters, will definitely be walking to Rivertown in 2017.

There has been lots of speculation concerning the changes Kings Island has started for Project2017. This view from the Eiffel Tower shows the timber being clearcut, with some tantalizing clues posted on the fence.


Reinforcing the railbed next to the overflow pond required some heavy equipment, which excited many youngsters riding the train.  Based on their appearance, sadly they will be too short to ride Mystic Timbers next summer since it will have a projected 48-inch height requirement at this time.

You can see the clearing crew providing the landscaping department with  lots of mulch for future use. I wonder where they are going to store all of it?

Kings Island made the announcement event as inclusive as possible, here an interpreter translates the conversation to sign language for the deaf and hard of hearing.  Kudos to the park for this extra effort.

Here is the ride layout, without the trees and pond. It sure looks like it can go 53 miles per hour! Look at all those airtime hills, some of them have to mix directional changes in with the feeling of weightlessness. The lift hill will rise 109 above the ground in the trees.

Kings Island invited all their guests to the announcement, and you could taste the enthusiasm in the air. When the fireworks ran long, the crowd booed; who really boos fireworks anyways?


Don Helbig, of Kings Island, emceed the festivities from the elevated stage that gave everyone a clear view and they also projected some renderings along with the Mystic Timbers POV on the side of the building that used to house Tomb Raider. It is now used for an outstanding haunted attraction during the haunt. 

The snacks were appropriately themed for the scary woods overwhelming civilization. Note the 57 pickup truck that is spotlighted.

On our trip to Disneyland last summer we encountered Greg doing "Product Research," here with the  Director of Ride Operations from California's Great America.

Greg Scheid, Vice President, and General Manager shares his thoughts.

This is the new pathway to Whitewater Canyon, because even when you are putting in a new ride, you have to make sure you can still get to the  existing rides. It offers some new views of Diamondback and also parallels part of the construction area.

These are what that excavator  was putting in next to the pond. It appears that have plenty more to go before the next phase.

And we think it will be for these bridges for Mystic Timbers. The water probably won't have that beautiful shade of blue, since it is mainly standing.

Adam grew up close to Kings Island, so in the summer of 2017 get will attend his high school reunion and tell his classmates that he helped design the newest roller coaster at Kings Island. That will have to make him "THE" dude at the gathering. How cool is that?

Nobody would answer that question, as Don Helbig and the Public Relations department intend to have lots of fun doling out clues to the mystery.

If you can't wait to see more,  Here is the link  to what Kings Island has released last night. Night rides on Mystic Timbers should be epic, and it will be fun to experience the changing of the seasons on this wild romp in the woods.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Riptide Racer Joins Silverwood's Boulder Beach Waterpark

© Silverwood Theme Park
Silverwood Theme Park's Boulder Beach waterpark is not only in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, but also offers a wide variety of ways to splash the day away.  Newly added this year is the Riptide Racer mat racing tower, which is sure to grab the attention of visitors with its blue, yellow and pink color scheme.

The slide tower stands 56 feet above the ground and features six separate lanes that sliders race down.  The first portion of the slide features an enclosed helix, followed by several large downward hills to the splashy finish line.  Each slide stretches just over 400 feet long and riders can hit a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour while on the attraction.  The new slides add over 900 people per hour to the capacity of Boulder Beach.

© Silverwood Theme Park
This photo shows what I meant earlier when I said that Boulder Beach is in a beautiful setting - the natural theme of the water park is a perfect choice for its surroundings.  The bright colors of the slides serve as a great contract to the green mountains all around it!

Boulder Beach features two wave pools, a giant lazy river, large family raft slides, along with a children's play area and several slide towers.  It first opened in 2003 and has seen a steady series of expansions in the years since.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Heard On... Six Flags' 2nd Quarter 2016 Earnings Call

Today was the earnings announcement for Six Flags' second quarter of 2016, which is another for the company's record books.  For the quarter, revenues were up $21 million or 5%, and attendance saw a 2% increase to 9 million.  The company, like usual, held a conference call today to discuss the earnings - here are some noteworthy items:

• Licensing revenues from international park developments was up 132% for the quarter and for the first half of the year equaled $14 million.  The park in Dubai has broken ground and the company recently announced plans for another park in China, with a water park, that will be one of the largest Six Flags parks.  Beyond what has been announced, there are several other deals already in the works.

© Six Flags
• Park operators report that the virtual reality experiences added to roller coasters at 9 of its parks have received "outstanding" responses from guests.  It will soon be added to a 10th park, and plans for the other 3 parks to have it are in the works.  They're also working on virtual reality "worlds" for both Halloween and Christmas events.  They did note a learning curve on the capacity of virtual reality rides, but say that they are "pleased with our throughput" at this point.

• An all season Flash Pass, for skipping attraction lines, was tested earlier this year and deemed a success, and will now be rolled out to all the parks by 2017.

• Work is progressing on Six Flags' new water park in Mexico, planned to open in early 2017.  Operators say there is a ton of interest in the park already and it will be marketed jointly with Six Flags Mexico.

• Season Pass and Season Membership sales continues to soar for Six Flags, with overall active pass base up 11% year over year.  Even with more pass holders attending the parks the per cap spending for each guest is still up 3% for the first half of 2016.  All-season dining passes are also growing and resulting in increased food and beverage revenues.

© Six Flags
• Future growth is planned to come from four major areas:  more attendance from passes and memberships, slow increases in pricing over time, even more growth from the all-season dining passes, and international developments which require no capital and have very high margins.

• I did not hear any mention of announcements for 2017 yet, and with a new CEO I am wondering if perhaps the big announcement all on one day has been retired?  Just a theory, I'm sure we will find out soon enough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Beech Bend Park Opens Giant Proslide Designed Slide Tower in Splash Lagoon

Located in Kentucky, Beech Bend Park and its Splash Lagoon water park has opened its exciting 2016 addition, a large Proslide-designed slide tower featuring four different experiences for riders.  The addition of the slides represents an investment in the park that cost millions of dollars, adding much innovation and capacity to Splash Lagoon.

© Beech Bend / Splash Lagoon
This photo from the park shows the splash area for all four slides.  One of the slides, the Cyclone Saucers, is touted by the park as the first of its kind to open in North America.  That slide (in green) features tight enclosed turns that riders, in individual tubes, navigate through.  The enclosed sections open up into giant open-air "saucer" sections that features equally tight turns that sliders whiz through.

© Trevor George via Vimeo
Here's a nice aerial look at the overall slide tower.  The other slides (Riptide, Tidal Wave, and Polynesian Plunge) all offer different experiences.  One of them is a traditional bowl slide, another features Proslide's popular "Tantrum" mini-tornado elements, and finally the third a massive wave wall that riders slide up after a large drop.  This view comes from neat drone footage featured on the park's website.

The brightly colored addition came online just as the hottest part of the summer kicked in, perfect timing for the park!  Also new this season is Spinning Out, a family sized roller coaster with spinning trains.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy Taking Over California Adventure's Tower of Terror in 2017

Last night Disney Parks dropped a bomb and revealed that the rumors are true - the Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure will be replaced with Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! in mid-2017.  The last rides on Tower of Terror will take place in early January of 2017.

For months there has been talk around the interwebs that Disney was looking at bringing in the powerhouse Guardians franchise to the west coast, with much of the talk centered around an overlay of the Tower of Terror.  When complete the famous hotel will have scattered all of its ghosts and will look like this:

© Disney
Described as a "comically high-energy, rocking new adventure," Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout will be set in a giant building kept by The Collector, formally known as Taneleer Tivan.  The Collector is proudly showing off all his artifacts, which now include the Guardians themselves - held captive in giant display cases.  However, Rocket has escaped and asked riders (VIP helpers) to free the Guardians.  The actual ride takes place on a gantry lift and still will utilize the same ride system as Tower of Terror, but with all new special effects and a rocking soundtrack.  The ride cycles will all have different programs so each experience is a bit different.

© Disney
This look at the queue for the made-over ride shows that no remnants of the hotel theme will remain when the work is done.  Instead guests will peruse The Collector's display as they wait, which of course will include the Guardians.

Joe Rhode is in charge of the project, and is dropping hints that plenty more Marvel related attractions will eventually spring up in the Hollywood section of California Adventure.  He gives a lot more description about the new attraction in the below video.

The summer opening of the ride will tie in perfectly to the second Guardians of the Galaxy film, which will open just before it.  And to be perfectly clear, this change only applies to the California version of the ride, not the original Tower of Terror in Florida.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Cedar Fair Testing the Waters for All Season Fast Lane Plus

Fast Lane and Fast Lane Plus have become a popular staple item for many who visit Cedar Fair's parks - I know it was for me during a recent Cedar Point trip - and now it appears as though the company is testing an all season version of the pass.

The first park that I can see that is offering season long Fast Lane Plus is Dorney Park, where it is currently selling for $99.  Dorney Park offers Fast Lane Plus, where you can skip most of the wait for an attraction, at 20 rides and 5 popular water attractions in Wildwater Kingdom.  The new add-on gives each season pass holders a single Fast Lane Plus wrist band each time they visit this year.  I don't see it listed on the website, but I'm going to assume that this will not work for Haunt attractions, since that's known as Fright Lane during that season.

Granted you may not associate Dorney Park's rides with long lines, but remember that this would get visitors past the long lines in the water park every time they go.  That means that families that visit often and spend the day at the water park wouldn't have to partake in most of the waterslide lines.

We've seen Cedar Fair test many new ideas at a single park before rolling it out across the system, so if this is a hit and it spreads next year, would you purchase it?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Play Along with Carowinds as they Tease the Park's 2017 Expansion

Another expansion teaser campaign kicked off this week, this time around we have a fairly elaborate story coming out of Carowinds that will lead to their 2017 announcement on August 18th.  The theme park is acknowledging that some news leaked earlier in the year about some classic flat rides that were said to be headed to the park, but poses the question as to whether the news was 100% accurate and if there's more to the story.

For the teaser campaign the park has focused in on their Mayor, Earnest Lee Higginbotham, and his quest to be elected into office again for another 4 year term.  The Mayor has nabbed the help of his 3 friends to create a news hotline that you can call and hear about their plans.  The Higginbotham Hotline number (seen in the image above) lets you hear the Mayor's side of things, but his friends also offer their thoughts and "subtle clues" are embedded in all four recordings.

The park is urging fans to spread the word on social media using #VoteFourMore up until the announcement.  More clues will come with new recordings on the phone line, and guests of the park can unlock hints while on property via the park's app.

I've noticed that the number 4 is used quite a bit in all this, four more years in office, a total of four people doing recordings, and even the hashtag could have a double meaning of four more rides... perhaps.  Could just be a distraction - either way call the line and see what clues you can pick up on!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Must-Read Interview with Cedar Fair's Rob Decker

If you're looking for some great reading about Cedar Fair, A.V. Club has a very informative question and answer interview piece published with Rob Decker, the company's Senior VP of Planning & Design.

The questions cover a ton of ground, offering insights into many aspects of the company's design process.  Everyone loves to wonder what will be new at the park next year, and this story gives a bit of a look into the process.

Take Valravn for example, Rob talks about how the park selected the center of the park to build it in and just why they did that.  As for future additions, he notes that the next three years will be "pretty serious," and while not totally clear it seems like he's speaking specifically about Cedar Point in that regard.

Other parts of the interview cover the emphasis on technology and rides, including the use of virtual reality on existing attractions.  But on the opposite hand, Rob points out that he's wondering if a back-to-the-basics approach might serve guests of modern times well.  To that end there is also plenty of talk about the efforts to obtain, refurbish and install classic flat rides that have been plucked from around the globe.

The article is definitely a must-read for any fan of Cedar Fair, or really parks in general.  Check it out at this link!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kings Island's Big 2017 Reveal to Take Place Next Week

Kings Island has spent most of the summer teasing about its 2017 capital expansion, expected to be a large new ride, and now we know that we do not have to wait much longer to hear the details.  The park will announce the new ride on July 28th at 10:00 pm, and visitors that day will be able to stay and hear the good news at the park.  The nightime announcement remindes me of what the park did for Banshee a few years back, another clue that this is a pretty substantial addition.

The above teaser for the announcement was posted on social media, keeping up with the hints that have been centered on the woods adjacent to the Rivertown area.

Kings Island's homepage features this image along with a countdown clock - only 8 days left as of this writing! - and this one takes us in a bit of a different direction, stating that "nature is taking over."  I would have guessed some sort of animal theme up until this, and honestly this one could still fit with an animal but all the roots in the photo make me there there's more to it.  I love a mystery!

Kings Island Central put this image up on Twitter, looks like the media invite that was sent out for the announcement.  This one is closer to the fallen tree clues seen earlier; a classic truck with some timber in the back of it.  The actual invite also features an obvious timber theme on its background.  The old-time looking truck does seem out of place, though, so who knows.

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Help Vote in Howl-O-Scream's "Victims' Choice" Scare Poll

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is quite excited about this year's Howl-O-Scream, and for the first time is inviting fans to help choose one of the scares in a new haunted house - Circo Sinistro.  The park is calling it the "victims' choice," and through a new website fans can vote to either have to "survive a circle of fire or walk the high wire" in the circus themed maze.  Allowing the creativity to flow, the park is actually taking suggestions for other feats to survive via the voting ballot.

Between the minds of those at the park and the fans of the haunted celebration, I can't wait to see what ends up winning the popular vote!

Circo Sinistro is a brand new haunted house for this year's Howl-O-Scream, described as "not of this world and not of this time," a twisted sounding take on a typical demented circus maze.   The park warns that while inside, "what you see, you soon will be."  Sounds like Circo Sinistro is taking on new permanent acts!

Also new this year will be a terror-tory (scare zone) called Sideshow Square.  Fitting in with the theme of the new haunted house, the area will be filled with "haunts, curiosities and plenty of scares to make you shriek."  In total, this year's Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg will offer 7 haunted houses, 5 terror-tories, and 3 live shows.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Knott's Soak City Water Expanding with New Slides in 2017

Some new documents filed with Buena Park have revealed a planned expansion for the Soak City, located next to Knott's Berry Farm, for spring 2017.  The documents reference a $5 million expansion that will see part of a current parking lot taken over by new attractions.

Above is the area of work, in the lower right, as it is now.  Pretty much a parking lot and the Pacific Spin tornado water slide.  Here is how it actually looks, courtesy of Google:

From the plans it appears as though the park will actually retire Pacific Spin, probably sending it to another water park in the chain that does not have a tornado slide (though there aren't many).  A new fusion slide looks to use the Pacific Spin tower, and beyond it will be a new six slide tower.  There will also be new cabanas and areas to relax.

Here is the fully built out area, showing the expansion to the park.  It will take up a lot of parking lot, but the theme park has purchased two lots from the city that will be redeveloped as parking spaces to make up for the loss.

This image is included in the filings of the new Constrictor Python water slide that would replace Pacific Spin.  The ride uses an extra wide slide design that incorporates tight enclosed turns with sections that are meant to have the raft bounce up and down the side, almost like the tornado slide does.  The OC Register has a story on the expansion which does not mention this addition at all, which is curious, but I don't see why it would be included on the plans if it wasn't being built.  You never know though, perhaps the finished expansion will include only some or all of these pieces.

The major slide addition is a slightly modified version of the tower that has been installed at other Cedar Fair parks, at Worlds of Fun, Dorney Park, Kings Dominion and this year Kings Island and Carowinds.  Those towers all have a constrictor (they're all made by Whitewater West) slide as part of the mix, but the Soak City version will increase the free-fall drops by one to offer four, with two traditional tube slides off the back like the others.  The change makes sense if the large constrictor fusion slide does in fact replace Pacific Spin.

Here is another view of the new slide tower, which will be set back from the park will the new cabanas and other amenities in front of it.  The bright colors will surely attract plenty of guests to the park to check out the addition.  The article linked above does mention that Soak City hasn't been updated since 2006 when Pacific Spin was added, but attendance numbers have steadily increased nonetheless.  Expect an official announcement from the park with plenty more details and the final list of additions later this summer.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Has the Tide Finally Turned for Conneaut Lake Park?

After numerous years of financial troubles that nearly closed the park for good, it seems that Conneaut Lake Park might finally be on a positive track.  Much like the park's classic wooden Blue Streak roller coaster, the park has had ups and downs over the years, but more downs in recent memory.

When the park was going through bankruptcy proceedings in 2014 a new set of trustees were put in place to operate the park, and this year they're actually at a point where they have positive cash flow.  Might sound like a basic business concept to achieve, but things were that bad for this park.

So for in 2016 overall revenue from the park's camping area, rides and attractions, food and retail are up 35% over 2015 - quite significant.  An example was given that now the park can operate for a weekend on $30,000 and bring in $50,000 in cash, where the opposite was previously true.

© Conneaut Lake Park
The park is attributing their increased profits to the overall reduced number of rides and attractions they have right now - keeping offerings smaller right now allows streamlined operations and costs.  That's not to say that they're not looking to expand, in fact this season the lazy river has reopened for the first time in many years.  The park's water slides and kiddie area will open in August as well.

The new trustees are hoping that their plan for operating the park will be approved in bankruptcy court this fall, allowing for stable future years of operations.  The park still has millions in debt to pay back, part of which will be done by selling non-essential land along the lake.

While not totally out of the woods yet, it's nice to see some good news reported about the park for a change!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Caribbean Cove Now Open at Hurricane Harbor New Jersey

Just in time for today's soaring temperatures in the Northeast, New Jersey's Hurricane Harbor water park has opened a brand new attraction - Caribbean Cove.  The new addition features a large water play structure, filled with plenty of ways to stay cool, and an expansive lounging area.

"Hurricane Harbor brings the vibrant colors, iconic images and white sand beaches of the Caribbean to our new family water playground. Caribbean Cove is a fantastic complement to our world-class lineup of innovative and extreme water slides. It offers fun for junior thrill seekers and their families,” said Six Flags Great Adventure President John Fitzgerald.

© Six Flags
Caribbean Cove features more than 55 interactive features on several different levels, more than enough to keep visitors exploring for hours.  These features include water jets, spray nozzles, water guns, climbing nets and even two small water slides.  Since the addition has been crafted for the whole family parents can be comfortable knowing all the features are safe for their little ones.  The entire structure has bright colors to match its Caribbean theme, and even has a friendly parrot perched at the very top.

© Six Flags
One of the most exciting features of water play structures is the tipping bucket, and that is hard to miss on Caribbean Cove.  Every few minutes the bucket, which is located two stories in the air, fills up and then slowly tips over, pouring water down onto a roof of the structure and sending it splashing on the crowd below.

© Six Flags
The area around the structure has also been designed to allow families to relax while at Hurricane Harbor.  In addition to the zero-depth entry to the shallow pool surrounding the attraction, there is a large sandy beach area perfect for fun in the sun.  Approximately 300 new lounge chairs have been placed in the expansion, some of which are located under giant shade structures.  The new area is located next to the Big Wave Racer slide tower and the Taak It Eez Ee Creek lazy river.

Hurricane Harbor is located adjacent to Six Flags Great Adventure.  For more information on the park and its 25 slides and attractions, click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cedar Point Testing Virtual Reality on Iron Dragon Coaster

A full-scale test of virtual reality headsets is starting at Cedar Point on the classic Iron Dragon suspended roller coaster.  The Point has included the new test as part of the Cedar Point Nights celebration, a larger event that includes items such as Luminosity, night rides on world famous coasters, lakeside glow parties, movies, clam bakes, live music and plenty more.

Fans of the park will be happy to see that Cedar Point has taken an organized approach for the test, one that preserves normal operation of the ride during the day and sees the ride change to virtual reality only at night.  That allows day visitors to experience the traditional version of the ride will the usual quick operations that the park is known for, with no virtual reality related delays.

The normal rides will take place from 10 am until 5 pm, with the virtual reality experience starting at 6 pm.  Do not expect a mad rush to the ride at six, however, as a reservation system will be used to keep things controlled.  Reservations are open to anyone tall enough to ride and age 13 and above, and will be made outside the ride starting each day at noon.  An assigned ride time will be given for guests to return and take a spin later that evening.

The actual virtual reality experience content is unknown for now, but the park notes that "guests will enjoy a fully-animated video in their headset with a 360-degree view of the virtual surroundings."

The test will start this Friday, July 15th, and run through the end of Cedar Point Nights on August 14th.  Happy virtual riding!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Beautiful New Aerial Concept Art for Disneyland's Star Wars Land Released

Today was a good day for anyone who is anticipating the new Star Wars land at Disneyland, as the park released some brand new concept art of the area today.  Even better, the Disney Parks Blog immediately made a very high resolution version of the art available, filled with details of the largest single-land expansion in the park's history.

© Disney / Lucasfilm
Here is the art, you can click it for a detailed version.  There's so much packed into the image, fans will be able to spend plenty of time looking at all the details it offers.

For the sake of orientation, the water at the bottom of the image is the new Northern border of the Rivers of America, with steep rocky banks and a heavily themed train trestle visible.  Detailed art of that area was released some months ago, as the entire section of the park began to be flattened.  It is anticipated that most of the Star Wars land will be hidden from guests on the river.

The new 14 acre expansion is expected to open with two major attractions, along with plenty of intricately themed dining and retail locations.  The new art shows how much of the village area will be indoors or partially covered, creating an even more immersive atmosphere.  Tall rocks will spike up throughout the land, and it appears that an equally immense mountain of rock will block views of the outside of the park from the area.

Whether a Star Wars fan or not, the addition looks beautiful, no doubt.