Friday, November 17, 2017

Gale Force at Playland's Castaway Cove Receiving Full Track Replacement

© OCNJDaily
The Gale Force roller coaster, located at Playland's Castaway Cove in Ocean City, NJ, just opened this past May but is already having its track removed.  Seen above in a photo from a news story, the ride's blue track is being removed from the support structure in order to be replaced with all new track for the 2018 season.

The coaster did not operate up to desired standards, it seems, dating back to its original opening year of 2016.  Gale Force missed that season due to a segment of track having to be manufactured over after not aligning properly with the rest of the layout.  The ride did open and operate safely this past summer, but according to park officials didn't provide the smooth ride they expected.

Gale Force was designed by S&S Worldwide, who is paying for all of the ride's track to be replaced this off-season, before the park opens again for Easter in 2018.  The slight alignment issues caused the ride additional downtime along with the bumpiness.  The park expects to have the replacement track fully installed during January of 2018.

Hopefully this will allow Playland's Castaway Cove to operate the ride more regularly next year, and it's great to see S&S stepping up to replace the track at no cost to the park. 

Gale Force features multiple launches that get the individual cars moving at 64 miles per hour, with a maximum height of 125 feet and 1,269 feet of track.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New Splash Ride Opening at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo in 2018

© Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Visitors to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo will find an all-new water ride in 2018, named Roaring Springs.  The new splash ride will "allow guests of all ages to discover a hidden part of Florida full of adventure and thrills.  Explorers will board a boat and gently drift along a crystal-clear spring, surrounded by native landscape and wildlife. The journey takes a sudden turn when the elevation drops.  Guests will feel a rush of adrenaline as they experience a 3-story splashdown."

Exact details on the type of water attraction, including manufacturer, that is being added were not available just yet, though the concept art above looks like it will be either a modern version of a flume ride, or perhaps a small shoot-the-chutes.  The ride will also come with a Canopy Walk, which will oversee the attraction.  The project is the largest for the Lowry Park Zoo in the past decade.

According to the park's press release, visitors will also "get back to nature and see a hidden part of Florida that remains untouched - a Florida that requires no filter.  Explorers will catch a glimpse of black bears, alligators, panthers, Key deer and other native species as they trek along the winding Florida Trail."

© Google Maps
To make way for Roaring Springs, the Zoo will retire their existing log flume.  That ride can be seen above... not a very big ride and from various videos on YouTube it doesn't look all that old, either.  I'm not coming up with much on the ride's history, or even who manufactured it.

Regardless, that's still the 4th flume announced to be closing this year in the name of expansion and progress.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New Coaster - Tantrum - Opening at Darien Lake in 2018

© Darien Lake
Darien Lake recently announced their plans to open a new roller coaster for the park's 2018 season, named Tantrum.

As expected, the new ride will be a compact Euro-Fighter design from Gerstlauer that will be a clone of the Iron Shark which operates at Galveston Pleasure Pier.  Tantrum will replace Darien Lake's log flume, Thunder Rapids, which means the new coaster will be quite visible from the park's entrance and parking lot areas.

© Darien Lake
Tantrum will start with passengers, seated in individual eight-seater cars, heading up a vertical lift hill to 98 feet above the park.  The first drop that follows will extend beyond vertical, coming in at 97 degrees.  After hitting the top speed of 52 miles per hour, Tantrum heads up into a giant twisted inversion that ends in an Immelmann, then up into a a cut back, quickly followed by a tilted loop and the brakes.  The experience will be quick, with elements taking place one right after the other.

The park also released this video of a similar ride in action to give fans of the park a taste of what they will experience next season:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Alton Towers Shares New Aerial Look at 2018 Wood Coaster Project

© Alton Towers
With many older wooden roller coasters quickly transforming into new steel hybrid rides, it's always neat to see a 'traditional' wood coaster being built.  Alton Towers is continuing to keep their new for 2018 wood coaster a secret, but isn't shy about showing off what they've built so far.

The Great Coasters International ride features a unique and twisted layout that sits on the side of a hill.  The video, seen below, that Alton Towers released gives great perspectives from the sky of the progress so far.

For more recent photos of the new ride, check out this update from TowersTimes.  Previously I thought that the ride might not use a traditional chain lift, but from these new photos it sure does look like it will.

Also of note is the progress made on the giant theming structure that the trains will pass through.  No word yet on just what it is... but it looks like it has horns!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dorney Park Begins Work on New Tidal Wave Cafe Restaurant

© NewsPlusNotes
These photos are bit late, having been taken on the last weekend that the park was open, but better late than never.  Dorney Park is adding a brand new restaurant within Wildwater Kingdom for the 2018 season, named Tidal Wave Cafe.  Seen above, the restaurant is modeled after similar very successful instillations at other Cedar Fair parks over the past few seasons.

Tidal Wave Cafe will carry a nautical theme when complete, and feature "hand-battered fried shrimp, rotisserie chicken, hand-breaded chicken tenderloins, and house-smoked pulled pork" among other tasty meals.

© NewsPlusNotes
Getting a jump ahead of the cold winter, the park started major demolition to prepare for the new restaurant before the park even closed.  If you look closely at this photo, taken from Talon's exit area, you can see that much of the landscaping from the corner of Runaway River has been cleared.  The park is carving out more space in this area to fit in additional seating to serve Tidal Wave Cafe.

© NewsPlusNotes
Back on the ground while walking through Talon's exit, you could see through this access gate that the space for the new restaurant is also being cleared.  The new restaurant required the removal of two existing food stands, Mariner's Munchies and a Rita's Italian Ice, along with a small portion of the seating area next to Rita's that was added a few seasons ago.

This photo shows that Rita's was already gone, and just some of Mariner's Munchies was standing.

© NewsPlusNotes
A trip on the park's train, the Cedar Creek Cannonball, also gave some views into the work that was going on.  Here's another view of the bit of Mariner's Munchies that was standing, with a pile of it on the ground as well.  The red building on the far left is Papa Luigi's, which was heavily renovated for the 2017 season.

© NewsPlusNotes
Here's one last photo of the work that was underway as the park closed for the year.

© Dorney Park
Just this past week Dorney Park tweeted out a photo of the progress so far.  All buildings have been removed, and if you look close you can see bulldozers removing part of the seating area that will be needed.  When you consider all the space that has been opened up, it is easy to see how this multi-million dollar expansion will be pretty massive.

You can also get a look at the changes to to the landscaping around the turn of Runaway River we mentioned earlier.  The park is going to be able to provide plenty of new seating for guests in this refreshed area of Wildwater Kingdom next year!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Knott's HangTime Goes Vertical + New Animation Video Released

© Knott's Berry Farm
If you haven't been watching Knott's Berry Farm's live webcam of HangTime construction, then you missed the first track and support pieces of the custom designed Gerstlauer Infinity coaster being put into place this week.

And they're moving fast!  Just a couple days after the first support pieces were placed the structure suddenly grew taller than the webcam could show.  The track that can be seen in this capture from the webcam takes place just after the ride's station, and will start to climb the 150 foot vertical lift from here.

Other support pieces have been put in place as well, and the lift tower looks to be near maximum height in these photos from Knott's Network.

© Knott's Berry Farm
Today Knott's Berry Farm released the anticipated animation preview of HangTime, showing off both on-ride and off-ride perspectives - the one above is what riders will see when they momentarily pause 150 feet in the air before plunging down at a beyond-vertical 96 degrees.

The rest of the twisted layout features 5 inversions including a negative-g stall loop, which is meant to give passengers a moment of pure hangtime while on HangTime!

The animation also gives a hint of how the ride will look at night with special lighting that will trace the individual car's path through the course.  Check it out below!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dollywood To Focus on Live Entertainment During 2018 "Season of Showstoppers"

Dollywood recently announced that for their 2018 season they will be focusing on presenting their largest-ever selection of live entertainment, naming 2018 the "season of showstoppers."  The park is spending $1 million more than any previous year on its entertainment schedule, showing just how committed they are to providing excellent family fun.

The theme park will present a multitude of entertainment performances, including headlining acts such as "The Marshall Tucker Band, The Drifters, T.G. Sheppard, Suzy Bogguss, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Crystal Gayle, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and a host of other award-winning artists."

“Music is the universal language that unites all of us,” Parton explained. “It celebrates our people, our families and our communities. I’ve made music my life’s work because I feel each and every one of us has a special song to sing. I’ve made sure that here at my Dollywood, we use music to encourage and inspire those songs in each and every one of our shows.”

Throughout various festivals and other events that run the entire Dollywood season, the headlining acts at the park next year have some impressive statistics.  In total they have "42 gold albums, 18 platinum albums, 30 Grammys, 14 Country Music Association Awards, 10 American Country Music Awards, five American Music Association Awards and 62 Dove Awards."

The performances will take place during many special festivals and events:  Dollywood's Festival of Nations runs March 17th through April 9th, the brand new Spring Mix music series will be held April 11th through 29th, followed by the Barbeque & Bluegrass festival, stretching May 25th through June 10th.

Once summer rolls around, Dollywood's special performances will include iLuminate, of America's Got Talent fame, and DRUMLine Live!, which was developed by the consultants to the hit 2002 movie Drumline.  The rest of the year features Rock the Smokes in late August, Harvest Festival in September, then both the Great Pumpkin LumiNights and Smoky Mountain Christmas as the year comes to an end.

© Dollywood
The theme park also announced what will become of the land taken up by the recently removed River Battle attraction.  The area will become the Plaza at Wilderness Pass, a special events area.  The space will be used to house activities related to the special events and festivals detailed above.  This news article has a bit more information from the park on the development.

© Dollywood
The area will be dressed up for each of the park's events, and offer a space for relaxation and recharging.  It also appears as though the station from the former River Battle ride will be repurposed in the expansion.  The above art shows the space decorated for Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration, while the art above it shows off a summer scene.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Twisted Timbers' Track Instillation Reaches New Heights

© Kings Dominion
Things have become quite exciting over at Kings Dominion, where track instillation on Twisted Timbers is moving along at a rapid pace.  Just this week, the theme park began placing track on the inversion that takes place at the top of the first drop, seen above.  The turnaround before it was completed before the season ended, but we've all been waiting to see the next stretch of track go into place... now we wait no longer.

The trains will navigate the above inversion high above the ground, with riders plummeting down the first drop as they right themselves from the twisting plunge.  Another wider angle view of the progress can be seen at this link.

© Kings Dominion
Work on the rest of the ride has also been progressing in the last few weeks.  Ledgers and supports for nearly all the new profile of hills and twists have been installed, with track being applied to some of them.  The park updated their official blog with plenty of photos and information on the ride's progress.

This view is of the barrel roll that takes place near the end of the ride.  Obviously the steel track has not been installed yet, but just look at that twisted web of ledgers!  Twisted Timbers' low-to-the-ground track will help trains maintain speed throughout the 3,351 feet of track, which includes 20 moments of air-time.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Universal Orlando Announces a New 2,800 Room Resort Complex - Opening in 2019

© Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando has announced their 7th and 8th hotels, to be built on a 64 acre tract of land that was partially once home to Wet 'n Wild before it closed.

The new hotels do not have names yet, or at least ones that are ready to be revealed, but the resort is making it clear that both properties will be aimed at attracting value oriented guests.  The room rates for the resorts will start at less than $100, which is a smaller nightly rate than at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and the upcoming Adventura hotel.

The hotels, each of which can be seen in concept art here, will push the resort's total room count to over 9,000 when they open in 2019.  Each will come with early access to the Universal theme parks, free transportation to the parks, and resort wide room charging abilities.

© Universal Orlando Resort
One resort will feature 700 rooms, and the other will have 2,050.  Between the two there will be 1,450 two-bedroom suites that are perfected for families.  No specific theme for the resorts will be employed, the press release states that visitors will "enjoy the sun, surf and sand with a laid-back coastal feel.  Towering exterior murals with vibrant and natural colors will set a free-spirited and beachy tone, inviting guests to hang loose throughout their stay."

Amenities will include two food courts, three pools, coffee bars, fitness areas, and a car rental center.  The new hotels will be located outside of the boundaries of the main resort, however their location does put them a bit closer to all the land that was recently purchased by Universal for future development.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Universal Studios Japan to Debut "World's First Next Generation Parade" in 2018

Universal Studios Japan recently announced a large new project for 2018, a brand new nighttime parade named Universal Spectacle Night Parade - Best of Hollywood.  The park is calling it the "world's first next-generation parade" due to the technical complexities of the production, along with the high level of special effects.

The parade will be based around four of Universal's biggest block busters: the Harry Potter series, Minions, Jurassic World and Transformers.

© Universal Studios Japan
A bit of each of those franchises can be seen in this promotional art released by the park.  The parade will the first appearance of the Transofrmers characters at Universal Studios Japan, and the first time that the Harry Potter films will be used in a daily parade.

"Park guests will be completely enveloped and fully immersed in this brand new and continually changing entertainment, which far surpasses the traditional theme park parade experience.  The impossible is made possible with perfect synchronization of projection mapping, which completely cover the surroundings, floats incorporating dynamic movements, high quality film lighting, sweeping cinematic score and performances by live entertainers through the use of “Show Orchestration,” an outstanding technology specially developed by Universal Creative."

Some of that text, which is quoted from the official press release, sounds a tad confusing, but basically the park is going to use projection mapping on buildings along the parade route and on the physical floats themselves.  Wireless technology will be used to time the location of the floats and orchestrate all audio and visual elements.  A footnote on the release also mentions that the parade will use "transforming robots," perhaps a nod to the Transformers section of the parade.

Sounds like quite a production, I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out next year.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Darien Lake Planning for a New Roller Coaster in 2018

© Darien Lake
We already knew that Darien Lake was planning something significant for the park's 2018 season, but now due to planning documents submitted we know exactly what is is.  If final approvals are granted, it is expected that the park will announce the roller coaster seen here, a compact Euro-Fighter design from Gerstlauer.

If you look closely at the ride's layout, you might notice that it is nearly identical to Iron Shark, at Galveston Pleasure Pier. (video of that ride can be found here)

© Darien Lake
Various news stories picked up the planning documents, which show the layout even closer in this photo.  Sadly they are all reporting that the documents say that the park will remove their log flume in order to add the coaster - I think that would be three classic log flumes gone in one year.  Still, once park goers ride the new coaster I'm sure they'll be pleased at the replacement.

If the layout does end up being nearly identical to Iron Shark, then we can expect the coaster to be right around 100 feet tall, feature a beyond vertical drop of 95 degrees, have around 1,200 feet of track and reach speeds of 52 miles per hour.  The ride's layout includes several inversions, including an Immelmann that feeds directly into a twisted dive loop, and over banked turn, and a tilted loop.

If the ride receives all permissions to be built, we can expect a formal announcement within a few weeks.

Friday, November 3, 2017

What's New for Kentucky Kingdom's 2018 Season Revealed

© Kentucky Kingdom
Kentucky Kingdom is continuing its path of expansion by announcing several new rides and attractions for the park's 2018 season.  The park had another great season in 2017, averaging 9,000 visitors a day during peak periods.  The developers behind the rebirth of the park have proudly invested $70 million in the park since it reopened in 2014.

Next year's additions will include the Rock 'n' Roller, which looks like a smaller, family style Himalaya flat ride.  It looks to be completely outdoors instead of under cover like the larger models, which gives riders an unobstructed view while rocking and rolling in an undulating circular motion.

© Kentucky Kingdom
The park previously announced that the original Enterprise ride would be leaving the park at the end of the 2017 season, and now we have a thrilling replacement for it.  Know as Scream Xtreme, the replacement is a modern take on the classic Enterprise, an Endeavour from Zamperla rides.  Passengers will sit in floorless cars as the ride circles them high in the sky, inverting them when the arm reaches its maximum height.  The concept is the same as the Enterprise, but the floorless, open vehicles provide a much more thrilling experience.

Next season Kentucky Kingdom will also continue to make major refurbishments to their Thunder Run wooden roller coaster.  The goal is to keep the ride running as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

Finally, two new shows will be featured at the park's 5-D theater, and new amenities, such as more cabanas in the water park and shaded seating throughout both parks, will be added.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

New Look at Coasters, Rides and Slides Headed to The America Dream Theme + Water Park

© Precision Structural Engineering
A new batch of photos have been posted by Precision Structural Engineering, a company that is currently working on The America Dream, which reveal much of what is coming to the mega-mall's theme and water parks.  The project has been under development for years now, with many stops and starts, but appears to be on the right track toward completion.

The water area can be seen above, with slides centered around a large wave pool.  The water park will be themed to the characters of the DreamWorks movies, with the themes extending to each of the slide towers and other attractions.

© Precision Structural Engineering
The attractions, which all appear to be manufactured by Proslide, include a long water roller coaster that surrounds the border of nearly the entire park, with plenty of traditional roller coaster ups and downs.  There is a giant slide tower that has multiple levels of slides coming off it, including what look like some trap-door free fall slides, both body and tube slides, a long with a big mat-racing course.

Another slide complex in the back appears to feature some big "wow" slides, such as a Tornado, Tantrum and other hybrid slides.  There is also a children's area with mini-slides along with a water funhouse play area.

© Precision Structural Engineering
Even more interesting is this look at the amusement park, to be called Nickelodeon Universe.  This is our first real look at the park's layout and attraction lineup, assuming this holds to be true.

The main roller coasters at the park are a massive clone of Takabisha in Japan, which is a Gerstlauer EuroFighter that has both a vertical lift and launch.  Intertwined with that coaster is another Gerstlauer ride, a spinning roller coaster that will be the tallest and longest free spinning coaster when it opens.  The two rides will have a combined 14 vehicles that will be running around the tracks.

The park's map also mentions a family suspended coaster, along with a "short loop coaster," whatever that may be.  Flat rides include a "spinning drop tower," Unicoaster, Sky Fly, Surf Rider, Air Race and Freestyle.  There are a large amount of family and kids rides as well, along with a dark ride and more.

I'm more excited than ever before for these parks to open, now that we've had a preview of what is in store!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Universal Orlando's Future Expansion Possibilities Expanded by 101 More Acres

The present of the Universal Orlando resort is arguably already quite bright, and its future is continuing to look ever brighter with each move they make.  The resort purchased about 475 acres of land at the end of 2015, which is located just minutes from its current parks and resorts.  Zoning on that land has already taken place, with hints at all sorts of new theme park, hotel, shopping and entertainment areas laid out.

Now, to make that potential expansion even sweeter they've picked up another 101 acres of land, adjacent to those 475 acres they picked up before.

© The Orlando Sentinel
This map, from the Orlando Sentinel, shows the new land that was just closed on (for $27.5 million) which sits directly next to the large 340 acre block of land they already owned.  It also gives them access from Sand Lake Road to enter the development, if they choose.  The purchases have also resulted in many other smaller blocks of land, 20 acres here and 20 acres there.  In all, the massive 575 acre site gives nearly endless possibilities and is larger than the current resort in its entirety.

Plus, with Wet 'n Wild now totally demolished and plans for Lowes' largest investment yet in Universal Orlando nearly ready to be announced, there will be even more activity in the near future.  The major expansion will be years and years off, but it's fun to watch things slowly come together!