Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grona Lund Planning New Compact B&M Inverted Ride for 2020


Sweden's Grona Lund is known for it's super-condensed layout, with amusement rides layered on top of one another, regularly crossing paths and interacting as well.  The park is going to get just a bit more crowded in 2020 with the addition of a brand new B&M Inverted roller coaster.

The amusement park has started the process of applying for approval of their building plans, leaving plenty of time for the construction on the ride to start in 2018, with a 2020 opening.  The park's dense layout means that construction might be a bit more complicated that usual.

Here's the ride's layout, taken from this Swedish news article (translated) about the ride:

© Grona Lund
The new inverted coaster will be located near Insane, the park's Intamin ZacSpin, and if you look closely it appears as though the ride's station will be located below ground level.  The lift will rise up to 111.5 feet above the park, with a steep 180 degree drop right after.  The layout of the ride will stay above many of the park's buildings, navigating through 4 inversions, two heartline rolls and two corkscrews.  There are some nice looking curves and helices in the mix as well.  Total track length is stated to be around 2,296 feet with a top speed of 62 miles per hour listed (though that seems a tad fast for a ride of this size).

The translated article says that the ride is inspired by two similar rides in the U.S. - it does have the heartline finish of Banshee at Kings Island, but I'm not sure I can put my finger on what the other may be.  Looks like a fun coaster, though!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Slow Turnaround for Classic Conneaut Lake Park Continues


It's been a very long road, to say the least, but more good news has recently come out of the classic Conneaut Lake Park, located in western Pennsylvania.  The park had been under bankruptcy protection to shield it from being auctioned off to pay off millions in property and other tax debts.  However, the park has recently emerged from bankruptcy and has already made significant progress in reducing their debts.

At the start of the year the park completed their third sale of excess land that it owned which in total has reduced the property tax debt by more than $600,000.  The lakefront property was subdivided into six lots, so that means there are still three others that could be sold and aid in reducing the back taxes owed.

This past December the park also held an auction of unused park items, some related to rides (such as old Blue Streak cars) that raised nearly $30,000.

This all comes after a memorable 2016, which was the park's most successful season in many years - they actually turned a small profit instead of losing money.  Much of that can be attributed to the park's leadership and the reopening of the water slides and lazy river attractions.  In total revenues were up 26% in 2016 over the prior year.

Turning to 2017, there won't be any new rides but the park is looking to make other improvements that will lead to further profitability.  The park is trying to extend their hours and operate more days of the week.  Also, Camperland (the park's campground) is using the auction proceeds and expanding to include 47 new camp sites and more amenities to attract campers.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Ride Kings Island's New Mystic Timbers Coaster First for a Good Cause



Many of us are excited to get our first ride on Mystic Timbers, the new wooden roller coaster at Kings Island, and now you have the chance to be one of the very first to take a spin.

Kings Island and Cedar Fair Charities are joining with the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation to give ride fans a chance to raise money for a great charity and be some of the first people to ride Mystic Timbers.  To be held on April 13th, two days before the public will get a chance to ride, a First Rider Auction event is taking place at the park.  Those interested can commit to raising at least $100 for the Foundation, and if you do you will get to attend the event.  Rides will take place in order of the most amount raised, but all who meet the minimum will get to ride - and find out what is going on in that shed once and for all!

The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation is "a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing life-changing experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in the Cincinnati area."  They have created numerous community outreach programs in the past that benefit local hospital and their patients.

Mystic Timbers features a 109 foot tall lift hill, speeds of 53 miles per hour and 3,265 feet of track in the woods.  Be sure to stay up to date on the ride's progress via the official Mystic Timbers website.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 4th Quarter and 2016 Year End Conference Call



Cedar Fair had their earnings announcement this past week for the 4th quarter of 2016, along with the full results of the year.  In short, it was a very good one, with the company posting its 7th consecutive year of record results.

Full year revenues were up 4% to $1.29 billion and EBITDA was up 5% to $481 million.  Overall attendance was up 3% to a record 25.1 million, and per cap spending was up 2% to $46.90.  The company still plans to achieve its goal of hitting $500 million in EBITDA by the end of 2017, a year earlier then their goal.

The company held their usual conference call for the earnings, and here are some interesting facts from it:

• The company continues to do brand positioning studies on all their parks, seeing great success.  The studies are done for six of the 11 parks - several of which that were completed first (Knott's, CP, Canada's Wonderland) were the largest contributors to the company's 2016 success.  The remaining parks will be completed in the near future.

• The studies have resulted in major successes like Knott's Boysenberry Festival, which second only to Haunt in attendance now, a big deal, and also the popular Taste of the Carolinas event at Carowinds.

• Full year out-of-park revenues, which is mostly from accommodations, was a record $146 million, up 6%.  Cedar Fair will continue to "strategically invest in this area" over the next several years.  Cedar Point will add 20% more rooms by 2018 with a new Hotel Breakers tower and additional rooms at the Express hotel, sustained by the new Cedar Point Sports Complex.  The company has also had conversations with major hotel chains for possible resorts at several other parks, along with possibly high-end campgrounds as well.

• Capital expenditures for 2016 came in at around $160 million, and there's about $135 planned for 2017.  However, that $135 could grow by $30-40 million if they pull the trigger on several accommodation and sports complex additions that are being planned.

• Cedar Fair's overall attendance is now 45% season pass holders, 20-25% group business and the rest independent day visitors.  Also, right now about two thirds of all visitors pre-purchase tickets before arriving at the park.

• Cedar Fair also continues to beef up their catering facilities, opening brand new facilities in 2017 at Worlds of Fun and Dorney Park.  These new areas will have modern kitchen facilities, free Wifi and self-service refreshment centers.  Executive chefs at the park can make customized meals to lead to higher guest spending levels via premium food offerings.

• Winterfest at California's Great America sounds like a smash hit.  Revenues in the 4th quarter were up $25 million, which is NOT just from Winterfest, but probably a large chunk of it.  Executives were proud of the quality of the event, noting that it took the chain's Halloween events 4 to 5 seasons to ramp up to the quality of offerings done in the first year of Winterfest.  The event, coming online at three more parks in 2017, bring 20 to 25 additional operating days, per park, to the company.

• The company is watching labor costs by utilizing more self-serve food locations, especially for this year's beverage refill program.  They will also adding more kiosk ordering to food outlets across the chain.

• The Battle for Cedar Point augmented reality app was a success at Cedar Point last year, and will return in 2017.  It is also being expanded to Kings Dominion in 2017.  Knott's will add a new virtual reality "Showdown at Ghost Town" experience, but no other details on it were given.

• California's Great America receive several shout-outs by executives, congratulating them on their recent zoning approval.  This will let the company focus on the park's "long-term master plan" as research has shown the potential for the park to grow in attendance significantly.  Matt Ouimet even stated that it could be one of their "top-tier" parks when they are done, and he has very "high expectations" for it.  A question was asked if the expansion will be as big as Carowinds, and it sounds like perhaps not quite as big, but they will go in an update infrastructure, add capacity to the park, and build "significant new rides, a la Fury, et cetera."  They plan to talk more about the expansion in 3 to 6 months.

• It was also asked if the plan to expand Valleyfair significantly was still on the table, and they replied that that is still "a little further out."  They just lost the park's General Manager to the Minneapolis Zoo, so this year will be one of transition and study of the marketplace to understand it more.


Friday, February 17, 2017

New Star Trek Coaster Now Testing at Movie Park Germany



One of 2017's most interesting coaster designs can be found at Movie Park Germany, Star Trek: Operation Enterprise.  The coaster has been designed by Mack Rides and contains multiple launches that give the trains a top speed of 56 miles per hour, enough to complete the full circuit track.  Riders will encounter not only full Star Trek theming, but also several inversions, including an elevated heartline roll, an Immelmann, and a zero-g roll.

© Movie Park Germany
The coaster's structure has been completed for some time now, but we just recently got our first look at the ride's trains.  Seen above, the coaster's rolling stock feature a sleek look that fits with the futuristic Star Trek theme.  If you check out the park's Facebook photos, you can see more of the trains along with recent theming progress.

With the coaster's opening coming up pretty soon, the ride has been testing and the park has released this footage.  There's a lot of quick cuts and changes to the movie's speed, so it's hard to gauge how fast the ride is really running, but this looks great!  The twisted elements, launch and unique layout make Star Trek: Operation Enterprise look like it could be one of this year's hits.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wild Adventures Gives a Detailed Look at New Ohana Bay Expansion



Hard to believe, but it really won't be all that long before visitors to Wild Adventures will be enjoying the park's Splash Island water area.  This year the water park will expand with the addition of Ohana Bay, which we heard about previously when it was first announced.  At that point there wasn't much in the way of details aside from the fact that it will be an expansive play area filled with smaller water slides and plenty of places to relax.

© Wild Adventures
Wild Adventures has been keeping us updated on the progress of Ohana Bay via a dedicated website for the project, which is where this photo comes from.  Sure it appears as though there is plenty of work left to be done, but quick progress is being made as each week passes.  More construction photos are being added to the website, and a few others can be seen from this news story.

© Wild Adventures
The biggest amount of new detail comes from this layout of Ohana Bay, which was shared by the park.  In addition to the new amenities such as a Splash Deck play area, plenty of lounge space, restrooms and more, we now know a bit more about the slides and their names.

Alani Falls are three miniature racing slides, designed for small kids.  The purple slide seen above is for bigger kids, also racing slides, named Polu Plunge.  A set of small body slides, named Oma Oma O Racers are next in green.  Finally, the largest slides (each 200 feet in length and starting at 27 feet high) are Uli Uli Twisters, which can be enjoyed by both kids and have enough thrills for adults, too.

Ohana Bay is scheduled to open at Wild Adventures's Splash Island on April 1st.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dorney Park 2017 Construction Update + New Food Offerings Announced


© Dorney Park
Dorney Park recently shared a few photos of the work going on at the park on new for 2017 projects, starting with the Parkside Pavilion.  We've seen work on the expansive new catering facility previously, but in the most recent photo (above) you can see that several of the pavilions are already standing, complete with roofing.

The above photo shows only half of the area, with much more also being built to the right of this view.  In the middle of the area, and on the right of this photo, will be a full service chef's kitchen that will prepare specialty and themed foods for events and picnics.

© Dorney Park
We also have our first look at the park's two new rides from this update as well.  Above is the current work on Dodgem, the new bumper cars.  This area is a part of Talon's plaza, and the former location of Hang Time.  If you look at the larger image you can see the foundation for Dodgem has been started, with the rest of the area cleared.  These bumper cars are being provided by Bartazzon, and will feature 20 different vehicles in a mix of bright colors.

© Dorney Park
A classic Trokia ride, Kaleidoscope, is also in the beginning stages on the Main Midway, just past the Coasters restaurant.  It will be located in the space that the Screamin' Swing took up, seen above.  While the park has plenty of markings out for the ride, it looks like they were still busy removing the former ride's foundation when this photo was taken.  Trokias are pretty big flat rides, and I'm quite interested to see how it will fit on this triangle-shaped plot of land!

Dorney Park has also revealed a handful of additional food and beverage changes for 2017.  First, the planned Sunset Beach Bar in Wildwater Kingdom has been delayed from a 2017 opening.

© Dorney Park
However, two new food options will open next year, the first of which is Papa Luigi's in the water park.  This will replace Typhoon Treats near the original wave pool, and offer pizza along with other items such as Philly Cheesesteaks.

© Dorney Park
Inside the amusement park, a new Auntie Anne's pretzel outlet will open, where the Philly Pretzel Factory was.  It will offer many of the treats that Auntie Anne's is famous for, including cinnamon hand-rolled pretzels.

For more on Dorney Park's 2017 expansion, check out the park's website.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Official Opening Date + New Aerial Views of Universal's Volcano Bay


Universal has announced that their new water theme park, Volcano Bay, will open to the public on May 25th.  That means that in a little over three months visitors to the resort will be able to check out the "immersive environments, exhilarating rides, relaxing escapes and amazing technology" that Volcano Bay has to offer.

In a post about Volcano Bay's official opening date, Universal also gave readers a peek at the park's new TapuTapu wearable technology.  The bracelets will be given to each visitor and allow them to enjoy using virtual lines, so they can play in the park while they are in a virtual line for many of the slides and attractions.  The TapuTapu bracelet will also allow visitors to interact with the park around them, including activating water geysers on unsuspecting guests and revealing hidden paintings in the caves under the volcano.

© bioreconstruct via Twitter
If you're wondering how the progress of Volcano Bay is coming along, well you're in luck.  Over on Twitter, user bioreconstruct has been keeping everyone updated with some amazing aerial photos of the water park's progress.  One is featured above (out of a couple dozen) that were just posted over this past weekend.  The photos not only show off the park and its attractions, they also help us understand what we're looking at with descriptions and more information.

Head over to bioreconstruct's feed on Twitter to check out the photos, and make sure to follow them when you're there!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Disney Offers to Buy-Out All of Disneyland Paris Resort


© Disneyland Paris
The Walt Disney Company has made an offer to buy-out the current investors in the Disneyland Paris Resort, with the intention of fixing the property's financial woes once and for all.

The news came after the Disney Company announced that they have agreed to purchase 90% of the resort's shares that are held by Kingdom Holding Company.  That transaction represents 9% of the resort's total shares, and will increase Disney's ownership of the resort to 85.7% from 76.7%.  At the same time Disney announced that they intend to make a cash offer to pick up all of the other outstanding shares, held by various investors, to fully own the property.

The Disneyland Paris Resort has had a long history of financial and profitability issues, which were hurt further by the terror attacks in Paris and economic issues throughout Europe.  Despite pouring more money into the resort in recent years, Disney is also offering to spend up to €1.5 billion when these transactions are complete to fix the resort's finances, including reducing debt, increasing liquidity and o complete improvements in the parks.

Disneyland Paris Resort most recently announced some special attractions for their 25th anniversary, including two Star Wars themed attraction overlays, a new nighttime show and parade.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

New "Mixed Reality Experience" VR Coasters Coming to Two Six Flags Parks



Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and Samsung Electronics are once again partnering to offer a brand new virtual reality roller coaster experience, opening soon at two Six Flags parks.  Named The New Revolution Galactic Attack, the upgraded rides will feature the first "mixed reality experience" on any coaster.  Riders will compete in "complex gameplay" that allows them to "make key decisions during the course of the ride that can affect their scoring at the end."

© Six Flags
Riders will wear Samsung Gear VR headsets on the coasters, experiencing the device's "passthrough camera functionality," effectively entering them into another world.  However, riders will still be able to see the world around them, including other riders, along with the virtual environment.  The park's description of the experience notes that as riders reach the top of the "lift hill, a massive, swirling wormhole comes into view. As riders drop at high speeds, the mixed reality view changes to a completely immersive, virtual reality environment and a fighter spaceship cockpit materializes and envelops the riders into a tunnel of light. At the bottom of the first hill, riders are launched into the middle of a space battle, coming under attack from flying drones firing lasers and missiles. After swinging through tight channels, narrowly dodging drones and artillery fire, riders are brought into one of three drone bays, each of which offer a completely different gaming experience and three different endings."

© Six Flags
The New Revolution Galactic Attack will premier at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Magic Mountain on February 25th.  At Six Flags Discovery Kingdom the experience will be located on Kong, a suspended looping coaster, and at Six Flags Magic Mountain on The New Revolution.

Visitors who want to experience the attractions a week early can help a good cause and ride the weekend of February 18th - 20th.  To celebrate the opening of the new rides, both parks will "attack hunger" by hosting a food drive.  Guests can bring a full bag of non-perishable food items to support local food banks and be given the opportunity to ride The New Revolution Galactic Attack a week before the public.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hydrus Revealed as Name for New Casino Pier Roller Coaster


© Casino Pier
Casino Pier's new Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster now has a name, and it is Hydrus!  While the name Hydrus is a bit reminiscent of the mythical Hydra, it's actually also the name of a constellation according to the almighty Wikipedia.  But, the article does point out that Hydrus means "male water snake," so there is still a connection to Hydra in there somewhere.

Either way, the ride now has a fun name and on top of that it is already complete!  The final track pieces went in just a day or so ago, connecting the 1,050 foot long layout - seen above.

© Casino Pier / RC Aerial Pro
This photo, shared by the park on Facebook, is a few days old (still missing a few track segments) but really shows off the striking colors that Hydrus has.  This coaster is really going to look beautiful in the bright summer sun, with the waves crashing nearby.  It's great to see Casino Pier growing so much after all the hard times they've had in the past - hopefully this summer many of you will be able to stop by the park and take a spin on Hydrus!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Fun Spot America - Kissimmee Names New Gravity Group Wood Coaster



Fun Spot America, located in Kissimmee, Florida, announced the name of their new Gravity Group wood coaster on a commercial during last night's 'big game,' revealing that the ride will be named Mine Blower.  The coaster will be the first wooden ride in Florida to include a full inversion when it opens this summer.

© Fun Spot America
The park also revealed that Mine Blower will include "2 mine tunnels" within its compact layout, and released some additional concept art (above) of the front of the train... filled with some ACME rockets!  The coaster's foundation is already complete, and a couple days ago the first bents were put into place... it is all uphill from here!

When completed, Mine Blower will stand 82 feet tall, reach a maximum speed of 49 miles per hour, and contain 2,256 feet of twisted wooden track, including the aforementioned corkscrew/barrel roll inversion.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

New Wave Breaker - The Rescue Coaster Video with Aerial Shots



SeaWorld San Antonio has introduced what appears to be the first in a series of video updates for their new double-launch roller coaster, Wave Breaker - The Rescue Coaster.  The video is available on the ride's website, and has a few aerial construction shots mixed in that I thought were neat.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
This view shows the section of the park's center lake that is drained for work to be completed on the new coaster.  Well, it's actually only part of the drained area, it's much bigger than just this.  In the middle of the photo you can see footings for what I believe will be the station area for the coaster, with the launch footings moving from that toward the bottom of the photo.  On the right are footings for an s-curve looking part of the ride that I think connects with the second launch.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
This view is of the back half of the ride.  The launch footings I just described can be seen on the bottom left of the photo.  There's plenty of other footings completed for the rest of the ride, the video states that almost 300 are complete so far.  You can also see Steel Eel's first drop over on the far right of the photo, to help with placement.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
One final image, showing where I believe the tallest portions of the ride will be located.  All these areas that we're seeing will eventually be filled back in with water, making the majority of Wave Breaker's layout not over land.  I'm excited to see the track and supports go up for the coaster, so stay tuned for more updates!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Colorado Park Opening 120 Foot Underground Freefall This Summer



This sounds really cool.  Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, located in Glenwood Caverns, Colorado, is adding the Haunted Mine Drop this summer, which will plunge riders down a 120 foot mine shaft underground.

The ride is being designed by Stan Checketts, formerly of S&S Worldwide, who is knows for his wild ride concepts.  The Haunted Mine Drop will include a complete theme, including ghostly figures and an elaborate backstory.

© Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
This concept art shows the structure that will greet visitors when they arrive at the attraction.  The park is creating a full ghost story for the attraction, where riders come to work at the mine but get their orientation from ghosts.  That should set the tone for the whole experience, which eventually includes a dark plunge down 120 feet underground.  According to this news story, park is working with Creative Visions on the theming for the attraction including the ghostly apparitions.  The above-linked story also has photos of the hole that the park is digging for the drop, and other progress photos.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park already features a roller coaster, swing rides over the edge of the mountain, an alpine coaster and zip line.  The new Haunted Mine Drop ride is the park's first attempt at theming - one I sure hope will be a huge success!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Casino Pier Making Quick Work of New Gerstlauer Coaster


© Casino Pier
Rising quickly at Casino Pier, the park's new Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter coaster has already changed the landscape along the shore at Seaside Heights, New Jersey.  The park has completed much of their boardwalk expansion, which has allowed construction of the park's new coaster to start.  Since the ride is compact, it hasn't taken long for pieces of the coaster to go up, and the park has been following along with the work via their social media channels.

The above photo was from just a few days ago, and shows that the final brakes, station, lift and first drop were complete.  Plenty of other supports and some additional track were also up.

© Casino Pier
Fast-forwarding a couple days, we see that even more of the ride is standing - just a couple more pieces are needed to close the vertical loop.  When all is said and done the coaster - which still is not named - will have three inversions, the vertical loop, a cutback (which is half built) and a heartline roll.  The vertical lift stands 72 feet tall and has a 97 degree first drop.

Casino Pier's 2017 expansion will also include a new Ferris wheel, along with plenty of space to grow onto in the future.