Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rudolph + Friends Staying at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment for Five More Years

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has announced that they have reached an agreement with Character Arts, LLC, to extend their contract to feature Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends in their parks for five more years.

Rudolph, along with his pals Clarice, Bumble, the Abominable Snow Monster and Yukon Cornelius are features during the company's holiday events at their SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks.  The characters are available in person during the events (as seen in these photos), but also are featured in themed attractions each winter season along with special dining opportunities and games.

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
The extension means that the characters will be around at the parks through January 31, 2024.  At SeaWorld they can be found during the Christmas Celebration in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio, Christmas Town at the two Busch Gardens Parks in Williamsburg and Tampa, and also as a part of A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania.

“Generations of our guests have grown up with Rudolph and we are happy to continue the tradition at our popular holiday events,” said John Reilly, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s interim CEO. “We are always looking for ways to provide our guests with best-in-class experiences; Rudolph & Friends certainly help us do that with unique, interactive elements for the entire family.”

SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place’s holiday celebrations will launch in late November and run throughout the month of December, 2018.  The parks have found success with seasonal events that foster repeat visits to the parks, so I wouldn't be surprised to see these events continue to grow in the future!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Alabama Splash Adventure Breaks Attendance Record + Opens New FreeFALL Slide

© Alabama Splash Adventure
More good news coming out of Alabama Splash Adventure, as the park has reported that they had broken their own attendance record when they still had 17 operating days left in the 2018 season.  The park was reopened by members of the Koch family in 2014, meaning this was the property's 5th year of operations under them.

The park has continued to grow by adding several rides (including a Yo-Yo, Scrambler and Tilt-a-Whirl), a high dive show and a family water play area this year, but just recently yet another new attraction debuted in the water park - FreeFALL.  The giant water slide utilizes a slide tower that was already at the park, which had its older slides removed.  This new slide features a super steep drop and an extended run out area - perfect for thrill seekers.

The park has also noted on social media that this tower is able to support another water slide from it - you can actually see the support for that to the right of the tower.  While not a 2019 project, it will come on board one day.

This fall the park will also open on weekends in October for a family friendly fall festival, which is news and extends their operating season even longer.

After a year of such expansion for Alabama Splash Adventure, one might think it will be a quiet 2019 season... but you never know with these guys!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Liseberg Opens Valkyria - New B&M Dive Coaster

© Liseberg
After a couple of minor construction delays, Liseberg, located in Sweden, has opened their brand new B&M dive coaster, Valkyria.  The massive investment replaced the park's launched Intamin coaster, Kanonen, and follows last year's instillation of Loke, a giant pendulum ride.

Valkyria features a lift hill that stretches 154 feet into the sky, after which the trains encounter a 90 degree turn to the right.  As B&M dive coasters are known to do, the trains then are braked on the edge of the vertical drop, giving riders this view:

© Liseberg
The vertical drop extends down 164 feet, taller than the lift due to the tunnel that can be seen at the very bottom of this photo.  The trains soar through a giant Immelmann element, then up a highly banked curve and directly into a zero-g roll.  After a large helix, the ride then meanders through a heartline roll before curving into the final brakes.  Valkyria's total track length is 2,297 feet and the train hit a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour.

Liseberg has released this official point of view video of a ride on Valkyria, why don't you take a spin!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dorney Park August 11th 2018 Update

Despite another day of sudden torrential downpours, I wanted to stop by Dorney Park to see what was new with the park.  Here is what I was able to take note of between the passing thunderstorms!

© NewsPlusNotes
First, while we all knew this was coming, the park has put up signs confirming that Dinosaurs Alive! will be retired at the end of 2018 season.  For those who want to take one last trip through the exhibit to say goodbye, the park is offering buy one, get one tickets until the end of the year.

© NewsPlusNotes
Dinosaurs Alive! opened at the park in 2012, the same year that Stinger made its debut.  In that sense it's the full closing of an era as Stinger already made a trip to the recycling center, and now the dinosaurs are headed for extinction once again.  Personally, I would not expect to see any large attraction built on the Dinosaurs Alive! land in the future, but we can hope for a great wooded Haunt maze to happen again some day!

© NewsPlusNotes
Earlier in the season the park added a seating area in front of Meteor, as the general area was lacking enough space for people to eat.  As the summer as gone on the planters the park lined the area with have really filled out, making the space work even better aesthetically.  A small change, but a good one for guest comfort.

© NewsPlusNotes
August is always when the park looks its best in terms of landscaping, as all the plants have really grown in during the summer.  This is one example of the nice garden areas that the park has created.

© NewsPlusNotes
Despite all the rain we've had this summer, Cedar Creek wasn't nearly as high as I expected it to be.  The ducks seemed pretty happy with the shower that had just ended when I took this photo.

© NewsPlusNotes
With Cedar Point recently announcing the removal of their Huss Enterprise, one has to wonder if these rides are coming to the end of their lives.  Dorney has had their since the early 1980s, I believe, making it over 30 years of age.  It's always got a line when I see it though, so hopefully it sticks around a while longer.

© NewsPlusNotes
For those keeping tabs, there has been zero activity o the Stinger Field.  Healthy looking grass is all that is to be found here.

Moving on to Halloween Haunt preparations, the park recently made some updates to their Haunt website, showing what changes are in store this year.  It looks Cut Throat Island has been given the axe, and Trick or Treat is getting a new "Lights Out" overlay.  Grave Walkers has been renamed Necropolis, with some changes and improvements expected.  The Skeleton Crew show will not return this year, with Overlord's Resurrection moving into Hydra Plaza.

© NewsPlusNotes
After those changes, the rest of the existing haunts and scare zones will be back again this year for the 11th year of Halloween Haunt.  That includes Age of Darkness, which is currently being set up at the park on the Thunderhawk midway.

© NewsPlusNotes
The layout looks similar as in past years, with giant castle facades going up on the buildings in the area.  The 'torture chamber' area is also being set up, where we can find...

© NewsPlusNotes
This cool looking dragon, which if you remember was one of the creatures from Dinosaurs Alive! that was fatally injured in a storm, and the repurpose for Haunt.  So in at least one way the attraction will live on at the park even after it closes this fall.

© NewsPlusNotes
Both Steel Force and the path to Dinosaurs Alive! were closed due to the storms, so this is the best photo I could get of a new facade going up inside Necropolis. 

© NewsPlusNotes
Apologies for this photo, but it's the only other one I got of the new Necropolis facade going up and it's focused on Revolution's queue rails, and not the facade.  Still, it gives a bit more detail on the structure.

© NewsPlusNotes
Finally, before heading out just as another storm rolled in, I noticed two small structures being built behind Tourist Trap - perhaps these are more of the small stand-alone Skeleton Key rooms for this year?

That's all for now, plenty more to come as the park moves out of the summer season and into the fall!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Six Flags Great America Hard at Work on Teasing New for 2019 Project

Something new is on its way to Six Flags Great America in 2019... and the park has started a series of "Road to Glory" teaser videos leading up to the announcement at the end of this month.

Above is the first video, which features a water park visitor and his race crew... I say race crew since they are dressed like that and the video features some graphics that are seemingly race themed.  The visitor gets sun lotion sprayed and heads off on his mission, "up there."

The second video, above, has now been released and in it we see the visitor and his crew sending him down the park's Dive Bomber trap-door drop water slide.

The crew times him on the slide, and after telling him he can "do better," they make a very clear point to show that the time registered exactly 2 seconds.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but they were very specific in showing that.  We will have to wait and see what kind of hints the third video gives us!

© Six Flags Great America
As for where this project is going, it would appear as though the park will be utilizing the space they gained when they removed the Pictorium earlier this year.  The structure appears on the 2018 park map, so one has to wonder if its removal was a last minute decision.

Either way, it's a large plot of land that is now open, which is nicely demonstrated above.  It's also located adjacent to the most recently developed part of Hurricane Harbor, and with the theme of the videos it would seem that a new water attraction is on the way.

Unless that's a red herring?  Stay tuned to find out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Six Flags Great Adventure to Hold New Food & Brew Festival Starting August 16th

© Six Flags Great Adventure
New this summer, Six Flags Great Adventure will soon debut their new Food & Brew Festival, which will feature "delicious treats, an expansive variety of craft beer, cocktails and live entertainment."

The festival will start on August 16th and run through August 19th, beginning each day at 12 noon and running until 8 pm.  It will be held inside of the theme park, with most stands spread throughout the Lakefront themed area.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
A big part of the new festival will be tasty treats that can be purchased at the different stands.  There will be a "myriad of tastes ranging from specialty mac & cheese, a variety of kabobs, pulled pork and short rib sandwiches to strawberry salad, seafood gumbo and tacos, plus pickles and gourmet milkshakes."  That's quite a wide variety of food, and certainly a bit of something for everyone.

To go along with these dishes will be more than 40 IPAs, lagers, ciders and seasonal craft beers - or if that isn't your style there will be specialty cocktails and frozen drinks available at the bars.  These drinks will also be available at the park's new Ale House, located on Main Street.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Any Food & Brew Festival wouldn't be complete without live music, and this event will feature plenty of that.  There will be more than 12 "Jersey Shore rock, country, jazz and blues" bands performing over the course of the festival.  These include acts such as "Williams Honor, Ned Ryerson and the Groundhogs, Matt O’Ree Band, Billy Hector & the Midnight Horns and many more."
To learn more about the new Six Flags Food & Brew Festival, check out Six Flags Great Adventure's website.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Cedar Point to Retire Witches' Wheel for "Future Expansion"

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point recently took to their official blog to announce that the park's Huss Enterprise, named Witches' Wheel, will be retired before the end of the 2018 season.  While fans of the ride may be disappointed, the park did mention that the ride is being removed to make way for "future expansion," though no more details were given on that front.

The Witches' Wheel opened at Cedar Point in 1977 and according to the park has spun more than 24 million riders in the air.  That's a lot of spinning if you think about it!

© Google Maps
Witches' Wheel is located just inside the resort entrance gates and to the right, also along the Gemini midway.  It was not changed much when that midway underwent heavy renovations in 2014, and its corner-location makes it sit on some prime real estate.

The aerial above shows the ride's location in the pink box - it is pretty tucked in between Gemini and the start of Magnum's lift/final turns.  So I'm not sure I can see this being a part of a much larger expansion, though the area would be prime for a tall/modern thrill ride.  The location gets a ton of foot traffic, especially these days with resort guests coming and going, and we know that the park likes to make a statement with their entrances!

No word on any official announcement date from the park, so stay tuned.  Until then, you can still take a spin on Witches' Wheel until its final day, September 3rd, 2018.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

SeaWorld Orlando Announces New Craft Beer Festival for Fall 2018

SeaWorld Orlando is already giving out up to two, 7-ounce free beer tastings per visit (now through September 2nd), but is going to take their love of brews up a notch and hold their first Craft Beer Festival this fall.

© SeaWorld Orlando
The new Craft Beer Festival will take place just in time for International Beer Day, running on weekends November 3rd through 11th.  The festival is going to feature more than 100 brews on draft from breweries across the state of Florida, plus select domestic and international craft favorites as well.  To pair will all those brews, SeaWorld Orlando will also feature more than 20 unique food items available for purchase.  During the event the park will offer several sampling packages "designed for the most adventurous beer fans."

© SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando has already made moves to be a place to relax and enjoy the evening with their free beer samples during the summer, and this event should further make the park a place for locals to enjoy.  The park has also been offering a daily happy hour, which starts at 4 pm and features buy one get one drinks and food items at the Flamecraft Bar and Sharks Underwater Grill Bar.

With the very full Orlando market catering heavily to tourists, I think it is refreshing to see SeaWorld Orlando continue to differentiate themselves in this way!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Dollywood Unveils $37 Million Wildwood Grove Themed Area for 2019

© Dollywood
The largest expansion to ever open at Dollywood in its 32 year history will debut in 2019, a brand new themed area named Wildwood Grove.  Featuring 11 attractions and experiences, Wildwood Grove will send visitors to the theme park on an "adventurous journey to explore, imagine and play together as a family."

The expansion finishes the Dollywood Company's commitment of spending $300 million on the park over a ten year period, and does it four years early.  It will be the first themed area added to the park since Wilderness Pass opened in 2008.

Visitors will enter Wildwood Grove through the hollow trunk of a giant fallen tree, and be met with the view above.  Towering over the land is the 55 foot tall Wildwood Tree, which "grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, and offers a natural platform for performances throughout the day and night. The green, leafy canopy is adorned with thousands of butterflies that dance playfully in the breeze. As the sun sinks in the sky, Wildwood Grove glows warmly as lanterns and lights glimmer like cheerful fireflies. Once darkness falls, the area sparkles as the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color."

© Dollywood
The largest new ride to be added is the Dragonflier, a suspended family roller coaster created by Vekoma.  The ride's layout will be one of their 453 meter models, of which several already exist.  They appear to have a bit of a thrill factor to them, and will fit in nicely with Dollywood's current mix of coasters.

© Dollywood
A nice selection of family rides will make their home in Wildwood Grove, including Black Bear Trail, a "Pony Trek" ride from Metallbau Emmeln, that gives riders a scenic view of the Smoky Mountain woods on the back of a black bear.  There will also be a trio of new rides from Zamperla, including the Sycamore Swing, a traditional pirate ship ride, Treetop Tower, a Samba Tower featuring cars themed as giant acorns, and Frogs & Fireflies, a small Jump Around kiddie ride.

© Dollywood
Other attractions in Wildwood Grove include a set of Larson Flying Scooters named the Mad Mocking Bird, pictured above, and Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq. ft. indoor play space.  Hidden Hollow will "provide a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. With climbing structures, slides and multiple games, play time here is full of exploration."  The Wildwood Creek will be an outdoor place space with pop jets, splash pools and more that is sure to keep kids busy.

Wildwood Grove will have one new restaurant, Till & Harvest, featuring "Southern inspired, Southwest-fresh" items on the menu.  Three new characters will be featured in the land that guests and meet with - Flit and Flutter, the area's butterfly ambassadors, and Benjamin Bear, a "playful friend who loves to explore the grove with new visitors."

In order to create the desired grove-like atmosphere for the area, Dollywood is spending nearly $1 million on 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs.

The park's official announcement livestream is embedded below, it gives some additional concept art for the project near the end of the video that is worth checking out!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Heard On... Cedar Fair's Q2 2018 Conference Call

This week Cedar Fair released their results for the second quarter of 2018, and for the first time in recent memory the results were what you would categorize as less than impressive.  The press release can be found at this link, but the company's conference call was where all the good information was.  Here are some notes from the call:

•  Looking at quarter two alone, revenues were down $12m or 3%, with attendance down 363,000 visits or 5%.  There was a 1% increase in per cap revenues, and a $2m or 4% increase in out-of-park revenues.  This led to an overall decrease in EBITDA of $23 million, which both the company and investors pay close attention to.

•  At the end the second quarter, the company did see deferred revenue up $18m, which comes from season pass and all-season dining (and other product) revenues - this at least is healthy growth.  The poor quarter was mostly blamed on weather and record rain in the Mid-Atlantic, much lower season pass sales at Kings Island, and construction and regulatory delays on RailBlazer at California's Great America.

•  Cedar Fair also gave a year-to-date update through the end of July 29th, and the results did not show much improvement.  Revenue was down 2% or $50m, attendance was down 3% or 408,000, showing more slipping in July instead of gains.  Per cap revenue was still up 1% and out-of-park revenues had climbed 4% or $3m.  This has led the company to warn that they may not reach the low end of their earlier guidance for the full 2018 year, which was $1.34b to $1.38b in revenues, and $475m to $495m in EBITDA.

•  The company is looking to reduce costs in light of the results.  Some tactics mentioned were to adjust the parks operating calendars based on demand, investing in technology to schedule the tens of thousands of seasonal workers the parks employ, and to "eliminate rides and attractions that have run their course and are no longer popular."  So watch for more announcements of older rides being retired for the 2019 season.

•  The Cedar Point Sports Center is performing beyond their expectations, and leading to higher hotel occupancy rates in the Spring and Fall.  They still want to build more of these but getting a private/public funding package together is proving tough.  The entire resort sold out the past couple weekends.  The destination resort marketing for Cedar Point is working, and they are seeing guests coming from further away and staying overnight.

•  Kings Island had a "very slow start" to their year, with bad and cold weather in the Spring that hurt attendance and also brought season pass sales down significantly.  However, that is compared to 2017 which was an outstanding year for the park, so even with the declines 2018 is on track to be the second highest season pass program in the park's history.

•  Cedar Fair did not go into much detail into what caused RailBlazer at California's Great America to open late, but they did say that it hurt the park's season pass sales as well.  Since the ride opened, and they noted it has received glowing reviews, the park has performed "largely as expected."

•  One bright spot was the performance of Knott's Berry Farm, which is on pace to have a record year of season pass sales, overall attendance and per cap revenues.  The park opened Hangtime this year, and has also been a smash success at creating 'four seasons of fun' and being responsive to what their audience wants via festivals and events.

•  The overall percentage of season pass holders renewing each year has continued to rise.  This fall the company will debut a 12 month payment installment for season passes versus the 9 month schedule they have now to see how each market reacts.

•  One analyst asked if the company believes there has been a change in what consumers want, implying that it is no longer amusement parks.  Cedar Fair replied that they have seen "nothing to suggest wholesale changes in our guests' attitudes toward the unique entertainment we provide."  Cedar Fair is continuing to research what guests want at each park to achieve successful brand positioning (as was done with Knott's), and they're using more focus groups and surveys to do this.  This effort has already led to increased special events, parks having executive chefs, upgrades to catering areas, the "seasons of fun" marketing program to drive urgency, and chain-wide resort improvements.

•  Cedar Point is having a very tough year from how it sounds.  The improvements in the resort's hotels and accommodations are on track to create a record year for out-of-park revenues.  Steel Vengeance has led to higher purchase rates of Fast Lane passes, but not much else about the ride was said - very odd.  Overall, more investments for the property are coming soon, and it sounds like they meant especially on the resort side of things.  Attendance is down this year, which is rough considering Steel Vengeance just opened.  They cited examples of rainy weeks in July where attendance was down high single digits to low double digits, but then on a nice week attendance was only up low single digits - meaning the good days are no where near enough to make up for the bad ones.

•  A question was posed about acquiring new parks, and the company noted that they are built on mergers and acquisitions in their history, but haven't done one since 2006.  They are however "constantly engaged in dialogue on opportunities that maybe are out there."  They also gained international park management experience with their new COO, so conversations on global expansion are on the table.

•  As for 2019, the parks will "soon" announce "additional world class coasters, immersive and interactive areas for families" and enhancements to in park locations especially food and beverage.  In the second half of 2019 the new indoor sports center at Cedar Point will open, and SpringHill Suites will open at Carowinds.  Executives have challenged teams to create incremental revenue with less reliance on capital expenditures (like the new Sunset Wine tours that CP is starting).  Going forward it sounds like they might try to reign in capital spending, especially since many big projects like current resort expansions and wifi are done.  There will be a continued push to try to find a way to boost early season attendance at all the parks.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Hersheypark Unveils Reese's Cupfusion Interactive Dark Ride for 2019 Season

The details of the mysterious mission that Hersheypark has been hinting at have finally been revealed - coming to the park in 2019 is a brand new interactive dark ride named Reese's Cupfusion.  The attraction, created by Sally Corporation with design elements by Raven Sun Creative, will feature "state-of-the-art, multi-level game player technology."

While the park's press release does not directly state that Reese's Cupfusion will replace the park's current interactive dark ride, Reese's Xtreme Cup Challenge, it is believed that it will.  The park did confirm that the new attraction will be built in the Founder's Way themed area, and open in Summer 2019.

“We are thrilled to announce the one-of-a-kind gaming attraction that is Reese’s Cupfusion,” said Kevin Stumpf, VP of Sports & Attractions at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. “We pride ourselves on creating unique and memorable family experiences that can only be enjoyed at Hersheypark and this new attraction will do just that.”

© Hersheypark
Featuring an interactive experience that combines sight, smell, touch and sound, Reese's Cupfusion will treat riders to an experience that resembles an interactive family game.  Riders can earn points several ways, including shooting "spirit beams" from their amplifier as they ride.

Visitors will become Reese's Agent Trainees in Reese's Central on the ride, a location that runs on Reese's Spirit via the Crystal Cup, which "collects and amplifies the love of chocolate and peanut butter to create Cupfusion Energy that powers the factory."  On the ride agents will protect the Crystal Cup and earn points while doing so, blasting away evil doers like Mint the Merciless and The League of Misfit Candy.

Reese's Cupfusion will allow riders as small as 36 inches to ride with a responsible companion, appealing to a wide selection of visitors.  For more on the new attraction, including more concept art and a video, check out Hersheypark's website for the new ride.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Camelbeach Waterpark Opens High Noon Typhoon Tornado Slide

© Camelbeach Waterpark
Proving once again that late is better than never, Pennsylvania's Camelbeach Waterpark recently opened a brand new water slide, named High Noon Typhoon.  The ride is one of Proslide's standard Tornado slides, which stand around six stories tall and utilizes four-person clover leaf shaped tubes.

As with these types of slides, the passengers sail down an enclosed section of slide through a turn and then fall into a large, steep drop into the funnel.  The tubes sail up and down the sides of the giant funnel, reaching high up the sides at first providing a moment of a weightless feeling.  As they oscillate back and forth they come to a rest in the middle of the funnel and then slide out at the bottom into the catch pool.

© Camelbeach Waterpark
While these Tornado-style rides have been around for many years now, this debut at Camelbeach Waterpark is noteworthy.  This is actually the slide's second home, as it was originally located at Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom where it was built in 2005 and named Liquid Lightning.

This past fall the Tornado slide, along with the tall Thunder Falls slide complex, and other remnants of Wildwater Kingdom (which ceased operations after 2016) were for sale via a third party.  It looks like Camelbeach saw an opportunity to pick up a large slide at a fraction of the cost of a new one, and now the rest is history.

So fans of Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom who have ridden this Tornado slide in the past still have an opportunity to ride it once more, now as High Noon Typhoon at Camelbeach!

Monday, July 30, 2018

New Thomas Town Themed Area Opens at Kennywood

© Kennywood
This past weekend saw the first visitors to Kennywood's newest expansion, a fully themed area named Thomas Town.  Featuring the famous Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends from the Island of Sodor, the new area features multiple new rides, attractions, a live show and play areas.  Thomas Town is aimed at families with smaller children, though parents can ride most of the attractions with their kids.

© Kennywood
Kennywood's Thomas Town is the second largest permanent Thomas & Friends area in North America, and the park is also celebrating the grand opening by showing Thomas & Friends 4D: Bubbling Boilers in their 4-D Theater now through August 3rd.

The main attraction in Thomas Town is a trip on the park's classic train ride, which has seen one vehicle totally made over into Thomas himself.  Pictured above, the journey takes riders out to the edge of Kennywood park and back, offering magnificent views along the way.

© Kennywood
There are additional new rides in the area as well, above is Diesel Drivers, a smaller train ride that features the characters Diesel and Iron Bert.  For kids feeling a bit more adventurous, Cranky's Drop Tower will lift them up above the area for a great view, only to have them gently fall back to the ground.

© Kennywood
For young heroes in training, Thomas Town features Flynn's Fire Training, seen in the photo above, where kids can shoot water to put out fake fires as they rotate around the center structure.  Lastly, Harold's Helicopter Tour is a circular flat ride that allows kids to slowly move their helicopters up and down as they spin.

Thomas Town also features a live stage show named Steel City Adventures! which takes place several times per day.  The area has a large indoor play space as well, named the Thomas & Friends Big Adventure Zone, filled with interactive features and play areas.  Rounding out the offerings of the new area are a special Thomas & Friends gift shop, and a birthday pavilion that can be rented.

For more on Thomas Town at Kennywood, check out the park's website.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

SeaWorld San Diego Planning New "Roller Coaster" for 2019

SeaWorld San Diego has filed plans to build what is described as a new roller coaster for the park's 2019 season.  The plans, which can be viewed at this link (while the agenda is live at least), describe the addition as follows:

The proposed new 22-foot high coaster will cover approximately 800 square feet, and includes the new coaster, two 250 square foot loading ramps sited on the east and west ends of the new attraction with attached open shade structures not to exceed 19 feet in height, and a new 300 square foot building housing the controls for the roller coaster.  New landscaping and hardscaping improvements are also proposed.  The ride is designed to conform to the aquatic and educational nature of SeaWorld by incorporating elements of its “Rising Tide” program which promotes sustainable aquaculture and protection of coral reefs.

© SeaWorld San Diego
The planning document also contains this look at the ride, and its location.  As you can see the attraction is small and the layout is a figure eight when viewed from above.  The ride will be built along side an existing tide pool, on the far Eastern edge of the theme park, below the Cirque Stadium and tucked next to one part of Shipwreck Rapids.

© Google Maps
Here is a comparable view of the park to go along with the plans.  The area in red will be cleared to allow the new ride to go in.  I'm not sure what is there currently, it looks like just landscaping and perhaps a small retail location - either way not much of a loss there.

So now for the ride itself, as many other sites have pointed out (Screamscape, for one), the dimensions and layout closely match the Skywarp Horizon model, created by Skyline Attractions.  Here is a snip of the manufacturer's website, showing this version:

© Skyline Attractions
The horizon is similar to the Skywarp that was added to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this year, but obviously with a different layout.  That said, these are powered rides that work much like a Larson Super Loop, so most put these in the "flat ride" category more so than the "roller coaster" category.

Either way, it's great to see SeaWorld San Diego expanding again after building a large roller coaster, Electric Eel, this year.  Many parks have a very quiet year after adding a large ride, so it's nice to see SeaWorld San Diego continuing to push forward!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dollywood to Share Details on New Themed Area on August 3rd

© Dollywood
Dollywood has been hard at work on a massive expansion project for more than a year now, and we only have to wait until August 3rd to find out all the details.

Instead of the park just adding another ride, show, or attraction, Dollywood is going full steam ahead with a giant new themed land, recently revealed to be called Wildwood Grove:

Wildwood Grove is expected to contain several new rides and attractions, along with at least one restaurant, retail shops and more (I'm sure at least one show!).  From some leaked plans it also appears as though a family roller coaster will be built, bringing the park's total up to nine coasters.  The art in the teasers for the announcement contain very colorful leaves and vines - I'm interested to see how the overall theme of Wildwood Grove will play out.

Fans of the park can actually watch the announcement live on August 3rd, via this link.

The park's train ride has been giving clear views of the work site for the past year, and now work is really starting to pick up pace.  This video, from Variety Entertainment, shows recent footage of the huge work site from the train.  At least one building is now up (perhaps a service building) and some other footings can be seen as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Announcement Date Set for Canada's Wonderland's New For 2019 Coaster

Speculation about the details of the roller coaster Canada's Wonderland is building for 2019 has been intense since the park opened this year with a brand new tunnel (with coaster track installed!) already in place for the project.

As the summer has progressed many new clues have been discovered about the ride, but the park has remained fairly quiet on the subject.  But now, according to the above tweet from the park's VP of Marketing & Sales, all will be revealed on August 15th.  That leaves us with just over three weeks until we get all the details on the project!

© Canada's Wonderland
The announcement date reveal is also on the park's website homepage as well, allowing us a closer look.  Not much else to be found here, other than it's clearly the surface of a rock with the text carved into it.
The teasing for the new coaster, expected to be one of the largest built next year, has spread to other Cedar Fair parks.  Above is a tweet showing a poster that has been displayed at Cedar Point, which by all accounts appears to be giving clues for Canada's Wonderland's new ride.

According to the graphic, the Cedar Creek Mining Company is moving up North with some new operations, and several of the chain's coaster's are featured by name.  The bottom has some curious numbers, including 17, a connection to Canada's Wonderland as the new ride will be their 17th coaster.  There is also 3,215 ft - track length? - 137 MCBR - height of the mid-course brakes? - and 3,501' - ehhh track length again?  A bit puzzling but pretty awesome to see the folks at Cedar Fair sending out clues for other parks like this!

Also, this coming week will be very quiet on NPN as we will be taking a much needed vacation.  Keep tabs on us on Twitter to see where we are headed!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

New Steelers Themed Area + Massive "Steel Curtain" Roller Coaster Opening at Kennywood in 2019

© Kennywood
Today was Kennywood's highly anticipated announcement of the amusement park's 2019 plans, and not only did the park reveal a massive new steel roller coaster, but also a brand new section of the park themed to the Pittsburgh Steelers football franchise.

Kennywood and the Steelers have teamed up to create a one-of-a-kind area that is "unprecedented in both the sports and amusement worlds."  Known as Steelers Country, the area will bring to life the feeling of game day, complete with "exclusive merchandise, skill games and food locations including a themed tailgating experience."

© Kennywood
“Being the first park to collaborate with a professional sports franchise on not only a themed area, but also a pulse-pounding, high-flying roller coaster is a great honor that fits in with Kennywood’s longstanding tradition of innovation,” said Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. “For that franchise to be our hometown Steelers, the most successful team in America’s most popular sport, it’s a sure touchdown!”

© Kennywood
Steelers Country will reside on the land that was formerly home to the park's log flume, Log Jammer, and make full use of the space.  It will be the perfect location for Steelers fans, featuring several different activities, games and more - including the Steelers Experience, seen above.  This area is described as a "one-of-a-kind indoor, multi-level training facility that puts you on the field and in the center of the action."

© Kennywood
The Steelers Experience will feature interactive attractions such as the Terrible Tower, seen above, a 40 yard dash and a competitive 2-minute drill.  Other activities include perfecting touchdown dances, and following live games on the area's giant video screen.  Steelers Country will also feature plenty of new Steelers themed midway games, along with the End Zone Cafe, an indoor restaurant, and the Tailgate Patio which mimics the experience of tailgating at the Steelers stadium.

© Kennywood
Anchoring the new area is a massive, unique and in many ways unprecedented roller coaster named The Steel Curtain... which refers to the Steelers directly in its name.  Designed by S&S Worldwide, Steel Curtain will stand 220 feet tall, making it the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania.

© Kennywood
The coaster will feature bright yellow supports with black track, Steelers colors, naturally.  Just take a look at this art featuring the entire ride layout and let it sink in... we haven't seen many rides quite this unique or massive go up in the United States in recent years.

After the 220 foot tall lift hill, which is at a steep 50 degrees, there is a small dip before a corkscrew element that takes place 197 feet in the air - a world record for highest inversion.  The trains then continue to roll and face back toward the lift and drop the rest of the way toward the ground.

© Kennywood
The trains hit the top speed of 75 miles per hour and take a high banked curve to the left before climbing into this element, which is like a cobra roll but only gigantic and keeps trains more horizontal to the ground mid-element than a traditional cobra roll.

Flying back across the layout the trains swoops up and into an elevated pair of corkscrews, or also kind of a high-exit Immelmann and dive loop put together - think of the first element on a Vekoma SLC as an example.

© Kennywood
Next the train leaves the Steelers Country area and does a large air-time hill over the park's midway, then climbs up into a twist-and-dive element located directly over the park's central lagoon.  The trains cross back over the midway via a 180 degree stall element tucked under the air-time hill.

© Kennywood
After another air-time hill, there is an extended corkscrew that leads into a downward into a ground hugging helix, with one more cutback/stall element left before a hop up onto the final brakes.

Steel Curtain will feature 9 inversions, which is the most on any coaster in the United States, and the 2 minute long ride will cover 4,000 feet of track.  The trains will feature 24 riders at a time.

I'm fairly sure that my descriptions still leave a lot of the imagination as to Steel Curtain's layout, so thankfully the park released this point of view animation to clear up any lingering questions you have.

© Kennywood
Congratulations to Kennywood on announcing such a massive project, this coaster alone would be a massive investment for the park, let alone a new themed area too!  I can't wait to see this coaster go up!  Be sure to check out Kennywood's page for the expansion here for more photos and information.