Sunday, January 21, 2018

Knott's Berry Farm Places Final Pieces of HangTime Track

© Brad Jashinsky
It was an exciting time at Knott's Berry Farm on Friday night, when the final pieces of HangTime were lifted into place.  The park's Digital Marketing Manager was sure to be on site that night, to take these photos and share them so the world knows that the 2,198 feet of HangTime's track are now complete.

The final pieces appear to have been saved for the top of the ride's first big element after the beyond vertical plunge.  The trains will rise up, then invert and dive into a quick drop, followed by an elongated corkscrew of sorts.

© Brad Jashinsky
The rest of HangTime (a Gerstlauer Infinity design) includes several additional inversions, including a negative-g stall loop and a cobra roll.  The action packed layout includes speeds of up to 57 miles per hour and a maximum height of 150 feet over Knott's Boardwalk themed area.

These photos were from a few days before the ride was completed, but for some additional recent views of HangTime from inside the theme park, check out Park Journey.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Canada's Wonderland Planning Major New Roller Coaster

This has been a rumor for quite a while now, but the first concrete evidence of Canada's Wonderland's plan to construct a new roller coaster has finally surfaced.

The park has applied with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to "alter a waterway to
construct in the Regional Storm Floodplain of the Don River in order to facilitate the construction of a by-pass channel and a new roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland."

Yes, that said new roller coaster!  The permit for the work will be valid from this month, all the way through January of 2020.  To me, that would imply a ride opening of 2019, as permit usually includes plenty of extra padding time at the end.

© Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
This map, included in the permit filing, shows the location of the waterway work.  That will help us narrow down where in the park in a moment.  But the filing also has an interesting passage that further describes the work as "a low flow by pass channel is proposed around a current on line pond to facilitate the construction of a ride tunnel within the pond."  So it sounds like the coaster will actually have a tunnel that goes underneath a pond within the park.  Interesting!

© Google Maps
The location of the work can be centered to this part of the park using the map in the permit filings, plus there is a large pond located here which further makes sense.  This image is a bit outdated as the park's stand-up coaster, SkyRider, was removed before the 2015 season.

The permit also includes that there will be 9 supports within the pond area, in addition to the tunnel going under it.  So if you use the empty SkyRider plot, the pond that Vortex swings over, and the large open area at the top of the image, there's plenty of room for a nice-sized new roller coaster.

Now, as to what kind of roller coaster this will be, that remains unclear for now.  Canada's Wonderland is a busy park, so something with solid capacity would appear to be a requirement.  They already have a hyper and a giga, so cross those off the list.  The park's only big inverted ride is in the form of an SLC, so that's a possibility, but maybe a wing coaster would fit that bill.  Or, what about a dive coaster, like Valravyn?  Then again Cedar Fair is installing a large, good capacity, Gerstlauer 'dive' coaster at Knott's, so maybe that's the key?  The list could go on, it is simply too early to tell without more information.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

California's Great America Debuts New Food Offerings Ahead of Park Expansion

New Starbucks exterior © California's Great America
California's Great America has some big plans on the horizon for the next few seasons, and while this year is already seeing the opening of RailBlazer, a first of its kind roller coaster, it has also announced a very significant investment in its food and beverage offerings for 2018.

Four new establishments will open this year, along with some heavily renovated existing outlets.  To start there will be a new full service Starbucks in Hometown Square, near the Celebration Swings, where the park's candy shop formerly was.  It will feature all of Starbucks' famous beverage options, along with a food menu that ranges from snacks to sandwiches.  The Starbucks will have both indoor seating that looks out onto the park, along with a large outdoor patio.

 New Starbucks interior © California's Great America
Since Starbucks will take over the old candy shop, the theme park is opening the Orleans Candy Kitchen where the Trending Now store was.  It will feature a "station where guests will order specialty caramel apples, choose their personalized toppings and have the delectable favorites made right before their eyes."  Another highlight of the outlet will be hand made fudge in a wide variety of flavors and an extensive offering of Jelly Belly flavors.

Not a new outlet, but heavily renovated this year is Maggie Brown's Smokehouse & Fried Chicken, which was already upgraded in 2017.  For this year it will see modern ordering kiosks installed, along with "a giant rotisserie and smoker visible to guests, an expanded outdoor patio, and interior design renovations."

Sierra Creek Lodge © California's Great America
Located in what was the Joe Cool Cafe in Planet Snoopy, the all-new Sierra Creek Lodge will have a mountain lodge feel from top to bottom.  Between murals of wild animals on the walls and intricate exterior woodwork, the furnishings will portray the Sierra atmosphere.  Food offerings include "a Panini bar featuring fresh vegetables, lean meats and savory sauces. A new Coca-Cola Barrilitos™ station will feature agua fresca (juice and water blends) such as pear cucumber, mango lime, strawberry hibiscus, and pineapple. Kid favorites like chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and pizza will still be available."

Finally, the fourth new location will be the French Quarter Funnel Cake & Churro Factor, expanding the park's ability to create fresh funnel cakes significantly.  There will be a "myriad of flavor combinations" available to visitors as the treats are created right in front of them.  The churro selections will have such unique flavors as "Campout (s'mores), key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, creamsicle, cookies and cream, tropical (coconut, pineapple and rum flavor), macha (white chocolate and Bavarian cream), cotton candy, apple pie and many more flavors."

Elsewhere in the park, catering abilities will be improved with a new 500 person covered outdoor event space next to the existing 18,000 sq foot Great America Pavilion.  It will offer the same upscale catering available inside, but offer open-air views of the park and adjacent stadium.

Last but not least, the private Consulate chambers, offering a beautiful park view from the top of Orleans Place, is being updated with modern amenities for intimate private meetings. Hosting up to 50 attendees, the historic Consulate was originally constructed as an apartment for the Marriott family while the park and neighboring hotel were being built.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SeaWorld San Diego Finishes Electric Eel Construction in a Flash

© SeaWorld San Diego
In what seemed like a flash, SeaWorld San Diego has completed major construction of the track and supports for Electric Eel, their new-for-2018 launched roller coaster.

This photos are actually out of date, since the track is now complete, but I figured were still worth sharing.  Originally I was under the impression that the higher track on the ride was to have a lighter color, but I guess that isn't so.

© SeaWorld San Diego
The Electric Eel is designed by Premier Rides, and features multiple launches and a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour.  This shot shows the ride at its full height, though there was still plenty of track and supports left to go up when it was taken.  The ride certainly has a large presence over the theme park!

This video was just released by SeaWorld San Diego showing off the complete Electric Eel construction in just a matter of seconds.  Now the park will work on the ride's station, landscaping, theming and all the other details that have to come into place before it can open.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mountain Monster - New Stan Checketts Designed Ride Opening in Pigeon Forge

© Mountain Mile
A brand new thrill ride, designed by Stan Checketts of S&S fame, has started construction as the centerpiece of the Mountain Mile & Tower Shops in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Named the Mountain Monster, it will rise to nearly 200 feet above the shopping, retail, dining and entertainment center.

The development is located just minutes from Dollywood, set among the many hotels and attractions that Piegon Forge offers visitors.

© Mountain Mile
There are not a lot of details about the Mountain Monster yet, but all the concept art for the development shows that the ride will tower over the area, giving excellent views from the top.  The website for Mountain Mile & Tower Shops just featured a post about the creation, which says that it will be designed, built and operated by Stan Checketts, who is known for creating the popular Space Shot, Turbo Drop and other tower rides found around the globe (among others).

The new post on the website says that ride structure will hit 200 feet, though another page on the website references 189 feet.  It also says that the tower will contain three rides, which is puzzling when you look at the concept art above, which looks like a normal freefall ride.

© Mountain Mile
However if you dig a bit deeper and download the master plan document, this concept art can be found on it.  Now there is no way to tell if this is updated or old, but this looks more like a tower that could have three thrill rides coming off of it.  It looks like there is a freefall, a bungee launch type ride, and maybe also zip lines coming off of it.  That certainly makes more sense than the freefall tower in the other concept art!  We will have to wait a bit longer to see which design is the final product.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Enjoy Rocky Mountain's New Twisted Timbers Photos

© Rocky Mountain Construction
Twisted Timbers is nearly complete, with only a couple track pieces left to install, and Rocky Mountain Construction is proudly showing off their creation.  The renovation of Kings Dominion's former Hurler wooden roller coaster into a low-to-the-ground twisted masterpiece is looking great, as seen in the aerial shot above.

It's also neat to look at all the new structure versus the old structure, which is noticeable in this photo from the difference in color.  The new supports that hold the steel track are a lighter brown than the old supports, which are dark.

© Rocky Mountain Construction
Twisted Timbers' barrel roll first drop is certainly going to be one of the coaster's most exciting elements, and we've seen plenty of photos of the drop from afar, but this is the first one I've seen taken inside the structure looking down.  The 109 foot drop will completely invert riders as they dive, giving this view for a brief moment as they go.

© Rocky Mountain Construction
Winters can be harsh at times, but they can also make some beautiful photos of snow covered rides.  Rocky Mountain snapped this photo of Twisted Timbers' zero-g roll patiently waiting for riders as the snow collected on its tracks.  Hard to believe that in just a few months the coaster's trains will be roaring through this element!

For more photos, check out Rocky Mountain Construction on Facebook.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

California's Great America Tops Off RailBlazer

© California's Great America
Having already completed nearly of the ride's track and supports, California's Great America placed the highest piece of RailBlazer yesterday.  The very top of the lift was installed, naturally the highest piece as it is all downhill from there.

The above photo is from the park's webcam (may I say I'm jealous of what looks like a beautiful California day?), and actually shows that the park kept up the pace after installing the top of the lift, with the 180 degree turn after it, and some lift track before it, now installed.  That means there are only a few lift pieces left to go in before RailBlazer is full circuit.

© California's Great America
For those of us who were not able to watch the highest piece of track be installed via the park's webcam, California's Great America has shared a video of the process on Facebook.  So now you didn't have to miss a thing!

© California's Great America
This photo is also worth sharing, it was put out by the theme park to advertise that the topping off could be watched on Facebook.  It is the first really good, clear look at the ride's first drop since it has been installed.  That looks amazing!  The colors of the ride really pop in this photo too.  Visitors are going to have a real treat next year with RailBlazer opens!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Projection Mapping Show Headed to Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

© Universal Orlando
Coming off the success of the first nighttime show to be held within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Florida, the Universal Orlando resort has now announced a second show to premier at the end of this month.

The first show celebrated Christmas within the Wizarding World, but the new show, titled The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, seems to be meant for more year-round entertaining.  Per the resort's blog, the new show will "celebrate the four houses of Hogwarts by transforming the castle in a dazzling display of lights, special effects and music."

© Universal Orlando
Each of the four houses (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff) will be represented during the performance, as the spirit of each house "wraps itself around the castle... showcasing its pride in its own unique way."

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle will officially premier on January 31st, but a special preview of the show will take place during A Celebration of Harry Potter, the special fan event that takes place on January 26th through the 28th.  The show will continue to run on select dates in February with more performances to be detailed at a later date.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Knott's Berry Farm to Party this Winter with All-New Peanuts Celebration

Knott's Berry Farm will soon present a brand new event that is set to honor the Peanuts characters and their creator, Charles M. Schulz, by having the entire gang take over the theme park.  Called Knott's Peanuts Celebration, the event will start on January 27th and run on weekends through February 25th.

Filled with special events, the party will feature new ways for visitors to interact with the Peanuts gang, including "Peanuts inspired d├ęcor, new social media worthy comic strip photo ops, new character experiences, live shows, exclusive merchandise and deliciously themed treats to complete this whimsical celebration."

One feature of the event will be an all-new show at the Camp Snoopy Theater called Lucy and Charlie's Balancing Act, where the characters will have their talents put to the test.  The Calico Mine Stage will also have two big new shows, during the day Sally and Schroder will host The Music Goes Round and Round, a fun retrospect of music, and at night Woodstock's Musical Festival will come to life.  It will have the whole gang joined by family-friendly performers The Jelly of the Month Club, performing a rock concert that will have everyone up and dancing.

© Knott's Berry Farm
Elsewhere in the park, live entertainment will include the Peanuts Cowboy Jamboree at Calico Park, where Franklin and Linus, dressed as cowboys, challenge visitors with some of the "rootinest, tootinest games in Calico."  Pig Pen, a fan favorite, will also make his debut at Knott's Berry Farm when he hosts a special meetup at the Livery Stables with his animal friends.

There's almost too many special events to detail here, but other attractions include photo opportunities for guests to enter life-sized comic strips, an overlay to the Grand Sierra Railroad in Camp Snoopy that takes visitors on a trip to the Beagle Bonanza and drawing lessons for Peanuts characters at the Peanuts Sketch School in the Birdcage Theatre.

Special decorations will also be all over the park, including the large comic strip props and other notable additions like the giant kite eating trees.  For more information on Knott's Peanuts Celebration, check out the park's official website.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Alton Towers Announces Wicker Man - New for 2018 Wooden Coaster

© Alton Towers
While it is no surprise that Alton Towers is building a new wooden roller coaster, the theme park has finally released details on the ride and its official name - Wicker Man.

Built by Great Coasters International, Wicker Man will feature 2,028 feet of traditional wooden track and be the UK's first new wooden roller coaster is 21 years.  Featuring an elaborate theme, the park is marketing the coaster as the first to combine "wood and fire" throughout the experience.

© Alton Towers
As the trains roar around the course they will pass through a giant 57 and a half foot tall Wicker Man statue three separate times.  This statue is the main feature of the ride's theming, and can be seen prominently in this concept art.  The park's materials for the ride state that the statue will "appear to burst into flames" as the trains pass through it.  No other statistics for the coaster were released at this point.

The theming of the ride centers around "The Beornen, a shadowy group living in the woods surrounding the theme park."  This video, featuring the park's Creative Lead on the project, explains more:

  While these images are a couple months old, this update from Towers Times shows Wicker Man in a nearly complete construction status.  The coaster has a twisted layout that is built into the side of a hill, and has a unique covered section after the lift and before the ride's largest drop.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Quassy Amusement Park Completes Work on New Triple-Slide Tower

© Quassy Amusement Park
Quassy Amusement Park is proud to show off their 2018 park map, seen above, which features their brand new water slide tower as the main addition to the ever-growing park.  Settled on the edge of Splash Away Bay, the new slides are collectively known as the Category 5 Rapids Raft Rides.

© Quassy Amusement Park
The new slide tower was manufactured and designed by Proslide, and represents the largest expansion of the water park since it was opened.  The thrilling water slides are designed to be a bit bolder than some of the smaller ones previously added, and combined feature over 1,000 feet of slide.

The graphic above shows the completed Category 5 Rapids slide tower from behind - it gives an imposing view from outside of Splash Away Bay!  It will certainly draw people into the water park next season.

© Quassy Amusement Park
Quassy was also keeping up with the construction of the tower up until the last pieces went in just before the holidays.  This view, shared on Facebook, shows the ending of the slides, which feature two different styles of ride but all utilize tubes on the way down.  Seen here, the pink and white slide along with the blue and teal slide are traditional tube slides that twist and spiral during the ride.

© Quassy Amusement Park
This last photo shows the third slide, in red and yellow, which has two mini-funnels located along the path in addition to a large helix in the middle.  When tubes enter these mini-funnels they will briefly slide up and down the sides of it before continuing on their way to the splash area at the end.

Splash Away Bay will also be building a brand new cafe and large deck seating area adjacent to the lake. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Worlds of Fun Reveals Ride Profile Changes for Timber Wolf Wood Coaster

© Worlds of Fun
Worlds of Fun has been giving some love to Timber Wolf over the past few seasons, replacing older track and aiming to make the wood coaster more enjoyable for guests.  Built in 1989, the ride was designed by Dinn Corporation and is one of only a handful of their designs that still operates.

For the 2018 season, the theme park just announced that they will be removing the ride's 560 degree helix and replacing it with a new, thrilling element.  That will be a high-speed 70 degree banked turn, seen in the upper left of the concept art above.

© Worlds of Fun
The approach to and from the new element appear to be staying the same, but the entire helix, which trains rattled through somewhat slowly, will be gone.  This new turn will bank at 70 degrees while only elevating slightly off the ground to preserve speed, and is being designed and constructed by Great Coasters International.

© Worlds of Fun
The original helix had trains moving upward through it, which made for a slow and bumpy ride up to the top.  Obviously the park had to decide whether trying to preserve the helix was worth it, and in the end this new highly banked speed turn looks like an awesome replacement choice.

© Worlds of Fun
Many have noted that the Timber Wolf looked like a great potential ride for a Rocky Mountain Construction conversion, like we've seen with many other wooden coasters, but at least for now it appears as though Worlds of Fun is willing to spend considerable money to improve the wooden track.

© Google Maps
For comparison purposes, here is an aerial of Timber Wolf from Google, showing the helix that will be removed on the lower left.  The turn that will replace it will of course shorten the length of the ride a bit, but in this case it seems totally worth it.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

SeaWorld San Diego Begins to Assemble Electric Eel's Structure

© SeaWorld San Diego
We haven't heard much about SeaWorld San Diego's new Electric Eel roller coaster since it was first announced by the park almost exactly a year ago, but now the exciting part of the new-for-2018 thrill coaster's construction has commenced.

Seen in a photo shared by the theme park, Electric Eel has started to have its track and supports lifted into place.  Featuring teal supports and two different colors of track, darker toward the base of the ride and lighter up top, Electric Eel will be the most thrilling coaster that SeaWorld San Diego offers visitors.

The coaster features multiple launches that reach a top speed of 62 miles per hour as trains move up a vertical climb to 150 feet above the ground.  There's a heartline roll waiting for riders at the top of the climb, then another vertical dive into a non-inverting loop.  The roller coaster is being manufactured by Premier Rides, and is one of their Sky Rocket II models.

This video was produced by the park right before the steel started to go up, showing off the construction site and various track and support pieces that were ready to go.  Electric Eel will technically be a part of the Ocean Explorer themed area that made its debut in 2017.  The coaster will be the more thrilling part of the land, with the rides and attractions that opened this past summer focusing more on families and aquarium exhibits.

For more on Electric Eel, check out SeaWorld San Diego's official website.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

One Vekoma Invertigo Looking for a Good Home

© United International Leisure AG
After the surprising news a few weeks ago that Dorney Park will be removing Stinger, a Vekoma Invertigo roller coaster, before the start of the 2018 season, many were wondering if the ride would head to another Cedar Fair park.

While that is technically still a possibility, it doesn't look much like that will be the case.  Stinger is now listed as for sale on at least one industry used-ride website, seen in the above posting from United International Leisure AG.

Perhaps having a company with international ties list it is best, since it might be tough to find a buyer in the U.S.  There were only 4 Vekoma Invertigo's ever built:  HangOver at Liseberg in Sweden in 1997, Invertigo at Paramount's Great America in 1998, and Invertigo at Paramount's Kings Island and Two-Face: The Flip Side at Six Flags America in 1999.

HangOver moved to Denmark for several years, before again being moved to France where it still operates.  We know that Invertigo came to Dorney from California, and Two Face sat in pieces for almost 7 years before reopening in Italy.  Invertigo at Kings Island is the only one to stay in one place.  Credit to RCDB for the info there!

It will be interesting to see if the ride ends up at another park, or if it just meets the end of its useful life at the recycling plant.