Sunday, May 20, 2018

Timber Wolf Roars Back to Life at Worlds of Fun

© Worlds of Fun
After receiving some major refurbishments during the off season, including an entirely new element, the classic Timber Wolf wooden roller coaster has reopened at Worlds of Fun.

The work is the latest in a project that has spanned three years with each season seeing a significant section of the coaster being reworked.  The project has now seen the ride totally renovated through what was formerly a large upward helix mid-ride, now replaced by a steep, 70 degree banked turn (seen above).

The addition of the turn shortens the overall track length, however it does keep the train's speed up for the rest of the course, which makes for a more thrilling ride overall.  Plus, I can't imagine really misses that upward helix!

Timber Wolf first opened in 1989 and was designed by Curtis D. Summers.  To celebrate the opening of the coaster with its new 70 degree banked turn, Worlds of Fun has released a new point of view video of the coaster, embedded below.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hang Time Now Open at Knott's Berry Farm

© Knott's Berry Farm
Billed as the West Coast's first Dive Coaster, Hang Time at Knott's Berry Farm is now open to the public.  Created by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, Hang Time is a custom designed "Infinity Coaster" that utilizes the space that Boomerang, and Corkscrew before that, once called home.

Riders sit four across in four rows and head up a vertical lift hill to 150 feet above Knott's Berry Farm's Boardwalk themed section.  Seen at the top, the cars then briefly come to a stop angled toward the ground, then are released to fall down a beyond-vertical 96 degree drop.

Now that Hang Time is open, Knott's Berry Farm has released this really nice promo video for the ride.  Many of the coaster's elements are designed to give a feeling of, well, hang time during them, such as the negative-g stall and the 4 additional inversions.  Hang Time stretches 2,198 feet long and has a maximum speed of 57 miles per hour.

As expected, Hang Time looks phenomenal at night, with a custom light design crafted by KCL Engineering.  The coaster looks to have a near endless amount of color possibilities, but as promised the lights are chasing the coaster as it heads through the track - see the above video from Theme Park Insider.

Here is a video, created by KCL Engineering, showing off some of what the system is capable of:

Only a few rides have had lights like this installed on them so far, but I sure hope that the trend continues on future - or existing - installations!

After several years of hard work, it appears as though Knott's Berry Farm has really finished their revitalization of The Boardwalk area with the opening of Hang Time.  Congratulations to the park on their success!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

2017 TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report Now Available

The 2017 Global Attractions Attendance Report, created each year by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the Economics Practice at AECOM, is now available for download here.  The publication takes a look at the attendance trends at theme parks, water parks and museums around the globe.  While many companies do not release official attendance figures, the report provides an educated estimate at many results and reflects the overall temperature of the growth of the industry.

In 2017 the report finds that global attractions attendance surged 8.6%, a healthy gain led by Asian parks, which saw gains of 20%.  North America saw growth of 2.3% and total attendance of more than 150 million for the first time at the top 20 parks.

The busiest theme park on the plant continues to be the Magic Kingdom in Florida, which saw an estimated 20.45 million visitors last year.  The top water park on the planet was Chimelong water park in China, with 2.69 million visitors.

There are plentiful details to comb through in the report, and I urge you to check it out on your own.  However some other highlights:

• The biggest gain of the year in the U.S. was Disney's Animal Kingdom, up 15.3% to 12.5 million based on the success of Pandora.
• The biggest loss of the year in the U.S. was SeaWorld San Diego, which dropped 13.9% to 3.1 million visitors.
• Universal Studios Hollywood saw a 12% jump to 9.06 million, pushing higher on a full year of having the Wizarding World of Harry Potter open.
• Universal's Volcano Bay water park had an estimated 1.5 million guests in its first year, making it the third busiest in North America.  Disney and SeaWorld's water parks were all down between 5% and 10% as a result.
• Shanghai Disneyland had its first full year in 2017, and saw an estimated 11 million in attendance.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Harley Quinn Spinsanity Starts Ride Previews This Weekend

© Six Flags New England
Six Flags New England's immense new flat ride, known as Harley Quinn Spinsanity, will start ride previews for Six Flags pass members this weekend, the park has announced.

This coming weekend, May 19th and 20th, all levels of pass holders will be able to queue up and take a spin on the monster ride, which is a part of the park's recently renamed Gotham City area - home to characters such as The Joker, Batman and more.

© Six Flags New England
Harley Quinn Spinsanity is a giant pendulum ride that swings up to a staggering 147 feet above the park at 70 miles per hour.  The end the pendulum is a giant ring of seats that rotate while the arm swings, creating a disorienting feeling for passengers.  This style of ride has been added to a few other Six Flags parks, and due to its tremendous size and thrilling experience, remains one of their most popular flat rides.

SFNE Online has shared this great video of Harley Quinn Spinsanity completing a full test.  Make sure to check it out to get an idea of just how high in the air this contraption swings! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Twisted Cyclone Testing at Six Flags Over Georgia Ahead of Grand Opening

We're getting close to the opening of Twisted Cyclone at Six Flags Over Georgia, one of five new Rocky Mountain Construction roller coasters to open in North America in 2018.  The theme park recently began testing of the coaster, seen above in a tweet from the park, and like most of the other RMC rides it's moving quick.

Twisted Cyclone is a conversion of the park's Georgia Cyclone wooden roller coaster, featuring all new steel track and a series of wild twists and inversions.  The new version of the coaster stands 100 feet tall and features three inversions along 2,400 feet of track.

Ohio Valley Coasters was at the park this past weekend and got some great footage of Twisted Cyclone testing.  Right from the top of the lift hill, where the trains plunge down at a very steep 75 degrees, the coaster's pacing does not let up.  If you watch the video you can see the trains hitting the final brakes with plenty of momentum left over, a good sign of how fast the coaster is running.

We will not have to wait much longer for Twisted Cyclone to open, as Six Flags Over Georgia has announced that it will premier on Memorial Day weekend, just a couple weeks from now!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Lego City Deep Sea Adventure's Submarines Installed at Legoland California

© Legoland California
Since last summer Legoland California has been hard at work building a brand new attraction named Lego City Deep Sea Adventure, which takes riders on an adventurous submarine voyage to hunt for treasure.

The ride uses submarines that are actually submerged in water and hung from a track inside a massive building.  The water that the submarines pass through will be filled with tons of Lego models along with 2,000 live animals according to the park, including sharks and stingrays.

© Legoland California
The submarines just recently arrived at the park and were installed in the main show lagoon.  Here is a shot of one of the submarines being lifted off the truck and into the ride building.  Each submarine can seat up to 12 riders at a time, and there will be eight submarines on the track at one time.

© Legoland California
The inside of the submarine allows enough room that everyone should feel comfortable, they do not look claustrophobic to me at all.  Then again, visitors have loved the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland since 1959, which is the same concept as Legoland is employing here.  While on the ride at Legoland touch screens inside the vessels will have guests aid the Lego "minifigure dive team to identify gems, pearls, Lego gold coins and more throughout the journey."

This isn't the first ride of this type for a Legoland park, as one is currently operating, and themed to Atlantis, at Legoland Windsor.  Here is a video of that experience if you want a preview to see what its like.

The Lego City Deep Sea Adventure will open at Legoland California this Summer, with no exact date announced yet.  Here is the full video that Legoland California released:

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Legoland Florida Announces the World's First Lego Movie World Themed Section for 2019

© Legoland Florida
Coming to Legoland Florida in 2019 will be the first-ever Lego Movie World, a brand new themed area that brings to life the popular world seen in The Lego Movie, which debuted in 2014.  The expansion will the park's largest to date, and will put visitors in the middle of Bricksburg, where main character Emmet lives in the movie.

“The sights and sounds will be fully immersive bringing The Lego Movie franchise to life in a way that only a Legoland Park could,” said Rex Jackson, general manager of Legoland Florida Resort.  “We know kids come from all over the world to meet the stars of The Lego Movie and we can’t wait to see their faces light up as they interact within the imaginative world of Bricksburg.”

According to Legoland Florida's press release, the Lego Movie World "will feature three new rides, character meet and greets and a giant themed playscape."  There is no word yet on exactly what the three new rides will be, but we do know that one of them will be a total retheme of The Quest for Chi, an interactive water boat ride or "splash battle" that opened in 2013, and is a part of the World of Chima themed land.  The Quest for Chi will close on May 29th for work to begin.

So it sounds as though the entire World of Chima are will be replaced by the Lego Movie World.  If you're curious, you can check out some plans that Touring Central Florida posted of the expansion.  It is wonderful to see Legoland Florida continue to grow year after year!

Friday, May 11, 2018

New Jurassic World Makeover Coming to Universal Studios Hollywood's Jurassic Park: The Ride in 2019

© Universal Studios Hollywood
This week we had another major new themed attraction announcement from the Universal parks, this time from Universal Studios Hollywood regarding their famous Jurassic Park: The Ride attraction.  The theme park will be closing the current version of the ride on September 3rd, 2018, in order to give it a huge makeover into a Jurassic World themed attraction.

Obviously, the new ride will be based on the current string of Jurassic World movies, the first of which came out in 2015, and the second - Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, opens next month.

Fans are not expecting much change to the ride system when the Jurassic World version opens, however it is expected that the story will change somewhat along with new animatronics, theming and other special effects.

The park is describing the attraction as follows:

"On this river-raft adventure, get doused as a colossal Mosasaurus dives for its great white shark snack. But the real danger lies ahead when the brutal Indominus rex escapes its enclosure. Be prepared when a 50-foot Tyrannosaurus rex comes to your rescue… right before your final plunge down a treacherous 84-foot waterfall."

© Google Maps
Jurassic Park: The Ride first opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1996, and was one of the largest additions in the park's history at the time.  Due to the popularity of the first Jurassic Park film, the ride received international press coverage and was a massive hit for the park.

The ride, which features a large shoot-the-chute style drop at the end, was cloned for both Islands of Adventure in Florida and Universal Studios Japan as well.

Make sure to get your final rides in before Jurassic Park: The Ride closes on September 3rd, I'm really looking forward to the new version of the ride!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dorney Park Opening Weekend 2018 Photo Update

© NewsPlusNotes
This past weekend marked the start of Dorney Park's 2018 season, and with beautiful weather for half of it plenty of visitors got in their first rides of the year after an especially long winter.  The park's largest addition this year is the Tidal Wave Cafe inside Wildwater Kingdom, which won't open for a few weeks, but there was still plenty to check out around Dorney Park.

Above is a new sign located in front of Apollo, designed to become a popular photo spot for the park.  With Dominator, some new decorative flags and landscaping as a backdrop, I'm sure this view will show up on social media all year.

© NewsPlusNotes
During our off season update we saw some improvements being made to White Water Landing, the park's shoot-the-chutes.  There were a few trough pieces missing, which have been replaced with new ones.  It also looks like a new one went in at the base of the drop, you can easily notice the color difference on the new pieces.

© NewsPlusNotes
The park also did some rearranging of the water cannons that are located in the White Water Landing splash pool.  They are spread out a bit more, giving guests a better chance at blasting riders as they pass by.  The ride wasn't open yet, but I'm sure it will be once the weather warms up.

© NewsPlusNotes
Inside the park the Smokehouse Barbecue has turned into Burrito Cantina, offering made-to-order burritos and other items.  While some may be sad that Smokehouse is gone, nearly all of its offerings will be available at the new Tidal Wave Cafe, so fear not.

The structure got a bright new paint job which livens up the area, and the inside of the restaurant got a slight makeover as well to fit the new theme. 

© NewsPlusNotes
This is also one of the locations in the park where you can get two of the new custom Dorney Park brews, Epic Ale and Lazy Lager.  Burrito Cantina also serves Margaritas if you're in the mood!

© NewsPlusNotes
I had to try out the new restaurant, of course, and selected one of the burrito bowls.  Seen above, it was easily enough food for two people, and filled with tons of toppings and extras.  These made-to-order burrito places are popular these days, and judging from all the guests eating at Burrito Cantina it looks like it will be a hit at Dorney Park.

© NewsPlusNotes
Thunderhawk will be opening for the season at the end of May, as work on retracking 150 feet of the coaster near the end of the ride wraps up.

© NewsPlusNotes
Until the work concludes, the path that runs under the ride is closed.  There is an alternate path that goes around the outer turns of Thunderhawk, so this isn't a big inconvenience for visitors.

© NewsPlusNotes
It's not easy to see the new track that has gone down, but you can get a look from the above location.  The new track can be seen in the back middle of this photo, just before the final bunny hills.  It's hard to tell if it looks any different than before from this angle, so we'll wait until the ride opens to see how it feels.  It's wonderful to see the park working hard to keep the ride in great shape!

© NewsPlusNotes
The park's 3 Point Challenge also received a visual makeover, and is most certainly sponsored by Sprite now!

© NewsPlusNotes
Also located at the lower part of the park, a former stand that had a guess your age and weight game has become another photo opportunity.  You can also see the "It's Amazing In Here" logo at the top of the structure, which all Cedar Fair parks seem to be using this year.

© NewsPlusNotes
On the lower midway, the park's Laser Maze Challenge has been removed.  Nothing has taken its place, at least not yet.  Perhaps the park has plans for the building for later in the year, or perhaps even further down the road.

© NewsPlusNotes
In the early season the park is filling the Center Stage with some outside acts, listed here.  I'm not sure if they've done this in the past, but it's a great idea to give season pass holders a variety of performances to come and see!

© NewsPlusNotes
I don't really recall if this photo location, located along the main midway of Planet Snoopy, is new or not, but I just took notice of it.  Visitors can pose for photos with some of their favorite Snoopy characters - I like this effort of the park to make more photo opportunities for creating memories.  In the world of social media it's also a bit a free advertising!

© NewsPlusNotes
The park has kept the historical theme throughout their largest gift shop, Good Time Gifts, and even stepped up their game this year by incorporating three ride vehicles from one of their former kiddie rides.  Now the Snoopy gang, in plush form, are taking a ride on the vehicles.  A nice touch.

© NewsPlusNotes
No news to be found in this photo, I just happened to snap it and thought it looked good!

© NewsPlusNotes
Finally, we come to the area that was once home to Stinger, and Laser before that, and I believe part of the park's massive pool before that.  There is almost no trace of the ride left, as seen in this photo.  The park has not put up walls to cover up the area, instead leaving it a green space for now.

© NewsPlusNotes
Well, it's kind of green right now but it is obvious that grass has been planted on the site so before long it really will be 100% green.  The only bit of Stinger that is left is what I believe is the electrical structure at the far end of the ride, which was under the lift hills.

© NewsPlusNotes
Here is a view from the back of the ride, looking at Possessed.  It is strange to see the area so open once again, even though we've seen it like this in the somewhat recent past.  I can't wait to see what the park cooks up for this area in future seasons.

That's all for now, stay tuned for more updates from the park as the season continues!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Toverland's New Fenix B&M Wing Coaster Completed

© Toverland
Hooray for more new B&M wing coasters!  One of the latest to go up is Fenix at Toverland, located in the Netherlands, and it just completed instillation of the track and supports in the past week.

Fenix is the main attraction in a brand new themed area named Avalon, which is set to open at the them park on July 7th.  Above is a photo of the last track segment being put into place, which was located at the top of the lift before the first drop.

© Toverland
Fenix stands 131 feet tall and features 2,667 feet of track - a medium sized entry into the B&M wing coaster category.  The last piece of track, being installed here, turns riders after the lift and takes them directly into a 180 degree roll that inverts the trains and drops them toward the group.  This element has been a popular one to be used on B&M wing coasters after they started popping up in 2011.  The first of this style of ride, Raptor at Gardaland, had a traditional first drop, but the roll-over premiered on two rides in 2012.

© Toverland
Here is a wide photo of the entire layout of Fenix.  Eventually there will be a lake located under the middle portion of the coaster, where trains maneuver through an air-time hill on the way out, and a zero-g roll on the way back.  I'm still in love with the colors of Fenix, the blue track really pops set against the dark brown supports.

With major construction now complete, I'm sure the high level of theming that Toverland is known for will begin.  Fenix's trains, for instance, will feature beautiful phoenix theming that will have bright colors that will mix perfectly with its color scheme.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Aquatica Orlando's Ray Rush Slide to Open May 12th

Aquatica Orlando, located near SeaWorld Orlando, has announced that its new family water slide, Ray Rush, will open to visitors on May 12th.  The innovative new water slide features a three-in-one combination of exciting elements that make it unlike any slide in the area.

© Aquatica Orlando
Ray Rush shares a slide tower with Walhalla Wave, another family raft ride at Aquatica Orlando.  As guests approach the tower they will see this colorful new signage, helping them know which way to head for the journey of their choice.

Ray Rush starts at nearly 60 feet above the park, and utilizes rafts that seat up to four passengers.  It has a 42 inch height requirement, which will allow younger visitors to ride with their family.

© Aquatica Orlando
One of the most interesting parts of Ray Rush is the start, which features a small uphill master blaster section, seen above.  Instead of starting with a drop, the ride will blast rafts out of the loading area and into the first enclosed tunnel.  The rafts then enter a giant sphere, then plunge down a drop into a halfpipe that resembles a Manta ray.  A couple more turns and splashes bring the rafts to the end of the thrilling ride.

For more on Ray Rush, check out Aquatica Orlando's website.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Fun Spot America Orlando Opens New Headrush 360 Thrill Ride

© Fun Spot America
Fun Spot America has experienced great success with the addition of Headrush 360 at its Kissimmee location (pictured above), so much so that park owners have added the attraction to their Orlando park as well.

The ride just opened in Orlando this past wekk, with guests already enjoying the spinning and inverting that they experience on Headrush 360.

© Fun Spot America
Here is the ride in its Orlando home, with the park's inverted family coaster seen in the background.  Headrush 360 is a Midi Discovery from Zamperla, which describes the ride experience as a "rush of land and sky meshing into one as riders fly head over heals through the dual swinging and spinning motions."  Headrush 360 packs a lot of thrilling ride into a small package, which is a perfect fit for the various thrill and family attractions that the Fun Spot parks offer.

In order to make room for Headrush 360, the Orlando park packed up their Paratrooper and is sending it to the family's newest park, Fun Spot Atlanta.

Friday, May 4, 2018

New Water Ride Coming to Life at ZooTampa at Lowry Park

© ZooTampa at Lowry Park
We first heard about the replacement of ZooTampa at Lowry Park's (formerly called Lowry Park Zoo) log flume at the end of last year, but the exact replacement was a bit of a mystery at the time.  We knew it was going to be another water ride, and named Roaring Springs, but the concept art left the door a bit open to different types of attractions.

Now that the ride is nearly completion, the park has sent out some updated images that video that confirm that the park has built a family-sized shoot-the-chutes, not unlike one that opened a few years ago at Legoland California.

The park is advertising a three story plunge on the ride, and the development also includes a new animal area named the Florida Trail, featuring black bears, Key deer, panthers and more.  The original announcement said that a "canopy walk" would go over part of the ride, so we will watch for that as construction finishes up.

Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park has also released the below video update on Roaring Springs, filled with great views of the new ride.  Take a look!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Merlin's Mayhem Opens to Visitors of Dutch Wonderland

Merlin's Mayhem, a brand new custom-designed family inverted roller coaster, has opened to guests at Dutch Wonderland.  Park visitors have eagerly awaited the ride's grand opening, which was originally slated to take place during 2017 - but was eventually pushed back to 2018.

Designed by S&S Sansei Technologies, the ride is suitable for a wide section of park visitors, requiring only a 39 inch height requirement.  It stand 60 feet tall and its track stretches 1,300 feet long, so it's a pretty decent sized family coaster - also a nice pair to the park's wooden Kingdom Coaster ride.

Merlin's Mayhem features a curving first drop that takes riders directly over the park's chair ride, then into a swooping turn above a pond.  Several more twists and turns, including a dive into a tunnel below ground, make up the rest of the ride's layout.  The coaster's inverted trains leave riders' legs to dangle freely below them as they take on Merlin's Mayhem.

Dutch Wonderland has shared an on-ride video of Merlin's Mayhem, embedded below.  Check it out!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

New Sesame Street Themed Expansion Revealed for SeaWorld Orlando in 2019

Before even opening up their new for 2018 attraction, the unique Infinity Falls river raft ride, SeaWorld Orlando has already announced a major expansion for its 2019 season.  Known as Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando, the total renovation and retheme of Happy Harbor will no doubt delight families.

Taking a queue from the theming in place at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, the expansion will feature an elaborate real-world version of Sesame Street itself.

© SeaWorld Orlando
Seen here in concept art, visitors will be able to explore "the iconic neighborhood as they walk through Abby Cadabby’s garden, visit Mr. Hooper’s store, stop by Big Bird’s nest, sit on the famous 123 stoop and meet their favorite friends from Sesame Street including Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird."

The concept art contains many details that can be seen in the larger version.  In order to fit all these new structures, major work will take place inside Happy Harbor area that will include the removal of several of the existing structures and play areas.

© SeaWorld Orlando
It seems, however, that most of Happy Harbor's family rides will remain, at least according to plans that were located by Touring Central Florida.  I would expect that they will all be rethemed when Sesame Street opens - in fact if you looks close at the concept art (above) you can see what looks like a rough design for a retheme of Shamu Express into possibly an Oscar's Wacky Taxi theme.

The official release regarding the changes explains that the area will "feature exciting rides, wet and dry play areas and interactive experiences designed to entertain the entire family."

© SeaWorld Orlando
Finally, a big part of the announcement is that SeaWorld Orlando will feature their first-ever parade when the expansion opens.  The new Sesame Street parade will be led by Elmo and feature all of his friends, parade dancers, music and plenty of fun for all.

Watch for more details on Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando in the coming months - construction work has already started!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Luna Park Building Modern Thrill Version of Famous Astrotower

Luna Park, located in the famous seaside paradise known as Coney Island, has announced that they are opening a new thrill ride this month named Astrotower.

The ride is a sort-of replacement for the famous Astrotower observation ride that operated in Coney Island for decades.  That tower was closed when Luna Park opened, but one summer it started swaying a bit and the park had to be closed - the Astrotower was promptly torn down in the following days.

From the graphic it's clearly a freefall experience that is headed to Luna Park, that's why I said it is only a sort-of replacement.  More of a nod to the observation tower that fans of Coney Island loved dearly.

The new Astrotower appears to be a Flash Tower, manufactured of course by Zamperla.  The ride is advertised as both blasting riders up to the top of the tower, and then also freefalling them back down to the ground within one ride cycle.  The listed height for this type of ride is around 120 feet, but since Luna Park is much like Zamperla's showroom it's possible that it will be customized for this instillation.

I do not see the Astrotower listed on the park's website just yet, but when it does get added I'm sure we'll have more information on the ride's specs.