Monday, June 18, 2018

Brand New DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda Now Open at Universal Studios Hollywood

© Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood has completed another transformation inside the park, this time turning the former Shrek 4-D theater into the all-new DreamWorks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest.

Obviously based on the popular Kung Fu Panda franchise, the theater "takes guests on a thrilling journey that fuses captivating storytelling with state-of-the art visual effects for a highly engaging experience."  The film takes place on the morning of The Emperor's Great Feast of Heroes, when Po goes on a perilous mission to deliver the Liquid of Limitless Power to the grand palace, taking visitors to the theme park along with him.  Throughout the experience visitors will encounter "raging rapids, river pirates, awesome magic" and, of course, Kung Fu.
© Universal Studios Hollywood
Having officially premiered on June 15th, the attraction's opening ceremonies featured a plethora of DreamWorks Animation characters from films including Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Trolls and Shrek.  The ceremonies also included a martial arts demonstration, which can be seen above in a press image.

As for the attraction, it is described as a multi-sensory experience, using the "first-ever integration of interior projection mapping designed to engulf guests in 180 degrees of immersive adventure. Developed by the innovative team at Universal Creative, this never-before-adapted technique depicts a series of immersive and visually dynamic scenic designs that will transform within the interior space and enhance the story. With detailing that is so precise, it will be near impossible to realize the projected imagery is a mere illusion."

The film is coupled with high-end cinema projectors and 360 degree surround sound, and even the plush seats pivot to keep up with the 180 degree action.  In theater effects such as wind and water are also utilized.

Early reviews of Kung Fu Panda: The Emperor's Quest are glowing, highlighting the advanced technology that has taken this type of theater experience to the next level.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration Announced for Universal Studios Florida

© Universal Orlando Resort
The long rumored new nighttime fountain show for Universal Studios Florida has finally been announced, and it will be called Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration.

The new show will take place on the central lagoon of Universal Studios Florida each evening starting this summer, a more specific date has not been announced.

Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration will "bring thrilling and fun moments to life inspired by characters from popular Universal Orlando experiences and blockbuster films," including Harry Potter, Jurassic World (seen in the concept art up top), Fast & Furious, Despicable Me and many more.  The show will be projected on giant water screens in the lagoon and utilize 120 separate dancing water fountains.  Projection mapping will transform the entire waterfront of the park's buildings into scenes that blend into the show.

Universal Studios Orlando is currently transforming a large part of their Central Park area that borders the lagoon into a dedicated viewing area for the new show.  Multiple levels of standing room are being built to accommodate visitors that will no doubt start lining up early to see the show.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Tokyo Disney Resort Unveils Massive Expansion for Tokyo DisneySea in 2022

© Oriental Land Co.
Oriental Land Company has announced that they have reached an agreement with Disney to build an all new themed Port inside Tokyo DisneySea along with a new hotel, all scheduled to begin operations in 2022.

The expansion, costing roughly $2.3 billion, appears to be the final version of major additions planned for Tokyo DisneySea, which date back an announcement in 2014 that were clarified in 2015 that a new Frozen themed Port was coming to the park.  The plans were eventually reconsidered, with a new Soarin' attraction announced while final plans were drawn up.

Now, the company has released details of their plans for Tokyo DisneySea, which will expand into a much larger area than previously planned.  The resort already is hard at work constructing a large addition of Tokyo Disneyland's Fantasyland area.  Also of note, the licenses between Oriental Land Co. and Disney have been extended another 30 years, all the way through 2076.

© Oriental Land Co.
The brand new, 8th themed Port at Tokyo DisneySea can be seen in concept above, and is based around "magical springs that lead to a world of Disney fantasy," and will include areas based on Frozen, Tangled and Peter Pan.  It will be bordered by a brand new hotel that is themed to the Port, and accessed from a pathway between the Arabian Coast and Lost River Delta areas.

© Oriental Land Co.
Interestingly, Peter Pan will be a major part of the new Port, featuring both Captain Hook's ship and Skull Rock.  It will have two attractions, the first of which will see riders flying "over the jungles of Never Land in a battle with Captain Hook and his crew of pirates."  In the story, Captain Hook has kidnapped John, Wendy's brother, and visitors go with Peter Pan to save him by floating down the river with the Lost Boys.  Tinkerbell sprinkles a bit of her magic, and suddenly riders are flying through Never Land "on an unprecedented adventure that features iconic music and dynamic 3D imagery of the characters of the film."

The area's second ride lets visitors enter Pixie Hollow, to see Tinker Bell and her friends.  The area will also have a restaurant inspired by the Lost Boys and their hideout, and will feature views of Never Land while they dine.

© Oriental Land Co.
Tangled with be featured heavily in one section of the Port as well.  Rapunzel's tower will stand over the area, along with a forest setting and a restaurant set in the hideout of the thugs that appear in the film.  The area's attraction will be a boat ride through Rapunzel's "best day ever," following her journey to the lantern festival with Flynn.  The press release states that the ride will see "countless flickering lanterns illuminate the attraction's climactic scene while Rapunzel and Flynn sing an iconic song from the film."

© Oriental Land Co.
Frozen, at long last, will be the third theme of the new Port.  Downsized from originally being an entire new Port, the village of Arendelle will rise at the park.  Set after Queen Elsa has "embraced her magical power to control snow and ice," the castle gates are now open and welcoming visitors.  The area's ride will tell the story of Elsa and Anna, via a boat ride.  The attraction will tell their journey to get to the current happy era, and of course feature many songs from the film.  A new restaurant will open that is set inside Arendelle Castle, sure to be a popular dining location.

© Oriental Land Co.
This is a concept of the new hotel that will be built with the project, which is be inside the park and rise up from the magical springs that the Port is based on.  The Port's theme will be further explained through a retail location on the hotel's first floor that faces the park.

The hotel will have 475 rooms and offer deluxe and luxury accommodations, in fact the luxury rooms will be the "finest accommodations in Tokyo Disney Resort."  The hotel will have two restaurants of its own, a lobby lounge and a dedicated parking area.

Oriental Land Co. is dedicated to expanding and growing the resort, and they definitely are putting their money where their mouths are with this expansion!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Planning New Attraction for 2019

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has received a height limit waiver from the James City County Board of Supervisors that will allow them to construct a new attraction for 2019, according to several news sources.

The waiver will allow the park to build up to a height of 115 feet above finished grade, or a maximum of 155 feet above sea level.  No clues about what kind of ride might be added were revealed during the appearance for the waiver.

© James City County
This news article featured the above map of where the new attraction was approved to be built.  The location appears to have the development take place in the Ireland themed section of the park, near the bridge that connects Scotland to Ireland, but on the Ireland side.

© Google Maps
For those familiar with Busch Gardens Williamsburg, this aerial view will help make the location more clear.  After exiting Scotland the new attraction will be located right as you enter Ireland, on the left.  That location looks to be right on the edge of the hill that leads down to the Rhine River below.  Behind the new attraction are the park's train tracks and a service road, and Griffon's station beyond that.

And that's about as much fact as we can get from what was released as part of the height waiver process.  However, BGWFans did a bunch more digging and have created a theory as to what kind of attraction this might be.  I'd consider it a possible spoiler for now, so click through to their article and take a read if you like.

Regardless of what the new attraction is, it's great to see the park adding another ride into Ireland after this year's debut of Battle for Eire, their new virtual reality simulator ride.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Thrilling New Cyborg Cyber Spin Opens Tomorrow at Six Flags Great Adventure

© Six Flags Great Adventure
It's time for some serious spinning at Six Flags Great Adventure, as the theme park has announced that their all-new ride, Cyborg Cyber Spin, will officially open tomorrow at 2 pm.

The unique new ride, seen above, will send riders on an "unrelenting and intense anti-gravity experience as it whirls them on three axes high above the ground."  The ride is the first to be themed to Cyborg, who is a part of the Justice League, and features matching red and gray colors throughout the ride, queue and new plaza.  The attraction has been built in the park's Metropolis themed section, not far from last year's blockbuster addition, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
“Six Flags Great Adventure is thrilled to launch its newest innovation, an unparalleled, hi-tech ride unlike anything our guests have ever seen or experienced,” said Park President, John Winkler. “Cyborg Cyber Spin is the first-of-its-kind in the world, and the perfect addition to our renowned collection of record-breaking attractions.  Our new Metropolis section is now home to the most futuristic, jaw-dropping thrill ride in the park.”

Cyborg Cyber Spin is as impressive as they come in terms of the ride's non-stop action.  Standing over seven stories tall, the ride utilizes a "triple box" design that mimics that of a gyroscope.  The center gondola is able to spin around three separate axes, creating both forward, backward and sideways movements in a non-stop rush of thrills.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The ride can seat 24 passengers per cycle, and the seats allow riders' legs to dangle freely as they turn and soar.  The ride's design allows for each cycle to be slightly different than the last depending on the weight distribution on the gondola, encouraging repeat riding as well.

The attraction already shines during the day with it's bright color scheme and imposing stature, but at night it will feature a bold display of lights that are sure to brighten up the entire Metropolis area.

Cyborg Cyber Spin is the first of its kind to open in America, and is sure to be on the must-ride list for those looking for unique thrills.

Check out the video below of Cyborg Cyber Spin in action, and make sure to give it a ride only at Six Flags Great Adventure.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Carowinds Kicks Off All-New Great Carolina Fest Celebration

© Carowinds
This weekend marks the start of Carowinds' new Great Carolina Fest, which is described by the park as an event for the "whole family featuring lip-smacking specialty food, music, interactive entertainment, festive d├ęcor and the best sweet tea this side of Dixie."

The event began on June 9th and will run all the way through June 24th.  The event is meant to celebrate the culture of the Carolinas through a vast selection of food offerings, special entertainment, shopping and more.  Admission to the event is a part of the general admission ticket, and guests can purchase special tickets for food samplings as they wish.

© Carowinds
The mouth-watering food is the centerpiece of the festival, with six special kiosks found around the park's large Harmony Hall dining location.  Some of the different dishes include "Bourbon Peach Pie, Bacon-wrapped Quail, Shrimp and Grits, Crispy Banana Pudding, Roasted Corn and a Pulled Pork Spring Roll."

Several dining locations in the park will have special menus as well during the Great Carolina Fest, including items like fried green tomato and bacon sandwiches, and many of them are even available on the park's dining plan.

During the Great Carolina Fest the theme park will feature live performances from different regional artists, including dueling pianos, a mix of country music at the Stateline Stage, and cool brews to go along with the "unexpected instrumentation of Brew Beatz." 

Other family fun includes games on the park's giant lawn, oversized Adirondack chairs for relaxing and "sipping signature iced tea on the Sweet Tea Terrace while listening to musical storytelling of days gone by."  For more on the Great Carolina Fest check out Carowinds' official website.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

RailBlazer Opens June 14th at California's Great America

© California's Great America
California's Great America has announced that RailBlazer will open to the public this Thursday, June 14th.  The highly anticipated single-rail roller coaster, one of only two on the planet, has had all finishing work completed and is now ready to take visitors on a trek through the California wilderness.

The park's post about the ride opening even includes some snips of on-ride footage, which looks great.  I see that they've added a walkway to the first 180 degree turn after the lift and before the first drop:

I love the view at the very end showing the first drop with that tiny opening in the rock formation waiting at the bottom!

Interestingly, the park is actually giving season pass holders rides on RailBlazer right now, as a special preview.  They made it clear it will take place all today, but I'm not sure if it will continue Sunday through Wednesday before the ride's official opening.

© California's Great America
I was just watching the ride for a bit on the park's live webcam, and it appears they are using two trains right now with very quick dispatches.  I'm still quite amazed at how fast the train moves throughout RailBlazer's course, the ride looks like such a blast!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Kennywood Begins Teaser Campaign for New-for-2019 Attraction

© Kennywood
Proving it is never too early to start teasing for next year's latest and greatest addition, Kennywood has started a teaser campaign for their 2019 addition.  And from the sound of it, it's going to be something big!

The park featured a post on their social media that reveals that "Project 412" has already broken ground, and will open in 2019.  Each Thursday the park will scratch off one of the nine boxes seen above, eventually clearing all of the "ride detail" clues.

As for the project name, before anyone starts to think there may be a 412 foot tall coaster, it's important to point out that area code 412 serves Pittsburgh, where the park is located.  So that's probably the only connection to the project name.

As for what the attraction is, both rumor and early construction signs most definitely point to a roller coaster.  More on that below.

© Kennywood
The park urged fans to share the initial post, stating they would reveal the first clue today if enough people did.  True to their word, the first box was cleared, showing the number 197.  As for what that means... well 197 miles per hour seems out of the question, and even 197 meters is only 646 feet, so that doesn't click either for track length.

Considering the new ride is looking to be a roller coaster and might use some of the park's hillside behind where the Log Jammer was, which is also behind the Racer, perhaps a lift height or drop of 197 feet is possible?

If you're looking for some views from inside Kennywood, including footers being worked on, this video from XscreamThrills is perfect.  It not only shows what's currently going on at the park, but also offers some speculation based on markings at the park.

Personally, I can't wait to see the rest of the clues and learn more about this exciting ride! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hersheypark Gets Green Light for Massive 23.5 Acre Expansion Plans

Hersheypark has been long rumored to want to expand their theme park onto land that was formerly a golf course, and is located adjacent to the current park.  In order for the plan to become a reality, the first big task was getting Park Blvd. moved, as it ran directly between the current park and the former golf course.

In the past couple of years the large project was completed to move Park Blvd. outward, allowing undisturbed access to the golf course.  The former Park Blvd. is now Chocolate World Way, and is currently serving the park with most public traffic enjoying the expanded and relocated Park Blvd.

© Bing Maps
Here is a look at what we're talking about.  You may need to click the image to get the needed detail.

The red lines follow the path of the old Park Blvd., while green lines follow the new Park Blvd., still seen under construction in these aerials.  The yellow outline then follows the part of the former golf course that could now be a massive, 23.5 acre expansion of the theme park.  The orange box shows the current entrance area, which we now know for sure will be heavily changed and rebuilt for the park's 2020 season, with work starting next year.

That news came from a recent planning meeting where Hersheypark got the approval to move forward with their plan.  This news story covers that meeting, and gives some details on the plan.  It mentions that the park's entrance will be reconfigured, with many buildings removed and new ones built.  The park's drop off area, I'm assuming for the trams, will also be changed - that is just above the orange area above.  Finally, it says that a part of Chocolate World Way will be removed, I would assume bordering the current entrance and down along Skyrush, and the rest of the road will become service access for the park.

© Google Maps
It is not often that we see a U.S. theme park embark on an expansion of this size that they can fully master plan and build over many, many years.  This is some seriously exciting news for any Hersheypark fan, especially when you compare the size of the expansion to the existing park.  The expansion is green in the above image, and very roughly in purple is a huge part of the park, with several themed lands in it, extending all the way up to around Storm Runner's station.

The article mentions that the park will release more details when they're further into the planning process, so stay tuned!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Help Busch Gardens Williamsburg Celebrate Loch Ness Monster's 40th Anniversary June 6-10

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is planning to celebrate the Loch Ness Monster's 40th birthday by hosing a series of special events during a celebration lasting from June 6th through June 10th.

The classic Arrow designed double looping roller coaster has been an icon of the industry since it first opened back in 1978.  Its interlocking vertical loops, located over the Rhine River, are probably one of the most photographed elements of any ride and were a true spectacle when they debuted.

The coaster is still going strong, having given more than 58 million rides since it opened.  This year the coaster received brand new trains designed by S&S Worldwide, along with new paint throughout - true fans will also notice a new roar and some other light effects inside the ride's famous helix tunnel.

The five day special event starts off on June 6th with a ceremony and the displaying of the ride's original train inside the park.  Plus, visitors get a special Loch Ness Monster temporary tattoo as they enter the park (I totally want one!)

The celebration also includes plenty of special food offerings themed to the Loch Ness Monster inside the theme park, such as drink specials in Das Festhaus, 40 cent popcorn in Scotland and even Loch Ness Monster cupcakes.  The park will also give 40% off of all Loch Ness Monster retail items, have $4.40 ride photos on the coaster and more.

How wonderful to see Busch Gardens Williamsburg celebrating an integral part of their history with such an event, hope everyone can get to the park to check it out!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Hersheypark Opens Two New Water Rides in The Boardwalk for Summer Season

© Hersheypark
Hersheypark recently opened their large expansion to The Boardwalk, the property's included-with-admission water park, which consists of two brand new mega-attractions.

This top photo shows both of them in one shot, and also shows how Hersheypark creatively shoehorned both rides into a small space at the back of The Boardwalk.  Even at that, only one slide, the mat racer, used undeveloped space, and the other, a water roller coaster, goes up and over several other attractions.

© Hersheypark
The mat racing water slide, with six lanes across, is known as Whitecap Racer.  The slide starts at an impressive 70 feet above the ground and is billed by the park as the longest mat racing waterslide in the world.  The attraction comes with an elaborate timing system to determine who won the race down the slide, and even posts the results on a score board.

Each path heads through two separate horizontal loops along with two large sloped sections - I think making the slide fit into the available space required the extra length, but I'm sure that visitors to the park do not mind!

© Hersheypark
The second attraction is known as Breakers Edge Water Coaster, designed by Whitewater West.  Like other water roller coasters, the slide uses hydromagnetic power to allow the four-person rafts to blast not only down, but also up, hills and through soaring curves.  The slide is also the first water coaster to include "flying saucer turns," as described by the park.

Breakers Edge Water Coaster has re-purposed the station from the Roller Soaker, a suspended roller coaster that operated at the park from 2002 through 2012.

PennLive was on site for the park's opening of the ride, and shared video of both of the attractions from an on-ride perspective.  Check it out below!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Dorney Park Memorial Day Weekend 2018 Update

© NewsPlusNotes
This past weekend marked not only Memorial Day Weekend at Dorney Park, but also the opening of Wildwater Kingdom for the 2018 season.  That means that the property's largest expansion of the year also had its grand opening, and that's Tidal Wave Cafe.  Apologies for the tardiness of this post, but better late than never!

Above is the main entrance to Tidal Wave Cafe, which is in the center of the expansive new building.

© NewsPlusNotes
Drawing backward a bit, you can get an idea of how this midway in Wildwater Kingdom has changed.  It also helps to have Talon framing the shot as well!  The area really looks complete now, with almost the entire stretch (starting with the new locker structure all the way down to the Papa Luigi's) totally rebuilt from scratch in the past few years.

© NewsPlusNotes
Tidal Wave Cafe is so large that it is complicated to get the whole thing in one photo, but here's part of the far side of the building.  The structure alternates between green and yellow and has greatly improved the aesthetics of this part of the water park.

© NewsPlusNotes
This sign out front gives visitors an idea of what is offered inside... including hand battered shrimp, rotisserie chicken, brisket and even gourmet mac 'n cheese bowls.

© NewsPlusNotes
The atrium that you first enter is seen above, with various nautical theming all around.  The park did a wonderful job on both the interior and exterior of the building, it is truly unlike anything else that the water park has offered to date.  To be honest, it is leaps and bounds above the water park's food offerings even as of just a few years ago.

© NewsPlusNotes
There are two large serving stations that branch out at 90 degree angles from each other; in this photo only one of the serving stations was open.  The cafeteria style ordering allows guests to pick what they want, have it quickly prepared, and then they're free to move on.

© NewsPlusNotes
On either side of the building are two check-out areas that also have some a la carte items offered as well.  The side seen above also has a margarita bar built into the back wall, visible in the far left of the photo.

© NewsPlusNotes
I couldn't help but try the gourmet mac 'n cheese bowl my first go, after hearing how popular the item has already become at other Cedar Fair parks.  I added some chicken, bacon and broccoli to mine, seen above, and it was delicious.  Photos do not do it justice, and honestly the serving would have been enough for two!

© NewsPlusNotes
In addition to Tidal Wave Cafe the park also made some dramatic changes to the area seen above to add more space for a large dining area.  They used some landscaping to keep the area separate from the main walkway (smart) and also added some great covers to let guests eat in the shade.

I can see myself, and probably many others with the dining plan, making Tidal Wave Cafe their location of choice whether they hit the water park or not!

© NewsPlusNotes
Elsewhere in the park I had missed this pre-Haunt display that is located near the entrance to Dinosaurs Alive on the park's opening weekend.  Not sure if there's anything hidden in here or not... we have a pirate themed skeleton and a crypt with 2018 written on it in roman numerals.  Could that mean something is changing related to the park's pirate-themed scare zone?  I've no clue.

© NewsPlusNotes
These gravestones are also located adjacent to the display, but I'm not picking up any hints from these.

© NewsPlusNotes
Memorial Day Weekend also marked the opening of Thunderhawk for the season after an extensive retracking project was completed.  In the photo above the track coming from the middle left of the photo and down the curve to the center was re-engineered and rebuilt.

© NewsPlusNotes
The curve is much smoother now and gives less of a jolt as the train makes its way through, which makes that first air-time hill before the trim even more enjoyable.  Props to the park for continuing to make keeping this classic wooden coaster in great shape a priority!

© NewsPlusNotes
Lastly, here we have the park's nicely manicured field, formerly the home of Stinger.  While taking these photos I heard several reactions from guests that had no idea the ride is no longer at the park.

© NewsPlusNotes
As expected the area has become a nice field with plenty of grass, and not much else.

© NewsPlusNotes
I did notice some pink flags off in the distance (any theme park fan is somehow trained to spot these from miles away) so I zoomed in and found some new landscaping waiting to go in.  Perhaps these are for the Stinger field, to break it up a bit, or elsewhere in the park.

Stay tuned for more updates as the year progresses!