Monday, September 17, 2018

Epcot to Retire Illuminations: Reflections of Earth In Fall of 2019

Well, at least everyone has plenty of time to get to the park to see the show one last time!  Walt Disney World has announced that Epcot's nighttime spectacular, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, will come to a close in the second half of 2019 - just about a year from now.

As part of the "transformation of Epcot," the park will debut a brand new "nighttime fireworks spectacular" shortly after the show closes for good.

Known as one of the premier fireworks shows in the amusement industry, Illuminations first opened at Epcot in 1999, and was then known as Illuminations 2000: Reflections of Earth.

The show, which combines an original score, plenty of fireworks, projections, lasers, water fountains, a healthy amount of fire and more special effects was an immediate hit, and has stuck around for the past (almost) 20 years.

As one would expect, Wikipedia has a great write up on Illuminations.  The show's centerpiece on the lake is a giant globe that's covered in LED screens, playing footage that goes along with the show, and it also opens up like a flower during the show's climax to reveal a 40 foot tall flame torch.  The 'inferno barge' is also a fan favorite, delivering a ton of massive fireballs and explosions capable of reaching more than 50 feet in the air.  Illuminations regularly features special versions of the show for holidays, and these are known as some of the most elaborate productions Walt Disney World has ever put on.

Walt Disney World notes in the announcement that Epcot is undertaking a massive "transformation" with many new attractions already announced for the next few years.  These include a "Guardians of the Galaxy" roller coaster, the "Ratatouille" dark ride in the France Pavilion, and a new space themed restaurant adjacent to Mission: Space.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Dorney Park Opens The Great Pumpkin Fest + Final Haunt 2018 Update

© NewsPlusNotes
Taking advantage of a warm sunny day, plenty of visitors flocked to Dorney Park today for the opening of this year's Great Pumpkin Fest, a family-friendly Halloween celebration.

The event is held in a part of the water park, which is closed for the season, and features a ton of activities and experiences for kids and their parents.  The short walk under Talon leads to the event, which curls around the Wildwater Cove wavepool and the area surrounding it.

© NewsPlusNotes
There are a ton of activities going on at all times at The Great Pumpkin Fest, including several live shows at regular intervals.  Above is one of them, but there are 4 different performances that rotate across the stage throughout the day.

© NewsPlusNotes
Of course The Great Pumpkin Fest wouldn't be complete without a great pumpkin (there is one indeed) and also plenty of Peanuts characters dressed up for the Halloween season.  Here are Snoopy and Linus all decked out meeting visitors.

© NewsPlusNotes
The Funster House is like a haunted house only not haunted or scary.  It's just a silly fun house that kids can go through and receive a treat - not a trick - at the end.

The area also has a petting zoo, mask making area, small tractor rides, a bale maze, pumpkin painting and of course trick-or-treat street.

© NewsPlusNotes
And of course also this, Pigpen's People Washer, which I think is pretty adorable.  It's a giant suds play area that kids appeared to be having a ball in.  I didn't want to get too close for a photo, though, as the suds were flying!

© NewsPlusNotes
As for Halloween Haunt, which starts this coming Friday the 21st, the park is nearing completion on set up and will put the final touches in place this week before opening.  There is much to see at this point, though we won't cover everything in this article so as to save some content for the actual event!

© NewsPlusNotes
Dorney Park's Main Midway area has received some new decorations for this year, including this neat headless horseman statue in the center planter.  Many years ago the park had a similar one, but he met an untimely end (maybe because he has no head?) so this is a new for 2018 version.

© NewsPlusNotes
The lantern boxes that we saw under construction in our pre-haunt update are now finished and spread throughout the Main Midway.  The feature colorful images on all sides, and I can't wait to see how they look at night!

© NewsPlusNotes
At the end of the midway in front of the Wave Swinger's entrance is this new set up, during the day this is a nice witch, and she has a cool backdrop that's an overgrown atrium type of set.  Guests can visit with her and have their photo taken... honestly the set the park created for this is the coolest part in my book!  Oh, and at night, no longer a nice witch... so watch out for that.

© NewsPlusNotes
The new stage we also saw being built in our pre-haunt update is now in its final location, in Hydra plaza in front of Meteor.  This will be the home of the new Overlord's Resurrection show.  Taking place each night at 7:00 pm, this will be the kickoff to the night's scares.  The Overlord will be brought to life and call upon his fleet of monsters to take over the park and... well scare everyone!

© NewsPlusNotes
Not a new decoration, but the hanging pumpkins are back on the midways leading to CornStalkers.  I love these pumpkins (they all flicker at night) and think they add so much atmosphere to this part of the park.

© NewsPlusNotes
But there are some new ghosts that have taken up home along the Road Rally path by the creek.  These look awesome and are going to look even better at night with some spooky lighting and all that fog...

© NewsPlusNotes
The all-new Port Of Call area, which is a combination of dance party, cirque show and a bar, looks ready to go and guests can already walk through the area.  No longer a scare zone, this area now works well as a gathering point for entertainment and beverages, something that I'm hoping really clicks with the crowd this year.

© NewsPlusNotes
The Port of Call Pub will be located here, serving different beverages including the specialty brews that were created for the park this year, and a new one for Haunt.  These will pair nicely with the Dead Man's Revenge DJ, some themed characters and the Jolly Rogers cirque-style show.

© NewsPlusNotes
It sounds like a fun area to hang out in this year, and its inhabitants, like this gem, are just dying to see you there!

© NewsPlusNotes
The park's Pumpkin Spectacular, which is located along the pathway leading to Urgent Scare, is coming together and looks great!  I love this kind of addition to the park's atmosphere, it may not be a house or a scare zone but it adds a lot to the event in my book.

© NewsPlusNotes
Because the display is stretched along a path, it is quite hard to get everything in one shot.  But in addition to a cast of pumpkin characters, there are plenty of real pumpkins creating larger designs as well, here is the sun for instance.

© NewsPlusNotes
And of course you have to have Snoopy in there as well!

© NewsPlusNotes
I think that about does it for our final Haunt preview, I'm keeping some things off the site until Haunt actually starts... like I said earlier.  You'll notice the image above is the only one of Necropolis that I've added... on purpose!

© NewsPlusNotes
See you all next weekend for the opening of Halloween Haunt!  Plan your own trip using the park's official website.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hersheypark to Share "Biggest Announcement Ever" on October 3rd

© Hersheypark
Fans of Hersheypark should mark their calendars for October 3rd, as that is when the theme park will be making their "biggest announcement ever," which sounds quite exciting!

We've all been hoping that we would hear more about the park's future plans soon, and it looks like we will not have to wait long at all.  The park shared the below video, chronicling their large expansions of the past set to the famous Hersheypark Happy song along with this text:

"For more than 110 years, our story has been filled with timeless family rides, thrilling coasters, your favorite Hershey’s Characters, and #HersheyparkHappy memories. On October 3, the story continues with our biggest announcement ever."

Obviously the video doesn't give much more in the way of hints as to what they're announcing, but recent development plans make that a bit more clear.  If you remember this post from a couple months ago, the plans on file with local authorities show a much larger entrance area being developed for the park, along with a new roller coaster.

Those plans look like the start of the park developing the former golf course land that was next door, which contains a ton of open space that will allow for many years of developments.  I would think that this announcement might shed more light on how all that will play out - as that will radically change the size of Hersheypark for decades to come.  Looking forward to hearing more from the park on October 3rd!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Wild Adventures to Debut New 3-Acre Alligator Themed Kids' Area in 2019

© Wild Adventures
Wild Adventures will bring a new children's area to the park in 2019, themed around alligators, the park announced today.  Seen above in concept art, the land will feature a total of six rides for families along with an a new exhibit featuring American alligators.

The expansion will be located near the park's main entrance, and the six rides appear to be a mix of new and refurbished and rethemed existing rides at the park.  They will include rides such as the Okefenokee Express, Flying Gators, Turtle Twist, Swampwater Snake, Hoppin’ Gator and Okefenokee Friends.  The Swampwater Snake appears to be a Zamperla Fiesta Express coaster, one of which operated at the park until 2011 - so perhaps the same ride is being brought back.  Each of the ride will carry an alligator theme, matching the surrounding land.

© Wild Adventures
The center of the area will feature Alligator Alley, a new exhibit filled with alligators.  Depicted above is the Gator Crossing Rope Bridge, which allows visitors to pass directly over the alligator exhibit on a rope bridge.  The area will also feature a new show, titled Gators!, and the opportunity for guests to feed the animals as well.  The new land will feed directly into the park's Alapaha Trail, which features a swap setting filled with additional animal exhibits.

Construction will start this October with a planned opening of the expansion in March of 2019.

Wild Adventures is also introducing a new Pre-K kids' season pass, free of charge to visitors ages 3-5.  Once guests register online they can bring their little ones to the park the rest of this season along with all of 2019.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Busch Gardens Tampa Announces Tigris Coaster for 2019 + Exciting 2020 Plan Hints

A new thrill coaster is set to open at Busch Gardens Tampa in 2019, named Tigris.  The ride will be one of Premier Rides' popular Sky Rocket II models, which can be found in two other SeaWorld Entertainment Parks: Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Electric Eel at SeaWorld San Diego.

Tigris will be built in the Stanleyville section of Busch Gardens Tampa, taking up a portion of the space once occupied by the Tanganyika Tidal Wave shoot-the-chutes ride.

© Busch Gardens Tampa
Tigris is a high speed, triple launch coaster that will be the tallest launching roller coaster in the state of Florida when it opens in 2019.  The ride's train will first launch forward, then backward through the station, then forward once more to a top speed of more than 60 miles per hour.  The trains will climb up to the top of the structure, around 150 feet above the park below.

© Busch Gardens Tampa
A thrilling heartline roll awaits the train at the top of the ride, slowly inverting passengers 150 in the air.  A brief pause leads to a steep plunge down toward a non-inverting loop before the ride comes to an end.

"Tigris will be a strong addition to our family of world-class thrill rides. With three intensely exciting launch points, this ride is unlike anything we have in our coaster collection," said Stewart Clark, president and general manager of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. "This new attraction is a testament to our continuing investment in the park, and bringing new and innovative experiences to our guests."

© Busch Gardens Tampa
Tigris will feature bright orange track and black supports, naturally to match the theme of tigers throughout the attraction.  The trains are depicted above, which also feature a tiger theme through color choice and other details.

The Stanleyville themed section is right next to Jungala, where the park's Bengal Tigers live.  As part of the park's mission of conservation, the ride's queue will contain "educational content about the plight of tigers in the wild and what conservationists – including the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund – are doing to help save them.  In addition, the purchase of any merchandise in the Tigris gift shop will help make a difference, with 5% of the sales price donated to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to protect tigers and their habitat."

© Google Maps
Just as exciting as the news that a new coaster is coming to the park in 2019, today's announcement also revealed that Busch Gardens Tampa will open a major thrill attraction in 2020 as well.

Details are scarce, but the park did 100% confirm that "Gwazi's existence has always been a bit of a rocky ride, so we decided to go ahead and revamp Gwazi into a new attraction" for 2020.  The park also said that their news on Gwazi was "a little bit of a hybrid attraction announcement" since it was for both 2019 and 2020 projects.

Obviously, there are two big hints in those quotes - the words hybrid and rocky.  Many have speculated that Gwazi would get the Rocky Mountain Construction treatment at some point since it was left standing, and to me this all but confirms that is the plan.  More details on that in a few months the park said, so stay tuned!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Legoland New York Details New Lands and Attractions Ahead of 2020 Grand Opening

Legoland New York recently held a ceremony to reveal all the rides and attractions that will open with the park in 2020.  The park, to be located in Goshen, New York (an hour outside of Manhattan) will reside on 150 acres on a total site that sprawls over 500 acres.  The park won't open until 2020, but crews are already starting to get the land prepared for the park to be built.

© Legoland New York
Described as already a "multi-day experience" upon its initial debut, Leogland New York will feature more than 50 rides, shows and attractions in eight themed sections.  To reveal these sections, the park built a giant Lego model of the park, which can be seen above and is made of 135,000 bricks and took 20 builders more than 1,300 hours to create.

© Legoland New York
This concept art also shows the park's layout, giving an idea of the park's scale.  Legoland New York will be the largest Legoland park ever developed, and will combine the best attractions at Legoland parks across the globe into one property.

© Legoland New York
This is an aerial view of the land currently being prepped for heavy construction, turning these open spaces into lands filled with rides and attractions.  It's hard to tell from this image, but much of the land the park will sit on features elevation changes, which is also different for a Legoland Park.

© Legoland New York
Here is the official park map for Legoland New York, we will use this to check out the different lands that have been announced.

The Factory is the beginning of park, an area that appears to be built from giant Lego bricks.  The land will feature a unique-to-New York ride, "Great Lego Adventure!," that will let riders feel what it is "like to be a Lego Minifigure, as you travel through the manufacturing process, into a box, and into the hands of a child just waiting to build!"

At the end of the street and just to the left is Bricktopia, a massive Lego building area that lets visitors get in some hands on Lego building with Master Model Builders.  You can also spin on the Imagination Celebration ride in this land.

Moving to the left again in the above map, we find Lego Ninjago World.  Similar to in other Legoland Parks, the main draw will be Ninjago: The Ride, along with a series of play elements that let you train to be a "master of the elements."

© Legoland New York
Next up, in the back left of the map and seen above, is Heartlake City.  Featuring Lego friends Emma, Olivia, Stephanie, Andrea and Mia, there will be a balloon ride, outdoor stage and also the home of Granny's Apple Fries, a well-known treat at Legoland parks.

The very back of the park is home to Knights' Kingdom, with the towering Lego Castle as its centerpiece.  The Dragon Coaster, mean for families, will roar through the area, but there will also be smaller coaster and the Dragon Rider School ride as well. 

Lego City is up next, and it's filled with interactive activities for young heroes, such as the fire Rescue Academy ride, and the Lego Driving School.  The land will all feature restaurants, shops and a theater.

© Legoland New York
Moving back closer to the main entrance, next we find Pirate Shores.  There will be a big play area here, along with the Rouge Wave Riders, which let kid "do battle with water spouts and hungry beasts."  Not mentioned in the release, there also appears to be some sort of car ride in the back of the area.

Finally, no park would be complete without Miniland, described as "a massive panorama of Lego built cities from across the country, with interactive features around every corner.  Go from the Statue of Liberty to Times Square in just a few steps, and see bustling streets full of busy, animated pedestrians – even a moving subway."

Legoland New York will also feature a hotel when it opens, and will operate on a seasonal schedule - Spring through the Fall each year. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cedar Fair Reports Record Results for August 2018 + A Hint at What Else is New for 2019

© Cedar Fair
After reporting some disappointing 2nd quarter results, Cedar Fair has provided their annual update reflecting year to date results through Labor Day, the end of the traditional summer season.

While results through July looked less than stellar, it looks like August was a very solid month for the company, in fact they have said that it produced records results.

"For the five weeks, preliminary net revenues were $288 million, up 6%, or $17 million, when compared with the same period in 2017.  This was the result of a 5%, or 255,000-visit, increase in attendance, a 1%, or $0.52, increase in average in-park per capita spending and a 7%, or $2 million, increase in out-of-park revenues, including resort accommodations."

So all those key factors were a big plus in the month of August when compared to last year, but it wasn't enough to really move the needle on the whole year's net results.  The company lowered their estimate of full year EBITDA to between $460m to $470m, down from their original projection of between $475m and $495m.  Still, the market seemed to like the news, moving the stock price up a couple dollars on the news.

There was one more item in the press release worth noting - we haven't heard much about 2019 from several parks, including California's Great America, Knott's Berry Farm, Valleyfair, Dorney Park, Michigan's Adventure and Kings Dominion.  The park's CEO Richard Zimmerman had this quote about remaining 2019 capital plans:

"Additionally, guests can expect to see a variety of new and enhanced celebratory and regionally focused events and activities unique to each park's brand, including more nighttime entertainment accentuated with special lighting and d├ęcor, while featuring unique culinary fare created by our onsite executive chefs."

So, it sounds like the announcements that many are still waiting for will be a series of special events and festivals, if I'm reading between the lines correctly here.  I'm intrigued by him specifically calling out "special lighting and decor," as well.  The Peanuts Celebration expanded from Knott's to Kings Island last year, and many parks put on barbecue and brew/food-type festivals each year... but that description sounds like something a bit more detailed might be coming.  We will have to see exactly how this plan plays out at the parks when more details are revealed.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Yukon Striker Lift Ready to Go Up at Canada's Wonderland + Other Ride Construction Updates

© CW Mania
We have a special update on Yukon Striker at Canada's Wonderland from our friend Jeff from CW Mania - the ride is making some serious vertical progress already!  CW Mania was able to get a special construction tour of the ride and has shared some images with us to check out.

Above is a great track-level look at the turn out of the station and up into the lift hill.  It really helps hit home just how large B&M dive coaster track is!

© CW Mania
At the end of that 180 degree turn, the massive section of track has been installed that will support the lift hill as it rises to the sky.  The park is assembling the first segments of track on the ground, those will connect to the support you can see already in place.  From there the rest of the lift will be built, followed by the first drop from the base upward - the same method seen on similar rides in the past.

© CW Mania
CW Mania also was able to go into the tunnel that will await trains after the vertical 245 foot first drop.  The tunnel was constructed early to keep the ride on schedule, and is technically under a lake in the center of the park.  Oh, and if that wasn't enough another coaster goes directly over the entrance to the tunnel as well!

© CW Mania
One last view of the tunnel with track already in place, waiting for the rest of the ride to be built.

CW Mania also filed this video from their visit to the park.  Make sure to check out the whole thing, as they met with a member of the ride's construction team and there are plenty of goodies throughout the video!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Thrilling New Attractions Announced for Busch Gardens Williamsburg + Water Country USA

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg has announced large new attractions for the 2019 season at both the theme park and also their water park, Water Country USA.

Coming to the Ireland themed village within Busch Gardens Williamsburg is Finnegan's Flyer, a set of S&S Worldwide's popular Screamin' Swings.

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Finnegan's Flyer will be located right along the entrance to Ireland, highly visible as guests cross the bridge to enter the area.  Seen above in concept art from the park, the ride's placement will mean that the arms will swing riders out over the ravine below.  It appears as though most of the ride loading area and queue will be supported by a large deck, due to the ground being far beneath it below.

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This rendering gives a bit more of a view of the deck and ride location, and even more concept art is available from the park on their website.  The ride has two arms, one orange and one green, that each seat 16 riders - 8 facing forward and 8 facing backward.  However, since the arms swing to great heights in either direction, all riders are treated to thrills going both directions.

The arms are capable of swinging the riders up to 80 feet in the air, higher if you take into account the ravine below, at maximum speeds of 45 miles per hour.

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Water Country USA will also feature a large new water slide in 2019, called the Cutback Water Coaster.  According to the park, the slide is "the only RocketBLAST® coaster on the East Coast and Virginia’s first hybrid water coaster."

The new slide will replace the Meltdown toboggan slide, and utilize a similar layout and some of the original slide's hardware - as reported earlier by BGW Fans.

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Cutback will use Proslide's latest water propulsion system to keep the 4-person rafts moving through both downhill and uphill sections of the slide - around 856 feet in total.  Mixed among the layout are five of the company's "flying saucer" turns, which are sharp diving turns accentuated by a large saucer shape (though the raft does not go through the entire saucer, half of it is really decoration).  The rafts are able to hit a maximum speed of 35 feet per second on the way down.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Frontier City to Renovate Kids Area in 2019 + Starts New Tradition with Holiday In The Park

Frontier City, which is now once again a part of the Six Flags chain (as displayed prominently in their current logo), has announced a brand new renovation to their kids area for 2019, plus a new holiday festival starting in just a few months.

© Frontier City
The park will expand in 2019 with the addition of Timber Town, described as an interactive land for children that will feature four new rides along with several updated and rethemed existing attractions.  The area will also be home to new characters such as "Bucky the Beaver, Hootie the Owl, and Bubba the Bear" that will make their home in Timber Town.

According to the park's press release, the four new rides are:

• Frankie’s Mine Train, a family coaster as wild as the West itself;
• Billy’s Frog Hopper, a fully interactive jumping ride that will take families up, down, and all-around;
• Rocky's Ranger Planes, a classic spinning ride that will take kids to new heights, and;
• Sheldon’s Sea Adventure, an innovative family ride combining a unique blend of rocking and whirling motions.

From the photos and descriptions, it sounds like all the new rides are being manufactured by Zamperla, and include some of the company's most popular family attractions.  Several existing rides will be rethemed and given names such as "Patricia's Tea Cup Twirl, Hootie's Tree House, Bucky's Whistlestop Depot, and Bubba's Honey Swings."

Guests will have to wait until next year to experience all that Timber Town has to offer, but Frontier City is also adding a popular Six Flags experience - Holiday In The Park - to the park in the final months of 2018.

Running from November 23rd through January 6th, Holiday In The Park will feature more than one million holiday lights, plenty of open rides, special shopping and dining experiences, holiday themed live entertainment and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Clause.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Kennywood Hard at Work Building The Steel Curtain Roller Coaster + New Track Arrives

© Kennywood
Now that Kennywood park has started to close during the week and only operates on weekends, construction on the new Steel Curtain roller coaster and the Steelers Country themed area has kicked into high gear.

The park has been showing off some progress photos on their social media sites, such as their Twitter feed.  Above we see a fully drained part of the central pond of Kennywood, where a large section of the Steel Curtain will pass over.  The track will serve as a turn around point where a dive loop will point the trains back toward the station end of the ride.

© Kennywood
This view appears to show the infield section of the ride, utilizing much of the land that the log flume used to call home.  A big part of this space will also hold the Steelers Country themed section when all the work is complete.  For now it is just a sea of footers - the coaster will have 152 in all.

© Kennywood
While construction work progresses, Kennywood has started to receive some very special shipments of coaster track, as expected painted a sleek black.  These segments look a bit different than S&S track we've seen in the past, though I'm no track expert.

© Kennywood
One more view of track pieces that have shown up show sections that have no spine at all, meaning they are to be used in areas where there is not a lot of stress put on the coaster.  Some of these could be for the very end of the ride and the brake/station area, but they are curved quite a bit so perhaps not!

It has been a while since Kennywood announced the Steel Curtain, so why not take another look at the point of view video of the ride once more!