Thursday, September 19, 2019

Latest SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Exits Role After Brief Stay

© SeaWorld Entertainment
SeaWorld Entertainment's CEO Gustavo Antorch has resigned from his position after only being with the company for around 7 months, it has been announced.  Mr. Antorch seems to have had some disagreements with the company's board of directors which directly led to him resigning.  Marc Swanson, the current CFO, will step in as interim CEO.

Mr. Antorch just joined SeaWorld Entertainment back in February, and at the time his background in the cruise and leisure industry was cited as a potential good sign for the company.  Things have been very quiet since then though, with the head of the company not having much of a public presence since.

Potentially even worse is that over the course of the year we've seen several SeaWorld Entertainment park general managers quit suddenly, which could be a sign of a much larger issue.

The Orlando Sentinel dug up some more information on the story, and it seems the board of directors, led by Scott Ross (who's Hill Path Capital is now a majority owner of the company's shares) is very hands on... too much for other executives it seems.

The article also mentions what many others have said for a long time, that SeaWorld Entertainment is potentially being groomed to be sold.  Efforts to relentlessly cut costs and raise revenues lead many to think the goal isn't to cherish the parks, but to make them more profitable to get a bigger buck when a sale takes place.  All the executives leaving certainly make that plan more plausible.

For now, it seems like ride fans may win out of all of this drama in the short term, as SeaWorld's board is currently a big fan of building coasters and rides at each park instead of focusing on any sort of larger themed expansions or projects.  Long term... well we will have to wait and see.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Coney Island Amusement Park Ohio to Remove All Rides to Focus on Water Park

© Coney Island
Ohio's Coney Island Amusement Park has announced that it has made the tough decision to remove all amusement rides and attractions at the end of the 2019 season in order to focus more on their water park operations.

According to several news stories on the decision the park has found that trying to sustain both the amusement park and water park has become a strain, with limited money and resources available to go into both parks.  The public is more interested in the water park, Coney Island has found, so they plan on doubling down on that operation and expanding it in the future.

Over the next five or so years the park will work on a massive renovation that will culminate in a 100th anniversary celebration in 2025.  Their hope is to make the park the region's "premier swim and play destination."

© Coney Island
Fans of the park are understandably sad about the news.  Coney Island Amusement Park has an interesting collection of fairly classic rides, including a Zyklon coaster named Python, a Rock-O-Plane, Tempest, Scrambler, Tilt-a-Whirl, Carousel, Ferris wheel and a selection of children's rides.  Newer additions include the Top Spin, an inverting pendulum ride seen above.  Needless to say we hope these rides can find new homes at other parks in coming seasons.

The park's history is well known for the Shooting Star, a classic Herbert Schmeck wooden roller coaster that operated until 1946.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

New Launched Coaster - Ice Breaker - Opening at SeaWorld Orlando in 2020

© SeaWorld Orlando
2020 continues to be shaping up to be a stellar year for new roller coasters in North America, another recently announced ride is Ice Breaker, to be located at SeaWorld Orlando.

Ice Breaker will be located near the Wild Arctic attraction within SeaWorld Orlando, and is the park's first launched roller coaster.  The ride is named after the "icy Arctic summits" and according to RCDB will be provided by Premier Rides.  As with most SeaWorld rides, the park will be partnering with the Alaska SeaLife Center to help visitors learn about conservation efforts in the Arctic region.

© SeaWorld Orlando
Here is the full layout of Ice Breaker, which will actually feature a total of four launches.  After leaving the station the trains will hit a transfer track that moves them into the launch area.  The ride will then launch forward and backward 4 times to get the trains to the top speed of 52 miles per hour.  The backward spike will stand 93 feet tall and actually curve up at 100 degrees, more than vertical.

The maximum speed will take the train up a 80 foot tall top hat element, and then trains will race through the rest of the 2,750 feet of track and encounter a swooping turnaround hill, wave turn and plenty of air-time hills.

While no full point of view video has been released yet, SeaWorld Orlando did release this teaser video of Ice Breaker that gives some animated footage of the ride.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

SeaWorld San Antonio Building the Texas Singray Wooden Coaster for 2020

Coming to SeaWorld San Antonio in 2020 is the Texas Stingray, the park's first traditional wooden roller coaster, and the tallest, fastest and longest wooden roller coaster in Texas.  The addition is set to open in the Spring of 2020, and as we've seen through recent updates, the park has already made great progress on the construction of the coaster.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
Here is an overhead view of the Texas Stingray.  It will be located next to the new Turtle Reef exhibit and stretch between the Orca Stadium and the Rio Loco river rapids ride.  The Texas Stingray will be built by Great Coasters International, their first new coaster in North America since Mystic Timbers and InvadR opened in 2017.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
Texas Stingray starts with a 96 foot lift hill followed by a 90 degree right turn, immediately down into a 100 foot drop at 57 degrees.  Elevation changes in the land allow for the longer drop, which will send trains along at 55 miles per hour.  The ride's layout includes many GCI signature large swooping turns, some of which are banked at a maximum of 76 degrees.

In total the ride will offer 16 different airtime hills, last more than two minutes and near the end of the ride will be a 100 foot long tunnel.  Texas Stingray's total track length is 3,379 feet.

First Drop Construction © SeaWorld San Antonio
“Texas Stingray marks a new wave of excitement for SeaWorld,” said SeaWorld San Antonio’s Vice President of General Services Scott Bacon. “We continue to provide new reasons to visit SeaWorld and offer exciting new adventures for our guests with a blend of thrilling rides, family attractions and incredible animal and educational experiences.”

Ready to take a virtual spin on the Texas Stingray?  Check out the video that SeaWorld San Antonio released below!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Record Breaking Iron Gwazi Roars Into Busch Gardens Tampa in 2020

Today was the big reveal for Busch Gardens Tampa's new for 2020 Rocky Mountain Construction hybrid conversion of the dueling Gwazi wooden roller coasters... which will now be a single track ride named Iron Gwazi.

The coaster will be North America's tallest hybrid coaster, and the world's fastest and steepest hybrid coaster.  The statistics that allow Iron Gwazi to hold that record include a first hill of 206 feet tall, a top speed of 76 miles per hour, and a first drop at a harrowing 91 degrees, one degree steeper than vertical.

© Busch Gardens Tampa
Iron Gwazi will be themed around the mighty crocodile, with amazing looking lead cars that feature the face of one of the largest living reptiles on the planet.  Elements of the former wooden Gwazi roller coasters will be used in Iron Gwazi, but all new purple steel track will allow for twisted elements that the former ride could not dream of.  Iron Gwazi's track will feature three separate inversions and 12 airtime hills spread among 4,075 feet of track.

“Iron Gwazi is the evolution of a classic wooden coaster into a modern icon,” said Stewart Clark, Park President of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “From the bones of the original Gwazi, a new legend rises, reaching taller heights and faster speeds, delivering the next-level thrills that our coaster fans crave and expect from Busch Gardens.”

This teaser video for Iron Gwazi was released along with today's announcement, and while it doesn't give a full view of the layout it does show many of the elements previously discovered.  We've already seen a large descending barrel roll and a stall element, with one more inversion hiding in the layout as well.  I'm sure it won't be long before the park releases a full look at what Iron Gwazi will offer.

No doubt, coaster fans will want to make Busch Gardens Tampa one of their stops once the ride opens in 2020!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Waldameer & Water World Building New Slide + Spinning Family Coaster for 2020

Waldameer and Water World, located in Erie, PA, has announced that they will be adding a large mat racing water slide and family spinning roller coaster for the park's 2020 season.

The additions come after the park's 2019 expansion, which was centered around Chaos, a spinning pendulum ride that inverts passengers at up to 60 feet in the sky.  The park also renovated their hot tub relaxation pool in Water World this season to accommodate more visitors.

© Waldameer Park
The mat racing slide will be one of Proslide's RallyRacer models, featuring bright colors and both open and enclosed sections.  It will have a total of 6 lanes and stand around 50 feet tall, with each lane stretching more than 400 feet in length.  Riders will race down their lane against one another, zooming through the enclosed sections as they race toward the finish line.  To conserve space, the slide will turn in on itself halfway through, with the finish line located under the middle of the slide's layout.  The addition will replace the Free Fall and Speed Slides, which have been at the park for many years.

Also new in 2020 will be a compact spinning roller coaster, which will replace the park's Showtime Theater and water wars game.  It will be manufactured by SBF Visa, and according to RCDB be named Whirlwind.  These spinning coasters are aimed at families and while smaller in size, are known to pack quite a punch and are a lot of fun.

This local news article states that the slide tower will cost around $3 million, and the new coaster between $500,000 and $700,000.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Kings Island's Orion Goes Vertical + Watch on New Webcam

Just a couple weeks after formally announcing Orion, a B&M giga coaster opening in 2020 at Kings Island, the ride has gone vertical!

© Kings Island
The theme park shared the above photo on social media, and wrote more about it on their official blog.  The first piece of beautiful blue track (out of a total of 184) that has been installed will be where the ride's station will be located.  This is not uncommon with building large roller coasters as the station itself takes a long time to create, so getting that track in place quickly is a must.

I'd expect to see more track and supports go up for the brake run and transfer track before the really fun stuff, i.e. the lift hill and 300 foot first drop, head toward the sky.

© Kings Island
But you never know, so it's best to obsessively watch the park build the roller coaster on their brand new Orion Webcam.  Here is an image from the cam taken today, showing the first piece of track installed.  There's also a lot of blue track on site being prepped for when the ride's construction requires it.  You can keep up to date with the webcam on Kings Island's official website

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Record Revenues Reported for Cedar Fair's 2019 Season Through Labor Day

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company typically reports the results of their season so far at the end of the Labor Day weekend, and this year was no different.  The company issued news that the 2019 season has seen record revenues through the end of the traditional summer season, with plenty of special events still to come in the year.

Granted, the company is now including the recent purchase of two Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas, but even without them they are seeing an overall increase.

Year to date (including Schlitterbahn) revenues are up 8% or $86 million to a record $1.12 billion, compared to $1.03 billion in 2018.  There has been a 6% or 1.1 million increase in attendance to 21 million, a 3% increase in in-park spending to $48.79 per person and a 9% or $10 million increase in out of park revenues to $130 million.

Pretty solid increases, but as we said those include new Schlitterbahn water parks.  If you exclude those parks, revenues were up 5% or $48 million to $1.08 billion, attendance up 2% or 465,000, in park spending up $1.08 per person and out of park revenues were up 5% or $6 million.

Cedar Point © Cedar Fair
So even when you take out the recently purchased Schlitterbahn parks Cedar Fair has had a good year by all standards.  Usually to get attendance up you have to discount, but the per capita is up significantly, so props to the company for that metric.

Cedar Fair's President and CEO, Richard Zimmerman, noted in the release that their efforts to "further broaden the guest experience by adding more experiential attractions and limited-duration special events" has worked, as the parks are drawing new guests and others are visiting more frequently.  So it sounds like special events and interactive attractions are in the forecast for the parks for the foreseeable future.  The company was also very happy with the two Schlitterbahn parks' performances, noting that have "outperformed" their early expectations.

If the fall and winter events, such as Halloween Haunt and Winterfest, continue to produce for Cedar Fair the year should easily be another record one.

© Cedar Fair
The news release also again confirmed that the PassPerks program will be rolling out to all Cedar Fair parks in 2020 after being tested at a handful of parks this year.  The loyalty program rewards pass holders for visiting the parks, giving them treats such as skip the line passes, food offers, discounted tickets and more.

Cedar Fair is also already seeing "meaningful increases" in the sales of 2020 season passes, believed to be based off of the capital announcements made last month.  This includes major anniversary celebrations at Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm, along with the Orion giga-coaster at Kings Island.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Six Flags Darien Lake to Rebrand Water Park + Build New Wahoo Wave Slide

Six Flags Darien Lake will continue to grow again in 2020 under its latest ownership, which saw the park welcomed back into the Six Flags chain in 2018.  The property has announced major changes to its Splashtown water park, with it being rebranded as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor next year and a major slide addition planned.

Wahoo Wave will splash into Hurricane Harbor next year, a massive new slide that stands 6 stories tall.  The slide's offerings will be unique to the park, featuring a "one-of-a-kind water wall" that will join other recent additions such as RipCurl Racer and the Brain Drain.

© Six Flags Darien Lake
Utilizing four person rafts, Wahoo Wave will start with a relatively calm section after leaving the loading area, featuring several curves and an enclosed section.  Suddenly the rafts will soar down into a steep 30 foot plunge and then up into the giant wave wall.  The experience will give riders the feeling of hang time, allowing them a near zero gravity experience.  After the wave wall the rafts will splash into a final catch pool.

“Six Flags continues to invest to make the park bigger, better and now wetter than ever with the introduction of a world class water park attraction, Wahoo Wave,” said Park President Chris Thorpe. “This massive attraction provides cool thrills and spills for the whole family.”

According to Six Flags Darien Lake, construction on Wahoo Wave will begin in 2020 and it is expected to be complete when Hurricane Harbor opens in May, 2020.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Help Name Luna Park's New For 2020 Roller Coaster

© Luna Park
Luna Park, located in Coney Island, previously announced an ambitious plan to expand into a new parcel of land and offer an even larger assortment of rides and attractions. 

The new area at the time was announced to contain a new gathering and park-like space along with a huge ropes/adventure course, and a new log flume.  The log flume was the highlight at the time, as it was a much larger model than the park's current flume.

The expansion news came about a year ago and has since grown, and now includes a family roller coaster that wraps around the log flume - nice!  Since pretty much all rides that are installed at Luna Park are provided by Zamperla, we can probably assume they will be creating the coaster.

The above concept art shows the new coaster and how it will interact with the flume.  Granted the ride looks mild in nature, but who doesn't want a new coaster in the famous seaside paradise?

If you happen to have a great name idea for this coaster you can currently submit it to Luna Park via a contest they are holding.  Winners of the contest will get a VIP package day at the park for a group of their friends.

At this point it seems the ropes course, log flume and newly announced steel roller coaster are all planned to open in the Spring or Summer of 2020.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Six Flags Parks New For 2020 Thrill Ride Roundup

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
We still have a lot of ground to cover with regard to Six Flags Theme Parks' new for 2020 announcements.  We've posted about a couple of the largest attractions, now let's take a look at the other rides headed to the parks.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will be adding a new roller coaster, the Sidewinder Safari, which also has an animal exhibit located in its queue.  Riders will enter a safari themed queue that features rattlesnakes and other reptiles.  The coaster itself appears to be a clone of Rajin' Cajun at Six Flags America.  The ride is one of Zamperla's family spinning wild mouse coasters, standing 42 feet tall with 1,378 feet of track.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas will open a brand new type of thrill ride next year, named Daredevil Dive Flying Machines.  Themed as a steampunk flying machine, the attraction will be one of Zamperla's new elevated Super Air Race rides.  The ride has six plane themed cars (each one seats 4 riders) that soar and rotate as the attraction rises to five stories above the ground.  Daredevil Dive Flying Machines will be located in the Crackaxle Canyon section of the park.

© The Great Escape
Two parks will be adding a Booster ride from Funtime, at The Great Escape it will be known as Adirondack Outlaw and at Six Flags St. Louis Catwoman Whip.  The Booster ride is also commonly called a "salt and pepper shaker" and features sets seats on each end of a large ride arm.  The arm rotates and sends rides up 160 feet in the air at 50 miles per hour - oh and the ride carriage is able to rotate freely as well allowing for inversions.

My description of the ride may not be perfect, but this animation of the Six Flags St. Louis version definitely makes the attraction clear.  I believe that Catwoman Whip will have more seats - 16 per ride cycle - than at The Great Escape, which looks like it will have 8.

© Six Flags New England
A pair of parks will add another recently popular ride, Zamperla's Endeavour.  The ride is the modern version of a Huss Enterprise, and visitors to parks are eating them up.  The ride will be named Supergirl Sky Flyer at Six Flags New England, and Catwoman Whip at Six Flags Over Georgia.  Riders are seated with their legs hanging free below them and rotated in a giant circle to seven stories above the ground.

Six Flags Over Georgia will place their ride in a newly renovated Gotham City area, with new theming, food, and a second new ride, a traditional Scrambler named Poison Ivy Toxic Twister.  Six Flags New England's ride will be placed in the DC Super Hero Adventure themed area.

© Six Flags America
Good things come in pairs at Six Flags, and the trend continues with two parks building massive spinning pendulum rides in 2020.  Six Flags America is going to add Harley Quinn Spinsanity, one of the 147 foot tall, 70 mile per hour version of the ride.  To be located within the park's Gotham City area, it is sure to breath a lot of new life into that part of the park.

Six Flags Mexico is also building a pendulum ride, CraZanity, which is one of the even larger versions of these rides which tie as the tallest in the world.  Standing 170 feet tall at maximum swing, CraZanity will hit 75 miles per hour at its top speed.

© La Ronde
Turns out the rumors of Six Flags Magic Mountain's Green Lantern being transported to La Ronde were totally true, as the park has announced the ride as Vipere.  The coaster opened in California in 2011 but has a difficult time at the park since then.  Hopefully the ride will be better suited for Canadian audiences.  The ride is one of Intamin's Zac Spin coasters, standing 105 feet tall and featuring cars that can spin wildly on the multi-level track, should the park desire those operations.

Last but not least, Six Flags Over Texas is building North America's first Mack Rides Power Splash ride, named Aquaman: Power Wave.  The ride has a 700 foot long track that uses LSM launches to send boats both forward and backward up 148 foot tall towers at 63 miles per hour.  At the end of the last drop the boats soar through a splash pool creating a drenching finale to a thrilling ride.

It's great to see one of these rides come to a park in North America, as they look very exciting.  It is rumored that this ride was fabricated for the cancelled Six Flags Dubai project - in this case much to the gain of Six Flags Over Texas!