Sunday, October 25, 2020

S&S - Sansei Reveal Spin Shot Tower Retrofit for Existing Tower Rides

© S&S - Sansei

Parks with existing S&S tower rides have a new option on the table for thrilling their guests, as S&S - Sansei Technologies has debuted the new Spin Shot Tower attraction concept.  The company has created a design that will allowed their 4D Free Spin coaster seats to be installed on existing tower rides, which then can be blasted up and down while fully rotating.

According to S&S, the ride profile (how many times riders invert, etc) can be programmed differently for each park.  That allows a full spectrum of mild to really wild, featuring face-up, face-down and even upside down experiences during the ride.  The spinning is mechanically controller and endlessly customizable.

© S&S - Sansei

The attraction has been designed with these tough times in mind.  To help parks with limited budgets the retrofit of an existing S&S tower can be done modestly, at least compared to a brand new ride or roller coaster.  Executive Director of Sales & Marketing, Josh Hays said, “Our CEO, Tim Timco, challenged us to develop an exciting attraction that parks could offer their customers at a modest budget. We believe our talented engineering team has met that goal. Parks want to offer their guests new and exciting experiences every year. That is a difficult task right now, but we believe our new Spin Shot Tower will allow parks with existing tower rides to reward their guests with a thrilling experience that doesn’t break the bank.”

Check out the below video of the concept in action - it looks like a ton of fun and I can't wait to see which park signs up to be the first!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Universal Studios Beijing Attraction Roster and Details Revealed in New Updates

© Universal Studios Beijing

Universal Studios Beijing is getting closer to its grand opening in 2021, with the final states of the park's construction now underway.  That means it's time for the press machine to start up, and thankfully that means much more concept art and details for us.

While the basics of the park were already known, this information release contains another level of detail that we haven't seen before.  As a recap the park will consist of 7 lands: Hollywood, Transformers Metrobase, Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, Waterworld, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World Isla Nublar and Minion Land.  

© Universal Studios Beijing

It will have a mix of attractions that can be found at other Universal theme parks, however there will a selection of unique attractions as well.  For instance, Jurassic World Isla Nublar will feature an indoor dark ride named the Jurassic World Adventure - this is one to watch as so many of us have longed for an intense Jurassic Park themed dark ride for many years.  The greater Jurassic World section will be unique as well, offering The Aviary with a suspended powered coaster to boot.

The Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure has been replicated at the park, though now called the Decepticoaster - the theming on the launch is top notch!  Minion Land is a super silly fun place for kids to explore, with smaller attractions both indoor and outdoors.  The Kung Fu themed section is largely indoors, which will allow the park to make a realistic nighttime setting which is sure to amaze.  Both Waterworld, which is just the stunt show, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are now staple attractions at Universal Parks that will be found in China as well.

The below video will take you through all the attractions and hotels at the resort, showing off never before seen concept art and details.  Also, since the park is so far along in construction there are tons of great photos coming out from workers and the press - check out a huge selection of them at this link on ThemeParx.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

California Releases Strict Rules for Parks Reopening During Pandemic

All California theme parks have stayed shuttered during the pandemic, with only some opening in order to have special food and retail festivals or operate as zoos.  While parks in some parts of the country opened as early as June, there have been no rides operating in California since March, or so.  Recently the parks across the state have urged the California Governor to release a plan so that they know when they will be able to open the gates again, and now the plan has been released.  You can read the full document here, but in short, parks in California won't be reopening any time soon.

The plan features color coded stages related to positive COVID-19 test results and cases rates per county.  Purple (Widespread) is the worse, followed by Red (Substantial), then Orange (Moderate) and finally Yellow (Minimal).  These follow the larger reopening plan that the state has had in place for some time, and the risk matrix for each stage is below.

No parks are allowed to open at all in counties in both the purple and red stages.  Starting in the orange stage "small" parks (overall capacity less than 15,000) can open but on at a maximum of 500 guests or 25% of capacity, whichever is less.  That's a severe restriction that would make operations unprofitable for nearly every park I can think of.  Plus, in the orange stage, these parks cannot open indoor attractions and visitors can only be from the same county the park is located in.  The logistics of checking that operationally seems like a nightmare as well.

If a county gets to the yellow stage then a park within it can operate at 25% of maximum capacity and all indoor locations in the park can only have 25% capacity.  That would allow parks to open in similar ways that others around the country already have, as there are also a full set of rules related to face masks, cleaning, social distancing, etc.

The catch is that currently less than 10 counties in California are in the yellow stage, none with parks in them.  Less than 15 counties are in the orange phase, which would come with the strictly limited attendance, and they don't have parks in them anyway.  So all the bigger parks, like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Legoland, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, California's Great America and a multitude of others, are currently stuck in purple or red stages.

Essentially, this means that under the Governor's current plan we won't see any of these parks open any time soon, especially with COVID-19 cases surging across the country once again.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Worlds of Fun Ready for Racers on New Riptide Raceway at Oceans of Fun in 2021

© Worlds of Fun
Much like we saw last month with Carowinds showing off their brand new mat racing water slide, Worlds of Fun is giving fans a preview of their new for 2021 attraction at Oceans of Fun, named Riptide Raceway.  According to the park, Riptide Raceway is the longest mat racing water slide in the world, with each of the 4 slides stretching 486 feet in length.

The park has created an entire blog post dedicated to showing off the construction of the attraction, which was originally supposed to open in 2020.  Oceans of Fun did not get to open this year, but now the park is able to show off the colorful attraction as fans wait for their turn to slide in 2021.


© Worlds of Fun
The feature even includes a look back at the construction of the new slide tower, which replaced the park's older Diamond Head attraction.  There's some neat aerial drone footage of the slide being constructed from back in March, a snip of which can be seen above. 

Starting next summer visitors will be able to race one another down the brightly colored tubes, featuring twists, curves and a horizontal loop on each - complete with a finish line at the end that will determine the winner!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Planet Coaster Console Edition Arriving on Xbox this November

© Frontier Developments
So it looks like we may be in for an extra-boring winter (at least for those of us not in warm climates) with less parks remaining open and the pandemic still in full swing.  That means more time at home... and Frontier Developments has a great way for many of us to burn through many hours: Planet Coaster Console Edition.

The popular theme park development and simulation game is coming to Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S starting on November 10th, 2020.  The game has been popular on PC for some time now, but there is an even greater audience of people who might casually (or obsessively) play the game on consoles... especially on those short, cold winter days.

© Frontier Developments
In the game you're able to build your dream theme park from the ground up, select all rides, attractions, stores, food, scenery and more.  Then you get to operate it and make sure that visitors are happy, making improvements along the way.  There's also a sandbox mode where you can spend time creating the coaster of your dreams.  Those of you who spent days playing Rollercoaster Tycoon know what I'm talking about!

The release will come in a standard and deluxe edition, the deluxe will contain two sets of additional rides that can be installed in your park.  Both are already available for pre-order now.  Check out this trailer for the release:

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Six Flags Great America to Present Holiday In The Park Lights! in 2020

© Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America will open this winter for a special edition of their holiday celebration, this year called Holiday In The Park Lights!  The focus on adding the word lights to the event name comes from the fact that the park is still not allowed to operate as a typical theme park, so there will be no rides operating this year.

Instead, the 2020 edition will entertain visitors with "a walk-through light extravaganza along with shows, holiday-themed photo ops, and delicious treats."  As 2020 as taught us over and over, something is better than nothing, folks.

© Six Flags Great America
There are more details that will be released by the park as the event draws closer, but one thing is for certain - there will be tons of lights at Six Flags Great America.  The park is advertising that they will have 2.5 million of them, covering the park head to toe.  All the live entertainment offerings will be held outdoor, and all of Six Flags' existing covid-19 safety protocols will be in place as well.  

Holiday In The Park Lights!  will begin on November 27th and run on certain days through December 27th.  Reservations are required, and already available, so be sure to schedule your date well ahead of time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Kings Dominion Shows Off New-for-2021 Coconut Shores Waterpark Expansion

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion did not get to open in 2020, but that doesn't mean that the park didn't finish their new-for-2020 water park expansion, named Coconut Shores.  In a new blog post the park is showing off the construction that went into the transformation, along with the finished product.  Kings Dominion is now advertising Coconut Shores as the park's new-for-2021 attraction.

There are actually two new attractions within the expansion.  There's the huge family water play structure seen at the top of this article, named Lighthouse Landing.  Featuring more than 200 interactive elements and 8 small waterslides, Lighthouse Landing will keep guests busy for hours near year.  Additionally, the park built Sand Dune Lagoon, a kid-sized wave pool with a maximum depth of 24 inches and gentle rolling waves.

© Kings Dominion

The park is proud to show off this aerial shot of the finished product, with Sand Dune Lagoon on the left and Lighthouse Landing on the right.  The expansion was placed on top of what was the park's original wave pool, and you can see that the new items fit nicely in the old pool's footprint.  The park is even featuring some photos of lucky testers who got to play in the new area for quality assurance!

© Kings Dominion
In addition to the new attractions, Kings Dominion is also making other improvements in Soak City.  They've taken the time to totally re-coat and repaint Pipeline Plunge, one of the park's huge slide towers.  The finished product is seen above, with bright colors added to the mix - previously the tower was all dark colors so the new look is really nice!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Night Of A Million Lights to Sparkle at Give Kids The World Village Starting November 13th

Give Kids The World Village
Give Kids The World Village may be on a temporary hiatus due to the pandemic, but the imaginative organization has come up with a safe way for families to celebrate the holidays - all for a great cause.  The Village will be holding their first ever Night of a Million Lights, a walk through holiday light spectacular that will delight visitors starting November 13th.


The event will run through January 3rd, 2021, meaning there will be 53 nights of fun at the Village during Night of a Million Lights.  The property, which stretches over 84 acres, will feature more than one million holiday lights, nearly coating the grounds head to toe.

© Give Kids The World Village
There will be 33 decorated villas that will be accessed through a 150 foot long lighted tunnel, more than 50 "larger-than-life holiday-themed wireframes, some spanning more than 40 feet," a giant glowing gingerbread arch and space themed decorations celebrating Henri's Starlite Scoops.  The park's Towne Hall, seen above in concept art for the event, will host Santa from its balcony, along with the property's ambassadors Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry.

Those looking to get involved, whether on a personal or corporate level, can adopt a villa and decorate it however they'd like - and it will be a part of all 53 nights of the event!


© Give Kids The World Village
Tickets to the event are already on sale on the Give Kids The World website.  Each ticket grants access to explore all the lights and decorations, along with voting for a favorite villa, socially distant family activities and most of the property's attractions.  There will also be complimentary hot cocoa and ice cream!

All proceeds from the event will support Give Kids The World's mission to provide wish vacations for ciritically ill children and their families.  To date, the property has hosted 176,000 families from all 50 states and more than 76 countries.

“Children with critical illnesses face countless appointments, treatments and hospital stays, and they are often told ‘no’ due to the limitations of their illness.  We feel privileged to give wish children and their families a week of ‘yes’ where they can forget their worries, experience joy, and spend priceless time together,” said Give Kids The World President and CEO Pamela Landwirth. “We look forward to sharing some holiday joy with the community while making it possible for future wish children to have their wishes fulfilled.”

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Universal Studios Japan's Super Nintendo World to Open in Early 2021

© Universal Studios Japan
Delayed due to the pandemic, Universal Studios Japan has announced that Super Nintendo World will officially open in "early" 2021.  That puts the highly anticipated attraction at opening just about a year later than expected.  The park was moving toward a grand opening when the pandemic struck, forcing plans to be pushed off indefinitely.

But now we know that guests can soon take a trip on a fantastic Mario Kart dark ride, bounce along with Yoshi on a family adventure, visit both Princess Peach and Bowser's castles and other classic locations from the series of games.  Visitors will also be able to purchase a Power Up Band that they can wear which will allow them to track points (among other special features) as they explore the interactive features of Super Nintendo World.

© The Sankei Times

The Japanese media recently features some amazing aerial photos of the expansion, and there is such an amazing amount of detail contained in the photos.  Super Nintendo World features multiple levels packed into a tight space, overflowing with interactive features and details at every turn.  You can dig through them on your own but this is going to be a very stunning place to explore when it opens next year!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Marine World Experience at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to Host Boo 2020! This Fall

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom reopened earlier this summer as The Marine World Experience, with only the park's animal related attractions open.  Like other theme parks in California, they're not allowed to open any rides, but instead could utilize their zoological attractions to operate during the pandemic within State guidelines.

The park did not announce that they would host a Hallowfest event like several other Six Flags parks, but have now revealed that they will be holding Boo 2020! instead.  The park is describing Boo 2020! as "a monster mash up that combines the Marine World Experience with themed activities for the entire family in a safe environment."


Listed activities at the event of course include the park's animal exhibits, but also family fun like a Trick-or-Treat trail that has pre-bagged candy and treats for kids.  There will also be a daily Kids' Halloween parade for those 8 years old and younger.  The park will have plenty of special Halloween themed treats for sale as well, including a Funnel Scream Cake, Scare-acha boneless wings, Zombi Takis, Ghostly Grape Drinks and Candy Monster Dippin' Dots.

There will be special ways for guests to learn more about the animals that the park cares for, and special Boo 2020! versions of the park's Dolphin and Sea Lion Shows, along with a new Halloween Bash and Ghoul School productions.

Boo 2020! will take place on Saturday and Sundays in October 17th through November 1st.

Monday, October 5, 2020

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi Construction Hits Milestone of 40% Completion

© SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
Developer Miral and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment have sent out news that their joint project, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, has reach a milestone in construction with 40% of the structure standing.  The project is slated to "bring the next generation of marine life theme parks" to the popular Yas Island, already a major destination in the Middle East with Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.  SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will be the first dedicated marine research, rescue, rehabilitation and return center in the UAE, supporting cutting edge global conservation efforts.

The new indoor theme park is slated to be completed near the end of 2022.

The park has been designed in conjunction with SeaWorld's "more than 55 years of experience in marine research, conservation, and animal welfare.  "SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will feature purpose-built habitats and ecosystems that will house different species together, as they are in the wild.  Once complete, the marine life theme park will offer unique immersive experiences that engage visitors from the UAE and around the world, broadening their knowledge and appreciation of marine life."  While an attraction roster is not yet available, once can easily see a large roller coaster running around the outside of the enormous structure.

© SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
When finished, the park will feature "six distinct realms which tell a unified and immersive “One Ocean” story showing the interconnectivity between all life on Earth and our oceans."  It will feature "one of the world’s largest and most progressive indoor aquariums, an immersive ride that takes guests on a thrilling and visually stunning journey from Pole to Pole, and countless interactive exhibits."

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will be the first SeaWorld park to be built in over 30 years, and is an exciting development for all parties involved.  The park will also focus on providing "impactful education and learning opportunities for its visitors," including a new research center that will "serve as an advanced knowledge hub for researchers, scientists and marine conservationists to better understand and protect the region's marine life and ecosystem."  SeaWorld Parks have already helped 37,000 animals in need, and the new location will also increase their efforts.

© SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi's construction, seen above from the air, has passed 40% completion as of today.  This includes more than 50% of the needed concrete poured, the heaviest 50-ton steel column installed and acrylic for the exhibits fitted into place.

The project has been underway for several years now, with major construction milestones being reached within the past year.  As the project gets closer to an opening date we're sure to learn more about its attraction offerings, including that large roller coaster!

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Sesame Place Introduces Not-Too-Spooky Halloween Drive-Thru Experience

© Sesame Place
Parks are continuing to come up with creative ways to keep their guests entertained while COVID-19 is still a threat - and we're seeing a lot of that ingenuity during the all-important Halloween Season.  Another park that has come up with a way to stay engaged with their fans is Pennsylvania's Sesame Place, which starts the new Halloween Drive-Thru on October 6th.


Staying socially distanced is continuing to be a key element of safety this fall, and Sesame Place has created a new drive-thru experience that allows families to get a taste of the park while remaining distanced from others.  Visitors stay in "their own vehicle, journey through a family-friendly, Halloween-themed experience including a special soundtrack, festive d├ęcor, millions of lights and everyone’s favorite furry friends dressed up in costume on their Halloween-themed floats!"  Each child will receive a bag of candy as well upon exiting the property.


© Sesame Place
Visitors will experience tons of festive decorations and character interactions (while remaining in the vehicle) as they move through the park, the map of the event is found above.  Guests also have the option to pre-purchase snacks, beverages and unique souvenirs that can be picked up upon arrival.  All interactions outside the vehicle require face masks and social distancing.

© Sesame Place
Pass members will receive a discount on the Halloween Drive-Thru at Sesame Place, and general tickets start at $35 for a carload.  The event runs each Tuesday and Wednesday night in October from 6 pm until 9 pm.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay to Close for 4 Month Winter Break

© Universal Orlando
While Universal Orlando seems to be experiencing an attendance bump due to their Halloween celebration, which includes two of their frightening haunted houses, the resort has announced that its water park, Volcano Bay, will close for 4 months this winter.

A sign of the times, one would assume.  With lighter attendance at the resort on weekdays and at times with no special events running, it does make sense to keep the water park closed during the colder months.  Granted colder months in Florida are still warmer than most, but perhaps the resort doesn't see there being a proper return on operating this winter.

The park will close after November 1st, and is scheduled to reopen "on or before" March 1st, 2021.  That will see the park closed for a 4 month period. 

© Universal Orlando
In the frequently asked questions about the closure the park notes that they are closing to allow for attraction maintenance, and do not mention reduced demand or the pandemic.  They also state that they do not plan to start closing every winter, but that future operational updates would be shared if needed.  Universal Orlando pass holders who have access to Volcano Bay will be granted a two month extension or they can switch to a two park pass and get a partial refund for the Volcano Bay portion.

The immersive water theme park initially opened in May of 2017.