Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure to Hold a Special Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience


© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is doubling down on their holiday magic this year, offering guests not only Holiday in the Park on weekends but now also the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience on select weekday evenings from November 30th through December 17th.


Designed to allow visitors to celebrate the park's festive atmosphere from the safety of their own vehicle, the Drive-Thru Experience will still show off the park's million plus lights, decorations and holiday fun.  The journey will be paired with holiday music and live entertainment along the way.


© Six Flags Great Adventure
“We are proud to debut another way for our guests to safely celebrate the holidays with this unprecedented, magical event,” said Six Flags Great Adventure President John Winkler. “We have successfully transformed the traditional weekend operation of our beloved Holiday in the Park into a new, drive-thru experience during the week. The popularity of our Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure showed us that families are craving ways to create special memories together that are safe and socially distant, and we are honored to welcome them into our theme park winter wonderland.  Plus, theme park enthusiasts won’t want to miss this extremely rare opportunity to drive through the park,” he added.


© Six Flags Great Adventure
As noted above by the park's president, visitors will be able to drive directly through the theme park, through 12 different themed areas spread over 140 acres.  Driving through the park on its own is a very unique experience!


For the safety of guests reservations are required for a trip to the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience.  Admission is free for those who have a season pass or membership, and tickets are sold on a per person basis.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Take a Virtual Ride on SeaWorld Orlando's New Ice Breaker Coaster


© SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando is excited to launch their brand new roller coaster, Ice Breaker, this Spring, and to drum up some excitement has released a new point of view virtual ride on the coaster.  While fans have had to wait a bit longer to take their first spin on the coaster, final preparations are now underway for the ride to give its first chilly blast in just a few months.


© SeaWorld Orlando
Ice Breaker has been designed by Premier Rides, and features several forward and backward launches that send the trains along the course at 52 miles per hour.  The launches are used to blast riders up a 93 foot scorpion tail element, along with an 80 foot top hat element, followed by twisting and curving track that measures 1,900 feet in length.  Due to the multiple launches on the same track, riders will cover 2,750 feet of track before the experience is over.


Ready to take a virtual ride?  If so, click below and enjoy!



Sunday, November 22, 2020

Alabama Adventure to Unwrap 2021 Addition on Christmas Morning


© Alabama Adventure
We don't know exactly what yet, but Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure has something significant planned for their 2021 season, and are promising to reveal it as a holiday gift on Christmas Morning.


The park has posted this teaser on their social media, which is a slow zoom out of a giant gift that's sitting atop a section of the amusement park.  The box is of substantial size, and if the unnamed attraction does take up that whole area, we're looking at something pretty big.  The reason I saw that is because the box is encompassing a decent amount of the layout of the park's former log flume, which was removed years ago.


© Google Maps
Here's a look at this section of the park before the current owners started to rebuild and redevelop the park, with the log flume still standing.  The cleared area is a large rectangle, which could fit many rides, really.  One would assume that the attraction will be a ride in Alabama Adventure and not a water ride in Splash Adventure, but then again the park recently redeveloped an area that you can see at the lower right of the top image into a children's area of the water park.  Still, my guess would be a ride for the dry side of the park.


There are numerous small layout coasters on the market today that would seemingly fit here, but the park's hot Alabama summers also mean a water ride would be well received.  Even a large spectacular style flat ride might get the park the attention they're after.  For now only the park knows!


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience to Open at Dutch Wonderland in December


© Dutch Wonderland
We are continuing to see parks who normally have a holiday event turn them into either walk through or drive through experiences this year in order to keep visitors safe during the pandemic.  Dutch Wonderland has joined the list by debuting Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience, a way for guests to get out and see some dazzling displays from the safety of their own vehicle.


The Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience is an extensive trek covering 1.5 miles around the park's property, specifically the Old Mill Steam Campground (not the theme park proper).  The park is promising to delight visitors with "whimsical scenes, hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, and special surprises" along the way.


© Dutch Wonderland
The park will also have their entrance Castle open for visitors to do some holiday shopping, get a cup of hot cocoa and even take socially distanced photos with Santa!  Plus, the famous Wonderland Special train ride will be operating for a trip down the holiday tracks.


Dutch Wonderland season passholders will receive a 50% discount on their admission to the Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience.  The event will start on December 2nd and run through New Year's Eve.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Holiday In The Park Lights to Open at Six Flags New England November 27th


© Six Flags New England
Anxious visitors will be able to set foot into Six Flags New England once again this winter as the park debuts Holiday in the Park Lights, starting November 27th.  The theme park did not open at all in 2020 and the holiday event will not include any rides, but the park will still be happy to show off their festive best for visitors.  Holiday in the park Lights will be a walk-through experience featuring more than one million holiday lights plus live entertainment and more.


The family fun includes a one-way walk through experience, which is in accordance with the state of Massachusetts' safety guidelines with regard to the pandemic.  In addition to large portions of the park being totally covered in lights there will also be a choreographed light show, enchanting characters, fire pits to make s'mores at and other holiday food treats.  The light trail extends more than one mile inside the park.


© Six Flags New England

“Six Flags New England is a beloved destination for families from throughout New England.  We look forward to welcoming families back to our park this November with our newly enhanced light displays.  As always, the safety of our guests and team members remains our number one priority, and the new safety guidelines we have put in place are designed to create a safe environment for everyone,” said Six Flags New England, Park President Pete Carmichael. “The park has been transformed into an enchanting, winter wonderland and we are all eager to safely welcome our guests back for the holiday season.”    


Reservations will be required for a visit to Six Flags New England's Holiday in the Park Lights, and season pass holders and members receive free admission.  The event will operate on select nights through January 3rd, 2021.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Adventureland has Completed Dragon Slayer's Layout


© Adventureland
Adventureland Theme Park in Iowa has completed the main track and supports for Dragon Slayer, their new S&S 4-D Free Spin roller coaster.  With the ride completed, we're able to see that this appears to be a slightly smaller model than what we've seen installed at various Six Flags parks (and a few other locations).  It looks like one hill was removed from the highest layer, and a dip or so was removed from the middle layer.

 

That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it is possible that S&S has streamlined the ride's layout to get the most bang for the buck, and as we know with these rides the amount of overall intensity and flipping is up to the park.


© Adventureland
You can get a good side-view of the completed ride in this post on Reddit, it allows for a nice comparison to the larger rides.  The ride's trains have also already arrived, seen above in the photo from the park.  Dragon Slayer replaces the park's Dragon coaster, a Hopkins ride that opened in 1990.  As of now it appears as the park will be leaving the Dragon's famous double loops standing.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Six Flags Magic Mountain to Hold Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain will be opening for the holiday season after all, though this year by presenting Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience.  Visitors will be able to drive their way through the park past millions of lights, festive decorations and with holiday music incorporated into the experience.


The event will start at 6 pm on select nights from November 20th through January 3rd, 2021.  Obviously, as a drive through experience guests will not be able to partake in any of Six Flags Magic Mountain's rides or attractions.


"Holiday in the Park Drive-thru Experience will include eight distinctly different areas throughout the park with millions of twinkling lights choreographed to festive music, beloved holiday characters decked out for the holidays, iconic Holiday in the Park decorations, and a drive-by featuring Santa and his elves. New this year, go for a ride in The Underground featuring several of the famous West Coast Customs show cars on display."


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
To further accommodate social distancing, visitors will be able to pre-purchase festive food and gifts that will be delivered to their vehicle upon arrival.  Holiday Snack Packs include hot chocolate, cookies, candy and popcorn in a souvenir bucket.  Fudge and even funnel cakes will also be available.   There are also merchandise bundles that include items such as holiday face masks, glow necklaces and more.


Reservations are required for the Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience, and Six Flags season pass holders and members have free admission.  The price per car varies by night, but right now for the earliest dates range from $20 to $25, though I do not see dates listed yet closer to Christmas.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Busch Gardens Tampa Releases Iron Gwazi POV


© Busch Gardens Tampa
While we do not know an exact date that we can take a ride on Busch Gardens Tampa's new Iron Gwazi roller coaster, we now can take a virtual ride!  The theme park has released the highly anticipated point of view virtual ride on the monster coaster, which is North America's tallest, the world's fastest and the world's steepest hybrid roller coaster.


Iron Gwazi is the rebirth of the former dueling Gwazi wooden roller coasters.  The new ride stands 206 feet tall and features a 206 foot first drop at an amazing 91 degrees.  The trains hit a top speed of 76 miles per hour as they traverse 4,075 feet of track, encountering two inversions and some of the most devious elements that Rocky Mountain Construction has cooked up to date.


Iron Gwazi is scheduled to open at Busch Gardens Tampa Spring 2021, with more information coming as we get closer to that date.  For now, have fun on your virtual rides!



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 3rd Quarter 2020 Earnings Call


© Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair recently announced their earnings results for the 3rd quarter of 2020.  The results were somewhat in line with what was expected, given the pandemic that continues.  The operator released the full earnings on their website and also had their usual conference call.  Here are some notes from both.


• They had 7 parks open during the quarter, bringing in a total of $87 million in revenues, down from $715 last year.  Attendance was 1.3 million, which is down 11.7 million.  Out of park revenues were down $47 million.


• Operating costs declined during the quarter to match decreased attendance levels.  There were also $16 million in goodwill impairment charges for the Schlitterbahn parks and Dorney Park, plus on the Schlitterbahn brand name.  Operating loss for the quarter was $137 million, down from a positive $275 million last year.  There was an EBITDA loss of $51 million compared to a positive $355 million last year.  While a loss is not good, Cedar Fair estimates that the loss would have been $30 million worse if they hadn't opened the parks.

 

• Similar to Six Flags, Cedar Fair saw initial attendance levels at 20-25% of previous levels when the parks reopened, increasing to 35-40% in the past three months.  As the season ended some parks even hit 50%, and in the fall both Cedar Point and Kings Island had instances of hitting their maximum capacities.


© Cedar Fair
• During the 3rd quarter the attendance was made up of 55% season pass holders, up from 46% last year.  Per capital revenue was down 5%, largely on decreased admissions and the lack of in park spending on premium offerings like fast lane.


• Cedar Fair saw an increase of 90,000 season passes during the quarter, creating $10 million in sales.  They have 1.8 million season passes outstanding that are valid for the rest of 2020 and in 2021.


• They had $225 million in the bank at the end of the quarter, and total liquidity is $877 million.  They estimate they can stay satisfy obligations and stay within loan covenants until the end of 2021.  The quarter's cash burn was about $25 million a month.  As for breaking event, to have zero EBITDA they need 45-55% of 2019 attendance in 2021, and for cash flow break even they need 70-75% of 2019 attendance.


• They suspended their largest capital projects in March and year to date have spent $120 million on capital.  They estimate spending at most $5 million in the 4th quarter.  In total that will have cut $60 - $65 million from planned capital in 2020.


© Cedar Fair
• For 2021 they acknowledge there is not much visibility around the pandemic, so they are allowing parks to be flexible in their offerings to bring back guests.  They are adding back many immersive attractions along with Knott's and Cedar Point's large anniversary celebrations.


• The company is current on payables for capital project and have "no material long term commitments for new attractions" which gives them flexibility for what they will add in 2021 and 2022.  Those years will depend on the speed of the recovery from the pandemic.  Many 2020 capital projects did not even get to be used by guests.  So for 2021 capital will focus on finishing those projects, and doing necessary compliant and infrastructure work.  Still, they will not estimate capital spend for 2021 yet due to lack of clarity on the pandemic.


• To date the company has restricted back filling jobs that are open due to people leaving for other work.  That along with removing some positions through streamlining has reduced 10% of the full time work force.  However, they are still reviewing other options for the future.


• They also utilized cheaper social media marketing this year to spread the word that parks were reopening, which they found to be a success.  They plan to rely on this more in the future to save money on more traditional avenues of advertising.


• Looking at 2021, they are preparing to operating based off of lessons learned in 2020.  This could include delaying park openings or adjusting park hours if they feel the market demand won't make it profitable.  It also sounds like if California continues to not allow parks to open into next year they will look at holding food festivals at California's Great America, similar to what Knott's has done.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Kings Dominion to Open in December for Taste of the Season


© Kings Dominion
With revised capacity limitations now in place in Virginia, Kings Dominion has announced that they will be opening in 2020 in order to hold Taste of the Season, a new limited time holiday event.  The event, like we've seen at Carowinds and Knott's Berry Farm, will be centered around the use of tasting cards to try out delicious seasonal treats while at the outdoor event.


The park will offer visitors a choice of 25 different food items, all with a "Christmas twist." From sweet to savory, there will be something for everyone in the family at Taste of the Season.  There will also be special beverages created by "Santa's mixologists," and other must have treats.  Each tasting card will allow guests a specific number of tastes, and other locations in the park will be open for guests to use their dining plans, should they have one.


© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion will decorate fully for the event, with tons of lights and other holiday decorations throughout the park.  There will be special activities such as a digital scavenger hunt and distanced selfies with Santa as well.  Plus holiday shopping will be available at the park's stores, there will be games for the whole family and live entertainment as well.


Ride fans will be happy to know that they will get a chance to get in some thrills at Kings Dominion during the event.  The park plans to have open select rides in Planet Snoopy, some family rides like the Grand Carousel and bumper cars and for true thrills, Delirium and Dominator.


© Kings Dominion
Taste of the Season reservations and ticket purchases must be made ahead of time on the park's website.  All 2020 season passes and 2021 season passes are valid for entry as well.  Safety standards that have been put at place at all Cedar Fair parks will be utilized for the event.  The first night of Taste of the Season will be December 5th, continuing select nights through December 27th.  Watch for reservations for the event to open soon!


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Kennywood Announces the Removal of 4 Classic Flat Rides


© Kennywood
Kennywood has announced on social media that the park is removing four of their classic flat rides before the start of next season.  The park notes that the removals come as they have invested more in new rides and attractions in the past three seasons than they have in any other period in the park's history.


The rides include the Kangaroo, which was a very unique ride for North America, and while I'm not sure, possibly the world.  It's quirky nature gathered it a lot of fans over the years, and it dates back to 1964.


© Kennywood

© Kennywood
Kennywood's Paratrooper and the Bayern Kurve are also slated to be removed before the start of the park's 2021 season.  Paratroopers can be found at many parks, and fairs for that matter, less so with the Bayern Kurve.  Sure, there are still some out there but certainly not at every park.


© Kennywood
Finally, the park's Enterprise, Volcano, will also be leaving.  These rides are quickly becoming a relic when you can find them.


Kennywood made it clear that part of the park's "evolution is a continuous examination of the sustainability, capacity and popularity of our attraction lineup" and that led to the removal of these rides.  


We recently saw Six Flags state on their earnings call that they would remove 15 rides from their parks before 2021.  With the pandemic still raging on, one has to think that all parks are looking at how much their rides cost to maintain and operate, and sadly I think these removals will be the start of a larger trend of cleaning out some older rides.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Enchanted Forest Theme Park Turns to Fans for Help to Survive


© Enchanted Forest
The current pandemic has hit Oregon's Enchanted Forest theme park especially hard, having to stay closed for most of the year.  When it was allowed to open, it had a maximum capacity of only 250 people, including employees.  Needless to say, this year has been a huge financial drain on the park, and it's now turning to its fans to help it survive into 2021.


Enchanted Forest is a family owned and operated fairy tale themed park, with three generations of family members currently working at it.  The park will celebrate 50 years of operations in 2021 and are doing whatever they can to make it to that season.  The park went into 2020 with no debt, but due to the pandemic they are now taking on more and more debt and things are getting worse for them.


© Enchanted Forest
To that end they've started to hold online auctions of memorabilia and original creations by the park's founder Roger Tofte, and also holding a gofundme effort.  The gofundme has already raised more than $300,000 for the park, and even the official gofundme team made a donation to their efforts.  The park has set of goal of raising $500,000, which would carry them through the winter months and hopefully allow them to open for their 50th anniversary season on March 19th, 2021.


© Enchanted Forest
Ride fans may know the park for being home to the Ice Mountain Bobsled roller coaster, a bizarre but very interesting ride that was mostly created in house.  The ride's cars of coverings with holes in them that remind me of a pet carrier... but the ride certainly seems like a treasure.  The park has plenty of other offerings, including attractions and rides for kids and families.


Hopefully the fundraising efforts will continue to pay off and Enchanted Forest will be able to once again open to families in 2021!


Friday, November 6, 2020

'Tis The Season for Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Christmas Celebration


© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg will continue their operations into the winter months with their Christmas Celebration event, the park has announced.  The holiday cheer-fest will start on November 13th and run select nights and days through January 3rd.


The limited capacity event will offer plenty of family fun with a significant portion of the theme park operating.  These areas include England, Scotland, Ireland, France, New France, Germany, Oktoberfest and Sesame Street Forest of Fun.  The park will be covered in twinkling lights, there will be plenty of festive food offerings, shopping and live entertainment too.  Plus, special activities such as a Gingerbread Scavenger Hunt, a meet and greet with Frosty and photos with Santa will be available.


© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
For ride lovers, there will be a total of 15 rides and attractions operating during Christmas Celebration.  These include InvadR, Alpengeist, Verbolten and Grover's Alpine Express along with plenty of flat rides and kiddie rides.

 

There will be different sessions on some days as with past events this year at the park.  Some days only have an evening session from 5pm to 10 pm, but others have an additional session from 10am to 3pm.  Reservations are required for a visit.  The park recently benefited from having their maximum capacity increased from 1,000 guests per session to an amount based on a percent of theoretical capacity, which the park estimates raises the amount to 4,000 or so. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Former Geauga Lake Property to be Become Multipurpose Development


 © ICP
After being for sale for many years, the former site of Geauga Lake amusement park (and the former Sea World Ohio, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure and Wildwater Kingdom) has been sold by Cedar Fair for redevelopment to Industrial Commercial Properties.  The sale includes 377 acres of land, and the site will be transformed into a mix of retail, restaurants, residential and commercial spaces.


To be known as The Geauga Lake District, it will include design elements that pay homage to the parks that operated in the space, specifically Geauga Lake from 1887 until 2007.  In the concept art for the development up top you can see a faux roller coaster design that will be found just inside the main road to the area (known as Geauga Lake Boulevard).  The area immediately surrounding the actual lake will remain open for public use as well.


ICP Officials on site at Geauga Lake © ICP
"Many of us that grew up in Northeast Ohio have fond memories of the park, and it was important to our development team, the Trustees and the Mayor that we respect the remarkable history of the property and take great care in creating design elements like the signage, landscaping, lighting, and other public improvements at the site," said Chris Salata, ICP's chief operating officer.  

 

The developers note that the "time is here to say final goodbyes to remnants of Geauga Lake Park and Sea World," sad of course, but it has been over a decade since the park last operated.  There is a chance that some old roller coaster cars from the park might be displayed in public spaces around the site.


The first company to sign on to The Geauga Lake District is Menards, a family owned home improvement store, which will take up 24 acre of the site.  You can read more details on the development in this news article from Industrial Commercial Properties.


Monday, November 2, 2020

Disneyland Paris Resort Closes Again Due to Pandemic


© Disneyland Paris Resort
The Disneyland Paris Resort has closed once again (as of October 29th) due to the pandemic, with increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases across Europe.  The decision was made from the direction of French authorities, which are trying to contain the number of new cases and closing many other businesses as well.


The situation is fluid and right now the Disneyland Paris Resort is hoping that they can open for the popular Christmas season.  They are taking reservations for visits from December 19th through January 3rd, and are hopeful they can welcome guests at that time.  However, it is not certain that that will be the case.  


Even if they are able to open again for the holidays, the park has already announced that it will stay closed from January 4th through at least February 12th.  Of course, as we've seen all year long those plans can change at any moment.


Amusement and theme parks in other European countries such as Italy, Belgium and Germany have also been closing to try to contain the spread of the virus.


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Universal Orlando Previews 2021 Halloween Horror Nights House + Opens Beetlejuice House for Halloween Weekend


© Universal
No one was able to experience the full Halloween Horror Nights experience at Universal Orlando in 2020, but as previously covered the park did open two haunted houses as a special treat for fans looking for a thrill.  The park has already set its sights on the 2021 Halloween Horror Nights event, which (god willing) will take place a year from now.


In a special movie that the park released, a house that was created for 2020 but will not open until 2021 has been revealed: Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience.  If you do not want any spoilers for the house, the video may not be for you.  If you're interested though, it shows off a great deal of what's waiting for guests inside including the attraction's backstory, sets, some of the scares and more.  


Here is the complete look at Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience:

Definitely something to look forward to for next year!


Also this weekend Universal Studios Florida surprised their guests by opening their haunted house based on the Beetlejuice movie as a Halloween treat.  

 

The sudden debut attracted a tons of fans to the park to check out the haunted house, which is also expected to return in 2021 for a full Halloween Horror Nights event.  


If you look not so hard you can find footage from inside the house, but since it was a special preview and the house is returning next year I'm not going to link to any video here.  The house does look pretty interesting though, and features a lot of memorable scenes from the movie.