Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Worlds of Fun Makes Changes to 2020 Addition to Beat a World Record

© Worlds of Fun
The previously announced 2020 addition to Worlds of Fun's water park, Oceans of Fun, has received a small design change that has allowed it to become a world record breaking attraction.

The park has announced that Riptide Raceway, a 4 lane racing mat slide, has had the length of each path increased by ten feet, from 476.9 to 486 feet, to make it the longest slide of its kind in the world.  It is amazing what ten more feet of slide can do!

© Worlds of Fun
The park has also sent out this schematic of Riptide Raceway, giving us a detailed look at the path each of the four lanes will follow.  Riders need only be 42 inches tall to race, and using mats they will head down the lanes head-first through tight turns and enclosed sections, with a final drop toward the finish line.  The attraction will feature bright colors that will fit with the vibe of Ocean of Fun.

The slide will be built into the landscape of the park and start at around five stories above the final splash run out.  The competitive racing nature of the slide is sure to make it a popular attraction when Oceans of Fun opens for the 2020 season.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Schlitterbahn Galveston Indoor Water Park Closing for Extended Refurbishments

© Schlitterbahn Galveston
Schlitterbahn Galveston, now a part of the Cedar Fair family, has announced that it will close its indoor operations early for the season on November 17th for extended refurbishments and improvements.

Touting a "new and improved experience in 2020," the water park will see a number of changes that will make guests more comfortable starting when it reopens on February 29th, 2020.  When Cedar Fair closed on the purchase of the two Schlitterbahn water parks they said that they were planning some significant capital expenditures for them over the next two years, this seems to be the first of them to be announced.

© Schlitterbahn Galveston
So what exactly is happening?  The park has posted an information update about the changes and described some of them in detail.  They plan to focus on attraction maintenance, improve the food and beverage operations of the park, renovate all the restrooms, and give the park's main entrance a full makeover to make getting in the park faster, more streamlined and "prettier."

Granted none of these things are an exciting massive new water slide or attraction, but after Cedar Fair has some time to make cosmetic and operational changes this year I wouldn't be shocked to see a big new attraction in 2021.

Schlitterbahn Galveston also promises additional announcements, surprises, and updates to be posted to their blog as work progresses, so stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

SeaWorld Entertainment Names New CEO + Heard On Quarter 3 2019 Earnings Call

SeaWorld Entertainment has had to name yet another CEO, this time Sergio D. Rivera has been given the company's top spot.

According to a press release from the company, "Mr. Rivera previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of ILG, Inc.'s Vacation Ownership Segment, where he was responsible for development, sales, marketing and resort operations.  Prior to ILG, Mr. Rivera was the President of the Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and was responsible for the performance and growth of Starwood's brands and its owned, managed and franchised businesses in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Polynesia."

So while not a direct connection to the theme park industry, he has had a lot of experience with vacationing, leisure and specifically hotels.  

SeaWorld also announced the addition of Ms. Neha Jogani Narang to the board of directors.  She was most recently a Director at Facebook, with an extensive history in consumer marketing and an apparent deep love of SeaWorld.

SeaWorld Entertainment's earnings release for the 3rd quarter of 2019 took place this past week as well, and the results were a bit disappointing, though the company's stock moved upward regardless.  In the quarter attendance decreased 2.6%, revenue decreased $9.5 million and adjusted EBITDA decreased by $5.5 million.

However looking at the year to date figures, things are still up overall.  For the first nine months of the year attendance only creased 0.3%, revenue increased by $8 million and adjusted EBITDA increased by $36.3 million.  Here's some notes from the company's conference call:

•  The company says some of the less than stellar results of the 3rd quarter are due to more rainy days in Florida, Hurricane Dorian scaring everyone away over Labor Day weekend, and a calendar shift that replaced a busy weekend day in '18 with a slow September weekday in '19.  

•  They also called themselves out for over spending about $9.5 million on marketing during the quarter due to "less disciplined management of certain marketing related costs."  Ouch, I bet someone got in some big trouble for that!

© SeaWorld Entertainment
• When weather was good the park performed strongly.  They had three days in July of near all time record attendance, and six days in the quarter of top 20 attendance totals.  In September they had "all time record breaking attendance at two of our larger parks."

• Halloween was successful this year as of the date of the call, the company noted that through November 3rd attendance and revenue were up quarter to date over 2018.

• Total capital expenditures for the 2019 season are expected to be $115 million in "core capital expenditures" and $30 - $35 million in "non-core" expenditures.  Non-core expenditures are tied to "expansion in return on investment" projects including new properties such as Sesame Place San Diego.

• Deferred revenue at the end of September is up 6%, which is mostly from an increase in season pass sales.  The company has also seen more people move from a "fun card" pass to a premium season pass product.

• The leadership was asked about capital spend in the future, since next year is so heavy on thrill rides.  They did say that they plan to continue special events at the park in addition to new rides.  But they did not mention spending on animal attractions at all.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
• There is a lot of excitement around the opening of a second Sesame Place park in San Diego in 2021.  According to the company's filings, they expect to spend up to $55 million completing their agreement with Seasme Workshop, the bulk of which is the new park.

• Next year almost every park will get a new ride or slide, the first time the company has done this.  This includes 4 new roller coasters, and slides at almost every water park.

• They expect to land in the higher end of the goal of $475 to $500 million in EBITDA by the end of 2020.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Kings Island Tops Off New Orion Giga Coaster

© Kings Island
This past week Kings Island topped off their new giga roller coaster, Orion, by placing the top of the 287 foot tall lift hill.  The job required three separate cranes, seen in the photo above, since the ride's supports do not sit directly under the apex of the lift hill.

This also means that the ride's 300 foot first drop, which classifies the ride as a giga coaster, is also now complete.  Orion's track will stretch 5,321 feet long and feature a top speed of 91 miles per hour.

Here's some video that the park released of the ride being topped out:

The park has been busy slowly building Orion's lift hill over the past couple weeks, and work has also focused on the ride's station.  That has had all its metal framing put up, and soon it will be enclosed so that workers can really dig into the ride's electrical systems and other components.  Stay tuned for more as the park is sure to make quick work of the rest of Orion's layout!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Scott And Carol Present - The IAPPA 2019 Legends Panel Discusses Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

The upcoming Legends panel at the IAAPA Expo has announced that it will bring feature several individuals who were essential in the creation of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in two Disney theme parks. "The objective of the annual panel is to preserve and share the otherwise-lost wisdom and methods of the industry's great achievers, in a way that helps tomorrow's leaders shape the future."

"Four amazing super-star Legends share insights, strategies and lessons learned by leaving the known path and inventing new worlds," Bob Rogers wrote of the panel. "They share lessons that you can soon be applying to your own work."

This year's participants are:

Scott Trowbridge - Portfolio Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering and the head of the Galaxy's Edge creative team.

Anisha Deshmane - Assistant Producer, guiding the development of interactive experiences.

Margaret Kerrison - Managing Story Editor who served as the story lead for Galaxy's Edge.

Chris Beatty - Executive Creative Director for Galaxy's Edge.

The Legends panels is moderated by Bob Rogers, Founder, BRC Imagination Arts, who has already been inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame and received a Thea Lifetime Achievement award. He started his career in the industry as a magician in the Magic Shop at Disneyland.

Legends 2019: Report from the Galaxy’s Edge is set for Wednesday, November 20 at 3:30pm during the IAAPA Attractions Expo. The panel is always very popular so it is suggested that anyone interested get in line early to make sure they get a seat!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Knott's Berry Farm to Debut Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair 4-D Ride for Park's 100th Anniversary

© Knott's Berry Farm
The other day I speculated that perhaps Knott's Berry Farm would be swapping out their current 4-D dark ride, Voyage to the Iron Reef, for one themed to their classic Bear-y Tales dark ride... and it turned out to be true!  I wish I could predict a lot of attractions just by wishing them into existence!

The park will close Voyage to the Iron Reef for good on January 5th, and get to work on opening the new Bear-y Tales ride by summertime.  The ride will be a central part of the park's "A Knott's Family Reunion" celebration that will run from May 15th through August 30th.

© Knott's Berry Farm
If you click this concept art you can see a much larger version of some of the antics that will be found in the brand new attraction.  The original was commissioned by the Knott family and created by Rolly Crump in 1975.

The park gives this description of the new ride in their press materials:

Knott's Bear-y Tales will be an "exciting journey through reimagined show scenes that are reminiscent of the original dark ride, including the Boysenberry Pie Factory, Frog Forest, Fortune Teller Camp, Thunder Cave, and Weird Woods,  culminating in a celebration at the County Fair.  The story takes place 34 years after the original adventure and will follow Boysen Bear and Girlsen Bear as they travel to the Country Fair to earn the blue ribbon prize for their famous boysenberry pies, but Crafty Coyote is back along with his mischievous pups intent on stealing all the pies for themselves.  Guests will climb aboard ride vehicles equipped with jelly blasters to try and recover the stolen boysenberry pies as they travel through whimsical and beautiful environments while competing for the highest score."

It is fantastic to see Knott's Berry Farm making such an exciting effort to celebrate their past with this new ride!  I can't wait to see the finished product.