Friday, December 15, 2017

Disney Buys Fox - What Does it Mean for the Parks?


© Disney

This week the Walt Disney Company announced that it is purchasing 21st Century Fox, commonly just known as a collective 'Fox', for $52.4 billion in Disney stock.  The massive purchase isn't the first time that the mouse has purchased another large company, with past buys including Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, ESPN, Lucasfilm and ABC, but it is one of its largest cost-wise.


By purchasing Fox, Disney is going to gain another round of media outlets, televisions networks, popular franchises and more.  There's a ton to pick through in a deal of this size, but since we focus on parks and rides here, I've been wondering mostly how it will affect Disney's network of parks and resorts.

First, the deal means that current Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger will stay on board until 2021, extending his contract by several years.  To some degree, that means that the parks will see stability in the overall picture of the company since the big leadership picture remains the same.

© Disney
Along with the deal comes new movie studios including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, known for films such as X-Men, Fantastic 4, Deadpool, Ice Age and Avatar.  Obviously one of those was already licensed for a Disney theme park, Avatar, and the main press release for the sale does point that out.  However, the idea of additional Avatar lands opening seems slim, at least in my opinion, and Ice Age, while popular, seems useless when the Pixar catalogue exists.

It does allow several Marvel characters to reconnect with that brand's other characters, already owned by Disney, which is a benefit as Disney continues to roll out attractions based on the Marvel universe.  Not sure we'll see a Deadpool ride any time soon, though.

It also gets them franchises like the Simpsons, American Horror Story, Empire and Modern Family.  The Simpsons already live in Universal Parks, which also now partners with Horror Story for Halloween, and most other shows listed make no sense for the parks at all.

And really... that's it that seems to even be worth noting with regard to the theme parks.  The purchase seems aimed more at connecting and distributing media content, such as Disney now owning 60% of Hulu and having more ways to get their content to consumers than ever before.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hersheypark Hard at Work on New Water Roller Coaster + Boardwalk Expansion


© Hersheypark
The temperatures across much of the country may not have many people thinking of water parks, but that isn't stopping Hersheypark from working on their exciting expansion of The Boardwalk for 2018.

Despite the gray skies, the park has started to install pieces of their new water roller coaster, named Breakers Edge.  The attraction will be the area's first Hydromagnetic water roller coaster, designed by Proslide, that features Flying Saucer turns built into it.  Decked out on alternating purple and blue track, passengers will be launched uphill and down using magnetic technology, giving a thrilling water park experience that mimics a traditional roller coaster feel.

© Hersheypark
Now that pieces are starting to go up, we've also got our first look at one of Breakers Edge's flying saucer turns, being carefully installed in the upper image.  These tight turns will keep rafts on the side of the track as they plummet through them.  In total, this water roller coaster will feature three of these flying saucer turns, along with drops and a final enclosed section before the station.  And speaking of the station, the old station from Roller Soaker, a former roller coaster at the park, is being reused for Breakers Edge.

The expansion also includes the longest mat racing water slide tower in the world, Whitecap Racer, which has also been under construction since the fall season ended. 


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Six Flags Over Georgia Updates on Twisted Cyclone Progress + 2nd Train Reveal



One of five new Rocky Mountain Construction projects opening in America in 2018, Six Flags Over Georgia's Twisted Cyclone is a makeover of the park's Georgia Cyclone wooden coaster.

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Since the coaster closed at the end of the summer, Six Flags Over Georgia has been hard at work on getting the transformation from wooden coaster to steel hybrid ride underway.  First step on a project like this is to remove the original wooden track, and trim (or add) wooden supports where necessary to fit the ride's new layout.  This photo shows a big section of the coaster with its track fully removed.

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Once the supports are as desired to support the new ride path, the steel running tracks can be applied.  Six Flags Over Georgia has just started this process, seen above, of adding the cool blue steel track on the white supports.  The supports will be fully repainted a bright white before the coaster opens next year.

© Six Flags Over Georgia
The theme park also just revealed Twisted Cyclone's 2nd running train, featuring a bright red paint job with hot-rod themed front cars.  The first train, all in black, could be seen at the recent IAAPA convention.  Looks great!


Saturday, December 9, 2017

RailBlazer Going Up Fast at California's Great America


© California's Great America
It's a snowy Saturday in the Northeast, which is a perfect kinda day to check out webcams of roller coaster construction on the sunny West coast.  Checking in on RailBlazer at California's Great America, I loaded the webcam and saw the view above - the ride has gotten very tall very fast!  In fact, those supports on the far right will be the tallest on the ride, supporting the very top of the lift hill.

© California's Great America
The theme park also recently shared a much closer view of the supports that have been installed, seen here.  The lift hill will travel up on the right side of the photo, complete a 180 degree turn, then plunge down on the left.  You can see a support for the first drop that will have it banked steeply toward the ground, it will hit a full 90 degrees on the plunge.

Just as the construction week came to a close, California's Great America hit another milestone when the first piece of single rail track was installed.  Located on a turnaround under the lift near the end of the ride, you can see the bright orange color the park is using to accent the beige supports.  Stay tuned to the park's webcam and social feeds for more updates as RailBalzer goes up!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

More Views of Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom's Demolition + Tornado Moves On


© Raiders of the Lost Parks
Back in September we featured a Facebook site, named Raiders of the Lost Parks, that was selling the slides, equipment and other relics from Wildwater Kingdom, the closed water park that was the last remnant of the Geauga Lake campus.

At the time the site was trying to find a new home for the park's large slide tower - more on that later - but we had also picked up on the news that some attractions had found new homes.  For instance, the Proslide Tornado was headed to Camelbeach Waterpark in Pennsylvania.  That ride has made much progress on its exit from the park, with a full refurbishment taking place on site in Ohio before the ride was shipped out.

© Raiders of the Lost Parks
All the fiberglass pieces were repainted, seen above, after being taken down.  It looks like the Tornado will retain its original colors, but looks fresh and new in its new home.  I haven't seen Camelbeach announce the new ride yet, so it's not clear if it will open in 2018 or later.

While the Tornado slide has been saved, the same fate was not in the stars for the 100 foot tall multiple slide tower that was one of Wildwater Kingdom's biggest features.  The author of the page notes that they contacted over 100 parks and sent bids to 19 of them, but no sale was made.  So sadly, the ride tower had to come down.  Here's a video the shared of part of the taller portion being pulled down.

And once most of the individual slides from the tower were down, the 100 foot tall main tower also had to come down.  Watch this one in full screen - that makes a heck of a noise when it lands!

© Raiders of the Lost Parks
When all was said and done the tower was reduced to a bunch of future-scrap metal on the ground.  Now, of course this is all pretty sad to see, but I'm happy that someone was there to document it for us.

And speaking of that, Raiders of the Lost Parks has also done several drone videos showing all parts of Wildwater Kingdom.  Scroll through their page to check them out.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Premier Rides Launches New Sky Rocket Roller Coaster in China



Another "high-thrill, high-tech launch coaster," designed by Maryland based Premier Rides, recently opened at Chimelong Paradise theme park in Guangzhou, China.  The Sky Rocket opened in time for the National Day holiday, a part of Golden Week, where plenty of visitors were enjoying its multiple launches, extreme elements and thrilling ride experience.

The coaster was commissioned by Chimelong Group, which runs many theme parks in China, and designed and manufactured by Premier Rides in Maryland - who then exported the ride to China earlier this year.

© Premier Rides
The Sky Rocket is the latest design in a series of roller coasters that started with Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, featuring the latest-design launch system the industry has to offer, according to Premier Rides.  Aside from the train, the coaster has virtually no moving parts, making it both "reliable and maintenance friendly."

The coaster starts with a forward launch out of the station up to 65 feet until gravity takes over and trains fall backward and through another launch, this time hitting 82 feet.  After one more fall back toward the ground the final launch sends the trains up to the 164 foot maximum height at speeds of 62 miles per hour.

© Premier Rides
The train then slows on purpose so riders can take in the view, but soon moves through a "twisted heartline roll" with nothing between them and the ground below.  What follows is a "face-first vertical twisting drop, ending in an over the top loop where riders will experience the force of approximately 3 ½ Gs."

Jim Seay, president of Premier Rides, commented, “The theme park market in China is an exciting one and all of us at Premier are motivated to not only be part of that market, but to also set the industry standard by bringing in a world-class USA-made attraction for the Chimelong Group. The minds behind the Chimelong Group certainly wanted to make a statement with this ride and we are honored to be part of their formula for success.”