Sunday, December 17, 2017

Major Construction Progress Made for HangTime at Knott's Berry Farm

© Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's is continuing to unwrap a most wonderful present as they construct their new "dive coaster," HangTime.  The park's webcams give a nice update of the action going on, such as the top of the 150 foot vertical lift hill that can be seen above.  Recently track was added to the very top of the climb, and also on the holding brake.  That's the point where riders sit and stare down at 60 degrees before being released and plunging down the beyond-vertical drop.

Also, if you look over on the right side of the photo you can see some new HangTime track sticking up near Xcelerator, that's gone up in the past week or so as well.

© Knott's Berry Farm
This second view (I beg the park to adjust the camera up and to the right slightly!) shows more of the ride that has been installed.  After the first drop the trains move through a giant twisted pretzel element, and about half of that is already standing.  There are also pieces to the entrance and exit of the cobra roll, which is in the middle of the layout, in place as well.  Though, it is understandably hard to discern what is what in this image.  To that end, this update from California Coaster Kings shows off the ride's progress as of last week and is worth checking out!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Dorney Park to Remove Stinger Roller Coaster

© NewsPlusNotes
Dorney Park is featuring a new Blog post that covers many off-season happenings at the amusement and water park, including the construction of an all new restaurant (Tidal Wave Cafe), track refurbishment on Thunderhawk, new food options at the park for next year, the hiring of a brand new executive chef, the addition of additional Coke Refresh stations and the removal of the Stinger roller coaster.

Wait, what was that last thing?!  At the bottom of the blog post, the park drops a bomb that Stinger will be removed:

"Finally, from time to time we have to move things around or even remove them completely in order to look to the future.  Stinger, which came to us from our sister park California's Great America in 2012, will be removed to make room for future planning opportunities. We don’t have details to share right now, but we are working on future planning and development of the park."

The coaster, which had some occasional downtime issues over the years, was built at the park for the 2012 season.  Here's our original story on the opening of the ride, if you want to get reacquainted.  It was moved to the park from California, where it first opened at California's Great America in 1998 - meaning it had 13 seasons there, and 6 at Dorney Park.

The ride is a Vekoma Invertigo, one of only a handful to have been built around the world.  It mimics the layout of a traditional Boomerang coaster, but features inverted trains that seat riders face-to-face.  Standing 130 feet tall, the train moves forward and backward through a total of six inversions during the ride's course hitting a top speed of 50 miles per hour. 

© Google
Focusing on the park's description that the ride is being removed for "future planning opportunities," let's take a look at Stinger's home in the park.  Sitting generally where Laser (another coaster) once sat, it resides at the far end of the bottom of the park.  Beyond it is a set of Larson Flying Scooters (which are confirmed to be open in 2018) that were added a few years back, restrooms, and old picnic groves that contain a haunted house for Haunt.

Now, I could start to outline the areas on this map for development, but to get to the point fast - if the entire area was cleared out there would be a pretty large area that could be used for multiple purposes.  Is a new section of amusement park needed?  Or does a cabin resort make more sense?  What about a second entrance that's closer to the overflow parking lots?  My mind races, imagining what could come.

For now, we can be sure that Stinger will be removed before the start of the 2018 season, and that we have a new project of some sort to look forward to!

© NewsPlusNotes

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!