Saturday, February 17, 2018

Alton Towers Releases Beautiful New Photos of Wicker Man Coaster

© Alton Towers
Alton Towers has released some new promotional photos of Wicker Man, the park's new wooden roller coaster, that are pretty stunning.  The park used the moodiness of the evening sky along with thematic lighting and smoke to really set the feeling of the coaster.

The custom design was built by Great Coasters International and has a total track length of just over 2,000 feet.

© Alton Towers
One of the main features of the ride is the actual Wicker Man statue that the track passes through several times.  The theme park is advertising that the coaster combines both wood and fire - it is still open for debate how much of the fire will be real and how much will be lighting and special effects.

Either way, the ride looks great so far!

© Alton Towers
Wicker Man isn't the tallest or fastest wooden coaster but appears to have been designed as a thrilling family ride, something that will appeal to a wide variety of rider ages.  It was built on hilly land that once was home to Alton Towers' log flume, and it takes advantage of the elevation changes throughout the course.

Testing video should hopefully be right around the corner, it will be great fun to see the Wicker Man explode into flames as the trains roar through him!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sesame Place + California's Great America Share New Roller Coaster Updates

© Sesame Place
Sesame Place, which is building North America's only new wooden roller coaster in 2018, has given us a nice update on the construction of Oscar's Wacky Taxi.  Seen above, the park managed to fit the entire ride into one photo, showing the completed ride layout.  Last time we saw the Gravity Group creation only the lift hill and first drop were in place.  Now, the entire layout appears to have been finished!

The photo allows you to track the ride's path, which features green steel supports to match the Oscar The Grouch theme.  The coaster starts with a 40 foot lift and has around 1,200 feet of track.  There will be a large section that goes through a tunnel, which can be seen on the left of this photo.  The ride' station, transfer track, and queue are also well under way - it also appears as though a new ride retail store will open just below the station.

While aimed at families, the zippy ride still looks like it will provide a thrilling experience complete with some gentle airtime thrown in.  Oscar's Wacky Taxi is looking great so far, I can't wait to see even more as Spring rolls around!

© California's Great America
California's Great America also had a special delivery recently, the first train for RailBlazer arrived and looks pretty awesome!  Decked out as an ATV, complete with a grill and handle bars, this is the first good look we've had at the finished one-seat-wide trains.  Since this, and the sister ride going in at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, are the first of their kind, we've all been waiting to see what the finished product would be like.

Even with a vest-style restraint system these trains should give a very open view of the rider's surroundings.  I also can't wait to see if those front headlights turn on when the sun goes down!

California's Great America has completed instillation of most of the ride's major track and support pieces, and has now started building the elaborate rockwork that will surround much of the base of the ride.  The park shared a photo of that work underway recently, too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Carowinds and Cedar Point Reveal New Overnight Accommodations

© Carowinds
Both Carowinds and Cedar Point are on the move again, this time adding new overnight accommodations to their properties.

For Carowinds, the park has announced that their first traditional style hotel will be built, set to open sometime in 2019.  They will break ground on the hotel this Spring, and when it opens will be licensed as a franchise under the SpringHill Suites by Marriott brand.  It will be located in a currently undeveloped area on the Northeast part of Carowinds' expansive property.

The aerial above gives an overview of what is planned for the 5 story, 130 room hotel.

© Carowinds
Being located adjacent to the park is a major plus for the SpringHill Suites, which will be well suited for families that are going to play at the park.  It will have amenities such as a "pool, fitness center, an outdoor seating area with a fire pit, suites and a small bar."  The hotel will be open 365 days a year, generating extra revenue for Cedar Fair even when the park is closed.

Carowinds notes that the hotel's rooms will be slightly larger than an average room, with separate sleeping, living and working sections.  The hotel's design will be focused on proving "calm, relaxing spaces" to visitors.  It is quite exciting to see Cedar Fair moving forward with adding hotels to more of their parks, hopefully this is the first in many announcements to come!

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point, which already has a robust offering of overnight accommodations, also announced the addition of 25 "Ultimate RV Sites" on part of the land that Sandcastle Suites once occupied.  Seen above, the sites will offer amenities and special benefits that set them apart from Cedar Point's exiting RV sites.

This addition will actually open in 2018, the same year that a brand new tower will open at Hotel Breakers.

© Cedar Point
The "Ultimate RV Sites" will have features such as a private, landscaped patios with adirondack chairs, a fire pit, built-in charcoal grill and a dining table with chairs.  The above concept art shows what one of these private spaces will look like when complete.

The development will also have a new restroom and bathhouse located adjacent to it.  Cedar Point has surely developed into a multi-day resort destination, and is expanding their overnight accommodations to keep up with demand - I'm sure we will see even more to come in the future.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Six Flags Great America Names New Looping Thrill Ride "Mardi Gras Hangover" + New Festival Announced

© Six Flags Great America
It has been a while since Six Flags Great America announced their plan to build the "largest loop coaster," a Larson Giant Loop that will stand 100 feet tall.  At the time of the announcement, the park wasn't ready to reveal the name that had chosen, but now they have.  The new thrill ride will be named the Mardi Gras Hangover, and will be located within the Mardi Gras themed section of the park.

The Mardi Gras Hangover will feature back to back seating that allows riders to see each other as the car moves through the 100 foot tall circle, completing several inversions during the process - both forward and backward.

The announcement of the ride's name also came with another exciting announcement for Six Flags Great America, the addition of a new Mardi Gras festival that will run the course of the season.  It will feature a new parade, nightly fireworks, live shows, unique food offerings and more.

"Naming such a unique and record-breaking coaster required out-of-the-box thinking,” said Park President Hank Salemi. “Riders will experience multiple moments of hang-time on Mardi Gras Hangover, with the addition of our Mardi Gras Festival debuting this summer, it was the perfect fit.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

Disney Parks Share New Ride Developments at D23 Expo Japan

© Disney
Just like they did with the domestic D23 Expo, Disney Parks had a nice presentation filled with goodies at the Japanese version of the event, held this past weekend.

There were updates and some new details released on already known projects, and even a couple brand new ones revealed.  The official Disney Parks Blog has a recap of all the news.

Up top is some new concept art for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway that is opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2019.  Riders will enter the world of a cartoon short and the ride's vehicles can be seen depicted in the above art for the first time.

© Disney
Another interesting update came for the Star Wars inspired hotel that we now know will be built adjacent to and "seamlessly connected" to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  New concept art, above, was also released.  It sounds like the level of theming for this new hotel experience doesn't currently exist on the planet, so this is one big development to keep an eye on.  More details are available in this story from Disney.

Elsewhere in Florida, Disney confirmed that the Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride going into Epcot will indeed be an enclosed roller coaster, and it will be one of the longest in the world when it opens.  The coaster will also have a "new innovative ride system" that the Imagineers are sure will impress visitors.

© Disney
One major new attraction, well technically a transformation of an existing one, was also revealed for Walt Disney Studios Paris.  The park's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, a clone of the original Florida version, will be totally rethemed to Iron Man and the Avengers.  Aside from the concept art above, no other details on the retheme, including an opening year, were released.

Be sure to check out the full Disney Parks Blog recap post to see what else was shared at the D23 Expo Japan!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Carowinds Updates on Construction Projects + Changes for 2018 Season

© Carowinds
Carowinds' opening day is March 24, and that is just around the corner!  The theme park has another large slate of projects underway for 2018, continuing their trend of major growth.

Up first, the park has announced that Flying Ace Aerial Chase (formerly Rugrats Runaway Reptar) is being painted the tan and blue color scheme seen above, and being renamed Kiddy Hawk.  The name is both a play on the ride being family-sized, and also the location of the first flight, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The ride looks great!

Carowinds has also released another Kidcaster video update on Camp Snoopy, the park's totally renovated children's area.  Gone will be Planet Snoopy, and in its place will be a relaxing camp themed family area, complete with six new rides and attractions.  The park's Kidcaster has an update on how are the rides are coming along, several of which are currently being installed.

NBC Charlotte also recently visited Carowinds and filed this long video update on the park.  If you watch through the whole thing there are a few interesting tidbits, like the park confirming that the Woodstock Gliders, a set of Flying Scooters, won't return at the park until 2019 in a currently undisclosed location.  There's also lots of great footage inside the new Camp Snoopy, showing off the work at present.

© Carowinds
Last, but not least, Carowinds has also made major progress on relocating its Carousel out of what will now be Camp Snoopy and into its new home near Vortex.  A nice new pavilion has been built for the Carousel to reside in, and the park is taking the chance to totally redo the surrounding midways and planters as well.