Monday, July 24, 2017

Islands of Adventure to Retire Dragon Challenge For New Family Coaster in 2019


© Google Maps
Islands of Adventure, a part of the Universal Orlando Resort, has announced that Dragon Challenge will cease operations after September 4th, 2017.  A visually impressive pair of coasters, Dragon Challenge has been a staple attraction at the theme park since it opened in 1999.

The pair of B&M inverted rides were originally known as Dueling Dragons, and the red Fire Dragon and blue Ice Dragon tracks were specifically designed to create several close interactions between trains throughout the course.  These included elements where the fire track jumped over the ice track mid-heartline roll, side-by-side vertical loops, and interlocking corkscrews.

When the theme park added the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010, the attraction was renamed to Dragon Challenge, with the extremely elaborate and awesome queue dramatically changed.  Years later the trains stopped dueling along the course to prevent any loose objects from possibly hitting riders on the opposite train.

While the ride's removal is certain, it remains to be seen if the physical roller coasters will be scrapped or sold.  If scrapped, I believe they will be the first B&M rides to be lost (many have been moved, and Hulk's track replaced, but none scrapped)

© Google Maps
While sad, the removal does make sense.  Dragon Challenge takes up a lot of real estate in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as seen above.

Removing it gives a lot of space for the 2019 new ride, which is being described by the park as one of the "most highly themed coaster experience" they've created.  The "thrill ride" will take passengers "deeper into J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World, where you will encounter some of your favorite characters and creatures."  The park is making it clear that the replacement ride will be "fun for the entire family."

There is no doubt that the new ride will be amazing, and I'm quite excited to experience it.  Until then, remember to get in your final Dragon Challenge rides before the end of September 4th.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Excitement and Progress Grow on Silver Dollar City's New Coaster


© Silver Dollar City
Looks like August 16th is shaping up to be an exciting day for theme park fans, we can now add Silver Dollar City to the list of parks making their big reveal that day.

The park has released the above image to confirm the announcement date, with some clues as to what the ride's theme may be.

© Silver Dollar City
The park is using "gravity redefined" as a sort of motto on all the teasers, and to me the graphics have a very Victorian era/Steampunk feel to them.  There have been many rumors of the new coaster carrying a time travel theme, which fits in well with that motif.

The park has slowly let out some additional details on the coaster, most recently this past week.  That story notes that the park is saying that this new ride will be their biggest ever, more than double in size than any other attraction at the park.  It will sport several "first" and "only" records, and is something that has never been done at another theme park.

The ride's progress is impressive as well.  These aerial photos show just how massive the area carved out for the coaster is.  You can also see that several track segments along with supports are already in place.  Even more recent, the park has added a giant bridge connecting the ride's hillside station to the main park.


Friday, July 21, 2017

California's Great America Teases 2018 Addition + Announcement Date Set


© California's Great America
California's Great America has started to have fun with fans of the park, teasing them with hints of what's to come in 2018.

The above image was shared by the theme park, taken looking through a cutout in the construction wall that has gone up around the work site.  A large sign has been placed in the open area beyond the sign, a directional post that has "summit trailhead" at its top.  A smaller sign on the very top of the sign lists "SR1 Summit" - SR1 has been the code name for the new attraction that the park has used.

Three additional signs can be found on the post, Accelr8, Indimid8 and Domin8.  Obviously these are name of roller coasters at other Cedar Fair parks, and also probably represent what the new ride will do to riders, but the use of the number 8 in each of them has me stumped.  At first I thought this might mean that the new attraction will be the park's 8th coaster, but they actually have 8 right now.


Just what the sign means may be nothing more than a hint to the ride's theme in the end, but it looks like we won't have to wait too long to find out the details.  The park has apparently sent out invitation to the ride's announcement, which is set for August 16th at the park.  The above image of the invite was posted to Instagram, and also gives some hints about its potential theme.

Right now the guesses for the ride are narrowing down, but most are still betting on an action packed coaster just over 100 feet tall.  Personally, I can't wait to find out!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hersheypark Drops Most Exciting 2018 Hint So Far - Is A Coaster On The Way?



We are now four clues into Hersheypark's teaser campaign for their 2018 attraction, and this week's hint is by far the most exciting to date.  The clues started at the end of June with a hint that made it pretty clear (to me, at least) that the expansion will be taking place within The Boardwalk, Hersheypark's water park.

I haven't covered the subsequent clues on NPN, so let's take a look at what I've missed.  The second week's clue was "there is a light at the end of the tunnel," which I can only take to mean that whatever the attraction is it will have a tunnel.  The third week was "it's a race to the finish," which got me thinking maybe this was going to be a popular mat racing water slide.  That would have the capacity needed in a busy park like The Boardwalk.

© Hersheypark
Now here is this week's clue.  Go ahead and take a moment to figure it out.  Go!

Okay well if you didn't get it yet, the clue reads "this makes number fourteen."  Now that's exciting because Hersheypark currently has 13 roller coasters, so now it stands to reason that the park will debut their 14th in 2018.

But, considering how the the park is heavily hinting toward The Boardwalk expanding next year, I would wager that we could see a water coaster added - not a traditional wood or steel one.  Not that that's a bad thing, as water coasters a very popular at parks across the globe.

If we run with the water coaster idea then the thought of having a tunnel makes sense, but the racing aspect feels a bit off, unless the park is going to actually add two racing water coasters!  Or perhaps a water coaster and a mat racing slide?  Originally, the park's website had "attractions," plural, in the webpage description, however I just noticed that it now says "attraction."  Interesting.

Things are getting exciting!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Six Flags Entertainment's CEO Makes Sudden Exit From Company



In a surprise announcement today, it was revealed that Six Flags Entertainment's CEO, John Duffey, has departed the company.  In his place is now James Reid-Anderson, who previously held the title of Chairman and CEO at the company from 2010 through 2016.

James Reid-Anderson
John Duffey was CEO of Six Flags for only 17 months, starting in the role in February, 2016.  Six Flags' official statement says that he "retired" from the company, and the Wall Street Journal is reporting that he did not leave due to health or performance issues, instead citing personal ones.  Mr. Duffey had taken on the CEO role as Mr. Reid-Anderson kept the Executive Chairman title, so as to be able to spend a bit more time with his family - though he never fully left Six Flags.

James Reid-Anderson commented in the official release, stating that “Six Flags is the leading regional theme park company in an extremely attractive industry, and we have significant global growth opportunities in the short, medium and long term.  I am very proud and excited to rejoin the operating team and look forward to executing our business strategy. We have had seven record years in a row and I believe that the best is yet to come. I do want to wish John all the very best for the future and to thank him for his major contributions during his excellent tenure with the company, including his time as president and CEO."

The stock market reacted negatively to the announcement this morning, though the losses were recouped slightly by the end of the trading session.  Mr. Reid-Anderson has a bright personality that quickly made him popular among park fans, with them looking forward to each year's announcement video.  Looks like we will see his return soon for the 2018 announcements!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Six Flags Over Georgia to Retire Georgia Cyclone on July 30th


© Six Flags Over Georgia
Six Flags Over Georgia has announced that their wooden roller coaster, Georgia Cyclone, will close forever July 30th, 2017.  No immediate plans for a replacement for the ride have been announced.

This gives fans of the coaster about two weeks to get in their final rides.  The coaster was one of many that were originally built to mimic the layout of the famous Coney Island Cyclone.  It opened in 1990 and has given nearly 9 million rides since, according to this story.

© Google Maps
Built by the Dinn Corporation, Georgia Cyclone stands 95 feet tall and features a 79 foot first drop.  The maximum speed the trains hit over the 2,970 foot long course is 50 miles per hour.

Although the park isn't saying what will be coming in 2018, we have seen Six Flags close several wooden roller coasters mid-season to prepare them for transformations.  All of these past examples have then been turned into modern scream machines from Rocky Mountain Construction, and I doubt anyone would be upset if that happened in this case.  Stay tuned!