Wednesday, October 18, 2017

California's Great America Provides First RailBlazer Construction Update

© California's Great America
Work on RailBlazer, an all new thrill roller coaster going into California's Great America in 2018, is well under way.  The park has shared an update on the innovative single-rail coaster, including construction of the ride's foundations.

But first, the park also posted the above photo of the first shipment of track for RailBlazer on its way to the park.  The lighting isn't perfect, but you can still see the stacked up orange track on the bed of the truck, and it looks like some of the pieces are pretty twisty!

This video was also just released, showing more of the early groundwork for the coaster.  The first support was just poured, and the video shows just exactly how deep the footers go.  The frame for the footer can be seen lifted and then placed deep into the ground, it's amazing to think how far down the foundations go!

The end of the video also better shows that first shipment of track after it arrived at the theme park and was unloaded.  The riding edge of the single rail track looks smooth as glass, and a big part of the ride's innovation is centered around that design.  With all wheels running on only one track, the ride is expected to give an extremely smooth ride experience.

RailBlazer will stand 106 feet tall, feature a vertical 90 degree plunge, three inversions and speeds of 52 miles per hour when it opens in Spring 2018.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Alabama Splash Adventure Expanding Kid's Water Areas for 2018 Season

© Alabama Splash Adventure
Alabama's Splash Adventure will spend $1 million in 2018 in order to add two new children's play areas to their ever-growing list of attractions.  Both will be located within the water park, and are designed to keep kids happy for hours on end.  The additions are part of $10 million in expansion that the park has completed since becoming family owned in 2014.

One area will feature five different slides, each offering a different experience - these can be seen above.  All the slides are meant for smaller kids, but will provide enough variety to keep them coming back.  The slides are being manufactured by Proslide and will empty into shallow water that's safe for the park's smaller visitors.

© Alabama Splash Adventure
Also joining the new slides will be a large sprayground play area, filled with dozens of interactive elements that can be accessed from a zero-depth entry point.  A concept image of a similar area to the one being built can be seen above, and it is being created by Vortex Aquatic Structures.

The expansion will also feature plenty of new seating for families along with some new cabana options.

Alabama's Splash Adventure is looking for help with naming their new play area, and are accepting submissions via their website.  The lucky winner who's name the park chooses will receive 4 2018 season passes. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

California's Great America to Retire Loggers Run Flume Ride on October 29th

Another one bites the dust, sadly.  It was announced by California's Great America that their log flume, known as Loggers Run, will cease operations forever on October 29th.  That is the final day of California's Great America's regular season, with WinterFest still to come.

The park made the announcement by posting this video on social media:

As the video states, Loggers Run originally opened in 1976 and was designed by Arrow Dynamics - the manufacturer of most log flume rides in the U.S.  Sadly the useful life of many of these rides is ending, and we are seeing them removed more and more often.  This is sad, but understandable as the park has big plans for the future.

© Google Maps
Loggers Run is literally intertwined with Boomerang Bay, the theme park's included water park.  The flume runs around several of the slides, including Down Under Thunder, Tasmanian Typhoon and Didgeridoo Falls, boxing them in and also taking up real estate adjacent to them.

One would guess that the water park will be rethemed and renamed during the park's upcoming expansion, and the planning documents show additional water slides near where the flume runs today.  These factors combined probably sealed the fate Loggers Run.

Stop by the park over the new two weekends to take in your final rides!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Scott and Carol Present - Halloween Horror at Indiana Beach

No automatic alt text available.

There's something new this fall on the shores of Lake Shafer. In the midst of the fog, Indiana Beach takes on a whole new look for the season of fright.

IB Crow takes over a store window to welcome the fearless to Halloween Horror at Indiana Beach.

Many of the residents change their makeup after the Trick or Treat Trail closes at 6:00 PM. The dance party starts off the scary stuff, and after a few quick pictures, they are off to there scare zones.

The walkway between Frank's Funhouse, aka Frankenstein's Castle and the Swinging Ship transforms into party central, and an occasional scar-actor passes through to terrify the crowd.

A mad scientist makes an appearance at Franks's  Funhouse

Here is the crew that brings horror to Indiana Beach, but also the delightful fun for those who want to dress up in costume and collect candy. Guests are invited to take home their own coffin memories.

Chemikill Spill is a very creative scare zone in daylight. The rains came in like a hurricane and we were not able to experience it after dark. Maybe next time.

For the Nightmare on Shafer Drive there are nice little pluses everywhere!

This couple looks like they are just dying for a good nights sleep

Luckily for you, this guy isn't responsible for whipping up the seasonal offerings like zombie pizza, with all the meats, or even bacon on a stick. And don't forget to try the deep fried red velvet Oreos and Mummy's fingers. Halloween never tasted so good.

Here is a group shot of the denizens of Nightmare on Schafer Drive with the lights on. They look a lot better in the dark, but then, it's easier for them to sneak up on you. The ballroom never raised pulses higher than the way this team works together to distract you before surprising you from another direction.

A great way to see another side of Indiana Beach, and this is just their first year. Our thanks to the fantastic folks at Indiana Beach and Apex. Hope you have hauntingly Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fear is Waiting for You at Dorney Park's Halloween Haunt X

© NewsPlusNotes
Hard to believe, but this is the 10th season of Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park, and this year the park is advertising that "fear is waiting for you" at the event... and that's some truthful advertising!

The park has bottled up all the ghouls, scares, freaks, mazes, shows and more all season long, and unleashed them to packed crowds in honor of the 10th year of screams.

© NewsPlusNotes
Before we check in on the actual event, the park was kind enough to give me a tour of some of the backstage operations that go into putting on such a massive event each night.  The park has around 300 actors in full costume each night of Haunt, and getting this army of scares ready is no small feat.  Our tour starts with a look at the preparations that go into churning out 300 monsters in only a couple hours.

This photo is of the wardrobe area that monsters visit to pick up their costumes for the evening.  Each actor has a specific time that they are to arrive here, which kicks off the process of getting ready.  Each rack of costumes is neatly organized by attraction or zone, with a card for every actor to take when they pick up their costume to get dressed.

© NewsPlusNotes
Once dressed the actors move into the area seen above, known as The Crypt.  This is the area where their real transformation begins, as they move to an individual station to have their makeup applied.  The talented artists are able to complete a full application (read: monster creation) in just ten to fifteen minutes, depending on how elaborate the character is.  The actors flow in and out of the room like clockwork, it's very impressive to see how organized the process is!

© NewsPlusNotes
Here is the actual transformation of the Voodoo Queen, an important role in Blood on the Bayou, from start to finish.  It helps that most characters feature the same makeup each night, however some are changed slightly over time or for special events.  The Voodoo Queen, however, is an example of one character that looks similar each night - helps her become instantly recognizable to repeat guests in the attraction.

© NewsPlusNotes
Some characters features special, often gross, add-ons, such as peeling rotting skin, horrid wounds, and the like.  These pieces are hand crafted and painted by talented Haunt staff, and stored carefully (above) for repeat use.  Each piece is unique to one actor, not shared between them, and a fresh batch is created for each season.  It looks a bit like a demented plastic surgeon's office or something along those lines!

© NewsPlusNotes
The majority of Haunt actors use full makeup along with some of the aforementioned add-ons, but in some instances masks are used.  This super creepy room is where they are all stored... this alone could probably work as a Haunt attraction is the lighting was a bit lower!  There is quite a spectrum of masks in here, everything from giant pumpkin heads to crazed clowns.

© NewsPlusNotes
Some characters require a special set up, such as this octopus face that is one of many feature characters in Cut Throat Island.  It isn't easy to find an existing mask of this nature, so the Haunt staff took the time to hand craft it - the results are excellent!  I was able to bump into this character later in the night as he scared a pack of visitors, and it looks even better in show lighting.

The Crypt is an awesome operation to watch, and it's pretty amazing to think that goes on each night just to get Haunt ready, then it all comes back off, is organized and cleaned, and put away for the next day!

© NewsPlusNotes
I was also able to take a lights-on tour of the park's new-for-2017 maze, Tourist Trap.  We'll get into the details of the maze in a second, but I wanted to share the above photo first.  This room is located within the maze and is a control center for many of the attraction's animatronics and other special effects.

Pressure pad and sensor trigger effects have long been effective in mazes, but this set up actually allows an employee to sit and watch guests travel through the attraction, triggering special effects at exactly the right moment.  With a simple touch of a button they are able to make a body fall from the ceiling, a staircase nearly collapse, bookshelves nearly tumble over and more.  I did get to push some of the buttons, and even without guests in the maze it was still a blast!

© NewsPlusNotes
Tourist Trap is set in 1893 in Chicago, which was home to the World's Fair at the time.  The maze is set in the Worlds Fair Hotel, which was a popular place for tourists visiting the fair... but it turns out it was also deadly for most of them.  As guests enter the attraction they are in the hotel's lobby, which seems peaceful, and well, normal.  However, if you look closely at the newspaper on the counter, you'll notice that it seems a great deal of people have already gone missing.  There is a nice advertisement for the hotel, however, so things will be okay, right?

© NewsPlusNotes
Visitors quickly start to head through different rooms of the hotel, each of which is layered thick with tons of detail and props.  Granted you're a bit too focused on trying not to to be scared to really focus on these little details, but there are plenty of them around.  These pictures show just some of what can be found as you move through the first few rooms of the hotel.  These include a lounge area, library, bedrooms and more.

© NewsPlusNotes
Things start to take a bit of a darker turn as you venture further into Tourist Trap.  The authorities are looking for H. W. Harrison, the owner of the hotel, as they have quite a few questions for him about the disappearance of those hotel guests.  The above photo was a shot of H. W. Harrison's office, which like the other rooms has plenty of interesting items that he has collected in his travels.

© NewsPlusNotes
After twisting and turning through a few more rooms, each a bit creepier than the last, you suddenly enter a room that is definitely where some bad things happened to a lot of people.  This is a haunted house after all!  It seems that H. W. Harrison has a special room in the hotel for him to visit with guests... but you can be sure that the guests do not make it out alive.  Some of them, or parts of them, are forever kept in the floor of the room that you have to walk over, seen above.

© NewsPlusNotes
I do not intend to give away too many surprises from the lights-on photos, but this room is too neat not to share.  I would guess that this is where the hotel guests check in for a long-term stay... as there were dozens of former guests located here.  Just watch out for falling items from the ceiling!

© NewsPlusNotes
Many haunted houses use falling picture frames as scare doors, and Tourist Trap does too.  But, since the park has plenty of repeat visitors they wanted to make it a bit harder to predict where the scare might come from.  So, instead of this room having one falling picture, there are three in a row, and all are controlled pneumatically by the actor.  That way he or she can come at you when you least expect it, thinking you may have gotten through unscathed.  Not so!

That's all for our lights-on tour of Tourist Trap... and if the storyline of the house feels a little familiar, well that's because it is based in reality.  At least to a large degree... you can read about the real life "Murder Castle" here.

© NewsPlusNotes
On to the actual event, as darkness set in the park came to life on a busy Saturday night... fog was in the air and screams could be heard from all over.  There is much to see and do at Dorney Park's Halloween Haunt, with a grand total of six indoor haunted mazes, five outdoor scare attractions (three of which are half haunted house and half scare area), and three live shows.

© NewsPlusNotes
The evening officially begins with a show called the Overlord's Resurrection, where the Overlord (seen above) rises and calls his minions to gather on stage.  After a short speech he beckons his ghouls and monsters to spread throughout the park, quickly filling into the crowd and starting the scares.

© NewsPlusNotes
Since Halloween Haunt is a very popular time of the year a great way to keep the evening moving is to use Fright Lane with Skeleton Key Room access.  This add-on to the admission ticket allows you to have priority access to eight of the park's most popular attractions, along with access to seven special Skeleton Key Rooms.  This year the park has actually built separate structures, located near their associated attractions, for many of the Skeleton Key Rooms.  This means that all new tricks have been created... we will get to those in a bit.

The Fright Lane passes are a great help in visiting popular attractions like Tourist Trap, which can be seen above.

© NewsPlusNotes
Each year some of the returning Haunt attractions are given new features or other upgrades, and an extension of CarnEvil that opened a couple seasons ago got all new lighting this year.  The entire pathway from Hydra down to the Tilt-a-Whirl has new programmed LED lights, which create an especially creepy atmosphere as you pass through the area, filled with clowns of course (like the one seen meandering about in the above photo).

© NewsPlusNotes
Once you get into the area the dancing lights really serve as almost a distraction from what is lurking in the fog... it's hard to see what may be coming at you until it is too late!

Also returning this year is Cut Throat Island, located by Possessed, which still features the enormous pirate ship props, along with Age of Darkness and its side-street known as the torture chamber, filled with props and other ghastly items.

© NewsPlusNotes
Last year's new haunted house was Blood on the Bayou, and it is back this year and just as popular - if not more so.  This house features elaborate sets and storyline, including this New Orleans style mansion as the entrance.  It is also where you will find the Voodoo Queen, featured in the first part of this story.

Other returning attractions and mazes include Chamber of Horrors, Trick or Treat, Urgent Scare, Blackout, Grave Walkers and CornStalkers.  The shifting of Skeleton Key Rooms to outside of several of these attractions has opened up some space that has led to slight changes in scares... plus all houses are modified slightly to keep them fresh each year.

© NewsPlusNotes
Aside from the Overlord's Resurrection, Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park also features two more live shows.  Seen above is the ever-popular Blood Drums, which plays their pounding beats at the park's Center Stage.  Located within the CarnEvil scare zone is Skeleton Crew, a show that features an eerie assortment of acrobatic and other performances.  These shows serve as a much needed break from all the scares of the haunted attractions.

© NewsPlusNotes
Onto the Skeleton Key Rooms - I'm not going to ruin any of the surprises, that would be terrible, but I will point out that I would rate most of them as more scary than in previous years... and more gross too.  Above is the Grave Walkers room, located in Steel Force's plaza, which has a jump scare you won't be ready for.  CornStalkers' room relies on gross for its story, but in a hilarious way, but Cut Throat Island isn't far behind on the "ewwww" scale.  Blackout's room is innovative in that visitors get to take part in what goes on in the house, and Blood on the Bayou's has a combination of lighting and fog that makes it impossible to see what's going on from your chest down... until it is too late of course.

© NewsPlusNotes
That wraps up our look at the 10th anniversary of Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park.  It's amazing to have seen all that goes into setting up for the event, experiencing it from both the park and guest's perspective.  Many thanks for both Dorney Park and Mike Fehnel for their help with this story!

Oh... and happy Friday the 13th!!!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

New Ray Rush Waterslide to Premier at Aquatica Orlando in 2018

Today we have another water park attraction announcement, this time at Aquatica Orlando.  A brand new thrilling family raft ride, named Ray Rush, will open at the park in 2018.

The slide is described as combining three different thrilling aspects into one mega-attraction.  The slide will start from 60 feet in the air, where family and friends will board a ray-shaped raft and instantly be propelled at 33 feet per second with water jets into the slide's first fully enclosed section.  It sounds almost a bit like the what can be found on some water coasters, so this is quite an interesting element.

The rafts will then "swirl into a colossal translucent sphere which spins the raft around the slide walls" before moving into another enclosed section.

© Aquatica Orlando
The final element will be a drop into an "open-air halfpipe that resembles the shape of a manta ray."  One more enclosed section will follow the ray-shaped wall, then a final splash will end the attraction.  All the elements of Ray Rush can be seen in the concept art released today by Aquatica Orlando, seen above.

The attraction will replace the HooRoo Run slide, which was a family raft ride that featured a few small hills on the way down, that slide will close on October 31st.  That means it will share the same slide tower as Walhalla Wave, which will temporarily close while Ray Rush is constructed.

Ray Rush will require only a 42 inch height requirement, allowing many members of the family to slide together.  It is expected to be ready to open for summer, 2018.