Thursday, December 13, 2018

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Breaks Ground on Brand New Orlando Headquarters


© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Today SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment held a groundbreaking ceremony for a brand new, 40,725 square foot building that will be the its new headquarters when completed.  The three story building will be located not far from SeaWorld Orlando and will become a "shared home for ambassadors from the current Park Support Center and at the SeaWorld Orlando park."  It is targeted to open in the fall of 2019.

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
The ceremony included a few animal ambassadors, including several three-banded armadillos, which are known for their digging capabilities (perfect for a groundbreaking, you see!).  Other animals that helped include Mattie, a rescued bald eagle and Dunder, an Asian small clawed river otter.  Guests at the ceremony were able to interact with the animals and SeaWorld representatives were on hand to help them learn about them.

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Of course many dignitaries from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment were on hand, along with Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Visit Orlando's George Aquel.  The Millennia Gardens Elementary School Eco Club, who grow lettuce that feeds rescued and rehabilitating manatees, were also on hand.

“Today is much more than the groundbreaking of a new building. It is about the foundation we are continuing to fortify and build upon as a company to extend and carry out our mission – to save species, learn about them, protect them, educate others about them, and help them flourish, both in our care and in the wild,” said John Reilly, Interim CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Kentucky Flyer Construction Updates + New POV Video Released


© Kentucky Kingdom
As predicted, it wasn't long at all before Kentucky Kingdom started to place bents for their new family wooden roller coaster, the Kentucky Flyer.  The park has continued to keep us all updated on their social media platforms, releasing images as progress is made.

Just today, seen above, the park was working on another massive concrete pour, finishing up the foundation for the ride.  If you look closely in this photo you'll also notice that some bents for the coaster are also now in place in the middle of the ride.

To get a closer look at the now vertical Kentucky Flyer, the park created this construction update.  The clip is the second in what will be a series of updates as the coaster continues to rise at the park.  It shows that the bents that have been placed look to support two low sections of the ride, both on the stretch outward and on the return run.

Kentucky Kingdom also recently released a new point of view ride on the Gravity Group designed ride.  It's hard to tell if there are a lot of changes from the prior video, but this one looks a lot more polished and probably better represents the coaster's final design.

I also realized that I hadn't shared photos of the Kentucky Flyer's awesome trains!

© Kentucky Kingdom
There, now that is fixed.  Back at the IAAPA Expo the park, along with the Gravity Group and GravityKraft, debuted these slick trains for the first time.  The ride carries a light airplane theme, as we've seen in the promotional videos, so the plane-themed front car makes perfect sense.  I love the propeller on the front as well!


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Adventureland Iowa Announces New Spinning Roller Coaster for 2019


© Adventureland
Iowa's Adventureland theme park has announced a surprise roller coaster for the 2019 season, named Phoenix.  The coaster will be a spinning ride designed by Maurer Rides, standing about 50 feet tall and reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

The Phoenix will replace the Inverter, a flat ride was removed at the end of the 2017 season, according to this news story.  The ride will cost Adventureland $6 million and construction will start in February, 2019, with the ride scheduled for a June opening.

© Maurer Rides
From the given manufacturer, height, speed and the fact that Undertow at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is shown in the park's Facebook announcement, it looks like Phoenix will be one of Maurer's SC2000 rides.

There are already a handful of these spinning coasters in North America, and they are well received by park guests.  Adventureland is marketing the new coaster as a family attraction, considerably less intense than the Monster, the park's large Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster built in 2016.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Checking in on Yukon Striker Construction at Canada's Wonderland


© Grace Peacock
Cedar Fair's second large coaster project for 2019 is Yukon Striker at Canada's Wonderland, and the coaster's construction isn't too far behind Carowinds' Copperhead Strike, though the track isn't quite finished yet.  The theme park has made major progress on the ride's instillation however, and it doesn't look out of the question for all track to be up before the start of the new year.

The park's Director of Communications has shared a few photos of the ride on her social media, including the beautiful snowy shot above.  I love how tall and isolated Yukon Striker looks in the photo, as if it is protecting the park.

© Grace Peacock
Back with clear skies and no snow, you can see in this shot from last week that many of Yukon Striker's enormous elements are already in place.  After the 245 foot first drop the ride soars up into an Immelmann, not seen here, then up into the dive loop that is in the middle of the photo.  That leads to the back half of the ride, which returns using the steep drop from the mid-course brakes, also seen here.

© Canada's Wonderland
This wonderful wide-angle shot does picture the enormous Immelmann, and also the other elements that we saw above.  The rest of the layout will include a vertical loop - the first on a B&M dive coaster - another smaller Immelmann, and then after that second drop a hill and helix before the station.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Carowinds Places Final Piece of Copperhead Strike Track!


© Carowinds
An early holiday present to Carowinds, construction crews this week lifted the final piece of Copperhead Strike track into place.  The above photo is the final piece of track, along with some of the crew who have been assembling the ride.  The final piece was a part of the ride's giant inverted top hat element, which takes place right after the second launch.

© Carowinds
© Carowinds
The theme park has been showing off the ride in recent weeks, since it was nearing completion and there was quite a lot to see.  We already knew from all the videos and concept art that Copperhead Strike would be a twisted ride, but I think these photos speak for themselves on that point.  The ride's track twists and curls its way around, and looks amazing set in front of the fall colors of the parks trees.

Copperhead Strike's track extends 3,255 feet total, with two launches - one to 42 miles per hour and then halfway through the ride another that sends the trains blasting at 50 miles per hour.

© Carowinds
This shot is of the inverted top hat, the final elements to be constructed, when it was about halfway done.  Copperhead Strike will have 5 inversions in total, two vertical loops, the jojo roll right out of the station, a corkscrew, and the inverted top hat.

© Carowinds
The same time that track and supports have been going up, Carowinds has been busy building Copperhead Strike's station, queue and first launch building.  This photo is of the building that houses the first launch, which according to the ride's animations will have quite a bit of theming inside it.  Carowinds captioned the photo "What's in the barn?" - alluding to the events that will take place in here.  I love that the park is combining a thrilling ride with a pretty heavy storyline, helping to keep the "theme" in the "theme park."


Friday, December 7, 2018

New Details on Tokyo Disneyland's Stunning New Dark Ride + Massive Expansion


© Disney Parks
This week Disney Parks and Tokyo Disneyland have released new information and an amazing video showcasing the massive expansion under construction at the park, which will greatly expand Fantasyland but also give new attractions to both Tomorrowland and Toontown.  All the new additions are scheduled to open in 2020, and these new materials have fans quite excited, especially for the area's new dark ride.

Tokyo Disneyland released this drawing of the expansion, along with a key to understand what is being added:


© Tokyo Disneyland
The largest part of the expansion is a new part of Fantasyland themed to Beauty and the Beast.  The area's main dark ride will be named the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, but the area will also feature the Village Shoppes, a retail area, La Tavern de Gaston and LeFou's, both food establishments, along with the large Fantasyland Forest Theatre.

In Tomorrowland, a new family spinning ride named The Happy Ride with Baymax (how adorable!) will open in a structure bordering Tomorrowland and the Fantasyland Expansion.  Toontown will also open Minnie's Style Studio, a new highly themed character meet and greet area.

The total expansion is costing $665 million, and the dark ride is a massive $284 million on its own.

Disney Parks released a new video all about the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, and it's getting a ton of attention all over the internet:

Watching the entire video makes it pretty easy to understand why people are going nuts for this new ride.  It's the first time that Beauty and the Beast is being made into a full dark ride, and it looks like they're going all out on it.  The animatronics alone look amazing, and the trackless dancing tea cups that serve as ride vehicles look equally wonderful.  In true Tokyo Disney fashion, the ride looks to be some of the best that Imagineering can create!