Monday, December 17, 2018

Check Out the Newest Aerials of Harry Potter Themed Coaster at Islands of Adventure

I've featured them here in the past, but if you're a fan of Orlando parks and you're not already following user Bioreconstruct on twitter, you're really missing out.  They periodically post great aerial photos of many Orlando area parks, along with excellent photos of construction projects that are otherwise hidden behind work walls.

This most recent batch of photos show off the new roller coaster that is being constructed at Islands of Adventure, on the site of the former Dueling Dragons, err, Dragon Challenge coaster.

There are a lot of great photos of the site in Bioreconstruct's twitter feed, and I'm only going to embed a couple of them here.  This shot is a wide angle of the entire ride, which shows the ever growing forest that is being planted on the ride's site, along with a massive amount of new theming going into place.

The new coaster remains mostly a secret, as Universal has only said it will be another trip into the world of Harry Potter, be family friendly and highly themed - and that little bit of information was released way back in July of 2017.

The most exciting development that these photos show is one of the coaster's trains now on the track, you can see that in Bioreconstruct's photo above.  The ride is heavily rumored to feature a trip into the Forbidden Forest along with Hagrid, with the ride vehicles themed as his motorcycle and side car.  That does seem plausible from the general look of the trains... but they are wrapped in plastic so plenty of details remain hidden for now.

If you click through all of the photos, especially the large versions, there are a ton of details to pick out.  The former Dragon Challenge station has been expanded and is receiving its final look as a stone building covered in moss, and what looks like Hagrid's hut has been enclosed with more theming added - just two examples. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Kennywood Places First Inversion on the Steel Curtain's Imposing Structure

© Kennywood
The Steel Curtain at Kennywood Park is going to have a North American record-breaking number of inversions, 9 in total, when finished and the park has proudly placed the first onto the growing ride.  Using favorable weather conditions (check out that blue sky!), Kennywood has been working quickly to get pieces of the ride's 220 foot tall structure into place.

© Kennywood
The first inversion of the nine that has been put into place is actually the last on the ride, and that's the cutback.  This element leads the trains into the final brake run, where riders can finally take a breath.  When finished, the Steel Curtain will offer inversions such as the Fake-Out Inverting Drop, Banana Roll, Sea Serpent, Dive Loop, Top Gun Stall and Corkscrew (along with the Cutback).

© Kennywood
This is also our first great look at the coaster's black track, which is pretty beefy looking.  The ride has been designed by S&S Worldwide, and will be one of the largest coasters the company has created in North America in some time.  The final product will offer 4,000 feet of track along with a top speed of 76 miles per hour.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Carnival Cruise Line to Open First Roller Coaster at Sea on New Mardi Gras Ship

© Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is debuting a new ship in 2020 named the Mardi Gras, and it will include the world's first roller coaster at sea when it sets sail.  The design for the new ship can be seen above, and if you look closely at the larger image you can see coaster track spiraling around on the back of the ship.

© Carnival Cruise Line
The new attraction will be named Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster and will stretch along almost 800 feet of track at 187 feet above sea level.  The ride, which will be electrically powered and not rely on gravity, will give passengers unparalleled views of the ship and the open sea around them.  The ride's cars are capable of reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

© Carnival Cruise Line
"Bolt begins with an action-packed launch where riders can achieve race car-like levels of acceleration and culminates with a high-powered hair-pin turn around Carnival’s iconic funnel. Riders’ speeds are posted after the race, and just like land-based roller coasters, guests have their photo taken during the ride for a memorable keepsake. And since guests choose their own speed, each ride is unique."

© Carnival Cruise Line
As depicted in these images, Bolt will utilize motorcycle-like seats that give an open ride experience.  The coaster is one of Maurer Rides' Spike Coasters, which are just starting to show up at parks around the world.  The company has posted more information on Bolt on their website, available at this link.

The Mardi Gras ship will be based in Port Canaveral, Florida, in a brand new terminal.  The ship's first itinerary information will be revealed early next month.

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.