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!


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Disney Parks Announce A Slew of New Rides, Attractions and Developments at D23 Expo


© Disney
Yesterday's Parks presentation at the D23 Expo in California turned out to feature a massive set of announcements about rides, attractions, hotels, experiences and more that are headed to the Disney parks in North America and beyond.  Let's dig in!

First up is the announcement of the full name of the Star Wars themed area being built at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Named Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the land will open first at Disneyland in 2019 and then later that same year at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  The lands will both feature two signature attractions that "put guests in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance."  While not all details have been released there are more from the Expo shared here.

Another part of the growing excitement for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was the gigantic model of the land that was on display at the Expo.  Thankfully for those of us far away and not at the Expo, Disney filmed this fantastic video of the area as if we were walking through it.  Certainly looks to take immersive to the next level.

Walt Disney World in Florida had a total of 4 new rides announced at the Expo.  Two of them are headed to Epcot.

© Disney
Located in a currently undeveloped backstage area behind the France pavilion will be Ratatouille, a ride inspired by the existing one at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris.  The 4-D ride mixes huge physical sets with 3-D animated sequences that have riders shrunk down to the size of a mouse.  The journey takes passengers on a hair-raising trip through Gusteau's restaurant.  To check out a video of the existing ride in Paris, click here.

© Disney
Epcot's Future World will see Ellen and her Universe of Energy attraction close for good this August 13th, to be replaced by a brand new Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride.  Very little about the attraction (ride system, etc) was revealed, but the Guardians are definitely moving into Epcot.  The concept art released does not appear to give us any hints, either.

Both Ratatouille and the Guardians of the Galaxy ride should be ready to open in 2021 for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration.

© Disney
The Magic Kingdom will also have a new attraction in 2021 when TRON Lightcycle Power Run opens adjacent to Space Mountain.  The ride will go up in previously undeveloped land, and no attractions will close for it to be added.  The ride is expected to be a clone of the ride of the same name at Shanghai Disneyland, which has received rave reviews since it opened last year.

As its core the ride is a launched coaster from Vekoma who's lighting alone is a serious visual feast.  If you want to take a spin on the Shanghai version, click here.

© Disney
Disney's Hollywood Studios will be retiring the Great Movie Ride (operates until August 13th) in order to build Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, a unique dark ride that will be the first ride-through attraction to feature Mickey in Disney history.

Riders will join Mickey and Minnie as they enter one of the pair's famous cartoon shorts, becoming a part of the zany action.  The dark ride will not require 3-D glasses, and from a quick preview shared at the Expo looks to feature plenty of projection mapping special effects to create ever-changing environments.

The Imagineers working on the ride are promising that it will be a fitting replacement for the Great Movie Ride, and is one of the "boldest... most impossible" things they've ever made.

No official word on the ride's opening date, but it wasn't listed as for the 50th anniversary so perhaps it'll be sooner.

© Disney
The presentation also touched on various other additions, almost too much to list in one post.  There's a summary of all announcements here, which is a great place to start reading.

These other announcements include:

•  The grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios will take place in Summer 2018.

•  A brand new gondola system, named the Disney Skyliner, will connect several Florida resorts to Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios.

•  The Magic Kingdom will add a large new theater off Main Street U.S.A., based off of Kansas City's Willis Wood Theater.  No show was announced for the new facility.

•  A new restaurant will open soon adjacent to Mission: Space at Epcot.  It will be set in outer space as a highly themed experience.

•  Pixar Pier will replace Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure, adding new theming to the existing land, and both the Avengers and Spiderman will eventually call the park home.


Friday, July 14, 2017

News Profile Points to Busy 2018 for Rocky Mountain Construction



Rocky Mountain Fans rejoice!  A new profile by a local news station points to a very busy 2017 for the popular roller coaster manufacturer.  While the story does not say all these projects will open in 2017, they do say that they have 7 different projects being worked on right now, with one of them being shipped to Japan.

So even if that's 6 new projects for North America, that leaves 4 new rides that we're not yet aware of (when you remove the two fairly obvious Cedar Fair projects).  Of course there could be rides for Europe or perhaps their first in booming China, we don't know quite yet.  But it is promising news nonetheless.

What we do know about the U.S. coasters is that Rocky Mountain Construction has come up with a new train design, or an improvement over their current rolling stock.  Fred Grubb, the company's owner, stated in the story that the U.S. coasters will be receiving this new design.  He also said that next year's round of new coasters will see new records set, such as tallest and fastest (but not necessarily those two).

The reporter who went to Rocky Mountain's facility got to take a spin on the Raptor prototype that is currently set up, and filmed a point of view.  While we've seen the ride running before we haven't had this type of footage - certainly looks like a fun time!  At this point it seems almost certain that we're not far off from seeing a Raptor installed at a park... but where?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Coasting For Kids Returns This Summer at Three New Parks



Coasting For Kids, a popular fundraiser for the Give Kids The World Village, located in Kissimmee, Florida, will be returning for Summer 2017.  The event was held across the Cedar Fair network of parks through 2015, and took last Summer off.  Now the event is being put on at three new amusement parks: Frontier City, Quassy Amusement Park and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

The event is a fundraiser for the Give Kids The World Village, which "provides weeklong, cost free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families."  Many in the amusement park industry have worked to support the facility and their goals for many years now; the industry and Give Kids The World have a natural fit with one another.

The event is now structured such that individual parks can choose to hold the event if they like, so major kudos to the three parks that have stepped up so far.  The format is also slightly different, instead of a focus on roller coaster marathon riding like in the past, now participants who raise $100 or more are able to enjoy the parks for a day with special perks like exclusive ride time on popular attractions, meals, and prizes for top contributors.

The events will be taking place at Quassy Amusement Park on August 16th, at Frontier City on September 9th, and at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on September 16th.

If you're interested in participating, you can go to the Coasting For Kids website and register for any of the events.  You can also donate to existing teams if you want to support them in a great cause!  And you never know, perhaps even more parks will step up before the end of the year and hold the event!