Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cedar Point Announces More Park Changes at Winter Chill Out Charity Event

© Cedar Point
Fans of Cedar Point were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the park this weekend, which included several announcements of changes for the 2018 season - and it was all for a good cause.  The admission tickets from the event - which saw 800+ fans in attendance - went to A Kid Again, an "organization that fosters hope, happiness and healing for families dealing with life-threatening illnesses."  The park raised an impressive $40,000 for the organization!

Cedar Point also thanked those in attendance with plenty of news about the park, including a long list of changes to Frontier Town, home of Steel Vengeance.  The themed area will see several new food options open this year, including Frontier Foldovers, a quick service location with "folded brisket, chicken and Italian meat sandwiches," the return of Chick-fil-A, and Sidewinder Sue's, featuring "new “twisty” fries with meat toppings of pulled pork, brisket or chili."  Frontier Town will also bring back the animated Shooting Gallery, add the Western Shoot Out basketball game of skill, and feature new shows in both Lusty Lil's and the all-new Gossip Gulch stage.

Elsewhere in the park the former Park Plaza gift shop will be renovated into a beach themed store named Point Plaza.  Luminosity will not return this year, instead replaced by a show called Vertical Impact, performing several times per day and featuring "acrobats and dancers performing in this new fast-paced, high-energy show in Celebration Plaza."

PointBuzz has a press release from the park about all the changes, and also had a live blog of the event as well.  If you're looking for even more details, this story from the Sandusky Register has a ton of additional details shared during the event - get ready for the return of themed elements inside Maverick's launch tunnel!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ray Rush Coming Together at Aquatica Orlando

Aquatica Orlando is hard at work on a major new family water slide, named Ray Rush, which will be opening this summer.  The park has made some significant progress on the new slide in recent weeks, with pieces of the attraction now being carefully lifted into place.  Ray Rush will stand more than six stories tall and be highly visible from the park's entrance once it is completed.  The attraction will utilize large rafts that can seat several members of a family at once as they soar through 508 feet of slide.

© Aquatica
Ray Rush will have three distinct features for riders to plunge through, and one of them is this gigantic, 12,000 pound fiberglass sphere that the rafts will slide through.  The rafts will slide down into the sphere, then slide up the side of it before evening out and heading outward and onto the next element.  The sphere was just hoisted into place this past week.

© Aquatica
The slide will start with a master blaster feature that will send rafts launching out of the gates, after which they will move into the sphere we just saw.  The third large element is this manta-shaped open air half pipe that is currently being constructed.  The rafts will oscillate up and down the side of it before encountering a final enclosed section of twists and turns.

Aquatica Orlando has created this video update, showing the progress of the slide thus far.  Ray Rush will feature a 42 inch height requirement that will make the addition a thrilling slide for the family.  Check out more on Ray Rush directly from Aquatica Orlando.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Oaks Amusement Park Names New Coaster + Opening Date

© Oaks Amusement Park
This past summer we first heard plans for Oaks Amusement Park, located in Portland, Oregon, to build a brand new Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster for the park's 2018 season.  At the time the park was holding a naming contest for the ride, and they recently revealed that the winning name is Adrenaline Peak.  As seen in the photo above, the park has created a nice logo for the ride, which matches the bold color scheme that Adrenaline Peak has received.

The ride is all set to open on March 24th, so visitors to the park won't have too much longer to wait to ride!

© Oaks Amusement Park
Adrenaline Peak is one of Gerstlauer's more compact Euro-Fighter designs, which appears to be a clone of Hydrus at Casino Pier, that coaster just opened last year.  The ride has a vertical lift that takes the individual cars up 72 feet in the air, then drops them down at a beyond vertical angle of 97 degrees.  The ride's layout includes three inversions, a vertical loop, a cutback and heartline roll.  The eight passenger trains will hit a top speed of 45 miles per hour over the 1,050 feet of track.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Six Flags Rebrands Waterworld Concord into Hurricane Harbor + Announces New Attraction

Six Flags has announced that Waterworld Concord, which joined the Six Flags family last year, is being rebranded as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord.  The water park is located near Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and serves as an additional experience for pass holders of that park to check out and enjoy.

Six Flags currently has many Hurricane Harbor themed water parks located throughout North America, each containing tropical theming and plenty of exciting attractions.  Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord will receive many upgrades for 2018, including theming upgrades to match the park's new name and vibe.

© Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord
The water park will also debut a brand new addition, named Splashwater Island.  The attraction will be a massive water play house with more than 100 interactive features such as sprayers, water jets and geysers.  It will feature multiple levels of play areas, have seven of its own water slides extending off of it, and keep families busy with a giant tipping bucket, water curtains, dancing fountains and more.

“Six Flags is a world-renowned leader in thrills and innovation and we are excited to add the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor name to our newest park,” said Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord President Don McCoy. “The new Splashwater Island attraction will delight families with young children and guests of all ages will enjoy the colorful, new theming and many park enhancements.”

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord will see more improvements as well.  New luxury cabanas and comfortable lounge chairs will be added to the park, along with renovated dining and retail establishments, new paint on many existing slides, and new signage throughout the park.  A giant new entrance marquee will greet guests as they start their day.

For more on Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, which opens May 5th, check out the park's official website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Two More Six Flags Parks Announced to Run Off Solar Power

Six Flags is currently working on a project to make Six Flags Great Adventure the first theme park run almost entirely off of solar power, and has now announced that two more parks will soon run off of clean energy.

Six Flags Entertainment has again joined with JLL, a global real estate and investment management company, to bring solar power to both Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

“We are committed to making all of our properties more energy efficient and sustainable for years to come,” said Six Flags Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer, Steve Purtell. “California’s support of renewable energy, the solar potential in the state, and the environmental benefits associated with solar energy made this the right decision for our guests, our team members, and our communities.”

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
The California sunshine will be utilized to run both parks on renewable energy, and the solar set up will be built, owned and operated by a third party Independent Power Producer.

According to Six Flags, "when it becomes operational, the system at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will exceed 7 megawatts of electricity generated.  Six Flags Magic Mountain’s system will have capacity for nearly 15 megawatts and will be the largest solar carport anywhere in North America."

The solar covers over the parking areas will not only help power the parks, but also have features such as providing covered parking, integrated electric vehicle charging stations, enhanced parking surfaces, and security improvements through the addition of closed circuit cameras.

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
While these three parks are the only ones announced so far to receive solar projects, the company is actively looking to expand the project to other parks located around the country.  No date on when the solar grids will come online at the two California parks was mentioned as of now.

“Six Flags has pioneered a long lists of firsts in its 57-year history and as good stewards of the environment, we are excited to apply the latest green technology and create eco-friendly parks for future generations to enjoy,” added Purtell.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 4th Quarter and 2017 Year End Conference Call

Last week Cedar Fair announced their 2017 full year and 4th Quarter earnings, showing another positive year of results.  For the year revenues were up 3% to $1.32 billion, with attendance of 25.7 million, up 2%.  Full year EBITDA was down less than 1% to $479 million and overall in park spending hit a record $47.30, up 1%.  The company had a conference call to discuss the details, and here are some notes from that:

•  Through the end of 2017, advance purchase revenues are up 10% from the sales of season passes and other season long benefits, like dining programs.  Advance reservations at the company's various hotels and resorts are currently up 15% from prior year levels.

•  The 4th quarter saw total attendance of 4.4 million guests, and was the first one with a handful of new WinterFest events running.  The quarter's revenues were $228 million, up $36 million from the prior year, and 4th quarter EBITDA was $61 million, up $8 million.

© Cedar Fair
•  Early signs of success of Knott's Peanuts Celebration festival already has the operator looking at ways to bring the event to other parks to possibly extend their season on the front end, and draw visitors during a traditionally slow time of the year.

•  The company is continuing to push multi-week special events at the parks to give a reason for season pass holders, and other guests, to return throughout the year.  They aim to have three to four of these events at each park each season.

•  Recent tax reform laws will benefit the company, they estimate that they will pay between $10 and $15 million less per year in taxes as a result.  Cedar Fair plans to reinvest that savings into the business to address "seasonal labor pressures" they felt in 2017.  They are looking at adding dormitories at additional parks to have more international workers during the season.

© Cedar Fair
•  Carowinds' newly announced hotel, along with more fancy RV sites at Cedar Point show they want to keep expanding resorts at the parks.  They see the opportunity for more resort growth at Cedar Point and are entering the final stages of a hotel plan for Canada's Wonderland, hopefully announcing that by next quarter's call.

•  A total of five parks will see upgraded restaurant or catering operations for 2018.  This continues a trend the company has had for several years, and helps to support group sales along with the all-season dining passes.

• Cedar Point began a new marketing program in 2017 to help position the park as a regional resort destination.  Cedar Fair wants to appeal to more guests who are looking for a true vacation, focusing on the park, beach, entertainment and food as well as the renovated Hotel Breakers.  This push will continue in 2018 as they move into new markets.

© Cedar Fair
•  WinterFest opening at three more parks in 2017 weighed heavily on the cost side of operations, which didn't help the bottom line.  However, they point out that at California's Great America the event had its second year, which saw larger crowds and revenues, and a bottom line that is more in line with expectations.  So it sounds like the start up costs of these events are big, but even out over future years.  The event at all parks had very high satisfaction and intent to return scores.

•  Roughly 10% of revenues are still being spent in marketable capital expenditures per year, so around $130 to $140 million per year.  They will spend another $20 to $30 million this year on business developments, like Carowinds' new hotel, above and beyond that.

•  Future capital most likely won't include a year with four new roller coasters for some times as the parks focus on being not just a place for thrills but a place to have fun.  This means expect capital to be used more broadly, not only on rides but also on special events, dining improvements and the like.  Especially with a new CEO now on board, it will be interesting to see what new attractions opens in 2019 and 2020.