Monday, January 15, 2018

Mountain Monster - New Stan Checketts Designed Ride Opening in Pigeon Forge

© Mountain Mile
A brand new thrill ride, designed by Stan Checketts of S&S fame, has started construction as the centerpiece of the Mountain Mile & Tower Shops in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Named the Mountain Monster, it will rise to nearly 200 feet above the shopping, retail, dining and entertainment center.

The development is located just minutes from Dollywood, set among the many hotels and attractions that Piegon Forge offers visitors.

© Mountain Mile
There are not a lot of details about the Mountain Monster yet, but all the concept art for the development shows that the ride will tower over the area, giving excellent views from the top.  The website for Mountain Mile & Tower Shops just featured a post about the creation, which says that it will be designed, built and operated by Stan Checketts, who is known for creating the popular Space Shot, Turbo Drop and other tower rides found around the globe (among others).

The new post on the website says that ride structure will hit 200 feet, though another page on the website references 189 feet.  It also says that the tower will contain three rides, which is puzzling when you look at the concept art above, which looks like a normal freefall ride.

© Mountain Mile
However if you dig a bit deeper and download the master plan document, this concept art can be found on it.  Now there is no way to tell if this is updated or old, but this looks more like a tower that could have three thrill rides coming off of it.  It looks like there is a freefall, a bungee launch type ride, and maybe also zip lines coming off of it.  That certainly makes more sense than the freefall tower in the other concept art!  We will have to wait a bit longer to see which design is the final product.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Enjoy Rocky Mountain's New Twisted Timbers Photos

© Rocky Mountain Construction
Twisted Timbers is nearly complete, with only a couple track pieces left to install, and Rocky Mountain Construction is proudly showing off their creation.  The renovation of Kings Dominion's former Hurler wooden roller coaster into a low-to-the-ground twisted masterpiece is looking great, as seen in the aerial shot above.

It's also neat to look at all the new structure versus the old structure, which is noticeable in this photo from the difference in color.  The new supports that hold the steel track are a lighter brown than the old supports, which are dark.

© Rocky Mountain Construction
Twisted Timbers' barrel roll first drop is certainly going to be one of the coaster's most exciting elements, and we've seen plenty of photos of the drop from afar, but this is the first one I've seen taken inside the structure looking down.  The 109 foot drop will completely invert riders as they dive, giving this view for a brief moment as they go.

© Rocky Mountain Construction
Winters can be harsh at times, but they can also make some beautiful photos of snow covered rides.  Rocky Mountain snapped this photo of Twisted Timbers' zero-g roll patiently waiting for riders as the snow collected on its tracks.  Hard to believe that in just a few months the coaster's trains will be roaring through this element!

For more photos, check out Rocky Mountain Construction on Facebook.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

California's Great America Tops Off RailBlazer

© California's Great America
Having already completed nearly of the ride's track and supports, California's Great America placed the highest piece of RailBlazer yesterday.  The very top of the lift was installed, naturally the highest piece as it is all downhill from there.

The above photo is from the park's webcam (may I say I'm jealous of what looks like a beautiful California day?), and actually shows that the park kept up the pace after installing the top of the lift, with the 180 degree turn after it, and some lift track before it, now installed.  That means there are only a few lift pieces left to go in before RailBlazer is full circuit.

© California's Great America
For those of us who were not able to watch the highest piece of track be installed via the park's webcam, California's Great America has shared a video of the process on Facebook.  So now you didn't have to miss a thing!

© California's Great America
This photo is also worth sharing, it was put out by the theme park to advertise that the topping off could be watched on Facebook.  It is the first really good, clear look at the ride's first drop since it has been installed.  That looks amazing!  The colors of the ride really pop in this photo too.  Visitors are going to have a real treat next year with RailBlazer opens!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New Projection Mapping Show Headed to Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

© Universal Orlando
Coming off the success of the first nighttime show to be held within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Florida, the Universal Orlando resort has now announced a second show to premier at the end of this month.

The first show celebrated Christmas within the Wizarding World, but the new show, titled The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, seems to be meant for more year-round entertaining.  Per the resort's blog, the new show will "celebrate the four houses of Hogwarts by transforming the castle in a dazzling display of lights, special effects and music."

© Universal Orlando
Each of the four houses (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff) will be represented during the performance, as the spirit of each house "wraps itself around the castle... showcasing its pride in its own unique way."

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle will officially premier on January 31st, but a special preview of the show will take place during A Celebration of Harry Potter, the special fan event that takes place on January 26th through the 28th.  The show will continue to run on select dates in February with more performances to be detailed at a later date.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Knott's Berry Farm to Party this Winter with All-New Peanuts Celebration

Knott's Berry Farm will soon present a brand new event that is set to honor the Peanuts characters and their creator, Charles M. Schulz, by having the entire gang take over the theme park.  Called Knott's Peanuts Celebration, the event will start on January 27th and run on weekends through February 25th.

Filled with special events, the party will feature new ways for visitors to interact with the Peanuts gang, including "Peanuts inspired d├ęcor, new social media worthy comic strip photo ops, new character experiences, live shows, exclusive merchandise and deliciously themed treats to complete this whimsical celebration."

One feature of the event will be an all-new show at the Camp Snoopy Theater called Lucy and Charlie's Balancing Act, where the characters will have their talents put to the test.  The Calico Mine Stage will also have two big new shows, during the day Sally and Schroder will host The Music Goes Round and Round, a fun retrospect of music, and at night Woodstock's Musical Festival will come to life.  It will have the whole gang joined by family-friendly performers The Jelly of the Month Club, performing a rock concert that will have everyone up and dancing.

© Knott's Berry Farm
Elsewhere in the park, live entertainment will include the Peanuts Cowboy Jamboree at Calico Park, where Franklin and Linus, dressed as cowboys, challenge visitors with some of the "rootinest, tootinest games in Calico."  Pig Pen, a fan favorite, will also make his debut at Knott's Berry Farm when he hosts a special meetup at the Livery Stables with his animal friends.

There's almost too many special events to detail here, but other attractions include photo opportunities for guests to enter life-sized comic strips, an overlay to the Grand Sierra Railroad in Camp Snoopy that takes visitors on a trip to the Beagle Bonanza and drawing lessons for Peanuts characters at the Peanuts Sketch School in the Birdcage Theatre.

Special decorations will also be all over the park, including the large comic strip props and other notable additions like the giant kite eating trees.  For more information on Knott's Peanuts Celebration, check out the park's official website.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Alton Towers Announces Wicker Man - New for 2018 Wooden Coaster

© Alton Towers
While it is no surprise that Alton Towers is building a new wooden roller coaster, the theme park has finally released details on the ride and its official name - Wicker Man.

Built by Great Coasters International, Wicker Man will feature 2,028 feet of traditional wooden track and be the UK's first new wooden roller coaster is 21 years.  Featuring an elaborate theme, the park is marketing the coaster as the first to combine "wood and fire" throughout the experience.

© Alton Towers
As the trains roar around the course they will pass through a giant 57 and a half foot tall Wicker Man statue three separate times.  This statue is the main feature of the ride's theming, and can be seen prominently in this concept art.  The park's materials for the ride state that the statue will "appear to burst into flames" as the trains pass through it.  No other statistics for the coaster were released at this point.

The theming of the ride centers around "The Beornen, a shadowy group living in the woods surrounding the theme park."  This video, featuring the park's Creative Lead on the project, explains more:

  While these images are a couple months old, this update from Towers Times shows Wicker Man in a nearly complete construction status.  The coaster has a twisted layout that is built into the side of a hill, and has a unique covered section after the lift and before the ride's largest drop.