Monday, October 21, 2019

Sesame Place San Diego Announced For Spring 2021 Opening



SeaWorld Entertainment has finally named the second location for a Sesame Place theme park, and much to the surprise of many it will be located in San Diego, California.

The 17 acre Sesame Place San Diego will be a theme and water park opening in 2021, and will be a new park built off the bones of the current Aquatica San Diego, also one of SeaWorld Entertainment's parks.  The location is in Chula Vista, California, and currently serves as a secondary park to SeaWorld San Diego.

© Sesame Place San Diego
Work on the new park will commence this off season, and Aquatica San Diego is scheduled to operate for one final season in 2020.  More work will continue after it closes in the fall of 2020, and then Sesame Place San Diego will open in 2021.

When complete visitors will find a property that offers both mechanical and water rides, starting from the entrance area that is seen in the above concept art.  The design is somewhat similar to the Sesame Place park that has operated outside Philadelphia, but will use many of the existing parks facilities.

© Sesame Place San Diego
Visitors will also find a full replica of Sesame Street once inside the park, and it's said to have interactive features like those added at SeaWorld Orlando and Sesame Place Philadelphia this past season.  There will also be live shows featuring the Sesame Street gang, and a daily parade which has proven a huge hit at the existing Sesame Place park for decades.

Sesame Place San Diego will also open its doors as a Certified Autism Center, providing "staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training that will be completed prior to the park’s debut, and robust pre-visit planning resources, including a park-specific sensory guide will be featured on its website, making it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations.  Designated quiet spaces with adjustable lighting and comfortable seating will be incorporated into the park’s design."

© Sesame Place San Diego
While Aquatica San Diego was purely a water park experience, there will be seven mechanical rides added to the park when it reopens as Sesame Place San Diego.  Located throughout the park, it appears from the concept art that there will be a family swing ride, swirling submarine ride, balloon tower, carousel, an Elmo themed spinner, kid-powered climb tower and a family roller coaster, which looks like it will be themed to Super Grover.

© Sesame Place San Diego
If you click this image you can see more details of this great aerial concept art of Sesame Place San Diego.  The park's press materials state that it will have 11 water slides and attraction, and judging off of the current Aquatica map it looks like only one slide tower will be removed.  That is the tower with the tall high speed body slides, which indeed do not fit in a Sesame Place, and the concept art shows a new amphitheater in its place.  You can get an idea how the rides will be spread out around the property, and the Sesame Street neighborhood will go up in the corner of the park bordering the entrance area with the parking lot to its back.

The Sesame Place San Diego website is already live, offering more details on what will be offered when it opens in spring 2021.  Check it out at this link.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

Universal Studios Beijing Names Seven Themed Lands In New Property Update


© Universal Beijing
Universal Studios Beijing, set to open sometime in 2021, has provided a new update that reveals the seven themed lands that will make up the park.  Some of the themes have been successfully used at other Universal theme parks, and some of them will be new.

Up top is new concept art for Universal Studios Beijing that shows the entire park and all its lands.  It also gives an idea of how much space has been left open for future development - a significant amount.

© Universal Beijing
A new themed land will be entirely indoors, themed around the Kung Fu Panda films and aptly named Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness.  Set in "legendary China," the area will feature numerous Chinese-themed locations from the films such as the Jade Palace, Panda Village and the Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom.  While no specific rides were revealed for the area, it looks like it is going to be a uniquely themed area filled with family attractions.

© Universal Beijing
Minion Land will be sort of a new themed area for a Universal park, as Universal Studios Japan has an existing one that has grown into its own land over time.  However this one has been designed from the start, featuring all the characters of the Despicable Me franchise... and plenty of minions.  The concept art looks a bit like Super Silly Fun Land, which is expected to be filled with attractions aimed at the whole family.

© Universal Beijing
Jurassic Park certainly isn't a new theme for a Universal Park, however using the Jurassic World movies as a base for a new land is unique.  Isla Nublar is the setting for visitors to take in the majesty of dinosaurs, and the land is set to feature "attractions and adventures never seen before."  The aerial concept art once again confirms the suspended coaster that appears to head through a giant aviary, and a massive show building that is suspected to contain some sort of new Jurassic dark ride.  A lot of promise in this land, for sure.

© Universal Beijing
The Transformers films are also receiving their own dedicated themed land at Universal Studios Beijing in Transformers: Metrobase.  This area has a close but not exact clone of the Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure, and should also open with a copy of the existing Transformer rides.  You can also make out the structure for a tea cup themed ride that will be in the area.

Universal Studios Beijing is also set to open with a Wizarding World of Harry Potter area, which looks similar to the Hogsmeade land already at several of the parks.  The entrance area will be known as Hollywood Boulevard and feature classic Hollywood architecture, and include a cover over the park's main street area.  The last of the seven lands is WaterWorld, the first time the famous stunt show has received its own land.  The park states the land will have "dining and other entertainment offerings" in addition to the main show.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Fright Fest Screams Back to Six Flags Great Adventure for 2019 Scare-Fest


© Six Flags Great Adventure
Billed as the Northeast's Largest Halloween Party, Six Flags Great Adventure is currently holding their annual Fright Fest event, filled with all the screams and terror that fans have come to expect.

The event will run on selected nights through November 3rd, featuring more than 20 Halloween-themed attractions, with brand new frights and shows just for the 2019 season.  During the day the park is very much so family friendly, offering a wide variety of activities and shows for kids and their families, however once the sun starts to drop the frights begin.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The park has changed their lineup a bit for Fright Fest for 2019, including a new version of the popular Aftermath maze.  Themed after a "raw, post-apocalyptic world crawling with barbaric mutant scavengers," this maze has moved to a new location within Metropolis and has been renovated as well featuring new scares.

The park is bustling with other haunted attractions as well.  In addition to Aftermath, the park is also offering haunted mazes such as Fears, Cell Block 6, The Manor, Wicked Woods, Big Top Terror: Forgotten Carnival in 3D, Blood Shed and Reflections of the Dead.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
These mazes come in addition to the park's existing five scare zones, filled with monsters, fog and plenty of other surprises.  These areas include The Bloody Fountain, Lady of the Lake Cemetery, Bone Butcher Terror-tory, Carnevil and the Demon District.  Each zone has its own unique theme and feel... but collectively they all feature a ton of scares!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure is well known for its premier show, Dead Man's Party, which is holding its 20th Anniversary Bash this year.  The stellar show is one of the best in the industry, and guests line up a long time before each performance to get a good seat.  The "rock concert-meets-Broadway-style live show features new mashups of old classics, eye-popping special effects including lasers and pyrotechnics and a dynamic cast."

Fright Fest has plenty of other great live entertainment as well, including "Unleashed," located at the Showcase Theater, which includes "acrobatics, illusion and dance" and The Arrival ghoul parade/The Awakening, in which the monsters arrive at the park and are officially brought to life by Dr. Fright.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
On top of all the haunted attractions, the thrilling rides and attractions that the park offers are also open during Fright Fest.  This includes rides like the 415 foot Zumanjaro free fall, crazy night rides on Nitro and even some aerial views of the park on the SkyScreamer of Doom.

For more information on Six Flags Great Adventure's 2019 Fright Fest, check out the park's website.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Universal Studios Florida Opening The Bourne Stuntacular in 2020


© Universal Orlando
Another long-rumored project at Universal Studios Florida has been finally made official - The Bourne Stuntacular will open to guests in Spring of 2020.  The attraction is the replacement for T2-3D: Battle Across Time, the Terminator themed show that operated at the park from 1996 until 2017.

The Bourne Stuntacular will be based around the popular series of Bourne films, produced by Universal, of which there have so far been 5 feature films released stretching from 2002 to 2016.  Universal Orlando describes the production as an "all new live-action stunt show" that is both cutting edge and sure to keep visitors to the theme park on the edge of their seats.

The use of technology in The Bourne Stuntacular will "blur the lines between stage and cinema in a hybrid form of entertainment that has never been seen before."  Using liver performers, interactive props and an "immense LED screen," the park promises that it will be nearly impossible to tell where the live action in front of you ends and where the screen behind begins.

In a sense that sounds like a much more modern version of the Terminator production, which was loved by millions for both its production value and kitschy qualities.  In the new show Jason Bourne will be traveling around the globe chasing and being chased by bad guys, with "thrilling chase scenes, punishing fistfights, death-defying leaps and danger at every turn."

Since the park has been working on the attraction for quite some time now, they've already started to put up signage on the former T2-3D theater, which has also received a new look and fresh paint.  As always, Universal promises more details on The Bourne Stuntacular in the coming months as its opening date approaches.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Valleyfair Announces the Retirement of Looping Starship Flat Ride


© Valleyfair
Valleyfair will retire their classic flat ride, the Looping Starship, at the end of the 2019 season according to news published on their social media feeds.  The park posted that there are only two weekends left to get in rides on the attraction, which coincides with the end of the property's season.

According to good old Wikipedia, the Looping Starship is one of Intamin's rides of the same name, which have appeared at parks across the globe.  However, the list of retired installations is already much longer than the list of operating ones, so in a sense the ride really is a classic at Valleyfair.  The ride was popular at many Six Flags parks in decades past, though they've mostly all gone away as well.

Riders on the Looping Starship are seated in a giant ship that completes full 360 degree rotations, a beefed up, more thrilling version of the popular pirate ship rides. 

© Google Maps
Valleyfair has worked to expand their water park significantly over the past ten years or so, and if you study this aerial of the park you'll note that the Looping Starship is right on the border of that area.  Naturally this leads many to believe that the park is planning to work on another round of water park expansion in the future.  The park announced the addition of Grand Carnivale for 2020, and if a new water ride was coming for that year I'd think it have already been revealed.  You never know, but most likely this removal could make room for something in 2021.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Take On The Fright of Your Life at Dorney Park's 2019 Halloween Haunt


© NewsPlusNotes
The undead have once again risen at Dorney Park, which is currently holding their annual scream-fest named Halloween Haunt.  The event is now in its 12th season at the park, and has added some new attractions again this year to keep things fresh.  Visitors flock to the event with the promise that they may get the fright of their life, and the park has made sure to deliver on that!

In total there are eleven haunted attractions, two live shows, special food and beverage offerings, roaming monsters, decorations throughout the park and fog... plenty of fog!

© NewsPlusNotes
© NewsPlusNotes
The evening officially kicks off again this year with the Overlord's Resurrection, where the man behind the evening's terrors demands a sacrifice from his skull-faced minions.  This year the performance includes a lot more dancing, and later in the evening the show is named Terror Rising.  The latter shows are a bit different than the one that kicks off the night, longer and with more focus on the performers.  The stage is located in front of Hydra, not far from The Pour Haus, a new food and beverage stand this year that offers various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  Gotta beat that fear somehow!

© NewsPlusNotes
New this year on the main Midway is Steamworx, and sort of scare zone that focuses less on jump scares and more on a creepy environment.  The park made some major infrastructure changes to the midway earlier in the year to support Grand Carnivale, and is using that to their advantage through the new lighting and sound systems.

© NewsPlusNotes
© NewsPlusNotes
There are a lot of different characters to be found within Steamworx, but like I said their goal is not to jump out at anyone to give them a scream.  The combination of the actors, lighting, music and dense fog work wonderfully with a lot of really giant set pieces that Dorney Park built for the zone.  The main midway has always been a complicated area for Haunt, due to its size and it being a main thoroughfare - I think Screamworx is a nice compromise between what the park and its guests need and want.

© NewsPlusNotes
Replacing Age of Darkness this year is The Lair, a vampire themed scare zone that's honestly more like a maze than most scare zones.  It's located right where Age of Darkness' torture chamber was, but the sets have been totally redone and now feature a full gothic castle feel.

© NewsPlusNotes
© NewsPlusNotes
I was quite surprised at how great the inside of the area looks, above are some views of a giant courtyard the park built in the middle of the path - complete with several vampires (one on a throne), a water fountain and other decorations.  Nice and creepy in there!

© NewsPlusNotes
The lighting and mood of The Lair is wonderful, and since it's technically a scare zone there is no long wait to get into it.  I definitely suggest going through it more than once to really take it all the scenery that's packed into it!

The park has also added a new bar area near the exit to The Lair, aptly named Stake & Ale.  The location features a selection of specialty drinks and other adult beverages... in case you still need a little more help to take on the haunted houses!

© NewsPlusNotes
Dorney Park's Halloween Haunt features numerous returning haunted houses and scare zones as well.  Above is Tourist Trap, the park's most recently added full indoor haunted house, which still remains quite popular.

© NewsPlusNotes
I'd also like to point out that Necropolis, another scare zone that's really much more like a giant outdoor haunted house, was really strong this year.  The park reorganized some of the path, opening up areas to wander around, but then keeping guests in a tight path (for good scares) at other points.  Near the end of the zone is the above tunnel, completely lined with skeletons and bright lights that make it hard to see what's coming next... and who is hiding at your feet.

© NewsPlusNotes
Another returning favorite is Blood on the Bayou, still the favorite haunted house of many visitors.  It joins Chamber of Horrors, Trick Or Treat: Lights Out, Urgent Scare, and Blackout as returning mazes.  Other scare zones that are back this year include CornStalkers: Barn Bred and Blood Fed and CarnEvil.

© NewsPlusNotes
The ever popular Blood Drums show is back on Center Stage, with pulsing beats that can be heard throughout the lower part of the park.  Still drawing a large crowd for each performance, the show again includes an awesome fire act that's not to be missed.

© NewsPlusNotes
One of the coolest additions this year can be found on the midway near the Musik Express, and that's this demon baby in a stroller.  The baby carriage zooms through the area on its own, acting as one of the most efficient scare actors I've ever seen.  Guests are both freaked out and mesmerized by the baby, who has glowing red eyes and occasionally spits up water at those nearby.  Make sure you stop by the area to see it in action, it's rather hilarious and creepy all at the same time!

© NewsPlusNotes
While we've focused on attractions that open once the sun goes down, the park did bring back the Pumpkin Spectacular on the lower midway, near where Monster Jam Thunder Alley is operating.  The park has added even more pumpkins to the massive display this year, and it's best to take a walk through the area before the sun goes down.

© NewsPlusNotes
And if you're hungry during the event, we suggest checking out this year's Fright Feast.  Located at the recently added Parkside Pavilion, the meal offers dishes such as garlic parmesan chicken breast, hamburgers, pumpkin ravioli and dirt cups for dessert.  Delicious!

Halloween Haunt runs each Friday and Saturday through the end of the season, and this year that includes the weekend of November 1st and 2nd.  There's also a bonus haunt night tomorrow, October 13th.