Monday, April 19, 2021

Take a Spin Through the Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash at Universal Studios Hollywood

© Universal Studios Hollywood

There can never be too many dark rides if you ask me, so it's wonderful that Universal Studios Hollywood has opened a new one - The Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash.  Guests have waited an extra year to be able to take a spin through the animated world of our favorite pets, and the park has not disappointed on the execution of the attraction.

The ride features passengers that take on the role of pets that are going to be adopted but in order for that to happen they have to make their way through the zany streets of New York to arrive at the adoption event.  The ride is absolutely stuffed with cute animatronics and heavy on 3-D sets, but utilizes plenty of creative and modern technology mixed in as well.  Granted I'm going off of a video here, but it look like a fantastic addition to the park!

Here is a trip through some the ride's queue and the actual experience as well from Attractions 360, if you do not mind a spoiler then press play!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Operator Dispute Finally Over for Rye Playland (We Hope) + New Investments Planned

The battle over who will be operating Rye Playland has been going on for years, making a bit of a dark cloud hang over the park and creating uncertainty for the classic amusement park.  But it seems that court battle is finally over and perhaps the sun will come out for the park, especially needed as it did not operate in 2020 due to the pandemic.

This news article details that a new contract has been put into place with Standard Amusements that makes improvements over prior contacts with the company in key areas.  Also of note, I really hope that at this point the county regrets not giving the contract to Zamperla years ago.  Anywho, Standard Amusements will take over the park at the end of this year, and run the park in 2022 for the first time since being awarded as operator in 2015.  How crazy is that!

© Playland
Per the contract Standard Amusements will spend $35 million on improving the park, with a maximum amount of $5 million going to overhead.  That means that around $30 million will be spent on upgrades, changes and new attractions.  No details on those changes were put in the contract.

Fans of the park can rest easy knowing that the contract forces the operator to maintain historical rides including the Derby Racer, Dragon Coaster, Grand Carousel, The Whip, Ye Old Mill the Kiddie Coaster and the Kiddy Carousel.  Other rides can be replaced via a review process with the county.

No opening date for Playland's 2021 season has been listed yet that I can locate.  The park had a strong 2019 season when they added a new spinning ride, so hopefully they can keep that momentum going this summer.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Six Flags Great Adventure Launches Coaster Power Hours Event

© Six Flags Great Adventure

Roller coaster fans have a new way to get in some extra ride time as Six Flags Great Adventure has announced Coaster Power Hours, special event times when guests can get exclusive ride time on the park's towering coasters.


The event will take place on Thursday and Friday evenings starting Friday April 16th, with Thursday evenings starting on May 6th.  Friday evening hours will be from 6 pm to 11 pm, and Thursdays the event will run from 4 pm until 9 pm.

© Six Flags Great Adventure

Riders will get exclusive ride time on up to 12 of the park's famous roller coasters.  The limited-attendance event will feature special ticket pricing with deep discounts available for season pass holders and members.  The event will also feature music, specialty food, free parking and additional surprises.  The park also says that one coaster will feature a special, "limited-time experience" during the event as Skull Mountain becomes Skull Mountain "Remix" with "pumping music and moving lights," only on during the event.

While the schedule of rides is always subject to change, the park plans to offer Kingda Ka, Nitro, El Toro, Skull Mountain "Remix," Bizarro, Batman: The Ride, The Joker, Superman Ultimate Flight, The Dark Knight, Green Lantern, Runaway Mine Train and the Harley Quinn Crazy Train during Coaster Power Hours.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Knott's Berry Farm Plans Reopening for May 6th To Start Celebrating 100th Anniversary

© Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's Berry Farm has announced that it will reopen will rides and attractions to season pass holders on May 6th, and then open to the general public a couple weeks later on May 21st.  Reservations will be required to visit the park as it remains in compliance with California's reopening plan by having a limited daily attendance amount.  The park will spend the summer celebrating their 100th Anniversary, an event that was pushed from last season due to the pandemic.

© Knott's Berry Farm
The park's reopening will mark the first time that visitors will be able to take a ride on Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, the park's new 4-D interactive dark ride.  The attraction is based on the characters that once called the same ride space home, but utilizes modern technology to allow riders to interact with the ride as they travel through it.

© Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's will also hold additional special events during their 100th Anniversary party, including Knott's Summer Nights, which features live music, DJs and limited time food and beverage offerings.  As a special treat the park will  hold "a nightly ceremony featuring multiple attractions lighting up the evening and culminating in a special moment with the redesigned illuminated K-tower."  That sounds like a great way to spend a summer night at the park!

© Knott's Berry Farm
The anniversary celebration will be felt throughout the entire park, will special decor all over and a line of anniversary merchandise that fans will love.  There will also be photo spots set up that celebrate some of the theme park's classic attractions, such as the drawing of the one above honoring the Wacky Soap Box Racers.

Knott's is making the two week period of allowing only season pass holders to attend the park even more enticing by offering great deals on new pass sales.  Running through June 20th, regular passes start at only $101 and Gold passes for $135.  All 2020 season passes and 2021 season passes purchased through May 5th will be valid all the way until May 5th, 2022.


© Knott's Berry Farm

Monday, April 12, 2021

Grona Lund's New Monster B&M Inverted Coaster Opens April 24th

© Grona Lund

It seems like years ago that we first heard about Grona Lund's plan to somehow squeeze a B&M inverted coaster into their already packed park... and that's because it was.  Way back in 2017 news of the ride first came out, and at that point it was slated to open in 2020 but the pandemic had other things in mind.  Fast forward to now, and the seaside park in Sweden is finally ready to open the Monster on April 24th.

The ride starts with a below ground station, needed to help fit the ride into the crowded park, and then a lift hill of 111 feet into the air.  There is a swooping drop after that, and then right into a heartline roll, one of the ride's 4 inversions.  The trains swoop above and around the park's buildings, compleing two flatspins and a mini-Immelmann inversion as well.  The ride has a top speed of around 55 miles per hour and a track length of just under 2,300 feet.

Monster had been testing quite a bit ahead of its grand opening in a couple weeks, here is a video of the trains making their way through the layout - looks like a fun ride indeed:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Universal Studios Hollywood Reopens Jurassic World - The Ride With Awesome Updates

© Theme Park Shark

Visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood's Taste of Universal special food event, still being held before the park's full reopening this week, got a special treat this past week as some rides and attractions were in operation.  This included Jurassic World - The Ride, which receive some awesome updates since the last time it was open at the park.

The attraction first reopened in the summer of 2019 as a full update of Jurassic Park - The Ride, which operated at the park since 1996.  There were many changes made to the visuals of the ride, including an all new ending that features the scary Indominus Rex having a battle with the Tyrannosaurus Rex right before the big finale drop.  However, many were let down that when the ride reopened the Indominus Rex was just the character's head, and it didn't really have quite the oomph many were hoping for.

Well, that's fixed now, no doubt!  The Indominus Rex character at the end is now a full animatonic that moves forward to well over the ride's track, snarling and getting ready to take a bite out of riders - until the Tyrannosaurus Rex shows up of course.  The old Indominus head character has also been moved to earlier in the ride, making it have a 3rd menacing appearance.  There were other changes, too, including a smashed Gyrosphere and the return of the popular Compies, which are fighting over a hat this iteration.

Check out all the changes in this video from Theme Park Shark:

And, if you're like me, you might want to see the 2019 version of the ride to make comparisons, so I'll make it easy.  Here's a point of view of the attraction from SoCal Attractions 360: