Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Dorney Park Opens For 139th Season - Let's See What's New


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Dorney Park opened this past weekend for the official start of its 139th season, the weekend before marked a preview for only season pass holders.  The park is operating pretty much as they did pre-covid which is a nice thing to see - granted some smaller changes (like smoking) that took place during the pandemic stuck, but things are generally back as they were.  I want to write something about being happy I won't be alive in 100 years for the next pandemic, but I'm not ready to risk jinxing things quite yet.


I digress.  The park is open!!  Granted I didn't have the best photo-taking weather but I can't complain.  Let's start at the start and take a look at all that's new or changed for 2022... a tradition we've been doing here on NewsPlusNotes for many years.


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When you approach the parking booths you may notice that the booths are brand new.  Finally!  That capital request must have been lost behind a desk for the last twenty or so years.  I kid.  They look nice and are much more comfortable appearing for cashiers.  Granted we didn't get a really nice structure built over them as we've seen at other Cedar Fair parks in recent years, but it's still a welcome change.


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Always fun to see what the park wanted to advertise on their giant posters... this year we've got season passes, plenty of jobs, and Grand Carnivale. That checks out.  However regarding staffing I will say that on my visit the park appeared very well staffed, and I hope they're able to maintain that during the summer.


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All Cedar Fair parks are cashless now, and that's not really news.  You can find several cash conversion machines throughout the park, with the above one located outside the entrance near the ticket booths.  The process seems about as seamless as you'd expect considering you can do most anything at a kiosk these days.  I have heard a few people mention they feel the cards are only valid at Dorney, obviously untrue, so hopefully the messaging on that will get stronger in time.


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I am not sure why anyone would show up anywhere without having purchased tickets online beforehand, or at least researched purchasing tickets online beforehand... but if you do that at Dorney Park the gate price this year is $70.00.  As always, all the more reason to get a season pass, which is only $109.

 

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I also noticed that the main entrance turnstiles are no longer turnstiles!  Yes, as most parks have in recent years the area has been opened up with lanes for guests to easily pass through.   This makes stroller entry much easier and just makes sense considering most guests just have their phones scanned by the host as they pass by.  Also, and not a surprise, park maps are still a thing of the past as far as I can tell, with them not returning this year.

 

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The park has cleared the mini-stage that was in the middle of the Main Midway just past the Carousel, originally the location of a water fountain, then a planter, then a box stage.  This should help open up the area during Grand Carnivale which is smart.  This part of the park is quite busy during Grand Carnivale season.


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Like the other parks in the Cedar Fair family, Coasters Drive-In has had some renovations take place that make the restaurant much more efficient this year.  Plus, the food offerings are somewhat different and definitely improved.


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The inside of the restaurant features cafeteria style serving, akin to what you find at Tidal Wave Cafe in Wildwater Kingdom.  After the serving area there are 4 different registers that can be staffed, and beyond that a self serve drink station.  This is a giant improvement on operations, it wasn't crowded on my visit but I'm anxious to see how it holds up during the busy summer evenings.  


Food choices were also changed, but still include hamburgers.  Now there are other dishes such as meatloaf, hand breaded chicken tenders and pot roast as well.

 

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There is a chance that some items I note in this article were new last year, and I just missed them, but I'll mention them regardless.  I believe that Talon's on ride photos got a snazzy new sign. 


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The arcade on the main midway has been changed considerably inside.  This comes as Cedar Fair has partnered with an outside company to run the arcades at many of their parks, Dorney included.  There is new paint on the walls, all new games to explore, and a new prize area as well.  It looks great this year, and still serves as an excellent place to get a bit of air conditioning on a hot day.  Also of note, I think the same company is handling the vending style games that are located down by the gift shop across from Possessed.


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Also on the Main Midway is a brand new game, the Soccer Challenge, located next to the Wild Mouse's exit ramp.  Pretty straight forward game, kick the ball through the goal and win!


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White Water Landing has received love in the past few off-seasons, as the ride ages the park is spending considerable cash to keep it in tip top shape.  This year the ride's supports have been repainted a much darker shade than they've ever been before.


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The lighting on the day I visited was poor due to the cloudy sky, so here is a photo from last year that gives a decent comparison to the above photos - you can definitely see the supports rocking their new look.


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The Seasons of Fun marketing message is popular with many Cedar Fair parks, and I don't recall seeing it at Dorney before.  As the year just is getting started, we still have the hot summer season, the fun of Grand Carnivale, and spooky Halloween activity (spooky, thank goodness) to look forward to.


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A look at the live entertainment being offered in 2022 at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom.  The park should be proud, as the Uprights dueling piano show has really taken off and is now featured at several parks in the chain!  I could be wrong, but I think it originated at Dorney.


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The change in pavement here made me think something was new, and yes, this planter is new.  Why does that matter?  It doesn't, I just noticed it was different, then doubted myself, but then thankfully...


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Google Street View to the rescue!  The park has a lot of large mature trees, and unfortunately sometimes they get diseased and have to come down.  Such is life.


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Dorney has been making strides in upping the comfort level of the park, with additional seating in recent years.  They definitely took another step forward this year by adding these nice little covered seating areas for guests to relax in.  I spotted at least 4 of them, and did take a minute to relax at one.  Great improvement!


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I'm not sure if the more permanent sign about Thunderhawk being an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark is new or not, but it was new to me.  The ride will have its 100th season next year, and it's 100th anniversary the following year.  #bringbackthetunnel


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Stinger field is looking.... grassy.  And undisturbed in any way.  However I did notice that the park cleared the treeline that was bordering the entrance road, back behind that green fence you can see.  They planted some small bushes in place of the removed trees, some of which were pretty big.  


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And luckily because I take far too many photos of an empty field each year I have one from last year for comparison.  I put a rectangle around some of the trees you could see along the road that are no longer there.

Does this mean anything?  Maybe.  Probably not.  I'm not ready to get too excited yet... let's wait a bit longer.


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Monster got a brand new entrance marquee, looking good with the tentacle font!  I'd like to use the tentacle font to type these stories, if available please.


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The Whip had some work done to the roof, very noticeable as the facade that was applied to the top of the roof line was removed.  I'm thinking the roof needed some work, or the facade was just at the end of its life, but either way the building has a cleaner, simpler look now.  The inside got some new popcorn lights, I believe.  I adore that the park takes such good care of such a classic ride.


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There is a nice covered seating area (again, might have been last year) that is situated next to the ice cream and funnel cake outlet in the lower part of the park.  Plus, the park relocated the ice cream sign that was located at the soft serve stand which was removed a couple years ago.  That sign is very much a part of older-Dorney, nice to see it back.


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Last but not least, in fact probably most importantly, the park now offers six custom designed Made to Thrill posters.  Alfundo gets his own, Steel Force, Talon, Thunderhawk and Hydra each have one, and Hercules has one too!  Just so awesome.  I cannot reveal how many of them are already in my home!  They're exclusively available at the park, so make sure to grab one, or six, while visiting.


That's it for now, stay tuned for future updates this season!


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Pirates of Speelunker Cave Opens at Six Flags Over Texas


© Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas celebrated this weekend by opening their all new dark ride attraction, Pirates of Speelunker Cave to excited guests.  The attraction is a heavy renovation of the ride that was known as Yosemite Sam and the Gold River Adventure, and is a tribute and retelling of the original attraction in that spot - The Cave.


© Six Flags Over Texas
The Cave featured "speelunkers" characters which were a part of the original storyline, and they have made their triumphant return in the modern attraction - but with pirates, too!  The ride utilizes many  special effects in addition to traditional sets to tell the ride's storyline plus it features an original soundtrack.  Riders board a six passenger boat as they set sail into the Speelunker Cave, and pass through an impressive total of 17 scenes before the journey is over.  As a nod to the ride's original opening in 1964 the park has filled the path with 64 Speelunker characters... a fun quest would be to try to find them all!


If you're interested in taking a virtual spin into the Pirates of Speelunker Cave, Six Flags Over Texas has you covered.  Just click this link and check out a brand new point of view video of the ride!


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Darien Lake's Predator Receives New GCI Steel Titan Track


© Darien Lake
Darien Lake, err Six Flags Darien Lake, has spilled the beans that their wooden roller coaster, Predator, has received an undisclosed amount of Great Coasters International's new steel Titan Track.  Technically the park didn't say much more than some eye balls and the above photo, but we get the idea and this is definitely Great Coasters' new steel track in place.  The new steel track is aimed at smoothing out the ride experience on some older wooden coasters that have become a bit rough as they age.


Titan Track is advertised as being able to to support much more extreme elements, including inversions, on wooden coasters.  These include rides that Great Coasters created over the years but also ones they did not - like the Predator at Darien Lake.  That ride was built by Dinn Corp. and opened in 1990.  The Titan Track also contains no welds, so it requires less maintenance and also is fast and easy to install, so says Great Coasters.


© Great Coasters International
Great Coasters, who have partnered with Skyline Attractions on the Titan Track, first installed a section of the track on White Lightning at FunSpot in Orlando, as a kind of proof of concept, back in 2019.  There was a lot of interest in the product but then as we well know the amusement industry kinda stopped for 2 years due to the pandemic, and now things are moving again.  There's another unannounced wooden coaster expected to get Titan Track this year, and these first steps could lead to parks having a choice - do they want to "RMC" their wooden coasters, or "Titan Track" them?


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Hersheypark to Open New Attractions Memorial Day Weekend


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Hersheypark has announced that the theme park's two new attractions - the Jolly Rancher Remix coaster and Mix'd Flavored by Jolly Rancher - will both open on Saturday May 28th, during Memorial Day weekend.  Both themed after Jolly Rancher candies, one attraction is a total makeover of one of the park's existing roller coasters, and the other is a brand new family thrill ride.


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Mix'd Flavored by Jolly Rancher is a new flat ride the features spinning arms that look like they might collide, however that's all in the fun of the mixing attraction (seen in the first photo up top).  Riders will sit back to back as the arms spin and the attraction is sure to be memorizing for those watching it from the ground.  There are not many of this style of ride in the U.S. at the moment, so it will be great to have another one open up.


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The other photos in this article are of the Jolly Rancher Remix coaster, which is a renovation of the park's existing Boomerang roller coaster.  The new attraction features a bright paint job reflecting the flavors of the Jolly Rancher candies, but has some extra treats as well.  A new tunnel has been added (see middle photo) which features both special lighting and scents that randomly change each time the train is dispatched.  So while inverting 6 times both forward and backward, guests will also smell scents like Watermelon and Green Apple.


Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Latest on ArieForce One From Fun Spot America Atlanta


© Fun Spot America Atlanta
Fun Spot America Atlanta has topped off their new Rocky Mountain Construction roller coaster, ArieForce One.  Standing 154 feet tall, the new coaster has also had track placed all the way up the lift hill, first drop and the entrance to the ride's second element.  That's as far as vertical construction has gone thus far, though new footings, supports and track are going in quickly now that major construction is underway.


In the top photo the ride's second element will be just to the left of the view - that will be a giant Raven Truss Drive, which inverts trains as they plummet toward the ground.


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This second photo that the park has shared gives us a look at the location of the rest of ArieForce One's layout.  There looks to be a significant amount of work still to be done on the second half of the ride.  The coaster will turn to the left and go past the mini-golf course seen here, then up over the building on the far left and turn around in the cleared area on the upper left of the shot.  I don't see footings yet in these areas, which obviously have to happen before vertical construction moves that way.  We will stay tuned to see the rest of the ride come to life!


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Cedar Point Announces New After Hours Event: Wild Frontier Nights


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Cedar Point has announced plans to hold an all new after hours, adults only event several times this season, a first for the park.  Named Wild Frontier Nights, the party will feature plenty of exclusive ride time, food and beverage, special entertainment and more.  The event will feature a limited attendance base so that there will be plenty of opportunities for rides and other fun.  Plus, as an additional layer of exclusivity, the event is only open to those age 21 and over.


Wild Frontier Nights will be located in the park's Frontier Town and will be hosted by Lusty Lil, who is throwing quite a party for visitors.  Starting at 9 pm the action will begin with a kickoff by Lil herself, and the fun extends all the way till midnight.  Visitors of this separate admission ticket required event will be able to take in plenty of "wild frontier eats, beats and feats" with special food and alcoholic beverages offered, tons of live entertainment and activities in addition to rides.


Some of the park's best rides will be open for Wild Frontier Nights, including Steel Vengeance, Maverick, SkyHawk, Cedar Creek Mine Ride and the Wave Swinger.  Additional activities include axe throwing and mechanical bull riding, and there are 5 live shows plus a DJ!  Lots of fun packed into the three hours the event will run.


Tickets start at $99.99 for admission, with food and beverage costs additional.  Wild Frontier Nights will take place on June 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th.  Lots more information on the event can be found on the park's website.