Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy NewsPlusNotes New Year!

Before I head out for the evenings' festivities, New Years Eve is a great time to stop and reflect on the year gone by.

So why not reflect on NewsPlusNotes' year? It was our first full year of publishing, having started in late 2006.

And it was a busy year. 527 posts of assorted amusement industry news, historical items, photos, and plenty more.

We recently passed 50,000 visitors to the site, an achievement in itself - and have grown to have quite healthy daily readership numbers.

And speaking of those readers ... thank you! This blog would be an empty shell of itself floating around cyber space if it weren't for each and every one of you.

That said, have a safe and fun New Years, and a happy and healthy 2008!

Aerial Antics: Cedar Point Updated

A wonderful reader of ours just pointed out to me that the aerials on Windows Live Local have also been updated for Cedar Point.

Being an individual who loves to compare things before and after, (see my Steel Force pics among others) I just had to make this:

Pretty cool, eh? Here's the link to Cedar Point on Live Local.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Aerial Antics: Michigan's Adventure Now Available

Michigan's Adventure now has Birds Eye Views available on Windows Live Local, as seen above. I picked that area to show off because A) You can see their newest addition, Grand Rapids, and B) It's where Thunderhawk is going in.

This link should get you there. The views are limited to North and South, and the North one is sorta far away.

Valleyfair! Concept Art

Here's two pieces of concept art for buildings that went up at Valleyfair! - Above we have the Galaxy Theater, and below we have the Hi-Test Arcade.

Yep - it's still a very slow time of year for a blog like this one!

Here are photos of the finished products:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Spongebob Rock Bottom Plunge Track!

ValleyfairZone has some fantastic pictures of the track for Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge at Nickelodeon Universe.

I love the colors! So perfect for a coaster that's themed to a character that lives under water. AND - this is how you use teal correctly on a coaster! (cough cough Cedar Fair)

Check out all the photos at ValleyfairZone.

Six Flags Over Texas Meets Prohibition

© 2007 The Star Telegram

Okay well it's not prohibition, but I'm honestly surprised by the response to Six Flags Over Texas and their water park applying for a liquor license.

Apparently hundreds of people have called the number listed on that sign above to voice their concerns about the park offering beer next summer. (the license would allow all booze, but the park only plans to sell beer)

This all sounds crazy to me. The parks in the Northeast totally have beer, and it's not a big deal. I totally voted on that newspaper's website that I think they should be allowed to sell beer. That's just me though.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Geauga Lake Mega Day After X-MAS Sale!

Intermark Ride Group has a bunch, I mean a lot, of the rides that are still at Geauga Lake listed for sale.

The three wooden coasters are listed, along with Double Loop AND surprisingly the Beaver Land Mine Ride - which I would have thought was headed for Cedar Point. Not so much.

But wait! There's more! Lots of flats can be yours as well, Black Squid, Boardwalk Typhoon, Bounty, Hay Baler, Pirates Flight (above), Starfish, Time Warp, Grizzly River Rapids, kiddie rides, they've got it all!

This is sad. You can poke around and probably fine others I didn't see.

Those Pesky 49ers...

The problems with the 49ers wanting to build a new football stadium in California's Great America's parking lot continues.

And Cedar Fair is playing a tough game (pun intended). From this article in the San Jose Mercury News we have the park operator's demands:

"Cedar Fair, which would close Great America on the four days a year when the 49ers were playing a regular season home game during the park's season, wants "unilateral" control over stadium scheduling, to be reimbursed for lost revenue and to receive a cut of stadium parking revenue."

Honestly at this point, if the stadium is going to be built where they want it, Cedar Fair should get something out of it, so I don't blame them for asking for this stuff.

We'll have to wait to see if they get there wishes, though.

Worlds of Fun Mamba Concept Art

I didn't see this anywhere else online, so I wanted to add it to NewsPlusNotes. Mamba looks like a fun ride, I've always wanted to take a spin but never had the chance.

Sesame Place adding Carousel

According to this little article the large Big Bird head that was at Sesame Place is being removed to make room for a new Carousel.

The big Big Bird head used to be the entrance to a suspension bridge that crossed over the park, which was removed several years ago.

Three cheers for this cute little park getting something new again.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm + Nickelodeon?

Is the above the future of Knott's Berry Farm? I'm not sure, but it looks like it may be, at least to some degree. And before anyone thinks otherwise, I made that logo - it's not real.

According to this thread at the Westcoaster community boards, Knott's season pass mailer features photos of traditional rides and attractions at the park, as well as Spongebob, Dora, and Blue along side of Snoopy, as well as a photo of the Nickelodeon Parade that was at the former Paramount Parks.

Now, even the poster of the news points out that Knott's includes pass options for California's Great America as well, so perhaps that's why the images are shown - but maybe not.

What do I think of this? Good move, slower than I'd have liked, but good move. I can see Cedar Point allowing Kings Island to have the Nickelodeon characters and Snoopy only at the Point - but many of the other parks are ripe for the addition of these characters.

Dorney, Worlds of Fun, Valleyfair!, even Michigan's Adventure - all could benefit from the addition of these properties. Even if they don't make a huge cut on the merchandise they sell on this stuff (Nick gets a rather big cut) - the characters are too popular and too familiar to the kids of the families these parks needs to attract to ignore the opportunity.

My point? Cedar Fair needs to suck it up, pay the licensing fee and add these characters to the legacy parks.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Aerial Antics: Expedition Everest

I know it's super dork of me, but the ride is just so ... impressive - I just sit and stare at images like this and feel happy that there's so much hope again for the Disney Theme Parks.

On another note, Happy Holidays everyone! Go be with friends and family, drink some hot chocolate, and enjoy yourselves!

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Update

© ThemeParkVillage 2007

Theme Park Village has a new update for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Medusa and Boomerang have completed their paint jobs, and are looking pretty nice.

Check out the whole update.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Six Flags Magic Mountain Update

© InfiniteThrill 2007

User InfiniteThrill over at RCPro did a nice photo trip report of all the things going on at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Flashback is finally being torn down. And not neatly either, they're just cutting it off in sections and letting it fall to the ground. Scrap metal indeed.

Also, X, err, X2, is being painted its new colors, and land has been cleared for Thomas Town.

Here's the link to the report and photos.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dorney on Windows Live Local

I just noticed that the images of Dorney Park on Windows Live Local have been updated again.

Still no Bird's Eye Views (boo), but the images are from this past summer (see AquaRacer above) and are nice and crisp and clean if you zoom in all the way.

Here's a link that I hope works.

Voodoo Support Colors

As per the Dorney Park Voodoo blog (and their photos) as well as my eyes, the ride's support colors can be seen above - teal.

Personally, I hate it. Of all the color choices that could have been made I think this is one of the worst. Orange, Purple, Red, Black, Dark Blue, all would have been better. The ride, after seeing the pieces in natural light at the park this afternoon, will look like Wicked Twister.

In the above photos I added a snip of Wicked Twister and Hydra - the supports are very similar in color to both.

This support color has nothing, at all whatsoever, to do with the light 'theme' that Voodoo has so far, I'm disappointed the say the least.

Here's the photos on Dorney's site.

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Disneyland Monorail Arrives

© Disneyland 2007

The first section of 3 new Monorails for Disneyland was lifted onto its track yesterday. What a fine looking Monorail! It's retro yet new at the same time. The other two new trains are expected to go on this spring and summer.

Check out more pics and info from the O.C. Register.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Universal Orlando Update

© IOACentral 2007

IOACentral has an awesome photo update of the latest things going on at the Resort. These include Disaster! getting ready to open, Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure, the Macy's Parade, and more.

The photos are awesome, you should check them out.

Great Adventure Construction Photos

Six Flags Great Adventure has some construction photos up of the removal of Chiller and Movietown Water Effect in preparation of The Dark Knight coaster.

The photos are three weeks old, but it's nice that they seem to intend to do updates. Aside from pictures from the air, which do pop up from time to time, it's hard to keep updated with Great Adventure in the off season.

More Avatar at Nick Universe

They're certainly movin' along nice and quick with Avatar Airbender at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America. One whole side now looks to be completed.


Voodoo Webcam Thoughts

It's sorta hard to see a lot of good stuff on the Voodoo webcam, but if you notice the marks that you can see in the red box above - it looks to me like that's the path of footers for the ride being created.

In this case, the snow actually made that visible. I was wondering if the ride would be angled at all, but it appears as though it will be pretty aligned with the entrance road and midway. Personally, I can see the queue going in the area of the former basketball game and such, with the entrance still up by where the entrance for Skyscraper was.

From the looks of all this, the Zephry will be able to run pretty much the way it did, perhaps curving in toward Laser further back, but no big deal. Just guesses, though!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Give Kids the World Update

Kevin Yee, who writes for MiceAge, has started another round of fund-raising for Give Kids the World, located in Orlando Florida.

What is Give Kids the World? Here's what he writes:

"Give Kids the World Village provides highly themed accommodations for children with life-threatening illnesses who are visiting the Orlando area with wish-granting organizations, and the demand is so great, they need to keep expanding their villas. While they have the land, they need money to do so. The online Disney fan community is a perfect match for helping these kids, since we share the same interests!"

The idea is to raise enough money to build an entire Villa in the name of the Disney fan community - which this blog is to a degree a part of - the first round raised over $9,000 toward the effort.

I know that I have *a lot* to be grateful for this holiday season, and while there are a lot of ways to do good this time of the year, I feel this is a great opportunity to make a difference. Giving kids, and their families, a break from their difficulties in a magical place - isn't that kind of generosity what the holidays are about?

I'm putting the link to the firstgiving page below for the effort, won't you think about making a donation?

Cedar Point Snake River Falls Concept Art

The original concept art for Snake River Falls at Cedar Point. As you can see, they sorta planned on building a mountain around the support structure, but alas it was never to be.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Carowinds Update

ThemeParkVillage has an update of some work going on at Carowinds. Photos include the rather intense rehab of Thunder Road, the start of the new wave pool, and the park's sign ready to get the Cedar Fair makeover.

It's pretty awesome that Cedar Fair sees it fit to do such heavy work on one of their wooden coasters to keep it running well ... that's certainly a change from the past!

Check it out!.

Avatar Airbender Going UP

Just checking out the Nickelodeon Universe webcams and noticed that Avatar Airbender has started vertical construction. Those dark blue supports will look pretty cool with the color fading track.


Six Flags America 2008

If this picture looks familiar - it's cause I just used it last week or so. Six Flags America has announced the world's first Tony Hawk water slide - named Tony Hawk's Halfpipe - for Six Flags America's Hurricane Harbor water park in 2008.

The ride appears to be another Water Fun Products Sidewinder slide.

Here's the official press release.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Six Flags Season Pass Sale

Six Flags is having a one-day sale - 25% off Season Passes. They stepped up their advertising to even feature ads on Yahoo homepage and other big places.

Innovation on their part, and that's a good thing. You hearing this Cedar Fair?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kings Dominion Dominator Logo

The above can be found on Kings Dominion's web page - it's the new logo for Dominator.

It's totally inspired by 80s rock band logos, but that's okay with me I guess. Actually, i think that we can use math to figure out how they came up with this one:
OMG Can I have a job in the Cedar Fair planning office now? Haha.

Nick Universe (Mall of America) Update

CoasterCravers has some awesome photos up of the changes going on at Nickelodeon Universe - including the photo above which is of the former Kite Eating Tree, soon to be the Backyardigan's Swing Along.

For reference, here it was before:

CoasterCravers also has pictures of the track that has arrived for the Intamin Half Pipe - Avatar Airbender.

Go check them out!

New Hard Rock Park Pictures

Hard Rock Park's official website just added a new photo gallery that shows the current status of lots of their rides, attractions, and buildings. Here are some of the cooler ones, there's lots more on their site.

Here's Led Zeppelin testing - beautiful, just beautiful looking ride.

Main entrance area, looks like they are finishing up a lot of the buildings in this part.

London Cab Ride is all put together, I like those ride vehicles.

Slippery When Wet looks almost finished as well.

I love mine trains, Midnight Rider looks awesome also.

There's seriously a ton more photos at the official site, go check it out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dorney Park History: Cedar Fair Purchase

Going though old amusement park stuff I have can really do wonders for sparking the creativity needed to publish a blog like this. That said, I recently came across a bunch of stuff from the time period when Cedar Fair was making moves toward purchasing Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom.

We all know that the park has had some troubles working with the local government to get rides approved through the years, but it was quite an ordeal to get Cedar Fair to purchase the property ... to the point where they even dropped out of negotiations, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Here's a timeline format of the process, that'll make it easier on everyone's eyes. Attached are time-period-correct photos of the property for good measure.

Ready for a great story of greed, power, and politics? Then read on...

Late January, 1992: The park, under leadership of Harry Weinstein, releases a statement acknowledging that they have reached an agreement with Cedar Fair, L.P. to purchase the park. At the time Harry Weinstein had 50% ownership of the park, while Jean Harries - the widow of Stephen Plarr, had the other interest in the park. Under Mr. Weinstein's 6+ year tenure, the park invested more than $50-60 million in new rides and attractions.

Early February, 1992: The first issue with the sale comes forth, waste water issues from Wildwater Kingdom. All attractions in the water park except the lazy river dump backwash into Cedar Creek; this chemically treated water is deemed unacceptable by the state Dept. of Environmental Resources. Fixing the problem by connecting the whole water park to South Whitehall Township's sewer system lays with Weinstein - and on his dollar.

Mid-February, 1992: It's made public that Cedar Fair wants to purchase or lease 46 acres of land next to Dorney Park, which eventually became the overflow parking lot. Immediately talks with Lehigh County, who owns the property, begin.

Late February, 1992: An agreement is made that Weinstein and Dorney Park will pay sewer hookup fees according to rates for the years each ride was added to the property. Despite the agreement being made, much fighting takes place between Weinstein and South Whitehall Township.

Early March, 1992: Cedar Fair proposes a 99 year lease with the county for the 46 acres of land at $4,000 per acre, with a 2% increase every 5 years. The County decided to hire an appraiser to decide what the land is worth as it relates to the amusement park.

The South Whitehall Township commissioners meet with Kinzel and the gang from Ohio for the first time. Kinzel speaks of plans of adding an enclosed dinner theatre, science pavilion for kids, and a Berenstain Bear area to the park. Cedar Fair hopes to increase attendance from 1.3 million to 1.7 million over 5 years while spending $20-25 million on the property at the same time.

Mid-March, 1992: The first appraisal of the 46 acres that Cedar Fair wanted to lease comes back, and places the land at $55,000 an acre, or $2.53 million. Quickly, a second appraisal is ordered, due to claims that the individual who performed the first one could be biased because of their involvement in other local tax assessment appeals. Local government officials and business owners urge the county commissioners to quicken their pace of the land assessment so as not to chase away Cedar Fair.

Early April, 1992: The second land appraisal comes back at $84,348 per acre, or $3.88 million. Cedar Fair counters with an offer of $4,300 per acre a year, as a 99 year lease - an increase of $300 an acre. Soon after, it's announced that a deal was struck between Cedar Fair, the county commissioners, and Weinstein - who would be helping to pay the difference between what Cedar Fair offered and what the county wanted. Additionally, Cedar Fair has to agree to use local contractors to expand the park and cannot build a hotel or restaurant on the 46 acres.

Mid-April, 1992: Suddenly the county demands that Cedar Fair sign a contract stipulating their plans for the 46 acres, that it won't be for a hotel, that they won't sub-lease the land, that they will spend a set amount of money on the park, creation of jobs, etc. This didn't tickle Cedar Fair the right way and they started to back out. Cedar Fair did not like the land use restriction, job creation, and spending on the park stipulations in the contract.

Soon after, Cedar Fair formally ended talks with all parties about purchasing Dorney Park due to the problems with the price of the 46 acres of land they wanted next to the park. We all know who ended up owning the park though ... so the twists and turns are not over!

Late April, 1992: Surprise! The negotiation continues. It's revealed that Cedar Fair offered to purchase the land for $70,000 an acre with no restrictions, no contract on land use of any sort. It's also revealed that the county commissioners still said no to that offer.

Cedar Fair then offered $70,200 per acre to the county, with Weinstein paying $500,000 of that amount to try to get the deal done. Also, Cedar Fair agreed to use the land for parking and rides (only parking ever happened which makes this silly) for the first 10 years, and promised $15 million to be spent on the park in the following six years. The county again said no, still wanting the full assessed value of the land. Cedar Fair again formally ended talks and said the deal was off, dead in the water.

Early May, 1992: Dorney Park opened for its 108th season, still under the leadership of Mr. Weinstein. Dorney Park also has an hour long press conference blaming the Lehigh County commissioners for killing the deal with Cedar Fair, citing their inability to bend on a purchase price of the 46 acres of land that Cedar Fair wanted to buy.

Mid-May, 1992: Now things just became a broken record: Suddenly Cedar Fair offered $75,000 per acre for the land, and you guessed it, the commissioners said no to the offer. Dorney Park had tried to get the negotiations moving once more by throwing in more money to make up the difference between what Cedar Fair would pay and what the county wanted.

Soon after, it's announced that the county would agree to sell the land for $77,000 and acre, with no restrictions on Cedar Fair regarding its use. Dorney Park would be throwing in the extra cash to meet the new, higher amount per acre. It's agreed that Cedar Fair will purchase the park by the end of June, 1992, and that it would purchase the 46 acres of land within 45 days of buying the park.

Before the sale went through, Mr. Weinstein reflected on his past with the park and what changes could be seen in the future. Among those changes, a suspended coaster, wild river ride, the connection of both parks into one, a new train ride, and a new entrance area with fountains, a double decker carousel, and a large pool that would be used for ice skating during the winter. Also mentioned was a river rapid ride that would be in the area where mini-golf and a pavilion were located on the park's hill (area where Joker was).

Before Cedar Fair purchased the park, Mr. Weinstein's future expansion plans for Dorney included another coaster and flume ride on the employee parking lot hill, an amphitheater built into that hill, and a new Castle Garden near the location of the former one. He also said that plans were being made to make Hercules bigger after it lost its title as world's tallest, but stopped when negotiations with Cedar Fair began - but promised that changes would take place in the future - including tunnels and more camel humps.

Late May, 1992: The county officially votes and approves the sale of the 46 acres to Cedar Fair. The sale is expected soon after.

Mid July, 1992: Once the 46 acres is formally surveyed by Engineers, it's revealed that the county actually only has 41 acres to offer. Road expansion in the area had eaten away at the overall size of the land. The South Whitehall Township commissioners also approved an agreement regarding the sewer hookups for Wildwater Kingdom, at the time viewed as the last obstacle before the sale could take place.

July 21st, 1992: Cedar Fair purchases Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom for $48 million. Weinstein and Jean Harries received $21 million worth of Cedar Fair units, while Cedar Fair assumed $27 million of the park's debt. William E. Near is appointed Vice President and General Manager of Dorney as well.

By the end of the year, Cedar Fair proposed Red Garter Saloon and White Water Landing ... which started more fights with local government, and well, the rest is history!

That's it! If I have any facts wrong, please, let me know.

Valleyfair! Hurricane Falls Concept Art

Part of a $2.5 million expansion at Valleyfair! in 1993, Hurricane Falls was a 70 ft. tall family raft water slide.

Popular at many water parks, the ride helped Valleyfair! round out it's water park attractions. (they still need a wave pool like crazy though)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hurricane Harbor Texas 2008

Six Flags Hurrican Harbor in Texas has announced a new slide for their 2008 season, named Wild Wedgie.

The $1 million slide looks to be a Water Fun Products Sidewinder slide, like the one added to Elitch Gardens back in 2005.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kennywood Entertainment: SOLD

Kennywood Entertainment just announced that they are selling their chain of parks to Parques Reunidos, a Spanish park operator that has 61 properties around the globe.

The parks being sold include Kennywood, Lake Compounce, Idlewild, and Story Land (NH).

The founding members of the company and their families are suddenly really rich, or well, even more rich than before. And I'm jealous.

Parques Reunidos is promising to uphold the "gold star" level of service and such that can be found at the Kennywood chain of parks.

Parques Reunidos is really quickly becoming (or is) a heavyweight in the industry. They're the ones that acquired Palace Entertainment this past year. They have all the Boomers FECs, the two California Raging Waters water parks, several other water parks in the U.S., 10+ zoos and aquariums, and many European parks like: Parque De Atracciones, Bobbejaanland, Mirabilandia, Parque Warner Madid, the insane BonBonLand (home of the "Dog Fart" coaster), and also recently purchased TusenFryd.

This is obviously a chain to watch in the future.

Kings Dominion New Sign Up

© Nova Coaster Fan 2007

A user on the KDSource forums has posted pictures of the completed sign at Kings Dominion. It's very very similar to the one that went up at Canada's Wonderland.

I'm sure Kings Island's will look like this too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kennywood New For 2008

Let's hear it for another new dark ride! Yay!

I love darkrides, so Kennywood's announcement of Ghostwood Estate as their new for 2008 attraction pleases me. This news was leaked on the internet pretty badly, but now it's official.

The interactive, trackless, eight room, $2 million ride will replace the already torn-down Gold Rusher ride and will feature over 200 targets, and numerous CGI effects.

They laser system is by LaserStar, and the ride itself is from Halloween Productions Inc., an ever growing Halloween industry company that has already created tons of haunted houses across the country.

Read the official press release and see the art (both .pdf only) at Kennywood's site.

Morey's Great Nor'Easter - New Trains, Name

The Great Nor'Easter, at Morey's Piers, isn't red anymore, but I like this photo. It's now all white, bright white, supports and track. We know I love white coaster track, but it needs to have darker supports to make it look great.

I digress. The Great Nor'Easter is going to get the new Vekoma trains for 2008, the ones with the less painful restraints. Morey's is also saying that the ride will have a new name as well, but they're not sure what yet - all of this is a $1.2 million investment.

Here's an article that covers the changes.

Atlantis @ Sea World San Diego: A Mistake?

Gerry Braun, of the San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote an interesting piece about whether or not Journey to Atlantis really should have been approved for Sea World San Diego.

If you remember back it was a huge deal to get the ride approved because of it's height and the park's location on the coastline.

In the end the author seems not too pleased that the ride exists, but his writing style is what intrigued me. Plus living so close to Dorney and watching the years of bickering over new rides with the locals always makes this subject jump out at me.

Add to all this the fact that rumors are swirling that the parks wants another ride in the next few years, well, maybe this article is more timely than it would appear on the surface.