Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dorney Park Web Page (Edited)

I just noticed that Dorney updated their logo on the header of their web page. It looks nice, I've gotten rather used to seeing all the parks use this type of logo.

Now, if only Dorney would update the park map on their page. That'd be sweet.

POOF! - I posted this and then this morning checked and the map has been updated. Prest-o Change-o.

MGM Grand Adventures Concept Art

I have some old (like 14 years) concept artwork for two of the attractions that were at MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park in Las Vegas. The quality is not that great, but finding items like these for this park is hard, so I'll take what I can get.

They are for the two attractions that were designed by R&R Creative Amusement Design. Here are two for Grand Canyon Rapids:

And here are two for the Backlot River Tour:

As I've said before on here, I rode Grand Canyon Rapids, but the Backlot River Tour was already history by the time I visited the park. I'm glad I found these, they are pretty great concepts if I do say so.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Look at Thomas Town

© 2007 Theme Park Village

Theme Park Village has a photo tour up of the new Thomas Town area at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Please click here to check it out.

The Thomas areas are now open at both Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags New England. I said a couple months back that I was anxious to see how they did with the theming in the area.

Now, thanks to Theme Park Village, I have had my first good look at how it all turned out. I have to say that it's very well done.

The section is small, featuring the train ride and two children's rides, but themed nicely. It's certainly not over the top, but comparable to the level Paramount Parks used to have, which is a step above Six Flags in my opinion.

For instance, they have a roundhouse that shows all of Thomas' friends parked, and it's a full size building which as far as I can tell does not have a purpose aside from being theming. Nice.

I'm sure families are loving it, and I'm also sure we'll see a few more of these open in 2008.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kings Dominion Trip Part 3

Continuing with the Old Virginia section of the park we come to our first roller coaster, the Grizzly.

The entrance wasn't apparent to me at first, but then I saw the large Grizzly Bear statue and figured it must be down that way. Grizzly opened in 1982, was designed by Taft Attractions Group and built by Kings Entertainment Company. It's located in a heavily wooded part of the park, and features and awesome tunnel.

Here's a picture of the station for the ride, going up the ramp to it. You can see just the kind of woods that are around the ride.

There are only a few places where you can take a picture of the ride because it's in the woods. The above photo is from the exit ramp. I guess they took out a lot of trees recently that hid the ride even more to add go-karts, at least that's what I've read.

As far as the ride goes, it's pretty rough. It's not horrible, and I must point out that I have a low tolerance for rough wooden coasters. It packs a punch, though, keeps it's speed and you get some nice pops of air here and there. Like I said, the tunnel is pretty great too.

Here's a last picture of Grizzly taken from the Eiffel Tower. You can sorta make out the layout if you try.

Like most parks, Kings Dominion also has a river rapids ride. Named White Water Canyon, the ride also takes you though the Virginia woods. My whole family loves these kind of rides, but we were disappointed with this one. There are some good rapids, but you do not get wet. I guess we're used to the soaking you get on Thunder Canyon at Dorney. It was hot when we were there and we wanted to get wet! But no such luck.

Next up is The Grove section, which is filled with some great, good, and not-so-great rides. But that's for later.

Quick Hard Rock Park Update

I just noticed that the lift hill for Led Zeppelin the ride is going up. You can see it in the photo above. I then checked Discover Myrtle Beach, and they indeed have some close ups of the progress. Click here to check it out.

Also, Midnight Rider is having it's real, concrete supports poured. You can see that some are already finished, and those in a row are poured but not fully set yet. Good to see progress being made.

Halloween Horror Nights At Universal

Universal Studios has announced that they have joined with New Line Cinema to add Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, and Jason to their Halloween event this fall.

The Orlando Resort will be celebrating their 17th anniversary of Halloween thrills this year. The California park will also have the characters this year.

I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. I was at the event when the Caretaker premiered and he was scary as heck. I almost feel that these characters are tired, and not as interesting as the messed up things that Universal Creative came up with on their own.

These guys do have a following, though, so perhaps that was more important for the parks.

You can keep up to date on the events through Universal's official site.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kings Dominion Trip Part 2

The area around the Eiffel Tower is really pretty. This path, leading back toward the Carousel, is lined with huge trees and makes for a great shady walk.

This is the same path from the other side. Again, a scene like this isn't east to come by at most Cedar Fair parks.

This path is around the base of the tower. I know other Paramount Parks had a Paramount Story display of some sort ... I'm not sure but is that what used to be in these squares? Anyone know for sure?

Off from the Eiffel Tower area, but before you are officially in the Old Virginia section, is the Paramount Action FX Theater. As you can see, the Paramount was not removed at all from this attraction.

The theater is currently showing a SpongeBob movie. It was fun, and all the kids seemed to enjoy it a ton, even though it's not really new. I know the movie has been around at other parks for a few years now.

The Old Virginia section contains the Shenandoah Log Flume, seen above. It was built when the park opened in 1975. A classic Arrow Dynamics Log Flume, it's around 1,500 feet long and takes rider on a trip into the woods. I'm a big fan of older Arrow log flumes, so this ride was a hit with me.

More really nice scenery in the Old Virginia section. I can only wish to find areas like this at most of the parks I visit!

And here we have the Paramount Theatre. Yes, pretty blatantly from the former owners. I wonder if a lot of this type of stuff will HAVE to be removed for 2008 if Cedar Fair is going to drop the Paramount license?

Either way, they were showing Twistin' to the 60s, a show that's been at other Cedar Fair parks and is playing at most if not all of the former Paramount parks this season.

That's all I can do for now, more tomorrow!

Hershey Park Looks to the Future

© J.A.R. via Flickr

The Patriot News has an interesting interview with the CEO of Hershey Entertainment, Ted Kleisner. He talks pretty frankly about the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Hershey, seen in the photo above.

Additionally, he also talks about the fact that they are doing a feasibility study to see if a smaller boutique hotel would work in the area.

And then the good stuff. He also talks about some plans for Hershey Park. He mentions that the Boardwalk water park area is a smash success. He says that they need to expand the water park area, adding a real wave pool and changing Canyon River Rapids into something more exciting. He also points out that older rides will have to be retired.

They sure will! Somethings gotta go if they plan to fit a real wavepool in that area. Even if the Wild Mouse is moved that doesn't open enough space. Canyon River Rapids really may be on the chopping block. Can't wait to see what they come up with. Here's a guess:

The areas marked boardwalk have been developed for this summer. They put a new entrance to the Boardwalk where I marked it, with new entrances to Canyon Rapids and Tidal Force.

They could rip out Canyon Rapids and have the water park area in there as well, plenty of room for a wave pool and some more slides and etc. Then the newer entrance would have water stuff on both sides of it still, so long as they keep Tidal Force.

Also, the Western Chute Out is rumored to be removed. A water slide doesn't make sense here, but they could bump the midway over that direction to have more room where Canyon Rapids' old entrance was.

They have a stinky approval process to go though like Dorney so we'll probably hear sooner than later.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kings Dominion Trip Part 1

So we had a pretty great time at Kings Dominion on our long weekend trip. As you can see in the photo above, its transition away from Paramount is taking longer than at some of the other properties.

Kings Dominion opened in 1975, so it's one of the modern themers to be found in the U.S. It's fully grown in though, and provides a landscape that's tough to match at many other amusement parks, especially the pre-existing Cedar Fair parks.

Under the reign of Paramount, the park had many themed attractions added to it's line-up of rides and attractions. With Cedar Fair in control, the future of this park makes me nervous in this regard, but more about that later.

Some rides are lightly themed, some do not need more than their landscaping (forest, etc) as a theme, and some are rather highly themed, like Volcano. Either way, it was a nice break from the steel and concrete of my local park, Dorney.

This photo is from the entrance plaza, bordering the parking lot. I spy Cedar Fair flags! Actually, the entrance area is where most of the name changing took place. For instance, the signage in the area is standard Cedar Fair:

The outside entrance plaza may have Cedar Fair presence, but as soon as you pass though those metal detectors (eek?) the park's former owners can immediately be felt.

I don't know if it was Paramount or the original owners, but all those big trees that line the fountains in planters were added after the park opened. You can see the original here in a 1978 photo:

1978 Kings Dominion 1
© ejd1984 via Webshots

The buildings that line the fountain walkways were themed more than I expected. It was a very nice area to say the least. I'd seen pictures of the fountains before but I had no idea how big the trees were and how grown-in the area felt.

The fountains are so powerful that they actually add a roar to the area that provides atmosphere. That, and the Paramount theme music that they are (thankfully) still playing, makes the area even better.

One thing I did notice about the shops along this area: their selection of Kings Dominion merchandise stank - badly. They had a mix of Paramount and Post-Paramount shirts and things, but most amusement park staples were missing. I didn't see magnets, post cards, maps, mugs, etc., the common stuff. I went in all the stores, was it just me? They had plenty of character items though.

At the far end of the entrance area you can meet the Nicktoons, every day at 5 p.m. I did not see this mini-show so I have no idea what it's about aside from serving as a meet'n'greet. We did have our picture taken with SpongeBob, but I'll keep that photo for myself.

Phew, I'm making this more elaborate than I wanted. I'll actually cover some rides in part 2. Promise.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dorney 2008

Dorney Park has had its plans for a new coaster for the 2008 season approved by South Whitehall Township.

The Morning Call had a small article in the paper today, which, among other incorrect facts, describes the ride as "state of the art."

In other news, I had a dream while on vacation that I saw Steel Venom's track at the park while on Steel Force.

I'll have some Kings Dominion and other stuff up soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


NewsPlusNotes is taking a few days off! We're off to Kings Dominion for a long weekend. It's our first visit, so we'll be sure to take pictures and present our thoughts of the place when we return early next week.

Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Drachen Fire Aerial

© Busch Gardens Europe

Drachen Fire at Busch Gardens Europe (formally Williamsburg) was an odd coaster, and it turned my father green when we rode it in 1993.

It lost an inversion after 1994, and sometime after that is when this Busch Gardens media image was taken. The first corkscrew, directly after the mid-course brake run, was removed.

4 years later the ride closed, and 3 years after that the ride went to roller coaster heaven. Hope you enjoy the image!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dollywood's Tennessee Tornado Press Release

At the end of June, 1998, Dollywood Theme Park made a big announcement. They announced that they were planning a multi-inversion steel roller coaster named Tennessee Tornado for the 1999 season.

I was lucky to receive a copy of this release, and thought I'd share it with you. I suppose you could say that Tennessee Tornado was the start of the addition of big coasters to Dollywood, which now include Thunderhead and Mystery Mine. (both of which look fantastic) Enough, here is the release:

Six Flags Partially Acquires Dick Clark Prod.

Six Flags and RedZone Capital announced that they have purchased Dick Clark Productions for $175 million.

Six Flags will own 40% and Redzone 60%. The image above, from Dick Clark Prod's website, shows the many brands that the company owns. Aside from So You Think You Can Dance, the set is pretty heavily weighted toward older demographics, in my opinion.

Mark Shapiro pointed out many ways that the Six Flags parks will benefit. (press release here) Among them:

• So You Think You Can Dance events at the parks,
• Award Show ticket prizes through season pass purchases,
• Rebranding their concert series as the American Music Awards Concert Series starting 2008,
• American Bandstand concerts at the parks.

As you can see, mostly older demographic stuff, but interesting nonetheless. I think it's fantastic that they would take such an unusual selection of brands and work them into the parks. Shapiro points out they are trying to widen the entertainment and brand offerings at the park, and he certainly is doing that.

Operations and hardware aside, I almost am allowing the thought that Six Flags is keeping up with modernizing their parks much better than Cedar Fair is. yikes.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cedar Fair Vs. The 49ers

Above we have a photo of Great America, owned by Cedar Fair, and it's parking lots, above the park in this photo. As we've heard about before, the San Francisco 49ers would like to build their new football stadium in these parking lots.

I mean land is valuable in California, but take a look at what this would make the area look like:

The above image is from a presentation about the stadium and it's financing or something, I was just looking for an image of how it would fit in the parking lots.

What I don't understand is how this could possibly work out. Where would the cars go? If those lots are needed for Great America, HOW can a football stadium be built there and then have support parking as well?

The interactions between Cedar Fair and the 49ers on the issue have become a little he-said-she-said. The San Jose Mercury News has an article that covers all this rather well.

I know it has Cedar Fair fanboy written all over it, but I can't help but understand why the company would be quite apprehensive about this project. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A B&M for Canada's Wonderland?

Screamscape seems to think so. They are reporting a "semi-confirmed" coaster for 2008, with its station located "across from the Italian Job station."

Screamscape says that while the "200 foot" ride may be a hypercoaster, it could also be a dive machine.

Well, I looked at the aerial of the area being described and my imagination saw this:

Using the empty spot across from Italian Job's station, the new ride's station would fit nicely. Then the ride, as B&M Hypers like to do, would go out on the lift, drop then turn, do some hills, have a helix, bunny hop back and hit the brakes.

Plus with that perimeter road and lake there it'd all just be too nice. Just like at La Ronde, or Six Flags Over Georiga, the hypercoaster would travel out of the main park area wonderfully.

This does make sense though. Canada's Wonderland is still the highest attended seasonal park in North America. And look at recent expansions: water park expansions, one of those scary Zamperla flying coasters, a bunch of large flat rides, and Italian Job.

A park that pulls the numbers this one does deserves, nay, justifies a nice, big, capacity eating reliable coaster. One that's not a one trick pony, either. And hey, we all know Cedar Fair's love of hypercoasters!

Be advised, this is ALL guesses. We'll stay tuned!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hard Rock Park Construction

It's been a while so let's check back in with how things are going over at Hard Rock Park. The park's official page has added another webcam that changes views every so often and updates every few seconds.

You can check out the park's webcam page here.

The noteworthy site in the above photo is the construction area for Midnight Rider, which I gather is a Vekoma Minetrain, in the lower right corner.

Roller Coaster Database reports that it looks like a 785m Mine Train, and they have a great photo that provides a good view of that model of ride's layout here. Looking at a picture of the model and that photo I'd have to agree.

It looks like they have started digging around more, perhaps starting to outline where the station will be? It's hard to tell, but it does look different than a few weeks ago.

Here is a view from the cam of the entrance area, and work going on for a restaurant in the Cool Country section of the park.

The six little yellow buildings back there are the ticket booths. The building that is circled seems much further along than the buildings around it. I believe it to be the building circled in the image below. Looks like a guest relations facility and/or maybe potties to me.

I think they match up well. You can also notice that the framing for all the buildings that form the entrance plaza and 'main street' area are up as well.

Here is another view that has two things worth pointing out. The circle in the upper left is of two cranes that are assembling the B&M Led Zeppelin coaster. The coaster has gone vertical, there are some pictures in this thread on Theme Park Review.

The other circle, on the right, looks like possible footings or something for the Slippery When Wet coaster, which is Hydra Fighter from Wet'n'Wild Emerald Pointe. That's where the ride is supposed to go, at the very least.

I'm sure the B&M will continue to grow quickly and we'll have to watch the webcams for that!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Xcelerator Concept Art - Knott's Berry Farm

Remember the concept art for Xcelerator at Knott's Berry Farm? I just bumped into this on my computer. I always liked it a lot so why not throw it on here? I've been to Knott's once - and it was when Xcelerator was having it's supports altered and so it was closed. No riding the coaster for me! Bummer, why don't Intamin rides work right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Talocan at Phantasialand - A Must See

© 2007 has an awesome review with even more awesome pictures of Talocan, a Huss Floorless TopSpin, at Phantasialand in Germany.

Now THAT is the way to theme to TopSpin! You can barely even see the actual ride components it's so themed. It's one fine lookin' ride.

I highly suggest checking out the English version of the ride review (it's even a better than average English translation) on Here's the direct link to the review.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Disneyland Subs are Back Today!

Copyright Don Kelsen LATime 2007

Today is the official grand opening of the Finding Nemo Submarine Ride at Disneyland in California.

The reopening of the subs after a nearly decade-long absence from the park is going to be quite an event and is being heavily looked forward to by Disney Fans.

If you haven't been checking out photos and videos of the ride then I'd suggest MiceAge as a place to check out.

The above photo is from today's Los Angeles Times article about the ride. It's a very good article in an age of very many bad articles in newspapers. It's worth a read.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dorney Park Fun Facts #13

Castle Gardens At Dorney Park 1935-1985

Castle Gardens, pictured above in an old photo, was quite a place back in the day. Located at the bottom of Dorney Park, around where the go-carts and part of the log flume are now, this event hall had a long and colorful history.

The facility hosted a wide variety of entertainment over the decades, everything from live music, to discos, country swing dances with a riding bull, roller skating, nightclub activities, even aerobic classes that drew over a hundred people a session.

The facility itself was around 8,000 square feet in size. The ballroom structure was actually built in 1923, and known as the Al-Dorn Ballroom, but didn't find it's niche until '35 when it opened as a dance hall under the name Castle Gardens.

The owners actually had a naming contest, much like parks still do today for new rides and attractions. A local man suggested Castle Gardens, and won $25 when his name was picked. Can you imagine offering a prize of $25 for a contest now? Even using an inflation calculator, that's still only equal to $363 today ... but I digress.

As mentioned in his recent obituary, Robert F. Ott often went to the dances held at Castle Gardens when he was a young man, and this is where he first met Sally Plarr, daughter of park owner Robert Plarr in 1936. The rest of that story, as we know, has a long and beautiful history.

Improvements to the structure were made over the years, including enclosing the building and adding better dance floors and such. The 1930s and 40s were a big time for the facility, as it was one of the most popular places to check out the hot Big Bands of the time. Names such as Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers, singers like Peggy Lee, and many others were some of the names to play Castle Gardens.

When the later 1950s rolled around and rock'n'roll was growing in popularity, Castle Gardens was certainly not going to be left out in the cold. They went by the name Castle Rock, and hosted such acts as Freddy Cannon, Annette Funicello, Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, and even Kenny Rogers took the stage once.

When that phase died down, housing discos and the aforementioned country events kept things moving at the Gardens. The popularity continued on into the eighties with dances and other concert series being hosted, that is at least until Thanksgiving eve 1985.

A fire broke out in the building near its main entrance in the early morning, and quickly moved through the all wood structure. Without warning, the entire facility was lost in the later ruled 'suspicious' fire. Park owners vowed to rebuild and open a new Castle Gardens, even saying in '86 that they planned a two story structure with seating for 5,000. Unfortunately, like so many plans, the rebuilding never materialized.

I just got done writing this using several old newspaper articles and realized that the Dorney Park Images of America book, actually co-authored by Bob Ott, has an entire chapter on Castle Gardens. So, for a probably much better written history and some really fantastic pictures, check out the book.