Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Busch Gardens Africa Howl-o-Scream

Busch Gardens Africa is ramping up their game when it comes to Halloween this year. Trying to take a bite (a bloody bite) out of Universal's Halloween dominance, they're putting "a new spin on Horror."

What does that mean? I'm not sure yet. But I'm sure they'll keep updating their website to let us know.

More Cedar Fair / Destiny Capital Drama

Yesterday Cedar Fair put out a release that they are not in talks with Destiny Capital Solutions about buying the company.

Now today, the Sandusky Register has an article that quotes this McDuff character as saying that he's been corresponding with officials at Cedar Fair afterall.

However, McDuff says in this article that he's been in "talks" for two weeks and they've had contact on the phone and through e-mail.

This guys sounds a little off his rocker. You can't leak info to a tabloid newspaper like the Post and base it all off of two weeks that probably contained a phone call and one e-mail or something.

That is not formal "talks" with a company about raising $4.1 billion in order to purchase them. This is a guy who is trying to work up press and run his mouth like he did with Gilroy Gardens. That's my opinion, anyway.

Additionally, in the article McDuff says that the wants to keep Cedar Fair as the "family organization" that it is. Really, it's a family? No, actually it's not. This guys needs to zip it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Who the Hell is Destiny Capital Solutions, Inc?

Edit: Okay Cedar Fair says this is all untrue. I'll leave the thoughts below as is just beause I enjoyed my detective work.

So the New York Post is now reporting that Destiny Capital Solutions, Inc. is in "fast-moving" talks with Cedar Fair for a $4.1 billion buyout of the company.

My first thought was: I've never heard of them. Who the hell are they?

Well, it appears as though Destiny Capital Solutions, Inc. hasn't done much of anything, ever. You can google it all you want but it won't get you far.

According to this article from the Gilroy Dispatch, Robert McDuff Sr. and Sam Roham created Destiny Capital as an investment company in Nevada in order to back their plan to buy and develop Gilroy Gardens in California. Their plan to purchase and expand that park met heavy resistance from the local community.

The duo appear to also work for Alliant Real Estate & Financial Services, as that organization's webpage has a blurb about Destiny Capital's Gilroy Gardens plans.

This is all strange, no?

The NYP says that when Destiny Capital realized that Cedar Fair has a management contract for Gilroy Gardens and they were seeking a buyout they jumped.

The city of Gilroy declined the initial offer to purchase Gilroy Gardens. At that point, Mr. McDuff said that "we're going to pursue it until we can't pursue it anymore." (article)

Even more strange, no?

So since then McDuff and Destiny Capital have put in an even larger offer to the city of Gilroy.

I know it's taking a big leap, but is this man/company pursuing Cedar Fair just to get one step closer to Gilroy Gardens? McDuff appears to be a Gilroy local and emotional connections to Gilroy Gardens.

This whole thing is leaving me feel uneasy. I'm not against a buyout, but there are too many question marks associated with this Destiny Capital for my liking.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dollywood 1998 Map

Here's a copy of Dollywood's 1998 map. New for 1998 was Daredevil Falls, a log flume. Additionally, Paradise Road, a show about Dolly's life was new.

And this is from an additional Dollywood Press Release:

Daredevil Falls is a “super flume ride” which opened in April 1998. It was manufactured by O.D. Hopkins Associates, Inc. of Contoocook, New Hampshire.

The Thrill Ride’s Story Line: Passengers begin their adventure at the Outfitters Base Camp, boarding the outfitter boats for a wilderness river excursion. As the riders travel down the river they encounter tunnels, bats, collapsing mine shafts, and black bears before traveling up the working lift of an abandoned saw mill. As they narrowly escape the spinning saw blade, their boat is diverted to the reject log channel, only to plunge over the river falls into the logjam filled pond below.

Ride Length: 1,350 feet
Steepest Change in Elevation: 64 feet
Boats: 12 (8 passengers each)
Maximum Speed: 50 mph
Drop: 67 feet
Capacity: 1,100 per hour
Ride Time: 3 minutes; 56 seconds

Geauga Lake Today

Geauga Lake Today has quite an interesting picture on their front page right now. All they're saying is that it's a photo of Steel Venom's seats in their new home, which isn't in Ohio.

Is there a connection to Dorney Park's 2008 project? Who knows.

I'd check it out before it's removed.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Universal Orlando Simpsons Update

© IOACentral 2007

IOACentral has a nice update of all the Simpsons decorations that have been appearing at Universal Studios Orlando. I personally can't wait for my trip to Krustyland. Check it out at IOACentral.

P.S. IOACentral has some GREAT boards if you want info on anything Universal Orlando.

Six Flags Half Year Earnings

Yesterday Six Flags announced their 2nd Quarter results and thus provided numbers for the first six months of 2007. Here's some high(low?)lights.

· First six months, revenues up $28.4 million over '06.

· Guest spending up $0.96, to $36.65

· Attendance up 300,000 visits

· Costs were down $6.8 million, and would have been more but marketing increased $17.9 million during the first half of the year.

· Total loss for this period was reduced by $64.7 million from 2006. Half of this can be accounted to them ditching the properties sold to PARC Management.

Okay, enough facts. I think that things look a little brighter for the company, but as with every year the 3rd quarter will tell all.

It's becoming hard to gage results as they are constantly skewed by the company ownership transition and now the selling of all those parks. The accounting of these transactions keeps messing up the "big" picture, but if you zoom in on what's going on inside the gates of the parks they own, well, things aren't so bad.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good Kings Dominion Article

The Hook has published a nice article about Kings Dominion. Author Brent Baldwin isn't overly enthusiastic or negative about the park, and provides an interesting mix of historical and modern information.

And hey, there's even some pictures! If you have some time it's worth checking out.

It's on The Hook's online edition.

Hard Rock Park Aerials

© Myrtle Beach Online / Janet Blackmon Morgan / The Sun News

Myrtle Beach Online has some great photos of Hard Rock Park under construction up. Some are aerials, some are of Led Zeppelin going up, and some are of the park from the top of the coaster.

You can see this one the webcam, but the footers for the Vekoma kiddie coaster look done - and the work for Maximum RPM looks like it's just begun. There's lots to see if you pay attention.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Aerial Antics: A View From the Top

Elitch Gardens - Winter Shot

LegoLand California - Pirate Shores Under Construction
Link to Live Local Image

Sea World California - Journey to Atlantis

Link to Live Local Image

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dorney Park Fun Facts #15

New For 1998

Hang Time - Hang Time is a state-of-the-art thrill ride that will make its debut at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom for the 1998 season. This 59-foot-tall thrill ride rocks back and forth, rolls backward several times and suspends guests in mid-air. Hang Time whirls, twirls, spins and reels guests repeatedly throughout the ride. A fountain that sprays water in the air is located in front of the ride. Guests may get wet on occasion as they orbit through the air. Designed by Huss, Bremen, German, Hang Time has two rows of seats and is able to accommodate up to 40 guests.

Island Water Works - Island Water Works will also make its debut this season in Dorney Park's waterpark, Wildwater Kingdom. This interactive play station is sure to thrill guests of all ages. Island Water Works has more than 70 "water gags" including misters, jet sprays, bubblers, dumping troughs, funny mirrors and more. This three-story structure is garnished with gigantic portholes, playful designs on its walls and bright colors. Two of the most exciting aspects of the attraction include a "pressure building boiler" and color-coded targets with dumping buckets.

Coasters - Coasters, a 50's style diner, is also new for 1998. This unique eatery has neon pink lights and glass block windows. Inside guests feel like they are back in the 50's when they sit in vinyl booths at chrome edged tables. In addition, they are able to play tunes on private jukeboxes located at each booth or on the large Wurlitzer Juke Box in the restaurant. Coasters seats 84 inside and a couple dozen more on its outside patio. The menu includes pizza, burgers, fries, floats, shakes and fountain drinks.

Fudge and Taffy Shop - Next to Coasters is a new taffy and fudge shop that will also make its debut in 1998. Guests are able to watch fudge being made. In addition to taffy and fudge, the shop sells a variety of candy and assorted-coated apples.

Thunder Creek Speedway - Thunder Creek Speedway, and all-new go-kart track, is being added for the 1998 season. The pay-as-you-go attraction is located beneath Steel Force near the lake. Thunder Creek Speedway is sure to thrill race fans. NASCAR themed cars, that reach a maximum speed of 18 m.p.h., compete on a 1,200-foot track. The cars have a fully enclosed body design and are detailed on the outside with NASCAR-style decals to offer a true experience of NASCAR driving.

More Upgrades - In addition to all the new improvements within the Park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom will also complete the paving of its main parking facility.

Universal's Carnival of Carnage 2007

Universal Studios Orlando has updated their Halloween Horror Nights webpage to include that the name of the entire event this year is called Carnival of Carnage.

The website also has, like every year, a soon-to-be interactive page of the Carnival being set up. I'm not going this year and it kills me!

Click here to go to Universal's page and play around.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dorney Park Mid-Season Update + 2008

I thought it was a fitting time to do a Dorney Park update, seeing as about half the summer has now passed.

I braved the park today, knowing it would be packed. Yesterday looked like an over-over-over-flow parking lot day, so I wouldn't dare go near the park. Today wasn't as bad, but it was certainly crowded. A nice weekend for the park indeed.

You know things aren't good when this is what you see when you get out of your car. I've never visited and had to park in the overflow lot, so I decided to call this trip an adventure.

Walking through this and under Lincoln Ave was interesting. It was very tunnel by Magnum-ish, only that tunnel at Cedar Point is considerably less high. There was no school bus taxi service today, I'm not sure if they've cut that completely, or if it was just today. Anyone?

Ahh, we made it in the park. The main midway has a new game for kids. The Kiddie Hi-Striker is $5 for two hits. I did not see one kid lose, so I suppose it could be called "Buy Your Kid A Stuffed Fish for $5." Either way the kids liked it so it's all good.

I know I covered the water cannons on White Water Landing before, but since then they received a nice sign.

Here is one of the cannons blasting at a boat that I totally missed getting in frame. The people in the boat clapped when they got wet. Not bad entertainment for a quarter.

I've never seen this little show in Camp Snoopy before, and today was no different. I did stop to take this picture though, just because I've never seen the show take place before.

The trout pond got these snazzy new signs. Perhaps they've been there all year but I just noticed them today. Love how little history things keep popping up. Whomever at the park is responsible for this, if you're reading, great job and keep it up!

This also is not mid-season new, but Laser Games got a new sign this year. I know it's extra nerdy to take pictures of new signs but DP's Sign Shop has always done such nice work that I pay attention to these things.

Apparently the Poker game wasn't a hit, now it's Milk Can. That or it was moved and I didn't notice it's new location.

Oh, and I also found what I think is the coolest souvenir since large park maps, stickers! It's a left over childhood thing, but stickers rock.

Drum-roll please, here's the 2008 stuff.

As we already know, Not-So-Mysterious Mystery Project 2008 has some marker flags in the ground. Now, as seen in the bottom picture, there are also the utility flags marking the area.

The markings are obviously in the area of the former SkyScraper ride. They extend to these, seen above, which are located to the right of Laser Refreshments. I did not ride Zephyr or go anywhere I didn't belong, but I could not see ANY markings any closer to Laser than what can be seen above.

My point, I'm not sold on the theory that Laser is leaving. What do you think?

That's all for now. I'm sure we'll see more activity before the season is over so I'll keep my eyes open for that.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Knott's Silver Bullet

© Knott's Berry Farm

I love this but hardly saw it used when the ride opened. That made me want to dig it up and share it. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

More on Dollywood 2008

I'm still thinking that River Battle at Dollywood is going to be a Splash Battle by 3DBA / Preston & Barbieri. The above photo is a model of a Splash Battle done by the creators of the ride. You can see some similarities to the Dollywood art. But in this photo:

© Flamingo Land Crazy 2007

... you can really see some similarities. The layout of this one at Flamingoland is not too far off, and they even have little portholes along the walkway that you can shoot water from, just like in the Dollywood art.

It is great though that Dollywood had them double the capacity of each boat. I've never been on one of these but from what I'm reading in reviews they seems to have some slow moving lines. I'm sure the extra capacity will help with that.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dollywood 2008 Announcement

Dollywood has announced their new for 2008 attraction, River Battle. A 500 foot long river which 9 rafts, with 8 riders each, will navigate each with each guest having their own water gun.

The rafts will pass by over 100 targets, each of which will trigger some type of interaction with many animals along the river as well as other park guests.

Judging from the concept art above it looks like this is a themed Splash Battle attraction, several of which have opened in the U.S. and Europe already.

Looks like fun! Read the release in full here.

Aerial Antics: Astroworld In Ruins

Perhaps I'm just the last to know on this one, but if you look at the Birds Eye View that Windows Live Local has of Six Flags Astroworld, you can see the park halfway demolished.

In the snip above you can see some supports laying around from the Arrow Suspended coaster XLR-8, as well as the path that their Shoot-the-Chutes took.

It's sad to see a park ripped up like this, but interesting nonetheless.

This link should get you to the image of Astroworld.

Disney Studios Paris Placemaking

Ever since I heard that Disney Studios Paris was doing some large scale placemaking to turn the area around their soon-to-open Tower of Terror into a 1950s Hollywood street, I've wanted to get a better idea of how it would play out.

Well, now thanks to WDSFans.com, I have just that. They have created a nice map of the area and listed all the buildings that are going in. Apparently they are snatching up designs from California Adventure and Disney-MGM Studios for use in this area.

If you are curious like I was, click here to check out WDSFans.com's page.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dorney Park Lifejacket Update

In the wake of the sad accident that took place at Great America in California, all Cedar Fair parks now require lifejackets to be used for anyone under 48" tall in their wave pools. Some parks will require them for other attractions, such as lazy rivers.

Of course, this includes Dorney's Wildwater Kingdom, which has two wave pools. They have signs up and areas to pick up life jackets at both pools. They also have a life guard positioned in the shallow end of the pool with a height measurement stick.

Here's what they have a Wildwater Cove:

Perhaps the lifejacket distribution areas are temporary for right now, but they were functioning well today. Most kids seemed happy to put one on, and as desired almost all the little ones were wearing one.

Apparently Cedar Fair had this rule in effect in their three Ohio parks already, as it is some sort of state law. It's sad that it takes a tragedy for positive changes to be made (in life, not just at parks) but this is a positive move and a smart one as well.

Kudos to Cedar Fair on this one, in my opinion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Remember Dinosaur Beach?

I do! Dinosaur Beach Adventure Theme Park was located in Wildwood, New Jersey, on the former Hunt's Pier. The park opened in 1996 and had a short run, closing in 1998.

The park, which was a million years in the making, ha, was opened by the same family that operates Steel Pier in Atlantic City. It featured an assortment of rides and attractions, with light dino theming. A highlight was an actual little river rapids ride that was on the pier. Raptor Rapids was an Intamin ride and opened in 1985. This page has some wonderful photos of it in action.

The Long Neck River Log Flume was added to Hunt's around 1970 and was a compact flume due to the pier's limited space. The owners of Dinosaur Beach added some light theming and some dinosaurs along with the name change. When Morey's eventually purchased the pier they decided to donate this flume to Arnold's Park in Iowa.

Escape from Dinosaur Beach was a Sally darkride that opened along with the park. Guests entered the Atlantic Research Institute and whadda you know, all heck breaks loose. The 10,000 square foot dark ride cost $1.5 million and was built in only 6 months. I think it's building is used for storage now, I have not heard what happened to the ride and it's props.

Probably the jewel of Dinosaur Beach was the Golden Nugget Mine Ride. It's still standing, but plans to move it seem to have stalled. The ride is a combo of wooden coaster and dark ride, built in 1960 by Philadelphia Toboggan Company. You can get all the historical pictures you could ever want here and here. Morey's said they planned to move this ride to another pier, and I even remember a survey about interest in a reopening, but alas, it still sits unused.

Finally, we have a map of the park. There was a Master Blaster water slide built over top of the river rapids as well. I have no idea what happened to that either.

A spinning Wild Mouse coaster was also added to the park in 1997 before it closed. It was moved by the owners to Steel Pier after Dinosaur Beach closed.

Phew, okay, that's enough. If anyone has answers to the where-are-they-now of some of the rides I mentioned, please, let me know!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Led Zeppelin Coaster Movin' Fast

The Led Zeppelin coaster at Hard Rock Park is moving right along now that it's had it's topping ceremony.

As you can see, the drop is completed and they've even started to build the loop. The drop looks steep, but nothing insane. I'm sure someone will have close up pictures soon.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kings Dominion Hurrican Reef Art

Sorry for all the concept art lately, I just keep coming across it all after forgetting I ever had it and then I feel like posting it!

Here's some concept art for Kings Dominion's big new addition for 1992, Hurricane Reef, a full water park attraction.

To fit the water park smack dab in the middle of the existing park, they had to fill in two thirds of the man-made Lake Charles that the park was built around. Here's a construction picture of that process:© ejd1984 via Webshots

That's Anaconda there in the background. As you can see, the water park made Lake Charles into Pond Charles.

The water park featured a lazy river, a children's play area, and 5 water slide towers, each featuring your normal assortment of rides, body slides, inner tube slides, etc.

Alright, enough history lesson, here's the concept art:

As I said in my review of the park, I think this old section needs to be faded out, but I doubt we'll see this happen.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Knott's Berry Farm Concepts

There's a cool design firm named Vertex Productions who did a lot of work for Knott's Berry Farm before Cedar Fair purchased them.

They did the designs for Mystery Lodge, Ghost Town, and the Jaguar roller coater. They also designed a master plan for the Knott's resort. It included two parking garages, and 2nd hotel, a water park, expanded shopping areas, and more.

They also did designs for Knott's Water Revolution, which bears a striking resemblance to the Soak City U.S.A. that Cedar Fair built next to the park years later. Below are Vertex Productions' designs for the water park.

© Vertex Productions

You can see some other art from Knott's specific attractions at Vertex Productions' Portfolio page. It's totally worth checking out.

Big Hard Rock Park Update

Just a quick FYI - Discover Myrtle Beach already has one cool photo up from the topping of the Led Zeppelin coaster, and promises to have a lot of coverage from inside the park up later today.

I'd check it out at Discover Myrtle Beach.

More on Cedar Fair and the 49ers

The Mercury news has an update on the negotiations between the 49ers and Cedar Fair to build a stadium for the team in Great America's parking lot.

Cedar Fair still isn't backing the stadium, but they are meeting with 49er officials to discuss the matter.

The article points out that Great America's lease with the city requires their written consent to develop that parking lot, so Cedar Fair is much more important in this decision than I previously realized.

If they don't lose too much parking and Great America can benefit from the activity, why not? Perhaps this is one of those opportunities that I was talking about that Cedar Fair needs to jump on.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hard Rock Park Construction Again

Here's a shot from today's work going on at Hard Rock park. I wanted to point out that it looks like they've topped out the Led Zeppelin coaster, you can see the tallest support is now up.

Also, in the lower right corner they are now working on more footers for Midnight Rider as well as the basis of the foundation of what looks to be the station for the ride.

Lots of changes are noticeable every day, perhaps this park will open on time?

Click to check out their webcams.

Guests Love Six Flags

Six Flags Corporate has put out a press release that their guest approval ratings have hit an all time high.

Six Flags received their highest scores since 2002 in 14 areas, accounting for everything from cleanliness of rest rooms to speed of ride lines.

Two other important statistics were that 96% of guests said they will recommend the parks to a friend and 92% said they will visit again this year or next.

Just another sign that Shapiro's crusade is paying off. The company is reporting 2nd quarter results soon, so then we'll really see how things are shaping up.

You can read the entire release here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New S&S Rides

S&S is starting to market a few new rides. As seen above, one is a mix of a small freefall and a water ride of some sort. I'm not sure if that water blasts you all the time but that might get annoying. Still, I'd like someone to build one to see how this thing works.

S&S also has on their website that they are going to offer a Log Flume. Will it be launched? Is compressed air involved? Are there over-the-shoulder restraints?

I'm scared to see what an S&S Log Flume would be like.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This Cedar Fair Buyout Business

I find this topic important enough that I won't even use an image here to attract anyones attention.

I waited until today to post any thoughts on the Cedar Fair buyout business because I wanted to wrap my head around the issue before blabbering on about it on here.

I'm sure that if Cedar Fair ever goes public with this stuff, whether it happens or not, it'll be presented like this:

We are having problems managing the debt we took on to buy Paramount, the parks are not seeing attendance growth, per caps are tough to raise, we can't cut the distributions, weather, blah blah. We want a private firm to buy us so we can operate our parks with more freedom and have the financial backing to manage the debt properly. Our current management will stay in place and the parks will only benefit from this buyout.

This seems silly to me. How is it that so soon into the adjustment period (which was stated at a few years at the least) of merging the old parks with the new that things have gotten this bad?

I suppose the gains in operating costs and operating synergies that were so important a year ago no longer apply.

I hate to say it but, I feel like Cedar Fair failed us all on this one. Why is it that Six Flags can step up and use a rush of modern, different techniques to pull in ten of millions in advertising and partnership deals, but Cedar Fair can't?

Was buying stuffed animals and frozen pizzas in bulk really going to save that much money? Designing brochures for all the parks in one office not save as much as planned? I don't run these parks and I do not pretend to. But I do visit them. I've been to these places and seen how things work. And just from that I can say that Cedar Fair's pattern of running parks works, but only to a degree and only in certain market conditions.

If everything is status quo, then all will be well. But having $1.8 Billion worth of debt is not status quo for this company. Any company that does a billion a year in revenues needs to have the confidence that they can try something new now and again, and I honestly feel that Cedar Fair has lacked this quality for a while.

I'm not talking about new big coasters, or a new indoor water park. I'm talking new revenue strategies, basically the track that Six Flags placed itself on.

I'd rather have to endure a GEICO banner on the side of Thunderhawk than have the park be squeezed so tight in coming years that it isn't worth visiting.

I know that marketing alliances alone would not fix the problem at hand, my general point is that I'm not sure enough of the opportunity that the Paramount purchase generated was utilized in any way. And now, as it seems, those opportunities have been lost and what generated them in the first place is killing the company.

Just my two cents, anyway.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Wild West World = CLOSED.

After just over 2 months of operation, Wild West World, in Park City Kansas, has closed and filed Chapter 11.

The park will stay closed while the owners shop for someone to buy the park and lift them from bankruptcy.

Weather is the item being blamed on poor attendance.

Article with press release from park's lawyer.

Wild Rivers Irvine Goes Down the Tube

Sadly, it seems that Wild Rivers water park in Irvine, California, will close for good at the end of the 2007 season.

The O.C. Register has a nice article with details. The land the park sits on is leased from the city of Irvine, and that lease is up this fall. The city has decided that the land is better suited for 3,700 homes and condos.

I've been to Irvine and it's a really beautiful place. It's also one of those beautiful places where the houses that cost 5 times what they should are about 4 feet from one another. My point, more of these developments are needed?

Anyway, the operators of the park want to build a new park somewhere, but it sounds a little like a pipe dream for now. They've scouted locations but it's understandably difficult to find any open parcel of land of a decent size in that part of the world.

If you have the opportunity, go give this water park a good bye visit! As a memorial, here's an aerial of the park since we all know I love to do these: