Friday, April 30, 2010

Scott and Carol Present A Significant Celebration At Silver Dollar City

Before you even get to the park, you know this is a special year for Silver Dollar City.

The park is all decked out with anniversary signage.

Large crowds gathered for free 50th Anniversary buttons.

Trivia lovers now have a new game to play at Silver Dollar City. The conversations in the lines reflect the closest Did You Know? signs. There are over sixty scattered throughout the park and plans are to rotate some new ones in during the season.

Undercover Boss was not the first CBS program to feature Silver Dollar City.

The Beverly Hilbillies filmed six episodes for the 1969 season at the park. The park has a commemorative DVD of those episodes available for interested people who want to see what the park looked like that year.

Part of the Golden Anniversary is the addition of River Battle, the longest and wettest ride of its type for this season.

The sign gives all the details you need for a hot Missouri day.

Fans lined up over ninety minutes before the concert was scheduled to start.

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils performed, oblivious to the impending storm. They were so hot onstage the skies opened up to cool things down. They were classy enough to come back out and tell the audience that the impending storm nixed the encore.

If you took the cave tour years ago, John Dillon might have been your guide. "Fifty guests per tour and six tours a day," he said. "Once some of us guides came back one night and did the entire tour backwards without lights."

The monsoon ended our day, so we went back to the car, with squishy sneakers to dry off.

Take A Ride On The Wildebeest Side

Here's a new POV video of Holiday World's new Wildebeest water coaster that the park recently posted. I must say, that looks more intense than many traditional coasters I've been on! (that's a good thing) The Hydro Magnetic Rocket water coaster stands 64 ft. tall and is 1,710 ft. long - the longest water coaster in the world.

Wildebeest is scheduled to open with Splashin' Safari on May 14th. Holiday World opens for the 2010 season tomorrow, May 1st.

Sky Rocket Gets Inverted

Kennywood's new coaster, Sky Rocket, is growing by leaps and bounds lately as the park races to finish the coaster and get it open.

In a new series of photos posted by Kennywood Connection we can see that the ride's first inversion has been constructed - the corkscrew toward the end of the ride.

Almost all the supports are now up as well, except for the first tower after the launch. The ride keeps looking better and better with each new section of track lifted into place.

To see the photos, jump over to Kennywood Connection.

A Wizarding Entrance

Universal Orlando has released the above image of the entrance to Hogsmeade with the following description:

"As guests pass through the arch into Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they will be immediately transported to a world of wonder, excitement and adventure. While exploring the cobbled streets of the highly themed environment, they will encounter iconic locations from the Harry Potter books and films, like the Hogwarts Express, Ollivanders and the majestic Hogwarts castle. Set for a grand opening at Universal Orlando Resort on June 18, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will feature multiple themed attractions, shops and a restaurant."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Canada's Wonderland Part 2

As construction continued many of the cultural institutions in Toronto including Ontario Place, the Royal Ontario Museum and the operators of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) had major concerns that Toronto was not a large enough market to support more competition and this new theme park could put them out of business.

A local residential association was also against Wonderland being built, they felt the increase in traffic would decrease their property values. Many People in the Toronto area were concerned that the new park would be similar in aesthetics to a carnival or midway.

Taft was concerned about opposition, so a landscaped berm was constructed around the park to reduce noise and to help hide the large parking lot to appease the neighbors. And, Taft also flew some of the parks staunchest political opponents to Cincinnati to show them the positive impact Kings Island had on that community.

Another concerns was the cultural implications of allowing an American theme park to open in Canada. Many felt that it would be a "Trojan Horse" for American culture. To help negate these concerns Taft planned to open Frontier Canada, a section of the park which was to be devoted to Canada's history.

Early park maps show the Frontier Canada area encompassing land that is now Splash Works, White Water Canyon, the F/X Theatre and the southern part of Kidzville. The maps also included proposed attractions, which included a steam passenger train. While Frontier Canada was never built, several elements of the themed areas remain in the park.

Unlike its sister parks, Kings Island and Kings Dominion, it was decided during the early planning stages that centerpiece of the park would not be a replica of Paris's famous Eiffel Tower. Instead the park's designers chose to build a massive mountain, known as Wonder Mountain. Situated at the top of International Street, Wonder Mountain featured a huge waterfall and interior pathways which led visitors to a look-out point.

Canada's Wonderland was also responsible for changing the master development plan for the Province of Ontario. The government wanted the land north of Toronto remain agricultural.

Taft was able to convince the province to amend the plan, and the park secured infrastructure improvements (including a highway overpass and sewage systems) to be expanded and built out to the site. These improvements paved the way for increased development throughout the entire region.

Check out next week's Blast for the conclusion of our Canada's Wonderland construction coverage.

Click here for part 3!

Legoland California Water Park Update

Legoland California has sent out a nice update of their new water park, and at the same time has detailed the attractions to be found in the new area. The new $12 million area is expected to open on May 28th and is the first Legoland Water Park in the world.

Some of the new attractions include:

Orange Rush
, a family tube slide where up to four people can ride together down a 312-foot long curving track on an 11-foot in diameter half pipe.

Twin Chasers, two side-by-side enclosed red tube slides that stretch nearly 130 feet.

Splash Out, an open body slide that invites guests to slide 240 feet and “splash out” into the water below.

Joker Soaker, a fun interactive platform in the wade pool where kids can aim water cannons at each other as a LEGO jester model tells jokes and pours 350 gallons of water down upon them; a one-of-a-kind concept.

Build-A-Raft River, where kids customize their own raft made of soft LEGO bricks before floating down a lazy river and Kid Creek, a lazy river built with younger kids in mind.

DUPLO® Splash Safari, a water play area designed especially for toddlers with three small slides and interactive DUPLO creatures including an alligator, polar bear and an elephant.

The park also revealed some of the giant LEGO characters that will be found along the Build-a-Raft River. Each of the characters will have a splashy surprise for guests passing by. In all, there will be 22 LEGO models located inside the water park.

More information on the new water park can be found at the official website.

Captain EO Returning Around the Globe

The official Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that after a successful reopening at Disneyland, Captain EO will now resurface in Florida, Tokyo, and Paris for limited engagements.

Epcot will begin to show the film on July 2nd, in time for the busy 4th of July weekend. Tokyo Disneyland visitors can partake in the attraction on July 1st, and Disneyland Paris on June 12th.

Those long lines of guests waiting in Anaheim (and purchasing merchandise!) must have gotten the attention of the executives! There was talk that none of the other resorts would bring the film back, but now we see that quite the opposite will be true.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight: Bell's Amusement Park (year unknown)

It's always bittersweet to feature a brochure from a defunct park. But this case is a little different, as the owners of Bell's Amusement Park have been vowing to rebuild in a new location ever since they were unceremoniously (and rather shadily) kicked out of Tulsa's Expo Square back in 2006. Until that happens, this undated brochure provides a small taste of what we're missing.

Something about this photo makes me feel like Bell's must have been situated on a boardwalk, but it wasn't! Perhaps the notion of a "sea dragon" is just playing games with my mind. In any event, I'd still argue that the park's signature woodie--the John Allen-designed Zingo--would make a great seaside coaster.

There may have been no ocean next door, but it appears that plenty of water was provided by Bell's log flume. It was one of 50+ rides and attractions operating at the park at the time it closed. Bell's was also home to a much celebrated Bill Tracy dark ride. According to this write-up, park founder Bob Bell actually coined the now familiar name "Phantasmagoria". The 7-minute long ride featured vehicles that were built in-house.

As you longtime SBS readers know, undated brochures drive me out of my mind. Judging from the haircuts and attire of the park patrons featured in this one, I'd say this brochure was printed quite a long time ago! But the lack of a traditional swimsuit certainly didn't prevent this young lady from enjoying her ride on Bell's "ultimate water slide", Ol Slippry.

Our closing shot is a beautiful view of Bell's at night...which again evokes the "boardwalk" feeling for me. Good thing summer's right around the corner, because I obviously have beaches on the brain!

New Busch Gardens Williamsburg Tower Ride in '11?

Busch Gardens Williamsburg appears to have something up their sleeve for next season... and it's big. Really big.

The park has applied for a height variance for a "thrill attraction of a single tower not to exceed 260 feet above ground level." Well, a single tower that high certainly sounds like a free fall, or some variant of one - something that's been long missing at the park.

If it does indeed turn out to be a drop tower, I would not be surprised to see it heavily themed, possibly even indoors. That would certainly help differentiate it from Kings Dominion's massive Drop Tower attraction.

A news article states that the new ride would be located in the Oktoberfest section of the park, but not where Big Bad Wolf previously lived. Instead, it would be near Der Wirbelwind, the park's chair swing ride. Seen above, there is actually a nice wooded area between the swings and DarKastle's queue area that is undeveloped, though that may stay the same because of the landscape.

I'm not sure if that land is even needed, though, since a tower ride has a small footprint they could move the swings, or the scrambler and have plenty of room. This one should be fun to follow.

What Time Is It?

The new StarFlyer at Wiener Prater in Vienna has been completed and is now testing. The ride is now adorned with a custom gold clock crown that tops out at 360 ft. Riders will swing out at 311 ft. above the ground.

And, with a clock that tall and that large, everyone in the park shall forever know what time it is. Ha!

Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular at Kings Island

Kings Island has a nice surprise announcement for us today. Well, maybe not a full surprise since some folks noticed a large amount of lights covering trees in part of the park, but still. The park has announced Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, a new nighttime light show that features more than two million LED lights. Kings Island will join Worlds of Fun and Knott's Berry Farm in premiering similar light shows this summer.

"Custom designed for Kings Island by EMMY award-winning RWS and Associates in New York, Snoopy’s Starlight Spectacular is a million dollar investment. The show is designed using a diverse mixture of low energy and high efficiency LED lighting. The more than two million LED lights are supplemented by a variety of professional lighting designs and audio soundtracks throughout the attraction.

Starring everyone’s favorite PEANUTS characters and their summertime adventures, this colorful pageant of lights invites guests to explore a breathtaking display the entire family will enjoy."

A sure highlight of the experience will be the park's iconic Eiffel Tower decked out head to toe in shimmering lights. The show will begin on May 29th and run through Labor Day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Virtual Preview of Luna Park

Check out this awesome virtual fly-through of the new Luna Park at Coney Island. You can get a real good feeling for all the Zamperla rides and attractions that will be opening this summer.

Be sure to watch at the end to see a hint at the big coasters they have planned for next summer - looks like a Flying Coaster and a MotoCoaster for sure. Not sure if it's based on actual plans or just random ideas - but the Flying Coaster especially looks rather huge!

New SeaWorld Cares Admission Program

SeaWorld Parks has announced a new initiative aimed at bringing families closer together while helping wildlife conservation efforts at the same time.

"Through the SeaWorld Cares offer, now through Dec. 31, with each full-paid, SeaWorld single-day, adult admission purchased online, any child age 12 and under gets a $5 admission, all of which goes to fund non-profit organizations that are working right now on wildlife conservation projects. The offer is good for SeaWorld San Diego, as well as SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Fla. and San Antonio. Families even can choose which wildlife conservation effort receives their donation."

It's great to see SeaWorld Parks commit even further than they already have to wildlife conservation. Complete details of the program are available at

A Freezing Desert Oasis

I had never heard of Ice Land Water Park until today. Located in the UAE (think middle east), not too far north of Dubai, the water park bears a winter wonderland theme - ironic since it's located in the middle of a desert.

Comparisons to Disney's Blizzard Beach water park are natural, but not everything the two share is the same. The inspiration may be the same, but the final product is quite different. Ice Land isn't open yet, but it's newness means it's filled with current generation water slides and attractions. Take for instance the Tornado type slide built onto the side of a glacier field.

The cabanas look like igloos, and even the beach umbrellas have a distinct snowball look to them. The Theme Park Guy recently took a flight over the park and posted his photos on his site. Be sure to check those out here. Be sure to check out the army of Penguins they have ready to spread throughout the property! Too funny.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Aerial Antics: Sea World Orlando

A mega-combination of animal and theme park, Sea World Orlando offers a little something for everyone. Just so happens that on this blog that something tends to be rides over animals. Let's see what Sea World Orlando has to offer us...

Sea World Orlando entered the coaster big leagues in 2000 with the addition of Kraken. The B&M 'monster' floorless coaster towers 151 ft. near a lagoon and features seven inversions. Riders also dip below ground level into the Kraken's lair, just missing a rushing water fall.

I heard originally the ride was going to run out over the lagoon, but the park couldn't get planning permission. Anyone know for sure?

Shamu's Happy Harbor is a paradise for children, filled with smaller scale versions of the 'big kid' rides. The area features a gigantic net climb, similar to the other Sea World parks. 2006 saw the addition of the Shamu Express, the family coaster in the upper right corner. This photo must have been taken in winter of 2006/07, as you can see construction work for three new kiddie rides that debuted that summer.

Journey to Atlantis was really the park's first big step in adding thrills to their lineup. In classic Orlando fashion, they didn't just build a flume ride to drench guests, they went all out and created an immersive themed ride.

The water coaster was designed by Mack Rides and features a very coaster like finale. The storyline involves riders trying to avoid a nasty Siren's calls while in and around the lost city of Atlantis, and of course features a large drop into a splash pool.

The latest in the park's thrill arsenal is Manta, seen under construction here. A B&M flying coaster by design, Manta keeps the park's tradition of building both rides and animal exhibits alive. Guests can view a wide variety of rays while waiting in line, and the aquarium can also be visited by non-riders.

To fly around Sea World Orlando on your own, visit Bing's aerials of the park here.

2009 World Theme Park Attendance Report

TEA and AECOM have released the 2009 Theme Index - the Global Attractions Attendance Report. Each year the report covers changes in theme park attendance across the globe.

The number one most attended theme park in the world is the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, with some 17.2 million visitors. Disneyland, in California, came in second with 15.9 million guests, up significantly from last year.

The report (which features some nice graphic work this year) details water park attendance as well, and breaks things down by global region. Those interested can read the full report here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Amusing Ads Archive - Arrow 1993

Arrow Dynamics has still got it! At least they did in 1993 when this advertisement ran. They had much to boast about, as Arrow really was one of the greatest ride manufacturers of their time. Magnum was still a crowning achievement during the period - and check out how Big Bad Wolf was named the 4th best coaster by Amusement Business that year. How sad.

As the ad says, Arrow also pioneered the development of the log flume ride. For that I am forever in their debt. As of '93 they had designed over 70 flumes around the world - I've still got my work cut out for me trying to ride them all!

Europa Park's Log Flume

Europa Park's website describes their Log Flume, Tiroler Wildwasserbahn, as an exciting adventure that, "after racing down the first steep mountain, you enter the “Magic World of Diamonds”, where you can relax and watch the beautiful inside of a diamond cave. But after this, you have to get down yet another high waterfall."

We all know I love Log Flumes and this one looks really great. The large indoor section also contains much track for the park's powered coaster, and the two rides sharing the same building and theming is a neat idea and must add greatly to the flume.

A couple of the workers in that Diamond Cave looks a bit like Smurfs to me. Even better!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weekly Rewind 4.24.10

Do you love Pretzels and coasters? (Notice I said coasters, not beer) If so, and you're the creative type, then you'll be excited to know that Busch Garden's and Snyder's of Hanover will again hold their pretzel-coaster building contest this summer. Read about the details here!

Heide Park, located in Germany, has opened their new Pirate Bay splash battle attraction. They've released the above photo of the ride, which shows off the very nice theming job they've done. I hope these rides continue to pop up at parks here in America!

Playland Amusement Park, located at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, Canada, is celebrating it's 100th anniversary this year. That's quite an achievement for any amusement park! Here's an article about the history of the park that's worth checking out.

The Karate Kid returns this summer in the form of a new feature film, and Six Flags is helping celebrate with the Karate Kid Challenge. The event is being held at parks across the country in May - one 'karate kid' and his coach can enter and perform a 90 second routine. A winner from each park will have the performance posted on Yahoo where the public will vote for an overall winner. Details are available at the Karate Kid Challenge website.

Knoebels may not have a big new ride this year, but that does not mean the park is taking the year off. They've greatly expanded the park's infrastructure, including computer and phone systems. They've also already poured the concrete pad for Black Diamond, planned for a 2011 opening. And yes, Flying Turns is still being worked on.

Well that was both fast and not surprising - the Minnesota based developer that said they wanted to redevelop the former Six Flags New Orleans has already pulled out of their plan. I hate to say it, but it seems we'll really never see an amusement park operate there again.

A plan for Ghost Town in the Sky to be purchased by a former owner out of bankruptcy has been proposed, though it's not clear if the court will allow it. If the deal does not go through the park well be auctioned off to the highest bidder as early as June. If the deal does go through there are hopes that the amusement park could possibly reopen this summer.

The much anticipated World of Color lagoon show at Disney's California Adventure will officially open on June 11th. The park recently opened the area that will hold 9,000 guests per show, named Paradise Park.

This news come in Finnish, but we can still gather that Linnanmaki, Finland, will add a Maurer Sohne X-Car coaster in 2011. RCDB is reporting that it's a standard model, much like the one at Magic Springs.

Funcoast visited Cedar Point and published a slew of new photos of Shoot The Rapids. Photos include all aspects of the ride, including plenty of shots of the final splashdown water feature running. Looks nice!

Busch Gardens Tampa is offering a great Monther's Day lunch and breakfast with the Sesame Street characters at the park's new Safari of Fun area on May 9th. If I were closer I'd take my Mom! You can purchase tickets through the park's website, located here.

Staying with Busch Gardens Tampa, BGTGuide has been doing a great job featuring information and photos of work on the park's 2011 coaster project. They've also uncovered another trademark application for a ride, this one called Cheetaka. Could that be the ride's name?

We haven't forgotten Sky Rocket at Kennywood this week - Kennywood Connection has been doing almost daily updates so we can all watch the coaster going up. It's looking really great! Here's a link to there most recent photo update, which includes shots taken inside the park.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's new attraction, Europe In The Air, isn't quite ready to open, but the park gave us a bit of a preview (including video) this past week on their blog. Sounds like they're using smells heavily during the ride, including chocolate! Mmmm.

Canobie Lake Park has stars in its eyes this year - they're debuting the "Summer of SuperStars" entertainment series. A variety of shows that feature tributes to Michael Jackson, Elvis, and plenty of other huge names. You can see more on the park's site.

And we'll finish with the story I wish I could hit the fast forward button on. Cedar Fair vs. 49ers. Now Cedar Fair wants the rent they pay to the city to be reduced and based on performance, should the stadium be built.