Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Hersheypark Opens The World's Only Dueling/Racing Roller Coaster!

After a long, hard Pennsylvania winter of construction, spring finally arrived and on May 13th 2000 Lightning Racer made its debut! With a combined length of nearly 6800 feet, there was a heck of a storm brewing in the Midway America section of the park Lightning Racer's dual station is a beautiful structure with a massive amount of twisted wooden track just beyond. As riders walk through the entrance and up the ramp they have a several difficult decisions to make. Lightning or Thunder? Front or back? Good thing you can't go wrong either way.

Once the decisions are made you take a your seat in a new style train, that resembles a train from the "Golden Age" of roller coasters, with a lot of technology packed inside. When everyone is loaded and the safety checks complete it's time to race! Thunder and Lightning roll out of the station. Soon the trains are cresting the tops of their lifts and from there you enter the eye of the storm.

Thunder and Lightning battle it out over the rails, twisting back and forth, over and under each other and even meet head on near misses several times during this thrilling 2 minute and 20 second adventure!

While fans of the Lightning Racers may have a favorite side, both travel through the same elements, but at different times during the ride. However, rumor has it one side wins more than the other. On our visits in the past that might have had a slight ring of truth to it. But this season Thunder and Lightning seemed pretty evenly matched. We have heard that during a test run with no passengers on board either train there was once a tie.

There are 15 drops on each side of Lightning Racer, with the highest point approaching 100 feet. The ride pulls over 3.6 G forces in spots and the trains come within 6 feet of each, while traveling in excess of 40mph.There is also a spot referred to as "sideswipe alley" where the racing trains careen through two turns, passing by each other with a combined speed in excess of 70 mph.

More than a 1 million board feet of Southern Yellow Pine was used and due to the rides twisted nature, more than 20 miles of lumber had to be rip cut. Approximately 185,000 bolts and 1000 boxes of nails were used to construct Lightning Racers.

More than 3800 yards of concrete were used for the foundation and there are 3300 footers. More than 187,000 feet of rebar was used to help reinforce all that concrete. In all, over 60 tons of hardware was used to build this coaster. The cost of all this fine engineering and construction added up to over $12.5 million, and that was a decade ago!

Over the past decade bigger, faster woodies have been built, but none any more impressive to look at than Lightning Racer. And, just like a good wine, the ride as aged very well. It's just as fast, smooth and fun today as it was in 2000.

Our thanks to Hersheypark, Great Coasters International, Dave B and Linda W for their contributions to our brief look back at this wonderful ride.

Euro-Fighter Goodness

Slow news day... so let's take a look at a great example of why I'm happy that more Gerstlauer Euro-Fighters are set to arrive in America: Fluch von Novgorod at Hansa Park in Germany.

The ride features some extensive theming (though I admit I haven't a clue what's going on), a launch, plenty of twisted track, and part of the trip is in total darkness.  The single trains allow for some unique maneuvers that traditional, longer trains could not handle.

Granted the announced Euro-Fighters for the U.S. lack the immersive theming, but they still seem like rather fun rides.  Dollywood started things off right with Mystery Mine, hopefully we will see another ride of that magnitude sometime in the future.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Very Special Delivery!

You very well may be wondering where your favorite weekly amusement park brochure column has gone.  Yes, Sabrina's Brochure Spotlight has temporarily gone on hiatus, but there's a very good reason for that.

You see, Sabrina recently became a new Mommy! Yes, she has welcomed a beautiful baby girl into her family.  Mother and daughter are doing great.  As for Husband, well, I can't speak for him.  Haha! Just kidding.

How about you guys share in my many congratulations to Sabrina, and leave a comment?  We will look forward to her return to NewsPlusNotes when her daughter is 18.  Just kidding.  Again.

Aerial Antics: The Elusive Virginia Parks

Since starting the Aerial Antics series I have patiently waited for great Bird's Eye aerials of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Kings Dominion.  Well, I guess I finally got the second best thing - Google updated their regular aerial shots with brand new images.

Now we can zoom in on Busch Gardens Williamsburg to see recent additions like Griffon.  I love how there is a train mid-splash, but if you look close something is a little off. There's another train just around the bend from the splash pool, ready to hit the brakes.  I smell some photoshopping.

Along with recent additions are recent casualties.  Here we see the footer remains of the Big Bad Wolf's big finale.  From the view (though not seen in this image) it looks as though the Bavarian village that the track snaked through also met its maker.  That would have been sweet to reuse for the 2012 ride.

And there's also views of the Sesame Street addition that went in a couple years back, tucked nicely in a corner of the park.  Here's a link to Google's images.

When we take a flight over Kings Dominion we can see the expansions that Cedar Fair has added to the park since taking over.

First, they expanded the water park, adding a new wave pool, family slide, and tornado ride.  Here we see only the back half of the water park, nestled snugly in the trees.  It's a nice water park!

Then the thrills came to the park, first in the form of Dominator, which was moved from Geauga Lake.  The ride is technically a "parking lot" coaster but Kings Dominion was smart and planted grass under the ride.

Finally, this past year the park went big - like 305 feet big - when they added Intimidator 305.  The Nascar themed Intamin Giga coaster takes up a lot of real estate.  If you zoom around and take notice of just how huge that first turn is - it looks like a whole wave pool or the park's giant amphitheater could fit in there!

Here's a link to the Kings Dominion photos.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quassy Names New Wooden Coaster

© The Gravity Group
Quassy Amusement Park has finally named their new for 2011, Gravity Group designed family wooden roller coaster:  The Wooden Warrior.  The park held a contest where local school classes were able to submit their best name for the ride, and then the winner of picked.

The winning name came from two different classrooms:  Mrs. Barbara Minutillo’s fourth grade, Middlebury Elementary School, Middlebury, Conn.; and Miss Lauren Zafrin’s fifth grade, R.M.T. Johnson Elementary School, Bethel, Conn.  In all over 90 different classes submitted possible names for the new coaster.

Both classes will be welcomed to the park in the Spring to take a spin on the Wooden Warrior when it's ready to open.  You can check out recent construction photos of the ride via the Gravity Group.

Maurer Launched X-Car Coaster Set For Germany's Bayern Park In 2011

I do not believe we've ever covered Germany's Bayern Park here on NPN - it is a small, mostly-family oriented park located outside Munich.  The park has given us a reason to be interested in them by announcing Freischutz, a new Maurer launched coaster going into the park in 2011.

The coaster's name is based on a German folk tale that involves "a marksman who, by a contract with the devil, has obtained a certain number of bullets destined to hit without fail whatever object he wishes. As the legend is usually told, six of the Freikugeln, or "free bullets," are subservient to the marksman's will, but the seventh is at the absolute disposal of the devil himself." (from wiki)  That's intense, no?  The coasters train is set to become one of the "magic bullets" in the tale.

The coaster will be the first launched ride in Bavaria, and will have the most inversions of any ride in Germany.  The ride will use the Maurer X-Car, which features unique lap bars that allow for an unrestricted ride even with several inversions present.  The coaster will sit on a hillside and stretch 1,575 feet.  Most of that will be covered quickly, as the ride uses an LMS launch to hit 50 mph out of the station.

Since the ride slops up a hillside, the tallest track is 79 feet from the ground, but 115 feet from the base of the ride at the bottom of hill.  The ride launches into a top hat, then into a vertical loop, followed by many twists that include a heartline roll and an inclined loop.

Another unique feature will be the fact that energy from the braking system will be collected and reused for the ride's launch.  Maurer says that "supercapacitors" will be used to do this, and in the end the ride will have almost loss-free energy storage.  How very green of them!

The ride sounds like a great addition to the park - this is the type of attraction that so very many American parks would benefit greatly from.  I hope they take notice!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Frightening Fun: Halloween 2010 Events - 3

Greeting guests at Six Flags Great America's Fright Fest is an entry pool dyed blood red.  Talk about setting the mood!  This year marks the 20th season of screams for Fright Fest, and the park is giving guests reason to celebrate.

Creating Fright Fest is intense: "The transformation to turn the theme park into a"scream park" is underway with over 2,000 corn stalks, 7 tons of pumpkins, 300 bales of hay, 200 pounds of blood-red dye, 200 monsters, dozens of corpses and skeletons, and hundreds of rubber snakes, bats, rats, skulls and body parts.  Fright Fest staples, "Tiny" the famous 200 lb spider makes his return to the side of the America Eagle coaster as the 500 lb inflatable gorilla begins his climb up SkyTrek Tower."

2010 marks the debut of the Saw Live haunted maze.  Guests will come face to face with some of jigsaw's most horrible deeds.  Fright Fest starts October 2nd and runs weekends throughout the month. 

Wild Adventures Theme Park becomes even more wild during the Fall when Phobia takes over.  New this year is Phobia: One Path - Endless Fears, the only Halloween experience of its kind set in a real blackwater swamp.

Living in that swamp is the Fearmaker, who doesn't sound like an especially nice guy.  Guests will have to wander through a single pathway and face their most horrible fears along the way.

During the day Kid-O-Ween takes place, featuring Monty's Magical Pumpkin Forest where kids can pick their very own magical pumpkin.  There's also a Monster Mash Dance Party, hay bale maze, and a craft station for the tots.

Universal Studios Orlando kicks things up a notch each year when they present Halloween Horror Nights to the masses.  This year the event is celebrating it's 20th anniversary, quite an accomplishment in the Halloween realm.

Naturally, a 20th anniversary calls for a big celebration - and that's just what guests will find this year.  The even is hosted by Fear itself, manifested into a physical form and causing all kinds of a ruckus.  There are 8 new haunted houses, 6 new scare zones, and 2 new live entertainment productions.  Things never get stale at Halloween Horror Nights!

The event is so popular that most nights sell out, especially on the weekends.  Horror Nights runs through October 31st this year.

If you happen to find yourself in the Nation's capital this Fall and need to get to a scary attraction right away then Six Flags America has what you need! (ok so that's a stretch, but still)  Fright Fest returns to the park this year filled with both scary and family friendly Halloween fun.

If you're really brave then take a trip on the Circus of Lost Souls, where the park's railroad takes you on a trip into the woods where the only way back is a path riddled with ghouls.  Also make sure you are prepared to cross the park's famous Bridge of Terror.  Located in a tree covered, quiet area the bridge is absolutely packed with monsters during the event.

Before all that starts, however, families can partake in a Not-So-Scary Hayride, see a magician perform, and, of course, go trick-or-treating.  Fright Fest starts on October 2nd and takes place weekends through the end of the month.

"Where fear meets fun!"  That's the slogan for this year's ScreeemFest at Canobie Lake Park.  Granted, the park does have such fun as Pumpkin Palace - where kids can take in a spooky story or two - but there's also plenty to fear while at ScreeemFest.

Take for instance the Dead Shed, which promises that "if you leave, it will be screaming!"  You see long ago a group of miners set up camp where the park is now located, and they had their own butcher shop.  Long since redeveloped, the butcher shop still stands and it seems the souls of those animals (and people?!) taken there are back with a vengeance.

Other haunted attractions include The Village and Merriment Incorporated, both of which sound rather freaky and unsettling.  The thrill rides that Canobie Lake Park offers also stay open when ScreemFest is going on, giving visitors yet another way to lose their voice.  The event runs weekend nights for all of October.

After and exciting season that saw the reopening of the venerable Blue Streak wooden coaster, Conneaut Lake Park will get into the haunted swing of things with Ghost Lake.

Nevermind that the classic Conneaut Lake Hotel is known as one of the most haunted places anywhere - there's plenty of other scares to be found at Ghost Lake.  In fact, the event has eight different levels, all of which have different themes.  The entire experience takes over a half hour to complete - but that's only if you make it!

As a bonus the Blue Streak - temporarily known as the Ghoster Coaster - will operating during Ghost Lake.  And if you want to stop by just for a spin on the Streak, that's fine too - the park will offer tickets for just the coaster.

CarnEvil, The Harvest, Slaughter House, Central Stalking, Blue Ridge Bloodbath, Toxic Plague.  What do these all have in common?  Well, there's all attractions at Kings Dominion's Halloween Haunt that are sure to keep you up at night well after you've made it back home.  And that's just a handful, there's plenty more haunts to be had!

The event is expanding again this year with the addition of several new indoor haunted houses, and a new scare zone as well.  Among them is the Doll Factory, where you have to pass by plenty of creepy looking dolls... but are they alive?

Busch Gardens Tampa's Latest Tease

Busch Gardens Tampa has released this week's clip of their new coaster, and it's a doozy.   This clip shows what looks like a launch in front of the station area that's once again located below grade, sorta in a crevice.  You look to launch under a pathway bridge of some sort, then up into a very unique set of turns:

The secret word is grace!
The high-in-the-air figure eight is unlink anything I've really seen before.  I doubt it can be taken at high speeds, but it'll work to temporarily slow the pace of the ride, extending the ride time.  Remember, launched rides aren't known for a long ride time, which makes keeping capacity up more complicated.

This latest clip also seems to take place just before the section shown in Clip 1, so watching them in that order gives you a good idea of the first third or so of the ride.  I'm still interested to see how the use of the old Rhino Rally water section plays out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Amusing Ads Archive - Six Flags Over Texas 1993

In the midst of the rush of Halloween events to try to cover, I thought it amusing to feature an advertisement from Six Flags Over Texas' holiday event, circa 1993.  The park has long been a fan of special events, only this one wasn't scary or evil in any way.  Instead, holiday cheer filled the park back then and continues today.

The event featured millions of lights, a huge tree, sledding, wandering carolers, and even a reindeer petting farm!  I don't think that the Santa Claus reindeer coaster shown in the ad was a featured attraction, however.  Too bad!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekly Rewind 9.25.10

Apparently investing in Dick Clark can lead to quite a nice pay day.  Six Flags, who invested in Dick Clark Productions under the last set of leaders, just received a $41 million cash distribution from the company.  They can buy a lot of Euro-Fighters with that kinda cash! Just kidding.

As if Disney does not already have enough characters to turn into plush items, they've started to introduce Duffy the Disney Bear to American audiences.  The character is fantastically popular at the Tokyo parks, and the company is now bringing him to the U.S. parks.  He has his own meet and greet locations at Epcot and Disney California Adventure.  He is sorta cute, though.

While on the subject of Disney Parks, the company just announced a new "Let The Memories Begin" advertising campaign for next year.  The plan focuses on the ever growing use of social media as part of families trips to the parks.  Images of families taken at the parks will be projected on the Castle in Florida and the facade of Small World in California.  The plan has already met tons of criticism from fans who are not at all pleased to see photos plastered on park icons.

Mean Streak, at Cedar Point, started on fire this past week.  Before anyone makes any "burn it down" jokes, the fire was quickly put out and significant harm was not done.  The ride had some work being done on it and somehow the fire resulted form that, inspectors believe.

Keeping up with the construction of the Zippin Pippin at Bay Beach is easier with the addition of new construction photos posted on the park's Facebook.  Looks like a lot of the footers for the beginning of the ride are now in place.  This news article also covers the latest on the ride's development.

Cedar Point posted a pretty cool video of the park taken from a blimp ride.  It's always fun to see shots of some of our favorite parks from the air.  (cough, cough Aerial Antics)  You can watch the video on YouTube at this link.

A reminder that this weekend is the last time you'll be able to ride the Wild Mouse at Quassy Amusement Park.  Free rides are being given from noon to six as a way to celebrate the ride's time at the park.  With a new wooden coaster opening next season, the park will dismantle the older Wild Mouse.

The second clip for Busch Gardens Tampa's new 2011 coaster was revealed this past week, using the code word rush.  The 2nd clip appears to show the final return run to the station, but has me just as excited for the ride as the first one did. 

A bankruptcy court has given permission for the first of many creditors to take items back from Freestyle Music Park that are owed to them.  The company noted that the park is sitting idle with no insurance and could be potentially ruined by a hurricane or other event. 

Ride Entertainment Group has two goodies on their Facebook page relating to Six Flags Over Georgia's new Daredevil Dive coaster.  First, they've posted the layout of the ride, which looks pretty neat.  Second, they recently posted that the ride will have lap-bars instead of over-the-shoulder restraints, a first for a Euro-Fighter.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Canobie Lake Park Planning A Euro-Fighter

Canobie Lake Park is planning a new coaster, a Euro-Fighter style ride from Gerstlauer.  According to this article, the park says the ride is still in planning stages, but they are however ready to apply for planning permission to construct it.

The ride will be located along the Canobie Mall, in a previously undeveloped area.  The ride will stand around 75 ft. tall, which is just under the 80 ft. limit the city has, and feature Euro-Fighter's trademark beyond-vertical first drop.  The ride is expected to be one of the more compact models that the company has, but even the smaller ones still pack quite a punch.

It's not totally clear from the article if the ride is planned for 2011, though it does sound like it.  I'm quite pleased to see yet another of these rides coming to the U.S.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Blast Past From The Past - Lightning Racer Construction

With Lightning Racer, Hersheypark asked Great Coasters and designer Mike Boodley to put a new twist on tradition, thus taking GCI designs to the next level! The field adjacent to Midway America was soon dotted with concrete footers and wooden bents were sprouting up like trees.

By early September the bottom of the two first drops was shaping up. Work continued through out the fall and by Mid-December news leaked that one lift motor would have a fixed speed and the other would be a variable speed motor, which would ensure a "fair" race no matter when the trains left the station (as long as they were still climbing the lift.)

In this photo the inside curve appears to be complete, but the outside has much work to be done.

Here's a look at what would eventually be the Lightning Racer's twin stations

This aerial shot shows that while a lot of the coaster's 6786 feet of track is complete, there is still plenty of work the GCII crew to do.

Curves like the one on the right side of this photo were the reasoning for the creation of GCI's GCI's Millennium Flyer articulating trains, with provide a smooth quick and comfortable ride no matter how twisted the ride is!

Here's Great Coasters founders and Co-owners Claire Hain & Mike Boodley taking one of the first test rides on Lightning Racer.

Greeter Linda W shared a couple of construction photos with us, complete with models, on the left is Linda's oldest daughter Alexa and on the right is little sister, Alaina.

Both young ladies spent this season as lifeguards at Hersheypark's Boardwalk Water park. Mom reports that they still managed to enjoy the park and get plenty of rides on Lightning Racer.

We would like to thank Great Coasters & Linda W for allowing us to use their fantastic construction photos.

Scott And Carol Present - Happy Halloweekends at Cedar Point

Cedar Point has continued to improve the offerings at their fall Halloweekends event. At least one of the mazes is heavily revamped each year to provide new thrills and small touches are added throughout the park.

The new for 2009 Eerie Estate even offers a fine dining plan, allowing you to scare that special someone with something tasty. The menu offers things like crab legs, a seafood Alfredo pasta, fillet Mignon, and lobster. A popular beverage is Bloody Beer, and there is a special surprise for dessert.

Betty, complete with her candle, greats you at the door well before the attraction opens and guides you to the dining room, admonishing you to “Follow the candle,” with an unsettling voice. Seated around the dining table, she encourages someone, any one, to press the button that starts an eerie soundtrack.

If you are a regular visitor to Cedar Point you won’t recognized the inside of the former finance offices. The former denizens had previously scoffed at tales of haunted areas in the park, but if they choose to visit the estate, they might reconsider.

Betty stays in character during the meal, and a lucky guest is asked at knife point “Do you like your salad.” On our visit, Betty was saving her most horrific stuff for a more scare experienced clientele, explaining she didn’t want to ruin it for the children. But she regaled them with stories of haunted lore from Cedar Point.

Brian Poloski says “Advanced reservations are required, for this is limited to only 400 guests per season.”

For a less exclusive dining option, you can visit the Alien Café, and take your picture with the man-eating plant.

There are lots of nice decorations throughout the park. Here is our favorite (13)

During the day the friendly monsters come out to dance with the younger set. And of course Charlie Brown and Snoopy have to have a costume contest. The winners get a special treat.

The landscaping crew has been worked to the bone this season.

A nice family friendly parade featuring the Peanuts gang and friendly monsters attracts a large crowd. And, the costume contest winners are invited to ride along and show off their costumes.

The cemetery of dead rides brings back lots of memories. One of the old rides is haunted according to Betty; do you know which one it is?

When darkness falls a more menacing tone is heard throughout the park. The Awakening has screamsters storming the midway and they congregate beneath the Overlord. Once he releases them the outdoor mazes and scare zones are open to thrill. They have learned more effective ways to scare the guests during scare school and this makes the attractions much more enjoyable.

Cedar Point has a off beat sense of humor and often digs up things that are just lying around to blend withsome new decorations

The new Dr. D. Mented’s Asylum for the criminally insane is located in the old Carousel building across from the Wave swinger. On quiet nights after the park closes, some associates have reported hearing the music and the laughing from years gone by. During Halloweekends all you hear is screams from the new guests of the Doctor. His many years of experiments gone awry have taken their toll on his patients so he is now looking for a few willing subjects to refine his techniques. Stay with your group lest you be “recruited” for his next experiment. The room with lunging skeletons is particularly effective.

CornStalkers and Club Blood make their annual return and of course it wouldn’t be Halloweekends without CarnEvil.

The Fright Zone was the walk-through we were most impressed with. The lighting made for extremely eerie surroundings and Screamsters were very creepy this year.

Alas, all to soon the clock struck mid-night and our time at Halloweekends had expired. Happy Haunting and our thanks to Robin Innes, the PR Overlord.