Sunday, October 31, 2010

Heide Park Announces Krake for 2011

© Heide Park

Heide Park made good use of their last day of the season to fully announced a new B&M Dive Coaster for 2011, to be named Krake.  Translating literally into octopus in English, the highly themed coaster will plunge riders into the open mouth of a giant sea monster from about 134 ft. in the air.  The coaster will feature a water splash, camelback, and Immelman inversion during the roughly 1,561 feet of track.

Krake will feature cars that seat six riders across, spread in three rows per train in stadium style seating, if I am reading the translated press release correctly.  Previous dive machines have had as many as 10 riders across on their trains.  Krake will cost the park 12 million Euros, or about sixteen and a half million U.S. dollars.

It sounds like the water splash will not finish the ride like on American dive coasters, instead, it will be located after the ride's first drop into the Octopus mouth-tunnel.  The ride sounds a bit short, but with a high level of theming and the consistently high quality B&M ride at its core I'm sure it'll be a hit.

Formula Rossa POV!

A point-of-view video of the world's fastest roller coaster has been posted on  Formula Rossa launches trains at 149 mph, taking the record from the not-really-ever-opened Ring Racer at 135 mph, and before that Kingda Ka at 128 mph.

The video makes the ride after the launch appear slow, but I'm wondering if that's just because of the massive scale of the ride.  If I did my math correctly, Formula Rossa covers its track (launch to hitting brakes) at an average speed of 63 mph.  It's not a perfect figure because of taking out the length of track between the brakes and launch, but it's a good estimate.

For comparison, using the same technique I found that Xcelerator at Knott's averages 62 mph, Storm Runner at Hersheypark 59 mph, and Sky Rocket at Kennywood about 31 mph.  So that's still a pretty speedy ride that Formula Rossa delivers.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween NPN readers!  Wishing you nothing but the scariest of nightmares on this special day!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Round of Knight Valley Photos

© 2010 Great Coasters International

More photos of the new GCI wooden coaster being built at Knight Valley in China have been posted recently to the company's Facebook.  Is the photo above not almost shocking in its portrayal of how massive this coaster is?  Most rides do not intimidate me, but this one does.  Not only does the train have to plummet down that huge hill, but that expanse of track is what awaits you.  Check out all the recent photos - be sure to take a close look at the one of the side-by-side tracks! Crazy!

Wooden Warrior Update

Quassy Amusement Park has sent out some photos of their new wooden coaster under construction.  The ride is looking great already!  Here are the photos along with the park's descriptions.

Construction workers today on the last turn and brake run on the “Wooden Warrior,” the new roller coaster being constructed at Quassy Amusement park, Middlebury, Conn. The “Wooden Warrior” is the only new wooden roller coaster being constructed in the U.S. for the 2011 season.

In the foreground is the framework for the coaster station. Once the track is finished, the station building will be erected. Coaster designed by The Gravity Group of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The incline is seen background at right, and station in background left. Foreground shows the turn-around for the “Wooden Warrior” roller coaster. The “bents” will be going up on this part of the ride soon. The turn-around will include a tunnel to add more thrills to the coaster, which also crosses the park’s train tracks twice!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Blast From The Past - The Crystal Beach Comet

Named for the "crystal-clear" water conditions along the Lake Erie shore, Crystal Beach was a small community located within Fort Erie, Ontario.

The Crystal Beach Amusement Park operated along the waterfront for just over a century. Since the park closed in 1989 the land has been occupied by a gated community, the Crystal Beach Tennis & Yacht Club.

While the park had many rides it's main claim to fame was the Cyclone. Built in 1927, this intense coaster had a full-time nurse on hand, to revive passengers who had passed out during the ride. Packed with spiraling drops and twisting track, the Cyclone terrorized riders until 1946.

The high cost of maintenance and operations doomed the Cyclone. In 1947, the coaster was carefully dismantled and a large part of it was used to construct the parks new coaster,including it's metal support structure and the lattice-work station. Herb Schmeck was brought in to design the Comet, which was part of a three coaster series that included the Hersheypark Comet & the San Antonio Rocket. All three share similar track designs and features, but the Crystal Beach Comet was the longest coaster of the series.

The Comet is arguably the most popular attraction from the Crystal Beach Amusement Park. Legend has it, the best part was climbing the 96 foot lifthill, while gazing down on the lake water. Just as the train started descending the riders cwould get a great view of the Buffalo Skyline across the lake. In the year 1985, the park actually modified the trains of the Comet, splitting them in half, so that one could ride facing backwards or forwards. This really made it two rides in one!

Crystal Beach closed forever in 1989, but the Comet's future was only in doubt for a short time. At the auction, Charlie Woods, the owner of The Great Escape in Queensbury, New York successfully bid for The Comet.

The Comet sat in storage at Fantasy Island in Grand Island NY for a few years before being moved to Great Escape. In 1993 construction began, with the site located on the old sand pit in the back of the park.

PTC provided blueprints from the Crystal Beach Cyclone and new trains as well. John Pierce assisted in the construction, with Martin & Vleminckx building the track. New Oak ledgers, 4 x 12 and 6 x 12 wooden beams were used. The yellow paint was stripped off and steel structure was painted white. The total cost of the project was somewhere in the vicinity of $4 million. The Great Escape Comet opening June 25th 1994.

Over the past 16 season the Great Escape Comet has thrilled many, many riders. We never had the opportunity to experience the Comet at Crystal Beach, but thanks to its preservation we didn't miss out on riding a wonderful piece of amusement park history at Great Escape.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mike's Fill-In Brochure Spotlight: Dorney Park 1978

Jumping about a decade forward from last week's brochure, we catch up with Dorney Park, or should I say the New Dorney Park.  Yes, since the park was "one of America's greatest amusement parks," and had expanded significantly in the previous ten years, I guess it needed to differentiate itself from its former self.

And I love the night shot that was spread over the front and back, so I scanned it as one.  The fireworks are obviously fake, but the photo of the Coaster, Swings, and other rides all lit up looks great.

94 years and running when this was published in '78.  They still reference the park as the "natural spot," which is a nice throwback to earlier years.  Be sure to click the larger image and see the photo at the bottom of the Western Frontier building where a walk around Alfundo character poses.  Alfundo's great, but man, that's one scary looking clown.

The "living legend" known as The Coaster was still advertised as one of the top 10 coasters in the world.  The Roaring 20s Midway is also featured - I think this is the row of games that sits behind the Whip (not 100% sure).  The cuddle-up is now known as the Iceberg, and the park is curiously asking "only ride of its kind anywhere?"

The map of the New Dorney park shows off all the goodies they had in store for guests.  The Inn is now called the Cafe & Saloon, another of its theme changes.  Be sure not to miss the Puppets On Parade Spectacular, too!  (that would make a good Haunt theme, cough, cough)

Speaking of the critters, here's a photo of the Puppets with Alfundo.  Looks like a nightmare version of Avenue Q, but maybe I'm just too far into the Halloween spirit.  Thrill Alley featured several of the park's flat rides in one area, including the Zodiac, a stand-up Rotor, and the Monster.  Many other sorely missed attractions also appear here including the Whale Boats, Scooter Cars, and Indy 500.

The direction page features a great photo of the Flying Dutchman, a large Zyklon coaster designed by Pinfari.  The coaster sat atop the hill where the park's Ferris Wheel is today.  The Dutchman stayed at the park until 1988.

An Impatient Mouse Rises at Six Flags New England

© Six Flags New England

Why wait to build a coaster when you can do it now?  I can't think of a good reason, and I guess neither can Six Flags New England.  The park has already started vertical construction on their new Wild Mouse style coaster for 2011.

In a series of photos posted on the park's Facebook we can see the ride, transplanted from Kentucky, has a portion of its base complete and some track sections up as well.  I'm sure the speed of construction is greatly helped by the fact that a foundation for the coaster already exists - that was poured when the park partially built the Dark Knight coaster.

No name or theme has been officially announced yet, but that should be coming any day now.

Silverwood Theme Park Celebrates Record Attendance

Good news coming out of Athol, ID, where Silverwood Theme Park has had a record breaking season with attendance breaking 600,000 for the first time.  The park has continued to expand over the past few seasons with a new water park and coaster, despite the trying economy.

A big part of the attendance record also comes from their Scarywood event, which has been a blockbuster success for the park.  The popularity of Halloween attractions remains strong, and the park's event has brought in far more people that expected.  Silverwood spent $1 million this year expanding the event, even hiring a professional company to create the Haunts.

The park formally expects to break the 600,000 mark tonight, and that lucky guest will receive a free season pass for next year.  I'm always happy to see smaller parks doing so well!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scott And Carol Present - Lake WinnepeSPOOKah

If you ever wondered why Lake Winnepesaukah used to never stay open deep into fall, the story has now come to light. It took 85 seasons for the secret to be revealed. Deep down in the cool waters of the lake, “Wet Winnie” has risen to entertain guests during autumn. Winifred was an only child who lived in fear of her father, Cletus, and his overly protective spirit. He lived in fear that some handsome young man would capture the heart of his daughter and take her away from their home close to the quiet lake.

The Ghoul Market inside the entrance contains a petting zoo, where only the skeletal remains are left for your amusement. A giant spider web forms an iridescent false ceiling, and a store sells all kinds of seasonal light-up goodies. Beware of the parts shop, lest you donate and appendage. Be sure you stay for the end of the show! The Mild Reaper greets one and all, and Jessica is really enjoying her fourth year at the park but the first during Halloween.

The normal associates of Lake Winnie have bought into the new fall celebration with boundless enthusiasm. One ride operator we met told us he spent $50 of his own money just for a great costume; pretty impressive for a part time weekend job that stopped at the end of the month. Costumes for specific characters are chosen by the park but the rest is somewhat random. The ride operator at the Buzzing Bees fit right in with her charges, and the smiles of the children were her reward. The park provides a face painter, and many were gathered around doing their own makeup. Hard to imagine

And then we met Jeff. Jeff is kind of an evil genius; unless you like being terrified, and then you can replace the evil part with awesome. He has developed the Legend of Wet Winnie storyline, handmade an electric chair with the remains of an old crate, some PCV pipe, a strobe light, the obligatory skeleton, and a couple of salad bowls. It was too good to hide in his haunted “Castle,” so he left it outside for even the casual passerby to enjoy. He brought is his collection of scary movie characters and added things like skeletons dumping barrels on the riders and many other surprises. Talking with him we learned that the better skeleton props are the rejects that were made for classrooms, but failed the quality checks and were sold as scenery props. Who knew?

When Cletus caught Winifred with Eddie, an innocent young man lost in the woods, he chased him down and chopped him up with a chainsaw. Unfortunately Winnie witnessed this horrible act, and she desperately ran away from her father. She sought refuge in the old boathouse on Lake Winnepesaukah. As she lay down in the boat, she woke up the nest of snakes that promptly squirmed all over her and bit her again and again. Desperate to escape their fangs, she fell into the water and sunk to the bottom of the lake, carrying the snakes with her.

Every hour, the Thriller parade performs down the midway. The characters regroup from throughout the park for a fantastic parade with lots of candy. Suitable for the entire family, after the parade the participants will pose with anybody who wants a photo memory of their visit. Don’t have a camera; the “Paranormal Paparazzi” will have your picture for you at the front gate as you leave.

When you ride the chairlift, some more pieces of the legend are revealed. As you cross the lake, Winnie appears by the shore, screaming for help and disappearing back into the cabin by the Boat Chute. As you ride through the Boat Chute, every noise seems be a venomous reptile. Exactly what are the things that rustle in the dark and sometimes even brush against your cheek? Every shadow seems a twisting curve until loud noises make everyone jump. Your heart beats louder and louder, until it seems like the only thing you can hear. As you feel like you can’t take it any longer, you emerge to climb the lift and splash down into the lake. Mercifully, as you came back into the station the lights reveal that there are no snakes left in your boat, but when did they leave? The only way to solve this mystery is to try it again, if you dare. Will you be as lucky the next time?

Wet Winnie now only returns in the fall, when she can be seen running through the fallen leaves between the trees. Whether she is looking for Eddie or running from her father no one knows. Sometimes a chainsaw can be heard in the woods, and the locals think it is Cletus still searching for Eddie, who is sometimes seen running around the lake. If you take the haunted train ride you might see Winnie floating close to shore or Eddie fruitlessly running for his life. As you get closer she seems to rise from the water, trying to help Eddie escape from her father. Great for everyone, it still is best after dark, when things come out of the shadows of the trees.

If you choose to take spin on the Cannonball, Lake Winnie’s classic John Allen designed PTC coaster you see some more history. The remnants of the Mad Mouse, extinct for many years from the gentle waters, have reappeared as you roll out of the station. A surprise awaits as you careen down the drops towards the turnaround, but we won’t reveal it here. You have to experience it for yourself, and it’s best after dark.

But much more common than ghosts are the snakes that took Wet Winnie’s life. She is determined that they too shall have no peace until she does, and they overrun the park in the dark. When you wander the park after sunset, every time you hear a rustling in the leaves, you question was it the wind, or a distraught reptile slithering along the ground.

Belmont Park To Open Octotron In December

The LA Times is reporting that Belmont Park, located in sunny San Diego, CA, will add a third new attraction to the seaside park this winter.

The new attraction will be the second Chance Rides Unicoaster, the first of which debuted earlier this year at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America.  That ride is called Brain Surge, themed to a popular Nickelodeon television show.

The ride will be named Octotron, according to the report, and should open in mid-December.  Here is a video of the similar ride that opened at Nickelodeon Universe:

Octotron will replace the Tilt-a-Whirl, which will be relocated to the spot of Chaos (pictured above right) which will be removed from the park.  Many parks have already removed their Chaos rides, this is just the latest in a now long list.

Belmont Park has already added two other attractions this year, including an elevated ropes course and a crazy ride named Control Freak.  Created by Moser rides, Control Freak takes spinning to a whole new level.  I get dizzy just watching video of the ride - I could not imagine being on it!

Six New Attractions For Schlitterbahn Kansas In 2011

Schlitterbahn Water Park, in Kansas City, Kansas, has announced a large expansion for the park's 2011 operating season.  The expansion will cost several million dollars and will greatly expand the number of slides and amenities the water park offers.

The  park has not released full details of the new attractions, but are giving a general idea of what is to be expected for next year.  A Boogie Bahn surf simulator will be added, along with three water slides, a "record-breaking rapids ride," white water tube chute, and more. 

The park will also beef up its amenities for guests, creating an even better experience for them.  2010 was the first full season for the new park, and attendance exceeded management's expectations.  The water park is the beginning of a much larger Vacation Village development, which will include more water park operations, resorts, and a shopping and dining district.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Snoopy Is Moving In!

Valleyfair has wasted no time in starting work on their new Planet Snoopy.  The $9 million kids area will debut in 2011 and take over the former KidWorks section of the park, creating a larger and more cohesively themed land.  The area will feature 7 re-themed kids attractions, 6 brand new ones, a Family Care Center and other amenities.

Much of the work site is already cleared, as seen in these photos over on Valleyfairzone.  The clearing extends from around the High Roller wooden coaster and over to the Corkscrew's famous inversions.  A significant part of the theming leftovers from the Berenstain Bear days look to have been removed.

With a cold winter just around the corner, I can't say I blame the park for getting a head start on all the work!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Scott And Carol Present - Project Future - A Look At How Disney Chose Orlando

How do you like a good yarn with a happy ending? Is it okay if a skulduggery is thrown in and the mystery is known from the beginning, but exactly how it was solved isn’t revealed to the end? If that is your cup of tea, then Project Future, by Chad Emerson might be of interest. He has documented the process of selecting Orlando for the location of Walt Disney World.

When Walt wanted to go east of the Mississippi River, he turned to the late Harrison “Buzz” Price to help determine the best location for the project. As early as 1955 Walt had begun talking about the project with people both inside and outside the company, many different locations were considered, but Walt and Roy had obtaining lots of land as their major objective. They did not want so be surrounded by other businesses as quickly as had happened in Anaheim.

The law firm headed by William Donovan, the former head of the OSS during World War II was selected to insulate Disney from any Florida contact until they were ready to announce the project. The use of fronting corporations and collateral contacts is detailed to help give readers an understanding of how these big projects are concluded. The legends of whose plane they used for research travel and how the Disney Company bought the land without the using their name are explained. The Florida newspaper that discovered who the mystery investor was, but withheld publishing it to prevent derailing the project is revealed.

When asked what the most surprising thing he discovered Chad replies, “The most surprising thing to me was how close Walt Disney World came to being located somewhere else than Orlando (especially the near miss in Palm Beach.)” The Niagara Falls, New York City, and Saint Louis options are all explained, including the reason for not being selected. He also discovered how many of the key players have still not been recognized for their role in the project, maybe due to their naturally reticent past in espionage.

The major meeting in Boston that almost derailed the project is discussed, although there are some things about that meeting that still are not known. How some Disney team members personal travel plans were examined for clues as to the location of the project. This fast-paced book gives readers a real appreciation for the lengths of security needed to make something like Project Future succeed.

According to Emerson the most important decision related to Project Future was “Making a huge and technologically advanced (and expensive) investment in the resort’s infrastructure. All of that swamp draining require large amount of great engineering. Disney could have done it cheaper but it would not have lasted as well and for as long as it has toady.” During a Disney symposium at last year’s IAAPA, it was talked about how even during the most recent massive hurricanes the runoff of all the extra rainwater was still contained on Disney property in the retention system.

At the first public announcement of Walt Disney World, on October 25, 1965 at the Egyptian Room in the Cherry Plaza Hotel, the project was revealed. But that isn’t the end of this story; Emerson relates the legislative hurdles that were also overcome. Equally as important as the land constraints, the political solutions also contributed to the Walt Disney World we visit today. So looking back 45 years, this is a mouse that truly roared in central Florida. A great read and a must for anyone interested in amusement park or Disney Company history.

The Amusing Ads Archive - Master Blaster Water Coaster

It's not too hard to find a water coaster these days, in fact this variant of water slide now comes in several different forms (including conveyor, water and magnetic).  Back in the early 1990s it wasn't so easy to bump into one, well, unless you were near Schlitterbahn in Texas.  Outside of that the uphill-water coaster was an oddity of sorts; aren't water slides supposed to travel downhill anyway?

Well two decades later that answer can be firmly answered as no, water coasters make going uphill on a slide as much fun as ever.  The Master Blaster line is now sold through WhiteWater, one of the largest companies in the water park industry, though the patents are held by Water Ride Concepts.

If roller coasters are King of the Midway, are water coasters Queen of the water park?