Monday, January 31, 2011

California Adventure Blue Sky Dreaming

Disney's cool new animated map

The Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure theme park has once again been refreshed, and the Magic Eye blog has tons of high quality photos of the changes made.

The preview center for all the expansions coming to the park in the near future changes regularly to keep up with current projects.  Right now the Little Mermaid attraction is in the spotlight, but there's plenty more to see.

Lots of art for the park's new entrance area, Buena Vista Street, can also be found.  The next round of changes to Paradise Pier, including Goofy's Sky School, are also featured.  There's even some hints of changes to come to the Hollywood section, which will help that land's theme become more cohesive.

A really neat animated park map has also debuted, which the Disney Parks Blog shared video of.  That alone would get me in there to check things out!  I love the Tower of Terror's lightning strike!

Watch The Green Lantern Grow

I love amusement park webcams.  I especially love amusement park webcams that cover the construction of a new roller coaster or attraction!

Six Flags Great Adventure made my day when they added this new view of the Green Lantern standing coaster going up at the park.  It looks like the endless snow that we've been receiving in the Northeast has halted vertical construction after the lift hill went up, but the supports for the turn into the drop look staged and ready!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Invertigo Moving To Dorney Park? Apparently.

Not the ride at California's Great America, but the same type from Vekoma's website

I don't really go after rumors much here on NewsPlusNotes, mostly because there are sites out there that do it better than I ever could.  Case in point, soon after the news broke that California's Great America was removing Invertigo, Screamscape posted a rumor that Dorney Park would be the 'lucky' recipient.

But since Dorney Park is my home park and just a few miles from where I type this, my ears naturally perked up at the rumor.

As for that rumor part, well, I'm here to spread it I guess.  I've been told that the ride is indeed coming to Dorney Park, and will reside in the former home of Laser.  Apparently the park is already making moves to get ready for its arrival, which will be sooner than later.

A spot is already cleared, how nice

How much sooner?  Well that's where things get really surprising - I was told that the plan is to open Invertigo at Dorney Park in summer 2011, not summer 2012.  Yes, the rumor is that a rush job of massive proportions will take place to have the ride up and running by June of this summer.

I can't speak as to why this is happening, that is if what I'm hearing is indeed true.  To move a ride so late in the off-season is just odd - and will this affect any plans the park had for 2012?

As for the ride's location, Laser sat on the edge of a 100 year flood plain, which made gaining approval for it back in 1986 tricky at best.  Quickly looking back at old newspaper articles Dorney had to have several planning meetings in order to build Laser as well as the nearby picnic groves and restrooms, and didn't get approval until March.

Also from Vekoma's website, but this is the ride at CGA

That ride was portable but Invertigo will require permanent foundations.  It is yet to be seen if a new debate will arise over the flood plain, or if those problems will not be repeated.  I do know that nothing has appeared on South Whitehall Township's planning commission agendas, but the one for February's meeting is not yet posted.

Invertigo opened at California's Great America in 1998.  It is one of three operating Vekoma inverted-boomerang designs; the others are at Kings Island in Ohio and Sommerland Syd in Denmark.  A fourth ride operated at Six Flags America but has since been removed and has not reopened elsewhere.

The coaster stands 132 feet tall, has 1,014 feet of track, and the trains hit 50 miles per hour.  The trains have riders sit face-to-face as they traverse the track both forwards and backwards through three inversions.

Invertigo would be Dorney Park's third recent transplanted attraction following Possessed from Geauga Lake in 2008 and Demon Drop in 2010 from Cedar Point.  The last new ride added to the park was Hydra in 2005.  Invertigo would also be the park's third inverted coaster along with Possessed and Talon, and the second shuttle ride as well.

The Classic Tilt-A-Whirl Has A New Owner

Larson International, based in Texas, has acquired Sellner Manufacturing, and in the process has added the famed Tilt-A-Whirl ride to its ride catalog. 

Sellner Manfacturing first created the Tilt-A-Whirl in the 1920s, and it has been popular since.  It's hard to go to an amusement park, or especially a carnival, and not bump into one.  The ride has been themed for many parks, a notable example is the Turkey Whirl at Holiday World, where guests sit in giant turkeys.

Sellner has other family rides in their catalog as well.  Larson plans to keep the Sellner name but will own the company outright.

Larson International is known for creating a wide variety of rides with its partners, from the popular Fireball loop ride to the Super Shot freefall.

The Completed Krake

Heide Park's new B&M Dive coaster has finished track construction, and boy that was fast.  Then again, the ride is pretty short, consisting of the lift, drop, Immelman, camel back, turn and brakes.

Even more than the completed ride, I'm looking forward to the theming to go up.  The park released this concept art:

And if that nasty beast is really waiting at the bottom of the first drop then this ride's going to be pretty slick.  Hopefully the art doesn't paint a picture that the park can't live up to, but I have a feeling they're going to do all out on theming this one.

Dare Devil Dive Construction

© Ride Entertainment Group

There's still a long way to go before Six Flags Over Georgia's Dare Devil Dive is ready to open, but it is still fun to see what the park is up to.  Well, while not exactly at the park, the ride's structure is still being built in Germany.  Seen above is the ride's entire crown piece, the very top of the lift hill and start of the drop.  I wouldn't have thought it was built as one big piece like that!

Six Flags Over Georgia is still getting ready for parts to arrive, and they also posted some photos from earlier this month.  While no footers were poured as of that time, I have a feeling they are by now.  Hopefully soon we'll get to check out some vertical construction!

Friday, January 28, 2011


Invertigo, a Vekoma inverted Boomerang coaster, will be leaving California's Great America for another Cedar Fair property, according to a release from the theme park.

The park writes that the decision to move the ride was so that a new "opportunity" can be opened up at the park.  No further details on what may replace the ride were given, or what year the expansion could take place.

So now the big question is where will the ride move to?  My gut would tell me a smaller park like Michigan's Adventure, but then I remember that Geauga Lake's Boomerang ended up at Carowinds.  I guess I really can't call this one ahead of time with much ease.

Speculation has already started regarding if this is one of the first signs of Cedar Fair emptying the park before possibly selling it - perhaps as part of a deal to get away from the planned 49ers stadium.  That's all rumor at this point, and I think a big part of determining if it is true is if a replacement for Invertigo is really built.  If only my crystal ball wasn't covered in 14 inches of snow...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Blast From The Past - The Rise and Fall of the Idora Wildcat Pt 1

Opening on Memorial Day of 1899, Terminal Park, built by the Youngstown Park and Falls Street Railway Company was known as "Youngstown's Million Dollar Playground" Like many "trolley parks" the park was built at the end of a trolley line to generate weekend revenue.

Without an admission fee, anyone who had the money for the trolley, could visit the park. Attractions at the park in its inaugural season included a bandstand, theater, dance pavilion, a roller coaster, a circle swing, and concession stands. And, by the end of the season the park had a new name ... Idora Park.

The Wildcat became a lasting landmark of the park. Constructed in the fall of 1929 by PTC and it was ready for the 1930 season. Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc. knew the park want a superior, 1st class coaster, but there was a bit of a problem. The new coaster was replacing the old Figure eight, which was owned by a concessionaire, and getting the releases to tear down the old coaster and take over the land on which it was located was taking some time. PTC wanted to have the deal ready to close when the releases were ready.

By fall, PTC was working on the plans, with George J Baker supervising the construction. PTC was also manufacturing the coaster cars and providing the other coaster hardware. Herbert Schmeck, the company's premier engineer designed the twisted ride, employing an "aeroplane curve" for the 1st drop and a descending curve for the 2nd drop. Compact in size, the coaster's tunnels and banked curves had many people considering it one of the greatest coasters built in the 1920s. The ride's name was chosen by a contest, but the winner may have accepted a company suggestion, since Wildcat was a generic name often used by PTC. The company would use the name for most of their rides, unless the park owners specifically asked for something else.

The 1930 season was a milestone in Idora's history. A new slogan "Now-A Million Dollar Park" reflected the nearly $200,000 worth of improvements that greeted visitors that summer. The new roller coaster replaced the old coaster, the Midway was enlarged, a new dark ride was added and the PTC mill ride was replaced.

The Wildcat started off with a left handed turn into a long, dark S shaped tunnel. Exiting the tunnel, the train began climbing the lift hill, a quick right turn, followed by the first drop led into what many considered the most intense part of the ride, the fan curve.

The fan curve was a swooping left turn with a drop and as you dropped you got whipped to the right. The trains had fixed lap bars which allowed for a wild ride over the rest of the Wildcat's course. The rides finale had riders dropping out of a heavily banked right turn, into the tunnel under the fan curve and finally onto the brake run.

Check out next weeks Blast for the conclusion of the The Rise and Fall of the Idora Park Wildcat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Worlds of Fun's Ever Growing 2011 Expansion

World's of Fun has announced yet another new ride for their Planet Snoopy, this time named Sally's Swing Set.  The park previously announced their $5 million 2011 expansion including Planet Snoopy, but then re-announced an even bigger $8 million expansion including Geauga Lake's former carousel.

Sally's Swing Set looks like it will be a newer ride from Zamperla, known as a Happy Swing.  The company premiered the attraction at Luna Park this past summer.  12 riders will sit aboard the swing and gently glide up to 17 feet in the air.  Here's a photo of the attraction at Luna Park:

The ride looks like it'll be a great fit in Worlds of Fun's Planet Snoopy - and it bring the total number of new rides there to 7.  The whole park will see 8 new rides, when you include the new Carousel.

As if all this weren't enough, the park is also creating a brand new Festhaus catering area that will be able to handle large picnics at Worlds of Fun. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Management Announced for Former PARC Parks

CNL Lifestyle Properties has announced the new management partners that will be taking over the parks that were formerly operated by PARC Management.

Both Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake will now be managed by Herschend Family Entertainment.  The change was effective as of today, the 25th of January.

Curt Caffey, senior vice president and managing director of CNL Lifestyle Properties said “HFE was a natural choice due to the company’s solid history of operating first-class, successful theme parks with a reputation for top service and guest experience standards.  Both Darien Lake and Elitch Gardens already have strong foundations as beautiful, fun and wholesome family parks.  We’re confident Herschend will use its operations know-how to take these attractions to the next level.”

CNL will still own the parks, which means capital expansions will still come from their wallets.  I would hope that Herschend's influence is taken seriously when making those selections!

Wild Waves Theme Park will be managed by NorPoint Entertainment, which was formed by the park's former owner Jeff Stock specifically to manage it.  Jeff owned and operated Wild Waves from 1992 to 2000 when he sold it to Six Flags.

He is encouraged by the fact that CNL seems interested in investing in Wild Waves, unlike previous owners.  With the park's infrastructure upgraded over the last decade it is now poised to make even more expansions.  We like that!

Amusement Management Partners will now manage Magic Springs and Crystal Falls.  Known simply as AMP, the company was also selected to run many of PARC's former family entertainment centers as well, such as the chain of Zuma Fun Centers.  It's also worth checking out the biographies of the individuals behind AMP, there's a lot of amusement industry experience between those guys.

Kieran Burke and Gary Story will once again be operating Frontier City and Whitewater Bay starting this season.  They previously formed Premier Parks after acquiring both properties in the early '90s.  As we all well know, Premier Parks grew and eventually purchased and created branded Six Flags parks across the globe. 

The park's operations have really gone full circle at this point, since CNL purchased the parks from Six Flags in 2007, and in a sense are right back where they started, only with different owners.  Confused yet?

These announcements only leave Splashtown in Texas and Waterworld in California as the remaining PARC properties without new management.  I have a feeling those decisions have been made, just not yet posted online.

What do you guys think of all the changes?

Six Flags Great Adventure Tops Off The Green Lantern

Six Flags Great Adventure just reached a milestone in the construction of the Green Lantern when they added the very top of the lift hill, the ride's highest point.  The park shared the following photos along with the caption below.  Looking good!

© Six Flags Great Adventure

© Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Great Adventure topped off the lift hill of Green Lantern, the new stand-up looping coaster set to debut late Spring, which coincides with the release of the new Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds.  The lift hill stands 154 feet tall.   Green Lantern will rank among the tallest and fastest coaster of its kind anywhere in the world.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cedar Fair Names New Chairman Of The Board

Cedar Fair has announced that in response to the recent special meeting vote they have formally separated the role of CEO and Chairman of the Board, and also appointed a new Chairman.

Thomas Harvie will now serve as the non-executive independent Chairman of the board of directors effectively immediately.

Who is he?  According to the company, "Harvie, who has served as an independent director of Cedar Fair since 2008, chairs the corporate governance committee and the CEO succession planning committee.  Most recently, Harvie served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company." Here is a biography for Mr. Harvie from Goodyear.

Cedar Fair also announced that the second item voted on, which was to use more capital to pay distributions than to pay down debt, did not receive enough votes by unit holders to pass.  The company will review their distribution plans again this year, being sure to consider all options.

Hershey Park 2012 Moving Forward

Even though it's the snowy off-season, and their new ride isn't planned to open until 2012, there's still new developments going on at Hersheypark.

Keystone Thrills just featured an update that shows off some minor work going on in the suspected area of the new coaster.  A ton of site markers are still in the ground, and some items in the area have been moved around.  Nothing earth-shattering, but forward progress nonetheless.

It'll be interesting to see if the park teases us all this year until a Fall announcement of the ride, or if we'll get an early Spring present and find out the details.  Either way, it still seems the park has something big up its sleeves.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Amusing Ads Archive - O.D. Hopkins 1993

In the 1990s if a park wanted a water ride one of the first companies they would turn to was O.D. Hopkins.  The company was known for their catalogue of ways to soak theme park guests - including the traditional log flume, river rapids ride, and shoot-the-chutes.

The company built many of the shoot the chutes at Six Flags parks, though quite a few of those have been removed.  The rest of the world is quite literally filled with them, too, as Hopkins supplied dozens and dozens of splash rides all over in various sizes.  Some of their river rapids include Thunder River at Lake Compounce and Blizzard River at Six Flags New England.  Their log flumes are equally popular - the company was highly involved in the hardware for Splash Mountain at the Disney Parks.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekly Rewind 1.22.11

This was a good year to work at Universal Orlando - the record crowds that Harry Potter brought means soaring profits for the parks.  And to celebrate the resort's thousands of employees just received bonuses.  Cha-ching!

Six Flags Great Adventure showed off some more photos of the Green Lantern's progress this week.  It looks like half the lift hill was up when the photos were taken.

The Magic Kingdom was showing off its new Castle light projection show for media recently.  Each night guest's photos and experiences will be projected as part of the show.  Take a peek here.

Conneaut Lake's quest to raise another $50k from the Pepsi Refresh Challenge is still going on, though the idea is not in the top 10 that would receive funding as of now.  Vote here if you like.

Wild Adventures new slide tower was recently completed.  For a gallery of the tower when it was going up, look here.  Family raft rides are always a blast!

The Zippin Pippin is blanketed in snow, and that makes the structure even more pretty.  Work on the coaster continues despite freezing temperatures.

Martin's Fantasy Island has decided to call their new thrill ride Mind Warp.  I think that's perfectly fitting for a crazy flat ride like that!

Two former Six Flags executives have purchased another water park, this time Ocean Breeze in Virginia.  The duo purchased Nashville Shores in 2009 and have been expanding it since.

Galaxyland Amusement Park and World Waterpark at Canada's West Edmonton Mall will see expansions this year.  The park will add new family rides, and the water park will see new slides, including an Aqua Loop.

A year ago Schlitterbahn announced a new development in Cedar Park Texas, and it seems the project is having some funding trouble.  The difficult lending market is to blame, but those involved say the project is still a go - just delayed a bit.

Coney Island & Scream Park News

The famous Coney Island Cyclone will have a new operator this summer:  Zamperla.  The ride's previous operator, citing increasing maintenance costs, backed out of their contract.  They had operated the ride for the past 37 years.

Zamperla only has an agreement to operate the ride for a year, but is already planning to invest several hundred thousand dollars into fixing up the coaster.

Zamperla has made some announcements about the specific rides that will be located in the new Scream Zone section.  The $12 million area will feature two roller coasters and has a planned April opening.

The Steeplechase coaster will be one of the company's launched Moto Coasters, with the trains themed to horses.  Soaring Eagle will be a flying coaster, moved from Elitch Gardens.  The area will also feature a sling shot and a Turbo Force.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The New Texas Giant's First Run

Six Flags Over Texas has sent the New Texas Giant's trains on their maiden voyage around the ride's course.  The park took video of the first run, which they have posted for fans to view.

Even though the train that was sent is only two cars long they still fly around the track at a great speed.  I also noticed that you can hear the train as it passes over the sections of fabricated steel track, which was unexpected.  Reminds me a little of a railroad train going by!

The New Texas Giant is sure to be one of the most anticipated ride openings of 2011.  I'm looking forward to when more testing video surfaces.

A Part of Her World

Amusingly, I was just thinking the other day about how since so much of the inside of Disney California Adventure's new Little Mermaid, Ariel's Undersea Adventure dark ride is complete they should start to show it off soon.  And boom, just like that we have this new video from the Disney Parks Blog.

Granted the ride isn't complete at this point, but we're certainly given an idea of how things are coming together inside the attraction.  Personally, I like what I see.  I didn't view this project as the next great Disney E-Ticket attraction, so the ride fits just in line with my expectations.

The above screen cap is of the entrance into the building from the boarding area, I think.

I'm not sure what scene this is from, but obviously they're above the water so it's at the beginning or the end of the attraction.  I want to say Kiss the Girl, but I can't be sure.

And here is a glimpse of the big show room that is in the middle of the attraction.  Once guests are transported under they sea they are greeted with a rousing production of the song of the same name.  Expect a lot of motion from every angle and fun times in this room.

No official opening date for the Little Mermaid has been released, but many expect the ride to be up and running by this Summer.  A similar version will also open at the Magic Kingdom's new Fantasyland in the coming years.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Blast From The Past - Camden Park's Lil' Dipper

Camden Park located on the edge Huntington West Virginia opened in 1903 as a picnic park and carousel located along the Camden Interstate Railway street car line between Huntington and Ashland, Kentucky.

Camden is one of a handful of traditional family owned "trolley" parks still in operation. JP Boylin transformed the park into an amusement park in 1950 and the Boylin family still owns and operates Camden Park.

The park features many classic rides, featuring a Haunted House that is one of only two gravity-fed Pretzel rides left in the United States, a wild Mangel's Whip and two classic wooden coasters. Add to that a genuine Adena Indian Mound.

Built by the National Amusement Device Company. the 450 foot long, double out and back Lil' Dipper is a junior hybrid. The layered wood track runs over the rides steel structure.

The one minute and five second ride has a 17' lift hill and the rolling stock is the original National Amusement Device (NAD) Century Flyer trains.

At one time, there were over a dozen of these little gems operating across the country, sadly, Camden's Little Dipper is the last remaining production model NAD kiddie woodie.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mike's Fill-In Brochure Spotlight: Six Flags Great America 2003

Going back into the not so distant past we arrive at Six Flags Great America circa 2003. The park is expanding once again with another blockbuster coaster - this time riders get to fly like Superman.

I like the design of this brochure - the cover certainly would attract my attention out of the army of pamphlets hiding in a rack at a rest stop.  Superman is undoubtedly a popular character, and how better than to pair him with a flying roller coaster?  A match made in roller coaster heaven for sure.

Indeed, guests could get their fill of superhero themed coasters while at Six Flags Great America.  How sweet of the park to give Batman The Ride some love and point out that it was the "world's first suspended, outside looping coaster."  At this park Batman is Superman's younger brother by 11 years.  Be sure to impress your friends with that little fun fact.

There's plenty to be found at the theme park that's not Hero related as well.  Plenty of other rides, including several mammoth coasters, live entertainment, special festivals, and even Bugs Bunny running around.  And take a gander at that map of all the Six Flags parks - world wide!  This was just before the end of that era when the name Six Flags was on parks across the globe.

And it's not every day that a kid can find a soft pretzel that's the size of his head.  Really, look at the photo on the left!