Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dorney Park Opens Planet Snoopy

The winds of change have blown away the quaint Camp Snoopy at Dorney Park...

and brought Planet Snoopy along with them!

Yes, the 2011 season at the park is without a doubt all about everyone's favorite Beagle.  The $8 million transformation has created what the park is calling a "third" park, that's in addition to the regular rides area and the water park.  To be honest, I have to agree with them.

The 3 and a half acre Planet Snoopy does function quite well as its own children's theme park, if you want to look at it like that.  16 rides, 7 of which are brand new, were operating today, and the area was fully complete down to the last of the new brick pavers.  There are several food and retail outlets located in the area, along with amenities such as the Family Care Center.

Planet Snoopy includes reconfigured midways that make the area slightly more confined than it was previously.  Above is the entrance that's located where the former Balloon Race ride was, directly across from Hydra's cobra roll.  No longer can guests exit the area by Snoopy's Moon Bounce, that's now closed off from the midway below:

It's a small change that makes a big difference.  Each of the four entrances to Planet Snoopy is now clearly defined as such, with one (or more) gigantic welcome signs making that clear.

But how about those 7 new rides?  They were a mega-hit with families this morning, no doubt there.  Above is Snoopy's Junction, a train ride, with Snoopy's Rocket Express traveling on its tracks above the land.

Speaking of Snoopy's Rocket Express, it's probably my favorite of all the new attractions.  The ride ads a lot to the area, with the rockets silently traveling around the course.  While it's station is imposing, it's located in such a manner that it again helps to define the area as its own by blocking sight lines. 

Coming in as the tallest of the new rides is the Flying Ace Balloon Race.  It's a worthy replacement for the original Balloon Race, and also sits where the former ride was located.  The buckets spin by rider control, which was making for some funny rider faces today.

The new ride with the longest line was definitely the Linus Launcher, a spinning ride where guests actually lay down for their flight.  Big kids, little kids - didn't matter, everyone was lining up for this one!

The surprise ride this year was Sally's Swing Set - this attraction wasn't part of the announcement last Summer, but was added to each of the three Planet Snoopys opening this year.  The ride is as it sounds - a powered version of a swing set!  The kids loved it, though.

Two other new rides are Woodstock Whirlybirds, a miniature tea cup attraction, and the Peanuts 500, a whip-style attraction also for smaller kids.  The varied selection of ride styles that were added really rounds out the offerings for kids at the park.

The live entertainment offerings were bulked up as well with the addition of the Peanuts Showplace.  Currently the theater is showing Charlie Brown's Jungle Journey, but more shows will be added as the season progresses.

Existing rides that were a part of Camp Snoopy were either renamed, rethemed, painted, or some combination of the three.  All are brighter in appearance and greatly liven up the area.

The Snoopy Boutique has taken up residence in the section's largest building, along with Joe Cool's Soda Pop Shop and the Family Care Center.  The building has formally been divided into the retail/food and care area, and looks fantastic.  The retail is now on two different levels, changing the entire feel of the building.

I always enjoyed the calm setting that Camp Snoopy had, and wasn't sure what to make of Planet Snoopy when it was announced.  Now, having been there I think it was a really great move by the park.  The area is bright, active, and nicely done.

Watch for our full gallery on the NPN Facebook later this weekend, as we have way too many shots to fit into one story!  We'll also check out the many other changes in the park this coming week!

Weekly Rewind 4.30.11

Michigan's Adventure is now ready to party!  The park's new water play structure, named Beach Party, looks pretty complete to my eye.  Colorful, too.

WindSeeker at Kings Island wasn't ready to open this weekend, and Cedar Point's is behind schedule as well.  Both are better than Knott's, which is just a foundation at this point!

Time - that's what developer Ed Hart has received in his quest to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.  His rights on the park have been extended while he tries to secure funding to renovate and reopen the theme park.

Whitewater West has opened their first Zoo attraction, an interactive AquaPlay structure at New Orleans' Audubon Zoo.  The structure features a 28 ft. tall white alligator, complete with tipping bucket inside its mouth!

The Dania Beach Hurricane has closed, though the owner is not saying exactly why.  The wooden coaster at a Boomers opened back in 2000.

Freestyle Music Park is still closed.  That isn't much of a story at this point, but rumors keep popping up that different operators are looking at the property.  

The Zippin Pippin at Bay Beach Amusement Park is scheduled to open on May 21st.  The city had a contest for citizens to explain what the parks means to them, and the winners will be on the first train out.  Video of the coaster testing has also come online, too!

Funland Blog takes a peek at Legoland Malaysia, which is scheduled to open at the end of 2012.

Knoebels is letting fans know that the Black Diamond indoor coaster will not be ready until the middle of the summer!  I'm still anxiously awaiting this new ride!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Theme Park Change Reminder

Tomorrow is the last day you can take part in Theme Park Change's 2011 giving event.  Proceeds benefit Project Angel Food, a great non-profit organization that delivers thousands of free and nutritious meals to men, women and children affected by life-threatening illnesses.

Don't wait - there's only a day left!  Head over to their site to check out more.

Morey's Plans $10 Million Coaster for 2013

Interesting article in the May 2011 issue of Inside Jersey - there's a headline on the cover that reads "Wildwood's $10 million ride," which certainly would catch my attention!

The article covers the Morey's of today, and also speaks of the future of the organization which includes the long planned wooden coaster that will span two piers.  The $10 million ride is scheduled for a 2013 debut at this point.  It is pictured above, but I had to combine two images into one and while not perfect, it gives a nice idea of how the ride will fit in with its surroundings.

Designed by Great Coasters International, the article mentions that both "Wildwoody" and "Boardwalk Flyer" are favorite names being considered by the Morey's.  Whatever it's called, it'll have me making a trip to Wildwood in 2013, that's for sure.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mach Tower - Going Up! (and Vanish Point, too!)

After quite a bit of waiting, the first big piece of Busch Garden's Williamsburg's Mach Tower has been lifted into place at the Virginia theme park.

It took one mighty large crane to lift the enormous base piece of the free fall tower into place.  At it's peak, Mach Tower will stand 240 feet tall.

The new ride will be one of the many changes seen in the Oktoberfest section of the park this year.  New games, an entertainment venue, and a Bavarian style pretzel bakery have been built as well.  I bet it'll be quick construction now that the tower is going up!

The park also showed off the achievement in this video:

Things are also wrapping up on Water Country USA's new attraction, Vanish Point:

All of the slide pieces are now in place, and the attraction is looking great!   Two of the slides feature a near vertical drop that'll push them to speeds up to 40 mph - the other two use a dropping floor start to send riders down into a "super loop."

Water Country USA opens for the 2011 season on May 21st.

Tokyo DisneySea's Fantasmic!

Quite often the Japanese version of Disney rides and attractions are a "one up" from the American versions, a tradition that has created a magnificent set of experiences at the Tokyo Disney theme parks.  After just reopening from being closed for weeks due to the earthquake and following tsunami, DisneySea has continued this tradition with their own version of Fantasmic.

The show is in a generic sense the same as its American counterparts - though at the same time distinctly different.  The show features familiar music, with new tracks intertwined as well.  The characters and movies included are not the same, and include some more recent options.  There is however still one big, angry dragon for Mickey to deal with!

Possibly the biggest change is that the show can be viewed from 360 degrees as it takes place on the park's Mediterranean Harbor.  The show uses one main LED covered structure which at times takes the shape for Sorcerer Mickey's hat, and include fountains on it along with plenty of firepower.  Three dimensional spheres are used to provide animated clips instead of water screens - again due to the nature of the show's seating.  There's plenty of other differences, but you can watch to find those!

Though the show just debuted yesterday, there's already a nice video of it on YouTube.  Check out Part 1 and then Part 2.  

A Blast From The Past - Paramount's Kings Island's Rugrats Runaway Reptar

Last week's Blast covered the Vekoma Flying Dutchman that was to be Paramount's Kings Island's new for 2001 coaster that ended up in Northern Ohio. So, what did PKI get in 2001?

Interestingly enough, they got a Vekoma prototype, albeit a much simpler design. Construction began the on the world's first inverted junior coaster, featuring in the park's Nickelodeon Central kids area.

Rugrat's Runaway Reptar was the first in a series of rides with a newly designed train. featuring new and unique open designed seats and the a restraint that was designed for optimal fit and security, while providing a sense of freedom and an unobstructed view of the ride.

Reptar's theming is based on an episode of the popular Rugrats show that originally aired on the television network Nickelodeon on May 27, 1999, during the series' sixth season. Rugrat babies are at the Drive-In watching a Reptar movie Runaway Reptar and they get sucked into the movie."Runaway Reptar" was written by Ali Marie Matheson and Jon Cooksey based on an idea by Scott Gray and directed by John Holmquist and Jim Duffy.

The lift is tire-driven and very quiet. When the ride first opened, some long- legged riders may have needed to lift their legs up a bit while going up the lift hill, due to the catch net below the train. But, the issue has since been resolved.

The layout consists mainly large curves with a few drops, leading to more curves. There are some foot choppers, where you think your feet may hit part of the ride, one of the best involves the station roof.

Reptar operated with a single 20 passenger train and with a maximum height of 52 feet. The 1 minute, 30 second ride had a top speed of 25 miles per hour. While this was hyped as a family coaster, the 1129 foot ride, pulls a maximum of 2.2 Gs.

In 2010 Nickelodeon Central became Planet Snoopy and Rugrats Runaway Reptar took on a Peanuts theme, becoming the Flying ACE Aerial Chase. The change didn't lessen the rides popularity with young or the young at heart. Currently, there are seven Vekoma inverted junior coaster in North America, three of these are in former Paramount Parks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prepping For The Arrival of Manta

The ride isn't scheduled to open until next year, but clearing a place for Manta at Sea World San Diego is well underway.  Westcoaster has posted an update that shows off the considerable area of the park that is now a work zone, with plenty of buildings being razed. 

The new launched coaster will dramatically transform a big part of Sea World - I honestly thought it was a smaller area being affected!  Nice to see work starting so soon.

A Trip Back To Snoopy's Summer Camp

Planet Snoopy will open at Dorney Park this Saturday. Considering I filmed Camp Snoopy back in 2009 I think it is safe to say I've waited just about as long as possible to throw together this video!  Better late than never, enjoy a trip back to summer camp - hosted by your favorite Beagle, of course.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wild Waves Gets Wilder!

video courtesy of Wild Waves Theme Park website

Wild Waves Theme Park in Federal Way, WA is adding an exciting new attraction to its waterpark, the first big investment in 6 years, according to this article. As of now, the ride's name is yet to be determined.

This "Cannon Bowl" style slide will help round out the waterpark's substantial collection of speed slides, tube slides, and action rivers. This impressive waterpark is included in the price of admission to the theme park, which features the highly rated wooden S&S coaster, "Timberhawk: Ride of Prey."

Planet Snoopy Updates

© Valleyfair

Snoopy's getting ready for his debut at Valleyfair - progress on the park's new Planet Snoopy is looking good.  I really like that Cedar Fair decided to build the aerial monorails in all three new ones - they really brighten up the areas.  It also appears as though all three new Planet Snoopys will receive one of Zamperla's new junior swing rides - aptly named Sally's Swing.

World's of Fun, which has already opened for the year, is not quite as far along with their new area.  In photos taken recently, only a few of the new rides are open.  Still, even with many rides not open the area still has a clean, fresh look.  Check out the photos.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Aerial Antics: Schlitterbahn Kansas City

Opened in summer 2009, Schlitterbahn Kansas City, also known as Schlitterbahn Vacation Village, was the company's first park outside of Texas.  The first year was known as a preview, and 2010 marked the park's full first year.

When completed the water park will be part of a big resort, featuring lodging facilities, and a Riverwalk area with shopping and more.  Here is a shot of what opened so far:

As you can see, the park is being developed in phases, and has already announced a big expansion for this year that will add 7 new attractions (basically doubling the size of the park).  If you want to get a feel for how much space they have to work with, just zoom out a little:

As you can see there's a lot of land they are working on!  I have a feeling if Schlitterbahn (and the economy in general) really go for it this could be one heck of a destination when complete.

Another fun fact: Schlitterbahn did quite a bit of shopping at the Geauga Lake auction - grabbing as many as 15 rides or attractions from the closed park according to reports.  If you poke around a little you can see a lot of those.

Lots of ride parts!  This looks a bit like the Larger Than Life wet/dry slide structure from Geauga exploded and the bits flew all over.  I'm sure there's other attractions mixed in there, too.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm seeing here, but I know it's ride related!  If anyone knows, fill me in!

I think that looks like Pirate's Flight, and again more rides lying in pieces.  There's even more on the park grounds that I didn't feature here.

If you want to go ride hunting, check out Google's aerials.  If you recognize any ride parts, leave a comment!

Carowinds Grabs Guinness World Record

In the first of a series of events to be held this year at Cedar Fair amusement parks, Carowinds broke the world record for the most people dyeing Easter eggs this past weekend.  The park had 317 people involved, and now officially hold the record.

"While the egg-dyeing category is a brand new record category for Guinness World Records, officials set the minimum requirement at 250 participants. Guinness World Records® guidelines stipulate that each participant must be equipped with at least one hard-boiled egg and spoon and enough dye to submerge his or her egg."

They really meant business with those eggs! Then again, a Guinness World Record should have all sorts of official rules and stipulations.  You can read the park's press release here, or check out a gallery of shots.

Sesame Place Delights with Elmo's Cloud Chaser

(courtesy of Bucks Local News)

Sesame Place has done a very good job of keeping its newest family attraction under wraps. Elmo's Cloud Chaser made its grand entrance on April 22nd, and according to this article, the reactions have been wonderful. Elmo, the Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby were all on hand to debut the new ride.

Themed around airplanes, Elmo’s Cloud Chaser incorporates sound effects of plane noises and sound bytes of Elmo talking guests through the experience, much like a pilot might do. This Zamperla swing ride can handle up to 36 riders each cycle, and has a big bright red airplane perched upon the top. From the video above, it seems this special park will be flying high this summer!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ride The Wooden Warrior

Quassy's new family sized wooden coaster, The Wooden Warrior, designed by the Gravity Group, looks like a great ride! I wish the Easter Bunny would have brought me one of these!  The coaster has some great bunny hops, after all.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekly Rewind 4.23.11

Vekoma's new family Boomerang coaster, named Ben 10 Ultimate Mission at Drayton Manor, has now opened to guests. Looks like a zippy little ride - I wonder if more of these will start showing up?

Q Investments has now said that they have no confidence in Cedar Fair being able to choose a successor for Dick Kinzel.  The firm says they heard that the company has considered Mark Shapiro, former Six Flags CEO, for the title - and they hate that.  Would it really be so bad, I wonder?

Disney Parks has shared a video that shows off some of the tricks the ghosts are now capable of in the finale to the Haunted Mansion.  I'd love them them to take my head off! 

Landry's is still moving forward with their plan for an amusement pier in Galveston, Texas.  This article includes some concept art and mentions a double-decker Carousel and Ferris Wheel among other rides.

Kings Island is opening for the year with two gigantic new attractions, but the press would still rather talk about Son of Beast.  Sigh - never mind that 300 foot thrill ride or the enormous forest of dinosaurs!

Six Flags America is now open for the season, with plenty of changes to be seen in the park.  For one, the only one-year-old Thomas Town has been completely rethemed.  Check out a photo report here.

Cedar Point is readying Ocean Motion for its new home in the park, and adding some surprising theming along the way!  Check out the park's blog for details.

It is pretty crazy what people can make out of LEGO bricks.  Orlando Attractions was at the opening of the redesigned LEGO Store at Downtown Disney this past week, and has video and photos of many impressive displays.

The Wooden Warrior at Quassy Amsuement Park is opening today!  The new family sized wooden coaster looks to pack quite a punch. 

The Green Lantern: First Flight at Six Flags Magic Mountain is slowly starting to take shape at the park.  Looks like a maze of supports at this point!

Brazil is coming to Epcot's World Showcase?  It's a rumor, but interesting anyway.  Inside The Magic reported on a story in the Brazil press that makes it sound like it could happen.  Many World Showcase pavilions have been planned, then scrapped in the past, though.

I love amusement park anniversaries, it just another sign of all the history that goes into these parks!  Six Flags St. Louis is celebrating 40 years in 2011.  This story takes a look at the park's past, and also shares a great photo gallery.

Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa is testing at what looks like a speed somewhat close to the final one.  There's some video on YouTube of exactly this.

The Steel Coaster Poll is now open for votes!  Well, it actually has been for a while now.  Ballots are accepted until May 5th - make sure to gets yours in!

Even in the middle of nowhere, a neighbor will still complain about a park possibly expanding.  Silverwood wants to change the zoning on its adjacent property to commercial, to allow for possible future expansion.  I say go Silverwood!