Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stinger Speculation

Cedar Fair has trademarked the name Stinger for a new amusement park attraction, among a host of other (typical for a ride name) categories.  The trademark is new, and was just filed by the company on June 6th, 2011.

So, now what could the Stinger be?  Well, it's pretty darn early to know for sure what ride may gain this moniker, but speculation will start anyway I'm sure.  Dorney Park and Canada's Wonderland are the only C.F. parks with active construction taking place currently, but it's still very early in the summer.

As for what Stinger would represent, well the obvious choice would be the stinger on an animal, such as a bee or a scorpion.  It's also used in various weapons terminology, but that's a bit of a bad fit. A coaster named Stinger already exists at Paulton's Park in England, but it's a small family ride.

Stinger sounds like a decent name as a reference to a scorpion's tail, which does make a shape quite like a cobra roll.  Screamscape points to an animal theme for Dorney's new attraction... are the pieces of the puzzle falling into place?

A Blast From The Past - White City Park's Figure Eight

White City Amusement Park in Sheboygan Wisconsin was owned and operated by the Lakeview Hotel. The hotel, a theater and the amusement park stood on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. In 1890s a figure-eight roller coaster was built by C.O. Breinig. The park also had a petting zoo, a large carousel and some other small rides.

Like many parks of that time, White City was considered a "trolley" park, in 1892 the streetcar company had extended it lines out to the park. The streetcar was free for those folks that were attending an event at the parks theater. In its day the Lakeview Hotel was known far and wide.

In 1903, the Lakeview Hotel was destroyed by fire; it would be rebuilt only to burnt to the ground in the 1930s. The roller coaster was dismantled and moved to Union Park in Dubuque Iowa in 1908, operating as Roller Coaster until 1934. When it was torn down some of the wood was used to build a barn in Asbury, Iowa. Today all that remains of Sheboygan's first amusement complex are a few crumbling concrete foundations in the wooded area to the north of Lakeview Park.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Steel Pier on Auction Block

Atlantic City's historic Steel Pier is up for grabs on the auction block. According to this article, Trump Entertainment will be utilizing the firm CB Richard Ellis to sell off the 24 rides and attractions on August 25th, and a minimum bid will start at $2.5 million for the facility, a small fraction of Trump Entertainment's $300 million debt.

Steel Pier is home to a wonderful collection of rides, including a Reverchon Crazy Mouse, a large Ferris wheel, Disk-O, and slingshot attraction. The current operation agreement states that Steel Pier will run through at least 2016, so a sale before then would not affect the park's daily operation. We expect more news to follow as the date of the auction approaches.

Canada's Wonderland's Starlight Surprise

Canada's Wonderland has surprised fans with a Starlight Spectacular that leaves Snoopy out of the picture and uses some great lighting effects on the park's signature mountain to make a very memorable experience.  The show includes thousands of lights on the trees lining the main promenade, as well as lights that keep the fountains pulsing along with the music.

The real treat is the projections on the mountain itself, they're crystal clear, vibrant, and all together pretty clean looking.  I honestly didn't expect this type of show from the park!  I have nothing against the calmer Snoopy versions at other parks, but Canada's Wonderland's version is something I'd like to see spread to other parks!

Check out this clip of the mountain to see what I mean:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Spin On Coney Island's Cyclone

If you're like me, and you decide one day to head to Brooklyn, NY on a whim, you just might end up at the corner of West 10th Street and Surf Avenue.  Unlike most city street corners, which may be uneventful aside from a coffee shop, something special awaits visitors here:

That's the kind of corner you wouldn't mind finding yourself on, right?  I've been wanting to visit Coney Island since Zamperla came in and opened Luna Park last year, and then Scream Zone this year, and finally found the time to do exactly that.

The company behind the operation of Luna Park and Scream Zone, Central Amusement International, LLC (a.k.a. Zamperla) took over the operation of the Cyclone this summer, and now advertises it as part of the whole package of rides and attractions.  This bodes well for the classic wooden coaster.

The Cyclone was first opened in 1927, and through good times and bad has survived to still be thrilling riders in 2011.  The ride is owned by the city's Park & Recreation Department, but the operation of it is leased out, currently to CAI.  It's both a New York and National Historic Landmark, not to mention a treasured gem in the eye of both enthusiasts and the public alike.  CAI has publicly said they plan to invest in the ride to keep it running at its peak.

So truth be told, I'd never been on the ride.  Now that I have, I see what all the fuss is about - the Cyclone is intense!  It really means business.  Things start out innocent enough, but once you're at the top of the lift peering down a drop that, at almost 60 degrees, is still steeper than many rides built 70 years later, that innocence is gone!  Long gone!

Things are a bit of a blur from that point on, but I know that I was bouncing around that classic coaster train more than I can remember - but I know that plenty of steep, I really mean steeper than normal, drops, tight curves, and a plentiful amount of airtime were involved. 

The layout of the Cyclone is one that has been copied over and over again through the years, and throughout the world.  I believe the famous lyrics go, "ain't nothing like the real thing," and that's the truth.

A nice benefit to the CAI operating the Cyclone now is that when you visit Luna Park and Scream Zone the credit card you use to hold ride points can be utilized for Cyclone trips, too.  Currently it costs 8 points, or $8 for a spin on the Cyclone.

Riding the Cyclone while in Coney Island is a must, and now joined by its new neighbors, Luna Park and Scream Zone, there's plenty for us ride folks to do while in town.  We'll be taking a close look at both new parks soon!

Plans For Orlando Thrill Park Abandoned

Orlando Thrill Park is dead, but I suppose that shouldn't come as much of a surprise.  Developers planned to build the amusement park off of Orlando's International Drive, but were shot down by city planners when they went for approval to build on the site.

An appeal to the planners' decision was planned, but now developers have announced that they have abandoned the project.  Instead they will try to get the parcel of land rezoned as commercial, with the specific clause included that no amusement park will be built.

If Orlando Thrill Park had been built it was to include large roller coasters and rides from major manufacturers around the world.  Notably, a Top Thrill Dragster/Kingda Ka clone was consistently shown in artwork of the park.  Another one for the history books, I guess!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Construction Update At Dorney Park

Before we get to the construction of the park's 2012 attraction, there's a few other odds and ends to cover.  The park's new ice show - called Snoopy's Big Bow Wow is now playing at the park.  Haven't had the chance to check it out yet!

It was a beautiful day and I couldn't help but take some interesting shots, like this one.  Gotta love that holding brake!

The Monster doesn't look much different than the last time I visited.  You can see the arms of the ride behind Steel Force's station - I'm not sure exactly what's wrong with the ride but it would appear as though it will be back, eventually.

The park's classic train ride, the Zephyr, is currently not operating during the day due to construction of the park's new for 2012 attraction.  That gives crews plenty of time to work on the new ride during the day without the train in the way.

And speaking of that new attraction, the park has indeed started real construction of it.  You could see the bulldozers and other machines working away over the construction fence.

Taking a look at Laser's former home, the area has started to be dug up and there's also now a big pile of dirt in the back.  Looks like for now this crew is focused mostly on clearing the land and prepping it for the next stage of work.

Sadly, a few of the trees that were at the entrance to Laser have bit the dust.  It looks like others will be saved, though, which is good news to me.  Some surveying work was also going on at the site today.

One final shot - they were focused on clearing out the area where Laser literally sat, and the walkway that had the children's rides on it is still mostly untouched.  I wonder if it could be taken from this that the new ride will sit exactly where Laser was.  That would make it interesting to see if the other side of the walkway will be redeveloped at all.

No track sightings at the park, they must still be off-site somewhere.  We'll check back during the Summer to watch as the construction progresses.

Take Flight With Goofy At Disney California Adventure

Sneak previews of Goofy's Sky School, the renovated and rethemed wild mouse coaster formerly known as Mulholland Maddness have started at Disney California Adventure.  This is the latest ride to get a makeover as part of the park's larger rebirth.

As you can see from the video, the ride takes you on a trip through Goofy's flight school, which predictably goes a little awry - but that's the kind of fun you'd expect from a trip with Goofy!  The ride is still fairly bare bones as far as a coaster in a Disney theme park goes - I have to wonder if the long term plans for Disney California Adventure include something to replace the ride down the line.

If you'd like to compare the new version to the old version, here's a video of the ride when it was still Mulholland Madness.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coastin' For A Good Cause

In just about a month from now Cedar Fair parks across the country will host the third annual Coasting For Kids fundraiser, which benefits Give Kids The World Village.  Participants can sign up to marathon ride one of each park's signature rides - and accept donations on their behalf to do so.  The event will be held at each park on Sunday, July 24th, check out the specifics of each park's events at this page.

Give Kids The World Village is located in central Florida, close to the major attractions.  The Village provides week long free vacations to families that have children with life-threatening illnesses.  Since 1986 the operation has hosted well over 100,000 families.

If you can't make the event you can still support one of the riders!  Just pick the park event, and find a rider to sponsor.  You can even be a virtual rider if you want to participate!  A great event for an even greater cause.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Parc Asterix's B&M Going Up!

© 2011 PotionMagix

Parc Asterix is working hard on their large new B&M Inverted coaster, and the ride has now started the vertical construction phase with the station track and start of the lift hill in place.  The Egyptian themed ride sports colors similar to Busch Gardens Tampa's Montu, but will have a unique layout which will include an underwater tunnel.

Check out more photos from PotionMagix!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Industry Suppliers Enjoying Asian Park Boom

It's actually been going on for a while now, but here's a current article that takes a look at the theme park boom that's going on in Asia.  According to the article, 15 different parks are currently being built in China alone - and others have recently opened elsewhere, such as Universal Studios Singapore (with their Battlestar Galactica coaster, seen above).

The current trend of opening new parks - and expanding current ones - has ride manufacturers salivating at the possibilities.  B&M, Intamin, Vekoma, Martin & Vleminckx, all are mentioned in the article as having seen an uptick in work in that segment of the world in recent years.

The amount of rides being built reminds me of the expansion that the U.S. saw in the later '90s, only there are a ton of brand new parks opening in Asia, filled with new contraptions by our favorite manufacturers.  There's already a handful of unique looking rides that have sprung up, with plenty more on the way. 

While North America's boom seems to have fizzled some for now, we can hope that the pendulum swings our way again soon!  Until then we'll just have to enviously follow all these Asian projects - I know I won't mind.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wolverine Vs. The Green Lantern?

Photo Courtesy Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey

No epic super hero battle to speak of... but Hugh Jackman did visit Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday to check out the park's new stand-up roller coaster, The Green Lantern.  I hope he enjoyed his ride!

A Blast From The Past - The Big Dipper At Camden Park

In January the Blast covered the Big Dipper's little brother, the Little Dipper. For those of you who don't want to look up that report, here is a bit of a fresher on the park's history.

Camden Park in Huntington West Virginia started out in 1903 as a picnic area for the Camden Interstate Railway. It is the only amusement park in West Virginia and possibly the only park is built around a two thousand year old Adena Indian burial mound.

In 1950 JP Boylin transformed the park from a carousel at the end of a trolley line to an amusement park for families of all ages. And, the Boylin family still own and operate the park.

The Big Dipper was built in 1958 by National Amusement Devices (NAD) with the company's owner Aurel Vaszin heading the design crew. Vaszin had started as an employee of great John Miller and later became associated in Miller's coaster building operation. In 1919 Vaszin started the Dayton Fun house & Riding Device Company, which eventually became the National Amusement Device Company

The Big Dipper is 1800 feet long, 50 foot tall and has a 35 foot drop. The rolling stock is the marvelous 3 bench NAD Century Flyer!

NAD was known for their thrilling out and back coasters, but the Big Dipper is proof that NAD could also built a fun figure eight design. It was said Vaszin often advertised, that his roller coasters had, "more humps per-mile."

By some accounts The National Amusement Device company in Dayton, Ohio created some 400 roller coasters by 1959 and many were the best coasters of their time. Sadly, the Big Dipper is one of a very few NADs remaining.

The Big Dipper still runs without buzz bars, no seat belts and manual brakes. There are not many of these classic woodies left, so get to Camden and enjoy a couple of them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Take A Walk For Secret 2012 Info!

Six Flags Great America has figured out the key to every enthusiasts heart: knowing what the park will add next year before everyone else!  The park has created a new donation group for the nationwide Walk In The Park event where the first 100 individuals to raise $100 will be sent an e-mall this fall revealing their 2012 addition before the public knows!

And if you'd like to really go for the glory, the person who raises the most money out of the first 100 will receive a phone call from park President, Hank Salemi, personally delivering the news.

A Walk In The Park will be held at Six Flags Great America on June 25th, 2011.  Proceeds from the event go to Children's Miracle Network.  The event is held at Six Flags parks across the country, and now in its 4th year has raised over $1 million total.

If you'd like to step up, click here to head to the fundraiser page.  If you're interested in sponsoring a team at your local Six Flags park, start at the main page for the event.

Kings Island Opens WindSeeker

That makes three! With the opening of WindSeeker at Kings Island yesterday, three out of the four new rides at Cedar Fair parks across the country are now open.  Those look like some happy riders!

While we're on the subject of tall, wind-seeking rides, this opening leaves Knott's Berry Farm as the final version to open.  The park just shared this neat video of the park building the ride - some of those shots are really impressive!

Bayern Park Finishing Work On Freischutz

I haven't touched on this story since the ride was announced last year, but the new Maurer launched X-Car ride at Germany's Bayern Park is looking great!  When the ride was announced the concept drawings had me thinking it would be larger than it is - but that's actually a good surprise.  The tight twists and turns of this ride have it looking forceful in just the right way.

This style of ride could fit in at so many North America parks, I have to wonder why more rides like this haven't sprung up.  Maurer's largest ride in the U.S. is Universal Studios Florida's Rockit, along with some spinning coasters and Magic Springs' X-Coaster.  Maurer's designs all look pretty impressive, though I can't speak from personal experience.  Still, if they give a good ride I'd love to see some go up in our neck of the woods!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Say Goodbye to Kennywood's Pittfall?

Kennywood appears to be testing the resale market waters by listing their Intamin freefall, named Pittfall, for sale through International Rides Management.  The ride first opened in 1997 and stands an impressive 251' tall, offering some amazing views of the landscape around the park.

According to this article, Kennywood isn't totally set on removing the ride yet, though a representative from IRM seems to know what ride they're shopping for as a replacement.  Despite those conflicting views, the ride was listed on IRM's Facebook last week.

While Pittfall is a great ride and I'd hate to see it go, the possibilities of a replacement are wide open with the selection of tower thrill rides available today.  Personally, I'm still waiting for that makeover of the Old Mill the park had planned!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cedar Fair Names New President and Future CEO

Exciting news today that Cedar Fair has finally announced the the individual that will replace Dick Kinzel when he retires at the beginning of January, 2012.  Matt Ouimet, known in our circles as a past Disneyland President, will be taking over as CEO - and will start immediately as President of the company.

Mr. Ouimet, 53, is an exciting selection for the new CEO for various reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he spent 17 years with Disney.  As if Disney on your resume isn't enough, he held executive positions in the Vacation Club, Cruise Line, and Disneyland Resort areas before leaving in 2006.  He then spent some time with a large hotel company, and most recently Corinthian Colleges.

He's also known for being the individual that turned the Disneyland Resort around, improving appearances and operations to historic levels, after the parks faltered for years under previous leaders.  He also helped the Resort execute their successful 50th anniversary celebration, showing a level of care and respect for the park that had been lacking.

So what does this announcement mean for Cedar Fair?  Possibly great things in my opinion.  I don't see his influence being overly prevalent next year, but after that I can't wait to watch as things develop.  I by no means expect to see a Disney style experience come to any of Cedar Fair's parks, but the lessons learned while with Disney are bound to rub off one way or another.  Operations, new attraction selection, pricing, marketing... the winds of change are certain to blow.

Finally, some genuinely great news for Cedar Fair!

Edit:  There's been a lot of commentary online about the naming of Matt Ouimet - one of the better ones was just published by Al Lutz of MiceAge.  Check it out at the bottom of this article.

Scott And Carol Present - A Wacky Time At Lake Winnie

Lake Winnepesaukah has been listed by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of America's top 10 family amusement parks. Last fall when we visited Lake Winnepesaukah for their first ever Halloween event, the Castle, the park's quirky dark ride was being plussed for the holiday by Jeff, the rides caretaker.

The Castle was once a two-story version of Bill Tracey's dark rides, but the ride was cut down to one level due to local fire codes. While tremendous for Halloween, the guests were looking for something a little more family friendly for the rest of the year.

Over the years, the Castle had various themes and at one time featured props from the Wacky Shack, the park's Tracey walk through attraction. Jeff never let on anything about the changes he had in store for 2011 during our tour.

For 2011 the ride has been renamed the Wacky Factory and it serves as a big wienie from as far across the park as the sky ride. The facade even appears to be color coordinated with the paddle boats, although we were told that was a lucky coincidence.

Even the rides mechanical features were included in the theming. Here the various zones electrical boxes are brightly painted and labeled.

Instead of anything creepy, bright colors combined with ultraviolet lights give a new look to the attraction. Giggles and laughter have replaced screams with the refurbishment.

Here some fluorescent painted plumbing fixtures that make guests think of anything but pipes as they encounter the scenes along the way.

Forced perspective makes this mine shaft appear longer than it actually is. To enhance the effect, riders hear creaks and groan from the "failing timbers."

Here a classic fun house feature, a surprising mirror, magically appears.

And the another mirror scene later in the ride under black light conditions.

A disco ball, with some curved mirrors, reflective walls, and a swerving course made this one of our favorite rooms. Of course we do remember some of the Seventies.

The bus has been rethemed to flower power reminiscent of the Sixties. With a press release touting "Come On, get Wacky," you can almost hear the Partridge Family bursting into song, albeit with different lyrics.

The almost Picasso clock signals your ride in the wacky Factory is running out.

The special effect at the end of tunnel is brilliantly lit and it has you wanting more. The very first rider, Lauren Massey, proclaimed it "Awesome," after her ride. A very common comment when exiting the Wacky Factory is "I want to ride it again." This is very easily done as the best part of any visit to Lake Winnie is the lines are very manageable and experiences are readily repeated.

Our thanks to Talley Green of Lake Winnepesaukah for assisting us in bringing these images to you and also to the entire Rhoades family for having a fabulous park.