Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vegas' Cowabunga Bay Delayed to 2014

One of Las Vegas' two new water parks will not be opening until 2014, it has been announced.  Cowabunga Bay has made the tough decision not to open in late Summer, instead they will push back the grand opening to Spring 2014.

This will allow the completed park to open at once, and be fine tuned and ready for guests.  There is plenty to be said for having the proper time for training and setting up other park services.

© Cowabunga Bay
The park started construction with a very tight schedule, and encountered some construction delays which would have put the park's opening well into August.  That simply wasn't enough time to have much of a season, so the decision to put off opening had to be made.

Also located in Las Vegas, Wet 'n' Wild still has an opening planned for Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Scott And Carol Present A Look at OutLaw Run

Artfully done temporary signage guides the way to the newest attraction at Silver Dollar City, Outlaw Run. Once you notice the first sign, it's like following the yellow brick road. If you are not the leader, you can  watch where everyone is going. All guests head towards Silver Dollar City's new roller coaster, the only wooden hybrid coaster with three inversions.

Photo by Mike Hammer
Even the ride entrance sign has the look of the Old West


This collage shows off the detailed theming in the Depot/station. 

A real restored stagecoach is the centerpiece of the plaza. There are lots of places to sit for non-riders to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the area, somewhat reminiscent of how entire towns turned out for the arrivals and departures of stagecoaches in a bygone era. 

As you enter the plaza, the lift hill rises above the back of the station with the dip to disconnect the chain turning the train slightly left prior to the first drop.

Silver Dollar City dedicated this monument to the law enforce officers who proudly serve and protect all of us on 4/13/2013. A big thank you to all of you, for all you do for all of us. Please be safe in your service, so you too can create family memories. 

The bottom of the first drop is in the background with the climb toward the lift hill pass through closer to the camera. The train carries a lot of speed as it starts this climb.

Photo by Mike Hammer
The station includes many authentic props, like the stagecoach outside. The crew was already in mid season form, sending out trains very quickly. The line kept moving all day.

Once the entire train is engaged on the lift hill, it speeds up from 12 to 20 feet per second. With only lap bars keeping you in your seat, it is easy to look around for an elevated view of the park. You do have to look fast because it doesn't take long to reach the top of the lift. 

High above the ground the you can see the detail of the track structure. This joint shows how strongly built Outlaw Run is and you can also see how the cross ties maintain the  track gauge, that is the distance between the rails. This is conducive to fast, smooth rides. 

The first drop of 81 degrees and 162 vertical feet, is currently the steepest drop of any wooden hybrid coaster in the world. The train seems to lunged forward like it is being pulled by very strong horses at the crest. Eerily smooth, but with the familiar sound of steel wheel clattering on top of the ride steel, the concrete filled track is guaranteed to provide great rides for a long, long time. This technology is so new even Rocky Mountain Construction does not know how long before it begins to show any wear on the track or trains.

From this view you can't see the lift hill and high speed curve above and behind the camera but you can see another curve in the foreground along with another pass by down in the valley.This is a very compact coaster for all the ride elements included with this terrain specific ride. And the entire ride is so smooth and fun.

Riders have several close encounters with the structure, one of the best is when the train careens through a hole in the lift structure. Another good reverse head chopper is with the supporting structure when you are upside down in the corkscrew.

A minimal amount of trees were displaced by the ride but many of them are close enough to the track to enhance the sensation of speed. Outlaw Run is one of the fastest wooden hybrid roller coasters around, and it ran very fast early in the day.

Outlaw Run takes full advantage of the terrain, with many surprises in store for guests because they cannot see the entire ride without partaking in the experience. Riding the train shows more of the ride, but unless the timing is right, it is hard to picture the coaster train rolling through signature element, the double corkscrew designed by Alan Schilke
There is no dead time at the end of the ride. Here you can see how quickly the cars roll back right side up just ahead of the ready station brakes. This is one of the most articulated trains ever put on a wooden hybrid coaster. A nice audio effect including horses and and a welcome back prepares guests for disembarking the train. It was right at this point, while sitting on the ready station Mike gave the best description. "That was totally insane," he said in a calm quiet voice. Then he talked about where he wanted to ride it again.

Many thanks to Courtney and Chad of Silver Dollar City for giving News Plus Notes readers the opportunity to see Outlaw Run from a different perspective. We rode it three times that day and are looking forward to more thrilling "Escapes from the outlaws" during our next visit. Remember, at Silver Dollar City the good guys always win. See you in line!

Aerial Antics: Wild West World

Do you guys remember Wild West World, the amusement park located outside Wichita, Kansas that operated for two months during 2007?  I had almost forgotten about it but thought it might be interesting to see the site of the park today.

Looks like even though the park closed and filed for bankruptcy, with hopes of redeveloping the land, not much has happened.  The desolate remains of the park almost look like a poorly drawn park map from the air!  Just fill in the rides you want.

Here is the entrance to the park (at the top) and the main Western themed street, at least it once was.  Just about all of the buildings still standing at the park can be seen in this shot - the turnstiles, a couple from the end of main street, and I think what was once a train station in the bottom right.

When the park filed for bankruptcy the rides, buildings, and anything worth any cash was sold at auction.  That's why there are tons of empty concrete pads around the property.  They once were home to a collection of mostly typical carnival rides, some with minor Western theming.

The park's log flume is long gone, but the trough it ran through is still there - waiting and hoping for boats to come floating through once again.  Sorry Mr. Flume, its just not gonna happen.

To check out the aerials of the park from Google, click here.

Scott And Carol Present - A Look At The Six Flags St Louis Boomerang

Wouldn't it be a cool job to travel around determining what park was the "Coaster Capital" of each state? If anybody knows where to put in applications, please let us know! 

Guests enjoying a train ride will be able to watch Boomerang from the station, and if it runs while they pull out, the coaster riders will be able to watch the train from above. 

The uniquely roofed station should allow for good airflow during the hot days of summer. Besides that, it looks pretty nice also. Much of the heat should be reflected but at least there will be shade for the comfort of the guests.

The track is all in place, and the bright colors really stand out against the white painted structure of American Eagle.

As the project nears completion, they are even working on Sundays to ensure that guests to Six Flags St Louis will soon be able to experience Boomerang. 

If you remember back to to when Vekoma Boomerangs were consistently valleying, you understand the reason for the addition of the evacuation stairways. 

With this photo you can see how the support is precisely positioned with large nuts and thick washers underneath the base plate. Lasers are used during this process to ensure the accuracy required for consistently smooth operation. you can also see how a post extends below the base plate into a gap in the footer.

 Once everything is correctly positioned and torqued down, it is locked with an extra nut to maintained the required pressure. Then a wood frame is put around the gap, and concrete is poured and vibrated to eliminate all the air pockets, (gaps,) between the base plate and the rest of the footer. After it cures, the wood frame is removed and everything cleaned up.

Riders going through the loop will have a very interesting view of cars dropping on Superman Tower of Power.

With this view, you can see how guests on the upper midway will be able to get up close and personal with Boomerang, whether they choose to ride or not. You can also check out the modifications to the rides in these stories from Mike  and the topping off of the ride here It will not take long for them to begin testing and pretty up the installation. The ride is expected to be open following Memorial Day weekend. You can bet we will be there to report on how the new train is running.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Scott And Carol Present - KI Project

From the Eiffel Tower, it is hard not to notice the lack of Son of Beast, the ill-fated reincarnation of the looping wooden roller coaster that opened during 2000. Bold in nature but painful in implementation, it used to dominated the skyline, but it closed 7/10/2006 and finally was removed during 2012. The go-cart track has also been removed during the off season.

A close-up, still from the Eiffel Tower, shows suspicious rows of dark objects littering the ground. The steel structure in the foreground is not a crane, it is the left arm of the Slingshot.

Zooming in for a closer look, still does not disclose the origins of the dark objects. Kings Island has made no announcements to date. Are they non-Terrestrial? Extra-Terrestrials? Or some other unknown entity?  Hopefully, we will know the answer soon.
All that is left of Son of Beast is the station, which was the least painful part. It is the building with the striped roof in front of Flight Deck, Kings Island's Arrow suspended coaster. It will be interesting to see if it is incorporated into the new ride or merely used during the Haunt.

The former Son of Beast area is now surrounded by caution tape with warning posters. Luckily for us, it wasn't dark so we were able to investigate further. No paranormal activity was recorded during daylight.
Are they screams of pain from the many tortured riders who endured the painful moments of Son of Beast? Or are they screams of fear from the guests who dared to enter the Lair of the Werewolf during the recent years of the Haunt? Only the park knows, and to this point, they aren't sharing. Stay tuned as the plots thickens, for we will boldly we continue our investigation, despite the risks. 

As we dared to approach the fence, peering through a gap, the mysterious dark object are revealed to be a number of holes already prepped for footers for the newest attraction being built at Kings Island. Please be aware, no paranormal entities, guests, or investigators were harmed during this investigation. We hope that record continues.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Six Flags Great Adventure Shows Off New Safari Fleet

Click for a much larger version © Six Flags Great Adventure
The grand opening of the Safari Off Road Adventure is growing closer at Six Flags Great Adventure!  The park sent out the above image with the below description.  The vehicles are looking great!

"Six Flags Great Adventure assembles its new Safari Off Road Adventure truck fleet in preparation for a Memorial Day weekend launch.  A total of 18 customized, surplus five-ton Army vehicles transformed into rugged Safari trucks will take guests off road and up close to the animals on this VIP-style journey.  Each truck will be equipped with on-board video and a Safari guide to give guests a unique and interactive tour of the 350-acre wildlife preserve.  Guests will encounter 1,200 animals and nearly 80 different species including lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, bison, tigers and bears.  Skilled drivers will take guests right up to the animals, even wading through ponds and climbing hills.  Safari Off Road Adventure will be included with theme park admission."

The Off Road Adventure is sure to be one of the most unique additions at any park this year, and is highly anticipated by park fans.  We can't wait to take a tour!

Magic Kingdom Announces New Parade for 2014

Starting in the Spring of 2014 a new parade will premier at the Magic Kingdom in Florida, named the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.

According to the park, "the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will bring a celebration of New Fantasyland to Main Street, U.S.A., through fantastic and innovative new parade floats, vibrant costumes, and an original soundtrack that will feature beloved songs from favorite Disney films, plus a parade theme song."

As with previous parades at the Magic Kingdom, this new one will feature many characters and themes from classic Disney movies both new and old.  These will include Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio, Brave, Tangled, and Peter Pan.

The Peter Pan float can be seen at top in concept art form, and it looks like it will be a tall one!  Same goes for the Mickey and Minnie float on the left, which could serve as a nice first or last float.

Views of the Completed Smiler

With the last piece of track securely in place, Alton Towers now has a full circuit roller coaster with The Smiler. 

Towers Times took to the skies once again to get some aerial views of the finished ride, and from them the layout and inversion count is finally a bit more clear.

From my count it appears as though the ride will send riders upside down 14 times during the ride, which is well above the previous world record of ten - a title two coasters currently share.  There is an eleven inversion ride under construction in China, but that hasn't opened yet as far as I know.

The Smiler will perform one inversion just after leaving the station inside the ride building, so really the only question left is if there's something else that will take place in there as well.  It seems like 14 inversions is a pretty solid final figure.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jack Falfas to Return to Cedar Fair?

It was back in June of 2010 when Jack Falfas, COO of Cedar Fair at the time, suddenly left the company without any notice or fanfare.  The rumor mill worked over time with regard to the departure, but what ended up being clear was that Mr. Falfas felt that he was wrongfully terminated and the result has been in the courts for years.

Since separating from Cedar Fair Mr. Falfas has worked as a part of Reamusement, a company aimed at helping existing parks perform extensive maintenance on their attractions.  He is also involved in one of the bids to take over Rye Playland, though it remains to be seen if that will go anywhere in the end.

But back to the story at hand - in 2011 the case went to arbitration and it was decided that Mr. Falfas should be reinstated and received back pay, but that decision was appealed by Cedar Fair.  A common pleas court then decided that he should receive back pay and benefits, but not be reinstated.  After another appeal a judge just ruled that Mr. Falfas should indeed be reinstated, and receive back pay and benefits.

Speaking through his lawyer, it seems Mr. Falfas wants to and is ready to go back to work as COO of Cedar Fair.  That position is currently held by Richard Zimmerman who has also been with the company for over two decades.

Now I'm not a lawyer but it seems that Cedar Fair can again challenge the ruling and send this to the state's Supreme Court - something that I imagine would again delay any action for years.  Since the fight was between Mr. Falfas and former CEO Richard Kinzel the whole thing feels like bad press at this point... we will have to wait to see what the company does.  They are currently "reviewing the ruling to determine what the appropriate next steps will be" according to the news article.

This sort of thing is not that uncommon in the world of big business - but interesting to us fans of the company especially because many thought Mr. Falfas would be Mr. Kinzel's replacement when he retired.  The company has made great strides forward under their new CEO, Matt Ouimet, adding another layer to an already complicated story.  We'll have to stay tuned.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Look Inside Seven Dwarfs and Antarctica

I did not at first expect the level of detail that is going into the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but am pleasantly surprised each time we see a new update of the coaster.  The Magic Kingdom, I assumed, was just getting a kiddie coaster with some light theming - mostly landscaping - instead of more Princess space but boy I was wrong on that one.

The Mine Train is much more than a kiddie one, and the the cross between dark ride and coaster has me more excited than ever for the addition.  The above video was released by Disney as part of a press event currently going on for Summer activities, and it really shows off the ride unlike before.  It also gives us our first glimpse of some of the indoor segments that are being created.

SeaWorld Orlando is gearing up for the grand opening of Antarctica - less than 30 days now!

The park's latest video update gives viewers a look inside the attraction, including the gigantic frozen set pieces that are being created and the custom music recorded for the ride.  This is another addition that is shaping up to be a hit, not only the actual ride but also the newly created themed area surrounding it.   Each video reveals just a bit more and with the ride's opening now just around the corner, we might see more before the premier though I bet plenty will be kept a surprise for guests.

Texas SkyScreamer Complete!

© Six Flags Over Texas
I know we just posted an update on the ride yesterday, but now the Texas SkyScreamer at Six Flags Over Texas is complete, 400 feet tall, and just look at it!

The patriotic colors and star at the top along with (naturally) six flags look great - and will look even better when the ride carriage is up there!  It goes without saying that the views of the surrounding area will be amazing from the top, so long as riders can stop screaming long enough to enjoy them.

Some additional shots of the ride being topped off can be seen from Amusement Today.

New Wallace and Gromit Ride Open at Blackpool

England's Blackpool Pleasure Beach has opened a new dark ride named Wallace and Gromit's Thrill-O-Matic.  The ride is based on the short films that feature the adventures of the two characters and replaced the park's Gold Mine ride.

Here's a video of the attraction:

If you feel like you have no idea what you just saw, join the club. I really have no knowledge of the characters though, and the ride seems to just replicate scenes from their adventures instead of try to follow one cohesive story. So in that vein the confusion makes some sense I suppose as things jump around an awful lot.

A great part of the ride is so dark that it does not translate to being recorded, but I did catch a couple of scenes and I'm sure riders will always remember the encounter with the Were-Rabbit at the end!

Confusing or not, it's always fun to see a new dark ride pop up - and the park did spend a nice chunk of change on this one as well.  I'm sure they'll at least make that back from the merchandise shop at the exit!

Freestyle Music Park to be Sold for $10 Million?

© Google
Here's a weird story.  A Christian focus non-profit named Abiding Village that runs an urban arts center is trying to raise $10 million in the next three weeks to purchase the land that sits under Freestyle Music Park, formerly Hard Rock Park.

Their plan seems to only include gaining the land, and if they can do it they will use it in three phases - all of which have nothing to do with a theme park.  I can't image that anyone would sell the park with the rides still on it - so that could also mean that we will finally see the rides sold and relocated.  Well, perhaps.  The B&M would probably move easily, and the mine train could head elsewhere too - but you have to wonder about other rides like the really unique Premier Rides coaster with the Ferris wheel lift.

It's been ages since we've heard anything about the status of the park, and while we (at least I) do not ever expect it to reopen I have to wonder why the rides are still there.  So while this current pipe dream may just be that, it may open the door to seeing a new life for some of the attractions.  At least I hope so, it's a shame to see them all sitting there rotting away!