Saturday, November 30, 2013

Steel Medusa Making Progress at Six Flags Mexico

© Six Flags Mexico
Six Flags Mexico may be celebrating Christmas In The Park at the moment, but in the background of that festive fun Medusa Steel Coaster is slowly coming together.  The transformation of Medusa, a Custom Coasters design that first opened in 2000, into a steel track thrill machine is more than underway, as shown in the image above.  Shared by the park, we can see that the track for the new lift hill is already mostly in place, and the bents for the rest of the ride are being worked on.

If you look at the larger version of the photo, you can also spot the braces for the first inversion, which takes place just prior to the initial drop.  The coaster's unique first drop rolls the trains over and dives at the same time, completing the roll as the train plummets downward.  When completed Medusa Steel Coaster will join both the New Texas Giant and Iron Rattler as Rocky Mountain retrofits.

Since we haven't heard too much about Medusa Steel Coaster since it was first announced, check out the initial video released with the announcement - it looks like one crazy ride!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Wet'n'Wild Sydney To Open December 12th

© Wet 'n' Wild Sydney
The giant new Wet'n'Wild Sydney is ready to open for Australia's Summer season for the first time on December 12th.  As seen above the park has been previewing some slides and attractions in preparation of the grand opening, but the general public will have to wait two more weeks for their turn.

The attraction offerings at the new water park are a bit like a showroom for both Proslide and Whitewater West, as each company has supplied some of their latest and greatest creations to the grounds.  Proslide's list includes a Tornado, Tornado Wave, Tantrum Alley, and kiddie slides while WhiteWater's includes Master Blasters, a Rattler and Constrictor, Boomerango, Whizzard, and AquaLoops - among others.

Wet'n'Wild Sydney has been built by Village Roadshow, the same company that just moved away from their holdings in the Hawaii and Arizona Wet'n'Wild parks.  Billed as one of the largest in the world, Wet'n'Wild Sydney is expected to draw over one million guests a year.

The park is also actively marketing itself as a nighttime destination as well, with dance parties and hours as late as 11 pm.  That's an interesting take, since most U.S. water parks close as the sun goes down.  It looks like some of the slides will have cool lightning, though!

For some recent photos of the park and its offerings, check out this story.

Matt Ouimet's IAAPA Keynote Speech

I finally stole some time away and watched this video, filmed by the Coaster Crew, of Matt Ouimet (Cedar Fair's President and CEO) delivering the keynote address at the recent IAAPA trade show.

Aside from being an interesting look inside the way he leads his team, he also tackles innovation in the regional park industry.  There's a lot of great insights shared along the way, and even a first look at some of the characters for Wonder Mountain's Guardian, the new dark ride going into Canada's Wonderland.  He speaks of how they are planning to develop a "library" of films and characters to be used on the ride in the hope that they can "move it around" to other parks.  So should Guardian be a hit it sure sounds like the plan is to build these at other Cedar Fair properties!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Miracle Strip at Pier Park Breaks Ground on New Park!

© Miracle Strip
This past week was exciting for the folks behind the all new Miracle Strip at Pier Park, they broke ground on the all new 13 acre park - moving just a bit from its current location - that will open in April 2014.  Above are the park's officials during the ceremony, I can't blame them for having such large and genuine smiles on their faces!

© Miracle Strip
The developers of Miracle Strip at Pier Park have found a great amount of success in a tiny park located within the Pier Park shopping area, but have outgrown their current home.  Luckily a large plot of land was literally just down the street from them, and after much work they've been able to start work and plan to move and expand their operations for next year.

© Miracle Strip
The park has been releasing some great photos of the design and other work going on behind the scenes for the new park, such as this great render of the entrance area.  As you can see the landscaping is an integral part of the plan, just as it is currently.  The general color motif and style of the park as it is now will be utilized on the new buildings once the park moves.

© Miracle Strip
Here's an interesting look at the buildings that are planned for the new park.  I love that they're starting small (i.e. realistically) and just taking it from there.  The lighthouse will be a main focal point of the park from afar, and visitors will be able to head up to the top to check out the surrounding area from an elevated view.

© Miracle Strip
This is the site for the new park, just waiting for the bulldozers to move in and start the transformation.  This story about the groundbreaking has some details of what we can expect at the new park - it sounds like all the park's current rides (ten) will be moved and ten new ones will take shape.  The article mentions a Galaxy coaster, "Bullet" flat ride, more antique kiddie rides and a "1936 caterpillar coaster."  Previously the park had also shared that they acquired a Chaos ride and a Loop-O-Plane.

© Miracle Strip
Most folks are still waiting for the famous Starliner wooden roller coaster to open, but as previously stated that will have to wait an extra year.  The park has prettied up one of the original cars from the ride, above, and showed it off at the ceremony.  It sounds like the plan is to start to build the coaster this coming August to open it in time for the 2015 season.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coney Island Thunderbolt Layout Changes + Another New Ride?

Zamperla, manufacturer of the new Thunderbolt, opening in Coney Island this coming summer, was proud to show off what we would assume is the final layout of the coaster at the recent IAAPA trade show.  While the general layout is similar to the one released earlier (long and very narrow!), there are some changes that I did notice in this video:

The video isn't the best quality, but it gets the job done.  The biggest change my eyes see is the turn around - where previously an upward half loop and twist is now replaced by a corkscrew into a super-banked turn.  I like the change and think it'll be a much more comfortable element for riders!

It also appears as though they have settled on the vertical lift hill approach - one of the original concepts showed an elevator style system in use.  Even better, new coaster seats have been designed which feature modern lap restrains, and look very comfortable!

© Luna Park
Luna Park, located just a short distance from where the new Thunderbolt will go up, is also removing one of their attractions.  Eclipse, one of Zamperla's Midi Discovery flat rides, is being packed up and shipped off.  A new ride is coming, but park officials aren't saying what will replace it just yet.  However - if you listed to this interview they give it away - sounds like a swinging and inverting good time!

New Website + New Details on World's Tallest Water Slide

I don't think I am insane, but perhaps I would be to take on Verruckt at Schlitterbahn Kansas City!  The water park has launched an all new website for their world record smashing water slide, the tallest on the globe.

Verruckt was originally planned to open this past summer, but the crazy size and nature of the ride pushed that back into 2014 - trust me we all want plenty of testing on this one!

Search you will, but no official statistic on just how tall this bad boy is will be found on the new website.  It does give some hints, though, such as the fact that it is taller than Niagara Falls which is 167 feet if wikipedia is correct.  Also taller than the Statue of Liberty toes to torch, which is 152 feet.  The FAQ page also mentions that the large hill after the drop is five stories tall.

This one makes me a bit queasy!  That's one steep plunge, in fact they say it is steeper than "any ski slope."  I have no idea how steep that is, but it looks pretty intimidating either way.  The ride should be ready for when the park opens in May, 2014 - and I would expect to get final details around that time.

To check out the ride's new website for more information, photos, and video, click here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More Renovations + Revitalizations for Knott's Berry Farm in 2014

Continuing the recent trend of bringing sections of the park back to life like never before, Knott's Berry Farm has announced two exciting renovations for 2014.  As the park moves further and further away from focusing on big thrill rides, the happier fans of the park appear to get.  The recent changes include the overhaul of the Timber Mountain Log Ride, the brand new Boardwalk area, and heavy refurbishments in the park's classic Ghost Town.

Knott's famous Calico Mine Ride will see a total overhaul this winter, replacing the ride's animatronics with new versions much like what was done this year for the Timber Mountain Log Ride.

For those not familiar with the attraction Knott's describes that it "carries riders aboard ore cars, on a realistic adventure through dimly lit tunnels of a working gold mine. The winding journey takes passengers to underground lakes, waterfalls, caverns filled with thousands of mysterious formations, chambers filled with steaming, bubbling pots and geysers. At several points in the trip, riders find themselves along the rim of a sixty five foot deep and ninety foot wide scene filled with dozens of animated miners trying to strike it rich."

Opened in 1960 and designed by Bud Hurlbut, the Calico Mine Ride has long been one of the park's most unique attractions.  It stands over seven stories tall and over one million people enjoy the ride each year.  Garner Holt Productions will be creating over 50 new animatronics for the ride, and additionally new lighting and special effects will premier - but the theme of entering a working gold mine will remain.  The ride will close for renovations starting in January of 2014.

Knott's Berry Farm's famous Camp Snoopy will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, and will also receive a major revitalization.  Themed to the High Sierra Mountains, the land features not only Snoopy and his pals, but also plenty of smaller attractions for kids and families.  Not many details on the expected changes have been released, just that improvements include "new rides and restoration of the entire area with the original inspiration in mind."

I'm so pleased to see that Knott's Berry Farm is moving even further with restoring the historical parts of the park!  I've said it before but have no problem saying it again, I love that Cedar Fair is focusing on that aspect of the park and putting up the cash needed to keep things fresh.  I look forward to seeing how both the Calico Mine Ride and Camp Snoopy turn out!

New Photos of El Loco at Adventuredome Construction

One good thing about work travel is you occasionally get to bump into the site of a large new coaster being built.  Such was the case for me when I was able to check out the progress of El Loco at the Adventuredome in Las Vegas (located at Circus Circus).  The park 'under the dome' is currently building an S&S custom designed El Loco, with much of the track and supports already in place.

This wide view of the main part of the ride shows off just how far along they are in construction.  The ride is being built in the former home of the Rim Runner shoot-the-chutes, now just a memory at Adventuredome.

The twisted layout somewhat resembles the previous El Loco rides that have been built around the globe, but also has plenty of elements all its own.

The ride starts with a left turn out of the station and a quick trip up the lift hill.  From there a tight turn around takes place, then the extremely steep first plunge down toward the floor of the dome.  The track at the base of the drop is not yet installed, but once it is it will connect to the upward turn you can see in the foreground of this shot.

After a quick block brake the individual cars navigate and outward banked turn, and then head into a dramatically banked turn that sends them into a heartline roll, well really just half of a heartline roll to be accurate.

Once the trains are upside down then dive downward, a clear shot of that can be seen above.  Sorry for the foggy nature of the shot - it was taken from inside a window that looks out over the area!  As you can see the element is all kinds of twisted, though this angle makes it look less smooth of a transition than it really is.

Here's a zoomed in look at the roll followed by the inverted drop.

After the trains zoom down toward the ground once again they climb up and are ready to cross over to the final portion of the coaster.  The section that climbs upward is not in place yet - at least no track - so don't look for that on the photos above.  The ride is actually a giant L shape - something that was lost on me until seeing the work in person.  The area above is not finished, obviously, but is how the section we've seen so far connects to the finale.  From the perspective above the bulk of the ride we've seen would be located to the left.  Eventually the track will cross directly over this bridge.

Panning right from the previous image you can see that the final part of the ride has its supports up, but only a few pieces of track.  I'm not sure what will take place as the ride crosses this bridge track-wise, but I'm confident it is not an inversion.

One more to put this area into perspective.  Here we can see the bulk of the assembled ride in the background, and the support structure seen in the previous photo from the other side.  That's also the ride's station you can see in the left of the photo, with the ride's final inversion starting to take place on top of it.

As the track crosses over the station it begins another twist-and-dive, inverting fully before plunging downward.  Just so happens that only a part of the twist is in place and the 'dive' has yet to be assembled - but these supports are ready and waiting!

Here's another look at the track rolling over, just because it looks cool!  The web of supports should provide some great visuals as the trains head through here.

Once the trains dive down that final time they hit the brakes and will eventually head into the station, which you can see in the photo above.  So to recap, while most of the El Loco coasters have a twist-and-dive and a full heartline, Adventuredome's has two twist-and-dives along with other similar elements, like the extremely steep drop and outwardly banked turns.

One final shot I thought was neat - check out just how close the ride's supports come to the neighboring buildings!  Talk about tight clearances!

No word on when El Loco at Adventuredome will open, but at the current pace it would appear as though it might not be until the new year.  We will stay tuned into the project until then!

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Themed Area Announced at Busch Gardens Tampa!

As if the addition of a brand new, 335 foot tall drop ride wasn't enough, Busch Gardens Tampa has announced that the ride will be located in an all-new themed area.  Falcon's Fury, the "tallest freestanding drop tower" in North America will now be located in Pantopia, the section of the park formerly known as Timbuktu.

When completed, Pantopia will showcase "elaborately-jeweled theming and feature thrilling rides and attractions, sensational new food and beverage options, exciting entertainment, shopping, a renovated indoor theater and more."  The concept art included in this story, released by the park with the announcement, shows off the drastic changes that will totally give the former Timbuktu section a new feel.

Called a "creative haven," Pantopia has been inspired by centuries of world travelers and their adventures. “In addition to the power and allure of Falcon’s Fury, Pantopia will celebrate the spirit of animals, welcome adventurers from the four corners of the earth, explore ancient lore and display fantastic architecture,” says Busch Gardens Park President Jim Dean.

“Guests will find multiple portals and doorways and learn about the legends that have drawn journeyers from around the world to Pantopia" Mr. Dean continued.  Included in the newly themed section will be the Scorpion, Phoenix, Bush Flyers, Desert Runners, and the park's Kiddie Train will return as well.

This final view shows how Falcon's Fury will really be the centerpiece of Pantopia.  The freefall will take riders up and then pivot the seats 90 degrees midair to position riders face-down - and then they drop at 60 miles per hour at 3.5 Gs!

Busch Gardens Tampa has also released this video, the start in a series that follows the progress of both Falcon's Fury and Pantopia.  Check it out!

Scott And Carol Present - Dollywood's Fire Chaser Express Construction

On the way home from IAAPA we stopped in at Dollywood. Our mission: to get a brief update on progress for their new attraction. The sky was dripping with overcast, but the newest coaster is coming along fine to date. No weather related issues so far. 

Lots of footers have been poured, and the concrete work is complete. You can see from the distant footers that the coaster track will pass over the service road that goes back to Thunderhead. Around the bend is holding area for the track and supports for Fire Chaser Express.

There are lots of footers up close to the midway. If you remember how this hillside used to be covered with trees, there is no need to worry. It is the corporate policy of the Herschend Family Entertainment company that for every one tree removed that three trees will be replanted, which while they won't fit here amongst Fire Chaser Express, they will be providing shade in a new location in the foreseeable future.

This special effects building is located high above most of the track and if Mystery Mine is any indication, it will be wonderful. Flames and explosions are fun things to safely experience, and no doubt the riders will return to the station very excited.

Here are some track supports and a piece of track with the motors already mounted. You have to wonder how they know exactly where the next piece to be assembled is located!

There are pieces of track and supports lining the access road most of the way up the mountain. According to Chris, most if not all, of the track and supports are onsite already. 

This pile of track supports almost looks like logs piled outside a sawmill. 

The first launch will roughly follow the caution tape and end on the 79 foot lift hill between the two towers.  The track will go through the tower on the left before climbing into the special effects building. Luckily some of the rockwork from Adventure Mountain is staying as part of the extensive theming for Fire Chaser Express.

 Lots of side-friction motors will be used for both the forwards and backwards launches. As you saw from the previous photos, some of them have already been installed on the track.

Did we mention there was a lot of track scattered along the access road? It was like this most of the way up the mountain. It is visible during the daytime from the Dollywood Express. If you look carefully, you can also see reflections after dark from the moonlight.

Our thanks to our tour guides, Brian and Chris, for being outstanding hosts and answering numerous questions along the way. All this on a cold and wet day, and as you can see, they both still managed a smile. Lots of families will be thanking Chris and his team this spring.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

From The Vault: Geauga Lake 1996 Brochure + Map

Next up we have Geauga Lake's 1996 brochure and map.  During this time period the park was owned by Premier Parks, and they were by no means shy when it came to expansion.  Along those lines, two big attractions opened in 1996 at Geauga Lake.

A roller coaster, named Mind Eraser, and a river rapids ride, named Grizzly Run, were the featured rides for the year.

The Mind Eraser was a standard Boomerang coaster, and utilized the same name that Premier Parks used for that style of ride at several other properties.  Grizzly Run was an Intamin river rapids ride that featured "raging rapids, roaring rip ties, swirling currents and towering waterfalls" according to the marketing.

Since this was before the day of Cedar Fair ownership, the park still had a water park built along the shores of the lake.  That silly looking turtle was the mascot for that area.  This section of the brochure also advertises the coasters that could be found, including two wooden rides, Raging Wolf Bobs and the Big Dipper.

Outside of the water park and big coasters, there was still plenty more to do at Geauga Lake.  A wide variety of flat rides like the Texas Twister and Skyscraper Ferris wheel had guests covered, plus there was more fun with the Cuyahoga River Logging Company flume ride and the even slower paced 1926 Marcus Illions Carousel.

The park's calendar featured weekends in October when "Halloscream" took place, there were also fireworks on all the popular holidays.  Geauga Lake also held an annual Grad Night, staying open from 10 pm all the way through to 4 am.

I have to admit that this park map is both ugly and horribly done!  Sorry, but the map changes perspective several times which gives it a bit of a crazy warped feeling!  But it's neat to be able to look back and see what was offered in 1996.