Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kentucky Kingdom Building Nation's Tallest Body Slide

Kentucky Kingdom's press machine is running at full force these days, and I for one think that's a great thing.  The park is working quite hard to get the word out about their upcoming grand reopening, and not missing a single opportunity to let folks know their latest plans.

The park has been constructing the tower for Deep Water Dive, which at 121 feet will be the tallest body slide in the U.S. when complete.  In order to complete the top of the tower one of the runways at the nearby airport had to be temporarily shut down.  It is not every day that a water slide this tall shuts down part of an airport, so naturally this made for several news stories.

Deep Water Dive is only one of several all new water slides opening at Kentucky Kingdom's Hurricane Bay water park.  The new slide towers will dot the landscape of a much larger water area, complete with a new adventure river and family wave lagoon.

The grand opening of Kentucky Kingdom will take place in less than a month on May 24th.

New Views of Wonder Mountain's Guardian + A New Waterslide?

© Canada's Wonderland
This past weekend Canada's Wonderland was open for a private event and that means that park guests were able to see Wonder Mountain's Guardian up close for the first time.

The park recently showed off some new photos of the ride's very coaster-like lift hill and first turn, and the Matcom Group, who is involved with the attraction's construction, also released some interesting photos.

© The Matcom Group
This is one of the recently added photos from the Matcom Group, which shows the ride's "first drop," which really is more of a shallow dip than a big drop.  Still, the fact that the cars navigate such traditional coaster track and elements really does help the argument that this ride could be called a coaster.

CWFansite was at the private event and has put up a huge gallery of photos from the day.  They show off Wonder Mountain's Guardian from many perspectives, but a special treat are photos of the ride's cars.  While not traditional coaster cars in any sense, the vehicles seat four guests (two back to back) and are paired in sets of two.  So it appears as though a "train," if you will, will take 8 passengers through the ride at a time.  Click here to check out CWFansite's photos.

Topsy Turvy at Ontario Place © National Post
Also some interesting news just popped up that the park may be installing a new waterslide this year, possibly the "topsy turvy" attraction formerly at Ontario Place.  That park built the slide, never opened it, and then permanently shut down.  The ride appears to be a set of Tantrum slides from Proslide, and recent reports say that one of the park's radio commercials are advertising the new attraction.  There have been reports that the slide's pieces have been seen at Canada's Wonderland, but until the park confirms if the new slide is topsy turvy we will have to classify this one as a rumor.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NPN Exclusive: Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom Expansion Update + New Photos

It's been just over a month since we checked out the work underway at Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom, and in that time a ton of changes have taken place.  The $8 million expansion, celebrating the water park's 30th anniversary, will truly have the park looking brand new - and there are lots of changes for us to check out!

Before we even get into the park I noticed some special deliveries waiting out in the parking lot - here are two of the three launch capsules that will go on the top of the Python Plummet slides.  These will have riders stand on a drop floor at the start of the slide, and after being released riders drop straight down to start their journey.

Last time we saw how the original pool for the Oasis had been removed, and now the park is hard at work setting up a new Oasis in the corner of the Wildwater Cove wave pool.  The area has been sectioned off so that adults can enter, enjoy a beverage, and relax in the sun.

You'll have to ignore the very ominous clouds in the background in order to really appreciate the fresh new paint job that Island Water Works has received.  The structure was looking pretty rough last year, but now it looks arguably better than when it first opened!  The park is also working hard to get all the interactive elements back in operating order, or at least as many as they possibly can.

We also heard of plans for a new queue for Aquablast in our last update, and here we see the new waiting area mostly in place.  There's still some additional stairs to be put into place, but when complete this will help keep the extremely popular water slide's line from clogging up the nearby midway.  While not obvious in this photo, the supports for the slide are currently being prepped for a full repaint as well.  It is wonderful to see the park spend such a substantial amount (remember the whole support tower was replaced as well) to keep one of their star slides in tip top shape.

This year Fast Lane Plus will get riders on several Wildwater Kingdom attractions with a minimal wait, and in order for Aqua Racer to be a part of this a brand new second staircase had to be added.  Above, the second staircase is now in place with only some additional work needed before it is ready for use.

Just before we head over to check out Snake Pit, here's one shot of the new midway adjacent to Aqua Racer's entrance.  As mentioned in the earlier story, this section was very clogged and narrow, but the park has remedied that and created plenty of new room for folks to get around.

Vertical construction started on Snake Pit just a few days after our last visit, and as you can see above it has progressed quickly since then.  While I was at the park crews were busy lifting pieces of the support tower for the Python Plummet slides into place.  This perspective also shows off how tall the slides will appear from this area of Wildwater Kingdom.  Not that they aren't tall (65 feet), but with them located on the side of a hill they appear much taller in person!

Moving around to the other side of Snake Pit, we see a better view of what is in place so far.  Crews were seriously blasting through that tower during the day, in the early afternoon only two tall supports were up, and just a few hours later they were quickly filling in the side braces.

Also of note is that the pad has been poured that will hold the run out slides for Jumpin' Jack Splash, seen at the very bottom of this photo.  The actual troughs are not in place yet, but will be soon.

Pulling back, here is a wider shot of the entire structure.  One of the tube slides (a part of the Boa Blasters) has a good deal of its course already in place.  If you look close in the support structure you can see the double-down finale of the slide.

How about some nice shots from above?  We trekked to the top of the Aquablast structure for a slightly different view from last time, when we were at the top of Lightning Falls.  There's a great deal to check out in this photo - starting with how much the area has changed in a month's time.  Snake Pit's pump house (lower right) is nearly complete, along with the splash pool for Boa Blasters and the Constrictor.  The pad for the run outs of Python Plummet is also complete, seen in the background.

Snake Pit's entrance will be on the lower right, where machinery is starting to complete final grading before the queue is poured.  From there the lines will snake (pun totally intended) under the structure and up the towers.

The view from the top of the Python Plummet tower will be impressive, overlooking several major sections of Wildwater Kingdom.  By the time this story is published I have no doubt that this tower will be complete, with crews already having moved on to different sections!

Several sections of Boa Blasters are already hung on their supports, seen up close here.  The crane operators have to work to construct the tower much like a puzzle, making sure that each piece added does not restrict them from adding another.  Hopefully they have some sort of "install by numbers" guide to use.

Excuse the "through the existing slide tower" shot here, but I wanted to give an idea of just how many slide sections have been constructed and are awaiting placement.  You can see there are sections for all the slides, including blue for Boa Blasters, purple for the Constrictor, and yellow, red, and orange for Python Plummet.

Back on the ground, there are still more changes to check out.  Last time we stopped by the new locker building was just some concrete on the ground, but clearly that's changed.  The structure is now standing and is having final details applied like the roof and other theming elements.  Paint still needs to be applied to give the building a splash of color.

The inside of the 4,000 square foot structure is spacious, and will make things so much easier for guests - giving them more room to "breath" as they unpack and get ready for their day in the sun. 

This structure will accessible from the back as well, not seen in this photo is Talon which is immediately to the right of the walkway seen above.  This will allow guests to still get into their locker once the water park is closed for the day.  It will also be a great place to get some nice shots of Talon in operation, which I did not realize previously.

Speaking of the lockers, here's an example of the new ones that will populate the building.  Instead of having to carry around a key all day, guests will use a code to get into their locker.  The system was used last year at Cedar Point and quickly found success - no doubt the guests at Wildwater Kingdom will also love the ease of use gained from these.

Taking a step backward, we see the new midway currently being poured.  The new area extends from the end of the main changing rooms down to the Rita's and subsequent food buildings.  Above on the back left is the new shaded seating area that replaces a mishmash of old groves that dated back to Wildwater Kingdom's opening.

This is a better view of that new shaded rest area, taken from the backside.  The area will be filled with seats and tables, and some new fencing will eventually block the view above.  There will also be a fresh market set up in the center, offering snacks and other refreshments.  Needless to say the area is vastly improved over what was here previously!

This shot shows off just how different the part of the park now is, with the new locker facility and rest area extending along the length of Talon in the background. 

That's the update - for now at least!  With crews moving quickly as the opening day for Wildwater Kingdom approaches these photos will be outdated before too long.  Many thanks to the park's Vice President and General Manager, Mike Fehnel for taking me around for photos.  Can't wait to see the finished product!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Falcon's Fury Face-Down Freefall Point of View

Curious about what a ride on Busch Gardens Tampa's Falcon's Fury will be like?  Wonder no more!  The park has released this point of view video of the ride experience, including the pulse pounding face-down freefall drop.

I think that almost even more frightening than the actual drop will be the moment you feel the seats begin to move from the sitting to face-down position.  You're already up so high, admiring the view or perhaps praying for the ride to end, and then suddenly the seats being to pull upward... chilling yet exciting!

Also of note is how quickly the seats pull back up once the cars get toward the bottom of the tower.  That movement is sure to add to the experience.

No official opening date for Falcon's Fury has been released, but the park promises to keep us updated as testing continues.

Scott And Carol Present - Kings Island's Banshee Takes Flight Part 2

Here is the link to part 1 of the Kings Island's Banshee Takes Flight story posted on April 24th, 2014 for NPN readers who may have missed it.

There are lots of positive "Gs" throughout the ride, and the change up on the flat spin near the end is disorienting in a very fun sort of way. Even with its forcefulness, Banshee is very reridable for the average park guest.

The slow-motion roll at the end of the ride is a wonderful surprise for first-time riders. All day long trains returned to applause and cheers.

Rob Decker, led the creative team that helped bring about the Banshee experience. He tells us that due to the popularity of the Halloween season, Cedar Fair is revisiting names like Possessed and Banshee. He believes the hill is haunted, "because it's on the Internet." When you enjoy the queue experience, it's due to the Cedar Fair team effort.

Banshee doesn't let up in either the speed or the forcefulness throughout the ride. And every time you go upside down it's the beginning of another great drop with airtime. The radius of the pullouts is tight and intense.

The majestic elements have fast transitions with no time to pause/catch your breathe throughout the entire ride. Even with the massive size of the elements, they still deliver a wonderful forcefulness that reminds you that this is not a family coaster.

Sophie Bolliger gives a us a few words on how privileged they felt to be changing the skyline of Kings Island. They have created yet another masterpiece, by utilizing the terrain in a unique way. The improvement in the restraints is also appreciated.

For some, the incredible first drop will be the high point of Banshee but that is just the beginning. B & M has strung together a series of lengthy drops, with the starting point of each a different type of inversion.

While the Banshee exit is close to the newly renamed Bat, if the timing is right, you can get a great views of either ride from the other one.

Here is your front seat ride on Banshee, courtesy of Kings island. Spoiler alert, if you would like to be surprised on your first ride, this gives it all away.

Our thanks to Jeff, who took us behind the fence for some better views of Banshee. 

The eternal flame for Son of Beast is a nice touch. Some riders still carry a torch for the ride, but now Kings Island allows you to relight it when you pass through the queue for Banshee. Whatever you felt about Son of Beast, you will remember it. 

Our thanks to Don, Robb, Greg, Jeff, Sophie, and the entire Kings Island crew for their assistance in bringing you this story. Special kudos to Kings Island's maintenance, for their excellent work on getting Banshee rolling in the cold weather.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

From The Vault: Classic Dorney Park Photo

This From The Vault item isn't actually from my vault at all, instead it comes to us directly from Dorney Park.  While getting ready to celebrate the park's 130th anniversary, Dorney Park officials went digging through the archives and found a wealth of old photographs of the park.  Lucky for us they were kind enough to share - a full look at them will come later this Summer.

© Dorney Park
I did want to share this photo as a bit of a preview, however.  I love this shot for various reasons, one of which is that there is so much going on in it!

This is the lower section of the park, with Cedar Creek running through it.  The Zephyr train ride, which has had so very many paint schemes through the decades, is running along it and the famous Rockets are swinging high over head.  In the background is the yellow wooden supports of Thunderhawk, though when this was taken it would have just been called the Coaster.  In the background the elaborate facade for Journey to the Center of the Earth can be seen, which was the spooky theme given to the original Mill Chute ride.  Finally, standing above it all is the white Parking Tower, which signaled the official entry to the property for hundreds of thousands of cars.

Verruckt Verified as World's Tallest Waterslide

© The Travel Channel
How does careening down a 168 foot, 7 inch tall waterslide sound you?  The thrill seekers out there will certainly answer with a resounding "sounds fun!" but many will have some hesitations about that plunge.

It has been a long wait, but Schlitterbahn Kansas City has finally revealed that the height of Verruckt is the aforementioned 168 feet, 7 inches.  That makes the ride the tallest of its kind in the world, and that has quickly been verified for the park by Guinness Book of World Records.

The view from the top © Mark Holland
For those who are not familiar, Verruckt is not a body slide, rather you and three friends ride down that massive drop in a raft.  The speed gained will send the rafts up over a large hill - expected to provide a nice dose of air time for riders.  After the hill there is a run out section that slows the rafts before passengers disembark.

The new slide is still being tested, so a final speed is not yet been determined.  If the testing process goes as planned, the new slide with open at Schlitterbahn Kansas City on May 23rd.

For more photos of the ride and the official ceremony, check out this story from MidwestInfoGuide.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's 2015 Coaster Plans Leaked

Magenta Rectangle = New Coaster
BGWFans has posted a look at the blueprints for Busch Gardens Williamsburg's 2015 new coaster... and what an interesting choice it is!  The ride appears to be a clone of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's Superman Ultimate Flight, a clone of which also just recently opened in Germany.

According to the plans the new coaster will be shoehorned into the park's Fiesta Italia section, generally where the magenta rectangle is located in the aerial image above.  Somehow there will be room enough for not only the coaster, but also queue space and an entrance plaza (though that will take over the water balloon game located nearby).

While Superman Ultimate Flight is a very unique ride - complete with a crazy looking heartline roll and three launches - the ride's capacity is very limited and that may be a problem at a very busy park like Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Head over to BGWFans for their full analysis and to check out the plans for the ride.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Angkor: Adventure In The Lost Kingdom Now Open at PortAventura

© PortAventura
The longest ride of its kind in Europe, PortAventura's Angkor: Adventure in the Lost Kingdom is now open and entertaining thousands of guests at the Spanish theme park.

The splash battle style ride was created by Mack Rides, and was inspired by the real-life Temple of Angkor.  The boats journey through several different sections of ride, which include a jungle and a busy native village.  Riders have the ability to blast water at targets along the way, and of course at other boats as well!

© PortAventura
Angkor: Adventure in the Lost Kingdom has a cast of animated characters that were created by Sally Corporation - all designed to be able to withstand being blasted by water all day!  The animations designed include a tiger, giant snake (seen above), monkey king, and villagers in some truly hilarious poses.  Sally is showing off some of their work for Angkor on their blog - make sure to stop over and check that out.

For those who want to really experience Angkor: Adventure in the Lost Kingdom, this point of view should do the trick.  Notice how nice and long the attraction is, with plenty of interactivity around each corner!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Scott And Carol Present - Kings Island's Banshee Takes Flight!

We promised you more, so here is what Banshee looks like after the sun came out to join the festivities. Despite how bright the light, it was still cold until lunch was served. 

In the foreground is one of the many Gothic lights that adorn the queue and Banshee's station. They flicker, adding that extra touch of foreboding.

When Kings Island is open, you can visit the top of the Eiffel Tower for a great view of all the roller coasters, except Flight of Fear, which never sees the daylight. 

Here is all 4,121 feet of track encompassing seven inversions. The official colors are moonlight blue support structure with mystic red track for the three trains. The 150 foot first drop curves from right to left.

No generic cyclone fencing for the restricted areas on this ride! The structure is use to create feelings of closeness as the train flies along the track. 


Here is our ride on Banshee, well before the temperature began to climb. The incredible job done by Kings Island maintenance department had the coaster running from the start.

Riders swoop low to the ground, which serves to heighten the sensation of speed. Due to no midcourse brake, Banshee actually goes faster after the midpoint due to Bolliger & Mabillard's clever utilization of the terrain. The maximum speed is 68 mph.

Banshee riders find themselves in this position seven times during the ride experience. The new spring-loaded "vest" restraints are similar to the wing-rider trains. They do not lock down like the early wing-riders before the update.


Greg Scheid, Vice President and General Manager of Kings Island, has nothing but good things to share about the ride, and the process. With this being the largest investment since the opening of Kings Island, it is surely $25,000,000 well spent.

Here is the view of the loop over the lift hill from above showing the intricacies of the structure. The large majestic elements proved to be surprisingly forceful, encouraging riders to came back around to ride it again. With a capacity of around 1600 riders per hour, the lines will constantly be moving at Banshee.
So this is Part One of our Banshee review. Check back later for even more, we are going to go ride it again!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Water Country USA's Colossal New Slide Nearly Complete

© Busch Gardens / Water Country U.S.A.
The Colossal Curl, seen above at Water Country USA, is nearly complete and looking quite thrilling from the latest photos.  The park is located just "around the corner" from Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and has taken on a large new family water slide as the main course for the 2014 season.

Colossal Curl is one of a new generation of water slides that actually combines two popular elements into one attraction.  This one - the first of its kind in America - starts with a dip into a 24 foot "tantrum" or mini-funnel that rocks the raft back and forth.  After exiting that there are a series of curves that lead up to a steep drop into a 40 foot wave feature.  There's sure to be plenty of air-time felt at the top of the wave!  A calming channel leads rafts to the exit after they come down from the side of the wave element.

The Daily Press has some video and additional photos of the new slide, along with some preview footage of Busch Gardens Williamsburg's new large-production "London Rocks" show.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Thunderbolt Coaster Going Up at Luna Park

If you look in the center of this photo, you can see that the vertical lift hill and drop support tower is now in place for the all-new Thunderbolt roller coaster at Luna Park.

This somewhat fuzzy photo was grabbed from a live webcam that keeps tabs on the rides in Coney Island.  The new Thunderbolt is going up just beyond the current Scream Zone section, which features the red and blue Soarin' Eagle flying coaster.  Thunderbolt, after plunging down the first drop, will run the length of the block away from the ocean, occupying a very thin but long parcel of land.

© Luna Park
Luna Park has been showing off the progress of the new Thunderbolt via social media for some time now.  Above are two photos they released of the coaster's foundations being created.  The second photo also shows off plenty of supports being placed around the site in preparation of being put in place.

The $10 million Thunderbolt is slated to be ready for a Memorial Day weekend grand opening, so I would expect to see this ride go up very quickly from this point forward!