Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gardaland's 'Oblivion - The Black Hole' Warped Theming Now in Place

Gardaland's Oblivion - The Black Hole, a brand new B&M Dive Coaster has been structurally complete for weeks now, but the park has just recently been finishing up the coaster's theming.  The ride gives a NASA-type feel, representing a trip directly into a black hole with unprecedented effects.  The ride's first drop does go below ground and into a tunnel, and that's where some of the cool theming has recently been applied.

© Gardaland
Here's Oblivion - The Black Hole's first drop, with some of the warped structures over top of it.  You see, the black hole that the trains dive into is so strong that it is slowly pulling all objects around it with its gravitational force.  That means that was previously standing straight is now bending as if being sucked into the black hole.

© Gardaland
This photo shows off many of the theming elements that have been applied at this point - including a water tower, TV antennas, windmill and even the nearby shrubs.  The park promises that even more will be added including a TV station van and part of a nearby roof.  It's a pretty cool idea, and the cartoon-like effect is pretty convincing!

© Gardaland
Here's an even closer look at some of the elements, you can really see the bent over shrubs in this shot as well.

Gardaland's webcam for Oblivion - The Black Hole shows that some additional features are already in place, in fact I think we can see that news van now in place as well.  The coaster features an Immelmann, air-time hill, helix and a zero-g roll before heading back to the station.  For more information on the new coaster, which is set to open this Spring, check out Oblivion's website.

Valleyfair Making Progress on 2015 Soak City Expansion

© Valleyfair
I complain about how cold it has been in Eastern Pennsylvania, but this is probably nothing compared to the temperatures this winter in Shakopee, Minnesota.  That hasn't stopped Valleyfair from working on their 2015 Soak City expansion, with the park even building a temporary cover over the work site just to be able to pour concrete!  Take that, snow.

The progress has led the park to now have most of the support structure standing for their new six slide tower which includes the Breakers Pipeline and Breakers Plunge. 

© Valleyfair
While the park assembles the tower structure, they've also started to receive the slide pieces themselves.  This picture is from several weeks ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if the slides are already started to be assembled on the ground while the tower is finished up.  When complete the new tower will offer four slides that start with a floor-dropping plunge, and another two high speed slides that start at a towering 90 feet above the ground.

Valleyfair fans have been able to keep up with the Soak City expansion via the park's live webcam, which shows work continuing on this sunny Saturday.  The new slide tower can be seen in the background, with the run-out area currently covered in snow.  The second Soak City addition, Barefoot Beach, can be seen in the lower part of the image.  This will be a children's play area, filled with spraying elements and other fun for little ones.

Hopefully the weather will break soon, and then we'll see slide pieces going up and work continuing even faster.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Disney Shares Some of Animal Kingdom's Avatar Tricks in New Update

© Disney
Another small Avatar Land reveal has taken place, once more on the Disney Parks Blog.  The new Animal Kingdom development is under heavy vertical construction at this point, so I suppose it makes sense to give fans some more information on the project.

The above concept art is a bit of a puzzle when you first look at it, what helps is to take notice of the little blue people on the ground, which gives us some scale.  So with that help we can gather that these are the huge floating mountains we've heard about, which will tower over the area (and apparently support themselves using some faux vines).  As for what exactly the background structures are is unclear, though I think the focus of this piece of art is the flower and plants that will be found in Avatar Land.

Disney also released this video, which shows some of the amazing plants that Imagineers have created for Pandora... the bioluminescent flowers are beautiful.  Not to mention the floor that glows as guests will walk over it!  If one of the goals of the Avatar project is to keep guests in the park longer this will be a home run - everyone will pack the area once the sun goes down to see this stuff!

Read more details in the original post from Disney Parks.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Everything is Awesome at Legoland Florida Resort

Even more in 2015?  Yes, even after building an entire resort and announcing a new land, the Legoland Florida Resort still has another trick up its sleeve.  The theme park has announced that it will be one of six Legoland parks and eleven Legoland Discovery Centers to premier a new 4D animated film based on The Lego Movie later this year.

© Legoland Florida Resort
The new movie will aim at entertaining families using a combination of film and in-theater effects, drawing from the star power of the mega-hit The Lego Movie.  "Using elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects, the larger-than-life experience brings the film’s main characters, Emmet and Wyldstyle, back together with their friends for another awesome adventure."

The film will be exclusive to the Legoland theme parks and Legoland Discovery Centers, and is a combined effort of Merlin Entertainments, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The LEGO Group.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The LEGO Group on such a, dare I say, awesome, adventure,” says Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive Officer Nick Varney. “Emmet and Wyldstyle have become immensely popular at our theme parks and Discovery Centers across the globe and bringing this new 4D movie exclusively to our guests continues our Merlin philosophy of creating memorable family experiences.”

No official premier date has been set for the new movie, so stay tuned to each park for more information later in 2015.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Fury 325's Impressive Night Look + First Rider Auction

© Mike Fehnel
Carowinds' General Manager has taken to Twitter once more to show off the latest Fury 325 developments, and this time around we've been able to see the giga coaster's impressive lighting scheme.

The entire lift hill is aglow with green LEDs, making the already hard-to-miss coaster stand out even more.

© Mike Fehnel
The lights do not stop there, however, as they are also found in the station area as well.  The honeycomb shape is carried on throughout the queue and station, from the shade covers to the air-gates.  Here we see more LEDs in the honeycomb shape serving as a grand entrance back into the station at the end of the ride.

© Mike Fehnel
This last photo shows the ride from a distance, glowing green from all the lights.  Looks fantastic!  Check out more photos as you scroll down via this link.

Carowinds has also announced details of the Fury 325 first rider auction, which will benefit the Cam Newtown Foundation and is planned to take place on March 25th.  Seats on the first three trains will be auctioned off, with 100% of the proceeds being donated.  There's already a great deal of bids in place, and the auction will close at the end of the day on March 15th.  Great fun for a great cause!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cedar Point Announces Additional Enhancements for 2015 Season

© Cedar Point
With the addition of Rougarou, the transformation of Mantis from a stand-up to floorless coaster, already announced, we may have assumed Cedar Point was done with 2015 announcements.  Happily, we were wrong!

At this past weekend's Winter Chill Out enthusiast event, which raised $27,000 for Give Kids The World, the park made several more announcements.

Seen above is concept art for the changes that were revealed for the Wicked Twister Midway, which is getting an overhaul for this season.  Moved from elsewhere in the park, Calypso will be renamed the Tiki Twirl and be located near Wicked Twister's entrance area.  A new neighbor to maXair, the park's famous Dodgems will also be moved along the pathway.  In order to fit the Dodgems, the kiddie version of the same attraction will be moved and incorporated into Planet Snoopy and renamed as Joe Cool's Dodgem School.  The entire area also appears to be receiving new planters, light fixtures and other cosmetic improvements.

As part of the changes, Sir Rub-A-Dub's Tubs (a children's water ride) and the Turnpike Cars (located near Raptor) will be retired.

© Cedar Point
Visitors with a sweet tooth will love a newly announced candy store, located next to the Pagoda Gift Shop, named Sweet Spot.  The new store "will feature fresh fudge, caramel apples and other mouth-watering treats," with "large front windows along the Main Midway will allow guests to watch the candy-making process."

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point is also hard at work with the final renovations to the historic Hotel Breakers, which will totally transform the resort.  Just announced, and seen above, are new outdoor fire pit areas that will serve as both a gathering and resting site for guests.  This will be a wonderful place to hang out and warm up between coaster rides in both the early Spring and Fall seasons!

2015 has shaped up to be a season full of exciting changes for the park!  Season Pass holders will be able to check out some of the additions (like Rougarou) on a newly announced Season Passholder Preview Night on Friday, May 8th from 7 to 10 p.m.

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Family Ride Spinning Into Dutch Wonderland in 2015

A new ride that the entire family can enjoy together, named the Bon Voyage Balloon Chase, will entertain visitors at Dutch Wonderland in 2015.

© Dutch Wonderland
The park announced the new addition to its attraction line up along with the above concept art, showing the colorful balloons that will hold riders.  Bon Voyage Balloon Chase will lift riders up to a maximum of 20 feet above the ground, just enough to excite some of the park's younger visitors; remember Dutch Wonderland is all about kids and families!  The balloons will rise and fall as the ride rotates clockwise, and the baskets will allow riders to spin freely by turning the center wheel.

The new ride was a gift to the park's resident Princess Brooke, given to her by Empress Emille whom she met while visiting France.  The back story for the new ride is actually very cute, you can read more of it at the park's website for Bon Voyage Balloon Chase.

This new ride in 2015 comes after a 2014 expansion that saw the addition of Exploration Island, containing the Prehistoric Path with 20 life-sized dinosaurs, along with the Dino Dig site.

DelGrosso's Amusement Park Plans New Ride in 2015, Huge Expansion in 2016

© DelGrosso's Amusement Park
DelGrosso's Amusement Park is gearing up for an unprecedented expansion, one that will see a new thrill ride added in 2015 and a humongous water park addition come online in 2016.

New in 2015, the Rock Star will be a half million dollar addition in the amusement park that will send riders up to 55 feet above the ground on a giant rotating platform.  Seating 22 riders per cycle, the arm of the ride will resemble a huge guitar, completing the ride's theme.  As the platform rotates and heads back toward the ground, riders will experience a feeling a free fall that is fun for the entire family.  Rock Star will be manufactured by ARM, Inc.

© DelGrosso's Amusement Park
The really big news is in 2016, when a $12.5 million expansion will be completed that will add a new main entrance to the property, and greatly expand the current water park.  Named Laguna Splash, the new water park will be Italian themed and incorporate the existing slides and pools into the fold.

Above is a concept rendering of the expansion, with the new entrance at the bottom, followed by the water park additions beyond it.  A large wave pool and lazy river will be built, along with a zero entry lounging beach, three food locations and plenty of other play areas including fun items like a Leaning Tower of Pisa.

© Aquatics Group
This image is from the Aquatics Group website, which will be designing the water park expansion.  It shows several potential expansion attractions, along with what has been announced for 2016.  If you look you can see the existing slides on the bottom right - compare those to this aerial of the current park:

You can quickly see just how much the area will change once the expansion is complete.  It appears as though the park's go-karts and mini golf will be removed for the water park, a small price to pay in my opinion.

Work on Laguna Splash will begin in 2015, due to the large scale of the project and continue until it opens Memorial Day, 2016.  You can read more about the expansion directly from the park at this link.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Aerial Antics: Shanghai Disneyland

Google has added some recent aerial images of Shanghai Disneyland, one of our first good looks at what construction crews have been working on the last few years.  Here is an image of the entire resort, with a central lake and Shanghai Disneyland in the upper left.  Like Hong Kong Disneyland, there's room for an entire second park in the upper right - in the far off future, of course.  The resort's two initial hotels are located at the bottom of the central lake, and just to the left of the theme park.

Located adjacent to the entrance to the theme park is an entertainment district, similar in concept to Downtown Disney.  It features various retailers and dining, along with a permanent theatre showing The Lion King.

Just above the park's Gardens of Imagination 'hub' area, the Enchanted Storybook Castle can be seen in the lower right of this image.  Beyond it is Fantasyland, which includes a handful of dark rides and you can also spot a clone of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the upper right.

This is a close-up look at the rumored Tron themed roller coaster in Tomorrowland.  The ride's track will exit the main building seen here, and zoom through a covered area in the lower right.  If you look close you can follow the coaster's tracks as it heads out of the building and then eventually back in.

Shanghai Disneyland will feature a first of its kind Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which requires the massive show building seen here.

Finally, this is a river rapids ride that heads up onto and then into a fake mountain.  You can see the station area in the lower left, the lift running up the mountainside, and then eventually the trough disappears inside the structure.  It eventually emerges, and I'm fairly certain that you can see a drop near the end of the ride.

There's a lot of other details you can pick out if you study the images closely, take a look if you like!  Also check out some recent photos from ground level via the Theme Park Guy.

Laff Trakk Starting to Go Up at Hersheypark

© Hersheypark
While the fierce winter rages on in Pennsylvania, Hersheypark has moved the focus of Laff Trakk construction indoors... where it is warm and bright!  The park already completed the roller coaster's shell building, fully enclosing the structure before switching work onto the ride itself.

This past week Hersheypark took a visit to Laff Trakk's building and shared some photos of the work currently underway.  The photo above was taken from just inside the entrance, with what I assume to be the coaster's future station straight ahead.

© Hersheypark
The inside of the cavernous building is still mostly bare, with the walls painted black to help with the "glow coaster's" ambiance.  Of obvious note in this photo is the giant piece of art that has been hung on one side of the building.  Judging from the animation released during the announcement, Laff Trakk's lift hill will run along that wall, reaching its peak right by that huge LOL!

© Hersheypark
The final photo shared by the park shows off the initial pieces of track and supports that have been brought inside.  The ride itself arrived at Hersheypark a while ago, but was patiently waiting outside for the structure to be completed.  Some of the supports are being assembled on the ground before being put together like a giant puzzle.

Given that Laff Trakk's coaster hardware is basically a larger style spinning wild mouse, I would expect the ride to go up really fast.  Then comes more theming, and that's what has me interested - not sure if the park will want to give photos of that way, though.  We'll see.

More photos of the exterior of the Laff Trakk building, and off-season work at the park can be seen in this update from Keystone Thrills.  And since it has been a while, here's the announcement animation once more:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Full Layout + Details of Efteling's Baron 1898 Revealed

Click for much larger image
Efteling has given the final reveal of Baron 1898's full layout, seen above.  The B&M Dive Coaster will have a short layout as expected, but with plenty packed into the track.

After the ride's holding brake and steep first drop into a mine shaft, the trains will soar up into an Immelmann inversion, changing their direction 180 degrees.  Next comes a second inversion, a large Zero-G Roll taken with the park's pathways below it.  Finally, riders will encounter a fast upward helix before a rise and turn into the brake run.

Some additional facts on the ride were also released, and we all love statistics, right?  Baron 1898's lift will rise almost 30 meters, or just under 100 feet into the air.  After a holding brake at the top, the first drop will send the 18 passenger (3 rows of 6) cars down 37.5 meters, or 123 feet.  The maximum speed will be 56 miles per hour and the full track length is 501 meters or 1,643 feet - a 130 second ride in all.

This layout images are from Efteling's latest construction video, which shows off a ton of goodies.  This include a POV view of the ride, other renderings, very recent construction footage and plenty more.  Check that out on the park's Baron 1898 website.  You can also see recent photos of the ride's press event (held at the bottom of the first drop tunnel!) and ride model here.

Dorney Park Removing Thrill Ride Before 2015 Season

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom will be removing Hang Time ahead of the upcoming 2015 season, the park has confirmed.  Hang Time was a Huss Top Spin that was located near the entrance to Talon, just off the park's Main Midway, and will have operated at the park for 17 seasons.

The 59 foot tall attraction was added in 1998, a part of an expansion that saw the addition of the Coasters restaurant, Thunder Creek Speedway go-karts and Island Water Works in the water park.  Hang Time was added as a modern thrill ride that utilized a variety of ride programs to allow for an experience that included anywhere from zero to several flips of the ride carriage.

Hang Time was able to seat 40 riders per cycle, and had a set of water fountains directly under the ride.  For one year the fountains were programmed so that they sprayed onto the riders and the main ride carriage during the cycle, something that was quickly retired before long.

While the removal of the attraction is unfortunate, it's not totally unexpected for fans for Dorney Park.  Rumors have swirled for years that the ride was nearing the end of its life at the park - and we've seen several other large parks remove these rides as well.

The park isn't saying what will become of Hang Time's location; it's really not a big space so I wouldn't expect much.  Dorney Park is currently excited to be adding a new set of Larson Flying Scooters named the Cedar Creek Flyers, a new dining experience in the Smokehouse Barbecue, and an expanded special events schedule - with more details to come soon.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - A ZDT's Amusement Park Up-Date!

Our friends, the Donhausers from ZDT'S Amusement Park sent us another exciting up-date on what's going on with Flashback construction. They picked a beautiful day to take pictures, with a blue sky and light fluffy clouds.

This lot had always been a part of ZDT"s parking lot, but this is no longer the case! In response to this elimination of parking spots, 

ZDT park has been hard at work in adding even more parking to accommodate their guests! For every parking spot that was eliminated, they have added about five more spaces in preparation for the increase in guests because of their new ride!

Since there is a tall crane near by, in "Zone 3," this may be where boomerang element will be? The auger is being utilized to drill holes for some of the footers and other foundation items.

In this view of "Zone 1," it appears that the section on the left side is the outbound section leading into a curve and the inbound section will run through the open door of the building on the right side. It gives us hope for summer to see the workers wearing only long-sleeved shirts, as the outside temperature in Indiana is 2 degrees, with a wind chill of -13.


This is the ground hugging over banked turn heading into the building. The foundation work in the area around this turn, from the over end of  "Zone 1", is nearing completion. In the coming weeks this  part of the coaster's structure should be the first to start rising upwards!

Meanwhile, the park has officially fenced off the area where Switchback's train station and lift hill will be placed ("Zone 3",) and are currently working on the foundation piers for this section. This is the view from the other end with the crane (?) in the background on the left.

Thanks to the Donhausers for sending along the update, as if we were not already excited about visiting ZDT's Amusement Park and riding Flashback. We also enjoyed seeing the green grass and trees with leaves on them. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frontier City Will Be Draining Brains in 2015

I guess at this point we could unofficially call 2015 the year of the Larson Giant Loop, as Frontier City has announced one as their 2015 addition, named Brain Drain.  Six Flags previously announced four of these rides for their parks, and even more recently Darien Lake revealed plans to build one.

Brain Drain at Frontier City will stand over 70 feet tall and feature a 24 passenger train that will make complete loops around the circular track.  The ride will last two minutes and each rider will experience at least six full inversions, both forwards and backwards.  Like the other Larson Giant Loops at one point the train will briefly stop while totally inverted - creating quite a brain rush for riders!

The new ride will be the second in a row from Larson, after the park added the Winged Warrior in 2014.  That ride was a set of the ever-popular Larson Flying Scooters.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Monumental Changes Planned for Universal Studios Hollywood's 50th Anniversary

Universal Studios Hollywood is moving full steam into 2015 with an ambitious plan to debut new attractions and experiences in honor of its 50th anniversary, changes that "will radically alter and reimagine its familiar footprint as The Entertainment Capital of L.A. sets its sights on the next 50 years."

Just how radical? Well according to Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood, the plan involves "reimagining over 75 percent of our destination" in order to "build upon our incredible success and expand our vision for the future." Basically when the transformation is over, the park will look different head to toe, filled with new experiences and offerings. 

Several of these will debut in 2015, including a Nighttime Studio Tour, which will feature "over 20 locations along the famed Studio Tour route will showcase an array of luminous onset lighting and special effects used in nighttime production. Theatrical lighting will cast a glow on iconic backlot sets as Studio Tour guides shed light on Hollywood secrets and tricks of the world’s most glamorous trade, including how filmmakers create the effect of daylight amid the black of night."

The tour will also include encounters with Marilyn Monroe, Norman Bates and Frankenstein. The special nighttime version will premier July 4th and run on weekends through Labor Day.

The entire area surrounding the park's existing Simpsons Ride will bring the home of the famous family to life, creating a real life version of Springfield. The massive undertaking will allow fans to experience some of their favorite locations from the series in person, including "Krusty Burger, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Luigi’s Pizza and Phineas Q. Butterfat’s Ice Cream Parlor, along with Homer’s favorite hangouts, Lard Lad Donuts, Moe’s Tavern and Duff Brewery."

The expansion will focus mainly on providing new dining options to park visitors, all themed appropriately to their Simpsons location.

One of the most exciting additions in 2015 will be a brand new finale to the Studio Tour, themed to the Fast & Furious - Supercharged. Located in a 65,000 square foot building on the park's backlot, the technologically advanced experience will propel the famous trams into "the high-stakes underground world of fast cars and daring escapades traveling at accelerated speeds of up to 120 miles per hour." While the speed will be simulated, of course, the mix of film and special effects, combined with the appearance of the film's cast members, is sure to delight.

2015 will be an amazing year at the park, which has grown already by leaps and bounds - but the expansion will be needed to handle the massive influx of visitors in 2016 when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens. So much to look forward to!