Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Coney Island to Expand Amusements Via Eminent Domain Plan

It looks like the amount of amusements offered in Coney Island may be expanding again soon if the City's Parks Department has their way.  According to the New York Post, the Coney Island Parks Department plans to acquire a total of 75,000 square feet of space spread over three plots of land by invoking eminent domain.

All three spaces are adjacent to the already redeveloped areas filled with amusements, though their current owners have asked for highly inflated purchase prices in the past.  This has led the properties to sit vacant or in a deteriorated status, while the rest of the area shines.

The largest of the three plots, seen above, is the original home of the wooden Thunderbolt roller coaster.  Stretching around 60,000 square feet, it is still completely undeveloped and sits between the recently opened new Thunderbolt coaster and the local baseball stadium.

The other plots of land, if acquired, would allow a grand promenade to be finished that would run from this area all the way down to Luna Park - effectively connecting all the amusements along it.

It is the large open space by the Thunderbolt that would be home to new amusements though, and the article says that proposals for new rides would be accepted by the City.  There have been rumors that a small water park had been planned for this site, though it is far too early to tell if that would really happen.  I would also wager that Zamperla might have an interest in filling even more space with their creations in the future.

I'm sure the process of eminent domain would take some time, so it still might be quite a while until we have new rides popping up in the area.  Thankfully there are already plenty of great ones already there!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New "Holographic" 4-D Experience Arriving at California's Great America in 2016

California's Great America has announced a new 2016 attraction that is quite a step outside of Cedar Fair's comfort zone, but a positive one for sure.  The park will be renovating the existing Action Theater to bring a new 4-D "holographic" attraction based off of the Mass Effect video game series.  The park will be partnering with both BioWare, who developed the games, and current publisher Electronic Arts to bring the action to life.

The first-of-a-kind experience will bring to life both characters and setting from the popular video game series.  Mass Effect has legions of fans and has produced three different games with a 4th set to release next year.

Visitors to California's Great America will sit in motion-based seats and wear 3-D glasses for the ride, similar to older Action Theater shows.

The Mass Effect attraction will also incorporate a live performer that "will curate the journey and appear to interact seamlessly with the next generation 3D visuals."  The live actor and film will be "integrated with motion seating, high tech sound and other 4D effects to create a truly compelling and immersive attraction.  Guests will travel through space to a distant planet, face off against bigger than life adversaries and ultimately help save the day."

The new attraction is unlike anything we have seen Cedar Fair build in recent years, and shows how serious they are about incorporating technology into their parks.

"Partnering with a world-wide gaming leader like EA will enable us to build an incredible user experience for our guests," said California's Great America Vice President and General Manager Raul Rehnborg. "This combination of technology and creative videogame content is sure to usher in a new wave of entertainment innovation in amusement parks."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Comcast to Become Majority Owner of Universal Studios Japan

Previously rumored, Comcast has confirmed that they have reached a deal to become the majority owner of Universal Studios Japan, purchasing a 51% stake for about $1.5 billion.  As the majority owner, Comcast, though the Universal Parks & Resorts company, will now be able to expand the property with ease - no longer just allowing the Universal name to be used for a fee.  That also means a large part of the park's profit will also be theirs at the end of the year.

The transaction will reorganize the ownership percentages of all the current owners, which include Goldman Sachs, the theme park's CEO Glenn Gumpel, Asian private-equity firm MBK Partners, and U.S. hedge fund Owl Creek Asset Management.

Comcast is planning to continue the expansion of their theme parks around the world, and this purchase fits in with that plan perfectly.  "We are excited to expand our global footprint with this wonderful theme park in Osaka and are excited by the opportunities that lie ahead in Japan and all of Asia," said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast. "This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally."

With a large roller coaster already under construction, it seems there is plenty more to come for Universal Studios Japan.  Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal said in the release that the company "plans to introduce significant attractions at USJ over the next five years."  Seems like a Diagon Alley would fit in perfectly here!

This purchase also means that Universal Studios Singapore is the only branded park not owned in majority by Comcast - that park is owned by the Genting Group.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spooktacular Halloween Fun Comes to SeaWorld Orlando in October

SeaWorld Orlando will be celebrating a family-friendly version of the fall season again this year with Halloween Spooktacular, running at the theme park on weekends only from October 3rd through October 31st.  The events that make up the Spooktacular are included with the general admission ticket to the park.

The park has highlighted some of the fun that can be found for kids and their parents at the scare-free park:

•  Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun - Costumed youngsters can trick-or-treat for ghoulish goodies.  Each sea-themed, trick-or-treat station features an assortment of candy favorites.

•  Penelope’s Party Zone -  This dynamic “underwater” environment comes to life each weekend with a live DJ, a variety of craft opportunities, bubbles floating overhead and colorful sea-themed characters. The zone is located on SeaWorld’s Bayside Pathway.

•  Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween - Celebrate a Spooktacular Halloween at SeaWorld with The Count, Elmo, Abby, and the rest of everyone’s Sesame Street friends!  The Count is feeling lonely this Halloween, and it’s up to you and the loveable monsters from Sesame Street to get him into the Halloween spirit.  Batty bats and spooky skeletons join the fun in a song filled stage show that invites you and your family to dance, play, and sing along.  

• Spooktacular Dance Party -   Children join Princess Penelope and her under-the-sea friends for a Spooktacular Dance Party where they can participate in line-dancing favorites as clouds of bubbles fill the evening air. The party will kick off at the Village Square in the front of the park every event night one hour before park closing.

With so many Halloween events going full-throttle for as many scares as they can get, it is also nice to showcase events that go in the opposite direction!  For more information on SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular, check out the park's official website.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Miracle Strip at Pier Park For Sale + New Observation Wheel Plans

Aerial view © Bing
Miracle Strip at Pier Park, an independent amusement park in Panama City Beach, Florida, has closed early for the season and is reported to be for sale - with a new owner said to already be lined up.

The park recently obtained permission to build a 190 foot tall observation wheel at a cost of $7 million, which would attract guests looking for amazing views of the ocean.  It seems that the plan to obtain permission for the wheel was a necessary part of the deal to get the park sold, per this story.

The park moved just a few hundred feet from its former location in 2013, receiving a new home on much more land with plenty of room to grow.  Miracle Strip at Pier Park is home to a wide variety of classic amusement rides and attractions, many of which came from or are very similar to those at the original Miracle Strip park.

A plan has been in place for over a year now to recreate the famous Starliner wooden roller coaster, though this sale may put that ride in jeopardy.  The article states that the observation wheel will cater to a wider audience and then perhaps later the wooden coaster could materialize.  We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cobra's Curse Track Now On Site at Busch Gardens Tampa

© Busch Gardens Tampa
2016 will see a wide variety of coaster types open in the U.S., and one of my most anticipated new rides in the family segment is Cobra's Curse at Busch Gardens Tampa.  The ride will combine unique track elements, theming, and the appeal of a family spinning coaster into one attraction in the park's Egypt section.

The park has been hard at work on the ride for a while now, preparing the land by grading for several below ground level elements, and also placing foundations around the site.  Now the theme park has shared the above image of the ride's track starting to be delivered to the park.  Cobra's Curse will be manufactured by Mack Rides, utilizing the designer's triangular shaped track in a nice blue/green color.

I would expect to see a new one soon, but the last update from the park showed the massive footers that were being built.  With over a month's time passed, and track now on site, the park will have plenty to update us all on with a new entry.

I never got a 100% clear idea of this coaster's full layout, which leaves some of the ride as a surprise that I'm honestly enjoying.  Can't wait to see track start to go up!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Celebrating Eight Years of Fear at Dorney Park's Halloween Haunt 2015

Anyone looking for a good scare this Halloween season should look no further than to Dorney Park's Halloween Haunt, which is celebrating its 8th season of screams in 2015.  Regular readers of NewsPlusNotes already know that this is one of our "local" haunts, though it draws legions of scare-cravers from all over the Northeast - and for good reason.

The 2015 production of Halloween Haunt features several new attractions (11 in total), live entertainment, several event-specific food offerings and more.  Halloween Haunt has come a long way in eight years, and if you need proof just check out this review we did from the premier Haunt in 2008.

This year Dorney Park was kind enough to invite us to check out the first serving of the season's Mansion House Meal, a special dining opportunity that takes place inside the Mansion House Hotel.  For those not familiar, the Mansion House Hotel is one of the park's indoor haunted attractions that opened back in 2010.  It has become a popular haunt at the park, and features an extremely long path and elaborate haunted hotel type sets filled with special effects.

Buried deep within the middle of the Mansion House is a grand dining room, complete with chandeliers and a roaring fireplace.  While guests pass through here by the thousands each night and find a disheveled room filled with ghouls, the Mansion House Meal seats only 24 and offers a unique experience for haunt fans.  The atmosphere is creepy for sure (seen above), but the dining is relaxed and a wonderful break from the hurried pace of the amusement park.  There are several inhabitants of the Mansion House that joined all of us for dinner; however they were not there to scare, they instead kept us entertained and amused.  Friendly ghosts, you could say.

But this is a dinner, right?  So how about that food!  Well, the park is very happy to offer visitors to the Mansion House Meal something prepared by the park's Executive Chef, so please do not expect any chicken fingers or hamburgers here.

Guests select their meal from a menu that features items such as black pepper pancetta wrapped filet topped with shitake mushroom hash and a belgium endive and frisee salad with a lemon vinaigrette and shaved parmesan.  The food was wonderfully prepared and something you would expect at a fine dining establishment, so to be eating it at Dorney Park was almost surreal - but too delicious to think that deeply about.  And there are a total of four courses served (my meal can be seen above), so there's no way you'll leave unsatisfied.

We have to thank the park's Executive Chef, Jan Giejda, for the excellent food that was served.  He can be seen above with one of the ghostly figures that floated around throughout our meal.  Chef Giejda's influence on the park has made great strides in their food offerings in the past couple years, and he has a strong team behind him as well.  If you're looking for a special treat this Halloween season, I highly suggest looking into the Mansion House Meal.  You can see more of the offerings and a book a reservation on the park's website.

As I said previously, this year's Halloween Haunt features eleven attractions, six of them inside haunts and five of them outdoor mazes.  The same as last year, Blackout is a total-darkness maze that is exclusive to Fright Lane holders.

Above is Graymatter Cemetary, the home of Grave Walkers, one of the returning attractions in 2015. In total there are nine attractions that are back from previous Haunt seasons, with two new brand new experiences.

A brand new haunted house named Trick or Treat has taken up residence near Steel Force's station in the lower part of the park.  This haunt features a storyline that revolves around a nasty witch who lives inside the house you're about to enter - and she's known for using trick-or-treaters as a way to live forever.  So basically, if you're going to go inside you may get a trick that you're not expecting, and never make it back out.

Visitors to Treat or Treat enter though front door of the giant facade of the witch's house, just like trick-or-treaters.  Once inside, the house is a bit of a visual feast, and even after trying to slow my pace down I still feel like I missed a great amount of details.  The ending features a pretty neat special effect as well, though I won't spoil that.  The house relies on creepy atmosphere, not gore, to get its scares done, and it does that well.

Another item I won't spoil are any of this year's Skeleton Key rooms, which are available to Fright Lane holders.  The park really stepped it up with these this year, with only the room in Grave Walkers remaining the same (and that was by far the most intense last year).  The golden rule of "the actors won't touch you" goes out the window in a couple of them... something you have to experience to understand!

The second new attraction this year is CornStalkers: Barn Bred & Blood Fed, which is the combination of both the previous years' CornStalkers maze with the Bloodshed maze.  Bloodshed has been retired, and it appears as though many of its best scenes and scares have been incorporated into the new attraction.  The maze has also been moved down to the lower part of the park, now located on the former site of the park's go-kart track in a very dark part of the park.

The maze starts with an entrance into Mama's House, seen here.  There are several faux 'indoor' sets to pass through, then it's out into the tall cornstalks.  This year the path is much tighter than before, allowing for less room to wander and making for even better scares.  The Barn is the finale to the experience, which features some slaughterhouse sets and a bunch of crazies.  Judging by the line for the new CornStalkers, the public still loves the concept even though it dates back to the first Haunt.  This one has staying power!

Along with these new attractions we also have popular new debuts from 2014, like the CarnEvil scare zone, seen above.  This is the home to one of the park's nightly live shows called Skeleton Crew.  Last year's new haunted house, the Chamber of Horrors, is also back and scaring again this year.

Granted the park had great weather this past weekend for Halloween Haunt's debut, but I was surprised by the huge crowd for such an early haunt-season weekend - encouraging for the rest of the season.  Also of note is that the park's move of CornStalkers has made the water park area only open during the day for family activities.  This means that during Haunt the visitors are less spread out, which added greatly to the atmosphere.  This was a great move by the park and will hopefully make for an even better season than ever before.

Many thanks to the park for having us out to check out Halloween Haunt - you can learn more and plan your own trip at this link!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Universal Studios Japan's New Coaster Now Topped Out

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
Both the tallest support and top of the lift track are now in place on Universal Studios Japan's new B&M flying roller coaster.  Seen above and below in photos from Twitter user Made_In_USJ, the lift has become quite an imposing sight over the Jurassic Park themed area.  The park hasn't fully announced the ride yet, so we still do not have any hard statistics for the coaster, but the lift is certainly not small!

Just taking a look at previous B&M Flying coasters, it seems that the rides that range from 100 feet to 140 feet tall utilize three main lift supports, while Tatsu, using a 170 foot lift at Six Flags Magic Mountain, uses four main supports.  The new coaster at Universal Studios Japan also uses four supports, though that's about the least scientific way to arrive at a height estimate I can think of, so take it with a giant grain of salt.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
But regardless of the actual height in feet, this new coaster is pretty tall, no doubt.  These photos give a bit more perspective on that, especially the one on the left before the top track crown was in place.

Also of note is that the top of the lift appears to be directly over the main midway of Jurassic Park, meaning the drop will also be.  That might be a part of why the lift is quite tall, leading to a smaller drop that stays well above the walkway below.  Looking at an aerial of that part of the park, it looks like most of the ride will be interacting with walkways, really.

The next track elements to go up will certainly give us an idea of how the ride's layout will go, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lego Ninjago Arrives at Legoland California with Unique Interactive Dark Ride

Legoland California will debut a "world's first" ride next year as a part of a new expanded area themed around the world of Lego Ninjago.  The new land will be located under a giant arch behind the Imagination Zone, and will feature a large courtyard filled with Ninjago training activities, along with an Asian cuisine location and retail store.  The training activities will include balance spinners, reflex tests, a rock wall and more - all in preparation of the area's biggest attraction, Ninjago The Ride.

Ninjago - The Ride will be manufactured by Triotech, the company behind Cedar Fair's recent dark ride instillations.  Instead of using a blaster to interact with digital media, this new ride will be the first ever to react to hand gestures - like a karate chop for instance - and correlate them to what takes place on the screen.

More details on the experience were released by the park: "Through 3D imagery, high-tech sensors and the use of hand movements in a striking motion, up to four riders per car, representing the four main Ninjago characters, can blast animated fireballs, lightning, shockwaves and ice as they travel through dojos to master their skills before heading into battle.  Riders collect points for their training and battle efforts throughout the ride and scores are displayed when their quest is completed. 4D effects such as heat, smoke and wind are also incorporated throughout the adventure, giving guests the ultimate interactive experience."

It sounds pretty neat to be able to blast at creatures with just the movement of your hands, I'm quite excited to see how the technology will be applied to the ride, especially in terms of aim.  The interactive nature - plus the challenge of accumulating points - will make this one a huge hit with families.

Legoland California, which opened a hotel and water park in recent years, has seen 11 straight years of attendance growth - an amazing feat.

A similar expansion, featuring the same ride, will also open in 2016 at Legoland Billund in Denmark.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - ZDT's Switchback Opening Day

After a few delays ZDT's Amusement Park has announced that Switchback will open to the public on Saturday, October 17th. Here is a look at the very cool and comfortable Timberliner Train.

On Monday September 14th, Switchback ran its first official test run. Thankfully, the kind folks at ZDT's recorded the whole thing, from both on-ride and off-ride cameras for all those that have been eagerly awaiting for this unique ride to open.
The park is still making adjustments  to the track to make for a smooth ride, and fine tuning the sensors and programming for smooth operations. Park spokesperson,  Zac Donhauser, stated the ride is not quite as quick as you'd expect on the return trip...but not to worry!  It was planned that way for the park's initial set of test runs, and will certainly become faster in the coming weeks.  

We can hardly wait to trek to  Seguin Texas to ride Switchback!

Universal Beijing + Universal Japan Development News

We first heard of the plan to build a Universal Studios park in Beijing a month short of a year ago, but since then all has been quite on the subject.  Back then some amazing concept art of the project was released, showing what the park could offer:

© Universal Parks & Resorts
I won't go back through what's on here, if you like you can catch up again via this post.  But it seems like a combination of all the best rides and attractions Universal has come up with around the globe in one park.

Fast forward to now, and we understand why we haven't heard much - the final deal was just signed this week in New York, according to news sources.  The new park will open in 2019 and be built jointly by Universal Parks & Resorts and Beijing Shouhuan, a Chinese state owned company.

It is now being said that the park seen above will be a part of a 300 acre phase one, also including a Universal-branded hotel, and a retail and dining area.  Phase two could hold a second theme park, a water park and up to five more hotels.

I'm quite happy to hear this park is moving forward, as it could have one blockbuster ride lineup when it opens.

© Universal Studios Japan
Now onto some very interesting news coming out of Universal Studios Japan.  As if we needed any more proof that Comcast is 100% dedicated to expanding their theme park business, it is rumored (and it's a big rumor when it is on the Wall Street Journal) that the company is planning on buying out both Goldman Sachs and the park's other private owners in a deal worth $6 billion.  The hope is that Comcast could become the majority owner of the park, meaning they get the final say on what goes on there - and the largest cut of the profits, too.

That's a pretty huge amount of money to pay for one theme park, but then again Universal Studios Japan has seen massive attendance gains since the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in mid-2014.  Along with all those extra visitors comes plenty of extra profit, and the park has plenty of space to do a second Potter themed area if they like.  They're also in the middle of building a quite large B&M Flying roller coaster in the Jurassic Park section.

If Comcast gets in the door on this one I would expect a furious expansion pace, just like we're seeing in the U.S. parks, to come about sooner than later. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Valleyfair Celebrates 40 Years in 2016 With New Ride, Show + Celebration

Valleyfair is ready to celebrate 40 years of fun in 2016, and today announced some additions and changes that will greet visitors to the park next Summer.

Having opened in 1976, the park's 40th anniversary is a big deal, and the park will honor it all season long.  “During the past four decades, Valleyfair has been a wonderful way to bring people together, connect generations and create memories that will last a lifetime,” said Dave Frazier, Vice President and General Manager of Valleyfair. “The 2016 season will serve as a great opportunity for guests to recreate some of those shared moments and make some new ones along the way.”

When Valleyfair originally opened the park offered visitors a set of flying scooters, though that ride has long since been retired.  Next year a brand new set of Larson Flying Scooters, named the Flying Eagles, will be added to the park between the Enterprise and Route 76.  This popular family ride has been added to seemingly countless parks in the last few years, and has been well received at them.

Valleyfair will also demolish their current unused amphitheater to create a brand new outdoor entertainment venue.  Premiering in that venue in 2016 will be "All Wheels Extreme," a high energy show featuring skaters, skateboarders, BMX riders, dancers, acrobats, aerialists and more.  This addition is sure to be a hot spot in the park next year, as these types of shows have lasted several seasons at other Cedar Fair properties.

To further celebrate the anniversary in 2016, Valleyfair will also host a series of throwback events and parties. 

Switchback Now Testing at ZDT's Amusement Park

© ZTD's Amusement Park
ZTD's Amusement Park has officially started testing on the all-new Switchback wooden roller coaster, and has the video to prove it.  The Texas amusement park hired The Gravity Group to create a unique coaster for them, squeezing the ride into a tight layout that contains extreme banks, hills and curves.  The new video is from when the ride just began its runs, so I would expect it to speed up even more as it breaks in.

© ZTD's Amusement Park
The Switchback starts with a 63 foot lift, a quick turn and then a 58 foot drop toward the ground.  A series of quick turns and hills - including two trips under a building and a 104 degree over-bank turn - lead to the spike seen in the photo above.  The trains, which are cute little eight-seaters, head up the spike until gravity takes over, pulling them down backward.  The entire course is then done in reverse, with a section of switch track getting the trains back to the station.

Hopefully the ride will open soon now that successful testing is under way!  Check out the full video of on-ride and off ride shots at this link.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New Family River Rapids Ride Headed to Tusenfryd in 2016

Norway's Tusenfryd has announced the addition of a highly themed river rapids ride for 2016.  Under the working name of Rapid River, the park will spend upwards of $6 million on the new family attraction.  Tusenfryd is a part of the Parques Reunidos family of theme parks and attractions.

© Tusenfryd
Rapid River is being advertised by the park as the only ride of its kind in all of Northern Europe.  It will feature a 1,640 foot long channel that nine boats will navigate.  The ride will carry a Norse theme, in the same vein as the park's Thor's Hammer dark ride.  Rapid River will cover over four acres and 900 riders per hour will be able to take a spin.

© Tusenfryd
The park also released this nice drawing of the entire attraction's layout, showing the theming that will be applied.  The ride will have several waterfalls, a long dark tunnel and a "swirling maelstrom" that riders must avoid - that last element is the huge whirlpool you see in the upper left of the art.

The park hasn't specifically said if there will be, but it almost appears as though there will be a drop near the end of the ride, before the large retaining pool and lift back up to the station.

Tysenfryd is home to several large rides like Thundercoaster, a Vekoma built wooden roller coaster, and Speed Monster, an Intamin accelerator.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

New American Dream Details Emerge as Developers Show Off Property

Occasionally writing about the American Dream Meadowlands feels like covering Knoebels' Flying Turns project once again, though maybe I'm just being a tad dramatic.  Still, it has been so very many years since the failed mega-mall in North Jersey started work, stopped, started.... etc that there are similarities, at least.

The good news is that the project really is moving forward now, and that means workers are on site and heavy construction work is going on, and that includes creating the foundations for the 300,000 square foot indoor amusement park and 225,000 indoor water park out of a boggy area of land.  This has included drilling 5,000 piles anywhere from 60 to 80 feet into the ground to support the parks.

A look at the American Dream's amusement park from a couple years ago.
Triple Five, the developers behind the American Dream project, also run the Mall of America, so they "get" what it will take to pull something like this off.  There's the amusement and water park, an indoor ski slope, aquarium, observation wheel, performance theater (rumored to be a resident Cirque du Soleil show), ice rink, movie theaters, hotel and more to complete.  Even with so much announced, details have been somewhat thin thus far but some new items have appeared as a result of some recent press tours.  This article covers many of them, which include:

• Triple Five's COO said the water park's slides will be the "tallest and longest" in the world - a hard thing to actually accomplish but still promising.
• The Dreamworks theming for at least the water park (though probably the theme park, too) is still alive, and designed attractions include "Shrek’s Soggy Swamp and the Madagascar Rain Forest."
• The giant 286 foot observation wheel on property will be called the Dreamview Observation Wheel and give views of the NYC skyline.

Hopefully the mall can finish their leasing process so they can focus on divulging other details and both the amusement and water parks soon. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Disney Parks to Retire Two Popular Entertainment Offerings

© Disney
January 10th, 2016 will be the last time to see Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular at Disney California Adventure, the park has announced.  The production has run through the park's massive transformation years, having started in 2003.  By the time the show closes it will have completed nearly 14,000 performances, an amount most broadway shows can only dream of achieving.

As for why the show is leaving, well that's because a Frozen themed live show is moving in.  The new show will have "elaborate costumes and sets, stunning special effects and surprising scenic transformations" and numerous production numbers.  Read more about both the retiring show and the new production from Disney here.

© Disney
With the changes already announced for Disney Hollywood Studios, including Toy Story Land and Star Wars land, we've seen a great number of the park's attractions close.  Now we will add one more to the list, as the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will be hosted at the park for the last time this holiday season.

Taking over a huge portion of the park's backlot streets, the spectacle features millions of lights and decorations and is quite a sight to behold.  The removal of the holiday tradition makes us wonder if the park's backlot areas will be removed sooner than later for the announced expansions.

It is always sad to see something like this end, however, the replacements that are in the pipeline will make it quite hard to complain!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Valravn Dives Into Cedar Point in 2016

The world's longest, tallest and fastest dive roller coaster, Valravn, will open at Cedar Point in 2016.  Today the park let the "regal king of birds" out of the bag, and proudly showed the park's 18th coaster off to the world.

Valravn will be located in the area that was home to the Good Time Theatre, and also the Turnpike Cars near the Marina Entrance.  The entire area will receive a make over for the new ride.

Here is the schematic that Cedar Point released for the ride, showing (1) the ride's station which feeds into (2) a 223 foot tall lift hill.  As with other Bolliger and Mabillard dive coasters, a turn at the top leads to a four second holding brake (3) at the edge of the 90 degree, 214 foot (4) first drop.

Valravn will then soar into a (5) 165-foot-tall Immelmann and a climb up to a 131 foot tall (6) mid-course brake run.  Another near 90 degree 125 foot drop follows, and then a dive loop (7), 270 degree roll (8) and an air-time hill (9) finish out the layout.

Here's a nice rendering of the overall development site.  You can see how the new Marina Entrance will be located directly below the highest part of Valravn, which will create quite an entrance for visitors.  A new midway will connect the entrance to Blue Streak, which previously was a dead end.

Here's the view from the top of the lift, where riders will be held for several seconds before plunging down.  Valravn's top speed will be 75 miles per hour and it will feature a total track length of 3,415 feet.  In total, Cedar Point says that the ride will break 10 world records!

Also of note is that the new coaster will be Bolliger and Mabillard's 100th coaster design, quite an accomplishment for the company!  Valravn will have three trains, each seating a total of 24 passengers - three rows of 8 seats.  The trains will feature updated vest-like restraints, similar to what is on GateKeeper.

Cedar Point has created an extensive website for Valravn, filled with plenty of renderings, videos and additional statistics.  Make sure to check that out here.  Below is a birdseye view of the ride in action.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Final Dorney Park Update Before 2015 Haunt Begins

Dorney Park was lucky and had beautiful weather for Labor Day weekend, the final hurrah of the Summer.  Although the park has been slowly revealing more of its Haunt set up as the weeks go by, now things are in high gear with less than two weeks until the event starts.

Hydra plaza is already set up as CarnEvil, a place sure to freak out anyone with a fear of clowns.  This year the area will see the return of Skeleton Crew, a live show featuring "cirque-style" acts.

Down in the lower part of the park, CornStalkers: Barn Bred & Blood Fed looks to have had its finishing touches applied.  In an earlier post I mentioned that it did not look like all the former go-kart track was to be used, and happily I was dead wrong.  After the initial section in the house, and before the Barn finale, the cornstalk portion will stretch all the way to the far end of the former track.

While Age of Darkness doesn't appear to be much different when walking through the park, they have put up a sign advertising its new Skeleton Key room.  The room will be a part of the Torture Chamber section, which is located off the main midway behind these gates.

The park has made quick work of finishing up the all new haunted house by Steel Force.  Trick or Treat has had its entrance arch installed, the top of which can be seen here.

Taking a step back, here is a look at the entire facade as it was this past weekend.  The park has been installing queue rails and put up the giant facade on the far side of the structure.  If this is anything like the one at Knott's, guests will actually have to ring the doorbell of the witch's house before they can enter.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what's cooking inside!

Finally, I do not believe the park has revealed the details of their new Snoopy's Halloween Party non-scare fest aimed at kids - but this sign is up on the Good Time Theatre.  Looks like they're changing quite a bit this year, and adding a "Funster House" and a "Monster Foam Machine."  We'll stay tuned for more on this part of the fall activities at the park.

Dorney Park's Halloween Haunt will begin Friday September 18th, and the website for the event is now live.