Saturday, October 31, 2015

Baynum Painting Working on Two of the Country's Most Iconic Coasters

Happy Halloween everyone! Hope your night is filled with spooky fun!

Baynum Painting, well known of their amusement park projects, is proud to be currently working on two famous U.S. roller coasters.  These new jobs come on top of the 200 or so roller coasters and other rides that Baynum already has under their belt.

© Baynum Painting
First up is Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point.  The 420 foot tall roller coaster is quite a challenge to paint, I'm sure, but not too much for Baynum.  The company started by pressure washing the structure, hanging in buckets from the top of the ride (seen above).  What a view the workers have!  The company reports that they will be on site for several months while the ride is painted, having already started to take advantage of the nice fall weather.  Cedar Point is also giving Raptor a fresh coat of paint this off season as well, though that work is not being done by Baynum.

© Baynum Painting
The second roller coaster that the company is currently working on is another world-famous ride, the venerable Cyclone at Coney Island.  Baynum has been working on stripping off 88 years of paint and other gunk from the ride's structure, cleaning it up before applying a fresh coat of white paint.  The image above shows some of the finished product, but additional photos the company shared show just how dirty the stripped down structure looks.  With much retracking having taken place over the past few years, the Cyclone will really shine in 2016 with a new look, too!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Jimmy Fallon Ride Opening at Universal Studios Florida in 2017

Late night host Jimmy Fallon has announced that he will be the star of a brand new attraction at Universal Studios Florida when it opens in 2017.  Named Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, the ride is expected to be a simulator-style attraction featuring a 3-D journey through the sights and sounds of New York City.

Here is the announcement that Mr. Fallon did on his show, which of course features plenty of jokes.  It does however hint to the ride actually being more of a 4-D attraction with smells, water, smoke and more used inside the show theater.

To make room for the ride, Twister...Ride It Out will be retired on November 2nd.  That means that the new attraction set in New York City will be properly located inside the theme park's New York City area!

Universal Orlando's official blog also has some information on the attraction, written by Creative Director Jason Surrell.  Universal took inspiration from Jimmy Fallon's popular celebrity race segments when designing the ride.  Guests will start by entering Studio 6B for a show taping where Jimmy sends them on his most intense race yet - all over New York City including above, below and on the streets.

That's all that has been released for now, as with most recent Universal announcement we will get details closer to the opening of the attraction.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - An Update on Kentucky Kingdom's Storm Chaser

After many months of deconstruction and a few months of structural steel construction, ledgers are finally showing up on Storm Chaser's highly banked turn around.

And, some of the ledgers for Storm Chaser are very interesting

Surrounded by the rides steel structure the station, draped with blood red tarps, looks themed as if were a  Halloween attraction.

As you can see the first drop is in place, with only the cover pieces for the joints left to install on the blood red  I-Box Track.

It's just a dip to the left, and a drop to the right. Keep your hands in tight. The upside down plunge will drive you crazy.  Storm Chaser will be the first coaster in America to feature a barrel roll drop from a 10-story lift hill.  

How would you like to hold the cover steel up against the track while it was being bolted into place? This radical departure from coaster design has necessitated new coaster construction techniques.

Here's a wide angle look at that wicked first drop  and ground hugging pullout.

There's definitely a new traffic stopper going up on Crittenden Drive! This wide angle shot shows that construction is coming along nicely, but the is still a lot to do!  It also has us very eagerly anticipating a trip to Louisville next Spring!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Take a Virtual Trip to Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Due to open in the Spring of 2016, Universal Studios Hollywood has released the full details of its new Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion via a brand new website.  Like we've seen launched for the two Potter areas in Orlando, the website allows visitors to take a virtual tour of the expansion, including plenty of videos and other renderings of the rides and attractions.

As known previously, the two major rides of the Wizarding World will be Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (presented in 3D from the start) and the family roller coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff.  The overall layout of the expansion is similar to the other Wizarding Worlds, though some minor changes have been made from the Orlando version, similar to what was done in Japan.

Much of the Wizarding World will contain the realistic creations of food and retail locations made famous in the Potter books and films.  These include shops like Dervish and Banges, Honeydukes, Zonko's and of course Ollivanders wand shop.

Hungry guests will want to stop by the Three Broomsticks tavern for a variety of meal options, and also check out the Hog's Head pub in the back.  Of course, Butterbeer will be served as well.

Other locations, such as the Owl Post and a replica of the Hogwarts Express will keep everyone busy for hours as they explore all that Hogsmeade has to offer.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - A Look at the Major Expansion at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Scale models were used to plan the layout of the aircraft, and planning started for how the stories would be told. Moving these parts of the collection to the main building will result in a tenfold increase of visitor interaction with these priceless historical aircraft.

Digital 3-d models were incorporated into the building phase to accommodate some special requirements for specific aircraft.

These roof panels are one continuous piece that stretches across the entire span. This results in a more durable roof that won't leak. The sheets were formed as they were pushed over the top of the spans.

The pyramid looking concrete base plates are connected by cables under the floor, which varies from twenty-two inches to eight inches thick, based on the weight of the aircraft planned for that space. There is five acres of floor space in the new building.

Through these over one hundred-fifty foot wide and more than forty feet tall doors the Research and Development aircraft along with the Presidential fleet will be more accessible to museum visitors that ever before. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Jack Hudson is excited to see it happening.

The first plane to enter the new building was X-15A-2, which last flew on 10/3/1967. So almost 48 years to the day, it has a new mission, paying tribute to the thousands of people who were involved in the project that set speed and altitude records, while proving that non-powered landings remained practical. This research was pivotal groundwork utilized by the Space Shuttle Program. 

Major General (Ret.) Joe Engle is the last surviving X-15 pilot. He had sixteen flights in an X-15, none in this one. He also performed the drop tests with space shuttle Intrepid, and flew two orbital space shuttle missions.

Our thanks to Rob, Sarah, Brian, and Jack for their assistance, and patience with this story. Special thanks to Joe Engle, one of the dozen X-15 pilots whose exploits were faithfully reported in the Weekly Science Reader, delivered to classrooms in Fort Wayne, IN, along with other schools nationwide. We could hardly wait for the next week's copy, to see what record would fall next.

Tivoli Gardens Building Classic Ride with a Modern Twist in 2016

It has been revealed that visitors to the famous Tivoli Gardens, located in the heart of Copenhagen, Denmark, will find a new expansion and world-first ride with options for the whole family in 2016.

© Huss
The main new attraction is named Fatamorgana and will be located in the Orient themed part of the Gardens.  The ride is an updated Condor, manufactured by Huss Rides.  Known as the Condor 2G (for 2nd generation), the attraction will tower 148 feet above the park, with the ride carriages reaching just over 98 feet.  The 50 foot height difference between riders and the top will feature custom theming.

© Huss
The Condor attraction utilizes four separate carriages that rise up the tower and spin in the opposite direction of the larger arm.  The motion created is like that of a Scrambler, although taking place at a great height above the park.  Since Fatamorgana is an upgraded 2G Condor version, two of the four arms will feature suspended seats facing outward in a ring (seen in a rendering by Huss above).  These will rotate quickly and make for a more extreme ride, while the traditional 'boat' seats will give a forward-facing, less intense more scenic ride.

© Huss
Tivoli Gardens is a park that always likes to add something for all members for the family, so along with the tower ride will be a set of mini-bumper cars located near the ride's base.

The entire Fatamorgana tower is being custom designed by Tivoli's team, with final renders of the distinctive theming to be released later.  The ride will accommodate 900 riders per hour and has a planned opening of April, 2016.

We haven't seen too many Huss rides going up lately, at least in North America, so it is nice to see a modern version of one of the company's classic rides being built.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Six Flags New England Begins Bizarro/Superman Transformation

Part of a larger expansion for the park's 2016 season, Six Flags New England previously announced the transformation of Bizarro back into Superman The Ride.

© Six Flags New England
For Six Flags New England's 2009 season the ride was 'overtaken' by Bizarro, an evil version of Superman and the ride was upgraded and renamed.  The track was painted a brilliant purple, on board audio was added to the trains, and scenic decorations were placed along the layout.  From the ride's opening in 2000 until the end of 2008 the coaster was known as Superman - Ride of Steel.

Now that Superman is back in charge, the theme park has taken an early start to transforming the ride back to its original red and blue, seen in the photo above released by the park.

The track is once again being painted red, and while the supports will still be blue I wouldn't be surprised to see them freshened up as well.  Additional changes to Superman The Ride when it reopens in 2016 will be superhero music throughout the course (though we are assuming NOT on-ride from the trains) and all new theming.  Really, no matter the name, theming or color this is one of the most highly regarded roller coasters on the planet!

Also as announced previously, the park will add the Fireball, a seven story tall looping thrill ride, in 2016.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

More Details on Intamin's Impressive Flying Aces Coaster at Ferrari World

The Gulf News has done a wonderful piece on the addition of the Intamin-designed Flying Aces roller coaster to Abu Dhabi's Ferrari World theme park.

The story includes a video (embedded below) that has several great interviews, footage of the ride's construction, and best of all an animation of the ride.  The screen shot above shows nearly all of the ride's layout, and the little bit that is clipped off can be deciphered in other parts of the animation.  As expected, Flying Aces will have a fairly low-to-the-ground ride experience that should have the trains maintaining a crazy speed a la Skyrush at Hersheypark.

I know it is just an animation, but this image also does give credit to the thought that Flying Aces will not utilize winged style trains.  Here we can see the four across trains complete with plane theming on the front car - one might think that if they took the time to render that theming they'd have done winged trains if it was intended to have them.  Edit:  I'm referring to Flying Aces not having Furius Baco styled wing trains, not Skyrush wing style trains.  I believe Flying Aces' trains will be the same as Skyrush in that regard.

Here is an impressive look at the ride's non-inverting loop, billed as the tallest loop in the world at just over 170 feet tall.  Some other statistics about Flying Aces from the article:

• First lift of 63 meters, 206 feet
• Track length of 1.5 kilometers, 4,921 feet
• World record for steepest lift hill
• Top speed of 120 kilometers an hour, or 74.5 miles per hour
• Maximum g-force approaching 5gs
• Airplane hanger themed station in new Italian Street themed area

The new coaster is the first of five new attractions for Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, though they are still keeping many details of the additional rides a secret.  They plan to open Flying Aces in January, though are hinting it might be a bit earlier.  This will be an exciting ride to see footage of once up and running, no doubt!

Here is the video from the new article, though make sure to read it as well for additional details:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Racing Water Slide Opening at Silverwood Theme Park in 2016

Silverwood Theme Park has announced a major new water slide for its Boulder Beach Waterpark, set to debut in 2016.

The slide will be of the mat racing variety, featuring six independent paths for racers to head down.  Fabricated by WhiteWater, the slide begins from a height of nearly 60 feet above the ground.  Riders will lay head first on a water toboggan mat and start by entering a giant horizontal loop of enclosed slide.  After that section is complete a series of downward hills will see riders race one another to the finish line.  Each of the six paths will stretch 406 feet in length.

© Silverwood Theme Park
This schematic shows the ride's over head and side views, and also lets us see what might be the attraction's final color scheme.  Around 900 riders per hour will be able to speed down the slide at a maximum of 30 miles per hour.

One item that hasn't been mentioned yet is the slide's name, and that's because Silverwood and Boulder Beach are holding a naming contest for it, accepting entries at this site until November 11th.  The winner not only gets to brag to their friends, but also receives a season pass, gift basket and the chance to be one of the first sliders.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Heard On... Six Flags 3rd Quarter 2015 Results Call

Six Flags Entertainment Corp. has released their 3rd quarter 2015 results, and they're quite proud of the success they've had.  For the quarter revenue increased $33 million over last year, to $575 million, and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, etc) was up $17 million to $308 million.  Many other metrics were up as well, including higher admissions and in-park revenue.

A conference call was held after the earnings release, some details from which are below:

• The third quarter of 2015 was the best ever in Six Flags' 54 year history, and the company now has a rolling 12 month EBITDA of $504 million, beating the $500 million target set back in 2011.  The new target is $600 million in EBITDA by 2017.

• The company's modified EBITDA margin - a heavy statistic for public companies - is now just under 41% for the past 12 months, which is the highest in the industry according to Six Flags.

• Six Flags' active pass membership base has increased 25% year over year, showing the huge success the company's "membership" plan has been.  Less people are dropping out of the membership plans after 12 months than they expected.   Total attendance for the quarter grew by 9% to 12.9 million visitors.  For the first 9 months of 2015 total attendance also grew 9% totaling 23.4 million.

• The higher attendance from season and membership passes pushed down admission revenue per cap by $0.65 and in-park per capita by $0.27, though much of these were from the strong dollar eroding profits from the parks in Mexico and Canada.

• Six Flags gave more details on their foreign park developments, in terms of revenue from them.  Each signed park will generate $5 to $10 million in EBITDA before the park opens and $10 to $20 million in EBITDA annually once open.

• The first park for China has been announced to be in Haiyan, which is 60ish miles south of Shanghai and has 150 million people living with in 200 miles of the park.  The park in Dubai is also progressing - both could open by 2018 though that's not a firm date.

• New parks are in talks with developers in Asia and Latin America, but they will not be working on any parks in Europe - Six Flags' CEO sees a park in Europe as not "really appropriate."

• The company has seen no pushback from visitors as they increase ticket prices each year, meaning they see a long term ability to continue to raise admission and pass prices each year.

• The peak attendance year for the current portfolio of Six Flags owned parks was in 2001, when over 29 million people visited the parks.  Current levels are still well below that peak year.

• The profile of both the season pass base and membership base is pretty evenly 50% teens and %50 families.  New attractions will continue to be aimed at both.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cedar Point Making Quick Work on Valravn

© Cedar Point
The world's tallest, fastest and longest B&M Dive coaster is quickly taking shape at Cedar Point.  The park has been steadily updating their construction photos on the Valravn mini-site, available here.  Soon after the official announcement of the ride the park began clearing the work site and placing footers, and then the massive track pieces began to arrive.  Above is a photo from Cedar Point of one section of track with the supports seen in the background; the color scheme is unique and will be striking once complete.

© Cedar Point
More recently, Valravn actually went vertical at the park which marks the next big phase of work.  Granted the sections that are up are for the transfer/station area, so not very tall or twisted yet, but it's still nice to see the coaster's quick progress.  With only a handful of operating days left in Cedar Point's 2015 operating season, we will soon be pretty dependent on the park for photos of the ride.

Another place we will be checking out regularly this off-season is Cedar Point's live webcams, an image from one is above.  This view will show Valravn as it rises to 223 feet above the park - you can see the bit of track and supports that are in place up near the top of the image and plenty of huge footers being dug out elsewhere around the site.  When completed, the ride will feature a 214 foot vertical drop, 3,415 feet of track, 3 inversions and a top speed of 75 miles per hour.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Storm Chaser's Inverted Start Looking Good at Kentucky Kingdom

© Kentucky Kingdom
Kentucky Kingdom's Storm Chaser is going to start off with a bang, as immediately after the lift hill the trains will navigate a tight 180 degree turn as they begin to roll upside down.  The element was used previously on Medusa Steel Coaster at Six Flags Mexico, but that won't make it any less fun at Kentucky Kingdom!

The fluid motion of navigating the turn and having the bank increase until being fully inverted is just one of the many tricks that the Rocky Mountain design will incorporate when it opens next year.

© Kentucky Kingdom
This closer view of the top of the lift, turn, and inversion resembles a bird's head from this angle, much like has perpetually been pointed out about Mantis, errr, Rougarou at Cedar Point.  I'm continually surprised by how fast track is installed on the coasters that are renovated by Rocky Mountain - these two are dated the 14th.  Just a day later the full drop was nearly complete, as seen in this gallery.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

First Drop on Universal Studios Japan's Flying Dinosaur Now Installed

© Made_In_USJ via Twitter
Some exciting progress was made this past week on The Flying Dinosaur at Universal Studios Japan.  Most recently we saw the topping out of the ride at its maximum height, showing its truly imposing structure looming over the entire theme park.  Now we're able to get a good look at the B&M designed flying coaster's first drop, seen above.  These photos are all from Twitter user Made_In_USJ, who posts regular updates on the ride.

© Made_In_USJ via Twitter
I expected the coaster's first drop to be a straight downward plunge, but it turns out that I was only half right on that.  The ride does have a significant section of straight drop, but eventually begins to curve toward the left as it nears the ground.  This 'head-on' look at the drop makes that pretty clear.  I am quite pleased that the ride is dropping fairly low to the ground since this is all taking place over the walkways of the Jurassic Park area.

© Made_In_USJ via Twitter
This photo was also featured in the stream of updates and was too pretty not to share.  You can see the building for the Jurassic Park River Adventure ride on the far right - the ride will be traveling past that and into the splash lagoon for that ride.  That means there is still plenty of layout to be revealed as we keep following the ride!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dreamland Margate's Scenic Railway Opens to the Public

Since reopening with much fanfare this past June, England's Dreamland Margate has been working on finishing up the country's oldest roller coaster, the Scenic Railway.  The ride's reopening has been anticipated all season by fans of the seaside park and just a few days ago they all got their chance to take a ride once again.

© Dreamland Margate
The original Dreamland Scenic Railway was partially destroyed by arson nearly a decade ago, so really this version is a full rebuild - not a repair of the original ride.  Still, the ride's classic design was kept, and the trains include a brakeman, however, modern safety brakes have also been installed on the course.  The original ride debuted in 1920, making its 100th anniversary not too far off.

© Dreamland Margate
The amusement park is proud to note that the Scenic Railway is only one of 8 left on the planet, and several of them are no longer operating for guests.  Since the ride dates back so far, naturally it wasn't designed with the thrills of modern coasters in mind.  Instead, the ride relies on a series of dips, unbanked turns, and a sense of nostalgia to give riders a thrill.

This point of view look at the ride experience shows what the 40 foot tall, 3,000 foot long coaster is like.  It appears as though Dreamland is thriving once again now that it is open, and the Scenic Railway should help even more - the opening of the ride has had quite a bit of press.  Congratulations to the park on bringing back a piece of history!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Planning Troubles for Orlando's Skyplex + World's Tallest Coaster

© Skyplex
At a recent hearing, the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission voted against approving a rezoning needed for the Skyplex development to move forward.

The vote does not mean the project is dead, however, as the zoning now moves to the County Commissioners for a final approval or denial.

The Skyplex Project would be located on International Drive, not far from the Universal Orlando Resort - which according to many sources has been lobbying hard against the project.  Universal contends that the nearly 600 foot tall tower, containing the world's tallest coaster at just over 500 feet, would ruin sight lines and not fit in with the area - and that they are not afraid of the competition.  Universal has a height limit of 200 feet for rides and attractions at their parks.

If the $500 million project is able to move forward it will include a selection of food and retail locations on 14 acres of land, along with the observation tower, roller coaster and SkyFall, a 450 foot tall free fall ride.  You can read more on the project's design and features on the project's website.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - A Ghoulish Evening At The Kings Island Haunt!

The Fall season is upon us and Kings Island's Haunt 2015 is now in full swing, 

On opening night construction of the front entrance mansion had not been completed.

Photo courtesy of Kings Island
And..this is what it looked like on our next visit!

But, the creatures of the night were ready ....

for a howling good time!

And as the guests eagerly entered the turnstiles, they were ready too! Or maybe they moved quickly because of fear itself.

After the Sun went down the Eiffel Tower took on a rather Beastly look!

As did the Beast's station, with the park open late, plenty of classic nights were available.

Some familiar haunted houses returned, like Slaughterhouse located out back of the Beast, the Slaughterhouse butchers are looking for a fresh cut of meat and the butcher shop is open so you never know who – or what – is on the chopping block. It’s a real meat-lovers delight!

Beware! At Urgent Care a  deadly virus has broken out and has been spreading fast from patient-to-patientl. If the virus doesn’t kill you, your own fears will!

The moon is full and there’s something howling in the woods. It's on the hunt and after you, It's hungry like a Wolf! Featuring some of the best props, beware of the werewolves, because they're hunting for you!

A new department store has opened in the neighborhood that has everything you need with killer deals in every aisle. Shop 'til you drop...dead. All of your visions of Black Friday gone bad, very bad.

Rest in Peace Club Blood, as memorialized with this tombstone. No more "blood shots," the rave has moved elsewhere. It was replaced with...

Do you dread that something catastrophic is about to happen? Does the fear of the dark unknown terrify you? What would you do if the lights went out, totally out? Find out in Blackout -- a brand new haunted experience for 2015! Find your way in total darkness, and remember to always keep your right hand on the wall! 

The pulsating power of this rapturous band of misfit drummers will mesmerize and energize you in this percussive blood bath of rhythm and music. Everything's an instrument in this steam punk rock stomp! Here's a little taste of their performance:

Thanks to Don and the rest of the Kings island team for their assistance with this feature. Scare on!