Tuesday, August 30, 2016

California's Great America Opening New Virtual Reality Attraction for Halloween Haunt

© California's Great America
We heard a few weeks ago during Cedar Fair's last conference call that they were looking to employ virtual reality technology at their season Haunt events, and now we know at least one park that will test it out this year.  California's Great America will open FearVR: 5150 as a part of their Halloween Haunt, perhaps as a test for the whole chain - but not all parks have announced Haunt attractions yet so I'm not certain on that part.

© California's Great America
It's refreshing to see a Cedar Fair park offering a virtual reality haunt the same year as one of the 'big guys' uses it for the first time.  I'm referring to Universal Studios Florida and The Repository, which will also open this fall.

FearVR: 5150 hasn't had an overwhelmingly large amount of details released, but the park's website offers that it will indeed use Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus for the experience.  In the haunt visitors will be "strapped to a hospital wheelchair" where they are "at the mercy of maniacal hospital staff."

Like at Universal, due to the limited capacity of this style of attraction FearVR: 5150 will be a pay-extra haunt, not a part of general admission or Fright Lane passes.  I'm excited to see if any other Cedar Fair parks will try out this technology this fall, and how the reaction is to these new style of haunted attractions!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Mystic Timbers Begins to Rise at Kings Island

© Kings Island
Just a few weeks after its official announcement, Kings Island has started vertical construction on its new for 2017 roller coaster.  Named Mystic Timbers, the wooden coaster has been designed by Great Coasters International and will run through the woods of the park's Rivertown section.

The top photo is from the park's webcam for the ride, taken this morning after work began.  Following the ride's layout would lead me to believe that these initial bents are for the bottom of the coaster's first drop.

© Kings Island
This photo, shared by Kings Island on social media, gives a view of the work from ground level.  The structure in the background is not related to the coaster - that's the covered entrance walkway for the park's river rapids ride.

Expect vertical construction to continue at a fast pace while the weather is still so nice!  We'll certain be along for the ride.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New and Expanded Kids Water Area Opening at Michigan's Adventure in 2017

Families with small kids will have more ways than ever before to enjoy the day at WildWater Adventure in Michigan's Adventure next season, a result of a renovated and expanded children's play area.  The work will be completed in time for the start of the water park's 2017 season.

© Michigan's Adventure
The area of focus within WildWater Adventure will be the Half Pint Paradise space.  The area already includes several small slides for kids, but next year all new ones, 7 in total, will replace the existing slides.  The area will also see the instillation of a new Splash Pad, complete with fun theming, like "water play features shaped to reflect a sailboat navigating through fish, a sea serpent, and other sea creatures."  Along with these interactive features, there will be dumping buckets, bubbling geysers and more in the Splash Pad.

© Google
The changes will include some rearranging of existing areas of the water park.  Above is a look at the area - toward the top of the image is the current Half Pint Paradise, and down toward the bottom is the large water play structure known as Beach Party.  The area between them will be renovated to connect the two more easily, forming a large area dedicated to kids and families.  There will also be additional seating and cabanas added as well.

The entrance to Funnel of Fear, the large pink and yellow Tornado slide, will be relocated as part of the changes to make navigation even easier for visitors.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Two New Thrilling Attractions Coming to Canada's Wonderland in 2017

Both Canada's Wonderland and its water park, Splash Works, will receive new thrill experiences in 2017, the park has revealed.  The additions include a towering water slide and a unique thrill ride that is sure to challenge even the bravest of riders.

© Canada's Wonderland
This is Soaring Timbers, a twirling flat ride that will be the first of its kind installed in North America.  Soaring Timbers features "two massive rotating gondolas that swing riders through sweeping arcs while rotating 360 degrees."  Canada's Wonderland is home to a very impressive lineup of flat rides, and this addition will further cement them as a leader in that genera.

Soaring Timbers will be a Mondial Inferno, a flat ride that I honestly never heard of until now.  The ride's smooth movements look like they provide a very disorienting experience.  Here is some footage that Mondial has showing an Inferno in motion:

To see more about the new ride, check out Mondial's website for their Inferno attraction.

© Canada's Wonderland
The second addition will be in Splash Works, a new water slide tower named Muskoka Plunge.  Standing 60 feet tall, the attraction features four separate body slides that all start with drop chambers, allowing the floor to fall out from beneath riders as they plunge downward.  The slides' layout includes a series of s-curves that will be taken at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour.

No official word yet on where in the park the two new attractions will be located.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dorney Park's 2016 Halloween Season to Feature New Haunts + New Family Fun

Dorney Park will expand their annual Halloween season events with several new attractions in 2016, both family-friendly and super scary, the park has announced.  The 9th annual Halloween Haunt will open on Friday September 16th and will feature 8 mazes, 4 scare zones, 25 rides, live shows and over 500 "gruesome creatures."  This year will also see expanded family friendly fun with The Great Pumpkin Fest, which will open on Saturday September 17th.

© Dorney Park
New this year is Blood on the Bayou, an indoor maze that replaces the former Desolation haunt.  Blood on the Bayou will force visitors to "discover the dark secrets that trouble the monsters of the French Quarter," complete with "mindless demons trudging through murky waters in search of their next victim."

The haunt has been successfully introduced to other Cedar Fair parks in the past, and typically features a unique open layout and a high level of theming.  The park is preparing for Blood on the Bayou to be one of their scariest haunts ever.

© Dorney Park
The park's second new haunt is named The Ward, and this is a not just a light retheme of the Asylum, but a totally new maze.  The maze still takes place in a hospital like setting, only now due to an "impending state sale," the "orderlies have some loose ends to tie up."  Sounds like the patients aren't the ones to worry about any more!  The park's site also notes that The Ward will feature inhabitants that are especially fond of getting up close and personal with visitors - be warned.

Both the ever-popular Blood Drums and Skeleton Crew live shows will return, along with a new addition - The Awakening: Power Struggle.  Described as "a battle of words and wit between those who wish to rule," the show will "determine the creature who will control the reign of terror" that evening.

Halloween Haunt IX will also see two new Skeleton Key rooms added to existing attractions.  These rooms are available only to Fright Lane key holders, and add an even more personal level of terror.  These new rooms will debut in the Mansion House Hotel and Cut Throat Island.  Additionally, this year the Blackout maze will be open to all guests whereas it was formerly only for Fright Lane visitors.  In total, this year's Fright Lane passes will work at 8 different haunted attractions and there will be a total of 6 Skeleton Key rooms.

© Dorney Park
While the nighttime scares of Halloween Haunt are a great time, families can also find plenty of scare-free fun during the day at the all new Great Pumpkin Fest.  This year will see the addition of Franklin's Monster Mania, featuring both the Funster House and Monster Foam Machine.  The Great Pumpkin Fest also features dressed up Peanuts characters, trick-or-treat stations, a foam pit, petting zoo, Halloween decorating areas and live entertainment.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!," the park will also show the classic special during the event.

Looks like there's plenty of fun in store for this fall at Dorney Park!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Legoland Florida Shows off Preview of New Beach Retreat Resort

The Legoland Florida Resort has released some preview images of their latest resort, the still under construction Legoland Beach Retreat.  The new property, located just across from the theme park, is set to open in mid-2017.  It joins the Legoland Hotel as the property's second hotel, and further expands its presence as a multi-day vacation spot.

© Legoland Florida
The new resort carries a beach theme and combines "the fun of surf and sand with the creativity of Lego building sets while offering picturesque lake views from nearly every sun-kissed corner."  The new resort is being developed right alongside Lake Dexter and will feature 83 themed bungalows, each with two separate units for a total of 166 rooms.  Each of the units will sleep up to five guests.

© Legoland Florida
The bright colors and obvious beach theme give the interior of the bungalows a cheery feeling, seen above.  There is a separate kids area that features bunk beds to add to the feeling of a retreat.  Each room also comes with its own shaded patio that expands the footprint of the bungalows as well.

© Legoland Florida
The Legoland Beach Retreat will offer plenty to keep families busy, and that's not even considering the theme park next door.  The property will feature several play areas where kids can "slide, swing, jump and climb."  There will also be a large themed swimming pool that comes with an expansive beach section.

The resort's clubhouse will be topped with a decorative Lego lighthouse, and will contain a pool bar and buffet restaurant, as well as a Lego play area.  A breakfast buffet will be open to those staying at the property so they can charge up for their day of adventures.  More details on additional amenities will be released soon.

The new resort comes as Legoland Florida will be opening their all-new Lego Ninjago World, including an innovative new dark ride.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Family Fun Arriving at Kings Dominion in 2017

This past weekend Kings Dominion held a special announcement inside the park to show off what they have planned for their 2017 season.  The focus will be on families next year, with the headlining changes taking place in Planet Snoopy.

© Kings Dominion
After this expansion is complete the 14 acre Planet Snoopy will have a total of 20 rides, three of which will be brand new:

•  Kite Eating Tree – On this family ride, guests will be propelled to the top of the tower and bounce down to the platform as they experience sensations of weightlessness.
•  Sally's Sea Plane – Kids and their parents are in store for an adventure with a trip on Sally's airplane. Take a trip round-and-round on this giant plane as it rotates and rises into the air.
 •  Peanuts™500 – Pick your car and rev up the engine with the Peanuts™ crew on this fun car ride that is the perfect size for your little racers. Start your engines and hit the track in race cars designed for parents and children to ride together as they move in a circle and whip around the corner on a closed track.

The three new rides have been successfully installed at other Planet Snoopy areas at Cedar Fair parks, so they're already proven to be crowd pleasers.  Planet Snoopy will also see a brand new event space be built, along with upgrades to the area's food and beverage offerings.

Kings Dominion will also introduce a Pre-K Pass that allows kids ages 3 through 5 free admission all season long.  Parents can register them on the park's website for the pass, and even get a free visit this fall.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dorney Park August Update - Haunt + 2017 Views

The summer is now in its last leg, meaning that attentions at the park turn full force to both Haunt prep and now also planning for all of Dorney Park's recently announced 2017 additions. Let's check out what's going on.

The park's annual Haunt hearse display is out front of the security checkpoint, but if you take the stroll over to it you can see this year's attraction logos on the back.  As they've done in recent years, the new additions to Haunt are only question marks... for now.

Returning mazes include Mansion House Hotel, Trick Or Treat, CornStalkers, Grave Walkers, Chamber of Horrors, and Blackout.  Scare zones shown are Cut Throat Island, Age of Darkness and CarnEvil.

That means that Desolation has been retired, though we've expected that.  It also means the Asylum is missing, the facade of which we saw get repainted earlier in the season.

These signs advertising all the new attractions for Dorney Park's 2017 season have popped up all over - this is just one example of the larger ones.  I'm glad the park is so happy to promote the expansion... we all love new rides and shows, but some of the other changes (Parkside Pavilion I'm looking at you) really have a huge significance for the future of the park.  It's great the capital for all of them came together at once!

On the park's Main Midway this sign for Kaleidoscope has gone up in the area that the Screamin' Swing occupied until this year.

This photo is intended to show the midway now, compared to an aerial view to help folks locate just where Kaleidoscope will go up.  I was missing around with aerial views of the Trokias at Kings Dominion and Cedar Point, wondering how the park will fit the ride in the available space.  It will be quite close, and I'm assuming that the lockers in the area will have to be moved.  The positioning of the Wild Mouse on an angle is the complicating factor in my opinion.

Over toward Talon, a similar sign has gone up for Dodgem, the park's new bumper cars.  This shot shows the ride's future home - we will have to say goodbye to the clean views of Thunder Canyon but I'm a-okay with that!  Just to the left of this photo is the arcade and just to the right is the entrance to Talon.  I think we might see some midway changes here to accommodate the rectangle layout of the cars, but that's just a guess.

Since the worksite is in a backstage area, there's not much to show for Parkside Pavilion, the large new catering area going up in 2017.  But, this is the walkway that will lead to the area's entrance, fairly secluded but will create a significant amount of new foot traffic in the area.  The restrooms that are back at the end of the park will be incorporated into the new facility.

Back to Haunt work, here is the progress on the new maze's facade - this is the park-facing side of the former Desolation building.  You can start to get a feel for the theme of the maze here - it has quite a New Orleans feel to it.  I'm sure the park will make the name and theme of this maze official before long.

Most of Age of Darkness is already standing - here is the exit from the mini-maze section of the scare zone.  Much of Grave Walkers is also up, though obscured by a fence so a photo would be most uninteresting.  CornStalkers was never really fully taken down after last fall, so that's getting more prep for this year's event as well.

That's all for now, stay tuned for more Haunt and 2017 updates!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cedar Fair Pulls the Plug on Ohio's Wildwater Kingdom

© Wildwater Kingdom
Cedar Fair has announced that Wildwater Kingdom, located on the remains of SeaWorld Ohio, will close for good at the end of the 2016 season - which is September 5th.  The park's closing will be the final chapter in the Geauga Lake/Six Flags/SeaWorld Ohio story.

The company posted a statement about the decision:

"Cedar Fair has been working cooperatively with both Bainbridge Township and the City of Aurora to redevelop the entire property into what will best benefit the surrounding communities. After examining its long-range plans, Cedar Fair has determined that the time is right to begin this transition and will continue to work together with community leadership in the positive future development of the property."

© Wildwater Kingdom
The history is a bit long to detail here, and has been done by other sites many times over, but Wildwater Kingdom is the result of a long and twisted story that involved several theme park operators.  Geauga Lake operated from 1887 until 2007 under several ownerships, including both Six Flags and Cedar Fair.  SeaWorld Ohio opened in 1970 across the lake from Geauga Lake, and was sold to Six Flags for the 2001 season.  After Six Flags combined the two parks into one and ran into financial trouble, they were sold to Cedar Fair in 2004.  Cedar Fair worked to turn the former SeaWorld Ohio side into a brand new water park (Wildwater Kingdom), which continued operating after they closed Geauga Lake for good in 2007.  Wildwater Kingdom made it another 9 operating seasons on its own.

The water park has a huge slide tower (seen above), large wave pool, Tornado slide, plus a water play structure.  Surprisingly, none of these items were included in any announcements for other 2017 Cedar Fair parks, so it remains to be seen if they will be relocated in the future, or sold.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Rides, a New Entrance and WinterFest Headed to Worlds of Fun in 2017

Worlds of Fun has announced four in-park projects for their 2017 season, including two new rides, a brand new entrance to the park, and the addition of WinterFest.

© Worlds of Fun
The first ride is named Mustang Runner, and is a classic Huss Trokia ride.  The ride will give a disorienting experience as the main arms turn one way, while the rider gondolas go the other.  With this ride announced, we can now count that there will be a total of three classic Trokia rides going into Cedar Fair parks in 2017.

© Worlds of Fun
The second new attraction will be named Falcon's Flight, and is another Huss ride, this time a Condor.  Pictured above, this tower ride stands around 100 feet in the air and has four arms that each have six falcon-themed gondolas on it.  The gondolas and the main carriage both spin independently of each other, creating an experience like a Scrambler, only high in the sky.

Worlds of Fun's main entrance will also be totally renovated for 2017, though no details about the changes planned - or if it will even stay in the same place - were released today.

© Worlds of Fun
Finally, we now know the third location that will be adding WinterFest in 2017, and that is Worlds of Fun.  The park gave limited details since it is still so far away from the event's opening, sharing only the above concept art showing a beautifully decorated section of the park.  The event is said to include "14 favorite holiday characters, spectacular light displays, ice skating, and festive live entertainment.  WinterFest will run for six weeks beginning November 24, 2017 at Worlds of Fun.

New Themed Area, Four New Rides + WinterFest Come to Carowinds in 2017

Continuing their mega-expansion, Carowinds has announced another large set of changes for the park's 2017 season, including an entirely new themed area with four new rides.  The park will also debut WinterFest at the end of next year, significantly extending their operating season.

© Carowinds
The announcement of the new area, named County Fair, fits perfectly with the teaser campaign that the park has been running the past few weeks.  All the residents of the campaign now seem to have a 'home' to live in come 2017.  The concept art above shows the festive yet slightly eclectic feel that the new County Fair themed area will have.

© Carowinds
And this aerial view lets us see just where in the park the new area will set up home.  It appears as though it will take over the Carolina RFD section of the park - it will also include the Carolina Cobra in the mix.  However, the coaster will be repainted and renamed to become The Flying Cobras, themed after "an air show featuring the daring aviation maneuvers of The Flying Cobras."

© Carowinds
This day / night view of the County Fair shows how great an example of placemaking the expansion is.  The company already revealed that they were obtaining classic flat rides from around the globe, and here is a great use of four of them.  The most thrilling ride will be Electro-Spin, seen in the upper right of this drawing, a Top Scan ride that will flip and spin riders high in the air.  Also seen prominently in the center of this image is Do-Si-Do, a Trokia ride that will spin and lift visitors.  The new colors of The Flying Cobras can be seen on the left.

© Carowinds
A classic swing ride, called The Zephyr, will also be set up in the new area.  This art shows the fourth ride to go up in County Fair, named Rock 'N' Roller, a music-blasting good time known at many parks as a Musik Express.  The rides selected offer a mix of wild (Electro-Spin) to the family friendly Zephyr, offering fun for the whole family.  Several existing food and beverage locations within the area will also be rethemed and offer new menus.

© Carowinds
Starting next November, WinterFest will also make its return to Carowinds.  The holiday celebration will features tons of lights around the park, including a signature 70 foot tall tree.  There will be special live entertainment, almost a dozen shows to be exact, real reindeer to visit with, ice skating, a huge variety of food and shopping, and of course Santa!  On top of all that there will be a selection of rides open as well, weather permitting.  More details on WinterFest will be released as we get closer to its opening.

WinterFest Returns to Kings Island in 2017

Kings Island fans are rejoicing over the announcement that WinterFest is making its grand return to the theme park in the winter of 2017.  The event was last held at the park 12 years ago, and now will be able to serve as a family tradition once again - especially since it is included in the park's gold season pass program.

Much of the fun will be centered around the park's International Street area, which will include ice skating on the park's Royal Fountain, homemade crafts and holiday carolers.

© Kings Island
At the end of International Street will be the world's largest Christmas tree display using the park's 314 foot Eiffel Tower, pictured above in concept art released by the park.  WinterFest will offer visitors plenty of seasonally themed food offerings, special holiday shopping locations, live entertainment shows, and of course a visit to Santa's Workshop.  Several rides, such as the park's Grand Carousel and the Kings Island & Miami Valley Train, will also operate.

WinterFest will join the previously announced Mystic Timbers wooden roller coaster to create an action packed 2017 season at Kings Island.

230 Foot North Star Swing Ride to Open at Valleyfair in 2017

© Valleyfair
After announcing that the Enterprise would close before the end of the 2016 season, Valleyfair fans were excited to find out just what would be replacing it.  Today the park revealed that a new 230 foot tall Starflyer ride, named North Star, will be the park's big addition in 2017.

North Star is named both for the park's "affinity to being “up north” and the great outdoors" and is a traditional swing ride that's taken to extreme heights.  At 230 feet tall, the new ride will be the second tallest in the park, only behind the 275 foot tall Power Tower.

Riders will be seated in two person seats as the ride carriage goes up to over 20 stories in the air and moves at 40 miles per hour.  Needless to say the view from the top will be amazing.

“The annual trip to Valleyfair has always been a family tradition in Minnesota,” says Dave Frazier, Vice President and General Manager of Valleyfair. “The addition of North Star certainly adds to the continued commitment to provide lasting family memories for our guests.”

The ride's location just inside the park's entrance will mean it will also serve as nice wayfinder for guests.  It will be the only Starflyer ride in the upper Midwest, according to the park.  Construction will start this month and the ride should be up by the middle of December.

Cedar Point Renaming and Expanding Water Park in 2017 + Resort Expansions

Cedar Point will focus its attention on the resort's Soak City water park in 2017, completing an extensive refurbishment that will transform the 18 acre park into Cedar Point Shores.

From the concept drawings released it appears as though the boundaries of the existing water park will increase significantly.  The park will feature an all new entrance but it is currently unclear just where that will be located.  The park looks to be growing onto the land formerly occupied by the go-karts in Challenge park, on both sides of Magnum.

© Cedar Point
Three all new water park attractions will be built, including the large tower seen above.  From where Magnum is located it looks like this tower will go up partially where the current Soak City entrance is and where the go-kart loading deck was.  The tower features Point Plummet, four trap-door drop body slides, along with Starboard Surge and Portside Plunge, two tube slides.  This tower looks identical to what was announced for Knott's Soak City yesterday and should be a huge success at the park.

© Cedar Point
The other major water addition is Lakeside Landing, seen above, which looks like it may be located on the other side of Magnum where the bulk of the go-kart track once was.  The play area will feature 12 kiddie sized slides built around the perimeter of a giant spray pool for little ones.  Lakeside Landing will be partially covered for sun protection but also have an expansive lounging area as well.

Cedar Point Shores will also see the addition of new changing rooms, a poolside bar, more shade structures, all new cabanas by the wave pool and landscaping changes that sound like they will really open up the views of the nearby Lake Erie.  Most of the existing attractions will be renamed to fit in with the overall new theme of the park.  Also new will be the Crystal Rock Cafe, a major dining facility within the water park.

© Cedar Point
Continuing its growth as a true vacation destination, Cedar Point also announced two important hotel expansions as well.  Breakers Express will be renamed in 2017 as Cedar Point's Express Hotel with a 69 room addition.  The addition will connect the 'square' layout of the hotel, seen above.  The renovation will include "new bathrooms and bedding, mini fridges, microwaves and connecting family suites for additional time to spend together."  The center of the hotel will have a new splash pad added along with changes to the courtyard and deck area that will make it more of a gathering space.

© Cedar Point
Hotel Breakers will also see another multi-year expansion that will result in an all-new six story tower opening in 2018.  The tower will add 158 new guest rooms (many of them can be connecting family suites) to give Hotel Breakers a total of 669 rooms.  The tower will match the style of the existing hotel and also have a new pool debut along side it.

"There's so much more to Cedar Point than most realize," said Jason McClure, Cedar Point's vice president and general manager. "No other amusement park can claim a mile-long beach and fresh water lake just steps away from the largest collection of rides on Earth. With the transformation of our water park and investment in our hotel properties, we invite families and friends to make Cedar Point their choice for thrills next summer and beyond."

And as planned the Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center will open next year, located 3 miles from Cedar Point.  The expansive sports field center will host tournaments and have Cedar Point tickets included in its event offerings.

California's Great America Introduces Patriot Floorless Roller Coaster in 2017

© California's Great America
It has been announced that guests to California's Great America will be able to ride their stand-up roller coaster Vortex through September 5th, after which it will undergo a transformation into a new floorless ride named Patriot.

Like Cedar Point did with Mantis transforming into Rougarou, Vortex will receive brand new B&M floorless trains that will provide a totally new and more comfortable experience for riders.  The park notes that Vortex is currently the oldest stand-up roller coaster operating in the U.S., and that Patriot will be the first floorless ride in the park's history.

© California's Great America
Patriot will feature newly painted blue track with white supports, and trains featuring similar colors as accents.  It's layout will remain unchanged, featuring a 91 foot tall lift, a vertical loop and speeds of 45 miles per hour.  On how the name Patriot was arrived at, the park says that the "inspiration for the coaster's name was taken from the fact that the ride is nestled adjacent to All American Corners within a park whose name celebrates America."

At the end of this year California's Great America will also celebrate their first Winterfest event, giving visitors a chance to "ice skate in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, admire magnificent displays of lights and d├ęcor, view spectacular live holiday shows, experience 18 rides, see Santa's workshop and Mrs. Claus' kitchen, and enjoy scrumptious holiday foods around the park."