Monday, October 31, 2016

New Food, Festivals and Fun Arriving at Silver Dollar City in 2017

Silver Dollar City has announced their planned changes for the park's 2017 season, centered around a robust series of festivals and family fun.  Coined "the year of food and crafts," visitors will find more of what they already love about the park including 200 new signature food items and plenty of expanded craft offerings.

In the Spring the park will hold The Festival of Wonder for the first time, featuring unique acts such as the world's longest playable stringed instrument and the acrobatic performances of the Flamenco Kings.  Along with the new shows will be plenty of unique food offerings, giving visitors another reason to visit the park.

Other changes to festivals and live entertainment include a new Summer Concert Series, and celebrity performances during the popular Bluegrass & BBQ Festival.  During the summer, Moonlight Madness will be paired with a Summer Festival filled with special events for kids.

© Silver Dollar City
Also announced is a large expansion to the park's An Old Time Christmas celebration, featuring a new Christmas In Midtown section.  The addition will see 1.5 million new lights go up at the park, bringing the total to an impressive 6.5 million.

Even with all these changes the park has even more in store for 2017, and is already hard at work at what seems like a thrilling addition for 2018.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Heard On... Six Flags' 3rd Quarter 2016 Conference Call

This past week was Six Flags' third quarter 2016 earnings announcement and conference call.  While there was nothing too exciting this time around, here are some items I thought were worth noting:

• Attendance declined 2% during the 3rd quarter, mostly to bad weather (too hot, too rainy, etc) according to park operators.  However season pass attendance held strong and the declines were largely one-off day visitors.

•  Guest spending per capita were also down 1% in the quarter, due to the decrease in day visitors making a larger portion of the attendance mix pass holders.

•  Revenues for the 3rd quarter were down $18 million, or 3% as well.  That's the result of the 2% decline in attendance, 4% decline in admission revenues and 3% decline from in-park revenues. However, year to date figures still put them on track for a record year overall.

•  Six Flags is still very proud of their being the full to fully roll out virtual reality on coasters, because it has had great feedback and is very cost effective.  They plan to roll out several new virtual reality contents to the equipped rides in the coming year.

•  The park's sale of 2017 season passes has already led to the largest number of passes sold pre-season, making their active pass base up 15% over last September - that's a very large new number of pass holders.  Overall admission prices, both tickets and passes, will go up on average 3-5% in 2017 to further growth.

•  Six Flags is confident in their ability to reach their target goal of $600 million in ebitda next year, so they have assigned a new target of $750 million for 2020.  They continue to see much potential for long term growth in the amusement industry.  To reach the goal, Six Flags will continue to grow admission prices, increase the number of season pass holders, push food revenues higher and work with new international licensing deals.

•  The debut of a Mardi Gras celebration in 2017 at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags Mexico is a test to see if the event can hold its own and show potential for growth.  The company is always looking or new events that could ramp up to be compared to Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park.

•  Six Flags' 19th property, a new Hurricane Harbor water park in Mexico, will open in February.  The company believes it will have a large amount of local traffic but also help sell combo passes for nearby Six Flags Mexico.  Also they say to build brand new water park you'd need $100 million but are opening this currently closed park for around $15-18 million.

•  The company's leaders clearly stated that they "really have no plans to do any construction of new parks in the United States," so that seems to remove one company from the Orlando rumor.  They also said it would be "highly unlikely" that they would license their name to another company to build a new Six Flags park in the U.S.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cedar Fair Names Richard Zimmerman as the Company's New President

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company has promoted Richard A. Zimmerman to both President and Chief Operating Officer.  The President title was most recently held by Matt Ouimet, who is also the company's Chief Executive Officer.

"This promotion is an acknowledgement of the significant role Richard has played in the success of Cedar Fair," said Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair's chief executive officer.  "He is one of the most talented senior executives I have ever worked with.  His deep understanding of the industry, our operations and our business model has enabled him to positively impact every meaningful decision we have made over the past five years.  His role as President and Chief Operating Officer will be to bridge strategy into execution – sorting to the things that will have the biggest operational impact and turning good ideas into operational reality."

Mr. Zimmerman has been with Cedar Fair for many years now, holding positions such as Executive Vice President, Regional Vice President and also the General Manager of Kings Dominion for several years.  His total experience in the amusement industry stretches over 20 years.  With the company continuing to expand its current offerings there is no doubt that Mr. Zimmerman will continue to be quite busy - many congratulations to him!

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Great Nor'Easter at Morey's Piers Has the Blues

© Baynum Painting
Morey's Piers is starting to reveal more of the changes going into the park's 1995 Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster, The Great Nor'Easter, for Summer 2017.  Before the winter months really set in the seaside park has been busy giving the ride a new look, with the help of Baynum Painting.

Baynum has shared a trio of photos (one of which is above), showing the colors of the supports for the refurbished coaster.  However, don't judge too much off of this photo, because it turns out that the coaster will have many different shades of blue on its support structure.

© Morey's Piers
This update photo, which was released by Morey's, paints (pun intended) a better picture of how the ride will look next year.  You can see that the supports go from lighter shades of blue on the left of the photo to darker ones on the right.  The lift hill supports are still white, too, so that may be a different pattern when complete.

Since most of the track on the coaster is being replaced, I'm not quite sure if white is the final track color - though I'm thinking it is.  Actually, since there is a crane on site already and I've seen other photos of track on the ground, I'm also not really sure if this photo is showing new or old track.

Either way, the ride will have a nice look for 2017, and one that fits in well with the ocean just beside it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dollywood Announces New Rides, Events for Theme Park's 2017 Season

© Dollywood
More new fun is on the way for Dollywood's 2017 season, with the addition of two new rides, one show and a major addition to the already popular Harvest Festival.

The largest ride addition is named Drop Line, which will be a 200 foot tall free fall ride.  Located in the Timber Canyon themed area, Drop Line looks to be located in the former home of Timber Tower.  Riders will be slowly lifted to nearly 20 stores above the park and then plunged down to the ground at a fast speed.  No manufacturer for the new ride was named in the press release.

Also being added to the Timber Canyon section of the theme park is Whistle Punk Chaser, a new family roller coaster.  The coaster is meant to allow younger riders to get acquainted with their feet wet before taking on the park's larger rides.  No details on the exact type of coaster or manufacturer are available yet.

Coming next fall to the Harvest Festival is Great! Pumpkin LumiNights, a nighttime event that "immerses families in fabulous fall pumpkin illumination."  It will also feature a new pumpkin trail with spectacular pumpkin displays that "glow with the fire of fall."  During Spring a new show will debut, name enra, a Tokyo-based dance group that was featured on America's Got Talent.  Described as a "high-energy multi-media dance, light and video fusion show," interactive video and lights will be combined with talented performers to create a unique, cutting-edge experience for guests.

In celebration of all these additions, including the new TailSpin racer at Dollywood's Splash County, Dolly has declared 2017 "the year of the family" for the Dollywood Resort.  The expansions are a part of the $300 million capital plan that was announced for the resort in 2013.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Gravity Group Debuts New Website

Wooden roller coaster fans will have fun exploring the all-new website that has been debuted by The Gravity Group.  The company decided it was time for an updated web presence - and just in time for this year's IAAPA trade show - with nice results.

© The Gravity Group
Naturally the website covers the services that the company offers, both wooden roller coaster design (with inversions!) as well as their supporting coaster train company, GravityKraft.  But for those not actually able to order and build a new wooden coaster, it also has a nice catalogue of all the wooden roller coasters that they have created to date.  This is the section that coaster fans will really appreciate, as each project features plenty of photographs, layouts, statistics, videos and more.

© The Gravity Group
The site also lets us explore and really get to know the handful of coasters that The Gravity Group has designed for parks in China - like Jungle Trailblazer at Fantawild Oriental Heritage seen above.  There are actually four Gravity Group coasters in China named Jungle Trailblazer, so the clarity on each of the projects is much appreciated, at least by me!

Why not click over and do some exploring on the new site?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Could a New Theme Park be Coming to Orlando?

It is a bit dangerous to buy into rumors of new theme parks in the U.S., especially given that the last few that opened haven't had the best luck (I'm looking at you, Hard Rock Park).  However, this new rumor of a 200 acre park in Orlando is pretty interesting, especially considering it is being widely reported.

I immediately think back to when it was leaked that Universal Orlando was buying tons of new land in Orlando... and that happened to be totally true.

© Bing Maps
The new theme park rumor started with the Orlando Business Journal, which reported that a "top U.S. theme park operator" is looking to build a 200 acre theme park on the site of the Artegon Marketplace mall and adjacent land.  The aerial above shows the mall, with a large open area below it.  That open space once was to be the Orlando Thrill park (filled with oodles of coasters) but the neighborhood next to it put that to bed pretty quickly.  The article also says that the mall has been for sale for a while, and the land it is on is already zoned for a theme park - plus if other open land in the area is lumped in there's plenty of room for a park.

© Bing Maps
Let's zoom out and look at the potential park site.  Fun Spot Orlando is almost directly adjacent to it, but the big draw would be Universal - which can be seen in the entire left of the image.  Also, just to the South of the area is the giant area that Universal recently purchased, plus the convention center and then SeaWorld Orlando.

Now, who could this "top U.S. theme park operator" possibly be?  Well there are several that are based in the U.S., but also several companies that are foreign but operate parks here.  The Orlando Business Journal article mentions that "international investors" might also be involved, so it might be foolish to ignore foreign companies.

Cedar Fair is doing great right now, but honestly they do not seem like they would be at all interested in building a park from the ground up.  But then again, they're led by a former Disney executive who knows first hand how much money can be made in a year-round park.  Still, this seems like a stretch.

Six Flags' current leadership seems almost aggressive enough to try something like this - after all there have been Six Flags in Florida rumors for many, many years.  They also now have ties to many foreign investors who are leasing their name for international parks, perhaps one of them wants to do the same but on U.S. soil?

Herschend Family Entertainment is private and would probably need large investors to pull off a park in Orlando.  But that also means it would be easier for them, as there are no shareholders to appease.  They've expanded their business in recent years by purchasing Wild Adventures and spending $300 million on the Dollywood resort.

Premier Parks has come back onto the scene, snatching up several U.S. parks in the past 5 years and operating several for CNL Lifestyle Properties.  They're not a big company, but if you look at their past companies it isn't hard to see that they're pretty ambitious.  Still, it doesn't seem like they would have the resources for a bit new Orlando park.

Landry's Restaurants operates a few parks in the South, but seem too interested in the restaurant side of things to bite off a project this large.

Merlin Entertainments is a global company, whose presence in the U.S. is focused on the Legoland Parks along with Madame Tussands, Sealife Aquariums and the Orlando Eye.  They're aggressive, and want several more Legoland parks in the U.S. - so could a differently themed park in Orlando be in their plan too?

Village Roadshow Theme Parks owns properties such as a handful of Wet'n'Wild water parks, Sea World and Warner Brothers Movie World in Australia.  They're working on two new parks in China, so they seem to have the development bug - but Orlando is a pretty tough market to enter without a big U.S. presence.

Finally there is Parques Reunidos, a bit of a behemoth that operates nearly 50 parks and attractions around the world.  They've picked up many parks in the U.S. in the past ten or so years, but haven't been building new ones - whereas Merlin is proven to be unafraid to do exactly that.

So in conclusion?  Who knows!  Maybe it's just a rumor and nothing will ever come of it, but it's fun to think it over, no?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

New Star Trek Themed Custom Mack Coaster Completed at Movie Park Germany

© Movie Park Germany
Movie Park Germany has already completed the vertical construction of track and supports for their new launched coaster, Star Trek: Operation enterprise.  Although the ride won't open until 2017, the theme park moved quickly and while there is still plenty left to do, visitors are already excited by the coaster's looming presence.

The ride's layout is pretty compact and most of it can be seen in the above image.  The track on the far left is the initial launch (with a back spike tower not seen in the left of the photo).  After that is a non-inverting top hat element, and then a steep plunge toward the ground.

© Movie Park Germany
The trains will then head up into the giant element seen here, behind the park's entrance plaza fountain.  Riders enter the element on the left above, inverting then coming right side up, only to invert and dive again.  We've seen similar elements on other coasters so while this isn't a first (that I can tell, anyway) it's certainly a pretty cool looking element!

© Movie Park Germany
Subsequent to that high flying element is a quick turn directly through one of the park buildings, several other high speed turns toward the ground and a final heartline roll / corkscrew into the brake run.

I haven't encountered any released statistics on this Mack designed coaster yet, so I'm not sure how fast the train will be maneuvering through the layout.  I'm sure we'll find those out soon, though.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Elitch Gardens Building 17 Story Star Flyer Ride for 2017 Season

© Elitch Gardens
A brand new thrill ride, a part of an overall $4 million in investments, has been announced for Denver's Elitch Gardens' 2017 season.  Named Star Flyer, the giant swing ride will offer spectacular views of Denver and the Rocky Mountains to riders as they swing around over 17 stories above the ground.

Star Flyer will be manufactured by Funtime, which also calls the brand of ride a StarFlyer.  The ride will seat a total of 48 passengers per cycle, swinging them upward in seats suspended by chains, to more than 170 feet in the air.  Riders will hit a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour while on Star Flyer.

Star Flyer will be Elitch Gardens' 7th new attraction in the past six years, and is planned to be ready for the park's sneak preview weekend starting on April 22nd, 2017.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Minions Invade Universal Studios Japan in 2017

© Universal Studios Japan
Set to open within the first half of 2017 at Universal Studios Japan is Minion Park, the "world's largest Minion" themed area - packed full of the antics of the characters of the Despicable Me film franchise.

Minion Park will offer visitors several "themed facilities, including a toy store, sweets factory and hotel."  All of the new locations will have been fully taken over by the lovable Minions, who seem to cause a bit of trouble wherever they go.  The new land, seen above in concept art, features other notable structures such as Gru's House, all centered around a central park area.

The star attraction of the new area will be Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a new simulator ride that replaces the Back to the Future building.  The ride, already popular at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, sends guests on a wild 3-D adventure into the Despicable Me world.  After entering through Gru's House and entering his laboratory, riders become a part of his latest plan for world domination and actually become one of his minions.  The ride vehicles then take flight, flying off on a hilarious journey that features "realistic sensations along with a series of unexpected surprises."  The attraction features a giant dome screen standing over 65 feet tall along with a "state-of-the-art high definition laser-projection system."

While not detailed in the press release for the Minion Park expansion, the existing rides also feature a fun Minion dance party when the ride is over - hopefully to be included in Japan as well! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ghostbusters 5-D Opening at Heide Park in 2017

© Heide Park Resort
An all-new interactive dark ride attraction named Ghostbusters 5-D will open at the Heide Park Resort in 2017, it has announced.  The German theme park will be one of the first to offer an interactive attraction based on the Ghostbusters franchise, and is excited to bring the new ride to park visitors.

Riders will be equipped with Laser Proton guns as they board the ride 8 passenger ride vehicles and set out on a quest to help save the park from some not-so-nice ghosts including the infamous Slimer.  The dark ride will take place within a haunted warehouse building, and riders (moving in a vehicle themed as Ecto-1) will also be quipped with a ghost trap and 3-D glasses.  I'm not sure from the press release if riders will gain points for the ghosts they blast, but that might be a safe bet based on the popularity of that being added to dark rides these days.

The Ghostbusters franchise should prove popular for the park; and being that they are a part of Merlin Entertainments, it is possible that we could see other similar rides pop up in the future.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Disneyland Paris Resort Announces 25th Anniversary Celebration

© Disneyland Paris
Beginning April 12, 2017, the Disneyland Paris Resort will kick off a celebration in honor of their 25th anniversary, offering visitors new attractions, shows and more.  While no major brand new rides were announced, the park will be offering several renovated ones that will provide new experiences to riders.

© Disneyland Paris
Many fans of the park are excited to see Star Tours: The Adventures Continue come to the park after successfully operating at several other Disney properties.  This means that the final version of Star Tours will close, to be replaced with an all new 3-D version of the ride with multiple destinations for riders to experience.  Locations to be visited on the new attraction include the "worlds of Jakku, Hoth, Tatooine," and even the famous Death Star - all picked randomly so as to encourage repeat rides.

© Disneyland Paris
Adding a bit more Star Wars to Disneyland Paris, Space Mountain will be changed into Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain, another retheme already popular at the several parks.  Riders will blast off into the world of Star Wars on a high speed trip through the galaxy.  The concept art above shows trains with no over-the-shoulder restraints (which I believe it currently has), but that might just be artistic liberty.  We shall see.

© Disneyland Paris
Live entertainment offerings will round out the additions for the 25th anniversary celebration.  Disney Illuminations, concept art for which can be seen above, will debut and feature projections, fireworks and other special effects in front of and on Sleeping Beauty Castle.  The show will be conducted by Mickey Mouse, and feature characters from films like Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Disney Stars on Parade will also open at Disneyland Paris, offering all new floats, music and more.  Other new shows like Mickey Presents "Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris" and The Starlit Princess Waltz will also open for the celebration.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kings Dominion Confirms Hurler Replacement for 2018

Many fans of Kings Dominion have been wondering what will happen with Hurler, one of the park's wooden roller coasters, which closed at the end of the 2015 season.  Many expected news on the ride's future with the park's 2017 capital announcement, however that didn't happen.  But now we know that Hurler will not ever be returning, at least in its current form, via this video the park shared on social media.

The video makes it pretty clear that Hurler's time at the park ended in 2015, even showing one of the coaster's trains alongside its grave (marked 1994-2015).  The video then goes on to wish that the ride rests in piece... but then the words "for now" and the year 2018 come up.

The park had teased a possible conversion of the ride in the past when it sounded like it would be done in 2017... and of course the involvement of Rocky Mountain Construction and their steel track was on everyone's mind.

Next year's Planet Snoopy expansion is fairly small project all things considered, perhaps the park is saving up their capital expansion pennies for a big new coaster in 2018?  Sure seems that way.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Legoland Florida's Ninjago World Opening Date + New Expansion Model

© Legoland Florida
The all-new Lego Ninjago World at Legoland Florida will open to the public on January 12, 2017, the park has announced.  The "magical martial arts kingdom" expansion brings a blockbuster new ride, themed retail, food and other activities to the ever-growing Florida park.

The ninja theme will be strong throughout the expanded area, with several "hands-on, outdoor activities where kids can sharpen their ninja skills" before taking a spin on Lego Ninjago The Ride.

© Legoland Florida
The ride is a combination of 3-D computer animation, moving cars, special 4-D effects and innovative technology that hasn't been seen outside the chain of Legoland parks.  This scale model of the area was so revealed during the opening date announcement, showing off the entire new land in Lego bricks.

The model also includes a look into some of the Lego Ninjago The Ride scenes within the giant show building:

© Legoland Florida
Four riders will be seated in each individual car as it heads through a mix of physical sets and 3-D screens.  Rider are able to interact with the film on the screen and score points using hand gestures, which is the special technology currently only at Legoland parks.  Riders will blast "fireballs, lightning and more" at different bad guys throughout the ride.

The greater Legoland Florida Resort is also proud to announced that it has created $1 billion in economic activity for the around it since 2010 when construction on the park started.  While they've achieved so much success already, the park is also currently working on an entire second resort (Legoland Beach Resort) that will open next summer.  Congratulations to the park on their success, and here's to many more years of it.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dorney Park Announces Results of 2016 Lemonade Days Efforts

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom has wrapped up another successful summer season of supporting the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.  The park's annual 'Lemonade Days' fundraising resulted in a large donation that was recently presented to the Foundation and one of their Hero Families during the Pediatric Cancer Awareness Day event held at the amusement park.

© Dorney Park
In total, Dorney Park was able to raise and donate an impressive $70,595 in 2016, bringing their two year total to more than $110,000.  The partnership with Alex's Lemonade Stand just started in 2015, when the park raised more than $40,000.  This summer the park expanded the ways for guests to make a difference, including hosting a Lemon Run 5K, a social media sharing campaigns, an in-park Lemonade Stand during Kids Fest, and more.  Additionally a portion of the park's online ticket sales were donated.

“We look forward to a continued partnership and are happy to work together to assist all those in joining the fight against childhood cancer,” said Michael Fehnel, Vice President & General Manager of Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom.

Congratulations to the park on their efforts, we're already looking forward to more fun events benefiting the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation in 2017!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Delight in the Frights at Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest 2016

Fright Fest is back at Six Flags Great Adventure, offering more scares than ever before as the world's largest theme park celebrates all that is Halloween.  Offering both family fun in the daytime and scary thrills at night, the park has something for everyone.

When the staff at NewsPlusNotes visited we focused mainly on the scary parts of Fright Fest, but rest assured there's plenty of daytime fun too!  These activities include trick-or-treating, live shows like the Just My Rottin' Luck magic show, and even a special costume contest for kids.

What a welcome to the park this offers!
Fright-seekers have a lot of work cut out for them if they want to experience all that Fright Fest has to offer.  Starting at 6 pm when the sun goes down the haunted fun begins, as always, with the Awakening Parade.  Featuring 200 of the park's ghastly ghouls, the processional leads to the The Awakening show where Dr. Fright emerges and sends the park into scary fun.  Immediately after The Awakening is the first of each day's performance of Dead Man's Party: Graveyard Rock... though we will get to that show later in the story.

An eerie green fog hovers over the Demon District
Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure has been expanded for the 2016 season, featuring several new attractions.

One of the biggest is the premier of virtual reality roller coaster rides at the park, experienced on Rage of the Gargoyles (Skull Mountain converted for the event).  Riders on the coaster wear Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus headsets as they "battle demonic creatures" in the interactive gaming experience.  What is already a fun indoor coaster is kicked up a notch with the use of the technology, letting riders not only enter another world but interact with it through their head movements.

Watch out for what is behind this door!
Fright Fest is well knows for its various Terror Trails, aka haunted houses, with by my count seven of them being offered in 2016.  There's a brand new one this year, named Cell Block 6 Haunted Maze.  Set in a prison on lockdown, the place is absolutely filled with some twisted inmates that are trying to get out - no matter the cost.  Between the abundant amount of live actors and various sets, the new maze is a fitting addition to Fright Fest.

Crazy 3-D fun awaits visitors to Fright Fest
Plenty of other returning terror trails and mazes are scattered throughout the park.  Above is a photo from Big Top Terror: Forgotten Carnival 3-D, which like the name implies is presented in colorful and disorienting 3-D.  The sets allow for a plethora of clowns to hide without being noticed until it is far too late to avoid a scream!

Blood Shed, The Manor, Total Darkness, Voodoo Island and Wasteland round out the roster of mazes - some outdoors on trails through the park's very dark woods, and some located in existing structures at the park. 

Just one of the friendly guys around the park!
As if the mazes and terror trails aren't enough, Great Adventure's Fright Fest also offers four scare zones, each with a unique theme.  The Demon District is filled with fog and green lasers, perfect for hiding ghouls.  Bone Butcher Terror-Tory is in the western themed area, with long deceased cowboys and other characters on the prowl.

A giant monster waits for visitors in a scare zone.
There's also Circus Psycho, a fitting home for a place over-run with totally crazed clowns, and also the location of the 3-D maze.  This area has several live shows spread throughout it since it covers a lot of real estate.  Finally, there's the famous Bloody Fountain scare zone, located right inside the entrance to the park.  Many of the monsters here are friendly if you want a photo with them... but remember you have to ask nicely!  Oh, and watch out for those with shovels if you're easily startled!

Live entertainment within Circus Psycho
Also new this year are several shows - live entertainment is really a big part of Great Adventure's Fright Fest and the shows all draw large crowds.  Bilkum, Burnham & Haugh's Side Show Spectacular (trying saying that one fast) is a brand new freak show, featuring acts like the "world-famous" Lizardman, Murrugun the Mystic and the "beautiful sorceress" Catalina Askew.  There's also the dark humor that's featured in Slash, with illusionists John Bundy and Morgan performing in the Showcase Theatre.

For a bit of comedic relief, make sure to stop by and see The Donniker Bros. Worlds of Mirth.  These "dark and devilish clowns urge guests to step right up to a uproarious new performance packed with unseemly humor and ample shenanigans."

Dead Man's Party!
However the king of the live shows at Fright Fest is Dead Man's Party: Graveyard Rock.  This year the show was moved into the large Movietown Arena within the Demon District, allowing for an even bigger stage, more special effects, and more seating.  Considering fans start lining up well before they can even enter the arena, that extra seating is a big plus.

Dead Man's Party: Graveyard Rock features Dr. Fright himself, along with his cast of friends, for the park's "signature song and dance production."  The upbeat show features high energy dancing, singing, popular pop and dark Halloween hits and plenty of special effects.  The photos of the performance included here show the elaborate lighting, flame bursts and other effects in action. 

This year's production features a special celebrity choreographer, Ashle Dawson.  You may have seen her in numerous appearances, including when she became a top 4 finalist on So You Think You Can Dance in 2005.  Here are some highlights of this year's show, make sure you do not miss it when you visit!

As you can see, this is quite a talented cast of singers and dancers!

The show is so good that there are actually groupies, seen here, that line up to hang out and talk with the cast after each performance.  After seeing the show, we can't blame them!  It's great that the public is able to meet with the performers like this.

Many thanks to Six Flags Great Adventure for having the NewsPlusNotes staff out to experience all that Fright Fest offers.  For more information on the 2016 event, make sure to check out the park's website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

PortAventura's Ferrari Land Gets Opening Date + New Look at Intamin Accelerator Coaster

© Liverpool Echo
Ferrari Land, a brand new theme park being built adjacent to Spain's PortAventura, is sure to be one of 2017's biggest openings in Europe.  The park has been under construction for some time now, as these photos from the Liverpool Echo show.  When opened, the theme park will contain several high-thrill rides along with simulator attractions, entertainment, dining and of course, racing cars.

After many months of construction PortAventura has announced that Ferrari Land will officially open to the public on April 7, 2017.

© Liverpool Echo
While the simulators, tower rides, and racing cars will provide much entertainment, there is little doubt in my mind that the Intamin designed Vertical Accelerator roller coaster will be the big draw.  You can see it for miles around the park, given that it reaches a maximum height of 368 feet.

© Liverpool Echo
At first glance you may think this is a photo of Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, but while the design is similar they're not exactly the same.  Beyond the height differences, the ride at Ferrari Land is also a tad slower - but it still reaches more than 111 miles per hour.  That makes it the 4th fastest steel roller coaster on planet earth.  Not bad!

© Liverpool Echo
These photos also show the ride's trains, fully decked out in racing attire.  The theming is well done, and fits the Ferrari brand nicely.  The restraints used are some of Intamin's more modern ones that come down from above, but will not restrict passenger views.  There is plenty to see from well over 300 feet above the ground!

© Liverpool Echo
Finally here is a wider view showing the complete 12 passenger train - notice the racing tire theming continues to the back of the train.

For more on all that Ferrari Land will offer visitors when it opens next April, click here.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Valleyfair's North Star Begins Ascent Toward the Sky

© Valleyfair
Valleyfair's 2017 addition is making quick progress - considering there are still a few weeks left in the 2016 season.  But considering the cold winter that will arrive sooner than later in Minnesota, I can't blame the park for wanting to get as much done as they can while the weather is nice!

North Star will be a 230 foot tall StarFlyer tower ride when complete, and as seen in the new photo above, the red base of the ride is now in place.  Understandably a big part of constructing a ride like a StarFlyer is completing the massive concrete footing to support the ride.  After that is complete vertical construction can proceed.  This is also the first time that I've seen Valleyfair use the ride's new logo - looks good!

© Valleyfair
Plenty of pieces of North Star's tower are already on site, and when complete a very patriotic color scheme will be revealed.  The park's General Manager also tweeted today that there will be two more truck shipments of parts and then the whole structure will be at the park.  Crews will begin to assemble the individual tower pieces on the ground, then install them after.

© Valleyfair
Fans of the park can keep up with North Star's progress via a live webcam direct from the park.  Construction should be interesting - and quick - once those tower pieces go up!