Saturday, December 31, 2016

Worlds of Fun Slowly Revealing New Main Entrance Design

A big part of Worlds of Fun's 2017 plans includes a totally new main entrance area, but just what it will look like has remained a mystery since it was first announced.

The park has decided to have some fun on their social feeds, specifically Twitter, and is slowly revealing the first rendering of the expansion one puzzle piece at a time.

With half of the pieces now revealed there's still plenty to guess at, but there's also plenty to see.  Here is what we have so far:

© Worlds of Fun
You can click on the image for a larger version that will give a bit more detail.  My first impression is that the new gate at Worlds of Fun will have a bit of a theme, and is a departure from the very modern look of the gates that went up at Cedar Point and Carowinds.  That's exciting, as the company appears to be retaining the fact that Worlds of Fun started as a theme, not just amusement, park.  If you look close at some of the windows you can see, along with the design of the roofs, there's a bit of a European feel to them.

The park is promising to continue to reveal another piece each day, so in just less than a week we will have a look at the full rendering!  Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Disney Offers A New Peek Inside Pandora - The World of Avatar

© Disney
As a part of their annual Christmas special, Disney released some new footage taken both inside the new Pandora - the World of Avatar themed land, and also inside of of the attractions that will debut with it.  The new land will open later in 2017, and is so far along in the construction process that many floating mountains and other thematic elements can be seen from both inside and outside Animal Kingdom in Disney World.

The video shows a glimpse inside the Na'vi River Journey, a calm boat ride, that looks as beautiful in real life as in the concept art... but it's a quick view that leaves us hungry for more.  The video assures us that the ending of the ride features something special that will be unlike anything we've experienced before.  The video also has a quick look inside the giant theater that will hold Avatar: Flight of Passage, giving a view of the attraction's mechanics. 

Check out the full video, along with plenty of other details, below.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Celebration at the Falcon Creative Booth

Falcon Creative had a big celebration at their booth on the show floor at IAAPA Expo. Anytime you can bring in an astronaut to recreate a grand opening, it is bound to attract a crowd. This was no exception. Jon McBride, who piloted Challenger back in 1984 on STS-41 G, which among other things, proved the concept of refuelling satellites with the orbiters.

This project was very important to Falcon, so much that they formed a new division to complete it. Here is a video with the executive producers:

Here is a couple of photos of the completed project, inside and out.

Falcon also sponsored a tour, complete with lunch, of the project on the last day of the IAAPA Expo, but since we had attended the grand opening the previous week, we elected to pass. Here is a video of the booth event, and the enthusiasm generated by those in attendance:

Congratulations to Flacon and the Kennedy Space Visitors Center. Several years in development, the end result is nothing short of amazing, and it is a true legacy to heroes from all walks of life.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Christmas Blast Off


Holidays in Space is the Kennedy Space Visitor Center's unique high-tech holiday celebration. While the rest of us hang up a few lights, the Saturn 1B in the Rocket Garden serves as the projection screen for historical footage and computer-generated fun.

It kicked off on 12/21/2016 and starting the day after Christmas through 1/2/2017, there will be two shows nightly, at 6:45 and 7:45 PM. They are free and included with admission.

They did add a few lights and accent pieces throughout the facility like this tree.

A special kickoff event was held for season pass holders featuring sweet treats and hot chocolate with reserved prime seating. 

Another one of the many views afforded during the show. Every time the Saturn 1B transformed into an entirely different colored pattern, the children all oohed and aahed in appreciation.

Here are some highlights from the performance, which was re-imagined for 2016-17.

Just one of the many scenes from the show. It is the only rocket used as a projection screen that we have ever heard of, and it is definitely the most unusual backdrop employed in projection mapping shows.

The fireworks finale was great, as was the hospitality afforded by the Kennedy Space Visitor Center. Thanks to Andrea and Lauren, with special thanks to whoever baked all those great treats. It took a whole day to come down from the sugar high, but it was so, so good.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Scott And Carol Present - Celebrating The Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure

Where are you Grinchmas, where can we find you?  We'll give Orlando a try!

Every Christmas Season Universal Orlando' s Islands of Adventure transforms Seuss Landing into a Grinchmas Wonderland! Who-liday signs line the paths. leading guests to the Circus McGurkus, where you can have breakfast with the Grinch, featuring one of our favorites...Green Eggs & Ham.


It is also easy to find the area for the wonderful, live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic holiday tale starring The Grinch and featuring music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller.

The story is a mixture of Dr. Seuss' 1957 classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas and the 2000 Universal Studios movie starring Jim Carey.

Who-ville citizens preparing for the Who-bilation 

And the Grinch  stealing presents

Caught in the act by Cindy-Lou Who

The Grinch and Max returning all the stolen gifts and goodies

The Grinch, Cindy Lou and the citizens of Who-ville celebrating the Who-bilation

For our readers who are unable to enjoy the Grinchmas here is a brief teaser video of the Who-liday Spectacular that will hopefully have you making reservations to Orlando for Christmas next year. It was so good we watched it twice.

The Grinch was pleased with the "to Do List" on our shirts, but had an addition. Number 6 should be "Look fabulous while doing so." We stand corrected, and we wish you all a very Merry Grinchmas!

An Un-Intended Path, 100 Roller Coasters Later

When Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard formed Bolliger & Mabillard Consulting Engineers back in 1988, designing any amusement ride was the furthest thing on their minds. Having recently departed from Giavanola, and with a non-competition agreement in place, they thought their ride days were a closed chapter, until Six Flags Great America asked them to help with the design of Rolling Thunder, the Intamin Bobsled ran in the park from 1989 through the 1995 season. After getting the proper legal hurdles removed, their first coaster, Iron Wolf opened in 1990.

They stuck with the stand-up design for their first three coasters, but then the introduced their new inverted design in 1992, Batman The Ride. Twelve of their next fifteen coasters featured the inverted design, and the remainder were a new sit-down design.

Kumba at Busch Gardens Tampa was one of the first three sit down coasters.

2002 saw the introduction of the flying coaster, with the first one, Superman: Ultimate Flight stateside being installed at Six Flags Over Georgia.

The first dive coaster with a true 90-degree drop was SheiKra, with the even wider and taller Griffon to follow. They were preceded by other dive coasters that did not have a true vertical drop.

The latest coaster style from B & M to appear in the United States is the wing coaster, where riders have nothing above them, or under them, so they feel like they are riding on the wing of an airplane.

Mako, at Sea World Orlando, is the newest B & M roller coaster, and that puts them over 100 installations worldwide. Millions of riders smile every year due to the creativity of the company that never intended to build their first coaster, but we are sure glad they did.

So that was the highlights, but it is better to hear them from someone who was there from the start, here is a brief interview with Walter Bolliger reflecting on their first 100 roller coasters:

If you are interested in learning more about the construction of the track, you can find more information here, from a plant visit long ago.  Here is a list of their roller coasters as they opened:

1990                       Iron Wolf                                            Six Flags Great America
1991                       Patriot                                                 California’s Great America
1992                       Vortex                                                 Carowinds
1992                       Batman The Ride                                Six Flags Great America
1993                       Flight Deck                                         California’s Great America
1993                       Kumba                                                Busch Gardens Tampa
1994                       Batman The Ride                                Six Flags Great Adventure
1994                       Nemesis                                              Alton Towers
1994                       Batman The Ride                               Six Flags Magic Mountain
1994                       Raptor                                                Cedar Point
1994                       Diavlo                                                Himeji Central Park
1995                       Gambit                                               Thrill Valley
1995                       Batman The Ride                               Six Flags Saint Louis
1995                       Dragon Khan                                     Port Adventura
1996                       Orochi                                                Expoland
1996                       Mantis                                                Cedar Point
1996                       Montu                                                Busch Gardens Tampa
1997                       Pyrenees                                            Parque Espana
1997                       Great White                                       SeaWorld San Antonio
1997                       Alpengeist                                         Busch Gardens Williamsburg
1997                       Chang                                                Kentucky Kingdom
1997                       Batman The Ride                              Six Flags Over Georgia
1998                       Oblivion                                            Alton Towers
1998                       Riddler’s Revenge                            Six Flags Magic Mountain
1998                       Great Bear                                        Hersheypark
1999                       Afterburn                                          Carowinds
1999                       Apollo’s Chariot                               Busch Gardens Williamsburg
1999                       Medusa                                             Six Flags Great Adventure
1999                       Raging Bull                                      Six Flags Great Adventure
1999                       Georgia Scorcher                              Six Flags Over Georgia
1999                       Batman The Ride                              Six Flags Over Texas
1999                       Incredible Hulk                                 Island Of Adventure
1999                       Dragon Challenge                             Islands of Adventure
2000                       Superman Krypton Coaster              Six Flags Fiesta Texas
2000                       Medusa                                             Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
2000                       Diving Machine G5                          Janfusun Fancyworld
2000                       Katun                                                Mirabilandia
2000                       Batman Knight Flight                      Six Flags Ohio
2000                       Kraken                                             SeaWorld Orlando
2001                       Insane Speed                                    Janfusun Fancyworld
2001                       Wildfire                                            Silver Dollar City
2001                       Nitro                                                 Six Flags Great Adventure
2001                       Talon                                                Dorney Park
2002                       Galactia                                            Alton Towers
2002                       Silver Star                                        Europa Park
2002                       Batman la Fuga                                Parque Warner Madrid
2002                       Superman la Atraccion                     Parque Warner Madrid
2002                       Superman Ultimate Flight                Six Flags Over Georgia
2002                       Batman The Dark Knight                 Six Flags New England
2002                       Vampire                                            La Ronde
2003                       Nemesis Inferno                              Thorpe Park
2003                       Batman The Ride                             Six Flags New Orleans
2003                       Scream                                             Six Flags Magic Mountain
2003                       Superman Ultimate Flight               Six Flags Great Adventure
2003                       Superman Ultimate Flight               Six Flags Great America
2004                       Lightning                                         Kuwait Entertainment City
2004                       Daemonen                                       Tivoli Gardens
2004                       Silver Bullet                                    Knott’s Berry Farm
2005                       Hydra The Revenge                        Dorney Park
2005                       SheiKra                                           Busch Gardens Tampa
2006                       Goliath                                            Six Flags Over Georgia
2006                       Patriot                                             Worlds of Fun
2006                       Tatsu                                               Six Flags Magic Mountain
2006                       Goliath                                            La Ronde
2006                       Black Mamba                                 Phantasialand
2006                       Crystal Wing                                  Happy Valley
2007                       Hollywood Dream The Ride          Universal Studios Japan
2007                       Phaethon                                         Gyeongju World
2007                       Griffon                                            Busch Gardens Williamsburg
2008                       Dive Coaster                                   Chimelong Paradise
2008                       Led Zepplin The Ride                     Hard Rock Park
2008                       Goliath                                             Six Flags Fiesta Texas
2008                       Behemoth                                        Canada’s Wonderland
2009                       Diamondback                                  Kings Island
2009                       Manta                                              SeaWorld Orlando
2009                       Diving Coaster                                Happy Valley
2010                       Intimidator                                      Carowinds
2010                       Monster                                           Walygator Parc
2011                       Raptor                                              Gardaland
2011                       Krake                                               Heide Park
2011                       Starry Sky Ripper                            Joyland
2011                       Hair Raiser                                       Ocean Park
2012                       Swarm                                              Thorpe Park
2012                       Wild Eagle                                       Dollywood
2012                       Oziris                                               Parc Asterix
2012                       Leviathan                                         Canada’s Wonderland
2012                       Shambhala                                       Port Adventura
2012                       X-Flight                                           Six Flags Great America
2013                       Gatekeeper                                       Cedar Point
2013                       Nitro                                                 Adlabs Imagica
2014                       Parrott Coaster                                 Chimelong Ocean Kingdom
2014                       Flug der Damonen                           Heide Park
2014                       Banshee                                            Kings Island
2014                       Family Inverted Coaster                   Happy Valley
2015                       Oblivion The Black Hole                 Gardaland
2015                       Fury 325                                           Carowinds
2015                       Thunderbird                                      Holiday World
2015                       Baron 1898                                       Efteling
2015                       Acrobat                                             Nagashima Spa Land
2015                       Harpy                                                Xishuangbanna Theme Park
2016                       Flying Dinosaur                                Universal Studios Japan
2016                       Valravn                                              Cedar Point
2016                       Mako                                                  SeaWorld Orlando

With seven relocations, and one completely rebuilt, as designed, from the ground up, the quality of Bolliger & Mabillard designs has stood the test of time.

However you celebrate the holiday season, may you and those you love be abundantly blessed this year. Best wishes from all of us here at NewsPlusNotes, and may all your seasonal dreams come true.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unique Intamin Launched Coaster Blasts Off in China

© Intamin
Intamin has designed a brand new launched roller coaster for Hefei Wanda Cultural Tourism City, pictured above and located in China, that looks like a ride we all would want in our local park.  The coaster, who's name translates into Soaring With Dragon, is technically a complete circuit, though the use of a switch track allows the trains to have both forward and backward launches (up a vertical 197 foot spike) before taking on a giant non-inverting loop.

No only do the launches send the trains at a top speed of around 77 miles per hour, the coaster also features the tallest non-inverting loop on any coaster, at 187 feet - an element considerably taller than many coasters!

This video shows the coaster in action, along with many of its other elements:

After that huge non-inverting loop there is an inverted top hat element that turns the trains out toward the park's center lake.  The trains then zoom through several large helices, one wrapped around a large thematic element by the water.  The ride's actual track length is 3,437 feet, but due to the backward and forward launches the trains travel 4,192 before the experience is over.

Hopefully the success of this new coaster leads to other designs, and with any luck they will be a bit closer to home!  For more on the ride, including photos and other details, check out this article from Blooloop.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Six Flags Announces New Hurricane Harbor Waterpark for China

A brand new Hurricane Harbor water park, located adjacent to the first Six Flags branded theme park in Haiyan, China, was announced today.  Both Six Flags Zhejiang (which was announced previously) and the newly announced Hurricane Harbor will open in 2019, and construction for them has already started.  The parks are the centerpiece of a $4.6 billion leisure development being done by Riverside Investment Group.

© Six Flags
Hurricane Harbor will feature "thrilling water slides, a massive wave pool, a relaxing Lazy River and an intricately designed children’s water play area."  No specific concept art for the new water park was released at the announcement.

The adjacent Six Flags Zhejiang will feature "incredible roller coasters, rides and attractions," including "elaborately-themed sections celebrating time-honored Chinese traditions, live shows and seasonal events along with a wide variety of culinary offerings and retail locations."

It was also announced that the two Chinese parks will be led by Mark Kane, who previously was the general manager of both Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags New England.  He most recently was a Vice President in charge of restaurants and attractions at Landry's Inc., and oversaw the planning and subsequent opening of the Pleasure Pier in Galveston.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Time Machine Thrill Ride Spins into Seabreeze Amusement Park in 2017

Coming to Seabreeze Amusement Park in 2017 is the Time Machine, a new thrill ride that will spin twenty riders per cycle on a giant pendulum.  The Time Machine will feature a "retro-futuristic" design that combines modern technology with the idea of flying through time.

Manufactured by Technical Park, the thrill ride will be capable of lifting the gondola of riders up to 30 feet above the park below.  While the riders on the gondola stay upright at all times, the maximum speed of 20 rotations per minute will give them moments of weightless feeling.

© Seabreeze Amusement Park
This is concept art of the ride's design, released by Seabreeze, showing the design and the ride gondola in both resting and the maximum vertical positions.  I love the look, it will certainly invoke the idea of traveling into another dimension of time with all the giant gears, clocks and gauges.  To see how the ride will look in motion, check out this video the park created of similar attractions. 

New Replacement Vehicles for Land/Boat Tours

One of the things we have enjoyed here in the United States is Ride The Ducks tours in various locations. There is something about leaving the driving to someone else while quacking like a duck that is fun and relaxing. Overseas, the equivalent in Splash City Tours, where when you put on the Viking helmet, as conquerors, you are allowed to yell at your new "oppressed minions." While the original boats were utilized there during World War II, now it's time for an update. Des Rogers explains in this video from IAAPA:

Hopefully, you caught the part about how efficient the workers are, during the stop action part of the video. It's understated humor at its best. As a first-time exhibitor at time IAAPA Expo, it was an educational experience about the wide range of licensing requirements for the industry, and the challenges facing the migration to updated vehicles. You can find more information about the new Salamander vehicles here. And if you are lucky enough to be going to either Dublin or London, you can find more information about their tour operations. Just another one of the many things seen at IAAPA Expo 2016.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fun Spot America - Orlando - Brings Virtual Reality Coaster Experience to Visitors

A brand new virtual reality experience has opened today at Fun Spot America in Orlando, Florida, on the park's Freedom Flyer roller coaster.  The inverted family coaster, manufactured by Vekoma, will have at least four of the train's seats available to riders who want to enter a new world while they zoom around the course.  The park is not charging any additional fee for riders who wish to wear the headsets.

© Fun Spot America
The ride's virtual world will include "an overgrown city, a battle, robotic life forms and an appearance by the Freedom Flyer character," (above) according to this news story.  The virtual reality experience was provided by VR Coaster, the company that has also been behind the recent virtual additions at many Six Flags parks, among others.  The park says that the experience is seamless and timed perfectly to the ride's layout, offering a comfortable ride that has received great feedback during testing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SeaWorld Entertainment Partners with Miral to Open New Park in Abu Dhabi

We've finally received an official announcement about SeaWorld Entertainment's plan to enter into the middle east, the United Arab Emirates to be specific, through the opening of a brand new theme park.

Known as SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, the theme park is planned to open in 2022 - about six years from now - as a part of Yas Island.  It will be a combination of marine life theme park along with the area's first R4 facility - which stands for research, rescue, rehabilitation and return center which will serve local marine life.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
SeaWorld has partnered with Miral, the developer behind the larger Yas Island project, to build the park.  I haven't seen it in any press release yet, but financial outlets have reported that Miral will be paying to build the park, and SeaWorld Entertainment is licensing the name to them and doing the design work - I'm sure more details on that arrangement will come out soon.

Yas Island already contains two operating theme parks, Ferrari World AbuDhabi and Yas Waterworld, and has announced that in 2018 both Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and Clymb (a large indoor climbing and recreation center) will open.  This video from Miral gives a nice look at Yas Island's offerings:

Since the opening of the new park is still quite far off, there are no details or renderings available that might hit at what exactly will be added.  We do know from press materials that "up-close animal experiences, mega attractions and a world class aquarium" will be featured, and all will utilize the latest technology to engage guests.  SeaWorld is also making it clear that the park will contain no orcas when it opens. An official park roster, along with featured marine animal announcements will come as the park's development moves along.

Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld said: “We are excited to announce our first international expansion and our partnership with Miral as we design a next generation SeaWorld that engages, educates and inspires, a blueprint brought to life in Abu Dhabi. This new park, combined with a dedicated research, rescue, rehabilitation and return facility focused on marine life care and conservation, continues SeaWorld’s legacy of marine life rescue that spans more than 50 years. This project presents an opportunity for collaboration and greater understanding of how species have adapted to the region’s unique marine environment, and to inspire the next generation of visitors, conservationists and animal care experts.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Super Nintendo World Announced for Universal Studios Japan

As promised recently, the first Nintendo related announcement for a Universal park wasn't far off, as Universal Studios Japan has announced the addition of Super Nintendo World.  The new land is planned to be open before the Olympics are held in Japan in 2020.  The project comes with a hefty price tag of 50 billion yen, or around $430 million - this is a very large expansion!

© Universal Studios Japan
Here is the initial concept art that has been released, just enough to get fans excited while still keeping plenty under wraps.  The press releases describes Super Nintendo World as featuring "expansive and multi-level environments filled with unprecedented, state-of-the-art rides, interactive areas, shops, restaurants, all featuring Nintendo's most popular characters and games."  The new land will go up in some of the park's current parking area as well as space that was reserved for expansion already - so it sounds like nothing will be removed to fit Super Nintendo World.

No details were given on just what attractions will be added, but Universal recently filed some interesting patents that make it look like the Mario Kart ride so many want to see built just may come to life - that and a coaster-like ride with passengers in what appear to be a Donkey Kong mine cart.

Nintendo themed lands are also going to be subsequently built at Universal's parks in California and Florida.

Scott And Carol Present - Post IAAPA Cover, Take home your Own Bobble Head

Here is another different idea we found at IAAPA Expo 2016. Why not become a legend in your own mind with a personalized  bobble head doll. Bobble Shop USA will work with both fixed-site and mobile operators by providing either type of systems. We get a brief introduction on the IAAPA show floor with this video:

As souvenirs go, what a neat idea to be able to capture the moment, and yet not have to carry it around with you as you go through the park and worry about breaking it during your day in the park. The system can be configured with an optional printer for point of sale purchases of 2D pictures, and a custom animation can automatically be uploaded to YouTube for immediate sharing with friends and family. The actual figurine is created and sent just a few days later.There are way too many options to list, as when they scrolled through the different it seemed to go on  forever. Obviously, there was something for every taste.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Six Flags Claims Smooch-Filled Record for Holiday in the Park Event

The holidays are traditionally a season filled with love, and Six Flags Entertainment has proven that to be true as ever with a brand new Guinness World Record, just achieved this weekend at Holiday in the Park.  The company now holds the official record for the most couples kissing under mistletoe at the same time!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
A crowd of about 350 people stood witness to the record at Six Flags Great Adventure, but in total there were six additional Six Flags Parks in three separate time zones involved in the attempt at the same time.  (Georgia, Over Texas, Fiesta Texas, St. Louis, Magic Mountain and Discovery Kingdom)  At Six Flags Great Adventure there were approximately 175 couples that participated, kissing for at least 10 seconds to make the record official - smoooooch!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
While the official total of people involved in the new world record hasn't been released yet, it's many hundreds more than the 402 people that previously held the record - which took place at Six Flags Over Georgia in 2015.

Holiday in the Park is going on at all the Six Flags theme parks that participated in the event, with each park featuring plenty of holiday lights, special entertainment, tasty treats and shopping opportunities, thrilling rides and of course Santa himself - plus plenty more.