Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Learn More About Time Traveler's Spin Mechanics from Silver Dollar City

© Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City has released a new Time Traveler update video, this time focusing on the new roller coaster's spinning cars and the mechanics behind them.  The video really goes into great detail to explain that while the coaster is of the spinning variety, it's a controlled spin that will be less disorienting than your average spinning coaster or ride.

Each vehicle has a magnetic braking system that controls how quickly the cars spin, an amount that has been decided upon and set by the park.  This way, Time Traveler will provide a ride experience that is still just as thrilling, but with less spin-sickness for riders.  That's probably some really great news to many who are a bit apprehensive about spinning coasters, due to the motion sickness factor (myself included).  Also, while they have never mentioned it that also means that the spin factor could be adjusted by the park for special events if they wanted, either extra spins or none at all.  Interesting possibilities.

Time Traveler has been designed and fabricated by Mack Rides, and features two separate launch sections along with a vertical plunge from 100 feet above the mountains.  The layout includes three different inversions along with plenty of twists and turns.  The ride is set to open this spring, not long from now!

Here's the video from Silver Dollar City explaining the mechanics behind the spinning cars:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Walt Disney Studios Paris to Receive $2 Billion Makeover with Marvel, Frozen and StarWars

© Disneyland Paris
Today Disney announced a "transformative" expansion to the Walt Disney Studios Park, part of an overall $2 billion Euro expansion to the Disneyland Resort.  The work will see three new themed areas built at the Disney Studios Park, expanding it greatly and helping it to become a true full day theme park experience.

The three new lands will be themed around the Marvel universe of characters, the Frozen film franchise, and the ever-popular StarWars brand.  The concept art above (click for more detail) is of the transformed park, showing two of the new lands being built toward the back of the property in currently undeveloped space, and the Marvel area taking over the left section of the park.

A brand new central lake will be built as well, with what looks like fountain shows taking place on it, with the new lands surrounding it.  The art depicts popular current rides at the park, such as the Tower of Terror and Ratatouille: The Adventure still being present when the work is done.

© Google
Here is a current image of the park from above, while the perspective is not the exact same you can see how the park will grow with the announced additions.  The current backstage area will become a part of the central lake, with the Frozen area beyond it and StarWars land tucked next to that.  The art and this map make it appear as though there will be significant open space left for potentially more additions down the road.

An exact time frame for the opening of these new lands was not announced just that the new additions will come online starting in 2021 - just three years from now.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cedar Point Announces More Park Changes at Winter Chill Out Charity Event

© Cedar Point
Fans of Cedar Point were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the park this weekend, which included several announcements of changes for the 2018 season - and it was all for a good cause.  The admission tickets from the event - which saw 800+ fans in attendance - went to A Kid Again, an "organization that fosters hope, happiness and healing for families dealing with life-threatening illnesses."  The park raised an impressive $40,000 for the organization!

Cedar Point also thanked those in attendance with plenty of news about the park, including a long list of changes to Frontier Town, home of Steel Vengeance.  The themed area will see several new food options open this year, including Frontier Foldovers, a quick service location with "folded brisket, chicken and Italian meat sandwiches," the return of Chick-fil-A, and Sidewinder Sue's, featuring "new “twisty” fries with meat toppings of pulled pork, brisket or chili."  Frontier Town will also bring back the animated Shooting Gallery, add the Western Shoot Out basketball game of skill, and feature new shows in both Lusty Lil's and the all-new Gossip Gulch stage.

Elsewhere in the park the former Park Plaza gift shop will be renovated into a beach themed store named Point Plaza.  Luminosity will not return this year, instead replaced by a show called Vertical Impact, performing several times per day and featuring "acrobats and dancers performing in this new fast-paced, high-energy show in Celebration Plaza."

PointBuzz has a press release from the park about all the changes, and also had a live blog of the event as well.  If you're looking for even more details, this story from the Sandusky Register has a ton of additional details shared during the event - get ready for the return of themed elements inside Maverick's launch tunnel!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ray Rush Coming Together at Aquatica Orlando

Aquatica Orlando is hard at work on a major new family water slide, named Ray Rush, which will be opening this summer.  The park has made some significant progress on the new slide in recent weeks, with pieces of the attraction now being carefully lifted into place.  Ray Rush will stand more than six stories tall and be highly visible from the park's entrance once it is completed.  The attraction will utilize large rafts that can seat several members of a family at once as they soar through 508 feet of slide.

© Aquatica
Ray Rush will have three distinct features for riders to plunge through, and one of them is this gigantic, 12,000 pound fiberglass sphere that the rafts will slide through.  The rafts will slide down into the sphere, then slide up the side of it before evening out and heading outward and onto the next element.  The sphere was just hoisted into place this past week.

© Aquatica
The slide will start with a master blaster feature that will send rafts launching out of the gates, after which they will move into the sphere we just saw.  The third large element is this manta-shaped open air half pipe that is currently being constructed.  The rafts will oscillate up and down the side of it before encountering a final enclosed section of twists and turns.

Aquatica Orlando has created this video update, showing the progress of the slide thus far.  Ray Rush will feature a 42 inch height requirement that will make the addition a thrilling slide for the family.  Check out more on Ray Rush directly from Aquatica Orlando.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Oaks Amusement Park Names New Coaster + Opening Date

© Oaks Amusement Park
This past summer we first heard plans for Oaks Amusement Park, located in Portland, Oregon, to build a brand new Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter roller coaster for the park's 2018 season.  At the time the park was holding a naming contest for the ride, and they recently revealed that the winning name is Adrenaline Peak.  As seen in the photo above, the park has created a nice logo for the ride, which matches the bold color scheme that Adrenaline Peak has received.

The ride is all set to open on March 24th, so visitors to the park won't have too much longer to wait to ride!

© Oaks Amusement Park
Adrenaline Peak is one of Gerstlauer's more compact Euro-Fighter designs, which appears to be a clone of Hydrus at Casino Pier, that coaster just opened last year.  The ride has a vertical lift that takes the individual cars up 72 feet in the air, then drops them down at a beyond vertical angle of 97 degrees.  The ride's layout includes three inversions, a vertical loop, a cutback and heartline roll.  The eight passenger trains will hit a top speed of 45 miles per hour over the 1,050 feet of track.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Six Flags Rebrands Waterworld Concord into Hurricane Harbor + Announces New Attraction

Six Flags has announced that Waterworld Concord, which joined the Six Flags family last year, is being rebranded as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord.  The water park is located near Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and serves as an additional experience for pass holders of that park to check out and enjoy.

Six Flags currently has many Hurricane Harbor themed water parks located throughout North America, each containing tropical theming and plenty of exciting attractions.  Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord will receive many upgrades for 2018, including theming upgrades to match the park's new name and vibe.

© Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord
The water park will also debut a brand new addition, named Splashwater Island.  The attraction will be a massive water play house with more than 100 interactive features such as sprayers, water jets and geysers.  It will feature multiple levels of play areas, have seven of its own water slides extending off of it, and keep families busy with a giant tipping bucket, water curtains, dancing fountains and more.

“Six Flags is a world-renowned leader in thrills and innovation and we are excited to add the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor name to our newest park,” said Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord President Don McCoy. “The new Splashwater Island attraction will delight families with young children and guests of all ages will enjoy the colorful, new theming and many park enhancements.”

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord will see more improvements as well.  New luxury cabanas and comfortable lounge chairs will be added to the park, along with renovated dining and retail establishments, new paint on many existing slides, and new signage throughout the park.  A giant new entrance marquee will greet guests as they start their day.

For more on Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, which opens May 5th, check out the park's official website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Two More Six Flags Parks Announced to Run Off Solar Power

Six Flags is currently working on a project to make Six Flags Great Adventure the first theme park run almost entirely off of solar power, and has now announced that two more parks will soon run off of clean energy.

Six Flags Entertainment has again joined with JLL, a global real estate and investment management company, to bring solar power to both Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

“We are committed to making all of our properties more energy efficient and sustainable for years to come,” said Six Flags Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer, Steve Purtell. “California’s support of renewable energy, the solar potential in the state, and the environmental benefits associated with solar energy made this the right decision for our guests, our team members, and our communities.”

© Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
The California sunshine will be utilized to run both parks on renewable energy, and the solar set up will be built, owned and operated by a third party Independent Power Producer.

According to Six Flags, "when it becomes operational, the system at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will exceed 7 megawatts of electricity generated.  Six Flags Magic Mountain’s system will have capacity for nearly 15 megawatts and will be the largest solar carport anywhere in North America."

The solar covers over the parking areas will not only help power the parks, but also have features such as providing covered parking, integrated electric vehicle charging stations, enhanced parking surfaces, and security improvements through the addition of closed circuit cameras.

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
While these three parks are the only ones announced so far to receive solar projects, the company is actively looking to expand the project to other parks located around the country.  No date on when the solar grids will come online at the two California parks was mentioned as of now.

“Six Flags has pioneered a long lists of firsts in its 57-year history and as good stewards of the environment, we are excited to apply the latest green technology and create eco-friendly parks for future generations to enjoy,” added Purtell.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 4th Quarter and 2017 Year End Conference Call

Last week Cedar Fair announced their 2017 full year and 4th Quarter earnings, showing another positive year of results.  For the year revenues were up 3% to $1.32 billion, with attendance of 25.7 million, up 2%.  Full year EBITDA was down less than 1% to $479 million and overall in park spending hit a record $47.30, up 1%.  The company had a conference call to discuss the details, and here are some notes from that:

•  Through the end of 2017, advance purchase revenues are up 10% from the sales of season passes and other season long benefits, like dining programs.  Advance reservations at the company's various hotels and resorts are currently up 15% from prior year levels.

•  The 4th quarter saw total attendance of 4.4 million guests, and was the first one with a handful of new WinterFest events running.  The quarter's revenues were $228 million, up $36 million from the prior year, and 4th quarter EBITDA was $61 million, up $8 million.

© Cedar Fair
•  Early signs of success of Knott's Peanuts Celebration festival already has the operator looking at ways to bring the event to other parks to possibly extend their season on the front end, and draw visitors during a traditionally slow time of the year.

•  The company is continuing to push multi-week special events at the parks to give a reason for season pass holders, and other guests, to return throughout the year.  They aim to have three to four of these events at each park each season.

•  Recent tax reform laws will benefit the company, they estimate that they will pay between $10 and $15 million less per year in taxes as a result.  Cedar Fair plans to reinvest that savings into the business to address "seasonal labor pressures" they felt in 2017.  They are looking at adding dormitories at additional parks to have more international workers during the season.

© Cedar Fair
•  Carowinds' newly announced hotel, along with more fancy RV sites at Cedar Point show they want to keep expanding resorts at the parks.  They see the opportunity for more resort growth at Cedar Point and are entering the final stages of a hotel plan for Canada's Wonderland, hopefully announcing that by next quarter's call.

•  A total of five parks will see upgraded restaurant or catering operations for 2018.  This continues a trend the company has had for several years, and helps to support group sales along with the all-season dining passes.

• Cedar Point began a new marketing program in 2017 to help position the park as a regional resort destination.  Cedar Fair wants to appeal to more guests who are looking for a true vacation, focusing on the park, beach, entertainment and food as well as the renovated Hotel Breakers.  This push will continue in 2018 as they move into new markets.

© Cedar Fair
•  WinterFest opening at three more parks in 2017 weighed heavily on the cost side of operations, which didn't help the bottom line.  However, they point out that at California's Great America the event had its second year, which saw larger crowds and revenues, and a bottom line that is more in line with expectations.  So it sounds like the start up costs of these events are big, but even out over future years.  The event at all parks had very high satisfaction and intent to return scores.

•  Roughly 10% of revenues are still being spent in marketable capital expenditures per year, so around $130 to $140 million per year.  They will spend another $20 to $30 million this year on business developments, like Carowinds' new hotel, above and beyond that.

•  Future capital most likely won't include a year with four new roller coasters for some times as the parks focus on being not just a place for thrills but a place to have fun.  This means expect capital to be used more broadly, not only on rides but also on special events, dining improvements and the like.  Especially with a new CEO now on board, it will be interesting to see what new attractions opens in 2019 and 2020.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Alabama Splash Adventure Announces New Ride Package for 2018 Season

Alabama Splash Adventure previously announced a new waterpark addition for 2018, a large children's area with many spray-ground features along with several kiddie slides.  Costing more than $1 million, we all thought that would be the park's biggest addition for the year.  Remember, Alabama Splash Adventure is currently the little-park-that-could after all, slowly growing back from having been closed with all rides stripped and sold from its previous life.

Well, surprise!  The park just revealed a new rides package for 2018 that will see the amusement side of the park grow by 5 new rides, along with a new live entertainment show.

© Alabama Splash Adventure
The new rides announced will be suited for the whole family, but three of them will be a bit bigger than the flat rides currently offered by Alabama Splash Adventure.  One of them, seen above, is a classic YoYo ride, popular at many parks along with fairs.  There will also be two other amusement park staples added back to the ride lineup, a Scrambler and a Tilt-a-Whirl.  Both of these are go-to rides for parks everywhere, so it will be wonderful for Alabama Splash Adventure to feature them.

© Alabama Splash Adventure
That's not to say that little ones won't have anything new to look forward to, however.  The park will debut both a Rockin' Tug (pictured above), and also the Royal Express train ride.

Alabama Splash Adventure will be featuring new live entertainment this year as well, as it is constructing a High Dive show arena for guests.  Plus, the park is going to start to stay open for Halloween weekends as well, extending their season.

All of these additions are also covered in detail in the below video, from Alabama Splash Adventure.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Alton Towers Releases Beautiful New Photos of Wicker Man Coaster

© Alton Towers
Alton Towers has released some new promotional photos of Wicker Man, the park's new wooden roller coaster, that are pretty stunning.  The park used the moodiness of the evening sky along with thematic lighting and smoke to really set the feeling of the coaster.

The custom design was built by Great Coasters International and has a total track length of just over 2,000 feet.

© Alton Towers
One of the main features of the ride is the actual Wicker Man statue that the track passes through several times.  The theme park is advertising that the coaster combines both wood and fire - it is still open for debate how much of the fire will be real and how much will be lighting and special effects.

Either way, the ride looks great so far!

© Alton Towers
Wicker Man isn't the tallest or fastest wooden coaster but appears to have been designed as a thrilling family ride, something that will appeal to a wide variety of rider ages.  It was built on hilly land that once was home to Alton Towers' log flume, and it takes advantage of the elevation changes throughout the course.

Testing video should hopefully be right around the corner, it will be great fun to see the Wicker Man explode into flames as the trains roar through him!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sesame Place + California's Great America Share New Roller Coaster Updates

© Sesame Place
Sesame Place, which is building North America's only new wooden roller coaster in 2018, has given us a nice update on the construction of Oscar's Wacky Taxi.  Seen above, the park managed to fit the entire ride into one photo, showing the completed ride layout.  Last time we saw the Gravity Group creation only the lift hill and first drop were in place.  Now, the entire layout appears to have been finished!

The photo allows you to track the ride's path, which features green steel supports to match the Oscar The Grouch theme.  The coaster starts with a 40 foot lift and has around 1,200 feet of track.  There will be a large section that goes through a tunnel, which can be seen on the left of this photo.  The ride' station, transfer track, and queue are also well under way - it also appears as though a new ride retail store will open just below the station.

While aimed at families, the zippy ride still looks like it will provide a thrilling experience complete with some gentle airtime thrown in.  Oscar's Wacky Taxi is looking great so far, I can't wait to see even more as Spring rolls around!

© California's Great America
California's Great America also had a special delivery recently, the first train for RailBlazer arrived and looks pretty awesome!  Decked out as an ATV, complete with a grill and handle bars, this is the first good look we've had at the finished one-seat-wide trains.  Since this, and the sister ride going in at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, are the first of their kind, we've all been waiting to see what the finished product would be like.

Even with a vest-style restraint system these trains should give a very open view of the rider's surroundings.  I also can't wait to see if those front headlights turn on when the sun goes down!

California's Great America has completed instillation of most of the ride's major track and support pieces, and has now started building the elaborate rockwork that will surround much of the base of the ride.  The park shared a photo of that work underway recently, too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Carowinds and Cedar Point Reveal New Overnight Accommodations

© Carowinds
Both Carowinds and Cedar Point are on the move again, this time adding new overnight accommodations to their properties.

For Carowinds, the park has announced that their first traditional style hotel will be built, set to open sometime in 2019.  They will break ground on the hotel this Spring, and when it opens will be licensed as a franchise under the SpringHill Suites by Marriott brand.  It will be located in a currently undeveloped area on the Northeast part of Carowinds' expansive property.

The aerial above gives an overview of what is planned for the 5 story, 130 room hotel.

© Carowinds
Being located adjacent to the park is a major plus for the SpringHill Suites, which will be well suited for families that are going to play at the park.  It will have amenities such as a "pool, fitness center, an outdoor seating area with a fire pit, suites and a small bar."  The hotel will be open 365 days a year, generating extra revenue for Cedar Fair even when the park is closed.

Carowinds notes that the hotel's rooms will be slightly larger than an average room, with separate sleeping, living and working sections.  The hotel's design will be focused on proving "calm, relaxing spaces" to visitors.  It is quite exciting to see Cedar Fair moving forward with adding hotels to more of their parks, hopefully this is the first in many announcements to come!

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point, which already has a robust offering of overnight accommodations, also announced the addition of 25 "Ultimate RV Sites" on part of the land that Sandcastle Suites once occupied.  Seen above, the sites will offer amenities and special benefits that set them apart from Cedar Point's exiting RV sites.

This addition will actually open in 2018, the same year that a brand new tower will open at Hotel Breakers.

© Cedar Point
The "Ultimate RV Sites" will have features such as a private, landscaped patios with adirondack chairs, a fire pit, built-in charcoal grill and a dining table with chairs.  The above concept art shows what one of these private spaces will look like when complete.

The development will also have a new restroom and bathhouse located adjacent to it.  Cedar Point has surely developed into a multi-day resort destination, and is expanding their overnight accommodations to keep up with demand - I'm sure we will see even more to come in the future.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Six Flags Great America Names New Looping Thrill Ride "Mardi Gras Hangover" + New Festival Announced

© Six Flags Great America
It has been a while since Six Flags Great America announced their plan to build the "largest loop coaster," a Larson Giant Loop that will stand 100 feet tall.  At the time of the announcement, the park wasn't ready to reveal the name that had chosen, but now they have.  The new thrill ride will be named the Mardi Gras Hangover, and will be located within the Mardi Gras themed section of the park.

The Mardi Gras Hangover will feature back to back seating that allows riders to see each other as the car moves through the 100 foot tall circle, completing several inversions during the process - both forward and backward.

The announcement of the ride's name also came with another exciting announcement for Six Flags Great America, the addition of a new Mardi Gras festival that will run the course of the season.  It will feature a new parade, nightly fireworks, live shows, unique food offerings and more.

"Naming such a unique and record-breaking coaster required out-of-the-box thinking,” said Park President Hank Salemi. “Riders will experience multiple moments of hang-time on Mardi Gras Hangover, with the addition of our Mardi Gras Festival debuting this summer, it was the perfect fit.”

Monday, February 12, 2018

Disney Parks Share New Ride Developments at D23 Expo Japan

© Disney
Just like they did with the domestic D23 Expo, Disney Parks had a nice presentation filled with goodies at the Japanese version of the event, held this past weekend.

There were updates and some new details released on already known projects, and even a couple brand new ones revealed.  The official Disney Parks Blog has a recap of all the news.

Up top is some new concept art for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway that is opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2019.  Riders will enter the world of a cartoon short and the ride's vehicles can be seen depicted in the above art for the first time.

© Disney
Another interesting update came for the Star Wars inspired hotel that we now know will be built adjacent to and "seamlessly connected" to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  New concept art, above, was also released.  It sounds like the level of theming for this new hotel experience doesn't currently exist on the planet, so this is one big development to keep an eye on.  More details are available in this story from Disney.

Elsewhere in Florida, Disney confirmed that the Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride going into Epcot will indeed be an enclosed roller coaster, and it will be one of the longest in the world when it opens.  The coaster will also have a "new innovative ride system" that the Imagineers are sure will impress visitors.

© Disney
One major new attraction, well technically a transformation of an existing one, was also revealed for Walt Disney Studios Paris.  The park's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, a clone of the original Florida version, will be totally rethemed to Iron Man and the Avengers.  Aside from the concept art above, no other details on the retheme, including an opening year, were released.

Be sure to check out the full Disney Parks Blog recap post to see what else was shared at the D23 Expo Japan!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Carowinds Updates on Construction Projects + Changes for 2018 Season

© Carowinds
Carowinds' opening day is March 24, and that is just around the corner!  The theme park has another large slate of projects underway for 2018, continuing their trend of major growth.

Up first, the park has announced that Flying Ace Aerial Chase (formerly Rugrats Runaway Reptar) is being painted the tan and blue color scheme seen above, and being renamed Kiddy Hawk.  The name is both a play on the ride being family-sized, and also the location of the first flight, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The ride looks great!

Carowinds has also released another Kidcaster video update on Camp Snoopy, the park's totally renovated children's area.  Gone will be Planet Snoopy, and in its place will be a relaxing camp themed family area, complete with six new rides and attractions.  The park's Kidcaster has an update on how are the rides are coming along, several of which are currently being installed.

NBC Charlotte also recently visited Carowinds and filed this long video update on the park.  If you watch through the whole thing there are a few interesting tidbits, like the park confirming that the Woodstock Gliders, a set of Flying Scooters, won't return at the park until 2019 in a currently undisclosed location.  There's also lots of great footage inside the new Camp Snoopy, showing off the work at present.

© Carowinds
Last, but not least, Carowinds has also made major progress on relocating its Carousel out of what will now be Camp Snoopy and into its new home near Vortex.  A nice new pavilion has been built for the Carousel to reside in, and the park is taking the chance to totally redo the surrounding midways and planters as well.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Walibi Holland's Robin Hood to Receive Rocky Mountain Transformation in 2019

© Walibi Holland
Sure, the crop of new-for-2018 roller coasters aren't even open yet, but it's never too early to get news of a new-for-2019 ride!

Walibi Holland has announced that their wooden roller coaster, named Robin Hood, will receive a Rocky Mountain Construction makeover, turning it into a wood and steel hybrid ride.  When the ride reopens in 2019 it will have a new theme and new name, as well.  That is fitting since the ride experience will be dramatically different.

Walibi Holland is not ready to give more details on the transformation just yet, only saying that it will be faster when it reopens.

Robin Hood is one of only a handful of wooden roller coasters that were created by Vekoma, having opened at the park in 2000.  It has a lift hill of 105 feet, a top speed of 50 miles per hour, and a total track length of 3,395 feet.  As with most Rocky Mountain conversion projects, I would expect those statistics to change considerably when the steel track is complete.

The ride's layout is generally a giant U-shaped out and back, which will leave Rocky Mountain's designers with plenty to work with.  Here is a point of view video of the ride, you can start to imagine what extreme elements the coaster will have when it reopens!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Thomas Town Heading to Kennywood in Major 2018 Expansion

© Kennywood
Kennywood has announced a large, $8.5 million expansion for the park's 2018 season, a brand new family themed area named Thomas Town.

The famous Thomas the Tank Engine, along with his friends and favorite locations from the Island of Sodor, will welcome visitors at the park starting this summer.  The expansion will not replace the park's current Kiddieland, instead be an addition to the park located near it.  Thomas Town will feature five rides including the park's famous train ride, which now will feature Thomas himself.  There will also be a new stage show along with "themed play and entertainment areas, merchandise opportunities and more." According to the park, Thomas Town will be the "second-largest permanent Thomas & Friends attraction in North America."

"We're so excited to welcome Thomas & Friends to Kennywood," says Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. "Thomas Town presents a huge addition that expands our family offerings while introducing the park to Thomas & Friends fans from around the globe. We couldn't ask for a better gift for Kennywood and our guests to help celebrate our 120th anniversary season in 2018."

© Google Maps
According to a Facebook live video that the park's did, this will be the general location of Thomas Town.  The park will not be removing the famous Auto Race ride, but Laughing Sal will be relocated within the park.  The train station will be rethemed for Thomas Town, and two of the new rides will replace the fountain and floral display seen above.  A third will go where the Raging Rapids queue currently is, and a fourth in the in-field of the train ride.  In all, it's a great use of space at the park to add new attractions!

The rides that will be built include:

Journey with Thomas - Climb aboard for an unforgettable journey with the Number 1 Blue Engine! Guests of all ages can hop aboard a Thomas-themed train ride that takes you along the back side of Kennywood, with wondrous views of the Monongahela River and the Edgar Thomson Works, the oldest steel mill in the Steel City. It’s a beautiful setting that looks like what you might see on the island of Sodor!

Cranky’s Drop Tower - Strap in tight for a truly Cranky experience! Sodor’s strongest crane will lift you high above Thomas Town, and then drop you down!

Harold’s Helicopter Tour - All set and ready for action! Kids can take control of their own Harold Helicopter and pilot him up and down as they spin round and round.

Flynn’s Fire Training - Junior firefighters shoot water to extinguish flames on this unique, interactive ride.

Diesel Drivers - Don’t forget the Diesels! Climb aboard Diesel, Iron Bert and other Diesel engines for a fun ride.

Kennywood also reports that Thomas Town will feature a plethora of characters "such as Thomas, Diesel, Salty, Iron Bert, Rusty, Cranky the Crane, Harold the Helicopter and more."  Sir Topham Hatt, Controller of the Railway on the Island of Sodor, will be featured in the expansion as well, and will be available for photos with visitors.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Shares Aerial Footage of Wonder Woman Coaster

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
There's no doubt that the pair of new single-rail Rocky Mountain Construction roller coasters are a thing of beauty, and a new video from Six Flags Fiesta Texas really hits that home.  Known as Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the coaster's vibrant colors make quite an impression when viewed from the air.

As we already knew, the major track and support instillation on the ride is complete, with work now focusing on the ride systems, station (which will feature a moving loading area), queue and theming.  Here is the video the park shared today:

Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster stands 113 feet tall, about as high as the quarry walls that border the park, and features a 100 foot vertical first drop.  The single rail track technology is expected to provide a stellar ride experience, smooth and comfortable for all riders.  The coaster's twisted layout, which looks almost like a model from the air, features three inversions over 1,800 feet of track.

For more on the new coaster, check out Six Flags Fiesta Texas' webpage for the ride.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Kings Dominion Renames Two Coasters as Part of Candy Apple Grove Makeover

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion is getting the park ready to open for the year, with the major addition of Twisted Timbers as the biggest change.  They have published a new blog update detailing many other changes that are taking place within the Candy Apple Grove themed area, which is home to Twisted Timbers.

One of the biggest announced changes is the renaming of Rebel Yell, a classic John Allen racing wooden coaster that opened in 1975, as Racer 75.  The park explains that the change is to honor the year it opened, as well as the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) who were formed after riding the coaster in 1978 (rACEr), and also to exemplify the type of coaster it is.  Racer 75 will also receive track improvements during this off season to make a smoother ride.

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion will also rename Ricochet, a Mack Rides Wild Mouse that opened in 2002, as Apple Zapple.  The name is meant to highlight the roller coaster's "tight turns and location in Candy Apple Grove."

© Kings Dominion
Along with the new name, the coaster is also receiving a totally new paint job with new colors.  The above photo shows that in progress - it appears as though the track will alternate green and orange, with supports using orange and perhaps another color as well.

The entire Candy Apple Grove section will receive new decorative pavers instead of asphalt, restroom renovations, new paint on buildings, and a new festival area.  There will also be changes to retail locations and a brand new food outlet, The Mac Bowl, where guests can create their own gourmet mac-n-cheese bowls.  Mmmm.

Passholder preview day is March 23rd, with the public opening day on March 24th!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Six Flags Great Adventure to Feature new "Wild Encounters" Educational Program

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is proud to announce a new educational animal outreach program, named Wild Encounters, that is aimed at bringing the thrill of the park's safari into "classrooms, senior centers, after school programs, clubs and more."  Wild Encounters will offer three different program options that are designed to "teach about animals’ characteristics, habitats, history and diets while showcasing live exotic animals and their expert caretakers."  The programs will bring a bit of the safari experience that Six Flags Great Adventure offers to a new audience in a totally new setting.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
During the programs the on-site animal educations will present many different species, including reptiles, snakes, mammals and exotic birds.  Those in attendance will be able to "catch an up-close glimpse of animals such as a two-toed sloth, Moluccan cockatoo and blue-tongued skink, and even touch animals like the black and white tegu and red-tailed boa constrictor."

Wild Encounters will feature lesson plans that have been developed by Six Flags' state-certified teacher and correspond with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
“Wild Encounters allows us to bring the fun, excitement and educational aspects of the safari to animal lovers, wherever they are,” said Dr. Bill Rives, director and chief veterinarian of Six Flags Great Adventure’s safari and animal education programs.

The programs that have been designed include:

•  Fur, Feathers and Scales – Focuses on the differences among reptiles, mammals and birds. Perfect for grades K through 5.
•  Behind the Biology – Focuses on the importance of animal training through positive reinforcement and its role in animal care. Perfect for grades 6 through 8.
•  Customized – Six Flags will design a program to fit specific needs or criteria.

These programs will last around 45 minutes each and work with groups up to 100 people - they also are a great way to experience a bit of the theme park in the off season, before the park opens on March 24th.  For more information on the new Wild Encounters program, check out the park's website.