Saturday, March 31, 2018

Exclusive Photos of the Deconstruction of Stinger at Dorney Park

© NewsPlusNotes
Just before the end of 2017 we learned that the Stinger roller coaster at Dorney Park would not be sticking around for the 2018 season - or for any future season for that matter.  This surprise news came with a bit of shock, but while sad to see a coaster go, there was a sense of understanding from both Dorney Park fans and general visitors.

Fast forward to now, and the time has come for the ride to hit the road.  Earlier this week crews began the process of deconstructing the ride, and we were able to get some photos of the progress today.

Up top is a photo of the ride's entrance marquee, now removed, and what is currently left of the ride.

© NewsPlusNotes
Moving a bit closer, you can get a sense for how the area - which was once home to Laser, a compact Schwarzkopf looper, is once again being opened up.  Crews are working fast, with probably about 50% of the ride's track and supports already removed this week.

© NewsPlusNotes
While pretty evident in the last photo, if we move in even closer we can answer that burning (pun intended) question of whether Stinger will be showing up at any other amusement park... and that's a big nope.

Fans did spot a posting for the ride that listed it for sale over the winter, but one could assume that no interested parties stepped up.  The crews are not carefully dismantling each piece of track and support, instead they are simply cutting through the structure in order to haul it away.

© NewsPlusNotes
This view looks back at where the ride's cobra roll once stood, now just little stumps of concrete with a bit of steel support poking out of them.  The first task is removing the physical track and supports, but afterward the footings - which extend down rather far into the ground - will be removed as well.  Just like the steel is recycled, so are the concrete footings.

© NewsPlusNotes
Here's a look at what is still standing, we have a bit of the bottom of the vertical loop and then the two lift towers.  The train has already been removed and was not on site, and the foundation for the station is already being broken up.  The lift towers will require a bit more planning and calculation in order to come down carefully.  The Vekoma Invertigo coasters are known for having a large top piece at the highest point, weighing a massive amount and used to support both side of the track and lift mechanisms.

© NewsPlusNotes
But for now crews are still working on getting the rest of Stinger's vertical loop removed.  Here you can see the scorch marks on the ends of the track pieces from where they've been cut off.  I know nothing of steel cutting, but I'm sure it takes a ridiculously high temperature to cut through the ride like that!

© NewsPlusNotes
There are a couple other places on the track still standing where some early cut marks are clear, I'm guessing these will be followed up next week with more to make this a break point for the track to come off.

© NewsPlusNotes
But when the track does come off, it's kept in a neat pile until it's shipped off site to be recycled.  These pieces were probably some of the last removed before the work week ended, and will head out of the park early next week when the work picks up again.  At this rate, it won't be long until Stinger totally disappears from the Dorney Park skyline.

© NewsPlusNotes
It is quite strange to be covering the deconstruction of Stinger.  I remember trying to get to the park before the sun set on Haunt Fridays during the end of 2011 to get photos to share with you all on the construction of the ride!  So this is really now full circle on the coaster, but the removal of the ride is definitely a step toward the future for the park in my mind.

Oh, and for this year, at least, the Stinger area will be a nice grassy area.  But what the future holds for the space we shall wait and see... remember Laser closed after 2008 and Stinger didn't open until 2012 - so it may be a bit on that front, or not.

But wait, there's more!  At least there will be, I also have another story coming in the near future showcasing all the other changes that Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom are featuring in 2018, including updates on Tidal Wave Cafe, some Thunderhawk news, dining changes and more!

Friday, March 30, 2018

SeaWorld Entertainment Considering a Sesame Place Theme Park Adjacent to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

It is no secret that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is looking for a place to open a second Sesame Place theme park, since it was formally announced nearly a year ago in May of 2017.  Things have been quiet since then as the company continues to sail through stormy seas, but now we have new information on where the second Sesame Place may be built.

CoasterRadio shared some images that were a part of a survey about the new park on Facebook, which is embedded above.  If you click through you can see some concept art for the park, along with exactly where it would be located.  More images of the entire survey pages can be viewed on ParkFans as well.  Note, however, that the survey makes it clear that they are feeling out guests to see if there is interest in the park and ticketing options, this is not an announcement that it will be built for sure.

© Google Maps
The new Sesame Place park would be located right next to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and share its main entry plaza.  It would take up one of the property's parking lots entirely, rerouting how their tram system currently works.

Interestingly, the new Sesame Place would carve off a part of Busch Gardens Williamsburg - the already Sesame themed Forest of Fun - and make it a part of the new park.  The new park would have three new themed areas as well, labeled in the survey as The Neighborhood, Central Park and Seaside.

The survey mentions six new rides being added, but concept art also shows several family-sized water slides and water park attractions, so I'm not clear if the six rides are just mechanical or if that includes the water attractions.  Either way, the new Sesame Place would certainly follow the lead of the Philadelphia location in mixing family water park with family ride park, along with live shows, a parade and the full sized Sesame Street proper.

Originally SeaWorld Entertainment said they planned to open the second Sesame Place park by "mid-2021," so if those plans haven't changed then we should see more development on this project soon!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

New Photos Show Wild Elements of Six Flags Over Georgia's Twisted Cyclone

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Construction continues on Six Flags Over Georgia's new Twisted Cyclone coaster, and with much of the ride's track now installed we're getting a good look at the twisted elements that Rocky Mountain Construction has cooked up for it.

Above is the completed double barrel roll section, which takes place right after the coaster's first drop.  Trains will rise and roll over, then smoothly complete a highly banked 180 degree turn, then roll once more and dive toward the ground.

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Being the first major element after the first drop, these two barrel rolls should take place with the train moving at a great speed.  Twisted Cyclone's announced top speed will be 50 miles per hour.

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Traversing back to the other side of the ride the trains will move through a banked wave turn, and as seen above it is very banked.  The trains will roll to the right, nearly inverting, as the train moves across the lift hill.  Looks wild, no?

© Six Flags Over Georgia
Here is another angle of the same element, also showing that the coaster's first drop will plunge directly beneath it.  We've seen some crazy looking elements from Rocky Mountain Construction in the past, and this certainly fits that description!

No word yet on when Six Flags Over Georgia plans to open up the new ride, but there's not much track left to install now.  The rest of the ride contains a couple of over banked turns along with a heartline roll, and depending on when these photos were taken those elements could be nearly complete!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

New Gerstlauer Coaster Going Vertical at Nickelodeon Universe at the American Dream

© Earthcam
The American Dream mega-mall and entertainment complex, located just outside Manhattan in New Jersey, is making significant progress on the new Nickelodeon Universe theme park.  For those who want to stay up to date with the action, Earthcam has a live view of the building progress that you can watch all day if you like.

Above is a shot from the camera, which includes a large panoramic view but also allows you to focus in on the theme park area.  The massive structure being created to house the indoor theme park is going up, and due to the size of the park's largest roller coaster that means it is also being built.  Can you spot it on the image above?

© Earthcam
If not, here is a zoomed in view.  The park's near-clone of Takabisha, a 141 foot tall Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter coaster is standing tall.  The ride is taller than the main roof of the park, so it needs to go up before the roof can be totally finished.  The lighting in this photo isn't that great - it's a gloomy day in the area - but you can see the main lift and drop support with track running up the vertical lift and over the crest of the hill.  Very hard to see, but the supports for the start of the drop, before it curves down to a 121.5 degree drop, are installed.  Just this afternoon the crews also installed green track at the base of the lift hill, which is easier to see here.

The ride will feature both the way-beyond vertical drop as well as a launched section mid-ride.  There will be many inversions during the ride, and this will be one of the largest Euro-Fighters around.  Another coaster, a large custom Gerstlauer spinning coaster, will weave its way through the Euro-Fighter as well.  I can't see any progress on that ride at this time.

The American Dream project has a long history and there have been many doubts that it would ever open - so actually seeing a coaster going up is some really great news!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Restaurant + New Executive Chef Headed to Kings Island

© Kings Island
Kings Island has given details of their mystery project, located within the Coney Mall section of the theme park.  New this season will be the Coney Bar B Que, a "fast-casual" restaurant featuring "various barbecue favorites including smoked St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken and Queen City Sausage along with a fresh selection of side dishes."

The new dining location will be a part of the park's dining plans, which are continuing to grow in popularity for both season pass holders and day visitors.

© Kings Island
Seen in these two pieces of concept art, the building appears to be similar to other Cedar Fair restaurant additions in recent years, with cafeteria style service that allows guests to choose which meal they want as they pass through.  The park will be adding plenty of outdoor seating around Coney Bar B Que for guests to enjoy.

The "restaurant's architecture and theming will pay tribute to the early days of Kings Island and Coney Mall," which is also evident in these pieces of art.

Kings Island has also announced the addition of a new Executive Chef, James Major.  He is a two-time winner of the Food Network's popular show Chopped, among many other accolades.  As an Ohio native he will know exactly what kind of treats visitors will be looking for at Kings Island, and we wish him luck in his new position.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

La Ronde Demolishing Cobra Intamin Stand-Up Coaster

© Google Maps
La Ronde has made it clear that its standing-but-not-operating Intamin designed stand-up roller coaster, Cobra, will never reopen to guests.  The park is in the midst of tearing down the ride, not dismantling it, but instead making it clear it will be heading to the scrap heap.

The ride didn't operating during the 2017 season, but it wasn't totally clear until now if the ride would open back up or not.  Cobra opened at La Ronde in 1995.

Instagram user Amusement Industry Review posted this photo showing Cobra coming down, and as I alluded to earlier they are not be gentle.  This removal still leaves La Ronde with 9 coasters, ranging from Goalith, a B&M near-hyper to Monstre, a dual track large wooden coaster.

Intamin's stand-up coaster design was duplicated a handful of times, but now Shockwave at Drayton Manor will be the only one operating (which has a unique layout).  Six Flags passed one around that lived at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags AstroWorld, and ended up collecting rust outside of Darien Lake for years.  La Ronde's originally opened at Skara Sommarland in Sweden.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

New Aerial Images of Sesame Place's Oscar's Wacky Taxi Show Nearly Finished Ride

© Sesame Place
Sesame Place has shared a few updated aerial photos of their brand new wooden family roller coaster, named Oscar's Wacky Taxi.  The ride is structurally complete from what I can tell, with major work continuing on the station area, queue and tunnel.

The top photo is a direct overhead view of the new coaster, which has been designed by The Gravity Group for Sesame Place.  Oscar's Wacky Taxi has been built in what used to be a VIP parking lot near the main entrance, and if you zoom in on this image you can see the twisty queue that has been created.  You can also see a new ride photo / retail location near the exit of the ride.

Themed to Oscar The Grouch, the coaster features metal supports painted green with traditional wood coaster track.  The trains will be themed as Taxis led by the Grouch himself.

© Sesame Place
Here's another view that Sesame Place shared, giving more of an angled look at the ride.  One thing that I'm happily surprised about is the fact that the coaster did not take up all the space that was the former parking area.  If you look at the larger image and focus on the area in the upper left, you'll see a large open space bordering the ride.  That makes me wonder if the coaster is just the start of a new themed area, as the space certainly looks large enough for a handful of family rides and attractions.  That's speculation on my part, but encouraging to say the least.

Sesame Place is still saying that Oscar's Wacky Taxi will open in late spring, though the park opens for the season on April 28th.

For more photos of the ride from recent press tours, check out this link.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Massive Intamin Launched Coaster Announced for Linnanmaki in 2019

Described by the amusement park as a "ride enthusiasts' dream," Finland's Linnanmaki has announced an all-new Intamin designed launched roller coaster for the park's 2019 season.  Named Taiga, the ride will be of considerable size and represent a massive investment by the park.

Along with the announcement, this concept art of Taiga was released:

© Linnanmaki
With bright blue track and black supports, Taiga will take advantage of elevation changes within the park to create a truly twisted layout.  So twisted that it's challenging to follow the ride's layout in this concept art, though with a careful eye you can be successful.

The ride will feature two launches, with a top speed of around 66 miles per hour.  The ride will start with a top hat element that stands 170 feet tall, according to the park, though I'm not sure if that's the ride height for the top hat, or the total elevation change due to the park's landscape.  Either way, the track will stretch 3,622 feet long which is quite considerable for a launched ride.  Mixed into the twisted elements are a total of four inversions.

Anssi Tamminen, Technical Director of Linnanmäki said that "it was an easy choice to select Intamin as our ride provider, since they had the most creative layout suggestion for our challenging terrain. We are truly satisfied with our biggest ride acquisition ever."
This will be an interesting ride to follow the construction of, and hopefully soon an animation of some sort will be released so we can really see all the details of Taiga.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Now Testing ICON - New Launched Mack Coaster

© Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Blackpool Pleasure Beach's massive new launched roller coaster, ICON, is now testing and the amusement park has released a new video showing off the ride.  Designed by Mack Rides, ICON features two separate LSM launches and 3,750 feet of track, which is quite long for a launched roller coaster.

Check out the video to see the ride in action, both on ride and off ride views:

ICON combines launch speeds of up to 53 miles per hour with a hyper-twisted layout that interacts with many of Blackpool Pleasure Beach's existing rides.  There are elements such as a giant air-time hill, an Immelmann, tunnels, helices wrapped around rides, and even a heart-line roll.  ICON is the largest investment that the park has ever made in a single attraction.

For more on ICON, check out Blackpool Pleasure Beach's official website.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Disney Announces More Marvel Attractions for Several Parks

© Disney
The Disney Parks are continuing to add new Marvel themed attractions to their offerings across the globe, highlighted in a series of announcements today.  The popular characters that are a part of the Marvel universe will become a part of new lands, shows and rides at several parks over the next few years.

At Disney California Adventure, the addition of a whole new themed section based on Marvel characters has finally been confirmed.  Opening in 2020, a new land will take up the space currently occupied by A Bug's Land, which also includes the closure of It's Tough To Be A Bug - that took place on March 19th.  The rest of the Bug's Life themed land will close at the end of the summer.

The space is adjacent to the recently opened Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout! attraction, and will feature the Avengers and Spider-Man, but no hints yet on what rides or attractions will be built.

© Disney
Disney recently announced a large expansion for Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris, which will include a new Marvel themed land an a retrofit of Rock 'n' Roller Coaster based on the Avengers characters.  That is set to open in 2020, but this summer the park will hold the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes event, featuring an all new show titled Marvel: Super Heroes United.

The show will be held indoors at The Studio Theatre, and is described as a  "live-action super-production that mixes a huge 400 m² stage with one of the biggest LED screens in Europe, incredible special effects and, for the first time, in a Disney Park, the indoor use of drones beneath unbelievable aerial choreography for a truly spectacular show."  More details of the incredible show can be found in this press release.

Also previously announced is the creation of a new Marvel land at Hong Kong Disneyland, where a new ride based on Ant-Man and The Wasp will join the existing Iron Man Experience in giving visitors a new world to explore.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Cedar Point Teases Steel Vengeance Test Run + How to Ride First

© Cedar Point
This past weekend appears to have marked an important occasion in the development of Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point's record breaking new hybrid roller coaster.  In a tweet shared by the park, it appears as though the coaster has made its first test run.  Check it out:

Granted it's more of a gif than a full video, but still it looks like we can be sure that the ride has run at this point! This was just a tease, of course, but hopefully soon we will get to see some true footage of the ride in action.

© Cedar Point
Cedar Point is continuing to work on the ride's details, such as adding these nice light posts along the lift, building a new queue for the coaster, and creating an all new entrance plaza.  The park uploaded some new photos to their website, check them out here.

If you want to be one of the very first to ride Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point has a few different options for you.

The very first will be a part of the Steel Vengeance First Rider Benefit, with proceeds going to the LeBron James Family Foundation.  Tickets for the event, to be held April 27th, range from $75 to $250 and are available at this link.

Season passholders will then have the next shot at riding the coaster during the Passholder FrontierTown Hoedown, taking place each night from April 30th through May 2nd, 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm.  Several rides in FrontierTown will be open, and each guest (who must register online starting April 10) will get one ticket to try out Steel Vengeance.

Then, the general public will get their first rides in on the weekend of May 5th and 6th, which is the official opening for the 2018 season. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

California's Great America RailBlazer Update + Another Removal Announced

© California's Great America
California's Great America will open in one week for the start of their 2018 season, and while RailBlazer won't be ready for guests the park is happy to show it off in a new blog update.

The main structure of the ride was completed some time ago, but the park has been hard at work on all the theming that will surround the coaster, as well as the station and queue.  These photos, shared on the blog post, give us a look at that work underway.  The above wide angle photo shows the entire construction site, with the giant dive loop looking wonderful in the California sun.

© California's Great America
As depicted in the concept art that was released for RailBlaser, California's Great America is adding considerable theming around the base of the coaster, including a waterway and elaborate landscaping.  This photo shows off several of the large stones and boulders being formed, in various levels of completeness.  The addition of the rocks that the track will move past (and through, as with the base of the first drop) will work to make the ride seem even faster than the given top speed of 52 miles per hour.  The ride's theme revolves around an off-road adventure through the California wilderness, and things are looking great so far!

The theme park promises that an opening day for RailBlazer will be announced soon, so stay tuned.

The blog post also revealed that the park's amphitheater style show structure, the Peanuts Playhouse is being removed.

© Google Maps
If you add in the space that the amphitheater took up along with the already removed Endeavor looping ship and the Loggers Run flume ride, it creates two big patches of space.  These areas seem ripe for a massive water park transformation, including new slides, name and theme.  The water park renovation was mentioned plenty in the planning documents for the park's rezoning, so this is no surprise.

© Google Maps
However, if you take it one step further you can also consider the space that Snoopy's Splash Dance took up - that was also announced as removed.  Plus, the park has unofficially announced that 2018 is the last year for the go-karts.  Suddenly you have an absolutely massive area to play with.  This leaves two kiddie rides and the park's kiddie/family coaster, Woodstock Express, off in the corner by themselves so I would wager those won't be around much longer either.  The bottom portion seems like it would be the station area for the expected hyper coaster, but time will tell.

Exciting times for the park, that's for sure!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Scream Machine - Backward Thrilling Riders at Six Flags Over Georgia

The brand new Rocky Mountain Construction conversion coaster, Twisted Cyclone, isn't the only new thrill at Six Flags Over Georgia this year.

For a limited time, visitors can ride the famous Great American Scream Machine wooden roller coaster with backward trains, giving an all new thrill to a classic attraction.  The coaster, currently known as Scream Machine - Backward, has been a staple ride at the theme park for more than 4 decades, and while it has had backward trains in the past, it has been many years since the park turned them around.

© Six Flags Over Georgia
The turned-around trains are drawing a lot of attention to the park, and if you check out this news story you will even see quotes from our own Scott & Carol who were at the park for a special preview this week.

The Great American Scream Machine features a 105 foot lift hill and more than 3,400 feet of traditional wooden track.  It was built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters and opened in 1973 as one of the largest wooden roller coasters in the world.

Being able to ride Scream Machine backward will be a limited time event, though the park hasn't published an official end to the program as of now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Silver Dollar City's New Time Traveler Coaster is Now Open!

© Silver Dollar City
Today marks the official grand opening of Time Traveler, Silver Dollar City's brand new roller coaster.  The ride is billed by the theme park as the "world’s fastest, steepest and tallest complete-circuit spinning roller coaster," and represents a massive investment in Silver Dollar City by owner Herschend Family Entertainment.  Time Traveler is a unique spinning roller coaster, designed by Mack Rides, which features a large initial drop along with two separate launch sections.  More than two years were spent in the planning and construction of the $26 million attraction.

© Silver Dollar City
Time Traveler begins with the vertical plunge that is seen above, right out of the station - which is perched on the side of one of the park's many hills.  The drop is 100 feet high and has a true vertical, 90 degree drop that gets the cars moving at 50.3 miles per hour.  The cars use a controlled spin that starts as they move out the station, so riders may encounter this drop both forward, backward, and every way in between.

Immediately after the drop Time Traveler's trains head into a dive loop, the first of the coaster's three inversions.

© Silver Dollar City
Soon after the ride's first launch takes place after a brief  pause.  That launch uses linear synchronous motors to send the train along at 47 miles per hour, through a large overbank turn, then down into the second inversion - a 95 foot tall vertical loop.  Before the end of the ride Time Traveler heads through another LMS launch of 45 miles per hour, a zero-g roll and plenty of twists and turns.

The controlled spinning nature of the cars means that no two rides on Time Traveler will ever be exactly the same, giving fans of the coaster a reason to ride over and over.  “This coaster’s state-of-the-art controlled spin provides riders a unique thrill experience while still appealing to families,” said Brad Thomas, President of Silver Dollar City Attractions.

© Silver Dollar City
According to Silver Dollar City, Christian von Elverfeldt, CEO of Mack Rides, was on site for the grand opening of Time Traveler. “The car is the most advanced roller coaster car in the industry, featuring a free-spinning rotation on a launched roller coaster,” said von Elverfeldt. “For the utmost comfort, an on-board magnetic brake limits the rotation speed to allow the most enjoyable ride experience.”

Silver Dollar City was careful to preserve as much of the beautiful mountainside as possible, and planted two or three trees for each one that had to be removed for the ride.  The first drop plunges riders down into the mountainous terrain, and the track then weaves and twists through the mountainside.  In total the twisted layout crosses over itself 14 times from start to finish.

If you want a preview of what a ride on Time Traveler is like before you head out to ride, check out this point of view video that the theme park released:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

World's Tallest StarFlyer Ride Now Standing in Orlando

The Orlando area has another exiting attraction under development, the world's tallest StarFlyer - standing an impressive 450 feet tall.  The ride was constructed over the past week, and it was also just announced that it will open to the public on May 11th.

The StarFlyer is located in a development near the Orlando Eye ferris wheel named The Vue at 360.  The complex is being developed by Unicorp National Developments, and a building at the base of the ride will have several features like an ice cream shop.

Twitter user bioreconstruct has taken great care to cover all the latest projects in the Orlando area, and the StarFlyer has been no different.  These photos, which came from the user on Twitter, show the now standing ride towering over the landscape.  StarFlyer has a very nice decorative top piece, as seen here.  Be sure to browse more of bioreconstruct's tweets for more photos.

When it opens, the StarFlyer will take 22 riders up to around 400 feet in the air and swing them in circles at 60 miles per hour.  Needless to say the view from the top will be spectacular, considering the tower is 50 feet higher than the neighboring Orlando Eye.

This ride is also now taking the record for the tallest of its kind, at least when counting the decorative pieces at the top.  Similar tower rides at Six Flags parks have hit the 400 foot mark.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Six Flags Fiesta Texas' Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Testing Video is a Must Watch

Six Flags Fiesta Texas has started testing their brand new single rail roller coaster, Wonder Woman Golden Lasso. And, WOW.  SFFT Source shared video of one of the test runs on Instagram, and I think it speaks for itself:

A post shared by SFFT Source (@sfftsource) on
I don't know about you guys, but I'm totally amazed by the speed that this Rocky Mountain Construction-designed ride has!  The first time I watched this and it completed the 180 degree turn at the top of the lift I noted that it appeared to be running quickly, and it just intensifies after that point.

I imagine that the negative forces at play on the riders near the back of the train will be totally wild on that first 90 degree drop.  The rest of the elements then run in quick succession as the train appears to continue to gather speed!  By my timing, it's about 31 seconds from the time the last car crests the lift hill until it hits the final brake run.  Removing a couple hundred feet of track length for the brakes, station and lift, that is in the neighborhood of an average speed of 35 miles per hour.  That might not be a huge number on its own, but considering the tight track layout that Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster has, and the single passenger, open trains, this looks to be quite a thrilling experience.

No word yet on when the new coaster will open, but hopefully if testing continues successfully it won't be too much longer now!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Six Flags Mexico's Wonder Woman Coaster Nearly Complete

© Six Flags Mexico
We haven't heard much from Six Flags Mexico regarding their new Wonder Woman Coaster since it was announced at the end of last summer.  I suppose that's because it was just recently that the coaster started to be built at the park, and now as seen above it is nearly complete.

Wonder Woman Coaster will be the 7th S&S Free Spin coaster when it opens, joining five others at Six Flags parks in North America.  The ride's unique paint job, matching the Wonder Woman theme, can be seen above.  The ride's rails are a golden colors, with alternating red, white, and blue supports - and the red and blue supports form a large "W" if you look close enough.

Six Flags Mexico also posted this short video clip of the ride under construction, with only a few rails on the top layer of the ride still to be installed.  The lighting isn't the best, but it does show off the various dips and curves that the Wonder Woman Coaster offers riders.

The S&S Free Spin coasters stand 120 feet tall and feature individual cars that rotate riders' seats during the course to create multiple inversions.  This also means that no two rides are exactly the same due to the random nature of the cars interacting with powerful magnets along the ride path.

The Wonder Woman Coaster will be Six Flags Mexico's 9th when it opens at the park.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Knott's Unveils HangTime's Trains During Construction Update + Testing Footage

© Knott's Berry Farm
I must say that it is nice that most parks who are building new roller coasters have made it pretty commonplace for construction tours to become almost a normal part of the process.  We've seen many of these this offseason, and Knott's Berry Farm just had one for HangTime, the park's new custom designed Gerstlauer Infinity dive coaster.

Granted I'm on the other side of the country so I wasn't in attendance, but there's plenty of other great sites covering the ride's development.  Above is a photo of one of HangTime's trains, which were revealed for the first time on the tour.  Featuring only lap bar restraints, the trains feature bright colors and surf theming such as headrests that look like the top of classic surf boards.

The folks on the tour were also lucky to get to see some HangTime test runs, the first I've seen up close video of the ride operating.  Theme Park Insider shared this video of one of the runs.  You'll want to take notice to how long the train slows and hangs at the top of the 150 foot lift, and imagine the air-time that will result on the beyond-vertical first drop.  The pacing of the ride, which is still breaking in, looks to take advantage of the over-sized inversions and elements, giving hang-time (pun intended) in each!

For more of the construction site and also a great look at the mechanics of HangTime's cars, check out this update from California Coaster Kings.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

New Thrill Ride - Delirious - Rises at Valleyfair

© Valleyfair
Valleyfair is hard at work on an expansion to their Route 76 themed area, which includes the introduction of a brand new thrill ride named Delirious.  The looping ride recently went up at the park, which kindly shared some photos of the action.  Delirious is a Larson Giant Loop, which takes riders for multiple trips through a giant loop that stands 73 feet tall.

© Valleyfair
Delirious is located near the entrance to Steel Venom, Valleyfair's Intamin inverted shuttle coaster, and actually takes up part of the coaster's former queue.  Valleyfair is making other improvements to the Route 76 area as well, such as new shade structures, lighting, gathering spaces and more.  Delirious' dark purple structure will be the largest addition, no doubt, and the one that guests will race to when the park opens this spring.

© Valleyfair
The train for Delirious features back-to-back seating and the ride moves both forward and backward, which means that riders automatically travel both directions during the ride cycle.  The thrill ride certainly will draw attention as well due to its proximity to the entrance gates and parking area.

For more on Delirious, head over to Valleyfair's website.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Aquatica San Antonio's New Slide - Taumata Racer - Opens March 10th

© Aquatica San Antonio
Aquatica San Antonio has announced that their brand new mat racing water slide, named Taumata Racer, will open to the public this Saturday, March 10th - just in time for a sunny spring break in Texas.

The new attraction joins the growing roster of fun available at Aquatica San Antonio, which is located just next to SeaWorld San Antonio.  Known for their competitive nature, mat racing slides like Taumata Racer feature multiple slide lanes, in this case six, where visitors race each other toward the bottom.

© Aquatica San Antonio
“Taumata Racer will be one of the fastest waterslides in Texas, combining competitive racing with the adrenaline rush of speeding downhill head first,” said Aquatica Vice President Byron Surrett. “It’s a thrilling experience that families and friends can enjoy together and gives our guests another fun way to beat the Texas heat.”

Riders will begin by moving head first down a steep drop, then the slides will curve through a 180 degree helix which is fully enclosed.  At the end of the tunnels, each path lines up as riders finish the rest of the 375 foot adventure via a series of drops downward.  The slide experience only takes about 10 seconds to complete, as it is a high speed race to the finish line each trip.

Ahead of the grand opening of Taumata Racer, Aquatica San Antonio has been testing the slide with employees - video of this can be seen above.  The ride's orange, lime green and pink paths are sure to fit in well with the other brightly colored attractions at the park.  The new slide has been manufactured by WhiteWater West Industries, and has a 42 inch height requirement.  

For more on the new attraction, check out Aquatica San Antonio's website.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Major Changes Abound for SeaWorld Park & Entertainment

The past week or so has been filled with various announcements of changes at SeaWorld Entertainment, which also recently released their quarterly earnings.

First up, the park's CEO, Joel Manby, has left the company.  Mr. Manby was the President and CEO of SeaWorld for about three years, brought on to attempt to turn the tides for the company.  His time at the company was aimed at bringing the SeaWorld branded parks into focus as animal rescuers, rehabilitators, and general stewards of the planet.  Under his watch the chain met very, very rough seas with a focus on a larger picture of the future, and it would have been interesting to see how the rest of his tenure would have played out.  It was mentioned on the earnings call that both SeaWorld Entertainment and Mr. Manby agreed that it was the right time for him to go though, even so far as mentioning that Mr. Manby was looking forward to spending more time with his family. 

John T. Reilly has been named interim President and CEO, although also per the earnings call he is formally in the running for the position permanently as well.

Mr. Reilly has been with SeaWorld Entertainment for 32 years, recently being Chief Parks Operations Officer, and formerly the President of both Busch Gardens Williamsburg and SeaWorld San Diego - among other roles.  That said, he certainly knows the company well and mentioned during the conference call that as of right now there will be no major changes to the overall plan that Mr. Manby put in place while he was with the company.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
At the end of the week it was also revealed that SeaWorld Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer, Anthony Esparza and Brian Morrow, Vice President of Theme Park Experience Design, also both have departed the company.

It is maybe no surprise that Mr. Esparza left, as I believe he was brought to SeaWorld by Mr. Manby from Herschend Entertainment.  Brian Morrow appears to have already started his own company, so it looks like he will be going out on his own instead of joining any other theme park creative company.

It will be interesting to see how the design of future additions to the parks changes under new creative leadership, no doubt.

As for the 4th quarter earnings, they showed continued losses at the company, but it appears as though things may be bottoming out.  Revenues were down to $265.5 million from $267.6 million the year before, with attendance at 4.26 million, down from 4.38 million the year before.  They actually increased the per capita spending by 2%, up to $62.32 per person.

The conference call does not really necessitate a whole Heard On... post, as much of the talk was deeply financial.  There was no mention at all of the second Sesame Place under development, nor of any hotels or other expansions.  They focused mostly on the 15 new attractions opening at all the parks this year, which is their largest collection ever.  They also are pushing their new From Park to Planet advertising campaign, embedded above, which they are seeing positive feedback for.  Finally, they are seeing continued improvement at SeaWorld San Diego, which was by far hit the worst by Blackfish consumer pattern changes, and hope that the opening of Electric Eel, a major new coaster, will push that recovery even further.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Kennywood Gives First Look at Concept Art for New Thomas Town Expansion

© Kennywood
Just last month Kennywood announced a major Thomas Town family friendly expansion for the park's 2018 season, but wasn't quite ready to give a preview of how the new area would look.  Now, however, Kennywood has been releasing different views of the expansion, showing off the rides, attractions and shows that will be a part of it.

This image gives a wonderful aerial perspective of the layout of Thomas Town.  As we detailed in the announcement post, the expansion will be built adjacent to the park's classic train ride, near the equally famous Auto Race ride.  You can see the Auto Race on the upper right of this image, with Thomas Town spreading out beyond it.

There will be new themed buildings constructed as an entrance to Thomas Town, and along with the train ride there will be four new rides, a live show, play area and more.

© Kennywood
This second piece of concept art is a bit more stylized, but still gives a clear view of Thomas Town's layout.  For the first time visitors will be able to cross the train tracks to get to a second part of Thomas Town, which includes the Cranky's Drop Tower ride and more.  These images also give a better idea of the type of rides that will be added - all family friendly, of course!

When complete, Kennywood's Thomas Town will be the second largest of its kind in North America.  The amusement park plans to have the expansion open before the start of the summer season.