Sunday, April 29, 2018

Darien Lake's New Tantrum Coaster Heads to the Sky

© Darien Lake
Darien Lake is excited to be building their first new major roller coaster in nearly a decade, named Tantrum.  The coaster is a compact Euro-Fighter model from Gerstlauer Rides, similar in layout to Iron Shark at Galveston Pleasure Pier.

The park shared some photos of both the construction process and also the design of the trains for Tantrum, seen above.  The individual cars seat four across in two rows and have already had some graphics applied to them.

© Darien Lake
In order to make some room for Tantrum, Darien Lake removed their log flume.  With that work complete the new coaster's footers were installed, and within the past two weeks vertical construction started.  Here we have a photo of the ride's main lift tower being put into place, you can also see a bit of the ride's green track at the base of the hill.

© Darien Lake
Much more recently, the park shared this photo which shows that major progress has been made in the past week.  The ride's lift track is starting to climb the hill to the maximum height of 100 feet, and nearly all of the beyond vertical, 95 degree first drop is in place.

The rest of Tantrum's 1,246 foot layout includes a giant twisted Immelmann/dive loop element, an overbank turn and a a tilted vertical loop.  Passengers will hit a maximum speed of 52 miles per hour when Tantrum opens at Darien Lake later this spring.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Canada's Wonderland Opens Two New Rides + A Peek at 2019 Coaster Work

© Jeff Smellie
This is the opening weekend of the 2018 season for another round of parks, one of which is Canada's Wonderland.  The park is featuring two new rides this year, along with a water park expansion aimed at kids and families.  NewsPlusNotes' friend, Jeff Smellie, sent over some photos from the park's preview day.

Up top is Lumberjack, the park's new thrill ride - a Zamperla Hawk 48.  From the rustic theming to the wooded location, the attraction joins one of the most impressive flat ride collections in North America.  Riders will soar on one of two arms, with their feet dangling below them as they make full inversions.

© Jeff Smellie
Lumberjack is meant to give some serious thrills, but Canada's Wonderland's second new ride is quite the opposite, meant to give a fun ride to all members of the family.  The Flying Canoes, seen above, allow riders to control the height of their car as they spin.  I love the elaborate canoe theming perched on the top of the ride, I'm glad it came out just like the concept art!

Later this summer the park will also open Lakeside Lagoon, an expansion to Splash Work's children's area that will double it in size.  Jeff did an interview with the park about all that is new this year, which can be seen here.

© Jeff Smellie
We've also been carefully watching the park during the winter due to some curious construction that has been taking place.  The park has built a tunnel under the pond that runs under Vortex, and it looks like some roller coaster track has been installed in it.

The above view shows the tunnel from the Splash Works side of the park, and if you look close you can make out what looks like track sticking up above the top level of the tunnel.

© Jeff Smellie
This is the other side of the tunnel.  Obviously the park has covered the openings to the tunnels to keep what is inside a secret, but I think it is safe to say that coaster fans will once again be flocking to Canada's Wonderland in 2019!

Thanks to Jeff for sending over the photos!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster - the First Skywarp - Going Up at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

© Skyline Attractions
The first instillation of Skyline Attractions' brand new ride, the Skywarp, is currently progressing at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom where it will be known as Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster.

The Northern California theme park has started to receive parts of the new ride, and quickly began installing them at the work side, located just next to the Superman Ultimate Flight roller coaster.

© Skyline Attractions
Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster features bright red track and dark gray supports, and will give riders a thrilling experience including many inversions.  Dual trains of riders will be powered through the layout which resembles a giant figure eight on its side, and the movement of the trains will include both forward and backward motions.  This photo, from manufacturer Skyline Attractions, shows some of the first tall pieces of track being installed.

© Jeff Pike
Just a day later this photo was taken, and it shows that even more of the track has been put in place.  The photo is from Jeff Pike, President of Skyline Attractions, who is understandably proud of the company's first 'big' ride being constructed.  The Orlando Sentinel recently did a feature story on the growing company, which can be read at this link.

© Skyline Attractions
And now just today Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has completed one half of the ride's track, standing around 62 feet tall.  Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster will be able to accommodate around 800 riders per hour when it opens.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom also did an unveiling of the ride's trains, which just arrived at the park.  Can't wait to see them installed on the track and the ride fired up for the first time!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

RailBlazer at California's Great America Makes First Test Run

© California's Great America
Exciting news came out of California's Great America yesterday as the park shared video of RailBlazer completing its first test run.  We've all been carefully watching the development of this ride as it is one of two new single-rail Rocky Mountain Construction roller coasters opening in 2018, the first of their kind rides.

Without further ado, here is the video:
Must like we saw with the initial test runs of Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, RailBlazer is absolutely flying around the course.  The ride starts off with a punch as the 8-passenger trains quickly navigate a 180 degree turn, only slowing down a tad before they drop 100 feet at 90 degrees into a rock formation at the base of the plunge.

The rest of the course is taken at lightning speed, with three separate inversions located throughout the 1,800 feet of track.  The quiet roar of the ride is quite neat to hear as well, soon that will be covered up by the happy screams of riders!

California's Great America still has not given an official opening date for RailBlazer, but it has to be coming up soon - especially now that the ride is in test mode.  Stay tuned for that announcement later.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Shares Wonder Woman POV Footage + Grand Opening Date

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster will officially premier to the general public on May 12th, Six Flags Fiesta Texas has announced.  The highly anticipated first-of-its-kind single rail roller coaster features a 100 foot vertical drop, several inversions and 1,800 feet of tightly twisted track.  Designed by Rocky Mountain Construction, the ride represents a totally new track system to the industry, and was designed to provide riders a super-smooth yet thrilling experience.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas season pass holders will get early rides on Wonder Woman, well before the grand opening.  The park is advertising that Diamond and Diamond Elite members will have a chance to ride this weekend, starting Friday, April 27th.  All pass holders will then be able to ride the following weekend, with the public joining the fun on May 12th.

If you can't make it to the park to take a ride in person, Six Flags Fiesta Texas has released the first point of view video of Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster, embedded below.  Looks like a fast and exciting ride!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Energylandia's Massive New Intamin Hyper Coaster Reaching New Heights

© Energylandia
It was back at the end of 2016 that we first heard of Energylandia's (located in Poland) plan to build "Europe's tallest mega coaster" for the 2018 season.  Working on the final design of the ride and getting construction started took quite some time, however now the park is actively building Hyperion, which the coaster has been named.

Designed by Intamin, Hyperion will stand an impressive 253 feet tall and feature an 85 degree first drop that plunges into a tunnel, giving a first drop length of 262 feet - oh and also a top speed of 88 miles per hour.  Featuring an all black color scheme, the 4,757 feet of track is now stretching across the Polish country side as seen in this aerial construction update from the park:

Interestingly, this Intamin mega coaster will feature 4-across seating on the trains, which is unlike their earlier mega coasters.  That resulted in some beefy looking track that can be seen up close in this video.  It looks like the park worked to build as much of the ride as they could before bringing in the really tall crane, as much of the lower parts of Hyperion are installed.

Judging from the views of the first drop, however, it would appear as though Energylandia is now hard at work in finishing the ride's lift, drop and turnaround dive element.

Since the ride was originally announced the final layout point of view video was updated by the park, and is embedded above.  The ride features several large air-time hills along with a turnaround that doesn't feature a typical series of helices, instead the trains climb high up then rotate 180 degrees and dive downward - much like on B&M wing coasters.  The rest of Hyperion's layout features quick directional changes and extreme banking, and a final water splash is shown, though I'm not sure if that made the final cut.  Should be a stand-out ride if Intamin's prior mega coaster designs are any indication!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Knott's Berry Farm's HangTime to Open on May 18th

© Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's Berry Farm fans only need to wait less than one month for the grand opening of HangTime, as it will premier to visitors on May 18th.  The park has been regularly testing the ride in recent weeks, billed as the West coast's first dive coaster.  Technically speaking, HangTime is a custom-designed creation from Gerstlauer, one of their Infinity coasters.

In addition to the nearly continuous testing of HangTime, Knott's Berry Farm is also finishing up the details of the coaster ahead of its opening.  The station is nearly complete, and the queue and even the entrance sign have now been installed.  (see a recent video update on that here, from Parks and Cons)  The park is also constructing a large new gift shop adjacent to HangTime, and that looks to be in the final stages as well.

The 150 foot tall coaster will take individual, 16 passenger trains up to the top and hold them delicately pointed toward the ground for several seconds before dropping them beyond-vertical at 96 degrees.  The ride features several twisted elements such as a cobra roll and a negative-g stall, in total there will be five inversions packed into 2,198 feet of track.

One of the most interesting parts of the ride will be it's amazing light package for after dark, with lights chasing the trains as they move through the course.  I haven't seen any footage of that quite yet, but the park did release an animation of the ride at night, embedded below.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Toverland Tops Off Fenix - New for 2018 B&M Wing Coaster

© Toverland
The Netherlands' Toverland theme park is working on a massive expansion project that includes a brand new B&M wing coaster, named Fenix.   Part of a highly themed land, Fenix will no doubt be the star attraction when it opens this summer - specifically July 7th.

Recent work on the coaster - which has brown supports and cool blue track - saw the ride topped out at about 131 feet above the ground.  From the photo above, the track will turn right (toward the left side of the photo) then roll 180 degrees and dive toward the ground, connecting with the blue track in place below.

© Toverland
Here is another view of the same - the first drop will be on the far left of this image.  Afterward the winged trains will soar over a new lake on the large air-time hill that can be seen in the background.

The rest of Fenix's layout includes and Immelmann, helix and a zero-g roll before some twists and turns at the end of the ride.  Fenix will have a top speed of 59 miles per hour and 2,667 feet of track.

Toverland has released the below video of the topping off of the coaster, with plenty of beautiful drone footage.  Check it out and other updates from the park at this link.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Nickelodeon Universe Retires Flat Ride + Introduces New 2018 Attraction

© Nickelodeon Universe
In order to make way for a new expansion, Nickelodeon Universe, located at the Mall of America in Minnesota, is retiring the Jimmy Neutron's Atomic Collider flat ride.

Seen above, the unique flat ride has given nearly 600,000 rides since it opened at the park in 1992, when it still carried the Camp Snoopy theme.  It was manufactured by Zierer, and is one of their Hexentanz flat rides which are not common in North America, but can still be found on the European fair circuit.  Knott's Berry Farm also used to have one of these rides, though it was removed many years ago.

© Nickelodeon Universe
Fans of Nickelodeon Universe didn't have to wait long to find out what will be replacing Jimmy Neutron's Atomic Collider, as today they announced a new themed play area to open later in 2018.  In celebration of the park's 10th anniversary, the brand new Paw Patrol's Adventure Bay will be a 4,000 square foot "immersive experience" that features the characters of the uber-popular Paw Patrol series.

The play area will feature many of the key locations from the children's series, including being able to go into their lookout tower.  The area does not contain any specific rides, instead is an "open play" area with recognizable features as seen in the concept art above.  No doubt that in addition to keeping kids busy as they explore the area, Adventure Bay will also serve as a great photo opportunity for parents.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Latest From Cedar Point on Steel Vengeance + New Ride Footage

© Cedar Point
The opening of one of the most anticipated new-for-2018 rides, Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, is drawing closer - just a little over two weeks now to be exact.  As the excitement builds the park is giving fans some new views of the Rocky Mountain Construction conversion to help pass the time.

Up top is a photo of the ride's entrance marquee - how beautiful!  The giant sign is fitting for the 205 foot tall Steel Vengeance, mounted on its own rocky peak.  The park also shared another photo of the queue entrance, which is available here.

What we've all really been waiting for was some footage of Steel Vengeance running, and the park also delivered that to us this past weekend.

The above Steel Vengeance Scoop features some great point-of-view footage of the coaster, which looks wonderfully true to the original animation.  The ride appears to absolutely soar through the layout after the 200 foot first drop, and holds that speed throughout.  The ending of the ride, which consists of tons of air-time hills, high banked curves and even an inversion all baked into the inside of the support structure, looks like a dream come true for coaster fans.

Cedar Point fan website PointBuzz also shared the above commercial for Steel Vengeance - a really well done advertisement for the coaster.  The clip features all animation of the ride, but it's rather beautiful and really emphasizes the theming of the coaster and the frontier section of Cedar Point it is located in.

© Cedar Point
Last, but certainly not least, the park has also been showing off the beautiful trains that Rocky Mountain Construction created for Steel Vengeance.  This is a photo of the third and final train that arrived at the park, themed to one of the three characters the park created for the ride's theming - Chess Watkins.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Scott & Carol Present Silver Dollar City's Time Traveler

Image result for silver dollar city photo gallery

It was a very brisk day, but the sun was shining and the scent of a new adventure was in the air.

Image result for silver dollar city photo gallery

The time was drawing nigh for Time Traveler to open. The fastest, tallest spinning coaster in the world. And you can only ride it at Silver Dollar City.

The citizens of Silver Dollar City were on display, and the park was breathtakingly beautiful.

Brad Thomas was bursting with pride as he opened Time Traveler to the cheers of the crowd.

The queue is very well themed, with many of the past models of clocks that were invented and a place for pictures, because you can't take an on-ride photo with a free-spinning coaster. An interesting way for riders to gain a keepsake of their experience.

The even managed to incorporate the car design that was revealed at IAAPA. One of the fascinating things about this type of car is that while it is free-spinning, it does have a magnetic brake to allow some control to keep it within family ride parameters.

Every ride is different, here the car is going down the first drop, which happens as you are exiting the station,  sideways!

Christian, from Mack, was kind enough to give us the backstory on Time Traveler.

Another photo of the first drop.  No two rides on Time Traveler are ever going to be alike!

You won't see views like this after the trees fill in with their seasonal foliage. And the grass will grow.

Here are some views Carol took from below.

Notice the different directions the riders are facing before the launch.

And they continue to spin upside down while going through the loop. You can't hear it on this photo, but someone on this train could really hit the high notes while expressing her delight at riding the new roller coaster.

Above is our inaugural ride on Time Traveler. Pay close attention to the background to see just how many new riding positions you too can experience on Time Traveler, only at Silver Dollar City.

Time Traveler isn't the only good news for Silver Dollar City and Brad was kind enough to fill us in on the details of the Festival of Wonder, which has just opened last weekend.

Thanks to Brad and the citizens of Silver Dollar City, along with Christian for their help. Ride on, while spinning, straight down, on Time Traveler, only at Silver Dollar City.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New Islands of Adventure Potter-Themed Coaster Now Vertical

While I'm still a bit sad about the removal of Dueling Dragons Dragon Challenge at Islands of Adventure, located within the Universal Orlando Resort, the addition of a shrouded-in-mystery Harry Potter themed roller coaster does ease the pain a tad.

Universal hasn't said much about the roller coaster, in fact so far just really that it will open in 2019, be family friendly, and will transport us into the world of Harry Potter.  Since then Dragon Challenge has been totally removed and work on the new coaster is well underway.

In fact, if you have already followed user Bioreconstruct on Twitter, then you'd have seen some great aerials of the ride going vertical.

Here is a view of the expansive site that Dragon Challenge occupied.  From construction photos it is pretty obviously that the new coaster will utilize the former station for the pair of B&M rides.  It looks like about half of the new coaster's footings are in place, with crews working on the area closer to the station and moving outward.  You can also spot at least one show building being constructed at the bottom of the photo - the ride is rumored to include several smaller show buildings throughout the course.
You probably noticed it in the first photo, but the crews have also started to lift supports for the ride, pained brown, into place.  This photo is extra-interesting because the tallest supports that have been set appear to be a reverse spike, with trains moving up it until they lose speed and head backward down... and since the coaster is expected to be a complete circuit that means a switch track should be involved too.

Aside from the track spike, you can also trace the outline of some curves that will snake their way around the spike - the supports indicate some pretty good banking on these track pieces.  The ride is also expected to use launches to generate speed, versus a traditional lift hill, which should be fun.  I can't wait to see more of the ride go up, especially track!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dorney Park Stinger Deconstruction 4.14.18 Update Photos

© NewsPlusNotes
If you're passing by Dorney Park you'll have to look a bit more closely at the skyline to catch the bit of Stinger that is still standing.  Here are a few photos from today, showing that much more of the roller coaster has been removed since our last update a couple weeks ago. 

When driving past the park, Stinger used to occupy the skyline of the far corner of the property.  But now with only less than half the lifts standing, it's about even with the tree line.

© NewsPlusNotes
Taken from near the entrance road to the park, this is about all that is left of Stinger.  The crews carefully worked to cut through the lift track and remove it in even smaller sections that just one traditional track 'piece.'  It looked like the rails and ties were actually being cut apart to remove small bits at a time.  They are covered in the trees in this photo, but there's a few lift piece remnants laying around that haven't been hauled off yet.

© NewsPlusNotes
One final, more clear shot.  I would think now that the highest parts of Stinger are down, this last section will disappear rather quickly this week.  Especially if we're given the gift of decent spring weather!

Dorney Park will open for the 2018 season on Friday, May 4th, and that's when we will get our first look at the area that Singer used to reside in.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Battle For Eire - Action VR Ride Now Open at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Today marks the official grand opening of Busch Gardens Williamsburg's new attraction, Battle for Eire - Action VR Ride.

The innovative new virtual reality ride opened to crowds of park visitors today among many invited Williamsburg-area dignitaries, along with members of the local Boys & Girls Club.  Battle for Eire combines a traditional motion simulator base with virtual reality headsets and is one of the first attractions on the globe to do this.

“With Battle For Eire and the 360-degree virtual reality, riders can have a unique experience each time they ride,” said Kevin Lembke, park resident for Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. “That’s what’s going to keep people coming back over and over again.”

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
The main character of the ride, Addie, was on hand (above) to help with the official ribbon cutting ceremony.  Park officials are excited to share the ride with their guests, as they've put many months of work into creating such a cutting-edge ride type. 

“Battle For Eire is a phenomenal new experience. It’s something that has never been done before,” said Larry Giles, vice president of design and engineering at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. “You really feel like you’re there. You’re not just watching it. You’re part of it.”
© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Visitors pass through several pre-show rooms within Battle for Eire, the last of which sees them adding the green virtual reality headsets holders just before boarding.  Once in their seats, riders add the final virtual reality screens to their headset and the journey beings.

The ride's storyline follows Addie as she embarks on a quest to rescue the Heart of Eire from evil villain Balor.  According to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, "riders will be completely immersed within the story and be able to see, hear and feel actions happening all around them, both through the virtual reality headsets and within the motions of the simulator."

For more information on Battle for Eire - Action VR Ride, check out the below preview video along with the theme park's official website.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dreamland Margate Adding Nine New Rides for Summer 2018

© Dreamland Margate
Dreamland Margate, located near the sea in Kent, England, is poised to add an impressive nine new rides for the park's 2018 summer season.

The classic amusement park reopened in 2015 and features and totally rebuilt Scenic Railway wooden roller coaster, which dates back to 1920.  The park's long history has had both very successful decades of operation along with a period of decline that saw the park closed for many years, but is now experiencing a rebirth as visitors enjoy the seaside park.

This summer's additions will be part of a package of rides from popular manufacturer Zamperla, and feature both children, family and thrill rides.

The top concept art shows Dreamland Margate with the new rides in place, and this Blooloop article details much of what is coming.  There will be a new roller coaster, a Wild Mouse, along with the Dreamland Drop, a drop tower, an Air Race, Discovery and an Endeavor.  These rides alone should ramp up the thrill factor for the park, which until this year didn't have too many modern thrill rides to offer visitors.

Children and family rides that are being added include a Samba Balloon, Magic Bikes and what sounds like a small spinning ship ride.

Dreamland Margate is also improving other amenities at the park, such as adding new landscaping and vastly improving food operations.  This article also details the new 15,000 capacity concert venue that is hoped to lure visitors from London to the park.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Six Flags Great America Unwraps Early Holiday Gift

Six Flags Great America has announced that for the first time in its 42 years of operation, it will be open into the winter season with the addition of Holiday in the Park.  The new event, which is currently held at Six Flags parks across the country, will premier at Six Flags Great America on November 23rd and run on select days through December 31st.

“Six Flags is creating a new season of thrills as the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with a million dazzling lights and all the magical sights, sounds and tastes of the holidays,” said Park President, Hank Salemi. “We are excited to extend our operating calendar and make Gurnee the premier place to spend the holiday season.”

© Six Flags
Similar to the other Holiday in the Park events, Six Flags Great America is promising a robust line up of special activities, live entertainment, more than a million lights and plenty of decorations, holiday themed food and beverage treats, shopping experiences and of course, photos with Santa.

The park will also have many of their rides open for guests, though it is a bit early to predict if all the park's rides will be open or only a selection of them.  They do specifically list Batman: The Ride on their site so we know at least that one is for sure.

For more on the new event, check out the Six Flags Great America Holiday in the Park website.

Monday, April 9, 2018

RailBlazer Trains Now On Track + More Photo Updates From California's Great America

© California's Great America
California's Great America has treated us all with some wonderful new photos of RailBlazer, the park's new-for-2018 Rocky Mountain Construction designed single-rail roller coaster.

The biggest news is that two of the ride's trains are now on the track, seen above.  In addition to the black and green train we saw previously, there is a shiny red train now also on the rails.  Both trains look great with their off-road ATV theming.  They certainly look like they're ready to start to head around the course!

© California's Great America
The park has also shared some photos of the ride's worksite.  Much theming has continued to be installed, with major rockwork wrapping up.  This is a photo of the tunnel that trains will pass through at the base of the 90 degree first drop.  I know it is just an optical illusion, but it doesn't look like the train can possibly have clearance as it heads through.  This will make for an awesome head-chopper effect!

© California's Great America
The photos also show plenty of other theming that is sprouting up around the ride's layout.  Much of the low to the ground track will have theming surrounding it, or water under it, which will enhance the sense of speed that riders feel, though RailBlazer has a given top speed of 52 miles per hour on its own.

© California's Great America
RailBlazer's station also continues to make progress toward being complete.  The station is designed to fit the rugged theme of the coaster, featuring plenty of wood throughout.  You can also get a nice look at the magnetic brakes on the left of the photo, which slow the train before the transfer track.

For more photos from the park, check out both Facebook and Twitter.  Hope to see testing and an opening date revealed soon!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Universal Orlando Updates: New Hotel, New Ride + Halloween Announcement

© Universal
Universal Orlando has released a trio of news items this past week, starting with details on their latest resort which is being built on the site of the former Wet 'n' Wild water park.  First off, the name of the resort has been revealed:  Universal's Endless Summer Resort.  It will consist of two separate sides, Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites.  Said at once, it's a bit of a mouthful!

The hotels will feature a comfortable beachy feel, and the Surfside hotel will open in 2019, followed by Dockside in 2020.  Around half of the resort's rooms will be suites, with separate bedrooms and a kitchen.

The hotels are Universal's first "value" resorts, with regular room starting as low as $73 a night.  A suite will start at only $111 a night as well.  Both hotels come with free shuttle service to and from the parks, along with early park admission.

© Universal
Opening this summer, Fast & Furious: Supercharged is Universal Studios Florida's latest attraction.  While the park isn't showing off the actual ride portion yet, they are showing off the detailed queue that has been built for the attraction.

The large queue is filled with different rooms that recreate scenes and locations from the movies, including several garages with plenty of cars (some from the movies) in them.

The park has even created a brand new design for the queue, known as Lenny's Turbo Truck!  No official opening date just yet, but they used the word "soon" on the blog so... soon it is!

© Universal
Finally, though it is still pretty early in the year, we had our first Halloween Horror Nights maze announcement, and they started things off with quite a bang.  For the first time Stranger Things will be the theme of a maze, focused on Season 1 of the show, and fans are drooling at the thought.

To be fair, I am as well - it sounds like an amazingly cool incorporation.  The park has worked with both Netflix and the show's creators to make an authentic experience, including everything from Mirkwood to the Upside Down.

Stranger Things is also coming to mazes at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Singapore this year, so Stranger Things for everyone!  Can't wait to see how it turns out.

Friday, April 6, 2018

SeaWorld San Diego Gives Electric Eel Opening Date + On-Ride Video

© SeaWorld San Diego
Excited fans of SeaWorld San Diego now know that they only have to wait until May 12th to ride the park's all new launched roller coaster, Electric Eel.  The theme park has been testing the ride regularly and finishing work on the coaster's station, queue and surrounding plaza. 

According to this site the new area of the park featuring Electric Eel will also feature a live eel display, featuring California moray eels, along with an educational experience called Mission: Deep Discovery.  During this visitors, in teams of one to four, will go on a virtual experience in the deep sea.

Electric Eel, which has been built by Premier Rides, features three launches - two forward and one backward, to get trains up to a top height of 150 feet above the park.  This on-ride video that SeaWorld San Diego released shows just what that ride will be like, including the full heartline roll at 150 feet in the air and a non-inverting loop that takes place after a vertical dive.  There are also some off-ride shots at the end of the video that should not be missed.

For more information on Electric Eel, click here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Dorney Park Pre-Season 2018 Photo + Park Update

After covering the removal of Stinger separately a few days ago, I still had plenty left to show off from my visit to Dorney Park.  Now that we're in April the park is really coming alive as the property comes back to life, and many projects are nearing completion.

The park has spoken about a couple of the things I got to see, (their large new restaurant in Wildwater Kingdom, Tidal Wave Cafe, for instance) but there are plenty of other small changes that the park has made during the off season.  Let's check them out!

© NewsPlusNotes
2016 was a big year for Thunderhawk at Dorney Park, as the 90+ year old classic Philadelphia Toboggan Company wooden coaster received some major improvements.  The largest of them were a pair of brand new trains, but the ride also got other improvements like a total repaint, historical signage and more.  The park hasn't stopped improving the ride since then, and is at it again this year.

© NewsPlusNotes
This year the park has hired The Gravity Group to come in and refurbish about 150 feet of Thunderhawk's track.  If you look closely you'll see the track has been removed on the section that crosses the walkway and leads into the final run of hills before the brakes.

© NewsPlusNotes
Not just a simple re-tracking, this work is a bit more involved and is designed to provide a smoother transition into the final part of the ride.  The park will have this section totally re-engineered to provide a better experience for riders.  That is not to say that there will be any dramatic changes to the profile, but it will certainly ride more smoothly.

© NewsPlusNotes
Once the new track structure is built and installed, the ride profile will be connected to the existing track, which can be seen here.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product on this, and taking a spin!

© NewsPlusNotes
Elsewhere in the park, other rides and attractions are also seeing refurbishment, and many are being put back together in anticipation of opening day.  White Water Landing, for instance, looks a bit 'off' right now, and that's because indeed there are a couple track segments missing.  They are being totally refurbished and will be put back into place soon, so no worries there.

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On the park's food and beverage front, there will be many changes this year.  Several of the existing locations are having new queues installed in order to make the lines move faster and stay more organized when the park is busy.  This is a great move, as it ensures that guests are also served in the correct order and as efficiently as possible.

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As the park's beverage plans continue to quickly grow in popularity, the park has worked to increase the number of Coca-Cola Refresh stations.  This is a brand new one, added to the corner of the existing Center Stage location.  Guests will enter and exit through the building, able to quickly fill their cups and be on their way to more fun.

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Another major change is the transformation of the Smokehouse Barbecue into the all-new Burrito Cantina.  Obviously the location will feature fresh burritos, with guests able to select the items they want in their dish as they pass through.  Many of the items that the Smokehouse featured will still be available at other park locations, such as the new Tidal Wave Cafe.  The proliferation of burrito restaurants has made their popularity stronger than ever, so I've no doubt that the new Burrito Cantina will be a smash hit.

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One of last year's large additions was the Parkside Pavilion, which is seeing even more improvements in 2018.  The new catering area was a huge success last year, and this season visitors to group events will find newly installed fans, along with other cosmetic changes.  For instance, the stage area with the large Dorney Park marquee has had higher fencing installed that will have vines grow up over it, giving a perfect background for photos.

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The fact that pretty much everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times hasn't gone unnoticed by Dorney Park, so they're working on adding more photo locations throughout the park this year.  One of new ones will be in the large flower bed in front of Apollo, where a huge Dorney Park sign with beautiful landscaping will be installed.

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Moving on to changes in Wildwater Kingdom, just inside the entrance to the Wildwater Cove wave pool is another new Coca-Cola Refresh Stand - along with an Icee Mix It Up location.  This is a very high traffic area for Wildwater Kingdom, so this stand will be a perfect location for thirty visitors enjoying a day in the sun.

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Wildwater Kingdom is also undertaking a major renovation to its large Bathhouse that's just inside the entrance.  Changes like this might not make it on to billboards advertising the park, but they are much appreciated by guests.

Located in the center of the Bathhouse, able to be accessed without going into either a men's or women's area, are brand new family changing areas.  These additions can be seen on the left of the above photo, but are located on both sides of the area.  These rooms will be perfect for guests with small children, special needs, and many others.  Smart move by the park!

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The inside of both the men's and women's changing areas and restrooms have been pretty much gutted, and are being totally remodeled.  Obviously the above photo is a work in progress, but the new rooms will be modern and beautiful, with all new fixtures and features.  I have no doubt that visitors will be impressed with the finished product.

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The biggest change to Wildwater Kingdom this year is the brand new Tidal Wave Cafe, a large new restaurant that is being built.  The park released concept art of the outside of the building last fall, but here is a look at the inside of the structure.  Tidal Wave Cafe is nautical themed, fitting for the water park, and will have plenty of decorations and theming to match.  The color pallet of the inside is warm and soothing, and features plenty of natural sunlight as well.

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Here is some additional concept art used in planning Tidal Wave Cafe, I can confirm the design on the right was chosen, though with some differences such as the removal of the graphics on the back wall.

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As you approach the construction area from the entrance to Wildwater Kingdom the change is immediate!  The new structure is so much larger than I had imagined when it was announced, but that's a wonderful thing.  Wildwater Kingdom gets very busy in the summer and this large new food operation is just what it needed to keep guests fed.  The park removed a couple small stands and a bit of the covered seating area to make Tidal Wave Cafe fit.

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Here is a bit of a closer view, showing the entire building.  The main entrance is through the nicely decorated center area, and guests will exit on either of the sides once they have their meal complete.

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Heading down the midway a bit, this is looking back up at Tidal Wave Cafe.  Like I said earlier, I'm quite impressed with the size of the structure.  It also compliments the rest of the area wonderfully with some unique architecture when compared to the stands it replaced.  Talon doesn't look too bad behind it, either. 

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Just outside of Tidal Wave Cafe the park has also made major improvements to allow for more seating for diners.  This included removing some of the berm that surrounds the lazy river here, creating much more usable space.  If you're familiar with Wildwater Kingdom then you can easily see how much this has opened up this area!

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Here is one more angle of the new seating area.  You can see the large white supports that have been installed for covers for the seating area.  This will be similar to the covered seating area that is located on the other side of Tidal Wave Cafe, which was added during Wildwater Kingdom's last large renovation.

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Crews are still hard at work on the interior of Tidal Wave Cafe, and when I visited were working on electrical so we took photos using only natural daylight.  This is just inside the main entrance, a large vaulted ceiling foyer that greets guests.  You can compare the cool chandelier in this photo to the concept art earlier - it's a match!

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This photo was taken from the foyer shown above, looking off to the left.  The building is quite large so it isn't easy to get the entire space in one shot.  Once guests enter there will be two serving lines on each side of the restaurant where they can select their items cafeteria style.  Each line will feed guests to opposite ends of the building where the cashier will be located.  In this photo, the serving lines would be on the right, and the room on the left will hold the cashier.

Speaking of food, Tidal Wave Cafe is going to be home to some seriously delicious treats.  The menu items include hand breaded chicken tenders, rotisserie chicken, hand breaded shrimp, house smoked pulled pork and beef brisket and drum roll please... build your own gourmet mac-n-cheese bowls along with signature sides and desserts.

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Here is another view of the left-side cashier area, with high ceilings and plenty of sunlight.  This side will also feature a built in bar that guests can get a relaxing margarita and other adult treats at.  Just beyond the double doors in the center of the photo is the covered seating area that already existed.  Guests exiting the other side of the restaurant will be right in front of the brand new seating area we saw under construction.

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The kitchen for Tidal Wave Cafe can be seen here, and it features modern appliances and cookware that is needed to create all the delicious items mentioned earlier.  Extra effort went into the design of the area so that staff can easily communicate in an open, undivided space.  This will help with efficiency as well as make a more comfortable area for staff, and important part of any successful dining establishment.  The kitchen also features a large built-in smoker for the pulled pork and brisket, as well as a huge cooler with smaller freezer, since the food here is going to be freshly prepared.  I for one can't wait to try every dish!

With that, we've taken a look at what's new and changed at the property for now, though we all know other small changes will be discovered in just one month when the park opens on May 4th for the 2018 season!