Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of our readers from the team at NewsPlusNotes!  Here is to a happy, healthy and amusement park-filled 2019!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Japan's First Rocky Mountain Construction Coaster - White Whale - Major Progress Update

Everyone gets pretty excited for new Rocky Mountain Construction projects, and rightfully so, so it is awesome to see one of the company's 2019 rides making major progress in Japan.  The ride, named Hakugei, translates into White Whale, is a conversion of the park's former wooden coaster, White Cyclone.

Being that the ride is in Japan we aren't seeing a lot of construction updates but they are out there... mostly on Twitter.

The above user has been taking regular updates of the ride from an adjacent Ferris wheel, and it looks like a ton of progress has already been made on White Whale.

The ride's original wooden track and been totally removed at this point, with new Rocky Mountain steel track already going up on the structure.  I love the blue track on white supports, similar to the look of Six Flags Over Georgia's Twisted Cyclone, though that ride's supports are more gray than white.  Looking closely at the photos you can make out a pretty fun looking outward banked hill in the middle of the ride, and track in place for the lower level of the helix area.

White Whale is a very large RMC project, standing 180 feet tall with 5,020 feet of track along with a 67 mph top speed.  The first drop, which is very evident in these photos and video, is 80 degrees and is sure to be a thrilling start to the ride.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Casino Pier Building 4 New Rides for 2019 Season

© Casino Pier
Casino Pier, located in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, is continuing to build back its roster of rides and attractions after suffering great losses from Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.  Each year they've added new rides, including a major roller coaster - Hydrus - in 2017.

They're expanding again in 2019, have just announced four new rides.  The first, seen above, is named Centrifuge and will be a return of a classic ride that was at the park before Hurricane Sandy.  Centrifuge will be an indoor Scrambler ride with plenty of lighting effects, smoke and music, and is already highly anticipated by fans of the park.

© Casino Pier
Up next is a children's log flume ride, which will be named the Mermaid Parade.  Created by Zamperla rides, the attraction will keep small visitors busy as they splash down a small drop during the 130 feet of flume.

© Casino Pier
Another family attraction, the Elephant Express will spin riders around in the air when it opens next year.  A sketch of the ride is seen above, and riders will be able to control the height of the elephants using a lever in the car.

The last new ride will be known as the Crazy Cabs, and will be a new style of ride.  Created by SBF/Visa Group, the ride features spinning cars on a turntable that is elevated at an angle.  The video above best shows how the ride will look at the Pier, and it sure looks like a thrilling, or perhaps dizzying, ride! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Scott & Carol Present - Getting A Rocky Mountain High!

When New Texas Giant opened in 2011, many roller coaster enthusiasts argued about what type of coaster it should be classified as. The rest of us just made our way to Texas to ride.  It was like nothing else before it, but that was just the beginning. Seven years and sixteen coasters later, the creative people at Rocky Mountain Construction are going strong.

Fred and Allan talk about where they come up with their ideas about construction methods.

The end result can look like this, with some media day riders.

Both of these pictures show how RMC strengthens the existing wood structure for the dynamics of the new ride.  The gray steel seamlessly bolts into what is left from Georgia Cyclone.
A very impressive on ride video set-up for media day. Some of the media were a little bit green back in the station.  

Above is some live action from last summer in the track shop.

This huge, very heavy piece of track is being moved for inspection before going to the next step, being blasted and painted.

A very brief look at operations inside the paint shop.

One can imagine during new hire training, "Those heavy pieces of track aren't going to move themselves." And then a little voice inside says, "They are very heavy, be careful." Once they are blasted, they are moved to the paint booth and inspected before the painting begins.

RMC has two examples of the X box track on display outside of one of their buildings.  Sadly no testing the day we visited, we would have volunteered to ride.

Since they can be seen from the highway, we are sure it is an "eye catcher." It sure isn't easy to find your way into the industrial park. We had to call for help, twice.

This is an example of the making of a part, from blank to finish.


Here is what is left over after several blanks were machined from a single sheet of steel. After the leftovers are too small to be used, the rest, along with the machining scrap, is recycled.
There is something oddly soothing about watching CNC machinery in action, especially when you know that the products will eventually bring great joy to roller coaster riders. 

  Wheels are provided from a third-party supplier.

The formula for different polymer blends are proprietary, but they are based on load factors, speed, and ambient temperature.  Sometimes noise factors into play for special situations.

Here are two tables of parts for trains for new roller coasters opening in 2018, that you can't ride unless you live outside the United States.

This is the other end of the table, with the train car side panels.

The end result is something like this, which we experienced at Kings Dominion at the grand opening event for Twisted Timbers.

RMC prides itself on customer service. Due to their rapid expansion, they have purchased a new warehouse building that is much bigger so they can keep all of their service parts organized together to be better responsive to their customers' needs.

So with twenty projects announced (and more in the works) in less than ten years, Rocky Mountain Construction is set to have a very bright future.  And that means more great rides for all of us, I wonder how they will surprise us next?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Busch Gardens Tampa Confirmed to be Working With Rocky Mountain Construction on Gwazi

© Google Maps
The clues that Busch Gardens Tampa revealed during their announcement for Tigris, the park's new coaster for 2019, regarding their 2020 attraction made it clear that Gwazi would be renovated into a new attraction.  The park gave out some not-so-subtle hints that perhaps we were looking at another Rocky Mountain Construction conversion, which naturally excited coaster fans across the globe.

But, it still wasn't 100% for sure, as parks are known from time to time to throw their biggest fans off the trail when planning big new attractions.

However, it is clear now that Rocky Mountain Construction is indeed the firm working on the conversion, as revealed in this post from Coaster Kings.  The park had already filed some plans with the city for work on Gwazi, but the application was just recently updated with three magic words as the "licensed professional" doing the work:  Rocky Mountain Construction.

© Busch Gardens Tampa
While it's now clear that Gwazi will be RMC'd for 2020, there still remains a lot of questions about the plan.  The largest probably being whether or not the new coaster will have two tracks, as Gawzi did, or just one, or even one that covers both sides like Twisted Colossus at Six Flags Magic Mountain.  Plus all the ride statistics, theming, the new name, and plenty more await us as the months tick by!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

SeaWorld Orlando Previews New "Inside Look" Event Coming Jan 12th - 27th

© SeaWorld Orlando
A brand new event is coming to SeaWorld Orlando this coming January, named SeaWorld's Inside Look, debuting at the park on select days January 12th through 27th.

The event will offer first-ever guest access to different areas of the park's animal care areas and feature special guests such as Guy Harvey, Chris Fischer and Jack Hanna.

Visitors will be able to "hear and see, firsthand, what goes into providing world-class animal care from the people who do it every day" during SeaWorld's Inside Look.  The park will share what goes into maintaining a premier zoological institution, and focuses on six different areas within the park.  As guests visit all six areas they will collect stamps to earn and collect an Expert Explorer's pin.

© SeaWorld Orlando
The park has provided information on all six areas of unprecedented guest access during Inside Look:

SeaWorld Rescue Center -  Visit the home base of the SeaWorld Rescue Team to meet and hear from the dedicated team of filtration experts, animal care personnel, lab technicians and veterinarians who work around the clock to deliver life-saving care to animals in need.  While behind-the-scenes, visitors will get to see some of the many facilities that help SeaWorld provide top-quality care to the animals that call SeaWorld home, as well as the hundreds of rescued animals that receive care at SeaWorld annually.

Fish House - Step behind-the-scenes into an area rarely seen by park guests to meet the dedicated team of ambassadors who start their day before sunrise in order to provide the best of diets for every fish, sea turtle, sea lion, penguin, dolphin, or killer whale in the park.

Manta Aquarium - Go above the surface and discover what it looks like towering over the depths of Manta’s main aquarium.  In a location few have ever seen, uncover what goes into caring for the wide array of fish, rays, sea dragons, live corals and giant Pacific octopus that call Manta home. Meet the team of divers and aquarists who maintain the habitat and feed the wide range of fish within.

© SeaWorld Orlando
Sea Lion & Otter Primary Housing - For the first time ever, visit the home of the talented group of California sea lions, Pacific walrus and Asian small-clawed otters from Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High. Hear stories and gain insight from the team of trainers who perform with these animals on a daily basis and learn what goes into making a live performance look seamless.

Animal Ambassador Hamlet - This historic facility has a rich history of providing a loving home to a variety of animals at SeaWorld Orlando, including our Animal Ambassador team. Comprised of an eclectic collection of small mammals, exotic birds and a handful of well-trained reptiles, the Animal Ambassadors make surprise visits out in the park, appear at local community events, news stations and travel far and wide making appearances on network television programs and events.

Beluga & Seal Primary Housing - Step into the maze of back hallways that provide service access to the residents of Wild Arctic starting with the food prep area for the beluga whales, seals and walruses. Proceeding further in, guests will get to see a variety of beluga toys followed by a chance to step outside and see the back beluga pool and scales on which the whales are weighed.  Finally, guests will see the harbor seal holding pools where the seals spend time relaxing when they are not on exhibit.

For more information on SeaWorld Orlando's Inside Look, check out the park's official website.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

New Zoning Plan to Mark the End of Elitch Gardens in Current Form

© Google Maps
The city of Denver, Colorado, has approved a new zoning plan for the plot of land that Elitch Gardens currently sits on, located along the South Platte River and near both the Pepsi Center and Mile High Stadium.

The plan calls for the "River Mile" land to be fully redeveloped into a residential area that would have upwards of 8,000 residential units located in tall buildings overlooking the river.  The entire 58 acres that the park sits on would be used for the project.  The area would also contain some office locations, and the base of the buildings would be reserved for retail and other "active" uses.

But we're not about city planning here so the focus, really, is that this officially means that Elitch Gardens is living on borrowed time, at least in its current form.  One other catch to the plan is that building all aspects of it could take up to 25 years, and the developers state that there are no "immediate plans" to shut down the park.  Some of the first developments will be a parking garage and other structures on the park's current parking lots.

Right now, developers say the park could "potentially be rebuilt elsewhere," but it remains to be seen if that will ever come to light.  Basically, it's too early to know for sure.

While the news is not exactly encouraging, Elitch Gardens did successfully move once before, from its original home where it operated from 1890 until 1994.  The park in its current form, located downtown, opened in 1995.

Elitch Gardens is currently run by Premier Parks, LLC, but not owned by them - the park was fully purchased from CNL Lifestyle Properties in 2015 by a group of local investors.

It's hard to tell at this point just when the park will close, but it doesn't sound like there is much doubt that it will close... eventually.  We'll have to keep watch on developments on the River Mile plan in coming years, no doubt.  For now, if you can, go enjoy the park!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Cedar Fair is Branching Out Into... Higher Education?

© Cedar Fair / BGSU
This past Friday Cedar Fair along with Bowling Green State University announced plans to construct a "first-of-its-kind" college campus in downtown Sandusky, just around the corner from Cedar Point.

The new five story building, seen above, will be home to a new resort and attraction management program that will accept its first students as juniors in the fall of 2020.  The building will be paid for by Cedar Fair, according to news sources, costing around $13 million, and go up on a vacant lot being donated by the city of Sandusky.  It will be one of the first new buildings to go up in the city in many years, and will also contain apartments for students.

The new management school has been planned for many years, and is now in its final stages with a new homebase announced.  Those entering the program will be afforded the opportunity to have paid internships at different Cedar Fair parks and resorts around the country, including Cedar Point.  The educational program will be administered by Bowling Green State University Firelands, one of the school's regional locations.

Students graduating from the program will receive a Bachelors in Science in resort and attractions management, known as RAAM by the university, and the final two years of the program will be spent at the new facility being built by Cedar Fair.

According to Bowling Green State University, the program was designed by "Cedar Fair and with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions in composing the curriculum and practicums to ensure they meet industry standards and prepare students with the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in their jobs.  They will study such topics as finance and accounting, guest services, facilities management and food and beverage service—all in a resort or attraction context."  The university notes that this is only the 4th such academic program in the world, and the 2nd in the United States.

Not only is a degree in resort and attractions management is perfect fit for younger fans of the industry that want to make a career of it, but it's also an excellent way to get involved with Cedar Fair as well!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Check Out the Newest Aerials of Harry Potter Themed Coaster at Islands of Adventure

I've featured them here in the past, but if you're a fan of Orlando parks and you're not already following user Bioreconstruct on twitter, you're really missing out.  They periodically post great aerial photos of many Orlando area parks, along with excellent photos of construction projects that are otherwise hidden behind work walls.

This most recent batch of photos show off the new roller coaster that is being constructed at Islands of Adventure, on the site of the former Dueling Dragons, err, Dragon Challenge coaster.

There are a lot of great photos of the site in Bioreconstruct's twitter feed, and I'm only going to embed a couple of them here.  This shot is a wide angle of the entire ride, which shows the ever growing forest that is being planted on the ride's site, along with a massive amount of new theming going into place.

The new coaster remains mostly a secret, as Universal has only said it will be another trip into the world of Harry Potter, be family friendly and highly themed - and that little bit of information was released way back in July of 2017.

The most exciting development that these photos show is one of the coaster's trains now on the track, you can see that in Bioreconstruct's photo above.  The ride is heavily rumored to feature a trip into the Forbidden Forest along with Hagrid, with the ride vehicles themed as his motorcycle and side car.  That does seem plausible from the general look of the trains... but they are wrapped in plastic so plenty of details remain hidden for now.

If you click through all of the photos, especially the large versions, there are a ton of details to pick out.  The former Dragon Challenge station has been expanded and is receiving its final look as a stone building covered in moss, and what looks like Hagrid's hut has been enclosed with more theming added - just two examples. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Kennywood Places First Inversion on the Steel Curtain's Imposing Structure

© Kennywood
The Steel Curtain at Kennywood Park is going to have a North American record-breaking number of inversions, 9 in total, when finished and the park has proudly placed the first onto the growing ride.  Using favorable weather conditions (check out that blue sky!), Kennywood has been working quickly to get pieces of the ride's 220 foot tall structure into place.

© Kennywood
The first inversion of the nine that has been put into place is actually the last on the ride, and that's the cutback.  This element leads the trains into the final brake run, where riders can finally take a breath.  When finished, the Steel Curtain will offer inversions such as the Fake-Out Inverting Drop, Banana Roll, Sea Serpent, Dive Loop, Top Gun Stall and Corkscrew (along with the Cutback).

© Kennywood
This is also our first great look at the coaster's black track, which is pretty beefy looking.  The ride has been designed by S&S Worldwide, and will be one of the largest coasters the company has created in North America in some time.  The final product will offer 4,000 feet of track along with a top speed of 76 miles per hour.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Carnival Cruise Line to Open First Roller Coaster at Sea on New Mardi Gras Ship

© Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is debuting a new ship in 2020 named the Mardi Gras, and it will include the world's first roller coaster at sea when it sets sail.  The design for the new ship can be seen above, and if you look closely at the larger image you can see coaster track spiraling around on the back of the ship.

© Carnival Cruise Line
The new attraction will be named Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster and will stretch along almost 800 feet of track at 187 feet above sea level.  The ride, which will be electrically powered and not rely on gravity, will give passengers unparalleled views of the ship and the open sea around them.  The ride's cars are capable of reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

© Carnival Cruise Line
"Bolt begins with an action-packed launch where riders can achieve race car-like levels of acceleration and culminates with a high-powered hair-pin turn around Carnival’s iconic funnel. Riders’ speeds are posted after the race, and just like land-based roller coasters, guests have their photo taken during the ride for a memorable keepsake. And since guests choose their own speed, each ride is unique."

© Carnival Cruise Line
As depicted in these images, Bolt will utilize motorcycle-like seats that give an open ride experience.  The coaster is one of Maurer Rides' Spike Coasters, which are just starting to show up at parks around the world.  The company has posted more information on Bolt on their website, available at this link.

The Mardi Gras ship will be based in Port Canaveral, Florida, in a brand new terminal.  The ship's first itinerary information will be revealed early next month.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Breaks Ground on Brand New Orlando Headquarters

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Today SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment held a groundbreaking ceremony for a brand new, 40,725 square foot building that will be the its new headquarters when completed.  The three story building will be located not far from SeaWorld Orlando and will become a "shared home for ambassadors from the current Park Support Center and at the SeaWorld Orlando park."  It is targeted to open in the fall of 2019.

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
The ceremony included a few animal ambassadors, including several three-banded armadillos, which are known for their digging capabilities (perfect for a groundbreaking, you see!).  Other animals that helped include Mattie, a rescued bald eagle and Dunder, an Asian small clawed river otter.  Guests at the ceremony were able to interact with the animals and SeaWorld representatives were on hand to help them learn about them.

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Of course many dignitaries from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment were on hand, along with Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Visit Orlando's George Aquel.  The Millennia Gardens Elementary School Eco Club, who grow lettuce that feeds rescued and rehabilitating manatees, were also on hand.

“Today is much more than the groundbreaking of a new building. It is about the foundation we are continuing to fortify and build upon as a company to extend and carry out our mission – to save species, learn about them, protect them, educate others about them, and help them flourish, both in our care and in the wild,” said John Reilly, Interim CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Kentucky Flyer Construction Updates + New POV Video Released

© Kentucky Kingdom
As predicted, it wasn't long at all before Kentucky Kingdom started to place bents for their new family wooden roller coaster, the Kentucky Flyer.  The park has continued to keep us all updated on their social media platforms, releasing images as progress is made.

Just today, seen above, the park was working on another massive concrete pour, finishing up the foundation for the ride.  If you look closely in this photo you'll also notice that some bents for the coaster are also now in place in the middle of the ride.

To get a closer look at the now vertical Kentucky Flyer, the park created this construction update.  The clip is the second in what will be a series of updates as the coaster continues to rise at the park.  It shows that the bents that have been placed look to support two low sections of the ride, both on the stretch outward and on the return run.

Kentucky Kingdom also recently released a new point of view ride on the Gravity Group designed ride.  It's hard to tell if there are a lot of changes from the prior video, but this one looks a lot more polished and probably better represents the coaster's final design.

I also realized that I hadn't shared photos of the Kentucky Flyer's awesome trains!

© Kentucky Kingdom
There, now that is fixed.  Back at the IAAPA Expo the park, along with the Gravity Group and GravityKraft, debuted these slick trains for the first time.  The ride carries a light airplane theme, as we've seen in the promotional videos, so the plane-themed front car makes perfect sense.  I love the propeller on the front as well!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Adventureland Iowa Announces New Spinning Roller Coaster for 2019

© Adventureland
Iowa's Adventureland theme park has announced a surprise roller coaster for the 2019 season, named Phoenix.  The coaster will be a spinning ride designed by Maurer Rides, standing about 50 feet tall and reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

The Phoenix will replace the Inverter, a flat ride was removed at the end of the 2017 season, according to this news story.  The ride will cost Adventureland $6 million and construction will start in February, 2019, with the ride scheduled for a June opening.

© Maurer Rides
From the given manufacturer, height, speed and the fact that Undertow at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is shown in the park's Facebook announcement, it looks like Phoenix will be one of Maurer's SC2000 rides.

There are already a handful of these spinning coasters in North America, and they are well received by park guests.  Adventureland is marketing the new coaster as a family attraction, considerably less intense than the Monster, the park's large Gerstlauer Infinity Coaster built in 2016.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Checking in on Yukon Striker Construction at Canada's Wonderland

© Grace Peacock
Cedar Fair's second large coaster project for 2019 is Yukon Striker at Canada's Wonderland, and the coaster's construction isn't too far behind Carowinds' Copperhead Strike, though the track isn't quite finished yet.  The theme park has made major progress on the ride's instillation however, and it doesn't look out of the question for all track to be up before the start of the new year.

The park's Director of Communications has shared a few photos of the ride on her social media, including the beautiful snowy shot above.  I love how tall and isolated Yukon Striker looks in the photo, as if it is protecting the park.

© Grace Peacock
Back with clear skies and no snow, you can see in this shot from last week that many of Yukon Striker's enormous elements are already in place.  After the 245 foot first drop the ride soars up into an Immelmann, not seen here, then up into the dive loop that is in the middle of the photo.  That leads to the back half of the ride, which returns using the steep drop from the mid-course brakes, also seen here.

© Canada's Wonderland
This wonderful wide-angle shot does picture the enormous Immelmann, and also the other elements that we saw above.  The rest of the layout will include a vertical loop - the first on a B&M dive coaster - another smaller Immelmann, and then after that second drop a hill and helix before the station.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Carowinds Places Final Piece of Copperhead Strike Track!

© Carowinds
An early holiday present to Carowinds, construction crews this week lifted the final piece of Copperhead Strike track into place.  The above photo is the final piece of track, along with some of the crew who have been assembling the ride.  The final piece was a part of the ride's giant inverted top hat element, which takes place right after the second launch.

© Carowinds
© Carowinds
The theme park has been showing off the ride in recent weeks, since it was nearing completion and there was quite a lot to see.  We already knew from all the videos and concept art that Copperhead Strike would be a twisted ride, but I think these photos speak for themselves on that point.  The ride's track twists and curls its way around, and looks amazing set in front of the fall colors of the parks trees.

Copperhead Strike's track extends 3,255 feet total, with two launches - one to 42 miles per hour and then halfway through the ride another that sends the trains blasting at 50 miles per hour.

© Carowinds
This shot is of the inverted top hat, the final elements to be constructed, when it was about halfway done.  Copperhead Strike will have 5 inversions in total, two vertical loops, the jojo roll right out of the station, a corkscrew, and the inverted top hat.

© Carowinds
The same time that track and supports have been going up, Carowinds has been busy building Copperhead Strike's station, queue and first launch building.  This photo is of the building that houses the first launch, which according to the ride's animations will have quite a bit of theming inside it.  Carowinds captioned the photo "What's in the barn?" - alluding to the events that will take place in here.  I love that the park is combining a thrilling ride with a pretty heavy storyline, helping to keep the "theme" in the "theme park."

Friday, December 7, 2018

New Details on Tokyo Disneyland's Stunning New Dark Ride + Massive Expansion

© Disney Parks
This week Disney Parks and Tokyo Disneyland have released new information and an amazing video showcasing the massive expansion under construction at the park, which will greatly expand Fantasyland but also give new attractions to both Tomorrowland and Toontown.  All the new additions are scheduled to open in 2020, and these new materials have fans quite excited, especially for the area's new dark ride.

Tokyo Disneyland released this drawing of the expansion, along with a key to understand what is being added:

© Tokyo Disneyland
The largest part of the expansion is a new part of Fantasyland themed to Beauty and the Beast.  The area's main dark ride will be named the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, but the area will also feature the Village Shoppes, a retail area, La Tavern de Gaston and LeFou's, both food establishments, along with the large Fantasyland Forest Theatre.

In Tomorrowland, a new family spinning ride named The Happy Ride with Baymax (how adorable!) will open in a structure bordering Tomorrowland and the Fantasyland Expansion.  Toontown will also open Minnie's Style Studio, a new highly themed character meet and greet area.

The total expansion is costing $665 million, and the dark ride is a massive $284 million on its own.

Disney Parks released a new video all about the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, and it's getting a ton of attention all over the internet:

Watching the entire video makes it pretty easy to understand why people are going nuts for this new ride.  It's the first time that Beauty and the Beast is being made into a full dark ride, and it looks like they're going all out on it.  The animatronics alone look amazing, and the trackless dancing tea cups that serve as ride vehicles look equally wonderful.  In true Tokyo Disney fashion, the ride looks to be some of the best that Imagineering can create!