Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Apex Parks Group to Permanently Close Both Indiana Beach and Fantasy Island Amusement Parks



Sad news for the amusement park industry - Apex Parks Group has announced the permanent closure of both Indiana Beach (Monticello, Indiana) and Fantasy Island (Grand Island, New York).

News had just started to break that the amusement operator, which owns many family entertainment centers under the brands of Boomers and SpeedZone, no longer had the resources to invest in and operate the two longstanding amusement parks and now they've confirmed that the parks are indeed closed for good.

Apex did released a statement regarding the closures for both parks, using almost the same wording for both:  "Despite significant effort and a great deal of investment in infrastructure and rides, we have not seen an improvement in operating results. As such, we made the difficult decision to cease operations. This was not a decision entered into lightly. Team members are being assisted by their supervisors and the company is working to minimize impact to those affected."

It is said in several new stories that Apex tried to find a buyer for both of the parks, with no success.

Indiana Beach © Google Maps
At the same time that the parks were announced as closing, Apex is also shopping the rides from the parks to other operators.  They plan to keep some of them, but many are up for sale or being retired.  According to this post from ACE, all of the steel roller coasters at the parks are for sale, but the only wooden coaster listed is the Silver Comet from Fantasy Island.  That leaves the three wooden rides at Indiana Beach seemingly destined for destruction.

Interestingly, all four of the wooden roller coasters between the two parks were built by Custom Coasters International.

Fantasy Island © Google Maps
Indiana Beach first opened in 1926 and was a longtime family-owned favorite vacation spot for people as it sat nearly in the middle of Lake Shafer.  Scott & Carol have shared a great deal of wonderful stores about the park through the years, you can scroll through them at this link to learn much more about the park.

Fantasy Island, which was for a long time known as Martin's Fantasy Island, opened in 1961 and was also family owned park that was run privately under a handful of owners for many years.  It was just purchased by Apex near the start of the 2016 season.

The news of the parks closing has hit many fans, both inside and outside the amusement industry, as a punch in the gut.  Sadly it seems the time for possibly saving these parks is over, especially since Apex already tried to find new owners.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Six Flags Over Texas Quickly Installing New Aquaman: Power Wave Water Coaster


© Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas will debut Aquaman: Power Wave in 2020, North America's first Mack Power Splash attraction.  The ride combines a splash boat ride with the launch elements found on modern roller coasters, making for a unique and thrilling experience.

Six Flags Over Texas has been sharing photos of the ride's construction, which just kicked into high gear recently as the parts of the ride were moved to the work site to be installed.  That can be seen up top, and also in this video from the park.

© Six Flags Over Texas
Just this week the park has started to show off how much of Aquaman: Power Wave is already installed in a fun interactive image on social media.  You can scroll around and take a look at the work site, part of which can be seen above.  That end of the track isn't yet complete, but over on the other end...

© Six Flags Over Texas
Things are much bigger!  The backside of the ride is starting to tower over the park - this will be the totally vertical side of the U shaped track that the boats launch up.  Each of the towers will stand 148 feet tall, though the other will feature a bit of a level-off near the top.  The ride launches the boats both forward and backward several times - hitting a top speed of 63 miles per hour which is super fast for a water ride.  After the final launch up one of the towers the boats come down to the splash lagoon and naturally a huge wave covers all.

© Six Flags Over Texas
Just as a reminder, here is how Aquaman: Power Wave will look when it is complete.  Right now the park is working on the tower on the left of this image, with much of the middle section of track also installed. 


Monday, February 17, 2020

Hersheypark Places Final Track Piece for New Candymonium Hyper Coaster


© Hersheypark
Another of North America's new for 2020 roller coasters is now complete as Hersheypark just recently placed the final track piece for Candymonium.  The park's new hyper coaster, fabricated by B&M, now has a completed 4,636 foot long course.  The final track piece, seen above, was located just before the brake run at the end of the ride.

Candymonium is the biggest ride in the park's new Chocolatetown entrance area, which is all new for 2020 as well.

© Hersheypark
Less recently than the instillation of the final track piece, Hersheypark also shared photos of the coaster's three shiny new B&M trains.  There will be three color schemes for the trains, the blue one above represents the famous Hershey's Kisses.  There will be a red train as well, representing Twizzlers.

© Hersheypark
The third train is orange, signifying Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which can be seen above.  The trains have both milk and dark chocolate color schemes as well, seen on the beautiful B&M clam shell design above.  Candymonium starts with a 210 foot tall lift hill and the three trains will hit a top speed of 76 miles per hour as they race out into the newly developed land the park is utilizing.

© Hersheypark
The entire Chocolatetown area is a massive renovation of the entire entrance area to Hersheypark, and this recent photo shows that much progress has been made on the area.  You can see Candymonium in the background, along with all the new buildings that fill up this part of the land.  There's even a Hershey's Kiss shaped planter that can be seen here, a fitting way to welcome guests to the land of chocolate!


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Updates on Six Flags + SeaWorld's Past and Present Investor Legal Troubles


© SeaWorld Entertainment
SeaWorld Entertainment has finally seen a resolution to the investor lawsuit that alleged the company covered up the real effects of the Blackfish documentary for much longer than they should have, which caused investors to lose money as the company's stock price plummeted.

The company issued notice that they have agreed to pay $65 million to settle the dispute, which is still subject to final approvals.  The lawsuit had been going on for so long that a jury trial was finally set to start in a week's time, so instead of that route it looks like all parties decided the $65 million figure was sufficient.

The agreement means that SeaWorld has to admit no wrongdoing, and also luckily for them they had insurance for this type of situation, as most companies do, which will cover $45.5 million of the settlement.

Considering the company is run by totally different individuals at this point that had nothing to do with the Blackfish era, it's nice to see the books closed on that debacle.

© Six Flags Entertainment
Six Flags however is just at the start of a new investor lawsuit which claims they did not tell the whole truth about the shaky footing that Riverside Investment Group, which was to build up to 11 Six Flags branded park in China, was actually on.

Riverside Investment Group has since forced Six Flags to send out notice that the Chinese parks are in grave jeopardy with a good chance of never opening.

The lawsuit claims that Six Flags made false or inflated statements about the abilities of Riverside to get through tough economic times in China, which cause inflated stock prices.  However they do note that Six Flags did release some information on the partnership with Riverside, and each time they did the stock price dropped at least 10% - but their sticking point seems to be the sunny-side representation of the future of the Chinese parks while Riverside was falling apart.

I'm not a lawyer so the fact that Six Flags did give updates makes me think they were being up front, but I guess not upfront enough to accurately reflect how bad the situation was?

Either way it's more not so good news for Six Flags, who's stock price is about half of what it was not long ago.  It certainly seems their grand international licensing expansion idea has ended before it ever really began.


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure Shares Devilish Photos of Jersey Devil Cars + Construction


© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure has shared some amazing new photos of the Jersey Devil Coaster's lead cars, which as shown in the preview animation feature the character himself.  They say the devil is in the details, and that's quite literally true of these lead cars, which have an amazing amount of detail baked into them!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The Jersey Devil Coaster will feature several trains with these fantastic lead cars, which appear to be swallowing the track as they move through the course.  The ride will be one of Rocky Mountain Construction's new Raptor designs, the largest that they've done to date.  It will use a single rail for the trains to ride on, giving passengers a low center of gravity and a thrilling experience.  The ride will stand 130 feet tall, feature 3,000 feet of track and top speeds of 58 miles per hour via an 87 degree first drop.  The devil will no doubt make sure that there's plenty of air time on that drop!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure has been making great progress on the ride during this winter, keeping us wonderfully updated as they go.  Above are some of the supports for the ride that have already arrived at the park - several truckloads worth are already on site.  No track has appeared just yet, but I'm sure that's not far off!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The park's update also notes that they have now poured the ride's final 12 pier caps, which means that the process of creating the ride's foundations is nearly complete.  We all know that means that vertical construction isn't too far off, which is quite an exciting time for the park.

If you haven't seen Great Adventure's most recent Jersey Devil Coaster video update, make sure to check it out below!


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sesame Place Philadelphia Celebrating 40th Birthday With New Ride, Play Area + Restaurant


© Sesame Place Philadelphia
The 2020 season will mark the 40th Birthday of Sesame Place Philadelphia, and the theme park for kids is serving up several additions to mark the occasion.  A new ride, a new kids play area and a restaurant are just part of the fun that will take place all season long.

The birthday theme will be evident all over the park, which will be decorated with "bright balloons and garland, an enormous, inflatable birthday cake, new birthday photo ops and oversized candles."  The park's popular parade will be named the Neighborhood Birthday Party Parade this season and will feature a new song and floats decorated with giant cupcakes and more.

© Sesame Place Philadelphia
The park will also build a new ride to celebrate their 40th, named Big Bird's Tour Bus.  The over-sized, red double-decker bus will feature Big Bird and his friends set in front of a cityscape backdrop.  The bus will zoom around and up into the air in a giant circle, giving gentle thrills that the whole family will enjoy.

© Sesame Place Philadelphia
Also new in 2020 will be Slimey's Square, a "brightly-colored, shaded, soft play area" located adjacent to Oscar's Wacky Taxi Coaster.  Intended for kids aged 5 and under, Slimey's Square will feature areas for kids to climb, crawl and have fun while their parents are nearby on a built in seated wall.  The addition will gives smaller kids a fun place to hang out while their older siblings take on the thrill of the coaster next door.

Finally, Sesame Place Philadelphia will also open ABC Eats, a new restaurant concept.  Featuring a variety of dishes for the family, there will also be plenty of healthy wraps, fresh salads and more to enjoy.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure + All Six Flags Parks to Become Certified Autism Centers


Six Flags Great Adventure is proud to announce that it will earn the Certified Autism Center designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Educations Standards (IBCCES).  Even better, the same is true of all 26 Six Flags Entertainment Corporation parks, which will be the first time ever that an entire park chain has received the distinction.

 “We are proud to partner with IBCCES to ensure that guests on the autism spectrum have the best possible experience when visiting our parks,” said Six Flags Vice President of Safety Jason Freeman. “The certification process will equip our team members with the tools and training needed to better serve guests with special needs. We want them to know Six Flags stands ready to welcome them with open arms.”

 In order for the parks to receive the Certified Autism Center designation the IBCCES requires at least 80% of guest-facing staff at each park to complete a training and certification program.  The organization will also complete audits at the parks to ensure standards are met and help with ongoing training.  The staff training centers around ensuring understanding of the autism spectrum and "strategies for communication, guest experience and safety."

© Six Flags Great Adventure
According to press materials, as a Certified Autism Center the Six Flags parks will provide:

• Trained, courteous, front-line team members with the ability to identify visual cues to better accommodate guests with cognitive disorders and help them enjoy their time in the parks;
• A sensory guide for each ride and attraction so guests can make informed decisions about the ride experience and their level of comfort;
• Special in-park sensory spaces, where guests with sensory needs can relax in a less stimulating environment;
• Expanded culinary options to meet guests’ dietary needs (such as gluten-free items); and
• An updated Accessibility Guide available at sixflags.com, Guest Relations and Ride Information Centers at each park.

For more information, check out Six Flags Great Adventure's website regarding attraction accessibility.


Saturday, February 8, 2020

Seabreeze Amusement Park's Classic Jack Rabbit Coaster Celebrates 100 Years


© Seabreeze Amusement Park
The Jack Rabbit wooden roller coaster at New York's Seabreeze Amusement Park is celebrating an amazing 100 years during the 2020 season.

Having opened in 1920, it is now one of only a handful of coasters that have hit the exclusive 100 year mark, and the park is obviously quite proud of that fact.  They are finalizing details on their plans, but the park will celebrate the milestone throughout the season with special events.  The park is also proud to note that the coaster is the oldest continually operating one in America.

© Seabreeze Amusement Park
The Jack Rabbit was designed by John A. Miller and constructed by Harry Baker.  According to Seabreeze, the ride was the first to utilize under friction wheels, which John A. Miller had received the patent for just one year prior to the Jack Rabbit opening.  The design improvement allowed the coaster to feature more dramatic hills, drops and turns.

The ride's top speed of 42 miles per hour may not seem like much today, however the ride was the fastest in the world when it first opened!

© Seabreeze Amusement Park
The Jack Rabbit starts with a 60 foot plunge and features an out and back layout with a bit of a surprise at the end, a drop inside a tunnel that first time riders do not expect.  Granted the ride isn't the tallest and longest, but to make it to 100 years is quote an achievement!  Make sure to drop by Seabreeze this summer and take a spin on the Jack Rabbit - or if you can't enjoy the point of view video from the park below!


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Texas Stingray to Open at SeaWorld San Antonio February 29th!


© SeaWorld San Antonio
Looks like everyone won't have to wait too long to experience the Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio, as the park has announced that the new wooden roller coaster will have its grand opening on February 29th!

However, the park is offering a special weekend of exclusive ride time for pass holders, starting on February 22nd where Platinum pass holders can take their very first rides on the Texas Stingray from 10 am through noon.  After that time both Silver and Gold pass holders can join along in the fun and ride until 8 pm.  On February 23rd the fun continues as all levels of pass holders can exclusively ride the coaster from 10 am through 5 pm.

The 23rd will also be Pass Member Appreciation Day where holders can get a free Texas Stingray beanie hat, free sweet treats, special discounts, animal experiences and more.

The Texas Stingray is a custom designed Great Coasters International wooden coaster that utilizes steel supports with a lift hill of 96 feet and a 100 foot first drop.  The 3,379 foot long coaster will hit a top speed of 55 miles per hour and give plenty of air-time, twists and turns.

If you missed it earlier, here is the point of view ride on the coaster to hold you over until later this month when it opens!


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

SeaWorld San Diego's Emperor Dive Coaster Track is Complete


© SeaWorld San Diego
Exciting news from SeaWorld San Diego, which just recently completed all track and support instillation for Emperor, the park's new B&M dive roller coaster.  Seen above in its completed status, Emperor is now another impressive addition to the theme park's skyline.

Emperor towers 153 feet over SeaWorld San Diego, and features a vertical, 143 foot first drop.  With a top speed of 60 miles per hour, the trains will encounter three inversions along the 2,411 feet of track.

© SeaWorld San Diego
As is common in the industry, members of the construction team got a chance to sign the final piece of track before it was lifted into place.  It's a nice way to let the crew who built the ride forever be a part of the attraction!

© SeaWorld San Diego
The final piece was located in what appears to be the ride's 3rd inversion, a corkscrew near the end of the ride.  You could easily argue that Emperor has four inversions, as the ride's second element is a very highly banked turn that is indeed counted as an inversion on other rides.  No matter the final number, all the elements will be a blast so who cares!

© SeaWorld San Diego
And just like that the final piece was bolted in place and the Emperor track was complete.  The coaster is the only B&M dive coaster in California and one of only a handful in North America.

© SeaWorld San Diego
Not long after the track was completed the park reached another milestone - they placed the first Emperor floorless coaster train on the track!  With how quickly the park is making progress on Emperor I wouldn't be at all surprised to see testing start soon.  Stay tuned!


Monday, February 3, 2020

Energylandia Continuing Coaster Building Streak with New Vekoma Coaster "Abyssus"


© Energylandia
Poland's Energylandia theme park has been on a crazy schedule of building new coaster after new coaster in recent years, and the trend isn't stopping.  In the past two years they have opened Hyperion, an Intamin hyper coaster and Zadra, an equally large Rocky Mountain Construction custom IBox Track design.

The park is currently working on one of Vekoma's "Shockwave" coasters, which will be named Abyssus when it opens.  The concept art up top shows the ride's layout, which will be heavily themed.  According to RCDB Abyss will be the park's 16th coaster and the main ride of a new Aqualantis themed section.

© Energylandia
The park has opened rides later in the season after starting construction during the winter before, and Abyss seems like it will follow that pattern and be a new for 2020, not 2021, ride.  This aerial shows progress from a few weeks ago, with even more track having been installed since.

© Energylandia
Abyss will be a launched ride, actually featuring two separate launches throughout the experience.  The first launch is somewhat gentle and leads the trains into a low to the ground (and water) section of curves and dips, several of which do go below grade.  The ride's second launch can be seen above, which hits a much higher top speed of 62 miles per hour and sends trains up into a top hat style turn around.

© Energylandia
Here is the same element from another angle, it almost looks like a totally different section of track but it is not!  The ride will do a steep downward plunge off the top of the element, the soar through a vertical loop and then into a batwing element, consisting of two separate inversions.

© Energylandia
The remainder of the track has a 4th inversion, a corkscrew, along with a lot of twists and turns and a couple more below grade dives for good measure.  Shown above is the vertical loop from earlier in the ride, the photo was too nice not to include even though it happens near the middle of the ride.

You can see an animated ride on the coaster on Energylandia's official website.  Check that out at this link.


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Michigan's Adventure Working Through Winter Toward Camp Snoopy Grand Opening


Back in August Michigan's Adventure announced that Camp Snoopy would be coming to the park in 2020, an addition many of us have been waiting years for.  It seems a natural fit for the park to make this expansion, adding a cohesively themed area that's meant just for kids and their families.  And taking full advantage of the Peanuts licensing is a great move as well.

Camp Snoopy, opening May 22nd, will contain a total of five rides and the woodsy setting that Cedar Fair has created at other properties for Camp Snoopy.  Since the announcement the park has been hard at work on the expansion, let's check out what has been going on.

© Michigan's Adventure
Before the park's 2019 operating season was even over the park had cleared out a huge area for Camp Snoopy.  Happily, seen above the park has been careful to keep as many trees as they possibly can for the site.  Camp Snoopy will be replacing Be-Bop Blvd., a children's car ride.

© Michigan's Adventure
Moving further into the off-season, the park had already poured foundations for many of the new paths in Camp Snoopy and some of the ride foundation pads as well.  This general view into the area gives an idea of that, and you can see the pad for the Mud Buggies in the upper right of this photo.  The park had also already started to install the themed light poles for the area.

© Michigan's Adventure
Even more recently, the new rides for the area have begun to arrive at the park.  Above is the large center for Beagle Scout Lookout, which will take families up in hot air balloons for a view of the entire Camp Snoopy area.

© Michigan's Adventure
Also hiding inside away from the snow are the vehicles for Trail Blazers, a kiddie style whip ride that spin riders in a circular track.  The brightly colored vehicles, seen above, will simulate an off-road trip for kids.

Camp Snoopy will also contain a kiddie roller coaster, the Camp Bus and Mud Buggies along with a large play area, Beagle Scout Acres.  Below is the drawing originally released for the project.  Can't wait to watch the project move even further along!

© Michigan's Adventure


Friday, January 31, 2020

New Article Updates Plans for Six Flags Qiddiya + Falcon's Flight is Real?


© Six Flags Qiddiya
Six Flags Qiddiya, to be located in Saudi Arabia, is currently the only foreign licensed Six Flags that appears to have forward movement taking place.  While still several years out from the planned opening, the theme park is going to be one of the most themed Six Flags parks on the globe when complete (according to developers).  The park is not being built by Six Flags Entertainment, instead they actually receive revenue for allowing the park to use their name as well as helping to design and bring it into reality.

The plans for the park were announced at the end of last summer, and included some amazing attractions that seemed pretty fantastical.  A new story from BlooLoop on Six Flags Qiddiya answers some of the questions that many of us have had, and also sheds some light on who's behind the project.  I do not intend to steal BlooLoop's thunder so I suggest you read their story, but the two top guys for this project both have a ton of theme park experience, specifically from when Universal first expanded into a resort.

© Six Flags Qiddiya
The BlooLoop story details how the developers research has shown that a large millennial class of folks in Saudi Arabia are hungry for thrills, and that's led to some rather huge thrill rides planned for the park.  The largest is Falcon's Flight (video in this post) that is planned to be the world's tallest, longest and fastest coaster.  The video shows a ride that appears to defy gravity, at least without some big launch sections, and many wrote it off as marketing (along with the shown top speed of 156ish miles per hour).

However, according to the story that's not the case.  Developers say the plan for the coaster is not only real, but will be similar to the video and they've already done testing on the cliffs that the ride is shown going on top of.  One thing's for sure, if a ride of that size does get built it will cost an amazing amount of money and be one heck of a ride.

As we've seen with other international park developments, it's tough to actually see them get built and open.  But if Six Flags Qiddiya does, the plan is for a 2023 opening.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Busch Gardens Tampa Shows Off Impressive Iron Gwazi Progress


© Busch Gardens Tampa
Towering 206 feet over Busch Gardens Tampa, Iron Gwazi is a site to be seen... literally probably from miles around the theme park.  The track instillation is getting close to the final stages, and to celebrate the park is starting to show off more of the ride - but we're still missing an official point of view animation!

Regardless, the image up top showing the ride's massive layout and towering features comes from this video, which you should definitely check out if you haven't already.

© Busch Gardens Tampa
Not long ago the park started to add the Iron Gwazi trains to the track, aren't they good looking?  I love the color choices that the park has gone with for the coaster.  Anyone who's been on an RMC coaster before knows just how needed those lap restraints are once riders encounter all those forces!

These two photos are really just a taste of what the park showed off today, however.  They held a tour of the ride, which included the entrance, queue and station plus a ton of new details about the experience.  There's several great stories out there featuring pics from today, one of which can be found here over at Expedition Theme Park.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Dorney Park Adds New Webcam Featuring Seaside Splashworks Construction


© Dorney Park
Dorney Park's new fun for 2020, Seaside Splashworks, is starting to take shape, and the park is now able to show off just where the construction process stands via a new webcam.  Available from the park's official webpage, the aerial view of the construction site shows that plenty of progress has been made on the multi-level play structure to date.

Also of note, the concept art up top here reflects a slightly different look of the structure than when it was first announced, that art can be seen in our original announcement post.  Both show an exciting structure filled with fun interactive activities, though the current art shows a more polished, and probably final, look.

© Dorney Park
Here is a view of the webcam from earlier today when the park was in the middle of a very significant concrete pour.  As the park notes in a recent blog post update, there is a ton of underground work to do when building a massive water play structure like this.  That work seems to be complete since concrete is going on top of it.  If you look closely at the image you can also see how much more concrete there is to be poured, as the footprint of Seaside Splashworks extends out much further onto the island than Island Water Works did.

Also on that blog post is some footage of Island Water Works being demolished, which is pretty neat to see.

In 2020 Dorney Park is celebrating not only the addition of Seaside Splashworks in Wildwater Kingdom, but also the return of the super popular Grand Carnivale celebration from July 25th through August 16th, and the brand new Summer Nights event which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from June 20th through July 12th.


Monday, January 27, 2020

Want To Be One of the First to Ride Orion? Kings Island Has an Auction for That.


© Kings Island
If you're looking for the ability to ride Orion, Kings Island's new giga-coaster, a couple days before any one else, AND raise money for a great charity, then the park has the perfect fundraiser auction for you!

The theme park is holding a First Riders Auction that will take place on April 9th, two days before the park's 2020 opening day, from the hours of 6 pm until 9 pm.  Interested parties must sign up and raise at least $150 for A Kid Again, and the top 32 fund raisers will obtain a seat on the first train out of the station at the start of the event.  However, everyone who makes it to the $150 mark will be able to get a certificate of participation, food, a first rider shirt and unlimited rides for three hours on April 9th.

© Kings Island
If interested in the auction, you can sign up via a link on the park's website or through A Kid Again, and fund raising will go through April 3rd.

A Kid Again is a "a nonprofit organization which exists to foster hope, happiness and healing for families raising kids with life-threatening illnesses through fun-filled group activities and events. A Kid Again families are invited to participate in these adventures from the age of diagnosis until the child reaches age 20 through funds raised from events such as" the Orion First Riders Auction.

Screaming down a 300 foot first drop for an excellent cause - before all your friends - doesn't seem like such a bad idea!  The auction has already raised more than $20k for A Kid Again, and there's still months of fund raising to go.