Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure Confirms Major Work on The Jersey Devil Coaster has Resumed

© Six Flags Great Adventure
While the status of some 2021 projects still may be questionable, thankfully we got an update from Six Flags Great Adventure that confirms that major work on The Jersey Devil Coaster has started again.  The park took to their socials to share two photos, both posted here, of new construction that has gone up on the ride.

Yesterday they shared that a shiny section of orange track for the ride was lifted into place, and also some supplemental support items like an access staircase also went in.  That's progress, people!

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The Jersey Devil Coaster is a ride that is highly anticipated, one of Rocky Mountain Construction's Raptor style coasters, with a unique layout and also the largest of its kind to date.  The ride stands 130 feet tall, features an 87 degree first drop, maximum speeds of 58 miles per hour and three inversions spread out over 3,000 feet of track.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Alabama Adventure + Splash Adventure Adding Rocket Racer Slide for 2021

© Alabama Adventure
Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure delivered their Christmas morning 2021 announcement as promised, and revealed that the park is building Rocket Racer, a brand new mat racing water slide tower.  Standing over 50 feet tall, Rocket Racer will feature 6 racing lanes, each with more than 400 feet of slide.  As with all popular mat racing water slides, riders will each other through the course, attempting to cross the finish line first (and with a splash, of course).

The park says that Rocket Racer will be the biggest water slide in all of Alabama, and it will also make Splash Adventure the biggest water park in the State.  The announcement video also notes that the park is "making sure that this isn't just a new attraction for the park, but an entirely new area for families to have fun and make great family memories every summer."  We saw the location of the new slide in previous teasers, and since it is slightly distant from the water park proper, maybe there's more to come with the expansion in terms of lounging, amenities and/or guest space.

© Silverwood Theme Park
The ride shown in the video is the mat racing water slide at Sliverwood Theme Park, seen above, and if the same one is going up at Splash Adventure then it looks like one of Whitewater's Whizzard towers.  It is a considerably sized tower for a park that's still quite small, having shown up in the past at much larger water parks, so this addition must be quite an achievement for the latest owners!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Six Flags Over Texas Pushes Aquaman: Power Wave to 2022

© Six Flags Over Texas
This change was noticed a bit ago, but I showed up to the party late it seems.  Still, it's worth noting that Six Flags Over Texas has changed the wording on their website to indicate that Aquaman: Power Wave will now be opening in 2022, not 2021 as many expected.

© Six Flags Over Texas
The ride was originally slated to open in 2020 and had a great deal of its construction finished before the pandemic set in and the parks closed for many months.  As with other projects at Six Flags parks across the country the ride was not worked on during the summer and fall, as we all expected the "new for 2020" rides to simply become the "new for 2021" rides.  Not so in this case, it seems.

© Six Flags Over Texas
Aquaman: Power Wave is one of Mack's PowerSplash attractions, a combination roller coaster type track with water splash boat ride.  It features LSM launches to power the boats forward and backward up towers that stand up to 148 feet in the air.  There's a gentle air-time hill in the middle of the track that adds even more fun to the mix.  Eventually water is released into the pool below and as the boat comes down the tower a final time a huge splash ensues.  

As for the delay, one can easily speculate that Six Flags in general will be conserving cash for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic, but there are also rumors popping up that the ride was ordered without a turntable station, which limited capacity greatly.  The rumors say that the ride will but outfitted with a turntable so a second boat can be used, causing the delay.  If true, good move on the park's part!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park Announces New Family Coaster for 2021

© Deno's Wonder Wheel Park
Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, located in Coney Island, has announced the addition of Phoenix, a brand new suspended family roller coaster for Summer 2021.  The park, along with the rest of the Coney Island attractions, was never able to open during 2020 so the park is extra-excited to be adding their largest attraction ever next year.  Featuring bright red track and yellow supports, the ride will feature family friendly thrills but be large enough to attract adult riders, too.

The new coaster was officially revealed through this article in USA Today, so be sure to check it out for more details and an animated video of the Phoenix coaster.

© Google Maps
The new coaster will take up a big portion of the edge of the park seen in the bottom left of this aerial of the park.  For those not familiar, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is located right between several parcels that are operated under Luna Park, with the Wonder Wheel as their long standing big draw.  

Phoenix will stand 68 feet tall and hit 34 miles per hour, though those are really the only statistics revealed so far.  RCDB is reporting that the ride is being manufactured by Vekoma, which makes sense as they have created several family style suspended coasters in the past few seasons across the globe.  

Coney Island was set to have at least one new family coaster in 2020 as part of Luna Park's latest expansion, but there is no word yet on if that ride will also be moving forward for the 2021 season.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Give Kids The World Village to Reopen on January 17th

© Give Kids the World

Give Kids The World Village in Florida has announced that they will reopen on January 17th, and once again continue their mission of "spreading joy and happiness that inspires hope for critically ill children and their families.  The Village has been shut down to wish guests since March, when they had to close due to the pandemic.  That means that a long ten months will have passed without families being treated to a wonderful break from their lives in the funtastic Florida sun.  The Village notes that some 6,000 children had to have their wish trips postponed because of the pandemic, and they're looking forward to seeing each and every one of them as they reopen.

The Village will take on a phased reopening plan, starting with much smaller amounts of families and gradually expand their operations toward a goal of full reopening.  With everyone's safety in mind, they have a COVID-19 safety plan in place, created in consultation with infectious disease experts at Nemours Children's Hospital.

© Give Kids The World

Most recently, and actually still on-going, Give Kids The World Village has held Night of a Million Lights, a spectacular holiday light presentation that has attracted many visitors and helped the property raise a lot of funds.  It will run through January 3rd, so there's still time if you are local to check out the amazing displays!

Also, with all the challenges of this year the Village can use help more than ever, so please keep them in mind this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Six Flags Expanding + Extending Holiday In The Park Drive-Thru at Several Parks

© Six Flags
Six Flags Theme Parks have found success with turning their Holiday In The Park events into drive through versions this year, so much that it appears as though the company is doubling down on the change.  We first saw Six Flags Magic Mountain, which is not able to open as a theme park yet, start the drive through experience.  Then Six Flags Great Adventure added a weekday drive through version of Holiday In The Park to their offerings, while still having the usual event on the weekend.  

Before long we saw Six Flags Fiesta Texas also add weekday drive through the park events, and Six Flags Great America, which had opened as a light-display only event (no rides), is now also offering it weekdays through mid-January.

The drive-thru experience at © Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
is also offering the Holiday In The Park Drive-Thru Experience, with their event just having opened yesterday.  The drive through version is a great way to keep guests safe and separated during these pandemic times, and it seems that guests are responding to it very well.

For instance, both Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Great Adventure just announced that they are extending their drive through operations well into January, even till the last day of January for Magic Mountain.  That's quite an extended holiday season!  This will be a nice way for Six Flags parks to keep their guests involved during some of the winter months, and adding value to their season passes.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Legoland Florida Planning Significant Expansion

© Google Maps
Legoland Florida appears to have expansion on their mind, at least according to new reports about a major expansion that they are planning.  Both the Orlando Sentinel and Attractions Magazine have published reports that the park has submitted planning documents that show the park would like to clear 4.5 acres of their parking lot to build a new themed area.

It is not clear at this point what the area would be themed to, though in the application the plan is referred to as Project Venus.  Parks use code words in planning documents often, knowing that they will eventually end up in the public eye, and it may not actually be tied to the land's theme.

The submission shows that the new area would be located at the front of the park in an area of the parking lot currently separated from the main park by both backstage areas and a road. 

 © Legoland Florida
There looks to be several new rides and attractions on the plans, seen above.  There's several small flat rides, a large building, a small roller coaster and some sort of track ride, to name some.  There is also a dining area, what looks like a small stage, and a pretty big play structure as well.

© Google Maps
The part I can't wrap my head around is how this will connect to the main theme park.  Here is an aerial of the park with a snip of the blueprints put on them.  I noticed that (the two red stripes) the plans read "Theme Park Entry" at this spot, and you can see on the plans (green stripe) it says "Exit Portal."  Unless the park make some additional major changes, the entrance to this addition is from a bus loop roadway, and the exit drops you right into the parking lot, which they spent a ton on to cover in solar panels.  And, that bus loop roadway is definitely shown as staying in the plans.  Also for reference, immediately to the left of the expansion is a large backstage area, with the theme park's entrance far up in the left corner.

That leaves me wondering, could this not be a new land for the theme park at all, instead some sort of stand alone attraction?  The number of rides and attractions in the plans does seem like more than double what the park has added in the past, so it does seem like a big project.  Or perhaps some sort of exclusive area for hotel guests, as they now have three different overnight options for the resort?  The news articles state that the park says they'll say more next year, so we shall see.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Kings Island Camp Cedar Luxury Outdoor Resort to Open Near Kings Island in 2021

© Kings Island Camp Cedar
A brand new luxury outdoor resort, named Kings Island Camp Cedar, has been announced to open just down the road from Kings Island in Spring, 2021.  Coming in at a cost of $27 million, the resort will be owned by Small Brothers, LLC and Terra Firma Associates and managed by Cedar Fair through a partnership and licensing agreement.

© Kings Island Camp Cedar
Spread out over 52 acres of land, and located less than a mile from Kings Island's entrance, the resort will feature a mix of both resort and camping destination.  It will feature 73 cottages and 164 full service RV spaces, and has been designed to expand with another 100 cottages in the future.

There will be a plethora of amenities offered to those who stay at Kings Island Camp Cedar.  These include pool areas including Deerfield Springs, a large 5000 sq ft family activity pool with features such as geysers, a mini-slide, basketball area, waterfall background and more.  There will also be an exclusive adult pool made for relaxing, and cabanas will be offered.  

© Kings Island Camp Cedar
The resort experience will start with Hornbeam Lodge, offering check-in services.  It will also feature the Ironwood Grill and Tap restaurant with patio seating, a Coyote Creek Camp Store, Dry Bean coffee and gelato store and a grand fireplace and general living room.  There will also be a separate area with food truck inspired offerings, such as traditional American favorites, Mexican dishes, ice cream and more.

A laundry area, free Wifi, walking trails, a dog park and rentable golf carts are also on the list of amenities offered.  With the partnership with Cedar Fair the resort will also offer Peanut character visits during Character Breakfasts and Smores with Snoopy, for example.


© Kings Island Camp Cedar

The new resort construction is well underway, seen in this aerial view taken recently.  With the popularity of tourism in the area surrounding Kings Island ever-growing, and the park growing significantly in recent years, this is a great way to make the Mason area a full vacation.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Universal Orlando Reveals Close Up Views of the VelociCoaster Trains

© Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando has released new images of the trains for the VelociCoaster and holy moly, they are truly a thing of beauty!  The Intamin designed ride is entering the final stages of construction at Islands of Adventure, a part of the greater Universal Orlando resort.

The new ride will feature two separate launches, inversions, a 155 foot tall top hat element, 100 foot long inverted stall, and a top speed of 70 miles per hour.

© Universal Orlando

© Universal Orlando

© Universal Orlando

I think that these photos really speak for themselves.  Even notice the raptor claw scratch on the front right of the train!  Beautiful.  They also feature head lights and head rest lights so that riders can see their way through the Jurassic Park section of the park, racing through the raptor paddocks and over both land and water.

The VelociCoaster is set to debut at Islands of Adventure in the Summer of 2021.  See you in line!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Super Nintendo World to Open at Universal Studios Japan on February 4th, 2021

© Universal Japan
Universal Studios Japan has announced that the highly anticipated Super Nintendo World will open to guests on February 4th, 2021.  The announcement comes after the nearly completed expansion was delayed this year due to the global pandemic, and has fans of the Nintendo properties rejoicing.  With a date firmly in hand, fans now know exactly when they can enter the highly immersive land that Universal Studios has brought to life.

The announcement comes with plenty of new media and looks inside Super Nintendo World, which we haven't had previously aside from in the form of concept art. 

© Universal Japan
This includes looks inside of Bowser's Castle, which is the home to Mario Kart: Koopa's Challenge, a thrilling dark ride that everyone cannot wait to experience.  Filled with a mix of physical sets and modern technology, the ride experience still contains many secrets though this media announcement has given us much more information that ever before.  Per the park, riders will not just be playing the game, they will actually become a part of it while on the ride.

A new preview video was released by the park showing off several features of Super Nintendo World.  We could dissect it here but the above video from Theme Park Stop is far better than anything that we could produce, we highly recommend checking it out and their full story at this link.

Super Nintendo World also features Peach's Castle, a family friendly Yoshi themed ride, a plethora of interactive features throughout along with highly themed shops and restaurants.  A clone of the land is currently being built at Universal Studios Hollywood, though its opening date is probably still a couple years down the road.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Circus Circus Adventuredome Opens New NebulaZ Flat Ride

© Zamperla
The Adventuredome theme park at Circus Circus, in Las Vegas, has opened a new flat ride named NebulaZ.  The creation is from Zamperla, which calls the ride the same name (the photo up top is of the ride at Luna Park in Coney Island, but is the same as what has opened in Las Vegas).  The ride type is fairly new, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of these pop up at parks in the future.

Zamperla describes the ride as one where "four arms rotate in fast intermeshing orbits" which is a very accurate description.  The arms swing around on a horizontal axis, seemingly coming close to colliding with one another, as the entire bases rotates around itself.  The effect is mesmerizing for both those on the ride and those watching from the midway below.

Zamperla is well known for their ability to theme rides as well, making an attraction like this fit in so many different parks.  Here's a video of the NubulaZ at Adventuredome in action:

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Luna Park Sydney Adding 9 Rides in 2021 Including First Intamin Hot Racer

© Luna Park Sydney
Luna Park in Sydney, Australia, has announced a massive addition for their summer 2021 season, including 9 new rides - one of which will be the first Intamin Hot Racer roller coaster.  The addition will cost $30 million and bring the park's roster of attractions into the 21st century with modern, thrilling rides.  The addition is seen as coming as the perfect time as the hope is that the world will be in recovery from the pandemic for Sydney's summer 2021, which starts around late Fall in North America.

The Managing Director of Luna Park Sydney, Peter Hearne, said: “We are investing over  $30  million  to  upgrade  park  facilities,  introduce  nine  new,  state-of-the-art  rides  and update some of our other attractions, while ensuring we retain the heritage and history of this much-loved Sydney destination. We  are  excited  to  announce  the  introduction  of  nine  new  permanent  rides  that  will  thrill and excite all  age  levels, including six new children’s rides;  a family coaster; a thrill  ride;  and  a  new  Big  Dipper,  which  will  be  the  first  inline  seating  launch  roller  coaster in the world."

© Luna Park Sydney
The Intamin Hot Racer coaster, called Big Dipper, will not only be the first of Intamin's single rail coasters, but also the first of its genre to feature a launch.  We just saw Intamin debut the model online recently, and they have more information on their site about it as well.

At Luna Park the coaster will start with a small launch out of the station at 31 miler per hour to get things going, followed by a Stengel Dive turn.  Soon after there is another launch to 45 miles per hour that will send the single seater, in-line trains up into a non-inverting loop followed by a sidewinder inversion.  Other elements on the coaster include airtime hills, high speed downward s-curves, a wave turn and a flatspin inversion.

For a small space, the Big Dipper will certainly pack a punch.  Check out the below video for much more on the ride:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Indiana Beach to Add New Flat Ride + Classic Schwarzkopf Coaster in 2021

© Indiana Beach
Indiana Beach has announced some major plans for their 2021 season, including adding a new flat ride and a famous triple looping Schwarzkopf roller coaster to their lineup.  The classic amusement park reopened this year after being saved from permanent closure, much to the joy of its fans.  Now it will be bigger and better than ever in 2021.

The new flat ride is named the Polyp, a famous creation that features five arms with four cars at the end of each.  The ride spins and undulates giving a variety of sensations for riders.  The ride was originally operated at Kiddieland Park in Illinois, and is already on site at Indiana Beach and receiving a full restoration.

The huge news is that the park will be adding one of Anton Schwarzkopf's classic triple looping roller coasters to its roster of thrills.  While the park did not include it in the official announcement, it has been confirmed that the coaster most recently operated as Quimera at La Feria Chapultepec Magico in Mexico.  Originally a traveling coaster for the European fair circuit, it also previously was operated in Malaysia and the United Kingdom.  If not familiar with the ride, here is an on ride video from Coasterforce:

The coaster stands 111 feet tall, features 3,444 feet of track and has a top speed of 53 miles per hour.  As with many of Anton's creations, the coaster is known for its high forces and quick speeds as the trains travel through three vertical loops.

The ride does have some unfortunate history attached to it, as there was a serious accident on the ride while in Mexico in 2019.  Indiana Beach has assured fans that the coaster will be fully refurbished and brought up to current operating and safety standards.  I wouldn't be surprised if the park spends far more on improvements to the coaster than its actual purchase price.

The park promises to reveal the official name for the coaster, along with more photos and updates, throughout the winter.  The 2021 season, which is the park's 95th, is shaping up to be quite a memorable one!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure to Hold a Special Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience

© Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is doubling down on their holiday magic this year, offering guests not only Holiday in the Park on weekends but now also the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience on select weekday evenings from November 30th through December 17th.

Designed to allow visitors to celebrate the park's festive atmosphere from the safety of their own vehicle, the Drive-Thru Experience will still show off the park's million plus lights, decorations and holiday fun.  The journey will be paired with holiday music and live entertainment along the way.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
“We are proud to debut another way for our guests to safely celebrate the holidays with this unprecedented, magical event,” said Six Flags Great Adventure President John Winkler. “We have successfully transformed the traditional weekend operation of our beloved Holiday in the Park into a new, drive-thru experience during the week. The popularity of our Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure showed us that families are craving ways to create special memories together that are safe and socially distant, and we are honored to welcome them into our theme park winter wonderland.  Plus, theme park enthusiasts won’t want to miss this extremely rare opportunity to drive through the park,” he added.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
As noted above by the park's president, visitors will be able to drive directly through the theme park, through 12 different themed areas spread over 140 acres.  Driving through the park on its own is a very unique experience!

For the safety of guests reservations are required for a trip to the Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience.  Admission is free for those who have a season pass or membership, and tickets are sold on a per person basis.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Take a Virtual Ride on SeaWorld Orlando's New Ice Breaker Coaster

© SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando is excited to launch their brand new roller coaster, Ice Breaker, this Spring, and to drum up some excitement has released a new point of view virtual ride on the coaster.  While fans have had to wait a bit longer to take their first spin on the coaster, final preparations are now underway for the ride to give its first chilly blast in just a few months.

© SeaWorld Orlando
Ice Breaker has been designed by Premier Rides, and features several forward and backward launches that send the trains along the course at 52 miles per hour.  The launches are used to blast riders up a 93 foot scorpion tail element, along with an 80 foot top hat element, followed by twisting and curving track that measures 1,900 feet in length.  Due to the multiple launches on the same track, riders will cover 2,750 feet of track before the experience is over.

Ready to take a virtual ride?  If so, click below and enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Alabama Adventure to Unwrap 2021 Addition on Christmas Morning

© Alabama Adventure
We don't know exactly what yet, but Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure has something significant planned for their 2021 season, and are promising to reveal it as a holiday gift on Christmas Morning.

The park has posted this teaser on their social media, which is a slow zoom out of a giant gift that's sitting atop a section of the amusement park.  The box is of substantial size, and if the unnamed attraction does take up that whole area, we're looking at something pretty big.  The reason I saw that is because the box is encompassing a decent amount of the layout of the park's former log flume, which was removed years ago.

© Google Maps
Here's a look at this section of the park before the current owners started to rebuild and redevelop the park, with the log flume still standing.  The cleared area is a large rectangle, which could fit many rides, really.  One would assume that the attraction will be a ride in Alabama Adventure and not a water ride in Splash Adventure, but then again the park recently redeveloped an area that you can see at the lower right of the top image into a children's area of the water park.  Still, my guess would be a ride for the dry side of the park.

There are numerous small layout coasters on the market today that would seemingly fit here, but the park's hot Alabama summers also mean a water ride would be well received.  Even a large spectacular style flat ride might get the park the attention they're after.  For now only the park knows!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience to Open at Dutch Wonderland in December

© Dutch Wonderland
We are continuing to see parks who normally have a holiday event turn them into either walk through or drive through experiences this year in order to keep visitors safe during the pandemic.  Dutch Wonderland has joined the list by debuting Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience, a way for guests to get out and see some dazzling displays from the safety of their own vehicle.

The Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience is an extensive trek covering 1.5 miles around the park's property, specifically the Old Mill Steam Campground (not the theme park proper).  The park is promising to delight visitors with "whimsical scenes, hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, and special surprises" along the way.

© Dutch Wonderland
The park will also have their entrance Castle open for visitors to do some holiday shopping, get a cup of hot cocoa and even take socially distanced photos with Santa!  Plus, the famous Wonderland Special train ride will be operating for a trip down the holiday tracks.

Dutch Wonderland season passholders will receive a 50% discount on their admission to the Holiday Lights Drive-Through Experience.  The event will start on December 2nd and run through New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Holiday In The Park Lights to Open at Six Flags New England November 27th

© Six Flags New England
Anxious visitors will be able to set foot into Six Flags New England once again this winter as the park debuts Holiday in the Park Lights, starting November 27th.  The theme park did not open at all in 2020 and the holiday event will not include any rides, but the park will still be happy to show off their festive best for visitors.  Holiday in the park Lights will be a walk-through experience featuring more than one million holiday lights plus live entertainment and more.

The family fun includes a one-way walk through experience, which is in accordance with the state of Massachusetts' safety guidelines with regard to the pandemic.  In addition to large portions of the park being totally covered in lights there will also be a choreographed light show, enchanting characters, fire pits to make s'mores at and other holiday food treats.  The light trail extends more than one mile inside the park.

© Six Flags New England

“Six Flags New England is a beloved destination for families from throughout New England.  We look forward to welcoming families back to our park this November with our newly enhanced light displays.  As always, the safety of our guests and team members remains our number one priority, and the new safety guidelines we have put in place are designed to create a safe environment for everyone,” said Six Flags New England, Park President Pete Carmichael. “The park has been transformed into an enchanting, winter wonderland and we are all eager to safely welcome our guests back for the holiday season.”    

Reservations will be required for a visit to Six Flags New England's Holiday in the Park Lights, and season pass holders and members receive free admission.  The event will operate on select nights through January 3rd, 2021.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Adventureland has Completed Dragon Slayer's Layout

© Adventureland
Adventureland Theme Park in Iowa has completed the main track and supports for Dragon Slayer, their new S&S 4-D Free Spin roller coaster.  With the ride completed, we're able to see that this appears to be a slightly smaller model than what we've seen installed at various Six Flags parks (and a few other locations).  It looks like one hill was removed from the highest layer, and a dip or so was removed from the middle layer.


That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it is possible that S&S has streamlined the ride's layout to get the most bang for the buck, and as we know with these rides the amount of overall intensity and flipping is up to the park.

© Adventureland
You can get a good side-view of the completed ride in this post on Reddit, it allows for a nice comparison to the larger rides.  The ride's trains have also already arrived, seen above in the photo from the park.  Dragon Slayer replaces the park's Dragon coaster, a Hopkins ride that opened in 1990.  As of now it appears as the park will be leaving the Dragon's famous double loops standing.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Six Flags Magic Mountain to Hold Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain will be opening for the holiday season after all, though this year by presenting Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience.  Visitors will be able to drive their way through the park past millions of lights, festive decorations and with holiday music incorporated into the experience.

The event will start at 6 pm on select nights from November 20th through January 3rd, 2021.  Obviously, as a drive through experience guests will not be able to partake in any of Six Flags Magic Mountain's rides or attractions.

"Holiday in the Park Drive-thru Experience will include eight distinctly different areas throughout the park with millions of twinkling lights choreographed to festive music, beloved holiday characters decked out for the holidays, iconic Holiday in the Park decorations, and a drive-by featuring Santa and his elves. New this year, go for a ride in The Underground featuring several of the famous West Coast Customs show cars on display."

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
To further accommodate social distancing, visitors will be able to pre-purchase festive food and gifts that will be delivered to their vehicle upon arrival.  Holiday Snack Packs include hot chocolate, cookies, candy and popcorn in a souvenir bucket.  Fudge and even funnel cakes will also be available.   There are also merchandise bundles that include items such as holiday face masks, glow necklaces and more.

Reservations are required for the Holiday In The Park Drive-thru Experience, and Six Flags season pass holders and members have free admission.  The price per car varies by night, but right now for the earliest dates range from $20 to $25, though I do not see dates listed yet closer to Christmas.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Busch Gardens Tampa Releases Iron Gwazi POV

© Busch Gardens Tampa
While we do not know an exact date that we can take a ride on Busch Gardens Tampa's new Iron Gwazi roller coaster, we now can take a virtual ride!  The theme park has released the highly anticipated point of view virtual ride on the monster coaster, which is North America's tallest, the world's fastest and the world's steepest hybrid roller coaster.

Iron Gwazi is the rebirth of the former dueling Gwazi wooden roller coasters.  The new ride stands 206 feet tall and features a 206 foot first drop at an amazing 91 degrees.  The trains hit a top speed of 76 miles per hour as they traverse 4,075 feet of track, encountering two inversions and some of the most devious elements that Rocky Mountain Construction has cooked up to date.

Iron Gwazi is scheduled to open at Busch Gardens Tampa Spring 2021, with more information coming as we get closer to that date.  For now, have fun on your virtual rides!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 3rd Quarter 2020 Earnings Call

© Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair recently announced their earnings results for the 3rd quarter of 2020.  The results were somewhat in line with what was expected, given the pandemic that continues.  The operator released the full earnings on their website and also had their usual conference call.  Here are some notes from both.

• They had 7 parks open during the quarter, bringing in a total of $87 million in revenues, down from $715 last year.  Attendance was 1.3 million, which is down 11.7 million.  Out of park revenues were down $47 million.

• Operating costs declined during the quarter to match decreased attendance levels.  There were also $16 million in goodwill impairment charges for the Schlitterbahn parks and Dorney Park, plus on the Schlitterbahn brand name.  Operating loss for the quarter was $137 million, down from a positive $275 million last year.  There was an EBITDA loss of $51 million compared to a positive $355 million last year.  While a loss is not good, Cedar Fair estimates that the loss would have been $30 million worse if they hadn't opened the parks.


• Similar to Six Flags, Cedar Fair saw initial attendance levels at 20-25% of previous levels when the parks reopened, increasing to 35-40% in the past three months.  As the season ended some parks even hit 50%, and in the fall both Cedar Point and Kings Island had instances of hitting their maximum capacities.

© Cedar Fair
• During the 3rd quarter the attendance was made up of 55% season pass holders, up from 46% last year.  Per capital revenue was down 5%, largely on decreased admissions and the lack of in park spending on premium offerings like fast lane.

• Cedar Fair saw an increase of 90,000 season passes during the quarter, creating $10 million in sales.  They have 1.8 million season passes outstanding that are valid for the rest of 2020 and in 2021.

• They had $225 million in the bank at the end of the quarter, and total liquidity is $877 million.  They estimate they can stay satisfy obligations and stay within loan covenants until the end of 2021.  The quarter's cash burn was about $25 million a month.  As for breaking event, to have zero EBITDA they need 45-55% of 2019 attendance in 2021, and for cash flow break even they need 70-75% of 2019 attendance.

• They suspended their largest capital projects in March and year to date have spent $120 million on capital.  They estimate spending at most $5 million in the 4th quarter.  In total that will have cut $60 - $65 million from planned capital in 2020.

© Cedar Fair
• For 2021 they acknowledge there is not much visibility around the pandemic, so they are allowing parks to be flexible in their offerings to bring back guests.  They are adding back many immersive attractions along with Knott's and Cedar Point's large anniversary celebrations.

• The company is current on payables for capital project and have "no material long term commitments for new attractions" which gives them flexibility for what they will add in 2021 and 2022.  Those years will depend on the speed of the recovery from the pandemic.  Many 2020 capital projects did not even get to be used by guests.  So for 2021 capital will focus on finishing those projects, and doing necessary compliant and infrastructure work.  Still, they will not estimate capital spend for 2021 yet due to lack of clarity on the pandemic.

• To date the company has restricted back filling jobs that are open due to people leaving for other work.  That along with removing some positions through streamlining has reduced 10% of the full time work force.  However, they are still reviewing other options for the future.

• They also utilized cheaper social media marketing this year to spread the word that parks were reopening, which they found to be a success.  They plan to rely on this more in the future to save money on more traditional avenues of advertising.

• Looking at 2021, they are preparing to operating based off of lessons learned in 2020.  This could include delaying park openings or adjusting park hours if they feel the market demand won't make it profitable.  It also sounds like if California continues to not allow parks to open into next year they will look at holding food festivals at California's Great America, similar to what Knott's has done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Kings Dominion to Open in December for Taste of the Season

© Kings Dominion
With revised capacity limitations now in place in Virginia, Kings Dominion has announced that they will be opening in 2020 in order to hold Taste of the Season, a new limited time holiday event.  The event, like we've seen at Carowinds and Knott's Berry Farm, will be centered around the use of tasting cards to try out delicious seasonal treats while at the outdoor event.

The park will offer visitors a choice of 25 different food items, all with a "Christmas twist." From sweet to savory, there will be something for everyone in the family at Taste of the Season.  There will also be special beverages created by "Santa's mixologists," and other must have treats.  Each tasting card will allow guests a specific number of tastes, and other locations in the park will be open for guests to use their dining plans, should they have one.

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion will decorate fully for the event, with tons of lights and other holiday decorations throughout the park.  There will be special activities such as a digital scavenger hunt and distanced selfies with Santa as well.  Plus holiday shopping will be available at the park's stores, there will be games for the whole family and live entertainment as well.

Ride fans will be happy to know that they will get a chance to get in some thrills at Kings Dominion during the event.  The park plans to have open select rides in Planet Snoopy, some family rides like the Grand Carousel and bumper cars and for true thrills, Delirium and Dominator.

© Kings Dominion
Taste of the Season reservations and ticket purchases must be made ahead of time on the park's website.  All 2020 season passes and 2021 season passes are valid for entry as well.  Safety standards that have been put at place at all Cedar Fair parks will be utilized for the event.  The first night of Taste of the Season will be December 5th, continuing select nights through December 27th.  Watch for reservations for the event to open soon!