Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Islands of Adventure Announces New VelociCoaster for Summer 2021

© Universal Orlando
While it is no surprise that the park has been working on a new roller coaster, Islands of Adventure has finally given out some official information on their new thrilling roller coaster for Summer 2021, the Jurassic World VelociCoaster.

The ride has already changed the Islands of Adventure skyline with its towering top hat element, and though the main track for the coaster is in place work is still continuing on additional landscaping, theming and other technical work.  Most recently fans of the park saw crews doing the train clearance pull through, though the coaster trains were wrapped for safety.

This preview clip that the park released gives us a great look at what is in store when the Jurassic World VelociCoaster opens next year.  It includes a look at the ride's trains (super slick) and some animated footage of the finished product.

VelociCoaster will be Florida's tallest and fastest launch coaster, themed around the famous raptors in the film franchise.  Featuring an original storyline, the ride "expands upon the thrills, dinosaurs and environments fans have seen on the big screen. Guests will join the original cast of the films – Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing and BD Wong as Dr. Henry Wu – as Jurassic World unveils the next evolution of its “carnivore expansion”: the VelociCoaster, where riders embark on a high-speed chase and feel the rush of the hunt while racing alongside a nimble Velociraptor pack."


The level of theming on the ride, which guests can see each day at the park as it is created, looks to be nearly unparalleled.  As far as statistics go, the coaster stretches over 4,700 feet of track, has a maximum height on the top hat of 155 feet and utilizes two launches, the fastest of which will send trains at 70 miles per hour in just 2.4 seconds.  While not included in the announcement, the coaster has been created by Intamin.


© Universal Orlando
The plunge from the top hat element will be at 80 degrees, and the coaster has multiple inversions.  Two referenced in the press materials are the barrel roll over the park's lagoon and an inverted stall element that sends riders upside down over 100 feet of track.  The park advertises a total of 12 seconds of airtime throughout the ride.

The Jurassic World VelociCoaster has been highly anticipated for many months now, as eager fans have watched each new piece of track put into place.  Universal Orlando promises more details and information on the ride in the coming months.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Six Flags Great Adventure's Hallofest Is Now Underway

© Six Flags
Still offering Thrills By Day and Chills By Night, Six Flags Great Adventure's Hallofest is temporarily replacing Fright Fest in 2020 and serving up safe fall fun for all.  The event is currently underway at the theme park, operating on Fridays through Sundays all the way until November 1st - plus some weekdays the week of Halloween.

Visitors to the park who are familiar with Fright Fest will still find many familiar activities and scares, though Six Flags' comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan remains strictly in place.  This includes mandatory face masks, temperature screenings, social distancing, increased sanitization standards and more.

© Six Flags Great Adventure

During the day visitors to Hallofest will enjoy attractions such as the Trick-or-Treat Trail, a hay bale maze, Pumpkin Patch Lane - featuring tons of decorations, pumpkins and hay bales, and the beautifully decorated Scarecrow Street - the festive name of Main Street during the event.  There is even a roving magician who is sure to entertain visitors.  Families will also love the ability to check out special food treats such as caramel apples and funnel cakes made with Snickers candy.  Yum.


© Six Flags Great Adventure
After 6 pm the park will feature an array of spooky attractions, all keeping COVID-19 safety precautions in mind.  In total there will be four scare zones, three live shows and three outdoor haunted mazes.

Scare zones include Scarecrow Street After Dark, when the park's Main Street takes a chilling turn in the area surrounding the orange fountain, District 6 Unearthed, features fog, lights, sirens and ghouls in a gritty area that mutant villains have taken over, Lady of the Lake Cemetery, filled with fog and the undead near the Great Lake, and ClownTown, where Movietown becomes inhabited with plenty of wicked clowns and their tricks. 

The Emergence is the production that sets off the creepy fun at 6 pm, with a horde of ghouls emerging into the park from a different location each night, PrimeEvil Percussion is a pulse-pounding percussion show and Street Cirque features performers in the streets showing off awe-inspiring talents.

Haunted Mazes, which require a special Hallo-Maze ticket, include Mama's Farm, a nightmarish homestead of half-human, half-animal mutants, Apocalypse, deep in the woods guests will find what happens if you come too close to scavengers, Wicked Woods, a fan favorite that takes guests on a dark walk into the night, and Reflections of the Dead, the park's mirror maze which is filled with not human actors but special effects and lighting tricks.

© Six Flags Great Adventure
The park's massive thrill ride collection is also open during Hallofest, which includes the park's mega lineup of roller coasters.  With the sun now setting much earlier each day, that means coaster rides in the dark!

For more information on Hallofest or how to make a reservation, check out Six Flags Great Adventure's official website.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Busch Gardens to Launch Halloween Harvest Starting October 1st

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is rolling right along with their special event series, proving that they can keep their guests engaged and interested even during these unprecedented times.

The park is still only allowed to host no more than 1,000 people at a time, but that hasn't stopped it from already hosting several special events, and now they've announced their latest: Halloween Harvest.  The park is celebrating daytime family fun and even some creepy chills at night in their latest event.  During Halloween Harvest the park will open limited sections including Italy, Fest Italia, Oktoberfest, Ireland, Scotland and Sesame Street Forest of Fun.


There will be plenty of fall activities, a selection of thrill and tame rides open (a total of 15), tons of food and beverage treats and more.  This is also the first time that Sesame Street Forest of Fun will be open this year, a large children's area - plus one of the activities listed is contactless trick-or-treating!

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Since the event is called Halloween Harvest it only makes sense to have a little spooky involved, right?  Busch Gardens Williamsburg will feature "roaming Ghouls & Goblins in select areas of the park," however there are no official scare zones or haunted houses.  Sounds like just a taste of a normal Halloween event, but I have no doubt that people will still enjoy it.

© Busch Gardens Williamsburg
A significant change from the park's past events this year is the addition of a third time slot during Halloween Harvest - but only on Saturdays.  Past events only had two different times to visit throughout the day.  On Saturdays the park will have Halloween Harvest sessions from 10 am until 2 pm, 3 pm to 7 pm and again from 8 pm until 12 am.  The roaming ghouls will be out from 5 pm until 9 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and from 8 pm until 12 am on Saturdays.

Reservations and ticket purchases already went on sale for Halloween Harvest, which starts October 1st, and it looks like Saturday slots are already sold out!  But watch for cancellations and the like.  If you're interested in going check out the park's website for more information.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tokyo Disneyland Will Open Additions Including New Beauty and the Beast Dark Ride on September 28th

© Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland has announced that it will open several new additions that have been built at the park on September 28th.  The large expansion will see new attractions in Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Toontown.  We first heard about the expansion plans back in 2016, and now it is time for visitors to be able to enjoy all the hard work that was put into the addition.

Tomorrowland will see the opening of The Happy Ride with Baymax, a spinning ride that's themed around the characters of Big Hero 6.  Minnie's Style Studio will open as a new way to interact with Minnie and friends, sure to be a smash hit for visitors.

© Tokyo Disneyland
The largest and most exciting addition is the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast dark ride, which features trackless technology as guests enter a retelling of the famous story.  Riders sit in large tea cups that move through the giant show scenes, dancing around each other and set pieces while the story unfolds.  There are plenty of really slick looking animatronics in the ride as well, including a dancing Belle and Beast that really amaze.

If you want to check out a video of the ride's preshow along with full on-ride footage, watch below!

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Closed-In-2020 Cedar Fair Parks Detail Extra Pass Perks for 2021

© California's Great America
When several Cedar Fair parks decided that they would not be able to open in 2020 they announced that season pass holders would be getting some extra benefits out of their Pass Perks program in 2021.  It was designed to be an extra benefit to pass holders who didn't get to visit their park this year, but at the time no real details were given.

I noticed that now some of the parks that weren't able to open are listing more specific benefits for next year, and they are pretty nice.  Pass Perks debuted at the parks a couple seasons ago, and after a visit to the park, season pass holders sometimes get an e-mail with a free perk, like a food treat, steep discount on retail, etc.

California's Great America has stepped that up a bit with their 2021 program.  Season pass holders who purchased before August 4th will receive a monetary credit on their pass that they can use freely (with some restrictions) in the park.  Silver level pass holders will receive $25, Gold and Platinum will receive $35. 

© Carowinds
At Carowinds, Silver pass holders will receive a $35 credit, and Gold and Platinum pass holders will receive $50!  Kings Dominion will have the same levels as Carowinds, Silver pass holders will receive the $35 credit, Gold and Plantinum will receive $50.  Valleyfair, which also did not open in 2020, does not have detailed information up yet, and Canada's Wonderland, which is still in limbo with regard to 2020, also does not.

This is a really nice benefit for pass holders, especially since it's not the park's fault that they couldn't open.  Consider that for a family of 4, even at the lower levels, will start the season with a total of $100 - $140 to spend.  That's a couple meals or quite a bit of shopping if they choose.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Silverwood Theme Park Announces New Stunt Pilot RMC Coaster for 2021

© Silverwood Theme Park
Today Silverwood Theme Park revealed what they have planned for their 2021 season, and it was a wonderful surprise!  The park is going to build one of Rocky Mountain Construction's Raptor roller coasters.  Named Stunt Pilot, the coaster will honor the park's former tradition of offering visitors an air show each day while at the park, something that was retired in 1996.

Each day visitors would "watch vintage airplanes loop through the air and perform death-defying maneuvers at breakneck speeds," and in 2021 they'll be able to experience that for themselves on the new coaster.

© Silverwood Theme Park
Decked out in bright red supports with white single rail track, Stunt Pilot will feature the same layout as we've seen on other operating RMC Raptors to date.  That means the ride will stand 106 feet tall, featuring a top speed of 52 miles per hour over 1,800 feet of track.  The single rail coaster design utilizes cars that seat guests individually, low to the car's center line which gives a smooth and thrilling experience.

Riders will head through three different inversions while on the ride, adding even more thrilling elements to the attraction.  The coaster will feature two, ten person trains.

© Silverwood Theme Park
Stunt Pilot will be built in an open area in between the far end of the Tremors wooden coaster and the park's log flume.  The coaster will join similar rides already open at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and California's Great America, with another planned for South Dakota's Wild Water West.  Also opening next year is the Jersey Devil Coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure, the largest Raptor track coaster to date.

Stunt Pilot at Silverwood Theme Park is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Knott's Taste of Fall-O-Ween Celebration Starts September 25th

© Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's Berry Farm is continuing their summer of special food, beverage and retail events with the announcement of their third installment - Knott's Taste of Fall-O-Ween.  The fall, and to some degree Halloween, themed event will focus on appealing to families and offer outdoor experiences that keep the park within California's current COVID-19 guidelines.  There will be a plethora of foods to try (each separate admission ticket comes with tasting cards) and also special retail available from craft vendors. 

© Knott's Berry Farm
Those fans that are bummed to be missing out on Knott's Scary Farm this year will be happy to see that the park is still decorating, only this time for Knott's Taste Of Fall-O-Ween.  The park's decor will celebrate fall and Halloween but without a big focus on scary as there will be no haunted houses or scare zones - this is a family friendly food and retail event only.

Kids will be happy to know that they will be able to do some Trick-or-Treating with in the Camp Snoopy themed area of the park.  And yes, they're allowed to come to the park dressed in their costumes!

© Knott's Berry Farm
Since each admission ticket comes with a tasting card (5 for adults and 3 for minors), there will be a ton of food and beverage options to choose from at the event.  Spread out over 28 different locations throughout the park, there are items listed such as Pastrami Tater Tots, a Graveyard Funnel Cake, Headless Meatball Sandwich, Pumpkin Spice Churro Sticks and plenty more.

Knott's Taste of Fall-O-Ween will start on September 25th and run Friday-Sunday until November 1st, 2020.  As with the past events this summer, guests need to purchase a tasting ticket online and schedule their reservation in advance.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Universal Orlando Will Test a "Halloween Seasonal Experience" at Both Parks This Weekend

© Universal Orlando
While Halloween Horror Nights may not be happening this year at Universal Studios Florida, that doesn't mean that the resort can't celebrate the season a little after all!  They have announced that they will be testing a new "halloween seasonal experience" at both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure this weekend, September 19th and 20th.  Best of all, the fun will be included with regular admission to the popular Orlando theme parks.

During the day there will be two haunted houses open, we're assuming these were built and prepared in case Halloween Horror Nights was able to happen.  They will be available to all guests who can book a entrance time through the resort's app using their Virtual Line feature.

The first of the houses is named Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, based on the concept that the "innocent traditions of the tooth fairy hide a darker ritual.  All children must give up their baby teeth to the goblinesque tooth fairies or pay a gruesome price.  Step into an old manor that has been overrun by yellow-clawed fiends who extract teeth by force.  It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."


© Universal Orlando
The second haunted house is named Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. In the attraction, Frankenstein's "Bride is stepping out of the shadows to bring him back.  And there’s nothing she won’t do as she sharpens her brilliance by experimenting on unsuspecting victims."  Both houses are sure to please the throngs of guests who rush the park each year to get terrified - if nothing else 2020 has taught us that a little fun is better than none.


Islands of Adventure will also get in on the fun by offering Trick-or-Treating for guests aged 12 and under.  There will be specially marked (look for the pumpkin!) retail stores within the park that are offering treats for those who coming knocking.  And for fun all over the resort, Universal Orlando is allowing visitors to come dressed up in their Halloween finest!


While this is officially marked as a "test," one has to believe that if it is a success they will offer this throughout the rest of the Halloween season.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Busch Gardens Tampa Details Attractions for This Year's Howl-O-Scream

© Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampa has added more details to their website for this year's Howl-O-Scream event, taking place from September 25th and running select nights through November 1st.  The event is one of the few large scale Halloween events that are still taking place this year, so it's nice to be able to see what the park will offer visitors.

They previously released that this year's Howl-O-Scream will not feature any indoor haunted houses, instead focusing more on scare zones, socially distanced live entertainment and an overall spooky atmosphere.  Limited attendance, only outdoor attractions and a focus on social distancing are key components of the event which has been designed with safety in mind.

© Busch Gardens Tampa
In total there will be 10 different Scare Zones and Haunted Trails, as the park is calling them.  As a special bonus, 4 of these attractions will be brand new.  These include The Junkyard, a trip through a scary "scrap site," The Escape, with menacing escaped penitentiary inmates, Lycan Landing, a campsite overrun with werewolves, and The Shortcut, a seeming easy pass through a cemetery that turns sinister.

These new experiences will join 6 returning favorites: Dia De Los Muertos, Hell on Wheels, Deadly Toys, Manic Midway, Little Nightmares and First Fear.  As previously announced, the super popular Fiends Show will move outdoors to a spacious area to allow plenty of distancing.  Visitors will also be able to check out Busch Gardens Tampa's thrill ride collection, getting in rides in the dark.

Howl-O-Scream will take place on 18 nights in total.  With limited capacity, the park urges those interested in visiting to make reservations as soon as possible in order to select their date.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Six Flags Darien Lake + The Great Escape Announce Plans to Stay Closed in 2020

© The Great Escape
Two Six Flags Entertainment properties, The Great Escape and Six Flags Darien Lake, have announced that they will not open at all for the 2020 season.

Both of the parks are located in the state of New York, which has not allowed outdoor amusements to open as part of their COVID-19 reopening plan.  While not confirmed by Six Flags, it would seem as though the parks were holding out to possibly be able to offer a Halloween or Christmas operating calendar to its visitors.  Alas, that wasn't meant to be this year.

The Great Escape posted that they have been able to assist the local community while closed through donating approximately 900 surgical masks to Glens Falls Hospital, giving free WiFi to local SUNY Adirondack students who used the Johnny Rockets parking lot as a safe remote location for online education and using the freezers and refrigerators from the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark to keep food fresh for the local Washington County Office for the Aging.

All Great Escape season passes, and add-ons, have been extended through the end of the 2021 season.

© Six Flags Darien Lake
Six Flags Darien Lake, who rejoined the Six Flags family not too many years ago, also set up a page to announce that they will not operate in 2020.  Their information is a bit more brief than the Great Escape's, however they do also note that their 2020 season passes will be also extended through the 2021 season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Carowinds Shares Views of Completed Boogie Board Racer + Grand Carnivale Arrives for 2021

© Carowinds
Another park that didn't make it to an opening day in 2020, Carowinds is already looking toward the future when the park opens its new waterslide tower and hosts Grand Carnivale in 2021.


Slated to have opened this year, Boogie Board Racer is a six lane mat racing slide that has been built inside the park's Carolina Harbor water park.  From the new images that the park has shared, the entire attraction looks complete.  They even have some short video clips of test sliders in action on the park's social media channels!

© Carowinds
The attraction features the colors of the rainbow over the six different paths, each of which includes enclosed and exposed sections along with a 360 degree horizontal loop.  Sliders will race each other down the slope to the finish line, which features a traditional black and white checkerboard motif.  The addition is the first since Carowinds' water park was expanded and rebranded in 2016.

© Carowinds
Additionally, the park had to push back the debut of the Grand Carnivale special event from 2020 until 2021.  Thankfully the park is still planning on debuting the celebration next year as the park's website confirms.  The event was a big success at other Cedar Fair parks in 2019 and I have no doubt that guests to Carowinds will love the colorful atmosphere, Spectacle of Color Parade, exciting street party and tasty food samplings that it offers.

The park has not released exact dates for Grand Carnivale yet, but should as the 2021 season gets closer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Silverwood Theme Park Begins Teasing for Landscape-Changing 2021 Attraction

© Silverwood Theme Park
This isn't really the year for parks to tease new attractions, as many new for 2020 rides are now scheduled to open in 2021.  However, Silverwood Theme Park is bucking that trend and has started to tease readers on social media about a new attraction they are going to open in 2021.

We do not have much to go off of just yet, but it appears as though the park is excited to be teasing something new for the park for the first time in 1,788 days.  That was what they posted last week, along with the graphic up top.  The park last teased a new attraction that was coming in 2016, so indeed, it has been a while.

The font and graphics for the 2021 attraction do not seem to hint at something for the property's water park, known as Boulder Beach.  At least when compared to the tease they shared from the 2016 water park addition (which was a mat racing water slide).

© Silverwood Theme Park
Just today the park shared this image, along with a note that "this view is going to look a lot different next year."  Obviously this confirms that the 2021 attraction is indeed for the theme park, and not the water park - just based on the photo.

If the above view is to change significantly when the new attraction is installed then it feels reasonable to think this might be a somewhat large addition.  Not saying it is a coaster, but perhaps?  There are plenty of other flat rides that would make a big impact on that view as well.

With parks gearing up to start to sell season passes for next year I imagine it might not be too long until we find out just what Silverwood has up their sleeves.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The 2020 Edition of the IAAPA Expo Has Been Cancelled

The largest amusement industry event of the year, the IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida, has officially been cancelled for 2020.  Typically the expo takes place in November, and officials have held off making an official decision on this year's show until now.

“IAAPA Expo serves as the global marketplace for the attractions industry.  We recognize this year there are many challenges facing our members from around the world,” said Hal McEvoy, president and CEO, IAAPA.  “Together with input from members, exhibitors, the IAAPA Board of Directors and our team, we have decided to cancel this year’s Expo due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.  The continuing barriers to international and domestic travel coupled with the evolving guidance on mass gatherings, and members’ need to focus on their businesses helped lead to this decision.” 

The above explanation from the IAAPA CEO hits on the major reasons for the cancellations, all surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.  Not only is it very tough to travel right now, meaning suppliers from around the globe would have a hard time even getting to Orlando, but mass gatherings - especially indoors - are certainly not something I want to attend right now.  

But it is important to note that they also touch on how suppliers are focusing on their businesses right now - the industry is hurting.  Granted some parks were able to open this year, but the ride manufacturers and various other suppliers that support them have taken a hard hit in 2020.  With new park projects in the pipeline either pushed back or cancelled, the limited funds of most suppliers are not best spent on an impressive trade show booth right now - at least in my opinion.


The organization will still hold an IAAPA Expo Virtual Education Conference, allowing members to virtually attend 25 sessions and two keynote presentations.

Here's hoping for a better and brighter 2021 IAAPA Expo.  Our thoughts are with all industry suppliers as they navigate these waters and hopefully make it back for next year's event.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

California's Great America Shows Off New for 2021 South Bay Shores Waterpark

© California's Great America
While California's Great America was not able to open at all for the 2020 season, the park is still working hard on their massive water park transformation, South Bay Shores, which will now debut in the summer of 2021.

The park just recently uploaded a detailed look at the work that has taken place so far, and it lets us see how much progress has been made on the expansion.  And there is a lot!  Up top is the area's new thrilling water slide tower, Pacific Surge, which features a total of six slides for visitors.  Four of the slides feature trap-door freefall starts, followed by twisting turns as riders make their way to the runout below.  There are also two tube slides, one with a massive bowl element and the other with a large drop finale.

© California's Great America
Tide Pool Lagoon is South Bay Shores' new kiddie area, which transforms an existing wading pool into an exciting area with eight miniature water slides for kids.  The park has installed most of the slides, though there is still work to do before kids can take over the area.

Other areas of the waterpark that already catered to kids and families are also receiving improvements.  The family water play structure has received all new paint and new theming will be applied soon.  The area surrounding it will feature tons of lounge chairs along with covers to keep families comfortable.

© California's Great America
South Bay Shores will also feature new food and beverage options, the largest of which can be seen above and is called the Pier 76 Cafe.  The high capacity food outlet will offer items like fried shrimp, fish tacos, chicken tenders and waffle fries.  

Elsewhere in the water park there will be a new Sand Bar with more food and beverage options, and the park has built new lockers, changing areas and upgraded the landscaping throughout the park.  Make sure to check out the full update from the park for even more photos and details!