Thursday, September 30, 2021

Universal Studios Japan to Build Donkey Kong Expansion to Super Nintendo World

© Universal
Speculated to be coming to the park for some time now, Universal Studios Japan has made it official: starting in 2024 guests will be able to explore a Donkey Kong themed expansion to Super Nintendo World.  The new area will be built right next to the existing Super Nintendo World, which currently offers both Yoshi and Mario Kart rides, along with a host of other highly themed shops, food locations and interactive experiences.


The main attraction of the expansion will be a Donkey Kong themed roller coaster, which has been talked about for some time now in the industry.  The park isn't giving out a lot of details at this point on the ride, but it is expected to utilize a new ride system that will make vehicles appear to jump over gaps and other obstacles while in a mine cart.   

© Universal
Zooming in on the concept art gives us a bit more of an idea of how the new land will appear, filled with the "lush jungles" that Donkey Kong and his friends live in.  There will be additional themed retail locations, food offerings and even more interactive experiences packed into the expansion.  When all is said and done the Super Nintendo World part of the park will expand by 70% in size.


J. L. Bonnier, President and CEO of Universal Japan states that "Super Nintendo World creates a whole new level of theme park entertainment and has quickly become an exciting, must-do experience for our guests.  We are thrilled to continue working with Nintendo as we fulfill our vision to bring their characters and stories to life. Our new Donkey Kong themed area will bring even more excitement and fun to the Super Nintendo World experience."

Monday, September 27, 2021

New Pre-cut Wooden Coaster Track Offered by The Gravity Group

© The Gravity Group
In the past decade or so we've seen a lot of traditional wooden roller coasters become steel roller coasters, and while these rides are a fantastic addition to the parks we love there is still something to be said for the feel of a tradition wood coaster.  The Gravity Group, who's wooden coaster designs are some of the best around, has created a new engineered pre-cut wood track that is both economical and highly exact.

According to The Gravity Group, most wooden coaster track is cut on site and that can lead to small imperfections that can cause a rougher ride over time.  600 feet of their new engineered pre-cut track was installed on the Racer at Kings Island (photo above) this year and has quickly garnered rave reviews by fans of the classic coaster.

© The Gravity Group
The Racer is a highly regarded ride by its fans, so clearly Kings Island had a lot of faith in the new track.  The Gravity Group also notes that their patent-pending track is designed to be up to 30 times stronger than traditional wooden coaster track, and very maintenance friendly.  This innovation will help the traditional wooden coasters out there keep giving smooth rides for years to come, and seems to offer parks a lot of incentive to give it a try.

You can read more about the innovative design right from The Gravity Group at this link.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Elitch Gardens to Host Luminova Holiday Event This Winter

© Elitch Gardens
Denver's Elitch Gardens will celebrate the holiday this year by hosting Luminova, a celebration of the season that will take up residence at the theme park this winter.  The event will see the park decked out in tons of holiday lights, plus there will be rides, Santa, food, interactive experiences and more.

Luminova was located last year in Texas, at the Globe Life Field in Arlington.  The event is moving to Elitch Gardens this year for the first time, presenting 200,000 square feet of outdoor immersive space.

© Luminova
Lights will be a focal point of Luminova, as is true with most holiday events at theme parks.  This one will feature a staggering 3 million lights, offering endless photo opportunities as well.  Other spectacles include a 65 foot tall Christmas Tree, a 25 foot tall Snowman that never melts, 16 foot tall presents and ornaments and a 200 foot long Candy Cane Tunnel.

A train ride will be available for kids, but some of Elitch Gardens' rides will also be available, including the Big Wheel, Carousel, Dragon Wing, select Kiddieland rides and possibly more to be added later.

© Luminova
The park will offer plenty of food and beverage options, including holiday favorites like hot cocoa.  Holiday entertainers will stroll through the park providing merriment, and it wouldn't be a holiday event without Santa.  He will be available to meet with guests, with covid safety precautions in place.

Luminova at Elitch Gardens will kick off on November 26th and run select nights through January 2nd, 2022.  For tickets check out the park's official website.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Riddler Mindbender Reopens at Six Flags Over Georgia

© Six Flags Over Georgia
The popular and classic Anton Schwarzkopf roller coaster, known as the Riddler Mindbender, has reopened at Six Flags Over Georgia.  The ride closed in 2019 to undergo an extensive refurbishment that went well into 2021 due in part to the ongoing pandemic.  But finally riders are able to soar across its bright green track once again.


© WSB Radio

The Riddler Mindbender first opened in 1978 and features two vertical loops along with a large horizontal loop that is often advertised as the ride's third loop.  It has 3,253 feet of track and hits a top speed of 50 miles per hour.  The ride was designed to take advantage of the park's terrain with a lot of the track swooping far down below the level of the station.


© WSB Radio
Six Flags Over Georgia's refurbishment of the coaster was extensive.   Several track pieces were re-fabricated and replaced, the whole ride got a new coat of paint, the queue was upgraded, and a new control system was installed.  Probably most noticable is the fact that the park purchased new trains for the coaster.  The new 5 car trains take 20 passengers on the coaster at a time, replacing the original seven car trains.  The shorter trains are sure to provide a new ride experience for guests.

You can check out a video of the new trains making their way through the course at this link on YouTube.  Kudos to the park for making the large investment to keep this classic coaster going!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Sesame Place San Diego to Open March 2022

© Sesame Place San Diego
Sesame Place San Diego has announced that it will be opening to guests in March of 2022, bringing the fun of the Sesame Place characters to the West coast in their own dedicated theme park.  The property is a conversion of Aquatica San Diego, which had its last season as a water park-only property this year.  The crews are now out in full force adding rides and attractions to round out the offerings of the new park.

© Bing Maps
You can actually see that a lot of work was started already for the new rides, as I believe the park was originally intended to open this year... but the pandemic pushed that back.  This aerial shows a lot of ground clearing taking place at the park, and there are even a couple ride foundations already in place.  Fun fact - this park used to be one of Knott's Soak City properties before Cedar Fair sold it to SeaWorld Entertainment.

© Sesame Place San Diego
Sesame Place San Diego will feature many of the park's existing water attractions but also a brand new Sesame Street neighborhood area near the park's entrance.  There will also be rides added, including Super Grover's Box Car Derby, a family roller coaster.  Other listed attractions on the still-under-development website for the park include Abby's Fairy Flight (a Wave Swinger), Elmo's Rockin' Rockets (circular ride), the Sunny Day Carousel and the Rub-A-Dub Sub (a camp bus style ride).

The park will also feature a full parade and other live entertainment, along with new food and beverage and retail options as well.  With work in full gear and an opening date announced, watch for more updates on the new park soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Troublesome News Continues for Conneaut Lake Park

© Conneaut Lake Park

The troublesome summer for Conneaut Lake Park has only gotten worse in recent weeks, and now it looks like the new owner's plan to slowly chip away at the park's offerings is continuing.  After limited operations, the removal of several attractions and a blatant refusal to speak about the future of the park, now some of Conneaut Lake's largest attractions are up for sale on a used ride website.

We've had this blog long enough to know that nothing in this industry lasts forever, and it's always sad to see a park close.  This one is especially rough since the park, before the pandemic, seemed to be slowly thriving on its own.  It was a story we followed here for years and years, and it was great to see them turning a corner.  The pandemic left the park with no choice but to suddenly sell to an owner that initially showed promise, but quickly changed everyone's mind on that front.  

Right now you can find several of the park's rides up on  For instance here is the listing for the park's classic Carousel, and here is an Octopus ride that I think was just added this year.  This news story also covers some of the rides that are listed, they're citing that up to six of them are on the website.  I can't say I'm surprised the park's Carousel is up for sale, the new owner probably realized what Carousels can sell for and that was that.

There's no mention of the Blue Streak on the used rides website, but if you look at the recent past of 'saving' or getting someone to purchase an old wooden coaster... there just isn't a market for it.  But let's all hope I'm dead wrong.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Adventureland Adding 10 New Rides and Attractions in 2022

© Adventureland
Iowa's Adventureland is expanding in 2022 with a new ride package that will see the addition of ten new rides and attractions at the theme park.  The additions are aimed at attracting more families to the park, with the new rides catering to the family and kid market.

© Adventureland
In order to add the new rides and attractions the park will be removing three of their existing rides.  Seen above, the park will be removing the Falling Star, Lighthouse and Lady Luck rides.  All are flat rides that have been at the park for many seasons.

The new attraction that the park will offer will be a relocated area for the Des Moines Renaissance Fair, which will move to open space just to the Southeast of the amusement park.  The fair will take play May 7th and 8th and May 14th and 15th, 2022.

© Adventureland
New rides shown in the park's announcement video include:

The Warhawks - looks like a Zamperla Flying Tigers attraction.

Bernie's Swing - a Super Happy Swing also from Zamperla.

The Lighthouse - a new ride from Zamperla called the Pump & Jumpz

The Revolution - a ship themed version of Zamperla's Rockin' Tug

Leap Frogs - a Zamperla Jump Around kiddie ride 

Circus Balloons - one of Zamperla's popular Samba Balloon rides 

The Clipper - a kiddie version of a swinging ship ride

Speedway Racers - a racecar themed kiddie whip ride

Rockin' Rainbow - a larger sized family swing ride

Adventureland hopes to have all the new rides up and running for the park's debut in 2022.  It has been on somewhat of an expansion spree in recent years, adding the large Monster coaster in 2016, the family spinning coaster Phoenix in 2019, and just this year Dragon Slayer - an S&S 4-D Free Spin coaster.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Help Kennywood Pick Phantom's Revenge's New Track Color for 2022

© Kennywood
It isn't often that we're able to actually pick the new color scheme of a major roller coaster, but that's exactly what Kennywood is letting fans do.  The park has confirmed that they are repainting the track on the massive Phantom's Revenge roller coaster in 2022, and letting us all vote to decide what color.

It was noticed recently that the park had put some test paint on a section of the track.  You can see a photo of it at this link on Twitter.  There were sections of purple, a teal, and a royal blue.  Parks do this to get a sense of what a new color will look like in natural light.  It was just a few days later that the park announced that they will let fans pick the final color.

© Kennywood
While there were three paint test colors, the park seems to have narrowed it down to two final choices.  The royal blue is out.  Left to choose from we have "Petrifying Purple" and "Terrifying Teal."  They can bee seen above.  Let it simmer a bit and then you can make your final choice at this link that the park has set up.  You can vote once per day through September 8th and please note that the ride's supports will remain black.


Also note that after you vote you can see the current results... I won't say which but one color is dominating right now.

© Kennywood
Phantom's Revenge is a highly regarded coaster in the industry, known especially for some wild "hair time" on the bunny hills it presents to riders.  It opened as the Steel Phantom in 1991 as a custom Arrow Dynamics ride that broke world records with its 225 foot first drop.  It was modified in 2001 by Morgan Manufacturing to remove the ride's inversions, add a few feet to the first drop, and extend the ride overall.  It currently speeds through the 3,200 feet of track at a top speed of 85 miles per hour.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dorney Park Labor Day + Pre Haunt 2021 Update

© NewsPlusNotes
As the summer season winds down, Dorney Park is getting ready for Halloween Haunt in full force.  The annual scare fest starts in two weeks, so the park has a ton of the scare zones and haunted houses up all over the park.  It was a beautiful day for a stroll around the property during Labor Day weekend, let's check out how progress is going for the fall events.

© NewsPlusNotes
Haunt will start on Saturday September 18th and then run Friday evenings and Saturday nights through October 30th.  As in past years the Haunt activities will start in the evening on Saturdays, but during the day The Great Pumpkin Fest will be held - a family friendly event celebrating the fall and Halloween perfect for kids.

© NewsPlusNotes
The park is still looking for people who want to have some fun scaring the heck out of visitors, and are paying $20 an hour for them to do it.  There are many signs throughout the park advertising the hourly rate as the tough labor market rages on.

© NewsPlusNotes
Turning to Haunt attraction prep, there's a lot going on at the park.  Blackout will return this year, but since it takes place indoors and in total darkness there's not really much to see other than the sign out front of the building.

© NewsPlusNotes
A fan favorite, and a great favorite of mine, Blood On The Bayou will also be returning this year.  As a standalone haunt in its own building, this one stays up year round enticing visitors as they pass by.  The haunt's amazing sets and creative scares make it one of the most popular attractions at Dorney Park's Haunt.

© NewsPlusNotes
Hydra Plaza looks different this time of year as the park sets up a giant stage for Haunt and also a temporary food and beverage outlet.  Exactly what these will offer remains a mystery for now, as the park's only listed entertainment so far is Skeleton Crew, which is down by Possessed.

© NewsPlusNotes
CarnEvil is returning as well, a fun outdoor scare zone with plenty of clowns packed into a tight walkway that is closed off on either side by giant banners, with flags and creepy lights above.  Even walking through this area during the day and not even during Haunt season is funny as many guests appear on-guard as if a clown make jump out at any moment.

© NewsPlusNotes
Down by Demon Drop at the end of the midway the setup of CornStalkers is in full force, with plenty of cornstalks laying around ready to be set up.  This is another popular attraction that always has a bigger line, and is a combination indoor and outdoor haunt maze.

© NewsPlusNotes
Tourist Trap is one of the park's most original and newest indoor haunt mazes.  Set at the 1893 World's Fair the haunted house invites guests into a hotel where many never check out.

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes
Down near Thunderhawk the outdoor scare zone maze mashup, as I call it, called The Lair has also been set up.  This one was a new attraction before the pandemic hit so it'll be great to experience it once more this fall.  And who doesn't love vampires?!

© NewsPlusNotes
Necropolis will be scaring visitors again this year in its giant outdoor graveyard of ghouls.  This one is hard to get photographs of as it's set back across from Steel Force's station, but you can see the facade for the entrance peeking through in the background of this photo.

© NewsPlusNotes
One of 2021's new attractions is a indoor maze named Enigma.  It will be located in the building above, which as of now hasn't changed much from when it was Urgent Scare in past years.  Inside however the new Enigma will be filled with optical illusions and other confusing settings that will distract while the monsters... pounce.

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

One attraction that was done several years ago is making a return this year, much to the pleasure of Haunt fans like myself.  The park is again using their awesome pirate ship prop to create and area that features the Skeleton Crew show and the Port of Call Pub bar wrapped up in a nicely themed section.  The area is blocked off while the prep is completed, but you can see most of the sets from the midway.

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

A brand new scare zone for 2021, The Hollow, is being set up on the park's lower midway just past the train track and near the Monster flat ride.  The park is taking great advantage of how much this area has grown in over the years, since it is mostly covered by trees at this point and has a secluded feeling all on its own.  The area is now filled with new pumpkin patch/gothic/outdoorsy decorations combined with some repurposed ones, plus pumpkins everywhere.  The Hollow is still being set up and it's already looking great and has much promise!  I can't wait to see what kind of ghouls set up shop here when the sun goes down.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Universal Beijing to Hold Grand Opening on September 20th

© Universal Beijing
Universal Beijing has announced that it will hold its grand opening for the public on September 20th, 2021.  The park has been undergoing preview days for invited guests and team members in preparation of the grand opening, where the public will get to try out the many rides, shows and attractions that the park offers.  In addition, the park's two hotel resorts will also be operational along with Universal CityWalk Beijing.  The resort notes that they will be controlling attendance once the park opens due to pandemic considerations.

The Universal Beijing resort will contain "37 rides and attractions in the seven immersive themed lands" of the theme park, as well as 24 shows and performances throughout the park and resort areas.

© Universal Beijing
Since previews of the park have been underway that means that we're already able to get an online preview of rides and attractions within the park's 7 areas: Hollywood, Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, WaterWorld, Minion Land, Jurassic World Isla Nublar and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

As always with big development projections, Themeparx has been the place to go to see great photos and videos of the park as it was built and now that its operating in preview mode.  The park has some cloned attractions from the other Universal theme parks, but also has a significant amount of unique attractions as well.

© Universal Beijing
Naturally one that really stands out is the Jurassic World Adventure, a dark ride that utilizes the moving motion base system that Spider-Man does at Islands of Adventure.  The ride features real sets and plenty of animatronics, along with some surprising encounters with the dinos.  Videos of the ride first popped up on foreign websites and now can be found on YouTube.  If you want to check it out, here is an example.

With so much great media of the park already out there I can only image there will be even more, arguably better, coverage once the grand opening takes place.