Sunday, November 28, 2021

Six Flags Names Selim Bassoul as Company's New CEO

© Six Flags
Here is a piece of news that broke just before the IAAPA trade show but is worth still covering, Six Flags Entertainment has named a new CEO - Selim Bassoul.  This means that the former CEO, Michael Spanos, will have served in the top spot for just two years.  No direct reason for the change was given by the company, they simply stated that the replacement was effective immediately as Mr. Spanos has stepped down.

Mr. Bassoul was already serving as the company's Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, so he is by no means unfamiliar with Six Flags and their plans.  Ben Baldanza, an independent director for Six Flags and former CEO of Spirit Airlines, has replace Mr. Bassoul as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. 

“I am honored to serve as the next CEO of Six Flags, and I am excited to bring the magic back to our parks. We are a company led by a purpose–to make a positive and meaningful impact on everyone Six Flags touches,” said Mr. Bassoul. “I will do my best to enable our people to fulfill their passion to make a difference, and to harness their creativity to build on a shared vision for guest satisfaction and financial growth. I am passionate about empowering employees and serving our customers, and together with our team, I know we can set up Six Flags for a new level of success in the months and years ahead.” 


I know that press releases tend to be full of only good news and positivity, but I still find it interesting that Mr. Bassoul noted he wants to bring back the "magic" to the parks.  It was gone, I take it? It is often noted that the Six Flags parks are in need of a sprucing up, including general maintenance, paint and modernization of infrastructures.  There were grabs at this during Mr. Spanos' tenure, and perhaps Mr. Bassoul will amp up the speed of the changes planned.  Time will tell, it usually takes over a year to see the real changes a new CEO brings, so I wouldn't put too much stock in the 2022 season reflecting Mr. Bassoul much. 

Interestingly, part of Mr. Bassoul's employment agreement also states that he will purchase $10 million in Six Flags stock on the open market as soon as he starts.  His bonus is tied to overall financial performance, and on a personal level it sounds like he is willing to put up, well, $10 million of his own money to help motivate him to motivate the company to see great results.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

"Volkanu" Dark Ride Announced for New Lost Island Theme Park

© Lost Island / Sally
The currently under construction Lost Island Theme Park, being built in Iowa, has been announced to be the home of a brand new interactive dark ride from Sally, named Volkanu - Quest for the Golden Idol.  The new theme park is set to open next summer and has slowly been revealing information about the park's creative theme and roster of attractions.

The lands of the new park are themed around the earth's elements, and the Volkanu dark ride will be in the area representing fire.  Fitting, and the attraction is housed inside a building hidden by a giant volcano facade.  Sally Corporation has created a unique story for the attraction, which will be filled with interactive features and special effects.

© Lost Island / Sally
Above is concept art of the outside of the Volkanu ride.  Sally describes the attraction as featuring "state-of-the-art, multi-level gameplay technology that has something for everyone.  Riders will experience a four-minute showtime full of interactive 3D imagery, dynamic scenery, animatronic figures and dazzling special effects."

Riders entering the fire realm will find the dark ride themed to the "great god of fire Volkanu - a legendary bestial being of molten rock living deep inside Lost Island.  The experience will take riders on a thrill-packed adventure to locate the sacred Ora-Tika statue, responsible for keeping Volkanu dormant, and return it to the altar to restore peace to the island. Guests will be equipped with a powerful Thermal Blaster as they battle with the minions of Volkanu and head to the Temple of Fire to return the statue to its altar."

As fans of dark rides, it's great to see such a unique attraction opening in the U.S. so soon.  Instillation of the ride is already underway on site at Lost Island, and it will open with the theme park in 2022.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Adventureland Long Island Building Fireball Coaster in 2022

© Adventureland
Long Island's Adventureland has surprised us all with the announcement of a new roller coaster, Fireball, that will open at the park in 2022.  The park is promising more details in the near future, and for now is just stating on social media that Fireball is aimed at providing fun for the entire family.

From the image they released along with the logo, we can pretty easily tell that this will be one of Ride Engineers Switzerland's Roller Ball coasters.  Plus, Adventureland makes it clear that their new ride will be the only of its kind in North America, as there are only similar rides in Austria, Germany and France.

Per the description of the Roller Ball coaster from Ride Engineers Switzerland, "passengers get the sensation being a pinball while safely running down the track in a 4-seat gondola with individual lap bars. Due to the acceleration and deceleration, the gondola is swinging around the vertical curves in combination with a free fall feeling."


From the company's website it appears as though Adventureland is adding the Roller Ball S model, which stands 72 feet tall, has 288 feet of track and has a maximum speed of about 16 miles per hour.  Obviously, as a family ride the intent is not to be overly thrilling. The above video is of a larger sized instillation of a Roller Ball, which still will give a nice look at what to expect at Adventureland next season.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Kangaroo Returns to Kennywood in 2022

© Kennywood
Fans of Kennywood Park have been overjoyed to learn that the park is bringing back its classic Kangaroo flat ride for the park's 2022 season.  The ride has thrilled park visitors for generations with its gentle flying and bouncing motions, and now will once more next year.  The ride was closed at the end of the 2020 season but the park made the decision to invest in the classic, refurbish it, and reopen it.  


The ride opened in 1962 and is a "Flying Coaster" ride created by Aero-Affiliates, and was the last one operating in the U.S. when it closed.  In a Blast From The Past article from 2010 we actually covered the ride in great detail - check it out!

© Kennywood
“Kangaroo is a one-of-a-kind ride that’s perfect for a one-of-a-kind park like Kennywood,” says General Manager Mark Pauls. “We heard our guests ask for its return, and we are excited to bring the last ride of its kind in the world back, better than ever.”


In order to bring this classic back to life, Kennywood has hired Premier Rides to do a complete refurbishment.  When completed the new Kangaroo will feature "an all-new LED lighting package, vibrant new colors, and state of the art operating systems while still providing the classic “Flying Coaster” feel."


Major kudos to Kennywood for investing in a classic ride like this!  Make sure to take a bounce on the ride next season.  As for now, be sure to visit Kennywood's page to vote on the Kangaroo's new look!

Friday, November 19, 2021

New Gerstlauer Infinity Shuttle Coaster to Open at Cotaland in Late 2022

© Gerstlauer
Gerstlauer Rides and Ride Entertainment have announced a brand new custom designed Infinity shuttle coaster that will open toward the end 2022.  Named Palindrome, the unique coaster will be located at Cotaland in Austin, Texas.  Cotaland is located at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and currently is a kiddie park with several small attractions and rides.  In 2022 the park is planning a great expansion to offer many more rides, with Palindrome being the star of them.

© Gerstlauer
Palindrome will start with a vertical lift hill of 95 feet, followed by a near vertical twisting first drop.  The individual trains will seat 12 riders at a time as they hit a maximum speed of 51 miles per hour.  Trains will then soar though a zero-g stall which takes place over an active road.  A "flipped wave turn" is taken next, with a high-speed inline twist inversion right after.  Trains then soar up a "vertical hop-stall" tower, which sends the trains backward through the entire course.

© Gerstlauer
A turn table eventually points the trains back at the station to complete the ride.  The coaster will have 1,230 feet of track but due to the backward run a total of 2,080 feet will be covered.  Palindrome will also utilize the park's terrain to offer a total of 111 feet of elevation change despite the lift only being 95 feet tall.


© Gerstlauer
Gerstlauer is especially excited for the ride's vertical hop-stall tower, which features a bump in it that trains pass over on their way up.  As they plunge down backward the bump will give riders some air-time while they float downward, an exciting prospect for passengers.


A full set of video renderings of Palindrome are available from Ride Entertainment at this link.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

ArieForce One RMC Coaster Headed to Fun Spot America Atlanta

© Fun Spot America Atlanta
Fun Spot America Atlanta and Rocky Mountain Construction have announced ArieForce One, a brand new i-box track steel coaster for the park's 2022 season.  We've known that a custom designed ride was headed to the park for some time now, but the pair waited until the annual IAAPA trade show to do the full reveal of the coaster.

© Fun Spot America Atlanta
ArieForce One is named after Fun Spot America's founder John Arie - the parks are currently run by his son, John Arie, Jr.  The ride and its queue will be themed after the senior John Arie's boyhood passion for flight, hence the unique coaster name.  The $13 million project will be the largest that Fun Spot has ever spent on one ride to date.

© Fun Spot America Atlanta
The coaster will start with a 154 foot lift hill, followed by a 146 foot first drop at a steep 83 degree angle at 64 miles per hour.  The trains will then soar up into a Raven Truss Dive, similar to a dive loop, turning back toward the lift hill.  There will then be a long zero-g stall that takes place under the lift hill, followed by an outwardly banked left turn.

© Fun Spot America Atlanta
A large double-up and drop down then sends trains through a barrel roll over one of the parks buildings, and into a ground hugging turn around.  Trains navigate another zero-g roll before climbing a hill for the ride's big finish - a quad-down (series of 4 downward sections one after another).  It should serve as a breathtaking airtime filled finish to the 100 second ride.  In total ArieForce One features 3,400 feet of track and will utilize two, 5 car trains.

Fun Spot America Atlanta released this announcement video for ArieForce One, which you can watch above courtesy of Amusementinsider on YouTube.  It has a lot of great clips of the coaster in action and will give a better sense of the ride's layout.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Wild Adventures Theme Park Announces New Fun for 2022

© Wild Adventures
Georgia's Wild Adventures Theme Park has announced several new additions for the park's 2022 season, including a brand new animal exhibit, expanded festivals and special events, a new restaurant and more.  The park's general manger, Jon Vigue, stated that the "additions reflect our desire to create new and exciting experiences for our guests and our commitment to growth as we continue to establish Wild Adventures as the premiere entertainment destination for families in our region."


© Wild Adventures

© Wild Adventures

Seen in the concept art up top and above is Water's Edge Brews & Bites, a new restaurant and entertainment venue.  Located at the heart of the park's central lake, the area will feature locally brewed beers, wine, gourmet pretzels and plenty of shaded seating for guests to relax in.  Wild Adventures will partner with the Georgia Beer Company for the area's beverages, and guests will only be able to consume them within Water's Edge Brews & Bites.


Wild Adventures' festival season will be expanded next year starting with Shamrock The Park, starting March 19th, 2022, and offering Irish themed food, music, scavenger hunts and more.  Pounce & Crunch's Easter Eggstravaganza will grow to two weekends next year, featuring 10,000 candy filled eggs hidden in the park and a new Easter Parade. As in past seasons the park will also offer big concert names in its venue, with 12 acts headlining next summer.  Sweet Summer Nights will take place on Fridays in June and July, with the park staying open late with live music, colorful lights and fireworks in July.


A brand new animal exhibit will also open in 2022, named Wanyama Overlook.  It will be the largest new animal habitat the park has added in a decade.  It will "feature a variety of exotic animals native to Africa and Asia, including giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, wildebeests and more.  The unique exhibit will also serve as a fun and immersive catering space with a view for private events and a shaded area for families to enjoy."

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Cedar Point Hard at Work on New Restaurant + Ride Removal

© Google Maps
Cedar Point has made some additional information available about some of their plans for the 2022 season, centered around developments in Frontier Town.  The full info can be found on Cedar Point's official blog at this link.  

It has been confirmed by the park that the new eatery will be located on the site of the Antique Cars ride, which has been retired for good.  The aerial up top shows the layout of the Antique Cars ride in the center of Frontier Town, sandwiched between Maverick's station and the walkway that borders the plaza for the Cedar Creek Mine Ride and Skyhawk.  While many will lament the loss of the Antique Cars, or perhaps the shady area they ran through, there will still be the Cadillac Cars up near the front of the park for visitors to enjoy.

© Cedar Point
The demolition of the ride is well underway, with most of the ride already gone.  This is one photo from Cedar Point, there are more in their official blog post.  It looks like the area has been cleared out considerably, not just the ride's concrete path.  You can see the ride's station still standing in the back, perhaps that will stay?

As for the new restaurant, the park reports that the "entire team is working on menu, theming, name and more" and all will be revealed in the coming months.  Additionally, the park plans to keep the covered bridge that the Antique Cars ran through, changing it to a walking path next year.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Dollywood Planning New "Family Attraction" for 2023 Season

© Bing Maps
Dollywood has received approval from the Pigeon Forge Planning Commission for a new project for 2023, covering 20 acres at the park and located adjacent to the Wildwood Grove area.  The documents highlight that the new attraction to be located within the project is a "family attraction," but plans that were released as part of the approval show what looks like a new family roller coaster.

The area in yellow in the image above show the part of the park that will contain the new roller coaster, in general terms.  The news article mentions that the new expansion will feature all service facilities for the new ride, along with a food area - the bulk of that will be over on the left.  The ride's track then extends out along the backside of the Wildwood Grove area, doing a turnaround on a graded slope that borders the area.

© Dollywood
These are the plans that became public as a result of the meeting.  You can compare these to the aerial above, they are pretty close in layout.  On the larger image you can follow the twisting track of the ride, and there are also small dots that to me would be the footer locations for the coaster.  They stay pretty close to the ride's path which generally means the track will stay close to the ground (think Hagrid's at Islands of Adventure).  There also appears to be a lack of a lift hill, which matches the rumors that the ride will feature multiple launches to gain its speed.

The only odd thing about these plans is that they seem to effictively block off the rest of the land cleared up by the train loop - a sizable portion that was expected to be developed over time.  Then again, if there is a will there is a way, I'm sure the park can work around the new ride to keep building in the future.

Per the news article Dollywood does not have any comment on the plans yet, but they will announce the details of this new attraction when they are ready.