Sunday, July 24, 2022

Playland at PNE Opens New 'Skybender' Flat Ride

© Playland
Playland, located in Vancouver, Canada, has opened a thrilling new flat ride named Skybender.  The ride is manufactured by Zamperla, and features a wonderful color scheme of purple, pink and yellow - plus orange accents.  Lively, for sure.  The ride just recently opened and represents a $2.7 million investment on behalf of Playland.

Skybender is one of Zamperla's most recent creations, called Gryphon by the manufacturer.   The ride features single seats (24) that swing outward as the entire ride rotates - quickly.  This is not a brand new type of ride as older models have existed for quite some time, but the single seats with legs dangling is a much more freeing way to ride than the old creations offered.  The ride also rotates at a good clip, which adds to the thrill appeal of Skybender.

As I said, this is a relatively new creation by Zamperla and it looks like a lot of fun - hopefully we see more of these pop up in the coming years.  Below is a video of Skybender that Playland published to give you an idea of the experience.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Opens New Defiance Roller Coaster

© Glenwood Caverns
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, located way up high on a mountain in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, has opened their new roller coaster, Defiance, to anxious park guests.  The Gerstlauer designed Euro-Fighter sits at 7,132 feet above sea level, making it the "highest" (in elevation) roller coaster in the U.S.  As with most Euro-Fighter designs Defiance starts with a 75 foot vertical lift hill, but then riders - who are no doubt in complete awe at the view from up there - are faced with a way beyond vertical 110 foot first drop at 102.3 degrees.

© Glenwood Caverns
The layout of Defiance is short but packs quite a punch.  After the first drop the individual cars encounter a unique element called a twisted top hat switch, standing 98 feet tall.  Immediately after that there is a 111 foot tall banana roll, then an upward zero-g heartline roll that takes riders into the final brakes.  Needless to say the coaster is thrilling, but that view is unbeatable!

Here is some footage from of the ride in action, along with a point of view ride on Defiance!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Six Flags Magic Mountain Opens New Wonder Woman Coaster

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain has opened their record-breaking 20th roller coaster, a Rocky Mountain Construction single rail ride named Wonder Woman Flight of Courage.  The coaster is technically the tallest and longest single rail coaster on the planet, though it shares a very similar ride to The Jersey Devil Coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure with some small changes.  Not that that's a bad thing, as the ride is sure to be a hit with park guests looking for a new and different type of roller coaster experience.

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Wonder Woman Flight of Courage stands 131 feet tall and features a steep 87 degree first drop and a top speed of 58 miles per hour.  The ride lasts around 2 minutes and the train will encounter three inversions over the 3,300 feet of track.

If you can't make it out to the park and want to take a virtual spin on Wonder Woman Flight of Courage, check out the video below!

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Hersheypark To Retire Wildcat Wooden Roller Coaster

© Hersheypark

Hersheypark has announced that they will be permanently retiring Wildcat, one of the park's wooden roller coasters, on Sunday July 31st, 2022.  The park posted the news on their social media channels and asked fans if they had any ideas as to what the park can do with "3,100 feet of wooden track."  Quickly Rocky Mountain Construction posted that they have a couple of ideas.  You can draw your own conclusion there, but the future of the ride seems pretty clear at this point.  Oh, and Hersheypark said they will have more details "later this year" - if you were just closing and tearing down a ride what additional details would there be?

© Great Coasters Int.

© NewsPlusNotes

While we wait for official confirmation of what Hersheypark plans to do with Wildcat, let's reminisce.  The coaster opened in 1996 and was Great Coasters International's first big project.  I recall seeing the above ad in trade magazines that being thrilled at what looked like a layout of a ride from decades ago, and not really seen since then.  All those smooth twists and turns looked thrilling, and indeed they were!  It was even more exciting to go see the ride under construction, also pictured above, well before the 1996 season even started.  The ride has become rough in the decades since it opened, and perhaps its next chapter will help smooth things out.

The coaster stands 106 feet tall, features a 85 foot first drop and a top speed of 50 miles per hour.  The exact track length is 3,183 and the coaster is named after Hersheypark's first coaster. 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Quassy Amusement Park Opens New Water Roller Coaster

© Quassy Amusement Park
Quassy Amusement Park has opened their new water coaster and given visitors another reason to play the day away at their Splash Away Bay Waterpark.  Named Rocket Rapids, the new water coaster features a blue and yellow color scheme along with black and white saucer sections.  Quassy has been working on expanding their water park offerings for years now (since 2003) and have created quite a modern and exciting property for guests.

© Quassy Amusement Park

The Rocket Rapids water coaster sends riders on a more than 600 foot course that has both downhill and uphill sections - three uphill sections to be exact.  Proslide created the attraction for the park, which is the park's 16th Proslide-manufactured waterslide and the State's only water roller coaster.  Riders also pass through three separate FlyingSaucer elements which give the impression of heightened speed via tight turns.  

The park has released some promotional footage of the Rocket Rapids water coaster, check it out below.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Cedar Fair Sells California's Great America Land + Plans to Close Park

© California's Great America
Last week Cedar Fair announced that they have sold the land that California's Great America sits on and plans to "wind-down" the operation of the park and close it permanently.  As part of the sale of the land the company will immediately lease back the operation of the park.  The land was sold to Prologis Inc., a company who "acquires, develops and maintains the largest collection of high-quality logistics real estate in the world" - basically they develop and own warehouse operations.

The land was sold for $310 million, and if you recall Cedar Fair purchased the land under California's Great America in 2019 for $150 million.  Ironically, at that time Cedar Fair's CEO commented that the purchase "underscores Cedar Fair’s long-term commitment to California’s Great America."  That commitment appears to have lasted until the land more than doubled in value.

But, to be fair, the pandemic got in the way.  Cedar Fair's press release on the sale points out that the money from the land sale will be used for "reducing debt to achieve its $2 billion target, investing in high-return projects within its portfolio such as upgrading resort properties, and reinstating a sustainable unitholder distribution."  I think the restart of the distribution is key here, as the company has long sold itself to investors as a solid and reliable dividend payer - and obviously the dividend was stopped during the pandemic.  Slapping a bunch of cash against the debt they took on to survive the pandemic will allow them to restart the dividend in just a couple months from now.


© California's Great America
Cedar Fair put some additional details in their filing with the SEC about the sale.  The lease they have runs for six years, and has an optional 5 year extension.  So the maximum the park can operate is 11 more years.  However, Prologis can notify Cedar Fair they want the park closed with a 2 year notice.  Cedar Fair will pay $12.2 million in rent each year to operate the park, with the rent going up 2.5% each year.  Without knowing each parties' exact intentions it is still hard to believe that the park will operate beyond the initial 6 year lease, and potentially will cease operations well before that.


California's Great America was poised for a large expansion period that started back in 2017 when Cedar Fair started talking with local officials about adding large rides and making a big part of the park a shopping and dining area with no gates.  Things did get a bit suspect over the years as none of these big plans ever materialized, aside from the waterpark expansion, which in hindsight makes sense. We actually wrote a post back in 2016 that referenced a story of another developer wanting to raze the park for housing, so uncertainty has always been floating above the park.  Going back further, in 2011 Cedar Fair actually agreed to sell the park only to have the sale fall through - though that was very much tied to their unhappiness with the development of the giant stadium next door.


The sale of the park is only the land, Cedar Fair retains all rides and structures, so there is a possibility for some of the attractions to be relocated or sold to other operators.