Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Giant Towering Casino Proposed for Coney Island

© The Coney
New York State's Gaming Commission is accepting proposals for three casino licenses that would allow full sized, Vegas-esque properties to be built in and around Manhattan. Viewed as an obvious gold mine by casino operators, several have already thrown their hat in the ring in an attempt to wow the Commission and snag a license.  One of those projects is The Coney, which would be a giant towering casino hotel located right in Coney Island, immediately adjacent to Luna Park and the Cyclone.

The project has a website located here where you can check out, but the concept art up top shows how the Coney Island skyline would look if the project is able to move forward.  Quite different than it currently looks, that's for sure.  The plan is a partnership between four entities:  the Chickasaw Nation Indian tribe, Thor Equities, Saratoga Casino Holdings and Legends.

© The Coney
Here is the 2nd piece of concept art released for the property, which will include "a casino, hotel, an acre of public park space, on-site parking, retail & restaurant space" and be built so that it is "catered to local Brooklyn and Coney Island businesses."  No more exact details are available but you'll note in both of the drawings that there is a roller coaster structure on the roof of part of the building.  Is that a planned real ride or just decoration?  Who knows!

© Google Maps
From news articles it sounds like The Coney has purchased (or has options on) 5 acres of land at Surf Ave and W. 12th Street, which just so happens to be immediatly next to Luna Park and behind Deno's and the Wonder Wheel.  If you enlarge the image above I highlighted some land that equals about 5 acres, it would include a lot of buildings back there and some go-karts and a mini-golf, too.  Hypothetically, at least, as an exact location hasn't been released.  It would be pretty wild to see a giant casino resort go up right next to the rides, that's for sure.  It would be interesting if that would make even more money flow into Luna Park and adjacent areas, or if the dynamic would slowly suffocate them.  No matter how hard Vegas tried they never found a way to make gaming family-friendly.

Sadly, or happily depending on your opinion, it isn't believed that this project has much of a chance at winning a casino license.  Of the three licenses two are expected to go to existing casinos around Manhattan, leaving only one as a new project.  There's some other very big operators going after a license - which by the way costs $500 million and requires another $500 million in investment!

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Rocket Blast Water Coaster Opens at Waldameer Park

© Walameer Amusement Park
A brand new water roller coaster, aptly named Rocket Blast, has opened at Waldameer Park's water area, Water World.  Seen above, the ride is totally interwoven into the existing slides and attractions that Water World offers, making the addition an especially impressive thing.  The attraction is said to have cost the park around $7 or $8 million, so this is a very big investment for the family-owned park and water park!

© Waldameer Park
Rocket Blast has also changed colors slightly since it was originally announced, now featuring mostly yellow and blue on the slides, with some pops or orange on the Flying Saucer turns.  The water coaster is rather large in size, standing around 67 feet tall and featuring over 830 feet of slide.  There are several uphill sections, a large drop in the middle of the ride, the aforementioned Fling Saucer turns and plenty of twisting enclosed trough as well.

Since the ride just opened a week ago there isn't much available yet as far as videos and photos go, but for an look at how the ride is you can check out the below video from Waldameer!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Refreshed + Restored Grizzly Coaster Now Open at Kings Dominion

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion spent a lot of time this past off-season detailing the work that the park had The Gravity Group put into restoring The Grizzly.  If you missed that coverage, you can see the final post at this link and then move backward.  The Gravity Group has done some engineering work to the ride to modify the first drop and some additional sections of the coaster.  This has resulted in a longer drop (by 12 feet) that's also steeper by 10 degrees.

© Kings Dominion
Aside from those changes there was quite a bit of precut track placed on the ride, which is engineered specifically to be smoother for the trains to pass over and also to create a more enjoyable ride for passengers.  Plus, it's easier for the park to maintain so that the smoothness lasts longer, a win for both the park and riders!

The Grizzly opened in 1982 and was designed by Curtis Summers and built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters.  With many parks choosing to retire their wooden coasters, or turn them into steel rides (or hybrids to make things more confusing) it is nice to see Kings Dominion spend the time and money to "restore the roar" and keep The Grizzly as thrilling as ever!

The theme park released an updated point of view video ride on The Grizzly, embedded below, so you can check out all the changes!

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The New Zambezi Zinger Opens This Monday at World of Fun!

© Worlds of Fun
One of the most interesting projects for 2023 (in my personal opinion) is the new version of the Zambezi Zinger that is officially opening to guests this coming Monday, July 19th at Worlds of Fun.  The ride has been delayed a number of weeks and is holding some limited special opening events this weekend, but starting Monday it is a go for the general public to take a spin.  Great Coasters International and Skyline Attractions have teamed up to create this unique ride for Worlds of Fun.

© Worlds of Fun
The ride is not a recreation of the park's original Zambezi Zinger, instead it's a modern invention that pays tribute to the original ride... but at the same time is very different.  The coaster is wooden, for starters, though it does use steel rails (Skyline Attraction's Titan Track) on a spiral lift hill that is meant to mimic how the original Zinger started.  

© Worlds of Fun
Zambezi Zinger utilizes the steel Titan Track for the lift and through a portion of the first drop, but after that the rest of the ride is tradition wooden roller coaster track.  The ride uses two Infinity Flyer trains that are capable of the tight ground-hugging turns that the Zinger sends riders through.  The new coaster stands 74 feet tall, has a maximum speed of around 45 miles per hour and features 2,428 feet of track.

If you are like myself and cannot get to the park anytime soon to take a ride on the new Zambezi Zinger, well the park has our backs and released a nice point of view video of the ride:

The coaster is very clearly not designed to be an air-time machine, instead it looks to rely on relentless speed and quick laterals to thrill riders.  I'm in!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Lost Island Theme Park is Open - Go Visit It Soon!

© Lost Island Theme Park
I haven't posted last year or yet this year about Lost Island Theme Park, which opened for the first time in 2022 in Iowa, because the park is not on the forefront of my mind.  Or anyone's mind, it seems?  It is a rare occasion for a brand new theme park to open in the United States, and that's what we have here only no one is talking about it, there seems to be very little press, and the first season for the park saw an operating loss for every day except one.  If you want to skip to the moral of the story, go visit now if you ever intend to!

© Lost Island Theme Park
The park looks really neat, with a unique theme to it that features 5 different realms to explore: Earth, Fire, Water, Spirit and Air.  A lot of thought and concern went into the park, it may contain some typical amusement part attractions but all received some level of theming that make the offerings better than average.  There's lots of bright colors, unique themes, characters and more to discover around the park.

One of the highlights for me for sure is VOLKANU: Quest For The Golden Idol, the park's signature dark ride and what draws me to the park the most.  The interactive dark ride features a unique theme and storyline, and was created by Sally Dark Rides.  From full life-sized animatronics to actual fire, the ride has it all and isn't like anything you're used to when traveling the Midwest!

© Lost Island Theme Park
The park is home to two larger roller coasters, each were brought to the park from their original location.  Nopuko Air Coaster is a classic Vekoma SLC (though the kind with the extra helix at the end) which was moved from Ratanga Junction in South Africa.  The more exciting ride for me is Matugani, a bite-sized Intamin launched roller coaster.  It originated as Kanonen at Liseberg in Sweden and has a darling little top hat after the launch and two inversions.


I'm hoping that the Lost Island Theme Park does not go the way of Hard Rock Park, so if you have any interest in checking the place out I suggest doing it quickly - not only to support a major new theme park in the U.S., but also because you just never know! 

Monday, June 12, 2023

ArieForce One Thrilling Riders at Fun Spot America Atlanta

© Fun Spot America Atlanta
Fun Spot America Atlanta made some big moves when they announced the addition of a towering Rocky Mountain Construction roller coaster in late 2021.  The ride, to be called ArieForce One, was much (much!) larger than anything offered at Fun Spot America Atlanta, but it was sure to put the park's name on the map.  Fast forward to now, and it certainly has!


© Fun Spot America Atlanta
The ride took a bit longer than expected to open, with construction going on throughout 2022 while enthusiasts mouths hung open, but that disappointment also meant the coaster was ready to go pretty early in 2023.   Fast forward to now and ArieForce One is open and as is typical with Rocky Mountain Construction creations, it's billed as a fast, intense and thrilling experience.

© Fun Spot America Atlanta
Riders encounter a towering 154 foot lift hill that serves as quite a billboard for the amusement park.  The steep first drop takes the trains rolling at a smooth 64 miles per hour and up into the ride's first inversion.  Soon after the trains soar through the largest zero-g stall in America, another inversion right after the first.  From there riders a sent through two more twisting inversions, a nuts-looking outwardly banked turn, a low to the ground helix and a total of 16 moments of airtime.  From an enthusiast perspective, ArieForce One is another mega thrill RMC machine, and it sounds like it doesn't let down from the moment it dispatches from the station!

If you've never hear of or been to Fun Spot America Atlanta, the park is only a 30 or so minute drive South of the city proper, so it's quite accessible for those passing through the area.  This was a huge investment and step for the development of the park, and if successful I'd wager the first of much more to come.