Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Knott's Berry Farm to Celebrate the Season with Knott's Taste of Merry Farm Special Event

© Knott's Berry Farm

Halloween may be this coming weekend, but Knott's Berry Farm is already getting ready for the next big holiday with today's announcement of the Knott's Taste of Merry Farm event.  Continuing their trend of offering guests seasonal food and retail events while the rides remain closed, the park is going to get totally decked out for holiday fun.

Running select days November 20th through January 3rd, Knott's Taste of Merry Farm will celebrate the "merriest season of all" with plenty of family fun.  Visitors will find "enchanted d├ęcor, thousands of twinkling lights, miles of festive garland, and a variety of picturesque holiday settings, all serving as a backdrop to the tastiest holiday foods around."


© Knott's Berry Farm

The only way to access the event is through purchasing a tasting card, which run $40 for adults and $20 for kids - season pass holders will receive a discount on their purchase.  The park will offer a total of 60  food and beverage options, and the park's unique gift stores will be open along with 23 local crafters.  A visit to the park will not only be quite filling, but also offer a great way to check holiday gifts off the list for everyone!

Knott's Taste of Merry Farm tasting cards are specific to a certain date, and reservations are required along with the tickets.  Admission per day is limited for safety, so if you're planning a visit make sure to schedule in advance as many dates are expected to sell out quickly!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Disneyland Resort Expands Downtown Disney to Include Part of Disney California Adventure

© Google Maps

With no solid possibility of reopening their theme parks any time in the near future, the Disneyland Resort has decided to expand their shopping and dining options by expanding the Downtown Disney District.  Starting in November, the front section of Disney California Adventure will be open to guests, allowing them to shop and dine at select locations.

With fans desperate to get back into the parks, this is fairly big news for the resort.  Downtown Disney has already seen a steady flow of visitors who want their taste of the Disneyland Resort, even if they can't experience their favorite attraction.  Now they'll be able to step foot into one of the park, exploring the offerings of Buena Vista Street.


© Disney

The area will be reopening just in time for visitors to do some holiday shopping in stores such as Elias & Co, which features tons of Disney merchandise for men, women and children.  Also opening is Julius Katz & Sons, featuring holiday merchandise and home decor and the Kingswell Camera Shop with frames, photo albums and more.

Food options will also be expanded through the expanded offerings.  Trolley Treats will offer classic candies and confections and Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe will have artisan sandwiches and coffees.  Many fans are excited to learn that the area will also have vending carts, offering park classics such as popcorn, churros, ice creams and other famous snacks.

© Disney

Finally, for a full meal the park will reopen the Carthay Circle Lounge, featuring expanded outdoor seating and a new menu for dining and cocktails.  Smokejumpers Grill will also reopen, serving classics for lunch and dinner like burgers, fries, craft beer and more.

All existing safety protocols will be in place within the expanded Downtown Disney District as it welcome Buena Vista Street into the fold.  And remember, in 2020 a little of something is better than nothing!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

S&S - Sansei Reveal Spin Shot Tower Retrofit for Existing Tower Rides

© S&S - Sansei

Parks with existing S&S tower rides have a new option on the table for thrilling their guests, as S&S - Sansei Technologies has debuted the new Spin Shot Tower attraction concept.  The company has created a design that will allowed their 4D Free Spin coaster seats to be installed on existing tower rides, which then can be blasted up and down while fully rotating.

According to S&S, the ride profile (how many times riders invert, etc) can be programmed differently for each park.  That allows a full spectrum of mild to really wild, featuring face-up, face-down and even upside down experiences during the ride.  The spinning is mechanically controller and endlessly customizable.

© S&S - Sansei

The attraction has been designed with these tough times in mind.  To help parks with limited budgets the retrofit of an existing S&S tower can be done modestly, at least compared to a brand new ride or roller coaster.  Executive Director of Sales & Marketing, Josh Hays said, “Our CEO, Tim Timco, challenged us to develop an exciting attraction that parks could offer their customers at a modest budget. We believe our talented engineering team has met that goal. Parks want to offer their guests new and exciting experiences every year. That is a difficult task right now, but we believe our new Spin Shot Tower will allow parks with existing tower rides to reward their guests with a thrilling experience that doesn’t break the bank.”

Check out the below video of the concept in action - it looks like a ton of fun and I can't wait to see which park signs up to be the first!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Universal Studios Beijing Attraction Roster and Details Revealed in New Updates

© Universal Studios Beijing

Universal Studios Beijing is getting closer to its grand opening in 2021, with the final states of the park's construction now underway.  That means it's time for the press machine to start up, and thankfully that means much more concept art and details for us.

While the basics of the park were already known, this information release contains another level of detail that we haven't seen before.  As a recap the park will consist of 7 lands: Hollywood, Transformers Metrobase, Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, Waterworld, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World Isla Nublar and Minion Land.  

© Universal Studios Beijing

It will have a mix of attractions that can be found at other Universal theme parks, however there will a selection of unique attractions as well.  For instance, Jurassic World Isla Nublar will feature an indoor dark ride named the Jurassic World Adventure - this is one to watch as so many of us have longed for an intense Jurassic Park themed dark ride for many years.  The greater Jurassic World section will be unique as well, offering The Aviary with a suspended powered coaster to boot.

The Incredible Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure has been replicated at the park, though now called the Decepticoaster - the theming on the launch is top notch!  Minion Land is a super silly fun place for kids to explore, with smaller attractions both indoor and outdoors.  The Kung Fu themed section is largely indoors, which will allow the park to make a realistic nighttime setting which is sure to amaze.  Both Waterworld, which is just the stunt show, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are now staple attractions at Universal Parks that will be found in China as well.

The below video will take you through all the attractions and hotels at the resort, showing off never before seen concept art and details.  Also, since the park is so far along in construction there are tons of great photos coming out from workers and the press - check out a huge selection of them at this link on ThemeParx.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

California Releases Strict Rules for Parks Reopening During Pandemic

All California theme parks have stayed shuttered during the pandemic, with only some opening in order to have special food and retail festivals or operate as zoos.  While parks in some parts of the country opened as early as June, there have been no rides operating in California since March, or so.  Recently the parks across the state have urged the California Governor to release a plan so that they know when they will be able to open the gates again, and now the plan has been released.  You can read the full document here, but in short, parks in California won't be reopening any time soon.

The plan features color coded stages related to positive COVID-19 test results and cases rates per county.  Purple (Widespread) is the worse, followed by Red (Substantial), then Orange (Moderate) and finally Yellow (Minimal).  These follow the larger reopening plan that the state has had in place for some time, and the risk matrix for each stage is below.

© covid19.ca.gov
No parks are allowed to open at all in counties in both the purple and red stages.  Starting in the orange stage "small" parks (overall capacity less than 15,000) can open but on at a maximum of 500 guests or 25% of capacity, whichever is less.  That's a severe restriction that would make operations unprofitable for nearly every park I can think of.  Plus, in the orange stage, these parks cannot open indoor attractions and visitors can only be from the same county the park is located in.  The logistics of checking that operationally seems like a nightmare as well.

If a county gets to the yellow stage then a park within it can operate at 25% of maximum capacity and all indoor locations in the park can only have 25% capacity.  That would allow parks to open in similar ways that others around the country already have, as there are also a full set of rules related to face masks, cleaning, social distancing, etc.

© covid19.ca.gov
The catch is that currently less than 10 counties in California are in the yellow stage, none with parks in them.  Less than 15 counties are in the orange phase, which would come with the strictly limited attendance, and they don't have parks in them anyway.  So all the bigger parks, like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Legoland, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, California's Great America and a multitude of others, are currently stuck in purple or red stages.

Essentially, this means that under the Governor's current plan we won't see any of these parks open any time soon, especially with COVID-19 cases surging across the country once again.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Worlds of Fun Ready for Racers on New Riptide Raceway at Oceans of Fun in 2021

© Worlds of Fun
Much like we saw last month with Carowinds showing off their brand new mat racing water slide, Worlds of Fun is giving fans a preview of their new for 2021 attraction at Oceans of Fun, named Riptide Raceway.  According to the park, Riptide Raceway is the longest mat racing water slide in the world, with each of the 4 slides stretching 486 feet in length.

The park has created an entire blog post dedicated to showing off the construction of the attraction, which was originally supposed to open in 2020.  Oceans of Fun did not get to open this year, but now the park is able to show off the colorful attraction as fans wait for their turn to slide in 2021.


© Worlds of Fun
The feature even includes a look back at the construction of the new slide tower, which replaced the park's older Diamond Head attraction.  There's some neat aerial drone footage of the slide being constructed from back in March, a snip of which can be seen above. 

Starting next summer visitors will be able to race one another down the brightly colored tubes, featuring twists, curves and a horizontal loop on each - complete with a finish line at the end that will determine the winner!