Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mauer Sohn Announces A Roller Coaster That Cruises Around the Ocean, BOLT: ULTIMATE SEA COASTER!



Mardi Gras is going to be a huge deal when she sets sail in 2020. Plenty of folks will come ready to chill, but if it’s a thrill you’re seeking, this is also definitely the ship for you!
Aboard the Mardi Gras you’ll meet BOLT™: the fastest — and first! — rollercoaster at sea. Strap in and zoom your motorcycle-style speed machine around an open-air course high, high above sea level. You know how on most roller coasters... actually, never mind. 
Forget other coasters because this all-electric thrill ride puts you in the driver’s seat. That means you actually get to control how fast you go, so hit the gas and try for the fastest time, go for the biggest thrill — plus some amazing 360° ocean views! And for the folks who choose to chill: go light on the pedal, and this just might be the coaster for you!

Great Coasters International is building Texas Stingray for SeaWorld San Antonio

The following is an unedited press release:

Texas Stingray – Opening Spring 2020
SeaWorld San Antonio has announced exciting details about Texas Stingray; the tallest, fastest and longest wooden roller coaster in the state of Texas.  This record-breaking coaster, which will reach a top speed of 55 mph, includes a breathtaking hundred-foot drop and a sensory-bending hundred-foot long tunnel.  Texas Stingray marks a major addition to SeaWorld San Antonio’s gravity-defying roller coaster portfolio with five unique coaster experiences.

Texas Stingray Fast Facts
Opening Date:  Spring 2020
Type of Ride:  Wooden roller coaster, the tallest, fastest and longest in Texas
Special Features:  57-degree first drop and 76 degree high turns
Ride Length:  3,379 feet of track
Drop Height:  100-foot drop
Maximum Speed:  55 mph
Maximum Height:  96 feet
Tunnel:  100 feet
Airtime Hills:  16 airtime hills
Minimum Rider Height:  46 inches
Ride Duration:  More than two minutes
Ride Manufacturer:  Great Coasters International (GCI)

Bolliger & Mabillard is building for SeaWorld San Diego

The following is an unedited press release:

Emperor – Opening Summer 2020
SeaWorld San Diego has revealed the name of its record-breaking dive coaster is Emperor, opening in summer 2020.  This new roller coaster will be the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California, as well as the only floorless dive coaster in the state.  

Climbing to 153 feet with their feet dangling in the air, riders will be suspended on a 45-degree angle at the crown of the ride before plunging down a 143-foot facedown vertical drop accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour.

Riders will also experience inversions, a barrel roll, an Immelmann loop,  a hammerhead turn and flat spin as they race along the nearly 2,500 feet of track. Each of the floorless ride cars will hold 18 riders in three, six-person rows. The coaster will be located adjacent to Journey to Atlantis in the southeast corner of the park.

Emperor is named after the emperor penguin colony at SeaWorld San Diego, which was the world’s first zoological facility and the first place outside of Antarctica to successful breed, hatch and raise emperor penguin chicks. Twenty-three emperor penguins chicks have been hatched and raised at SeaWorld San Diego since 1979.

Emperor Fast Facts
Opening Date:  Summer 2020
Conservation Partner: Penguins International
Type of Ride:  Tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster in California
Special Features:   143-foot facedown vertical drop
Barrel roll
Flat spin
Highly banked turns

Track Length:  2,411 feet
Maximum Speed: more than 60 mph
Maximum Height:  153 feet
Seats/Train:  Floorless ride car, 18 riders per car, 6-person rows, 3-rows per car – the first seating configuration of its kind in North America.
Manufacturer:  Bolliger & Mabillard

Premier is supplying Ice Breaker to SeaWorld Orlando

The following is an unedited press release:

Ice Breaker™ – Opening Spring 2020
Making its debut in spring 2020, riders will shiver through family friendly adventures on SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster: Ice Breaker™. Named after the icy Arctic summits, Ice Breaker will feature four launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch into the steepest beyond vertical drop in Florida — a 93-foot tall spike with 100-degree angle.

Located near the Wild Arctic Attraction, the ride’s theme is reflective of this area with a nod to Ice Breaker’s conservation partner, Alaska SeaLife Center. Primarily dedicated to marine research, education and wildlife response, the Alaska SeaLife Center mission matches closely to SeaWorld Orlando’s, making them an ideal partner to help educate riders about the Artic and its inhabitants.

The opening of Ice Breaker is the perfect addition to SeaWorld’s ever-growing ride portfolio, and its 48-inch rider height makes it a family friendly thrill ride.   From the roller coaster thrills of Mako, Manta and Kraken, to the water rapids of Infinity Falls and the flume fun of Journey to Atlantis, Ice Breaker joins the park’s famed attractions as a must-do experience in Orlando.
Ice Breaker Fast Facts
Opening Date:  Spring 2020
Conservation Partner: Alaska SeaLife Center
Special Features: SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster and a quadruple launch coaster.  Experience a reverse launch into the “steepest beyond vertical drop,” a 93” tall spike with 100 degree angle.
Maximum Height
-        Rear Spike:          93 ft.
-        Top Hat:               80 ft.
Length of Track
-        Track length:      1900 ft.
-        Track traveled    2750 ft.
Maximum Speed:            52 mph
Ride Duration:                  80-90 seconds
Number of trains:              two
Number of coaches:          three per train, with three rows per coach
Minimum rider height:    48 inches
Manufacturer:  Premier Rides

Here are a few construction photos from 11/17/2019, Rescue Weekend, a celebration of SeaWorld's 36,000th animal rescue.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 3rd Quarter 2019 Earnings Call

© Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair's 3rd Quarter 2019 earnings announcement was filled with good financial news.  Often when chains purchase new parks they do not break out the "legacy" parks, however Cedar Fair has done that for us to make things easier to compare in the growth department.  Here are some highlights from the earnings call, along with some of the most interesting slides from their most recent investor presentation:

• For the 3rd quarter alone net revenues were up $51 million, attendance was up 818k, per capita spending was up $0.47 and out of park revenues were up $6 million.  That is for all parks, including the two Schlitterbahn parks.  Excluding them revenues ere up $43 million, attendance was up 732k, per caps were up less than 1% and out of park revenues were up $6 million.  EBITDA, which the investment community is after, was up $17 million including Schlitterbahn, and up the same with out them. (due to calendar shifts, not their performance)

• Year to date (through November 3rd) including the Schlitterbahn parks, net revenues were $1.37 billion with attendance of 25.8 million visitors.  Excluding the parks revenues were up $71 million with attendance up 1 million guests over 2018.

© Cedar Fair
• Season pass sales are off to their best start ever, causing deferred revenues to be up $40 million over the same time in 2018.  That also translates to an increase of 350,000 units sold (probably most at Cedar Point!).

• Grand Carnivale will come back to all existing parks and debut at two new parks in 2020, and Monster Jam Thunder Alley will switch to three new parks next year.

• Company continues to be committed to a "long range plan" that includes "more immersive entertainment offerings" - this was something mentioned several times.  These offerings led to a second season in a row of growing the number of unique visitors to the parks, which they want to use in their CRM database.

© Cedar Fair
 • When asked more about the shift in capital spending, the chain noted that they are seeing a similar boost to value perception from large events as they've seen from big coasters in the past.

• Knott's Berry Farm is continuing to produce huge numbers.  They had a very slow start to 2019 but have come back and are on the path again to make 2019 the best year ever for the park.  They are kicking off a new "targeted marketing" project at Knott's in the 4th quarter.  Also, this past Halloween Haunt was their best ever.

• The two Schlitterbahn parks contributed $23 million of EBITDA during the 3rd quarter after they were purchased.  Cedar Fair is spending heavily on them in the 4th quarter to make improvements, which will bring their EBITDA contribution down to $12 - $14 million in EBITDA.

© Cedar Fair
• More on Schlitterbahn, they see much room for improvement in the two parks' revenues and attendance.  Most system changes to link the parks to the chain will happen in 2020, meaning 2021 will be the first big season for them as a part of Cedar Fair.

• The 4th quarter events of Halloween and Winterfest and Knott's Merry Farm now account for 15% of the company's annual attendance, and that is growing.

• On the hotel front, Carowinds' new Springhill Suites is opening in a couple weeks.  The company has also started renovations projects at Castaway Bay, the Knott's Hotel and the Sawmill Creek Resort.  The Hyatt hotel by Canada's Wonderland is moving slowly, but they hope to open it in 18 to 24 months.  Over the next three years, including the Canadian hotel, they will spend $70 million on hotel renovations and additions.

© Cedar Fair

• The new indoor section of the Cedar Point Sports Center will open in early 2020 and bookings are running slightly ahead of Cedar Fair's budget.  They expect the facility to create incremental demand for room stays at Cedar Point's hotel properties.

• To better accommodate guests (due to increasing attendance) the chain will also focus on improving parking facilities, ingress/egress to the parks, more food and beverage capacity and expanded restrooms.

• The company declined to comment on the Six Flags purchase rumors, noting that they plan for the future of the company's success on its own.

© Cedar Fair
• Cedar Point's new Gold Pass has gone bonkers in sales, and is drawing a ton of new guests - at a ration of 7 new for each 1 renewal.

• Pass Perks will roll out chain-wide in 2020.  They tested at 4 parks this year and were working to see what offers would get guests to show up for an additional visit.  They found that the most motivating offer was anything food and beverage related.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Conneaut Lake Park to Expand Picnic Operations with Help from State Grant

© Conneaut Lake Park
The little park that could has had another recent success, being awarded a $112,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  The grant will be used to redevelop picnic pavilions, allowing the Trustees of Conneaut Lake park, who operate the facility, to build six new pavilions.

The project would allow the property to attract large groups that want to have picnics, such as family reunions, company outings and more.  The grant will cover about 50% of the funds needed for the project, which also includes tearing down several older pavilions.  The park hopes to be able to have the pavilions done for the 2020 season, however they need to finish items related to the grant and get appropriate approvals for the work so it will be a tight schedule.

© Conneaut Lake Park
Each season Conneaut Lake Park, which dates back to 1892, has been growing and improving after a good deal of troubling financial years.  In 2019 a slew of improvements debuted at the park, including the Ferris wheel seen above.  The park also added a smaller Ferris wheel in the kids area, made cosmetic improvements, added new roofs around the park, new paint, additional lockers, restroom improvements and even work on the famous Blue Streak roller coaster.

For ride fans, the Blue Streak is the most important reason to see the park continue its streak of success.  The Ed Vettel designed ride opened in 1938 and is about as classic as a wooden coaster can be in current day.