Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Photos Show Nearly Completed InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg



Busch Gardens Williamsburg hosted a special construction tour this week for InvadR, the theme park's new wooden roller coaster.  Since the park closed after the holiday season we haven't been able to see the latest progress of the ride, only receiving a few updates from the park since, but we now can see the ride up-close and find that the coaster is nearly complete.

And, it's looking great!  BGWFans was at the park's tour, and posted a gallery of more than 50 photos of the ride.  Although I've been to the park, I couldn't quite recall the topography of the New France themed area of the park, but these photos really show how InvadR will us the hills and valleys to the fullest.

From the photos it appears as though only a couple parts of the ride still need to be built, with many sections - like the lift hill and first drop - already complete.  The recently announced tunnel on the top part of the first 74 foot drop is also being installed, added to enhance the sensation of speed during the plunge.

No official opening date has been revealed for InvadR just yet, but from the looks of the progress it would seem the ride will be ready for Spring. 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grona Lund Planning New Compact B&M Inverted Ride for 2020


Sweden's Grona Lund is known for it's super-condensed layout, with amusement rides layered on top of one another, regularly crossing paths and interacting as well.  The park is going to get just a bit more crowded in 2020 with the addition of a brand new B&M Inverted roller coaster.

The amusement park has started the process of applying for approval of their building plans, leaving plenty of time for the construction on the ride to start in 2018, with a 2020 opening.  The park's dense layout means that construction might be a bit more complicated that usual.

Here's the ride's layout, taken from this Swedish news article (translated) about the ride:

© Grona Lund
The new inverted coaster will be located near Insane, the park's Intamin ZacSpin, and if you look closely it appears as though the ride's station will be located below ground level.  The lift will rise up to 111.5 feet above the park, with a steep 180 degree drop right after.  The layout of the ride will stay above many of the park's buildings, navigating through 4 inversions, two heartline rolls and two corkscrews.  There are some nice looking curves and helices in the mix as well.  Total track length is stated to be around 2,296 feet with a top speed of 62 miles per hour listed (though that seems a tad fast for a ride of this size).

The translated article says that the ride is inspired by two similar rides in the U.S. - it does have the heartline finish of Banshee at Kings Island, but I'm not sure I can put my finger on what the other may be.  Looks like a fun coaster, though!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Slow Turnaround for Classic Conneaut Lake Park Continues


It's been a very long road, to say the least, but more good news has recently come out of the classic Conneaut Lake Park, located in western Pennsylvania.  The park had been under bankruptcy protection to shield it from being auctioned off to pay off millions in property and other tax debts.  However, the park has recently emerged from bankruptcy and has already made significant progress in reducing their debts.

At the start of the year the park completed their third sale of excess land that it owned which in total has reduced the property tax debt by more than $600,000.  The lakefront property was subdivided into six lots, so that means there are still three others that could be sold and aid in reducing the back taxes owed.

This past December the park also held an auction of unused park items, some related to rides (such as old Blue Streak cars) that raised nearly $30,000.

This all comes after a memorable 2016, which was the park's most successful season in many years - they actually turned a small profit instead of losing money.  Much of that can be attributed to the park's leadership and the reopening of the water slides and lazy river attractions.  In total revenues were up 26% in 2016 over the prior year.

Turning to 2017, there won't be any new rides but the park is looking to make other improvements that will lead to further profitability.  The park is trying to extend their hours and operate more days of the week.  Also, Camperland (the park's campground) is using the auction proceeds and expanding to include 47 new camp sites and more amenities to attract campers.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Ride Kings Island's New Mystic Timbers Coaster First for a Good Cause



Many of us are excited to get our first ride on Mystic Timbers, the new wooden roller coaster at Kings Island, and now you have the chance to be one of the very first to take a spin.

Kings Island and Cedar Fair Charities are joining with the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation to give ride fans a chance to raise money for a great charity and be some of the first people to ride Mystic Timbers.  To be held on April 13th, two days before the public will get a chance to ride, a First Rider Auction event is taking place at the park.  Those interested can commit to raising at least $100 for the Foundation, and if you do you will get to attend the event.  Rides will take place in order of the most amount raised, but all who meet the minimum will get to ride - and find out what is going on in that shed once and for all!

The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation is "a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing life-changing experiences to seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families in the Cincinnati area."  They have created numerous community outreach programs in the past that benefit local hospital and their patients.

Mystic Timbers features a 109 foot tall lift hill, speeds of 53 miles per hour and 3,265 feet of track in the woods.  Be sure to stay up to date on the ride's progress via the official Mystic Timbers website.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 4th Quarter and 2016 Year End Conference Call



Cedar Fair had their earnings announcement this past week for the 4th quarter of 2016, along with the full results of the year.  In short, it was a very good one, with the company posting its 7th consecutive year of record results.

Full year revenues were up 4% to $1.29 billion and EBITDA was up 5% to $481 million.  Overall attendance was up 3% to a record 25.1 million, and per cap spending was up 2% to $46.90.  The company still plans to achieve its goal of hitting $500 million in EBITDA by the end of 2017, a year earlier then their goal.

The company held their usual conference call for the earnings, and here are some interesting facts from it:

• The company continues to do brand positioning studies on all their parks, seeing great success.  The studies are done for six of the 11 parks - several of which that were completed first (Knott's, CP, Canada's Wonderland) were the largest contributors to the company's 2016 success.  The remaining parks will be completed in the near future.

• The studies have resulted in major successes like Knott's Boysenberry Festival, which second only to Haunt in attendance now, a big deal, and also the popular Taste of the Carolinas event at Carowinds.

• Full year out-of-park revenues, which is mostly from accommodations, was a record $146 million, up 6%.  Cedar Fair will continue to "strategically invest in this area" over the next several years.  Cedar Point will add 20% more rooms by 2018 with a new Hotel Breakers tower and additional rooms at the Express hotel, sustained by the new Cedar Point Sports Complex.  The company has also had conversations with major hotel chains for possible resorts at several other parks, along with possibly high-end campgrounds as well.

• Capital expenditures for 2016 came in at around $160 million, and there's about $135 planned for 2017.  However, that $135 could grow by $30-40 million if they pull the trigger on several accommodation and sports complex additions that are being planned.

• Cedar Fair's overall attendance is now 45% season pass holders, 20-25% group business and the rest independent day visitors.  Also, right now about two thirds of all visitors pre-purchase tickets before arriving at the park.

• Cedar Fair also continues to beef up their catering facilities, opening brand new facilities in 2017 at Worlds of Fun and Dorney Park.  These new areas will have modern kitchen facilities, free Wifi and self-service refreshment centers.  Executive chefs at the park can make customized meals to lead to higher guest spending levels via premium food offerings.

• Winterfest at California's Great America sounds like a smash hit.  Revenues in the 4th quarter were up $25 million, which is NOT just from Winterfest, but probably a large chunk of it.  Executives were proud of the quality of the event, noting that it took the chain's Halloween events 4 to 5 seasons to ramp up to the quality of offerings done in the first year of Winterfest.  The event, coming online at three more parks in 2017, bring 20 to 25 additional operating days, per park, to the company.

• The company is watching labor costs by utilizing more self-serve food locations, especially for this year's beverage refill program.  They will also adding more kiosk ordering to food outlets across the chain.

• The Battle for Cedar Point augmented reality app was a success at Cedar Point last year, and will return in 2017.  It is also being expanded to Kings Dominion in 2017.  Knott's will add a new virtual reality "Showdown at Ghost Town" experience, but no other details on it were given.

• California's Great America receive several shout-outs by executives, congratulating them on their recent zoning approval.  This will let the company focus on the park's "long-term master plan" as research has shown the potential for the park to grow in attendance significantly.  Matt Ouimet even stated that it could be one of their "top-tier" parks when they are done, and he has very "high expectations" for it.  A question was asked if the expansion will be as big as Carowinds, and it sounds like perhaps not quite as big, but they will go in an update infrastructure, add capacity to the park, and build "significant new rides, a la Fury, et cetera."  They plan to talk more about the expansion in 3 to 6 months.

• It was also asked if the plan to expand Valleyfair significantly was still on the table, and they replied that that is still "a little further out."  They just lost the park's General Manager to the Minneapolis Zoo, so this year will be one of transition and study of the marketplace to understand it more.


Friday, February 17, 2017

New Star Trek Coaster Now Testing at Movie Park Germany



One of 2017's most interesting coaster designs can be found at Movie Park Germany, Star Trek: Operation Enterprise.  The coaster has been designed by Mack Rides and contains multiple launches that give the trains a top speed of 56 miles per hour, enough to complete the full circuit track.  Riders will encounter not only full Star Trek theming, but also several inversions, including an elevated heartline roll, an Immelmann, and a zero-g roll.

© Movie Park Germany
The coaster's structure has been completed for some time now, but we just recently got our first look at the ride's trains.  Seen above, the coaster's rolling stock feature a sleek look that fits with the futuristic Star Trek theme.  If you check out the park's Facebook photos, you can see more of the trains along with recent theming progress.

With the coaster's opening coming up pretty soon, the ride has been testing and the park has released this footage.  There's a lot of quick cuts and changes to the movie's speed, so it's hard to gauge how fast the ride is really running, but this looks great!  The twisted elements, launch and unique layout make Star Trek: Operation Enterprise look like it could be one of this year's hits.