Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ooo Wizarding World Facades

© 2009

Remember when photos surfaced of a 'mock' facade for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventures a while back? Well they're at it again! has some photos of more of the facades being built off site at The Nassal Company's location in Florida. They're looking really great! Seems like once the steel is up at the theme park they'll just be able to move these giant facades into place. Very smart!

Check out the photos!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Speed: The Ride Pt. 2

We left off at a loop, I believe, and here it is! You come up from the tunnel under the sidewalk and are thrown into a vertical loop above the strip. I've always loved how non-Premier looking the track is on this part of the ride.

After the loop the ride's name really hits home as trains encounter a second set of LIMs that send the train flying out at 70 mph in 2 seconds flat.

And you zoom right through the Sahara's massive sign which is a pretty cool effect when you're on the train - a blur really but still neat!

The train flies around a wide turn to the left and then up you go - the tower spike is around 224 ft. high, but the train wasn't going up all that far the day I was there.

Look I did get one artistic photo of the train! The whole time I was out front taking photos they only launched one train so this was pretty much my only chance. I like how it came out though.

We'll finish with a look at that tower. Obviously once you get up there you get to do the track in reverse, and vertical loops always feel neat backwards.

I'm glad I got to get on the ride as even though it's open again for the time being if the economy picks up and the Sahara is able to move forward with their plans to redo their Resort I'm sure the ride will bite the dust. So go check it out now if you can!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Speed: The Ride Pt. 1

Wouldn't the above shot have been so much better if I could capture the train in it? Yeah, I think so too. But anyway, I was in Vegas a month or so ago and Speed: The Ride at the Nascar Cafe, located within the Sahara Hotel and Casino, was the only coaster in town that I hadn't been on. Fortuitous for me, the ride had just reopened after being closed since last fall, so I made it a point to head far up to the North end of the strip and take a spin.

The coaster opened as part of a large remodeling that the Sahara did in 2000, and is a Premier Rides LIM launched coaster. Actually, it has two launches to be specific. You get your ticket from inside the Nascar Cafe (ten bucks a pop when I was there) and then wait a while. Why? Well that's also why I didn't get many good photos of the ride in action like I mentioned above as they are only sending out a train ever 15 minutes or so as it's not very busy. The entire town isn't very busy right now, to be honest.

The station is nothing too fancy, really, and as you can see above when I was there only a few people were waiting to take a ride.

Here's the train for the ride, it's just like those found on some of the older Premier Rides coasters, only this one still have the over the shoulder restraints.

I thought this piece of track sticking out of the back of the station was pretty funny looking. It dumps you right onto the side street by the resort! I know it's for maintenance purposes but it just looked goofy.

The ride initially launches you out of the station at 45 mph, and you immediately hit this highly banked turn and dive underneath the walkway in front of the resort right beside all the cars traveling down the famous Las Vegas Blvd.

I braced myself for some shoulder crunching during the turn but it really wasn't that bad! After you emerge from the tunnel under the sidewalk you fly into a vertical loop, but photos of that will have to wait for the 2nd piece of this article, hopefully tomorrow!

Battlestar Galactica Coaster

© 2009 bigguyinsingapore1

Above we see the track going up for the new Battlestar Galactica coaster at Universal Studios Singapore.

The dueling Vekoma coaster is one of the many highly anticipated attractions going into the new park. Check out more photos of the park under construction in bigguyinsingapore1's photostream on Flickr.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Rockin' Interview

The Coaster Critic has posted an interesting interview with the designer of Universal Studios Florida's new roller coaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Louis Alfieri is one of the park's Creative Directors and the Critic was able to sit down and pick his mind about the new coaster. There's plenty of neat details about this exciting coaster which just recently started testing - and you know that means opening is right around the corner!

Head on over to check it out on the Coaster Critic's Blog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scott And Carol Present: A Ride With Woody, Buzz, Jessie & The Gang!

Courtesy of Walt Disney World

Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studio is a carnival games fantasy brought to life. Toy solders are festooned outside the building. The journey begins with a fanciful walk through Andy’s room and the memories of many of the games and toys we played with as children, long before video games were even thought of in the creative mind of Noland Bushnell. Monopoly, Candyland, Chutes & Ladders were represented, as well at Lincoln Logs, Gliders, and even a Viewmaster.

Remember the Viewmaster; before color television looking at scenes through the forced binocular vision was the only way many people were able to see far away places. Many magazines were not printed in color so having a Viewmaster was the next best thing to being there. Here in the queue, an extra-large Disneyland reel hearkens back to a simpler time when electricity wasn’t a necessary component of entertainment. Everything is scaled to make an adult feel just over a foot tall.

A huge balsa wood plane brings back memories of how well it flew, and also how it rarely survived a landing. With one this big, maybe I could have climbed aboard and directed it away from the trees. Probably not, but it does make one wonder what might have been possible if things were different.

Everything is way larger than life, to help guests feel more like children again. The monkeys have escaped their barrel and are hanging from every available appendage. A giant-sized animatronic Mr. Potato Head makes a “spudtacular” effort to learn to know the guests, with trivia questions and asking people where they were from. He says, “It's a ride that's a game. It's a game that's a ride, Step right up and see what's inside."

Once you are seated on the ride vehicle, you need to put on the 3-D glasses. After a brief practice round, you enter the games. The games seem to be constantly changing. You stop at a station, play the game, and when the countdown clock goes to zero, your vehicle goes to the next station. The vehicles have four guest seated back to back, and the entire vehicle rotates so everyone gets their turn at every game.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

There are five different games after the practice round. Sometimes you are throwing pies, darts, and hoops. You try to knock down the dolls with baseballs. The realistic sounds effects matched with occasional blast of air like when a balloon is popped intensify the action. At one station guests are sprinkled with water while hearing a simulated splash. Every game has a special target, called an “Easter Egg” that triggers the appearance of more targets so riders can increase their scores.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

The 3-D effects are different from game to game. Some of the broken articles appear to fly back past the shooter after they are broken. Different audio effects multiply the sensory experience for the riders. Everyone’s scores are tallied and displayed on a screen so they can compare themselves to the daily high score. Even the monthly best is up for review. It has been estimated that over a million virtual plates are broken every day in Toy Story Mania.

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

The world’s largest Golden Book is there, aptly titled “Tin Toy,” as you get off the ride vehicle. With no age or height limitations, everyone can ride Toy Story Mania. Many thanks to Walt Disney World for making it possible for us to bring you this story, May you soon feel small in line for Toy Story Mania.

For those interested Carol out scored Scott, but neither of us was even close to the top scores of the day. Thanks to the kind folks at WDW of all their assistance.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cedar Point's Starlight Experience

Cedar Point's new Starlight Experience made it's grand debut this past weekend to many "oohs" and "ahhs" from guests visiting the park.

The entire Frontier Trail section of the park is covered in brightly lit LED lights, accompanied by the Snoopy characters on floats and a unique soundtrack. The trail is themed to the four seasons, with extra decorations and color schemes to set the mood for each. The winter section looks especially with all the cool blue lights.

Point Pics has up a gallery taken from the park during Starlight Experience's opening weekend. I'm sure the vibe is different in person but it really makes me think of Christmas! Check it out here.

Aerial Antics: Linnanmaki

Linnanmaki, Helsinki, Finland, is a pretty cool amusement park if you ask me. It is owned by the Children's Day Foundation and uses its profits to support their charitable work, all of which benefit the children of the country.

The park opened in 1950 and in the past decade has been adding many unique coasters and rides to their lineup.

For instance, here we have Vonkaputous, a Premier Rides water coaster added in 2001. Remember Buzzsaw Falls at Silver Dollar City before it became Powder Keg? Well this was like it's little cousin. It has a little coaster section after the lift and then a splash down to end the ride. Pretty neat.

Here's another two of the park's roller coasters. On the left is a Mack powered ride, called Pikajuna and added back in 1990. The blue coaster on the right is called Tulireki. It's a Mack ride that's pretty twisted and part of their e-motion series of coasters.

This is the park's Roller Coaster, Vuoristorata, a classic wooden ride dating back to just after the park's opening in 1951. It's a classic and even still uses a brakeman on the back of each train!

Here's another unique one: Linnunrata. Built inside of a former water tower and covered with trees on top! The actual ride inside is a Zierer coaster that takes place in the dark.

The aerials don't have two of the parks' more recent attractions on there either, like Kirnu, an Intamin ZacSpin added in '07, and Salama, a Maurer Sohne spinning ride added just last year.

To see the aerials follow this link to Live Local.

Now That's Airtime!

Check out this awesome photo that Kings Island released of Freestyle Motocross rider Jimmie McGuire thrilling the crowd with a gravity-defying performance at Kings Island.

The ASA Action Sports World Tour, one of the industry’s oldest and most elite action sports circuits, made a stop at Kings Island this past weekend. The event featured some of the world’s top X Games pros in Skateboard, BMX and Freestyle Motocross.

Now Splashing At Valleyfair

© 2009 ValleyfairZone

Valleyfair recently had the grand opening ceremony for their new Breakers Bay wave pool, seen above, and ValleyfairZone was in attendance to file a report.

The pool comes with the rebranding of the park's water area into Soak City, and a bunch of new amenities were added as well giving the property a fresh new look. I especially like the vibrant colors used on all the buildings.

Check out the report here!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ride Quassy's New Coaster!

Quassy Amusement Park has release the above new virtual ride on their 'coming soon' wooden coaster! The virtual ride, created by coaster designer The Gravity Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, is currently up and running for roller coaster and amusement park enthusiasts.

The video, with authentic coaster sounds, highlights the one-of-a-kind ride that will be constructed at Quassy. The wood-frame structure will have 1,200 feet of track and rise more than 30 feet above the old entrance road to the park. The coaster will drop nearly 40 feet as it descends into the field area behind the park’s “Grand Carousel.”

The coaster is one of three projects Quassy plans on installing over the next several years. The park has also received town approval to install a free fall drop tower as well as a “Bullet Bowl” water raft ride, which will be an addition to the popular “Saturation Station” waterpark.

A groundbreaking date for the ride has not been released yet.

Conneaut Lives Again

Admid all the big new ride openings and park re-openings this past weekend, Conneaut Lake Park came back to life after being closed for some two years. The classic amusement park won't be ready to reopen their Blue Streak wooden coaster, but hopefully that will come online next summer.

In a time when we're losing parks each year it's truly wonderful to see one like this be able to open their doors once again. Go visit if you can!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Freestyle Tour

© 2009

This Memorial Day weekend marks the grand reopening of the transformed (transforming parks and rides is a common theme these days) Freestyle Music Park in Myrtle Beach, SC. The park has worked hard to change the name of pretty much every ride, shop, food store, and even park lands, in order to re-brand the property.

The above photo is of the new Monsters of Rock dark ride which replaces Nights in White Satin. Looks like a rock themed Ghost Hunters type ride, though I'm not sure yet if you have targets to shoot at. I'm glad they reopened a dark ride, though!

Discovery Myrtle Beach posted a great tour of the park which points out all the changes that have been made. You can check that out on their website here. The park looks brand new again as most buildings have all new paint, themes, and signage. We may hear more about the park soon from Scott and Carol, so be sure to watch for that!

New England is Bizarro, Too

© 2009 sfne2005

There are more photos of the newly transformed and opened Bizarro coaster at Six Flags New England than you can shake a stick at in this thread over on Theme Park Review. User sfne2005 has photos of every detail you could imagine, and all the shots are really well done.

After reading Sabrin'a wonderful review of Six Flags Great Adventure's version, it appears as though the transformations were pretty similar. That said, they're both well done!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Now Terminating at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain has opened their much anticipated new wooden roller coaster, Terminator: Salvation, to some very happy riders (one looking rather familiar...) above.

The L.A. Times' Funland bog was at the opening, and has posted their review of the new coaster. It includes fire! The queue line is also really rather themed, I must give the park much credit for spending the extra cash on something like that.

Here's to more and more GCI wooden rides in the future!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Scott And Carol Present - Manta Soars Over SeaWorld Orlando!

When the planning process for what was to become Manta was first started, many concepts were discussed in sort of a brain storming session. According to Brian Morrow, in charge of Guest Experience for SeaWorld Florida, "We looked at many things, but a couple of concepts kept rising to the surface. A flying coaster and another idea of an aquarium featuring rays worked well together. You can’t have one without the other. They seemed to mesh even better the farther we developed them. We used story boards and written narratives."

Gary Violetta, Aquarium Curator, offers his thoughts, "Leadership from corporate told us that each part of the attraction must stand along. The aquariums must alone as a positive guest experience, and it needs to be a great roller coaster also. We kept working on the concept from both a roller coaster and a biologist viewpoint. Eventually it sifted down to what our guests enjoy today."

Dan Brown, General Manger of all Worlds of Discovery Orland properties, says "We certainly didn’t foresee the economic conditions accompanying the opening of Manta, but this needs to be a big hit for us this summer. The early guest surveys tell us that this will be successful attraction for SeaWorld."

Brian takes pride in the seamless transition from the animal habitat and the coaster thrill ride. "We wanted to hide most of the coaster from the guests in the grotto. They can’t see how the trains operate up closed until they enter the station. It’s quiet and cool throughout the air conditioned queue. The lights and the music are designed to heighten apprehension before we show them the ride."

The coaster itself is a custom design from Bolliger and Mabillard. Remember the factory tour we presented before, some of those pieces were for Manta, and the blue hand rails shown in the picture now adorn this new jewel in SeaWorld. The coaster rises 140 feet above the lagoon, and riders accelerate to 56 mph during the 113 foot drop. According to Bill L, a member of American Coaster Enthusiasts, “This flying coaster has what other of its genre don’t, lots of close flybys with both water, trees, and supports. This increases the sensation of speed” As someone visits both coasts to ride coasters, this is very high praise. Centrally placed in the park, it won’t be long before peoples directions will include "opposite the water fall" and "just under the high turn". Riders will stare at the sky four times on Manta, and experience some strong G forces, especially at the back of the train in the loop. This pretzel loop is another first, as no other flying coaster actually travels through the loop.

To help these two sides of the same attraction coexist, some special attention to detail was taken during the design process. Gary says, "To reduce vibration everything was isolated. None of the coaster structure is attached to the habitat and we even used thicker acrylic than necessary to prevent the windows from fogging and reduce the stress on the fish. And what magnificent denizens they have in the animal habitat. Feeding and behavior are monitored to make sure they all stay healthy. We will soon move our holding tank upstairs to the second level to allow any of our stressed or ill charges to recover."

Approximately 300 different rays are in the 238,000 gallon tanks, which is totally filtered every 45 minutes. To name just a few of the aquatic citizens: a giant Pacific octopus, starfish, sea dragon, many varieties of other fish, and even some sea horses. The tanks are filtered continuously. Did we mention that we have never seen salt water filters incorporated into a roller coaster before? SeaWorld was asked to capture female freshwater rays from the wild to expand the gene pool for the captive breeding program under the auspices of the American Zoological Association. Even though it was more expensive, they did so for the betterment of all aquariums worldwide.

Whether rays actually swim inverted shall remain a temporary mystery until we get an answer from SeaWorld. We can attest that after being hypnotized by the rays for nearly thirty minutes, we never saw one upside down, though they seem to like sweeping banked turns. Any guests who pause and watch will feel their blood pressure lowering, this seemed to be a very intense experience, because even on the ride side of the tanks the sounds are muted, and there is very little talking.

Brian Morrow explains, "We wanted to have guests have two emotional experiences, one watching the flight of the rays underwater, and another simulating the flights themselves. This is so much bigger than a coaster. All of our guests can experience the first, and those over 54 inches can go on the ride." Gary Violetta concludes, "If each of our guests comes away with just one piece of conservation knowledge that they didn’t have before they came into the park, it will have been worthwhile."

World of Discovery parks all promote conservation and education about what everyone can do to promote a better environment. Setting an example by developing green technologies for use in amusement and theme parks, SeaWorld is developing using recycled materials for construction. LED lighting methods, on-site condensing boilers are just a few of the new techniques as the World of Discovery parks strive to approach a zero environmental impact. This is something for the rest of the amusement industry to watch as the technology progresses.

So there you have it. It has a great story with highs and lows that are both wet and dry and a strong message. Manta has something for everyone, and you don’t even have to ride it to enjoy it. Destined to become quite the entertainment attraction for the passing crowds, Manta has something for every one. So why are you are still reading this? Go to Orlando and jump in line. It’s air conditioned, has some great fish to see, the line moves quickly, and a great ride to end it all. You know where we will be when we go to SeaWorld.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at SeaWorld Orlando!