Friday, May 31, 2013

Knott's Reopens the Timber Mountain Log Ride

After a full refurbishment that lasted several months, Knott's Berry Farm has reopened their classic Timber Mountain Log Ride to legions of eager fans.

The Timber Mountain Log Ride first opened at the park in 1969 and was originally known as the Calico Log Ride.  A log flume at its core, the ride features a trip up a mountain and past several animated scenes during indoor sections.  The high level of theming made the ride an instant success, and has kept it popular ever since.

Early in 2013 Knott's Berry Farm announced that the ride would close for five months to have a major upgrade, including new scenes with animatronics from Garner Holt, complete with new lighting and audio.  You can see in the video above just how great the attraction looks now that it has reopened!

For more photos and information on the ride's reopening, check out this link to Micechat.  There's also some great press photos of the new indoor scenes.  How wonderful is it that Knott's took the effort - and cash - to bring the ride back to life in such a tremendous way?  Great job!

Join Carowinds for a Special Birthday Party

Carowinds is having a big birthday party this Saturday, June 1st, in honor of the park's 40th anniversary.  As with all things celebratory, there will be a cake - a big one - so big in fact it's being called "largest ever served on the state line!"  Mmmm, cake.

If that wasn't reason enough to check out the festivities, you can also take in the history that the park has had over those forty years while there.  Originally opened in 1973 Carowinds has expanded from only 73 acres on opening day to 398 acres of rides and attractions - including 13 coasters and four original opening day attractions: the Scrambler, the Carolina Goldrusher, Snoopy's Junction train, and the Carolina Skytower.

Tickets on June 1st are $40 in honor of the anniversary, and there's plenty of special events to be found.  Here's a list of activities planned directly from the park:

•  9:30 am - Ceremonial ribbon cutting with two people who were with us opening day- James   Henderson, Carowinds’ first official visitor, and  Connie Dorn Rist, Ms. North Carolina 1972.

•  10:00 am – Fort Mill High School marching band opens the park and helps us sing happy birthday as we cut and share our giant birthday cake free for the first 400 visitors!

•  11a-1pm – We don’t often have a book signing, but when we do the book is about us!  Carowinds worked with Arcadia Publishing to commemorate our anniversary season with a beautiful historical collection of photos documenting four decades of thrills! 

•  6:00 pm - The party keeps going with the crew from V101.9 fm!  They’re leading the evening portion of our birthday bash with a performance by the Purple All Star Steppers and a summertime dance party!

•  8:00 pm- The World’s Largest Soul Train Line (how cool is that?!)

•  10:00 pm- Boom! Pop! Ooooh and Ahhhhh! We wrap up the celebration with fireworks coordinated to light up the night with the biggest hits of 1973!

As an extra special treat for visitors during the month of June Carowinds will offer next day tickets - in case you need another day to see it all - for only $19.73.  That's a steal!

Congratulation to the park on their anniversary!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New B&M Supports + Track - Where Will They Go?

© Users Jayblazer / kirbias1 on KICentral
The manufacturing plant in Ohio that makes many of B&M's rides has some new dark green supports laying around, something that always makes us enthusiasts just tickled pink.  Or in this case tickled forest green.

The support are a pretty shade, but where will they end up?  There's also track being manufactured, and a shot of the shipping label shows a ride type that one could take to mean Wing Coaster.  All speculation, of course.

There's plenty of rumors of parks in the U.S. that could call these parts home in the future, but it is just as easy to think that they will be loaded onto a ship and head to another continent.

For all the photos click on over to KICentral!

Around The World in One and a Half Days - Part 1

Welcome to Worlds of Fun!
Earlier this Spring when I was able to visit Silver Dollar City for the first time I also checked out another park on the same trip, that being Worlds of Fun.  That's why the title of this article is what it is - Worlds of Fun was originally themed off of Jules Verne's Around The World In Eighty Days when it first opened in 1973.  That opening year also means the park is celebrating its 40th anniversary - and many congratulations to the park for that achievement!

Just inside the entrance gates.
But back to the title of this piece.  Due to flight times and a hotel nearby, I was actually able to check out the park for a day and a half.  That allowed me to become a little more familiar with the property, which was perfect because ever since Cedar Fair purchased the park in 1995 I've wanted to visit.  Well really I would like to visit every park on the globe, but becoming a part of the Cedar Fair family moved it up the list, you could say.

One of the original sections of the park.
World of Fun is celebrating its 40th by combining the theme park and water park into one admission ticket, and greatly expanding their slide offerings.  Being that I visited well before the water area, Oceans of Fun, opened for the year I didn't quite get to check out that expansion.

The theme park is broken up into themed sections, each representing a different part of the world in a generalized sense.  Think more on the continent level than on the country level.  When you enter the park you find yourself in Scandinavia, and the size of the trees and well grown in look of the park shows that it dates back to the park's opening.

Beautiful, and greets you after you enter.
Cedar Fair enjoys placing carousels at or near the entrances to their parks, and Worlds of Fun received that distinction in 2011 with the addition of the Grand Carrousel just below the front gates.  The ride was saved after Geauga Lake closed in 2007, kept in storage and fully refurbished before being installed at Worlds of Fun.

The ride dates back to 1926 when it was originally built by M.C. Illions of Coney Island, NY.  There are very few Illions rides left in the world today, so Worlds of Fun is rightfully proud to have the ride as part of its offerings.

Spinning and twirling thrills.
Scandinavia contains a great selection of flat rides once you start to explore.  Many of the attractions are from the park's early years, meaning there are some great rides that have since vanished from other parks.  Many of the rides have appropriate names for the section, such as the Fjord Fjarlane (top of the photo above) and the Finnish Fling (bottom of the photo above.)  Perhaps the Octopus is a little less themed, but maybe there are a lot of Octopuses in Scandinavia - I'll let you Google that one if you wish.

Look - blue sky!  Pretty, right?
What I really enjoyed about the Scandinavia area is the grown-in feeling I described earlier, and the peacefulness of parts of it.  Above is the Sea Dragon and a part of the Viking Voyager with a large pond in front of each.  You can see how large and mature the trees are at the park, which makes for great shade on hot Summer days.  It happened to be windy and cold when I was there, however!

Boating through the woods and past a waterfall.
The Viking Voyager, the park's classic log flume, winds among the trees throughout the section, even bordering on one of the adjacent lands.  If the weather had been a bit nicer I would have given this one a spin, but the thought of wet clothes and a day of plane rides made me think again.  The Voyager darts back among undeveloped land in the middle of the park giving riders a journey though the woods.  The final drop isn't too large, but considering the ride opened with the park in 1973 that isn't too surprising.

Boomerang.  Gnaremoob.
After passing through Scandinavia, clockwise that is, you'll enter Africa.  You can tell because the music in the park's themed areas match their setting, a totally refreshing thing if you ask me.  Located at what seems like the lowest elevation of the park, Africa's buildings are themed appropriately and not far into the section you encounter the Boomerang roller coaster.

First forwards, then backwards.  Don't get sick!
You've all been on one of these before, right?  This one was added to the park back in 2000, five years after Cedar Fair took over.  The ride features six inversions, three forwards and three backwards, and was just repainted this year so it looks totally shiny and new.  You can probably tell from the above photo, though!  

There be dinos in those woods!
In addition to the massive water park expansion, the 2013 season also is debuting Dinosaurs Alive!  If you're familiar with other Cedar Fair parks then you know the drill on this one - there's many animated dinosaurs located along a wooded path, available to guests for a small extra charge.  The display is located in Africa at Worlds of Fun and uses a nicely wooded area for the path, but the entrance (above) is in the heart of the land.

Wave hi to the guests in Dinosaurs Alive!
Here's a shot of just one small section of the meandering path.  Even though the park wasn't too crowded during my daytime visit there were still plenty of families going through the area.  Dinosaurs have always been a hit with kids, though, and these displays have proven popular at other properties in the chain.

The addition also comes with the redevelopment of one of Africa's retail locations into the Dinostore where you can buy everything and anything related to dinosaurs.  Hide your wallet!  Just kidding.

I want to ride!
When you really look at it the Africa section is generally sparse on rides, but it is home to one attraction that more than makes up for that.  That's Prowler, and above you can see some of its large entrance plaza and queue with the ride's lift hill behind it.

Prowler is a Great Coasters International wooden ride that was built in 2009.  The ride's design was a bit of a departure for the designers, as their typical twister layout was pushed aside for a long, curving out and back style experience.

Down the first drop you guys go!
And what an experience it is!  I really enjoyed this ride, I have no problem singing its praises to anyone and everyone.  Prowler is fast and disorienting and I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing it for the first time in the dark.  That without a doubt sealed the deal for me - even though it was cold - probably 55 degrees at most - the ride was tearing through those woods in total darkness and I rather enjoyed every minute of it.

Oh, and thanks to lucky timing on the train for the photo above!  The lightning and sky behind the ride are terrible, but I wanted to feature it anyway.

Roaring over those hills on the way back is good times.
Turns out I liked the ride just as much in the daytime, when you could actually see what was going on.  The ride is fast and the constant directional changes combined with moments of airtime were right up my alley.  The park was running only one train, I assume due to early season operations and lack of crowds, and only that held me from getting even more rides on Prowler.

We've still got three more continents to go, but that will have to wait until part two.  Check back for that next week!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Disneyland Presents Mickey and the Magical Map

© Disneyland
Disneyland's Fantasyland Theatre is once again greeting guests with this past weekend's premier of Mickey and the Magical Map, an all new live show featuring everyone's favorite mouse as the star.

The show starts with a bit on the magical map, created by a wonderful wizard - and told through the use of giant animated screens.  Mickey joins in and decides to try to fill in out last part of the map that is not yet complete, and ends up embarking on a magical journey after being pulled into it - becoming an animated version of himself.

© Disneyland
The 22 minute show features songs and performances from many Disney hits, including the Jungle Book, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tangled, The Little Mermaid, Lilo and Stitch and the Princess and the Frog.  The show is simple, but entertaining and it is wonderful to see a large performance back in the Fantasyland Theatre after the Princesses took over for a while.

If you'd like to check out the show, here's a video of the production from Inside the Magic.

Six Flags Great America Marks One Huge Milestone

The Park on Opening Day © Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America welcomed its 100,000,000th guest this past Memorial Day - give your brain a minute to really think of just how many folks that is!

The park had been keeping close track of the overall count since the end of last season, knowing that it would be happening not far into the 2013 operating calendar.  According to this article the tally stood at 99,999,700 at the start of Monday morning.  That made finding the exact guests pretty easy, especially since the weather was poor and there wasn't a flood of guests entering the park.  Six Flags Great America first opened its door in 1976.

In the end two season pass holders were the lucky guests, James Briggs of Naval Station Great Lakes and Sarah Brock of Gurnee.  They received free food, front of the line passes, and some souvenirs to mark the occasion.

Congratulations to the park on their achievement, and here's to another 100 million!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's a Splash: Wet 'n' Wild Opens in Las Vegas

The return of Wet 'n' Wild to Las Vegas came with much excitement when the park opened for the first time this past weekend.  So much excitement that the park actually had to turn guests away due to capacity issues!

The park opened on the 25th though the 27th for Gold Season Pass members only, on a first come first served basis.  The park was such a draw that they had to closed the gates until guests departed, making room for new ones to enter.

© Wet 'n' Wild Las Vegas
The $50 million water park features a selection of rides and attractions - mild to wild.  The Rattler and Constrictor slides are newer designs from WhiteWater and have guests lined up at the park to try them out.  There's plenty more attractions to round out the offerings, like the mat racing Desert Racers, with a bright rainbow color scheme, the plunge of the steep Canyon Cliffs, or the Royal Flush Extreme (bowl slide) and Hoover Half Pipe which features a giant half pipe that rafts slide up.

There's also a large lazy river - the Colorado Cooler - and a wave pool named Red Rock Bay.  A large splash tower play area rounds out the offerings, aptly named Splash Island as it is located in the center of the lazy river.

The park will be open May 28th through June 2nd for all pass holders, and the general public starting June 3rd.  You can check out some additional aerial photos of the park from Vegas Helicam LLC at this link.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Experience the New Knott's Berry Farm Boardwalk - Now Open

Knott's Berry Farm has opened their new themed area, known as the Boardwalk, as promised over this Memorial Day Weekend.  Filled with a timeless retro feel, the area pays homage to the classic seaside boardwalks we've all known and loved throughout the years.

The section features new rides and attractions located on the space that Perilous Plunge formerly called home.  With that massive splash ride now just a memory, a new family roller coaster and two additional flat rides have moved in amid all new theming, landscaping, and upgraded lighting.

The Boardwalk contains plenty of fun details that really bring the theme of the section together.  Coast Rider is a wild mouse style roller coaster, though one of the larger models that features a bigger first drop.

In the splash-down area from the Plunge, two new family rides have been added.  The Surfside Gliders are a set of Larson Flying Scooters, where riders can take hold of their carriage's sail and have as wild or mild a ride as they wish.  Another ride that had been in storage for a while has reappeared, the Pacific Scrambler.  An amusement park classic, the Scrambler churns riders around in the cars - the person on the outside always gets squished!

If you'd like to see some photos of the well done addition, check out this story from Micechat, and Westcoaster also has a nice gallery up as well.

One aspect of the Boardwalk that I really like is that some work and thought went into the theming of the area.  Granted we're not talking Disney or Universal levels, but for Knott's the section is cohesive and I think that's wonderful.  This video is a bit old, and I had missed it, but it details some of the park's efforts and has some neat concept art.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hades 360 Now Open at Mt. Olympus

That was quick!  We just recently featured photos of the train being placed on the tracks of Hades 360, and now Mt. Olympus has already opened the coaster to visitors.

If you are curious to see how the ride handles through the full inversion, check out the video above. You can also see the overbank turn that takes place immediately after the roll.  The train really moves through both new elements!

With first rider reviews now coming in, we are hearing that Hades 360 is running smooth and fast!  For more videos of the ride, including off-ride perspectives, check out the park's Facebook page.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Luna Park Ready for Some Water Mania

© Luna Park
A new attraction is set to open today at Coney Island's Luna Park: Water Mania.  The attraction features two turntables each with several cars attached.  The cars, or I should say barrels, seat four riders and each are equipped with a water blaster. 

Once started, the turntables as well as each barrel start to spin, giving a thrill as riders turn a crank to be able to shoot a blast of water at other riders.  Spectators also have the ability to fire water cannons to soak riders as well, adding another layer of interactivity. 

As far as I am aware this is the first instillation of the ride by Zamperla - making good on their intent to debut new attractions at Luna Park, using it as a bit of a showcase.

I'm interested to see video of the new ride, which I am sure will come soon since the ride just opened today.  For more photos of Water Mania, check out Luna Park's gallery.

Six Flags Great America Makes More Backwards Announcements

It seems like it is the season for backwards roller coasters, especially at Six Flags Great America.

The park opened Batman The Ride backwards not too long ago, and from the start indicated that it would be for a limited time only.  Now the announcement has been made via Twitter that backwards Batman (or Namtab as I like to call it) will run until July 7th.

Disappointed fans will find the news easier to take, however, since the park is far from done with turning around their coaster trains.

That's correct - the day after backwards Batman closes a backwards version of Viper will "slither" into the park.  The wooden twister coaster, opened in 1995, is of the Cyclone variety.  That means it is a wooden ride that's roughly modeled after the world famous Coney Island Cyclone.

And now guests will get to experience the coaster backwards starting July 8th.

But wait, there's more!  The park also let the news out that later in the Fall the American Eagle will also go backwards.  The massive set of racing rides has had its trains turned around several times throughout its many years, but will still give season regulars something to look forward to later this year.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Scott And Carol Present - The Texas SkyScreamer At Six Flags over Texas

Six Flags Over Texas is proud of having Texas SkyScreamer, the tallest circle swing in the world. It truly dominates the skyline at the park, and it delivers a great ride, for those who don't get queasy soaring high in the air, supported only by a swing set chain. 

Within the beautiful entrance, this monument celebrated Angus Wynn, the founder of Six Flags Over Texas. He is obviously proud as he looks down on parks stretching from coast to coast, allowing millions to experience regional theme parks.  

Instead of cutting the ribbon with scissors, Steve does it Texas style, with a branding iron. This was a unique experience for us, being from the Midwest.

Even the inflatables are bigger in Texas. Park guests have been building their anticipation by walking past this sign every time they enter the park.

Being six months pregnant, Public Relations Manager Sharon Parker was unable to ride the Texas Sky Screamer, but she was more than willing to talk about the ride.

A small section of the park was closed to the public for the event. The VIP badges allowed access to a Texas celebration.

This gives you a taste of the activities that entertained the attendees.

With this photo you can see how the chairs swing around in the breeze, giving ample opportunity to view downtown Arlington from every angle.

Steve Martindale, Park President of Six Flags Over Texas, is justifiably proud of their new attraction.

With a slightly larger circle, the Texas Sky Screamer is slightly faster than regular Sky Screamers.

Ernie Long, from Skydive Dallas, gives us a brief comparison of the Texas SkyScreamer and real life skydiving. Even though we trusted him, we just had to try it out for ourselves.

So now you can see what the Texas Sky Screamer is all about, but these videos really don't do it justice. You really need to experience it for yourself, but you can only do it at Six Flags Over Texas. Many thanks to Sharon, Ernie, and Steve for accommodating our visit for this event.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic Ready to Open at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

May 25th will be the grand opening of Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the park has revealed.  The show is currently previewing to great reviews and long lines of excited guests.

The show features "astounding physical prowess as the performers bring together a series of high-flying stunts and daring aerial acts above water. In the water, dolphins will emulate some of the artistry in their own way, as marine mammal trainers guide them through a series of show-stopping behaviors."

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic was created by Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg specifically for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  The cast of the show features dolphins alongside individuals from around the globe that were hand picked for the production.

“Our goal was to complement the personalities of the dolphins and performers through playfulness, extraordinary feats, synchronicity and unparalleled showmanship,” said Goldberg. “Cirque Dreams Splashtastic will be one of those unique and memorable entertainment attractions rarely experienced.”

Taking place over the water in the park's Dolphin Harbor Theater, Cirque Dreams Splashtastic is included in park admission and will run two shows each day until August 11, 2013.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Simpsons Expansion Announced for Universal Studios Florida

© Universal Studios Florida
This Summer visitors to Universal Studios Florida will be able to be immersed in the world of the Simpsons more than ever before.  The Simpsons Ride opened at the park in 2008 along with a Kwik-E-Mart, and has had a large games area around it added featuring the Simpsons characters as well.  Now with a newly announced expansion there will be plenty more shopping, dining, and even riding available.

Visitors will be able to walk down the streets of Springfield, including Fast Food Boulevard, seeing popular locations from the show along the way.  Meat Sandwiches will be available at Krusty Burger, fried treats at the Fying Dutchman, a slice from Luigi's Pizza, donuts from Lard Lad, and even Moe's Tavern will take up residence.

The concept art also shows a mini-Duff Brewery where you'll be able to drink Duff Beer - brewed specifically for the park and only available there - along with The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop, which I would expect to be a new retail location.  Two new characters will join the area as well, Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob.

A new spinner flat ride named Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl will debut along the water's edge, taking "foolish humans on an intergalactic spin designed to send them into orbit."

The new area has been under construction for some time now, and only has a listed opening date of Summer.  Now that the cat is officially out of the bag I bet more details of the area will pop up.

Feel the Freeze at SeaWorld Orlando - Antarctica Opens Tomorrow

© SeaWorld Orlando
Tomorrow is the official grand opening, but with the media and other invited guests having already experienced SeaWorld's Antarctica buzz about the new area, ride attraction, and Penguin exhibit is quickly growing.

Antarctica includes dining at the Expedition Cafe, shopping at Glacial Collections, and the main ride experience named Empire of the Penguin.  The attraction uses motion based, trackless vehicles that spin and twirl through several show scenes as they follow the story of Puck, a baby penguin that they watch grow and take on an exciting adventure.

The attraction leads visitors directly into the penguin exhibit where it is a seriously cold 30 degrees - I think it will be pretty amusing to see Florida tourists in those temperatures!  No huge glass barriers separate guests from the animals, instead small disguised spaces keep guests and the penguins from coming too close.  Still, from photos it appears as though you're pretty close!

The press for the ride is growing by the minute, but the Orlando Sentinel has a great story up with a huge collection of photos.  There's also links to related videos and other galleries.  If you want to actually see video of the ride, check out this review from Theme Park Insider - but only watch the point of view video if you don't mind spoilers!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Special Delivery: Hades 360 Train Arrives

Perfect timing after Scott & Carol's story today featuring a look at Mt. Olumpus' Hades 360 - the park sent out some photos of the ride's train which recently arrived at the park.  Scott and Carol are traveling in Texas (yes, I'm jealous) so they asked me to post them.

The new Timberliner train is manufactured by Gravitykraft.  I love the screaming red color they used!

Here's an awesome shot of the decorative front panel of the train.  Hades looks a little angry if you ask me!

The park wasted no time installing the train onto the tracks.  The addition of the Timberliner was needed in order to navigate the 360 degree inversion that has been added to the ride.

One last shot of the new train being added to the track.  When a new ride, or in this case heavily renovated ride, receives its train that means testing can't be far off!  I think we're all quite excited to see Hades 360 run for the first time.

Scott And Carol Present - Hades 360 at Mt Olympus Pt 2

After much delay we bring you part 2 of our report on Hades 360 at Mt Olympus, if you need a refresher course here is the link to part 1

There will be a new twist for Hades in 2013 . A 360 degree barrel roll is being added to Hades, which will be renamed Hades 360. We previously reported the announcement at IAAPA 2012,

Some of the landscaping rock work had to be removed since the turnaround area was expanded for the new features. It will soon surround the new layout after construction is completed and there will be no need for equipment access.

Jeff Mason explained to Scott how the layout was changed and you can see in the background the beginning of 115 degree over banked turn. 

The turnaround in the parking lot was expanded nearly 40 feet in some spots to incorporate the barrel roll for Hades 360. The old footers were left in place and yo can see the old track location. You must be vigilant walking through these because if you stub your toe, the metal doesn't give at all.

Here at the exit of the 360 degree barrel roll, Nick explains his thoughts behind the improvements to Hades. The work platform will be removed once the track steel in in place. He makes sure he won't get in trouble at home by including his wife Eva, and two daughters Maria and Fotini in the interview. With attention to detail like that, no wonder Mt. Olympus is so successful in the highly competitive Wisconsin Dells market.

Here is the barrel roll from inside the track layout. The 115 degree turn is outside the picture to the right.

On the left is a new footer, while on the right is the old one. This is the transition from Hades to Hades 360 at Mt Olympus.

Here Nick is explaining to Scott about how Mt Olympus is beginning a program to use ten inch wide running steel on all their coasters. Nick feels this will make for smooth coasters in the future by keeping them easier to maintain.

This is the exit of the barrel roll, out in the parking lot. 

This is what the 115 degree turn looks like from outside the track. 

Every piece of steel has to be clamped into place, marked, and then taken down to the shop where it is plasma cut and drilled for the bolts. These pieces are heavy and it takes lots of muscle power to put them in the correct location.

 The last piece of each section is left in place to ensure proper alignment.

Riders will see this view as the exit the barrel roll, but the work platform will be removed and inspections done with a man lift on a daily basis.

The entry and exit of the tunnel from up on the track.

At the 115 degree over banked turn, Nick talks about his motivation for the continual improvement to Mt. Olympus, and he discusses the disquieting noises that have come out of the tunnel since it was retracked. The only noises we heard were the construction crew.

Many thanks to Nick, Adam, Jeff for helping us bring you these unique views. If the weather holds, soon we will be able to bring you a ride report of Hades 360, in all its glory.