Monday, November 30, 2015

Troubling Times for Miracle Strip @ Pier Park

It seems the little park that could might have run out of steam.  Miracle Strip at Pier Park recently ended their 2015 season early, and announced they were in the process of transitioning to new owners.  Now, the park's operators have had legal action taken against them for unpaid rent according to this story, starting an eviction process.

Aerial view of the park © Bing Maps
The amusement park, which is a modern version of the famous Florida amusement park of the same name, had seen tremendous growth in recent years.  This included a move from a small location inside the Pier Park shopping center two years ago, expanding greatly onto 14 acres land adjacent to the mall.  (photo above)

Recently it appeared as though the current owners were planning to sell to a developer who wanted to install a large observation wheel, even going as far as receiving a height waiver for the ride.  But since that news broke things have become very quiet with the park's Facebook deactivated and the main website not even updated to reflect the park's closure.

The park planned to rebuild a new version of the Starliner wooden roller coaster within a few years as part of its move, to be located on the strip of land on the upper left of the park in the aerial above.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Take a Ride on Great Coasters' Largest Ride Yet

A couple weeks ago we looked at the construction of The Viper at Wanda City Theme Park, a brand new custom designed wooden roller coaster by Great Coasters International.  At that point the ride had started testing but the point of view video of the ride had not been released - well now it has!  Check it out:

With a ride time of around a minute and twenty seconds from the top of the lift to the final brakes, Viper is one of the longest wooden coasters around.  The track stretches 5,111 feet long and the coaster uses a 143 foot first drop to give trains the momentum to finish the course.

And they do that with ease, judging from the speed that can be felt from the video during the finale to the ride.  Granted the forested setting shown in early animations seems like it still needs to be planted to really give that stretch the proper effect, but even without it it looks really good.  The quick directional and elevation changes make what could have been a boring run home into an exciting way to end this coaster.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Flying Dinosaur Coaster Nearly Complete at Universal Studios Japan

We haven't checked in on the progress of The Flying Dinosaur at Universal Studios Japan in a bit, and the new B&M Flying roller coaster is nearly complete!

These images come from Twitter user Made_in_USJ, who has done a top notch job keeping us updated on the ride's progress.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
The last update we did saw the coaster's lift hill and drop complete, which both take place directly over the Universal Japan's Jurassic Park area.  After that large drop the coaster enters into an element that we previously saw on Starry Sky Ripper at Joyland in China.  This is the large element in the background of the above photo.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
Here is a closer look at the element, referred to as a "fly to lie" because the train enters the element in flying position, but finishes with riders lying on their backs.  This also means that a full 540 degrees of rotation is achieved.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
After the Fly to Lie, the trains dive downward to the lagoon that is to the immediate right (when looking at the building) of the splash area for Jurassic Park: The Ride.  Riders then climb back up into a large half-loop which moves them back into flying position.  The track then begins to curve to the left.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
And that curve is where the construction has left off at the moment.  We know that it will eventually connect to this swooping curve that is in the foreground of the above photo.  What happens in between may be as simple as a gradual turn, or perhaps a larger element.  In the right of this photo you can see the two end pieces of track that will be connected.  The sweeping turn in the foreground passes directly in front of the iconic visitor's center in Jurassic Park - this new coaster will certainly forever change the look of the land.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
After that swoop turn the ride enters an extended heartline roll, or perhaps an extended corkscrew due to the angle of the entrance and exit?  Either way it's a twisty inversion that's right over the midway and in front of the Discovery Restaurant.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
At the top left of this photo is where the trains exit the just-described inversion, where they then head into a large upward 360 degree helix.  I am not 100% sure but I think this helix is swirling around the station for the Jurassic Park: The Ride, continuing to interact with the entire land.

After this helix comes a heartline roll and then the final brakes.

So we now know nearly all of the Flying Dinosaur's layout, with only one mystery segment left.  This looks like an amazing ride - I can't wait for the testing phase to begin!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Scott & Carol Present: A Brand New Kentucky Kingdom Storm Chaser Photo Update

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers! We wish you a wonderful day of enjoying time with your family and loved ones, and hope you have much to be thankful for.

On the way back from the IAAPA Expo a pit stop at Kentucky Kingdom was in order, as the park has been placing new track for Storm Chaser at a rapid pace.  This new sign hangs on the fence outside the park, advertising this amazing-looking new Rocky Mountain conversion coaster.

Kentucky Kingdom has utilized much of the structure from one half of Twisted Twins for Storm Chaser.  This photo shows the new bents that have been applied on top of the existing structure to fit the new ride's layout.  Before long this section will have the brightly colored running rails applied.

Here is a close up photo of those track pieces laying on the ground, waiting to be lifted into place.  You can see a stripe on the track where the wheels will make contact.

Storm Chaser begins with a 100 foot lift, seen here towering over the park.  After a quick 180 degree turn the ride fully inverts in a "Barrel Roll Dropdown," to use Kentucky Kingdom's term for the element.

Up close, the inversion that takes place after the lift looks impressive as ever!

Kentucky Kingdom also recently completed a full repainting of Storm Chaser's station - this bright color should help guests find the ride with ease!

After the trains race down the first drop the next element they encounter is this air-time hill, which looks like it will certainly have riders feeling weightless as they go over it.

Up next is the second of Storm Chaser's inversions, a 140 Degree Stall.  The train enters the turn and quickly banks to 140 degrees as it changes direction.

Here is the 140 Degree Stall from the exit side of the element.  It is going to be very exciting to see trains roaring through here!

Next up is an Off Axis Air-time Hill, you can see the track banking the opposite direction of the upcoming turn.  It will quickly twist back to the left for a diving turn.

While much progress has already been made on Storm Chaser, Kentucky Kingdom already has modified much of the rest of the ride's supports in anticipation of track.  In between the placed track in this photo you can see those supports waiting their turn.

Finally we will end with this look at the complete first third or so of Storm Chaser.  We can't wait to ride this one in 2016!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Video Footage of Chinese Wooden Built Martin & Vleminckx Coasters

Martin & Vleminckx, builder of traditional wooden roller coasters, had a great video produced for the IAAPA Expo, showing off their latest collection of rides that have opened in China.  With designs by The Gravity Group, Martin & Vleminckx have started to push the boundaries of traditional wood coaster design, including extreme banking and inversions.

Here's the video:

Pretty great footage, right?  The rides show off many of the interesting elements that have been incorporated into the layouts, including that reverse high-five element and the elongated corkscrew inversion we saw on Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus.  Some of the rides feature the inversion, while others do not - depending on park preference, no doubt.

While it opened back in 2012, the footage of the high-five on Dauling Dragons at Happy Valley is still as impressive as it was years ago.  It is great to see such continued success of both The Gravity Group and Martin & Vleminckx in China, hopefully we get one of their creations stateside soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Walibi Rhone-Alpes' New Gravity Group Wooden Coaster Layout, Construction + Train Photos

During last week's IAAPA Expo the full details of Walibi Rhone-Alpes' new wooden roller coaster, named Timber! and designed by The Gravity Group, were released.

© Walibi Rhone-Alpes / The Gravity Group
The new ride will be perfect sized for the entire family to be able to enjoy, which fits with the general offerings of the park.  A Vekoma Boomerang ride is the park's current extreme ride.  Timber's layout can be seen above, wrapping around the park's wild mouse style coaster.  That existing coaster will be heavily themed and part of a new area that will also debut next year with Timber as the star attraction.

© Walibi Rhone-Alpes
This recent construction photo (more available here) shows that plenty of progress has been made on the new coaster.  Timber's track will stretch 1,464 feet, and start with a lift to around 56 feet, and a straight first drop of 55 feet.  The two trains, each seating 12 passengers will be treated to eleven moment of air-time throughout the ride.

© Carol Holmes
As part of last week's IAAPA Expo, Walibi Rhone-Alpes and The Gravity Group joined to show off the amazing theming that will be on the front of the signature Timberliner trains.  The trains would certainly look nice blazing through the forest, removing trees as they go!  The attention to detail here is really amazing.

© Carol Holmes
Here is a wider view of the front car of the trains along with two special passengers from both Walibi Rhone-Alpes and The Gravity Group.

With the company's recent success with smaller family designs like Roar-O-Saurus at Story Land and the Wooden Warrior at Quassy Amusement Park, we have high hopes for this ride!

Monday, November 23, 2015

SeaWorld San Antonio Makes Aquatica a Separate Gate + Discovery Point Update

© SeaWorld San Antonio

It has been announced by SeaWorld San Antonio that starting in March of 2016 their Aquatica water park will become a separate gate, no longer an add on to the general theme park ticket.  The park cites guest feedback as the reason for the change, which will require a new entrance to be constructed.

The streamlined ticket options will include a $65 ticket for SeaWorld San Antonio, or a $40 ticket for Aquatica.  A season pass to either park will cost $102, or a combination pass valid at both parks will go for $135.

The change makes a ton of sense, previously having to buy a two park ticket meant the water park probably lost a great deal of visitors.  It was so greatly expanded that it is now a full day adventure, and guests can more easily decide to spend the day at one park or the other without feeling rushed.  By nature of the separate parks, the property may see an increase in two-day visits as well.

SeaWorld San Antonio's major expansion for 2016, Discovery Point, is well underway and now has plenty of new details available.

A brand new website for the attraction has been launched, which will reside within the border of the existing theme park.  The largest addition is the new Dolphin Lagoon, which is coastal themed and nearly twice as large as the previous exhibit.  Guests to SeaWorld San Antonio will be able to experience the new habitat as a visitor, but Discovery Point offers much more than that.  Additionally, Explorer’s Reef, home to the park’s shark, fish and coral reef aquarium, is located within the new realm and will "reopen with updates to help showcase ocean life."

© SeaWorld San Antonio
Visitors looking for an in depth experience can schedule a swim with dolphins, sea lions and beluga whales.  Similar to the offerings at the company's Discovery Cove in Orlando, the pay-extra swim sessions feature personalized interactions with the animals and a higher level of guest attention and care.

For more on Discovery Point, including the first in a series of construction updates, check out the newly launched official website.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Vision for Atlantic City Polercoaster Revealed

© Wallack Holdings
According to this news story, Joshua Wallack of Wallack Holdings has released the above and below renderings of his vision of a tower ride complex to be built along the Atlantic City, New Jersey shore.

The developers have leased a one acre plot of the former Sands Atlantic City casino site, part of a larger 18 acre undeveloped are that the resort covered.

The tower, if built, would stand 350 feet tall and contain both a roller coaster with vertical lift hill, and also a free fall drop tower.  The design above shows similarities to the one being built in Orlando, though that project is about 300 some feet bigger.

© Wallack Holdings
Atlantic City is really pushing non-gaming activities to draw folks back to the area, and giving some hefty incentives to developers to do so.  Hopefully that means that the Atlantic City Polercoaster has a real chance at happening.

Wallack Holdings says that the full plans are still being drawn up, but the development will also include a mojito bar and nightlife attractions.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Animal Kingdom Project News + An Aerial Look at Avatar

Among the many updates we've featured this past week from the IAAPA Expo, there were some other tidbits worth covering as well in the greater industry.  Some of them come from a pair of news items from Disney's Animal Kingdom.

© Disney's Animal Kingdom
The theme park has provided some more details and new concept art (above) of Rivers of Light, an all new evening lagoon show taking place in the center of Animal Kingdom.

"In “Rivers of Light,” a pair of mystical hosts come to the river bearing gifts of light. During the show, the hosts set out from the shore on elaborate lantern vessels for a dramatic dance of water and light to summon animal spirits. With the storytellers as your guides, the wonders of “Rivers of Light” builds to a stunning crescendo."

Also as indicated in the concept art, the park's Tree of Life will be involved in the show - probably using some neat projection mapping technology.  The park shared a new video of the an interview with Joe Rhode about the show, offering additional details.

© Disney's Animal Kingdom
Last week Animal Kingdom also announced a brand new restaurant, named Tiffins, will open in 2016 as well.  The restaurant will serve both lunch and dinner to guests along the waterfront with indoor and outdoor seating - meals will be inspired by the various locations that are represented in the park.  The exact location of the restaurant in the park was not revealed in the announcement, but is rumored to be in the Southern portion of Discovery Island, which may give views of the new Avatar area.

Speaking of Pandora - The World of Avatar, Orlando Park Pass recently took a helicopter tour over Animal Kingdom and grabbed some images of both Rivers of Light and Pandora.  I highly recommend following this link to their update, which includes information on what's being done at the park.  The area is looking really good so far!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - The Now And The New With Awarding Sally Corp

Big smiles from the Sally Corp booth, they hardly needed any lighting due to all the shiny grins. The Justice League-Battle for Metropolis, now appearing at Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St Louis, is currently thrilling millions of guests. Sally is spreading the wealth south of the border at Six Flags Mexico City and also at Six Flags Great America.

 Here is the link of our previous coverage for those of you who would like to take a look back.

Sally is also working with AMC on the "Walking Dead" concept, and we gain a little more understanding with Rich in an interview.

Congratulations to Donna and the entire Sally Corp team.

Scott And Carol Present - More Big News Out Of Quassy Amusement Park

Quassy Amusement Park and SBF Visa are proud to announce the inaugural North American installation of Reverse Time, a family flat ride.

You can check out the technical data for Reverse Time from the SBF Visa website here.

So congratulations to Quassy Amusement Park, and everybody in the northeast who gets to take a whirl on Reverse Time, a surprise addition to the park that has previously announced their water park improvements. If you missed that announcement, follow this link to read the details.  It's going to be a great time to live close to Quassy.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - Great Things from PTC

As the makers of the most popular style of train for wooden roller coasters worldwide, Philadelphia Toboggan Company has stepped up and created a new system to make it easier for people with physical challenges to ride wooden roller coasters, at least ones with PTC trains.

The access device is shown in position next to the train in the station. The platform rotates down and rests on top of teh seat divider. Although it is presently designed only for PTC trains, with some modification it can also be used for other rides. It is stored in the station for use when required.

Here's a short video showing how the device is used.

Drew, and anyone else utilizing the five-point harness is securely held in riding position, and this unique device allows for missing limbs to not be a disqualifying issue for riders.

Here you can see where the locking carabiners hook to the train, and they are easily adjusted for a snug fit. Only one seat needs to be modified per train.This will be our nomination for the Industry Impact Award, because this is an issue facing park operators everywhere. Big kudos for everyone on the PTC team. Their efforts will make lots challenged coaster lovers very happy.

Scott And Carol Present - Legoland California Premiere's Triotech Ride With New Technology

Legoland California has called upon Triotech to create a new type of interactive dark ride where riders don't shoot guns, but instead undergo Ninja training where their hands become "powerful weapons able to shoot fireballs and lightning.


The Triotech Maestro system allows the use of either one or both hands, and since it is software base, any type of interactivity can be programmed. Snowball fights during winter, Easter egg battles in the spring, and water geysers for the hot summer months are just a few of the possibilities. The Merlin Magic team is bringing this ride to Legolands in California, Billund, and Malaysia later in the year.

Here is one of the young Ninja who is led by Master Wu. He weighs about 800 pounds and took a master modeler only three weeks to create. He has become a popular photo spot during the show.

Here are some scenes from Ninjago-The Ride.

Here you can see one team helping the young Ninja while another group awaits their turn.

Once the guests complete their training/practice, there performance is scored and tracked through the different colors so they can see where the projectiles are going and adjust their aim accordingly.

Here you can see the riders wearing 3-D glasses, holding their hands above the sensor. The distance above the sensor controls how high and the direction "projectile" travels. The fact that it is software based without a fixed pointing device allows for easy adaptation for different themed experiences.

Our thanks to Legoland for the use of the ride photos