Saturday, December 30, 2017

Plenty of New RailBlazer Track in the Sky at California's Great America

© California's Great America
If there is one thing we've learned about the construction of the new single-rail Rocky Mountain Construction "Raptor" coasters, it is that they go up very fast.  With less supports necessary to hold up the thin track, the rides seem to have many more pieces put in place per day than with other ride types.  In fact, it seems that at times the parks are literally waiting for truckloads of the ride parts to arrive to get more put into place!

Keeping an eye on California's Great America's webcam for RailBlazer, seen above, it's easy to note that a ton of track has gone up in the last week or so.  Much of the ride's layout is now in place, including half of the dive loop, the reverse air-time hill and the corkscrew.

© Inside CGA
The webcam gives nice up to the minute views of RailBlazer's progress, at least when it is light outside, but there are more photos taken just days ago available from Inside CGA.  You can see them at their Facebook page, and one of them is embedded above.  RailBlazer's twisted spaghetti track looks great as it towers over the park!

Similar to the sister ride at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, it appears as though the lift hill will be one of the last elements installed on RailBlazer.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Six Flags Fiesta Texas to Replace Scooby Doo with New Dark Ride in 2018

© Jeffrey Siebert
As if one of the world's first single rail roller coasters wasn't enough, Six Flags Fiesta Texas has also revealed that they will be adding a new dark ride experience in 2018.  The new attraction will mean that the park will retire Scooby Doo Ghostblasters, which opened at the theme park in 2002.  Set in the park's Boardwalk themed area, the replacement dark ride is still shrouded in mystery, though the park's president, Jeffrey Siebert, has been giving some clues on the Texas Thrill Seekers Facebook page.

© Jeffrey Siebert
For starters, the new attraction will not be virtual reality based, which is refreshing considering the current trend of 'VR' being incorporated into nearly everything.  The new attraction will also open on Memorial Day weekend 2018, happily not late into the season.  Finally, the dark ride "adventure" will be family friendly, not just aimed at teens or adults, and carry a theme that fits in the with the Boardwalk.

Mr. Siebert has also stated that an "epic battle" is coming to the park when referencing the ride, and posted the above photo of two pirate-looking ships in mid-battle.  So this would appear to be a hint at the attraction's theme, but you never know if it is just a red herring.  Either way, I'm curious to know if it will still utilize Scooby Doo's traditional dark ride layout, or if the building will be gutted and feature and all new style of ride system for the attraction.

Hopefully it won't be long until we get a full announcement and all the details.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Scott And Carol Present - Time Traveler Official Reveal at IAAPA

Image result for silver dollar city photos

Following Mike's lead reminded us that now we can get back to working on IAAPA 2017 stories. From the announcement banner, you can see the steampunk theming. With two launches, three inversions, and spinning cars, no two rides will be identical.

Due to the unique topography of Silver Dollar City, many new attractions have been added by hanging them on the side of the hill. This presents many interesting views of construction progress of the world's tallest spinning roller coaster.

With over three thousand feet of track and exceeding 50 mph on the 90 degree first drop, this is the largest investment in Silver Dollar City history.

Here was the excitement generated on the IAAPA Show trade floor. It was one of the earlier events.

Brad and Christian starting to pull the curtain on the attraction that will bring many people to Silver Dollar City in Branson. The nice thing about the climate there is they can open early in the year.

Riders that meet the 51-inch heights requirement probably won't get this much fanfare in daily operations but it created a buzz on the floor.

The train in all its glory, although as a spinning coaster many details will be a blur outside the station. It was mentioned that adjustable magnetic brakes will be on every car to limit the revolutions. Silver Dollar City wants it to be a ride for families to experience together.

Here are some of the many footers as seen last summer. The supports have to be taller and longer to compensate for the varying terrain. It would be interesting to know how much extra steel was required for Time Traveler.

This appears to be the largest station by volume in history for a regional theme park. It won't be long until we can all see what will fill this large station. Given the past history of Silver Dollar City, there will be lots of unique theming concepts for the enjoyment of the guests who ride Time Traveler.

A piece of track and support viewed through the trees last summer. As seen from the empty footers above, they had a lot of work to finish before testing could begin.

What a fantastic new attraction for Silver Dollar City. Time Traveler will surely help them "Create family memories worth repeating" in 2018 and beyond.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Scott And Carol Present - A Stone Mountain Christmas!

Stone Mountain Park, in the city of the same name, takes on a whole new look for the Christmas. Lots of lights, new activities, and new shows abound for the Holiday Season. It is easy to see why it has become Atlanta's most heartwarming celebration.

The Singalong Christmas Train offers a 5 mile trip around the park, and with a pause in the journey, the telling of The Gift story has become a family tradition.

The first time we watched the improv version of A Christmas Carol, we knew we would be back to see it again. Trying to count how many different ways they mispronounce Bob Cratchit's last name make this a must-see show.

With only four characters, plus one chosen from the audience, they portray eleven adults, four ghosts, and Tiny Tim in a not so serious take on this Charles Dickens's classic. If you want a chance at being chosen, get there early and sit in the front row.

Much license is taken with the appearance of the characters, with costume changes on the fly, and the combination of character traits amongst the living and spirit world characters result in copious amounts of laughter for all ages

The Littlest Christmas Tree show carries both a great message and also some nice songs for children. With the last Christmas tree on the lot feeling sorry for itself by being passed over,

Nutty the Squirrel, Betty the Bunny, and Sammy the Skunk help the littlest Christmas tree find out that it has something to offer to the right family.

Here the littlest Christmas tree sings a sad tale of not feeling being able to light up her lights.

The whole gang sings a "cheer up" to the little tree ...  

and she realizes there is a special place for her and she begins to glow!

A 3-D projection decorated tree sits in the middle of the Crossroads. something new for 2017.

Of course, the Snow Angel makes her appearance to help light the tree and in the parade.

But her big number is the Snowfall Finale, when she enlists believes young and young at heart, help make snow fall on the walkways of Stone Mountain. Soaring above the crowd, the junior Snow Angels help make Christmas wishes come true.

The Christmas Parade was a big hit, with park guests lining both sides of the street to see various lit up floats, including the very popular I heart Santa float.

Also, the Nutcracker Express, driven by a very qualified engineer 

And, we all know when Santa arrives, in this case with Mrs Claus, the parade is ending. 

With lights and music, sledding after dark is fun for the whole family. Snow Mountain makes it happen with slides large and small.

Evidently, the Snow angel has been hard at work because there is lots of extra snow available for everyone to enjoy all day long.

The tree at the top of Stone Mountain can be seen for miles!

The Wonderland Walkway features lights synchronized to music, featuring your Christmas classics.

The Skylights Spectacular lets you walk through the display, with many thousands of lights, some projections, and the occasional snowfall.

If you follow the Wonderland Walkway to  Snow Angel Palace, you can be part of the experience of the A Wish For Snow show. If you hang around afterwards, you can meet Angelina, the Snow Angel herself.

As you wander the park, you see how beautiful the lights are, with the architecture and trees all accented. Christmas Carols in the air, yummy snacks and hot chocolate available.

Our thanks to the wonderful folks at Stone Mountain Park for their holiday hospitality. And, Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Friday, December 22, 2017

New Footage Shows Silver Dollar City's Time Traveler Testing

© Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City recently started testing their brand new spinning roller coaster, Time Traveler.  The twisted coaster features a 90 degree, 100 foot drop immediately out of the station, two launches and several inversions.  Designed by Mack Rides, Time Traveler is a massive investment for Silver Dollar City, coming in at $26 million.

This first video that was released a week ago was the very first footage of the ride testing that we've seen.  Views include the train dropping out of the station into the initial dive and heading into he start of the first inversion, but cuts off after that point.  Still, it's exciting to see that first drop in action as it is going to be a very exciting way to start the ride.
The park just released another new video, this time showing footage taken from on the ride's train.  Since Time Traveler is a spinning roller coaster, this is our first taste of seeing how the experience will be.  The spinning in these shots does not look too intense, which may come as a relief to some.  The ride looks like it's moving pretty quickly, taking on the layout's quick transitions with ease.

To learn more and keep up to date with the ride, check out Silver Dollar City's official website.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kings Dominion Nearly Done with Twisted Timbers Track Installation

© Kings Dominion
Just in time for the holiday break, Kings Dominion is reporting on a new blog post that they are nearly done with track installation on Twisted Timbers, the park's new Rocky Mountain Construction hybrid roller coaster.

Seen above, the park also shared a beautiful aerial photo of Twisted Timbers after a recent snowfall, showing off how gorgeous the coaster looks!  You can also get a really nice look at the mostly completed layout, with much of the ride keeping a low to the ground profile filled with air-time hills.

© Kings Dominion
One of the last elements that was constructed, according to the blog post, was the overbank turn that takes place right after the first drop.  The original Hurler turn was highly banked but level with the ground, however Twisted Timbers has taken the turn and elevated it, adding some crazy banking into the mix.  The post features several shots of the turn going up, including the one above.

The park also reports that the final four pieces of track, the last of which was signed by employees of the park in celebration, will be put in place in the new year - marking the end of the ride's main construction.  Next up will be electrical work, along with a focus on the queue, station and other theming elements.  Can't wait to see testing when it begins as well!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wild Adventures Gets Buggy in 2018 with Mega Bugs! Expansion

© Wild Adventures
If you're afraid of bugs you may be a bit apprehensive about visiting Wild Adventures' new-for-2018 addition, a giant immersive and interactive area featuring larger than life bugs.  There will be a total of 70 new exhibits within Mega Bugs! Adventure Encounters, allowing guests to stroll through the area and learn about insects as they go.

“We are always working to make our guest experiences bigger and better, and in 2017 we expanded our waterpark with Ohana Bay,” said Molly Deese, Vice President and General Manager. “Now, in 2018, we are excited to announce the addition of a new themed area.”

Visitors will find the exhibition at Wild Adventures for only the 2018 season, running as a limited engagement.  The winding paths will encourage visitors to "crawl like a spider, fly like a bee and dig like an ant as they interact with colossal crawlers."

Some notable additions within Mega Bugs!  include:

• a 15 foot tall Emperor Dragonfly
• a 26 foot tall Hissing Cockroach
• a 50 foot tall Madagascan Fire Millipede
• plenty of other critters such as bees, butterflies and ladybugs

Set to be ready for Wild Adventures' opening date of March 10th, 2018, Mega Bugs! will also feature educational displays that highlight the insects' special features, such as their unique sounds and movements.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company Names New Chief Operating Officer

© Attractions Management
Ahead of the upcoming transition of Cedar Fair's Richard Zimmermann into the CEO position, the company has announced Tim Fisher will replace him as their new Chief Operating Officer.  Mr. Fisher will take on the COO role on the 1st of January, 2018, when current CEO Matt Ouimet transitions into a position on the company's board of directors, and Mr. Zimmermann officially becomes CEO.

Mr. Fisher is coming to the company from Village Roadshow Theme Parks, which owns and operates parks and attractions in Australia and around the world, where he was most recently made the CEO of the company.  During his time at Village Roadshow their theme parks achieved record attendance, revenue and EBITDA, according to Cedar Fair's press release.  The photo featured here is from this profile on Mr. Fisher, done by Attractions Management several years ago.

He is also very familiar with the U.S. theme park market, having served decades working in it and eventually becoming executive vice president of Paramount Parks, which Cedar Fair ended up purchasing.  To that end, Mr. Fisher is a natural fit having already managed half of Cedar Fair's existing portfolio years ago, understanding the parks and their markets.  He would then also already have a working relationship with Cedar Fair's new CEO, Mr. Zimmermann, as he worked as a Paramount Parks executive as well.

"Tim is the right person at the right time to enhance the strength of our management team," said Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's president and incoming chief executive officer. "We are making significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent to our parks. Tim's significant industry experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of our parks and target markets, will deepen our management team and help us fully capitalize on all of our park-level initiatives."

With a change in leadership well underway, Cedar Fair is looking toward the future and appears to have its eye on growth.  It's not a coincidence that the company choose to include the above quote about making "significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent" to their parks... sounds like there are some big plans in the works for the company.  I, like most, cannot wait to see what is in store.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Major Construction Progress Made for HangTime at Knott's Berry Farm

© Knott's Berry Farm
Knott's is continuing to unwrap a most wonderful present as they construct their new "dive coaster," HangTime.  The park's webcams give a nice update of the action going on, such as the top of the 150 foot vertical lift hill that can be seen above.  Recently track was added to the very top of the climb, and also on the holding brake.  That's the point where riders sit and stare down at 60 degrees before being released and plunging down the beyond-vertical drop.

Also, if you look over on the right side of the photo you can see some new HangTime track sticking up near Xcelerator, that's gone up in the past week or so as well.

© Knott's Berry Farm
This second view (I beg the park to adjust the camera up and to the right slightly!) shows more of the ride that has been installed.  After the first drop the trains move through a giant twisted pretzel element, and about half of that is already standing.  There are also pieces to the entrance and exit of the cobra roll, which is in the middle of the layout, in place as well.  Though, it is understandably hard to discern what is what in this image.  To that end, this update from California Coaster Kings shows off the ride's progress as of last week and is worth checking out!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Dorney Park to Remove Stinger Roller Coaster

© NewsPlusNotes
Dorney Park is featuring a new Blog post that covers many off-season happenings at the amusement and water park, including the construction of an all new restaurant (Tidal Wave Cafe), track refurbishment on Thunderhawk, new food options at the park for next year, the hiring of a brand new executive chef, the addition of additional Coke Refresh stations and the removal of the Stinger roller coaster.

Wait, what was that last thing?!  At the bottom of the blog post, the park drops a bomb that Stinger will be removed:

"Finally, from time to time we have to move things around or even remove them completely in order to look to the future.  Stinger, which came to us from our sister park California's Great America in 2012, will be removed to make room for future planning opportunities. We don’t have details to share right now, but we are working on future planning and development of the park."

The coaster, which had some occasional downtime issues over the years, was built at the park for the 2012 season.  Here's our original story on the opening of the ride, if you want to get reacquainted.  It was moved to the park from California, where it first opened at California's Great America in 1998 - meaning it had 13 seasons there, and 6 at Dorney Park.

The ride is a Vekoma Invertigo, one of only a handful to have been built around the world.  It mimics the layout of a traditional Boomerang coaster, but features inverted trains that seat riders face-to-face.  Standing 130 feet tall, the train moves forward and backward through a total of six inversions during the ride's course hitting a top speed of 50 miles per hour. 

© Google
Focusing on the park's description that the ride is being removed for "future planning opportunities," let's take a look at Stinger's home in the park.  Sitting generally where Laser (another coaster) once sat, it resides at the far end of the bottom of the park.  Beyond it is a set of Larson Flying Scooters (which are confirmed to be open in 2018) that were added a few years back, restrooms, and old picnic groves that contain a haunted house for Haunt.

Now, I could start to outline the areas on this map for development, but to get to the point fast - if the entire area was cleared out there would be a pretty large area that could be used for multiple purposes.  Is a new section of amusement park needed?  Or does a cabin resort make more sense?  What about a second entrance that's closer to the overflow parking lots?  My mind races, imagining what could come.

For now, we can be sure that Stinger will be removed before the start of the 2018 season, and that we have a new project of some sort to look forward to!

© NewsPlusNotes

Disney Buys Fox - What Does it Mean for the Parks?

© Disney

This week the Walt Disney Company announced that it is purchasing 21st Century Fox, commonly just known as a collective 'Fox', for $52.4 billion in Disney stock.  The massive purchase isn't the first time that the mouse has purchased another large company, with past buys including Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, ESPN, Lucasfilm and ABC, but it is one of its largest cost-wise.

By purchasing Fox, Disney is going to gain another round of media outlets, televisions networks, popular franchises and more.  There's a ton to pick through in a deal of this size, but since we focus on parks and rides here, I've been wondering mostly how it will affect Disney's network of parks and resorts.

First, the deal means that current Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger will stay on board until 2021, extending his contract by several years.  To some degree, that means that the parks will see stability in the overall picture of the company since the big leadership picture remains the same.

© Disney
Along with the deal comes new movie studios including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000, known for films such as X-Men, Fantastic 4, Deadpool, Ice Age and Avatar.  Obviously one of those was already licensed for a Disney theme park, Avatar, and the main press release for the sale does point that out.  However, the idea of additional Avatar lands opening seems slim, at least in my opinion, and Ice Age, while popular, seems useless when the Pixar catalogue exists.

It does allow several Marvel characters to reconnect with that brand's other characters, already owned by Disney, which is a benefit as Disney continues to roll out attractions based on the Marvel universe.  Not sure we'll see a Deadpool ride any time soon, though.

It also gets them franchises like the Simpsons, American Horror Story, Empire and Modern Family.  The Simpsons already live in Universal Parks, which also now partners with Horror Story for Halloween, and most other shows listed make no sense for the parks at all.

And really... that's it that seems to even be worth noting with regard to the theme parks.  The purchase seems aimed more at connecting and distributing media content, such as Disney now owning 60% of Hulu and having more ways to get their content to consumers than ever before.