Wednesday, August 16, 2017

California's Great America to Forge a New Path in 2018 with Railblazer Roller Coaster



Opening at California's Great America in 2018, Railblazer will be a innovative new single-rail coaster design that features a thin track and single-seat cars.  Designed by Rocky Mountain Construction, Railblazer will be the first coaster of its kind on the West coast, and only one of two in the world in 2018.

The ride's inline cars create an "extremely low center of gravity that amplifies every move and enables more dynamic turns and rotations than have ever been possible on a coaster."  The cars are in constant contact with the track, giving an extremely smooth ride with unobstructed views for passengers.

© California's Great America
Railblazer will feature tan supports and a burnt orange track that is set among rustic theming.  According to California's Great America, the "design spirit of the ride is reflective of an off-road adventure, with immersive sensory theming that embraces the great outdoors of the Bay Area and Central Coast."  As seen in the concept art released today, the ride will feature elaborate rockwork and be set partially over water as well.

© California's Great America
Riders will enter single seat, eight passenger cars (three trains in total) to start their journey on Railblazer.  After heading up a 45 degree lift hill to a height of 106 feet, the trains encounter a 180 degree turn then a 90 degree first drop with a maximum speed of 52 miles per hour.  The total track length of Railblazer is 1,800 feet.

© California's Great America
Elements on the journey include a total of three inversions - a large dive loop, a 180 degree stall, and a zero-gravity roll.  Other elements include a first drop that plunges into a rocky tunnel, an off-axis air-time hill, upward helix climb, and plenty of tight curves and drops.

“RailBlazer is a revolutionary roller coaster concept that will be an intense and exhilarating ride experience for our guests,” said Raul Rehnborg, vice president and general manager, California’s Great America. “In addition, it marks the company’s initial investment in the park following the City of Santa Clara’s approval this year of the new park master plan, and kicks off a multi-year transformation of California’s Great America into a world-class destination for everyone in the Bay Area and beyond.”

As with all the other announcements today, Railblazer's also included animation of the ride experience, embedded here.  With the approval of recent zoning changes for California's Great America, this ride should mark the start of a great expansion period for the park.  Exciting times ahead!


Twisted Timbers Hybrid Coaster + Winterfest Opening at Kings Dominion in 2018




Taking over the Candy Apple Grove section of Kings Dominion in 2018 is Twisted Timbers, a reincarnation of the Hurler wooden coaster that features track elements, including inversions, unlike anything the previous ride could provide.

Designed by Rocky Mountain Construction, this will be the second hybrid roller coaster opening at a Cedar Fair park in 2018.  Twisted Timbers will utilize some of Hurler's former wooden supports, but all new steel running rails will create a most twisted ride experience.

© Kings Dominion
The coaster is themed around an abandoned apple orchard that was closed years ago when a mysterious force ruined most of the season's harvest.  The ride explores those forces as passengers enter the orchard on a daring and thrilling journey.

Twisted Timbers will start with a climb up the lift, followed by a turn into a 109 foot barrel roll first drop which completely inverts riders on the way down.  From there the layout will be action packed and feature 3,351 feet of track with a top speed of 54 miles per hour.

© Kings Dominion
With much of the ride's layout remaining close to the ground, Twisted Timbers will feature a large amount of air-time hills.  From the start of the ride to the finish, there will be 20 different moments of air-time for riders to encounter.  The steel track will also allow the ride's turns to feature extreme banking, and three of them will actually be overbanked turns at more than 90 degrees.

© Kings Dominion
Including the first barrel roll drop, the ride will have three full inversions in all.  There will be a inverted stall element at the far end of the course, and also a heartline roll as well.  The above image also shows that the coaster's trains will made to look like an antique truck, a part of the deserted orchard theme.

This animated preview of the ride was released as a part of today's big announcement, giving a preview of what's to come on Twisted Timbers.  The ride will generally follow the same path as Hurler did, though all the elements are new and take full advantage of what the steel track offers.

Kings Dominion had one more surprise announcement today, and that was that Winterfest will begin at the park starting at the end of 2018.

© Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion will be decked out in its holiday finest for Winterfest, "an immersive holiday experience in which the park will be transformed into a winter wonderland complete with uniquely themed areas, multitudes of Christmas trees, millions of lights, ice-skating, entertainment, food, crafts and hands-on activities."  Features of Winterfest will include a nightly tree lighting ceremony, the transformation of the park’s fountain on International Street into Snowflake Lake, an area where guests can enjoy ice skating in the shadow of the iconic Eiffel Tower and the tower itself will be converted into a 300-foot Christmas tree complete with a state-of-the-art light show as snow falls over the midway.

Visitors will also find special holiday themed live entertainment in more than a dozen shows, special holiday shopping areas and specially themed food treats.  Best of all, weather permitting, many of the park's rides and attractions will be open.

“2018 is going to be an amazing year for our guests,” said Gary Chadwick, vice president and general manager, Kings Dominion. “Twisted Timbers raises the bar for Kings Dominion’s high thrill level, and adrenaline junkies everywhere will crave experiencing its astonishing twists and revolutions over and over again. This, added to the immersive Winterfest seasonal event, will let our guests experience the park in an entirely different way, creating new family traditions. These investments demonstrate our continued commitment to position Kings Dominion as a dynamic world class destination.”


Dorney Park Plans New Pre-K Pass, New Restaurant in 2018



Today Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom announced their plans to add a new type of season pass, along with a new high-capacity restaurant in Wildwater Kingdom for the park's 2018 season.

Known as the Pre-K Pass, the park will offer a brand new season pass to children between the ages of three and five at no cost, yes, free!  Guardians must register their child online through the park's website, and as a bonus the 2018 pass will be valid for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Dorney Park vice president and general manager Mike Fehnel said, “We’re introducing the Pre-K Pass to help families with young children more easily and affordably enjoy everything that Dorney Park has to offer, in a way that considers the unique needs of this age group. The Pre-K Pass allows parents to save money as the entire family experiences not only the kid’s rides in Planet Snoopy™ but also roller coasters, thrill rides, shows and our fantastic water park.”

© Dorney Park

Dorney Park will also build a brand new, high-capacity modern dining facility within Wildwater Kingdom in 2018.   Known as Tidal Wave Cafe, the eatery will be based off of successful designs already implemented at other Cedar Fair parks in recent years, and also contain a Coca Cola Refresh station as well.  The building's design, seen above, is meant to allow a large number of guests to select their food from a cafeteria-style setting before paying and exiting.

Tidal Wave Cafe will feature dishes that are a part of the park's meal plans, which is quickly growing in popularity with park guests.  Menu items include hand-battered fried shrimp and chicken tenders, along with rotisserie chicken, delicious macaroni and cheese, and house-smoke pulled pork cooked in a brand new smoker.

© Google Maps
Tidal Wave Cafe is part of a multi-million dollar renovation of one part of Wildwater Kingdom.  In order for the modern and aesthetically appealing building to go up, two older food locations will be removed.  They are within the pink box in the aerial image above, and are Mariner's Munchies and the Rita's Italian Ice stand to the left of it.

Tidal Wave Cafe will also feature an expanded outdoor dining area where the red umbrellas are above - a portion of the berm next to the lazy river will be removed in order to expand seating.  The covered seating area in the upper left of the aerial, added in the water park's last major renovation, will also be slightly modified to accommodate both the new restaurant and seating areas.


Record Breaking New Coaster - Time Traveler - Opening at Silver Dollar City in 2018



In 2018 guests of Silver Dollar City will find a brand new attraction, named Time Traveler, that will be the world's fastest, steepest and tallest complete circuit spinning roller coaster.  The park has teased fans for months, and today revealed all the twisted details of the massive ride.  Custom designed for the theme park by Mack Rides, Time Traveler will feature magnetically controlled spinning vehicles that traverse 3,020 feet of track set in the mountainous terrain of Silver Dollar City.

The project is the largest in the history of the park, coming in at $26 million.

© Silver Dollar City
This schematic covers all of Time Traveler's major features, which are numerous.  The ride's station sits at the top of a large ravine, and is themed as the workshop of "a young scientist, inventor and clockmaker by trade, Charles Henry."  Mr. Henry is obsessed with the works of Jules Verne, and dreams of creating a machine that can defy time.  He has created a prototype machine that he is inviting residents of Silver Dollar City to try out, known as the Time Traveler.

© Silver Dollar City
The coaster starts after passengers board one of three, sixteen passenger trains.  Immediately out of the station, and seen above, the trains plummet down 100 feet at 90 degrees, reaching a maximum speed of 50.3 miles per hour.  The trains then navigate a dive loop - one of three inversions on the ride.

After some ground-hugging maneuvers, riders hit the first of two LMS launches, this one speeds the trains up to 47 miles per hour in only 3 seconds.

© Silver Dollar City
The launch sends the trains up and over a large turn, then down into a 95 foot tall vertical loop, the first of its kind on a spinning roller coaster.  Upon existing the loop the trains soar through a descending helix and into a zero-g roll, then blast into the second LMS launch, this time going from 30 to 45 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds.  The ride ends with a giant wave turn before trains make their way to the final brakes.  The twisted nature of the ride will see it cross over itself a total of 14 times from start to finish.

“This coaster’s state-of-the-art controlled spin feature provides riders a unique thrill experience while still appealing to families,” said Brad Thomas, President of Silver Dollar City Attractions. “Since Silver Dollar City’s opening day in 1960, guests have taken a journey back in time with unique and world- class experiences. We strive daily to continue that tradition through our rides, our festivals, our crafts and our food. That pursuit continues in 2018 with Time Traveler - a Revolutionary Coaster Ahead of Our Time.”
The park's animation of Time Traveler shows both on-ride and off-ride footage that covers the layout from start to finish.

© Silver Dollar City
© Silver Dollar City
Time Traveler has been under construction for some time now, and just recently Silver Dollar City started to install both track and supports for the coaster.  As a part of the announcement some photos of the current work were released, two of which are seen above.  The ride looks amazing so far, tucked away within the wooded terrain of the park.

Time Traveler will feature a 51 inch height requirement with individual lap bar restraints when it opened in Spring, 2018.


Cedar Point Announces Steel Vengeance - the World's Tallest, Longest and Fastest Hybrid Roller Coaster



The announcement that Cedar Point fans have been waiting more than a year for has finally happened, Steel Vengeance will forever change the park's Frontier Town when it opens in 2018.

The highly anticipated transformation of Mean Streak into a Rocky Mountain Construction designed hybrid roller coaster, featuring new steel track, will dominate riders with a plethora of exciting statistics and records.

© Cedar Point
Steel Vengeance will feature larger than life features, starting with a lift hill that climbs to 205 feet above the park.  The first drop will plunge riders down at 90 degrees, true vertical, 200 feet at 74 miles per hour.  The additional height (Mean Streak stood 161 feet tall) allows Cedar Point to claim the title of first hyper hybrid roller coaster ever.  Features of the 5,740 foot long track include the "world’s fastest airtime hill ever created on a hybrid roller coaster" at 73 miles per hour, a 116 foot outwardly banked air-time hill, and a total of four inversions.  The inversions include a 450-degree barrel roll, a first-of-its-kind Twisted Snake Dive, a corked barrel roll and a zero-gravity roll.

Riders will be treated to a monumental amount of air-time while on Steel Vengeance, totaling 27.2 seconds in all - according to the park this will be the most air-time on any coaster, anywhere.

© Cedar Point
“This is another roller coaster that only Cedar Point could build – tallest, fastest and longest of its kind with four inversions and the exciting movements the hybrid design can achieve,” said Jason McClure, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “There are so many unexpected moments on Steel Vengeance, it’s just plain twisted. It’ll be an extremely wild experience for our guests.”

The coaster will utilize three trains that provide a 2 minute, 30 second ride for a total theoretical hourly capacity of 1,200 riders.  Control systems for Steel Vengeance will be provided by Irvine Ondrey Engineering, their first project at Cedar Point.

According to the park, the back story of Steel Vengeance "will be told through three new outlaws who have banded together to “unsaddle” the reign of Maverick, FrontierTown’s low-to-the-ground, double-launching roller coaster."  The outlaws include "Jackson “Blackjack” Chamberlain, Chess “Wild One” Watkins and Wyatt “Digger” Dempsey."  The park promises to reveal more about these characters as the opening of Steel Vengeance draws closer.

This birds-eye view animation of Steel Vengeance gives a nice idea of both the dominating size of the attraction, along with some of the elements previously discussed in this story.  From start to finish, this coaster promises to thrill riders with one extreme element after another.

If you're ready to take a spin on Steel Vengeance, check out this point of view animation!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Universal Announces 2017 Showing of Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventures as its Last



While we all wait for mega-new-coaster-announcement-day tomorrow, Universal Studios Florida dropped some major news on fans of Halloween Horror Nights today.  The event's uber-popular Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure show will be giving it's final performance this year, as the park shared on their Horror Nights website.

The event has quite a legion of followers, and the show itself has a significant cult following as well.  It has played at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights for 26 years, each year presenting a comical look at pop culture as Bill and Ted work to save the world from various forces of evil.  Fans are sure to want to visit this year for the finale to the duo's epic adventures.

© Universal Studios Florida
The performance has long called the theme park's Fear Factor stage as its home, with an elaborate set each year created for the show.  No firm reason was given for its retirement, though rumors suggest that a combination of an upcoming redevelopment of the Fear Factor stage along with a possible desire to move away from the "edgy" content of the show are big contributing factors.

Universal Studios Hollywood ran the show for several years before controversy over its content led to its sudden cancellation in 2013.  That park has since replaced it with Jabbawockeez, a hip hop dance crew.  Consumer tastes are a bit different on either coasts, so it remains to be seen what kind of live entertainment will join the Orlando event in the future.

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 has already announced several mazes based on popular franchises, including American Horror Story, Saw, The Shining and Ash Vs. Evil Dead.