Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's New At Six Flags Over Georgia?

I love all the teasing that parks are doing these days with new attraction announcements! Six Flags Over Georgia has stepped up and started releasing small images that are all hints to their new for 2011 attraction.

The images, which are being posted on their Facebook page, have been some flames, what looks like coaster supports, and a photo of coaster track. Now obviously that would lead us to believe the park is adding a roller coaster next year!

I'm not sure when the full announcement is, so we'll just enjoy the clues until then.

The Blue Streak May Open This Weekend

Conneaut Lake Park's Blue Streak may make its triumphant return as soon as this weekend, if all goes well. This is according to an official update on Conneaut's Facebook page. It sounds like it is not set in stone just yet, but there's hope.

The park plans to charge $3 per ride if it is able to open, but that will be outside of the unlimited wrist-band option. I would think the park would take funds generated from running the ride and reinvest them toward its future.

Today is also the last day to vote for the ride in the Pepsi Refresh challenge. The ride is still in 1st place, but it can't hurt to vote one last time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Look Back At MGM Grand Adventures Part 6

Editor's note: This is the 6th part of a series looking back at the park. Don't miss Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, and Part 5.

Summer is winding down, and after traveling and covering the news of a very busy industry I've finally found time to continue my series on the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park. When we left off we had just finished looking at Tumbleweed Gulch, and we now move onto New Orleans Street.

© Mike Brister

New Orleans Street contained two shows and one premier ride, and was one of the larger themed areas of MGM Grand Adventures. Like most areas the theming was well done, above we see a steam train that was located in the area that was just for show.

© Mike Brister

The Cotton Blossom was a larger riverboat that was parked on the central lagoon that bordered New Orleans Street. Originally the restaurant featured "authentic New Orleans-style food served in the ambiance of the French Quarter." The restaurant lasted until the Sky Screamer was added, at which point it was torn down to make room for the thrill ride.

© Mike Brister

The Magic Screen Theatre sat prominently along New Orleans Street, and featured some very unique entertainment. When the park opened, two different shows shared the venue, Kaleidoscope (a black light magic show) and The Three Stooges (comedy act featuring Stooge look-alikes as well as old video clips of the trio).

The Kaleidoscope show seems like it was a rather interesting combination of different performance techniques. An official description read: "Kaleidoscope is a rousing musical revue that combines black lights, special effects, film and live performance to create a 25 minute extravaganza of high-tech fun." It sounds like it really had a little bit of everything!

© Mike Brister

The Kaleidoscope actually show should be credited with the creation of this series of articles. It's how I ended up being contacted about the park by Mr. Brister! Above are three photos of the show and its props. Notice that King Louie made an appearance during the show.

I'm unsure exactly how long Kaleidoscope and The Three Stooges played at the Magic Screen Theatre, but when I visited in 1997 a Beatles tribute band and a magic show featuring Hans Moretti were playing.

New Orleans Street's only ride was the Grand Canyon Rapids, an attraction that would have fit better in the Western themed area. I'm only okay with maps, but I'm pretty sure New Orleans and the Grand Canyon are pretty far apart.

Regardless, the ride stretched for at least half the length of park, taking up a great deal of the left side of MGM Grand Adventures. Whether or not the thematic setting was correct, the entrance for the ride was to the left of the Magic Screen Theatre, set well within the boundaries of New Orleans Street.

At the core Grand Canyon Rapids was a river rapids ride, provided by Intamin. The rafts each sat 9 riders, but I think that would have been quite a tight fit. Naturally there was plenty of interaction with the water, but you certainly didn't come off the ride soaking wet. It was a long river adventure through the Wild West, and featured very rich theming along the way.

The theming of the attraction was done by R&R Creative Amusement Designs, who also designed the Backlot River Tour. Above are two of the company's concepts for different scenes along Grand Canyon Rapids.

© Mike Brister

And here is a photo that shows a section of the completed attraction, representing part of the first concept drawing above. This was really the only section of the ride that you could clearly see from the midways, as the rest of the ride's path ran behind several buildings and along the park's border.

© Mike Brister

The ending of Grand Canyon Rapids was especially fun. The rafts entered a blasting tunnel that featured an awful lot of dynamite. It was a really explosive finish! When the smoke cleared the rafts came out of the tunnel in the photo above.

These screen caps are from a video that R&R Creative has on their website. To get a better idea of the scenes here's the official description.

"Race along swirling white water rapids in a nine seat inner tubes without tracks! Brave rafters will be whisked away on the wild currents of Wilderness Rapids. Churn through the dangerous foaming water of Flash Flood Gulch. Take cover, there's a gun fight up ahead. Shoot 'em up and shoot on down between towering Canyon Cliffs and the Lost Caverns. Say howdy to Dynamite Sam then hold tight as you explode out of the Blasting Tunnel."

Bing still has an aerial of the attraction loaded on its website, which is a really nice treat. Granted the entire station and ride hardware looks to have been ripped out, but the layout and theming is still there. The station was on the right where the circular path is, followed by the lift hill. After meandering through the trees for a bit the rafts encountered the flooded town, and the first indoor section with the gun fight.

 © Mark de Jong

After that it was into the high canyon walls, and then into two different indoor sections, the caverns and the dynamite finale.

MGM Grand Adventures also featured a large comedic stunt show, named Dueling Pirates. I'm including the show in the New Orleans section, but really it straddled three themed areas and I'm not sure exactly which one was its official home.

The show took place in the 950 seat Pirate's Cove Theatre, which was not fully enclosed but did feature covered seating.

The show's plot focused on Jake the First Mate as he battles to free the princess from the 'bad guy' pirates. Naturally, there was a lot of jokes included with the stunts.

© Mike Brister

© Mike Brister

© Mark de Jong

The stage for the show featured this large ship with a castle type background. The actors used the entire set for the various high-flying stunts. The show was quite good as far as stunt shows go, and if you'd like to see the production there is a video of it available on YouTube.

There is now only one themed area of MGM Grand Adventures left that we haven't taken a look at, and that's Olde England Street. Tucked below New Orleans Street, Olde England served to connect that side of the park with the New York section, completing the "loop."

© Mike Brister

The photo above shows pretty much the entire Olde England Street. There were no rides or attractions in the area, just a Burger King and one retail outlet, named Behind The Scenes Craft Company.

Now that we've come full circle in checking out the park, all that's left is the depressing part of the many changes the park experienced in its last years, and finally its removal. That'll be our last section - coming soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dorney Park Update 8.28.10

Took a nice stroll around Dorney Park yesterday afternoon - I was quite surprised by how very crowded it was so "late" in the season. But that's good news for the park!

The promotion of the 2010 Haunt is in full swing at the park. There are banners for most of the Haunts near where they will be located. This year Psycho Circus will be friendly during the daytime for kids. But then psycho and scary at night.

Terror Square appears to be going in the area next to Demon Drop - I have NO idea how they will make this happen considering Demon Drop was built on top of the midways they used.

The big deal this year, and I really mean big, is the Mansion House Hotel. This new haunted hotel is well under construction already.

Here is what I mean. A lot of the facade is already up, clearly showing the start of a spooky looking structure.

They're even going as far as creating the facade so that it goes around the side of the building, a very nice touch!

On the back side you can see that plenty of construction is going on again to fill in between the two groves. This place is going to be HUGE. Both of these groves, as well as the space they are building in between will be for one Haunt. I cannot wait for Mansion House Hotel. As they have on the official website if you're looking to book a stay at the Hotel you can call 610-391-7670! Really, do it!

Not much else is going on at the park that's different or new, the employees must be happy the season is winding down and fall is just around the corner. I've been taking a lot of photos of Camp Snoopy to use as "before" shots.

Here's one last photo - a close up of the new section that will be a part of Planet Snoopy. All the new rides and attractions will be contained in this half of Planet Snoopy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekly Rewind 8.28.10

Wow, the last Weekly Rewind of August already... why do the Summers always fly by so fast? It would be nice if we could just hit pause every once and again!

Since being announced, the details of Six Flags Dubailand have remained a mystery. The design group behind the park is currently showcasing a slew of concept art they've created for the property. You can view them all on the Goddard Group's Facebook page. The concepts look fantastic... now we just need to hope the place gets built.

It won't be long now... less and less of the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Great Adventure is still standing. Head to Great Adventure History for this week's photos.

If you missed the first airing of Joel Manby, President and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, on the hit show Undercover Boss then Sunday August 29th is your chance to see it. The episode featuring the leader of the famous chain of theme parks and other entertainment will air at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Universal Orlando has done their full reveal of this year's Halloween Horror Nights XX. The 20th anniversary of the event promises to be one of the best ever. The event will be hosted this year by Fear itself.. of course embodied in a scary physical form.

With only a couple days left in the month, now is the time to get in your last votes for the Conneaut Lake Park Blue Streak in this month's Pepsi Refresh Everything. I'm happy to report that the ride currently sits in the number one spot - but let's not count our chickens before they hatch. Vote here.

Cedar Fair doesn't seem too upset by Funtime's threats to sue them for adding the WindSeeker ride by Mondial. This article points out that Cedar Fair has a clause in their contract with all ride manufacturers that prevents them from being involved in patent disputes.

A local police officer will attempt to ride the Whizzer for 11 consecutive hours tomorrow at Six Flags Great America. The event is set to raise funds that will benefit Special Olympics Illinois. Young athletes will also demonstrate the skills including soccer and basketball as part of the event.

No good news for Ghost Town in The Sky and Freestyle Music Park. Both have had foreclosure suits filed against them. If things proceed without interruption, Ghost Town could be auctioned as early as October. Things are no better for Freestyle, as the park's board recently resigned and officials seem to have finally given up on finding a buyer.

For the third consecutive year the Budweiser Clydesdales will be at Cedar Point on August 29th. The eight horse team will take part in a parade along the Main Midway starting at 2 p.m., and will also be on display later in the day.

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park will celebrate the famous wheel's 90th Birthday on September 4th. The ride has had over 30 million riders since its debut in 1920 - and boasts a perfect safety record, according to the park. The event will feature live entertainment, clowns, face painters, stilt walkers, and more.

Here are some more details on Quassy Amusement Park's contest to have a local elementary or middle school class pick the name of their new wooden coaster. The park recently started assembling the wood structure for the ride on the ground, which means vertical work can't be far off.

Remember those coaster pieces that were spotted at Lagoon this past Spring? Perhaps we'll see them come to life next year. The park has had an somewhat decent year, and when asked about adding something new the park pointed out that they rarely do not add a new ride. After taking this year off, perhaps we'll see them build something big next year?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Big Dipper Is For Sale On eBay

The Big Dipper, still standing at the former site of Geauga Lake Amusement Park, can now be yours for a starting bid of just $9,500 via this eBay auction. The coaster has been for sale for some time, but there has not been much movement as far as legitimate interest goes.

There have been many chapters in the ride's story since the park closed, and this is just the latest one. It does, however, open the door to a possible buyer for the ride who would have no intention of moving/rebuilding it. I would think if someone was really interested in getting the ride back up and running the gears would have already been in motion at this point - we're nearly three years out since the park closed.

You can be sure I'll watch the auction to see if anyone bids, though.

Carowinds Announces Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular for 2011

Riding high on the heels of the successful debut of Intimidator, Carowinds has announced a family friendly addition for 2011: Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular. Similar to the experiences presented at several other Cedar Fair parks, the million dollar light show will leave guests in awe at one and a half million twinkling lights.

Located from the County Fair area to the entrance to Planet Snoopy, the Starlight Spectacular will also allow the park to stay open until 10 p.m. on summer evenings. The light show will also feature special effects, high tech lighting, and static displays - all set to a unique soundtrack.

For more information, check out the Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular page on Carowinds' website.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Blast From The Past - The Beginning of a New Millennium (Force)

In May 2000, Cedar Point proudly unveiled what was then largest project in park history, Millennium Force. Standing 310-feet tall Millennium Force was expected to test the adrenaline levels of the most daring coaster junkies. While we were unable to attend the media event, we did use a connection to attend the AAA of Ohio day on May 7th. The following is our report, which appeared in our local paper on May 21st 2000.

Coaster enthusiasts have waited and speculated for years as to whether the 300 foot barrier would ever even be broken. As recently as last June Ron Toomer, retired designer of the Magnum XL-200, said to enthusiasts gathered at Cedar Point that he knew of no coasters being designed that would surpass this milestone. Either you wouldn't want to play poker with him, or he is out of touch since retirement. But, speculation grew in the enthusiast community after Cedar Point scheduled a press conference for July 22, 1999.

Everyone knew something new was going in because the train tracks had been moved away from the woods. But, what was it going to be? At 10AM Cedar Point announced the world's first continuous circuit roller coaster that would top 300 feet. The Internet went crazy with the news. Copies of the press release appeared on other websites before Cedar Point put it on its own With the installation of the web cam, everything was in place for the much heralded breakthrough roller coaster. Cedar Point does not call itself "America's Roller Coast “without good reason.

Monty Jasper, the construction superintendent for Millennium Force, started a diary on the Cedar Point Web site to cut down on the number of phone calls. He described the construction process and made sure there were new pictures available on a regular basis. In an interview he stated that the trains travel up the lift hill at 23 feet per second and that the time to climb the hill is actually less than the climb up the top of Magnum. This allows less time for riders to get overly apprehensive and lets more people ride every hour. While this will help with the line, don't expect it to be short.

May 11th, there were approximately 800 people at Cedar Point for the media event. According to Bryan Edwards of Cedar Point, press from Japan, London and Germany were in attendance, as well as the entire United States and Canada. Everyone who wanted a ride, received one, and many pictures were taken. First public rides were auctioned off to raise money for the local Red Cross for opening day. Anticipation was high, but the ride delivered.

It takes less than 30 seconds to climb to the top, and the view is spectacular. People had long said that on a clear day on Magnum you could see Canada, now you can see farther away than that! The coaster dominates the Cedar Point skyline, and is more impressive at night with the colored lights.

The first drop is at a 90 degree angle, and quickly accelerates you to 92 MPH. You pull up into a high, over banked turn and dive down for a speed run close to the ground. You turn left and enter a tunnel over Frontier Trail, cross the lagoon with the third hill, only 17 feet shorter than Magnum's first drop and do a fast figure eight before crossing back for a high speed run past the station, before entering the final brake run.

The hills over the water offer excellent air time. All the turns are very comfortable, very fast and very, very fun. Because the coaster does not have any inversions, over the shoulder restraints are not required and this makes the coaster extremely comfortable.

Cedar Point is now open weekends and opens daily Memorial Day weekend. The official web site is www.cedarpoint.com

So, there you have it and first impressions of Millennium Force, by the way it was Scott's first ever by-line and my first official photo credit. Check back next Thursday for part three of the Millennium Force saga.