Saturday, May 31, 2014

Silverwood Theme Park Opens New Family Rides

© Silverwood Theme Park
A duo of new family rides, along with one existing moved ride, have opened in an expanded section of Garfield's Summer Camp at Silverwood Theme Park.  Tucked along side several existing children's and family rides, the new attractions are sure to be a hit with the smaller crowd.

Above is the adorable Puppy-Go-Round, which allows an adult to ride alongside their tiny co-passenger.  The puppies are controllable so that riders get to move them up and down during the ride.

© Silverwood Theme Park
The second new ride is a small roller coaster that brings the park's official count up to six.  Named the Krazy Koaster, the figure eight layout was created by the SBF Visa Group.  It features spinning cars that actually appear to give quite a wild ride at times.  This one will make for a great transition ride before kids are ready for the big wooden coaster, or the inverting Aftershock.

The expanded area is now also home to the Kiddie Wheel, which was moved from elsewhere in the park.  The ride is a miniature Ferris wheel that will give nice views of Garfield's expanded camp.

The park recently uploaded their new commercial, which while silly is sorta fun.  Check it out below:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Snake Pit Now Open at Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom

Dorney Park VP and General Manager Michael Fehnel
Today marked the grand opening of Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom's brand new six water slide tower, Snake Pit, to the park's eager visitors.  An overcast morning suddenly turned to sunny blue skies just in time for the opening ceremonies, led by the park's Vice President and General Manager Michael Fehnel.

Snake Pit is the centerpiece of Wildwater Kingdom's renovations for 2014, part of a plan to give a total refresh to the park.  In short, it worked.  I detailed many of the changes in Wildwater Kingdom earlier this week, but they are vast and have the park looking like brand new.

The landing pool with guests coming down Boa Blasters
All the work, including the construction of Snake Pit, also took place during a rather tough off-season as Mr. Fehnel points out.  "Literally thousands of man hours went into the construction and rejuvenation of Wildwater Kingdom, many of which occurred during one of the most challenging winters we've seen here in Eastern Pennsylvania.  I can't tell you how frustrating it was to watch the teams come in here to plow snow to get up frozen dirt just so they could try to pour some foundations."  Happily for us the construction crews soldiered on and toughed it out!

The red tube on Python Plummet's drop and first twist
A water park's 30th anniversary is not something that many outside the South have celebrated yet, with Wildwater Kingdom having been one of the earlier ones in the area.  

"It was a little over thirty years ago when Robert Plarr, Jr. convinced Robert Ott Sr. and Jr. about the notion of a seasonal water park here at Dorney Park," recalls Mr. Fehnel.  "At the time, seasonal water parks simply weren't something that occurred in this area and certainly were not a business that you would get into if you were only going to be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  When you look around today and see what the water park has turned into I think you'll be surprised and think it was a low risk decision, but honestly in 1985 it truly was a gamble that could have jeopardized the entire park."

Clearly the park is a gamble that has paid off, now offering a substantial set of 28 different slides, two wave pools, several children's areas, two lazy rivers, and plenty more.

Looking out from the climb up the stairs
As the big draw for this year, Snake Pit has totally changed the lower section of Wildwater Kingdom - and all for the better.  The tower stands nearly seven stories above the catch pool below, with a coiled group of slides slithering downward from it.  There's three different slide types mixed in the attraction, each with their own signature name.

Probably the most high profile of the slides is Python Plummet, a trio of red, orange and yellow body slides.   Stretching from 337 to 449 feet in length, these are more for the thrill seeking set.

He looks nervous... I would be!
Right now one of the hottest trends in the water park industry is trap-door launch body slides.  That is exactly what Python Plummet utilizes to giver riders a heart-thumping start to their experience.  You enter a large capsule, seen above, cross your arms and legs and wait for the drop.  I was able to watch a great many take the plunge, and seeing their expression as that floor fell never got old!

First you drop, then you make some quick turns
After riders fall downward they begin to twist and turn their way down to the bottom of the slide.  It is a quick experience, but one that won't soon be forgotten.  The tubes on the upper portion of Python Plummet are slightly translucent, so whether you are waiting in line or down on the midway, you're able to see riders as they fly down the path.  It's pretty neat to see the speed differences between guests of different sizes, too - but either way Python Plummet is a zippy ride at the least.

One side of the Boa Blasters chutes
Starting from a slightly lower platform (at around 50 feet) on Snake Pit, three other slides begin their journey.  A pair of them make up the Boa Blasters, a mix of blue and teal tube slides that represent a more 'classic' approach to water slides.  Once guests grab a tube and make their way to the top they are able to choose which of the Boa Blasters courses they want to take on.

Splash!  And then right back in line.
One side of Boa Blasters is about 274 feet in length, while the other is 326 feet long.  Both feature a neat section of enclosed tube that features colored stripes that greatly enhance the sensation of speed, but the endings of the slides are quite different.  One side takes a rather large and steep drop downward right into the splash pool, while the other covers that elevation change in two drops with a slight pause in between.

Constrictor is coiled and ready to go
The third slide is named Constrictor, and features a purple and yellow color combination.  Honestly it is a bit hard to photograph as it is located under the slide towers and other attractions.  Constrictor is a tube slide that features several extremely small in diameter helices.  Basically the turns are extremely tight, making for a wild tubing experience as you make your way down.  This type of slide is another recent creation by manufacturer WhiteWater West, who created all the attractions on Snake Pit.

"With this expansion at Wildwater Kingdom, we will continue to bring a best day of the Summer experience to our guests, making us the entertainment destination of choice in Eastern Pennsylvania."  That's how Mr. Fehnel wrapped up his opening speech, and I have to say that I agree with his plan - not only in theory but also in reality.  Wildwater Kingdom looks exceptional after all the renovations, there's an exciting new slide addition, and that's on top of an existing top-notch collection of attractions.  If there were ever a year to stop by and spend a day in the sun, this is certainly it.

I'll leave you with a short video of the various slides of Snake Pit in action.  That should help hold you over until you experience them yourself!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Play The Day Away at Six Flags Over Georgia's Hurricane Harbor

The Calypso Bay wave pool
Tomorrow marks the official grand opening of the all-new Hurricane Harbor water park at Six Flags Over Georgia.  The expansion has been previewing to guests for a few days now, and represents the largest capital expansion in the theme park's history.  Hurricane Harbor is also the largest expansion at any of the chain's properties in 2014.

The new expansion covers seven acres that were previously home to a large outdoor amphitheater - and is now home to a mix of slides and pools that join the park's existing water play structure.

The hybrid Tsunami Surge
Calypso Bay is Hurricane Harbor's new wave pool, stretching over 38,000 square feet and featuring two wave machines that are capable of creating eight different patterns of ocean like waves.  Several new slides were added as well, including a first-of-its-kind hybrid named Tsunami Surge.  The ride seats four guests at a time as they swirl through a giant elevated bowl, then drop into a huge zero-gravity wave wall.

Bonzai Pipelines tube slides
On a separate slide tower the Bonzai Pipelines offer three different paths down from the 41 foot tall peak.  Two of the slides feature twisting enclosed and open air tube slides, while the third spins riders through a horizontal funnel and then drops them through the center.

Hurricane Harbor also features eleven private cabanas, a window service food stand named the Tidal Wave Cafe, and Tradewinds, a retail store offering all that guests may need for a day in the sun.  Naturally there's locker and changing facilities, along with plenty of lounge chairs for visitors to chill out in.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Busch Gardens Tampa: Falcon's Fury Further Delayed

Today Busch Gardens Tampa sent out a statement indicating it might be quite a bit longer until anyone is able to get in line for the imposing 335 foot tall Falcon's Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Pointing out that the ride "includes first-of-its kind design elements, systems and parts," the park went on to say that "due to a delay in the fabrication of key component parts, neither the manufacturer nor Busch Gardens are able to complete the lengthy testing processes needed to open the ride to the public."

Recent Falcon's Fury testing video from BGTFans

The park's release continues: "The safety of our guests and team members remains Busch Gardens’ top priority and none of these delays involve safety systems. The ride has been safely operated in the initial stages of the testing process, and all other elements of the park’s newest re-imagined land Pantopia are now open to guests."

It sounds like things may go quiet for a while at this point, with additional news about the ride only being released when necessary.  As far as the future goes, the park only mentions that they "look forward to the launch of Falcon's Fury, North America's tallest freestanding drop tower, later this summer."

The new drop tower features seats that face riders downward for the drop, quickly bring them upright at the end of the fall (see video above).  That is a brand new, first of its kind ride system, designed by Intamin - which admittedly does have a bit of a reputation for delayed openings on prototype creations.

Here's hoping the new ride components arrive quicker than expected so the park can get the ride open - this is one attraction I know we are all looking forward to!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Aerial Photos of the Wizarding Dragon + Diagon Alley

As we creep closer and closer to the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, we've all been waiting for the dragon to be placed atop the Gringotts Bank, and a few days ago it was.

The dragon looks pretty incredible, and when complete it will be capable of a lot of movement and the all-important fire breathing.  For several shots that were taken of the dragon, check out this story from Orlando Attractions Magazine.

As for the rest of the new Diagon Alley area, the final details are being put into place with an opening expected in a less than a month now.  The building are all receiving their final paint, and from photos released earlier the area's big Gringotts ride appears ready for guests.

To catch the dragon before he was hidden behind behind work scrims, Pixels at the Parks took to the skies to get a new photo update.  The results can be seen here, and also even more content from the trip can be found in the Universal Orlando tag on the site.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dorney Park's Wildwater Kingdom Opens for 30th Anniversary Season

The unofficial start of Summer?  You bet!  That's what Memorial Day Weekend is for many of us, and especially at many amusement parks across the country.  Dorney Park kicked off their Summer season this weekend by opening Wildwater Kingdom for the year - also celebrating its 30th anniversary.  The park has seen some major renovations and is looking better than it has in a long time - there's seriously changes everywhere you look!

The park has redone their cabanas, located along the side of Wildwater Cove.  The private retreats now feature all new furniture and coverings, making them the perfect place to relax throughout the day.

Also near the park's newer wave pool, the Oasis has moved in.  It needed a new home after Snake Pit was added, and it now is in a secluded area in the back of the lounge area.  It features adult beverages and plenty of places for people to recharge and rest.

Basically Wildwater Kingdom was repainted from head to toe.  If there is a building on the premises, you can bet it got an all new coat of paint - and you can also count on nice, vibrant colors.  Here are two examples - the entrance structure up top is now teal and yellow, and the changing rooms seen below have new brightly colored tops and new signage.

The locker building that went up is so huge that I couldn't even really get a nice photo of the whole thing!  The structure replaces the older one that was crammed with lockers, and now guests have ample room to get set up for their day.  The building can also be accessed from the other side (right along Talon) when the water park closes for the day.

The new lockers are keyless, and instead of waiting in a queue at a sales window plenty of these kiosks allow guests to quickly get access to their locker.  The sale transaction is completed here, along with the set up of the keyless entry system that each locker has.  A great move and also a wonderful use of modern technology.

Just down the new midway from the huge locker facility is this new open air market and seating area.  This was previously home to a weird hodgepodge of pavilions that dated back to the water park's opening.  That has totally been cleared out and the huge shade structures added, along with plenty of tables for guests who are devouring lunch.

In the center of the area is an open market, offering quick grab items for purchase.  There's plenty of beverages along with fresh fruit and other goodies.  Not only does the space function a hundred times better than before, it's also considerably easier on the eye.  If for nothing else it's a great place to sit and watch Talon head through the Immelmann!

Moving deeper into the water park you can really get a sense for how different all the existing structures look with new paint.  At the top is the park's second set of changing rooms, with all new bright paint and colors - that pink building on the end is a retail location.  The lower photo shows just some of the food outlets in the center of Wildwater Kingdom, which look great now and all the hanging and potted plants aren't even out yet.

The park's original wave pool is unchanged, having seen major renovations a number of years ago - but the lounge area in front of it is.  There's tons of new lounge chairs out (and throughout the entire park for that matter - can you imagine ordering several thousand chairs at once?) but there are also many new regular chairs as well.  This is a smart move as many folks just use lounges as a storage space, instead of for lounging, and the chairs take up less room allowing many more of them to be placed around the facility.  Small, but smart, changes like that are a theme of the water park's renovations.

Since Aqua Racer is located next to the new slides, the park wanted it to look its best this year.  The entire slide has been resurfaced/repainted - I'm not sure of the correct terminology for water slides!  Either way the slide looks like it did on the day it first opened, which is a wonderful change.

The smaller set of slides known as Jumpin' Jack Splash were able to stay at the park even though their catch pool had to be removed to make room for Snake Pit.  Happily the park decided to purchase all new run-out troughs for the slides, so now smaller kids still have a "big" slide to tackle!

And here's the cherry on top - the all new Snake Pit slide tower.  The attraction wasn't quite ready to open, but is slated to premier on May 30th.  It was great to be able to walk around and see how vastly different the lower part of Wildwater Kingdom is with the addition of Snake Pit.  The slides all feature bright colors that really add a ton of life to the area, a welcome change.

The Python Plummet slides are the highest ones, these are body slides that feature trap-door launch capsules at the top.  Riders fall down a steep drop, through a giant helix, and then snake their way downward to the run-outs seen in the foreground of this photo.

From the other side you can see the pool that was created for the end of the Constructor and Boa Blasters tube slides.  Even though there were several pools that were removed in order for this mega-project to fit, this one is brand new and was created specifically for Snake Pit.

As always, much credit goes to the park's sign shop for making another great entrance sign!  The Snake Pit logo welcomes riders to the regular line for all sets of slides.  Those who will have a Fast Lane Plus pass will enter through a totally different entrance well to the right of this photo.

The Constrictor slide is the one that's not quite finished yet - if you look close at the larger version of this image you can see that there are still several pieces still to be placed.  The Constrictor has several extremely tight helices on its course, one of which still needs to be lifted into place.

Here's a better shot of the Constrictor slide taken from the back of the tower.  It is the purple slide you can see leave the tower, heading into one tight helix - but then hitting the unfinished spot.  Several pieces can be seen on the ground waiting their turn.  I can't imagine more than a couple days will be needed to finish up the slide.

The existing food stand just across the midway from Snake Pit's entrance has been renamed Snake Bites, a fun pun of a name with a great logo!

Island Water Works, as we mentioned in our off season articles, has received work top to bottom, and all new paint as well.  What was a very faded water play structure now shines like it also is in its first year once again.

This peaceful look over Wildwater River gives just a taste of how different the lower part of Wildwater Kingdom feels.  Like I said earlier, the addition of so much color and the removal of all the awkward elevation changes has done wonders.  Guest flow will be much improved, and no longer will people head down a set of stairs and realize they went the wrong way!

One last look out at the water park with several different slide towers in view.  Wildwater Kingdom is really looking great - and it seems that there's a chance of even more work in the future!  The park is now open daily until September 1st, and Snake Pit opens this Friday!

Before we go - one other change I took notice of over in Dorney Park.  The sweetFrog frozen yogurt stand has opened on the Main Midway!

Just two weeks ago the stand was still set up from when it sold custom shirts and accessories, and now it has been enclosed and totally repurposed.  The entire front of the building has been changed to allow guests to go indoors to get their frozen yogurt, and then pile candy on top of it (if you're like me, anyway!).  That's some quick work!

We'll keep up with the park as the full Summer season rolls around!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Taumata Racer Now Open at Aquatica San Diego

© Aquatica San Diego
This Memorial Day Weekend guests at Aquatica San Diego are racing down the all-new Taumata Racer, the park's just opened mat racing water slide.

The attraction features six separate lanes of action, starting nearly sixty feet above the ground below.  Riders first head through a helix section before meeting up for the final race down the slide to the finish line below.  The bright blue, orange and lime green slides fit in perfectly with Aquatica's tropical atmosphere.

© Aquatica San Diego
Another interesting note is how the ride's first helix section has a different layout than what is usually used on Proslide's Octopus Racer slides.  Riders start facing 180 degrees from the bulk of the slide, whereas normally there is a full 360 degree helix before the downhill section.  It gives the slide an extended and almost unusual look.  Perhaps it was necessary to fit the slide into the available space?

Either way, Taumata Racer is now open and adding tons of new capacity to Aquatica San Diego, which is only in its second year of operation.  Can't wait to see what else the future may hold for the park!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Both North American Legoland Parks Celebrate New Attractions

Legoland California has opened their new water park expansion, known officially as the Lego Legends of Chima Water Park, presented by Cartoon Network to excited guests.

The highly anticipated addition builds on the resort's existing water area, bringing several new attractions along with it.  The 250,000 gallon Lion Temple Wave pool is sure to be a popular spot for families, along with the water play area known as Cragger's Swamp.  Smaller activities can also be found throughout the new grounds, including the Build-A-Boat river and the Speedorz Arena, both of which allow kids to build their own vehicles with Legos.

“Since LEGOLAND Water Park opened in 2010, our guests have been asking for more,” said Legoland California General Manager Peter Ronchetti. “This Chima Water Park has such incredible theming and so many awesome interactive features, I’m excited for our guests to experience it and expand their day here at the Resort.”

With the recently opened Legoland Hotel on property, and this new water park expansion, the resort is poised to see even more growth in the coming years.  The question is, what can they build next?

Across the country Legoland Florida has also opened a brand new attraction, named Duplo Valley.  The renovated area is dedicated to very small children, with larger than life animals and other farm themed attractions.

Duplo Valley is named after the Lego Duplo product line, which uses larger blocks for preschool kids.  The new area contains several new rides, including the Duplo Train seen above.  Parents are able to ride along with their kids, so they can experience the fun along with them.

Other additions include the Duplo Tractor ride, Duplo Splash & Play - a great area filled with all sorts of water features that is sure to keep kids happy for a long while.  The Duplo Barn, seen above, includes many play elements and features an enclosed air-conditioned setting.

“We couldn’t be more excited to officially open Duplo Valley,” said Legoland Florida General Manager Adrian Jones. “Our newest expansion gives toddlers (and parents) a completely new way to play, adding to our already fantastic lineup of more than 50 rides, shows and attractions here at Legoland Florida.”

The park has already announced that a Legoland Hotel will join the property in 2015, featuring 152 highly themed rooms and suites.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Wonder Mountain's Guardian Opens Tomorrow!

Canada's Wonderland has sent out news that Wonder Mountain's Guardian, the parks new combination of "roller coaster, 3D animation and interactive gaming" will open to guests tomorrow, Saturday May 24th.

"The journey begins with a perilous coaster climb up the side of the park’s iconic Wonder Mountain, followed by a quick descent into the core of the mountain. As riders enter this cavernous new world of mythical creatures and navigate through five layers of a 4-Dimensional medieval world, they will be in the heat of the battle with guardians of the dragon’s treasure. While immersed in this interactive experience, riders will have an opportunity to showcase their gaming skills as they compete against their fellow riders, in a bid to land a coveted spot in the Wonder Mountain’s Guardian Hall of Fame. The quest will culminate as riders enter the dragon’s lair for the ultimate battle with Lord Ormaar, and experience a heart stopping finale that will shock thrill seekers of all ages."

Canada's Wonderland also released a fun video that introduces us to the cast of Wonder Mountain's Guardian, both the good and bad guys.  There's all sorts of creatures that riders will be blasting along the way, including bats, crabs, spiders, archers, and draconians.  Stansien, seen above as well, will be our guide as we travel through the dark caverns of the mountain.  The ride culminates in an encounter with the giant dragon Lord Ormaar and some sort of physical effect that has not yet been revealed.

I hope everyone heads to the park tomorrow to check out the new ride - I can't wait to hear and see more!  I'm still hopeful that this one will be a hit so that we can see similar attractions developed throughout the Cedar Fair chain.