Friday, October 31, 2014

Massive Expansion Revealed for Tokyo Disneyland Resort

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday the owner of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea revealed quite a 'treat,' no trick here.  They will be spending a nearly insane $4.45 billion to expand both parks over the next ten or so years.

The announcement includes two large projects: an expansion of Fantasyland at Tokyo Disneyland that will nearly double the size of the land, and a totally new Port at Tokyo DisneySea.   Plenty of the expansion money will also be spent on smaller changes at both parks to make the guest experience more comfortable, and backstage improvements will also take place.

The least amount of details are available about the new Port in DisneySea; however rumors are swirling that an entire new land may be built themed around Frozen.  The land left for development is in the Southern corner of the park, and is listed as around the size of the Arabian Coast area.

Tokyo Disneyland's expansion to Fantasyland can be seen in this released concept art.  Click the image for a larger version to see additional detail.

The park will be removing a big part of Tomorrowland in order to complete the work, with both the Star Jets and Grand Circuit Raceway heading into history.  It appears as though the pink area next to the Alice in Wonderland themed eatery will be a new Alice mini-land, which is where Small Wold currently is.  That blue building on the far right appears to be the new home of Small World - yes - the park is moving the entire ride!  There's also what looks like a Beauty and the Beast area, and some sort of village that I'm not sure the purpose of.

Here's a look at the current area of the park, reversed in direction from the concept art above.  The entire red area is the section of the park that will be removed and built over.  The orange circle is the current Small World building, which will be removed or reused for something Alice themed, it appears.  The building next to it is the Pooh dark ride structure.  The small area that isn't changing in the south part of this image is Toontown.

This unprecedented announcement is so big that the parks aren't ready to give all details out, or opening dates for all the new attractions.  All I have to say is: wow!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dorney Park Announces New Attraction + Changes for 2015 Season

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom has announced a brand new family ride, a new restaurant experience and a new season pass dining plan for the park's 2015 season.

© Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
Visitors will be swinging into next year on the all-new Cedar Creek Flyers, a family friendly ride that will be located next to Stinger on the park's lower midway.  The attraction will be manufactured by Larson International of Texas, and feature eight two-passenger carriages.  As the center of the ride spins, the carriages will be able to fly at a maximum of 28 feet over the midway.  Each car will allow riders to control the "thrill level" of their experience using a moveable front wing.

This style of attraction as long be a fan favorite at parks across the country, and Dorney Park is excited to add it to its line up.  “The Cedar Creek Flyers are a perfect complement to our collection of family rides,” said Brad Marcy, vice president and general manager of Dorney Park. “They build on Dorney’s reputation as a great entertainment value for families with young kids.”

Cedar Creek Flyers will go in the circular area in Stinger's shadow.
Cedar Fair has already successfully introduced the Flyers at several other parks, including Cedar Point and Michigan's Adventure.  The interactive nature of the ride leads it to be a very repeatable experience, and a new attraction at the far end of the park will add a great deal of life to the area.  The location for the ride will be in the already-paved circular area next to Stinger.

Patio Pizza currently © Google
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom have been steadily improving their food offerings over the past few seasons, beginning when they added executive chef Jan Giejda in 2013.  The park was the first to bring Chickie's & Pete's to the Lehigh Valley, and last year created a new Build-Your-Own Funnel Cake stand and debuted a new food truck, along with changing menus throughout the park.

The changes will continue in 2015 as the Patio Pizza stand, located in the center of the park near Dominator, will be transformed into the Smokehouse Barbecue.  The new restaurant will feature "BBQ favorites such as smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and hush puppies."  The unique menu will be created by the park's executive chef, who is "excited to offer our guests a full BBQ style meal, including sides like homemade mac & cheese and southern style desserts.” 

While the bones of the Patio Pizza stand, seen above, will remain, major changes will take place to create an indoor cafeteria style serving area.  The large dining patio adjacent to the restaurant will remain, though final plans are still underway.  I have no doubt that the Smokehouse Barbecue will be an extremely popular spot in the park next year.

Finally, an All Season Dining Plan will be offered in 2015 to season pass holders.  Those who purchase the plan are entitled to one lunch and dinner each day they visit the park in 2015 at locations such as Amore Pizza, Coasters, Burger Barn and the new Smokehouse Barbeque.  More details, including pricing options, are available on the park's website.

It is great to see the ride side of the park see some action after giving Wildwater Kingdom a head-to-toe makeover in 2014!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Could FunTown Pier Return to Seaside Heights in 2015?

FunTown Pier, Seaside Heights, NJ, was largely destroyed after 2012's Hurricane Sandy (two years ago today, to be exact) blew through town.  Then, just about one year later, a fire started under the boardwalk and burned what was left of the park, along with an additional expansive area that included 50+ businesses.

After that you'd think the park's owners would give up, but apparently not.  The park's owner, Bill Major, has plans to bring the park back as soon as next summer, depending on government approvals.
He is seeking approval to rebuild FunTown on an even bigger pier, and feature even larger rides.  He is also hoping for new regulations that would allow him to build attractions up to 300 feet tall.

At the very least the plan is to rebuild the pier as soon as possible in its original footprint, and when that is complete he wants to put in either "a log flume or a big coaster."  I know which of the two I'd pick!

Mr. Major said a lot of rides have been scoped out for the new park, such as a "gigantic" roller coaster and a 250 foot tall Ferris wheel, but he held off buying them until he knows he has permission to build them.

Between Sandy's wrath and last year's fire, there are no attractions left that were salvageable, meaning FunTown will literally be rebuilt from scratch.  Much luck to the owners in the process of rebuilding, our fingers are crossed!

Second B&M Dive Coaster Opening in Europe in 2015

Italy's Gardaland will also be the home of a B&M Dive Coaster in 2015, another smaller one like we saw announced earlier for Efteling.

The ride does not appear to have an official name yet, but it does have an official website that is filled with mysterious videos about the ride.  The park is using the above "point of no return" as a current tagline, while the website also seems to be using a codename of "operation orange."

Which is an interesting codename, since the ride - both supports and track - are white:

This image is from the park's construction webcam, which they unfortunately have edited to keep the lift, turn, and first drop unseen.  If you look close you can see that an old image is being shown on top of those ride segments.

But, since the ride is standing in the middle of the park, there are plenty of current photos floating around.  Check out the entry for the ride on RCDB, and you can see photos of the ride from a few days ago.  After the first drop there is a tunnel, then up into a reverse dive-loop.  It looks like after that it will be a short trip back to the station with possibly one additional inversion.  RCDB states the ride's track at only 1,850 feet long - still 300 feet longer that Krake at Heide Park.

We also do not know the height of the ride or its drop length, but I can't imagine it will be too long before all the details are released!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dollywood Planning Huge Addition for 2016

Last week when Dollywood placed the highest spire of the DreamMore Resort, the Times News ran a story about both the new hotel and the current goings-on at the property.

Here's a link to the story, which also points out that Dollywood is having a really good season, despite a higher than average number of rainy days.

The real reason to check out the article is that it mentions that the park is planning a rather large expansion for 2016, at least according to the Dollywood Company President, Craig Ross.  Here's the quote:

"We're very busy behind closed doors," Ross said. "To plan what we will announce next year as one of the biggest single attraction additions in our 30-year history for 2016. I can't share details, but can tell you plans are underway."

Considering the recent additions to Dollywood - the past ten years included Thunderhead, Mystery Mine, River Battle, all of Country Fair, Barnstormer, Wild Eagle, FireChaser Express and more - the park is on a very aggressive expansion.

As to what the park will build, one would seem to think it is time for a break from roller coasters.  The park could do great with some sort of dark ride, but for it to be one of the largest additions I would think some slick technology might be included.  Water rides are always a solid addition, and can be large projects, but the park has the river rapids and log flume already covered.  For some reason an indoor attraction just seems to fit, but I could be totally off.

With regard to where a new attraction, whatever it may be, could go - well here's one idea.  The crazy long and windy path from the entrance plaza up to Thunderhead (in yellow above) passes by a large undeveloped area.  Sure, the area is another hill - but that hasn't stopped the park before!

I can't remember where, but I believe I read that some early land clearing was already going on in this area as well.  Granted this could be related to some sort of resort-only entrance because it is close to the parking lots, but a big addition over here would help to balance out the park's crowds as well.

Here is one other thought, though this represents a potentially even larger project than just one addition.  The park has said in the past that they want to expand up into the 'train loop' - the area seen here in red in the upper right that is already cleared out and bordered by the train tracks.  To help place the area, the orange circle is FireChaser Express under construction.

The 'loop' is located at a higher elevation that the current park, which is in valleys for the most part.  However, if the train was used to get people up there via a new station, and perhaps one other backup form of transportation, I could see this being the park's 'next frontier.'

But, a lot of infrastructure would need to be put in place to make that area a part of the park - I would think that's the cost of one 'large' attraction right there!  So we shall see if the park takes on a project of that size soon, or works on it in smaller pieces.

Whatever they have up their sleeve I know I speak for us all when we say we can't wait to find out more!

Central Amusements' Latest Plan for Playland + New Ride Design

Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker held a presentation/Q&A session last week with potential Rye Playland operator Central Amusements Inc. (CAI).  The company has remained interested in operating the park throughout the recent years of uncertainty, including when Sustainable Playland was 'chosen' as an operator, only to have them fall apart.

The presentation was held at a local library and is not a formal pitch to run the park, instead it is just to help the public interact with those who want to run the park, share their thoughts, etc.  Another operator, Standard Amusements will have their presentation in about a week.

The presentation was added to YouTube, but warning, when including the question and answer segment it's well over an hour long.  I will admit I only got through just over half.

Anyway, there were a few interesting slides that we have not seen before, and many we have.  To see the progression of CAI plans for Rye Playland, just read through our articles.

The image above shows the most current plan of investments in Rye Playland, showing some big numbers which would represent a lot of new rides and attractions over the next five years.

However, CAI is quick to point out that the $26 million planned could easily be expanded over the years.  They shared this slide of their developments in Coney Island, showing how they promised to spend $23 million there in 5 years, and ended up spending a cool $43 million.

Also, if you were wondering how much the new Thunderbolt cost, will there you have it - somewhere just under $10 million.

Now for that new ride - CAI previously said they would be interested in bringing a world record breaking pendulum ride to the park, but during this presentation mentioned adding brand new items as well, never before seen.

The image above is of the ride they were speaking of, labeled a Giant Air Race.   It looks like they've taken a normal Air Race ride and lifted it quite a bit off the ground during the ride cycle.  It is hard to tell from this concept, but it looks like the ride could be upwards of 100 feet off the ground.  Interesting, no?

If you would like to see the video of the presentation, I will embed it below.  If anyone makes it the whole way through and there are any other interesting items, please share!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Rampage Rides Again at Alabama's Splash Adventure

This past season Alabama's Splash Adventure operated with new owners, and the former ride side of the park sat mostly empty in the summer sun.  Sad, but only temporary.  Dan Koch, one of the park's new owners, made it clear that he had plans to get the amusement park back up and running, and one of his first tasks would be to fix up Rampage, the park's large wooden roller coaster.

© Alabama's Splash Adventure
It took some time, and a whole lot of effort, but Dan kept his word - this past weekend the coaster operated during an event for the American Coaster Enthusiasts.  The early buzz is that the coaster is back and better than ever, flying along the track and delivering plenty of air-time.

The park had to have a crew come during the summer to inspect and fix the ride's track, which is a huge project on its own.  The coaster had sat unused for over two years, which takes a lot of toll on a wooden ride such as Rampage.  The ride's trains also underwent a full rebuild and refurbishment, the shiny new red train can be seen above.

© Alabama's Splash Adventure
Now, after spending well over $1 million to get the ride back up and running, Rampage will be waiting for us all when the park opens in 2015.  The coaster originally opened in 1998 when the park was named Visionland, and features a 120 foot tall lift hill and a maximum speed of over 55 miles per hour.

The coaster was well known as an above average ride previously, and now has had extra care to really make it shine.  Here's to a great 2015 season for the park - hopefully we may even hear of some additions to the park soon!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Silver Dollar City Hard at Work on 2015 Addition + Christmas News

© Silver Dollar City
Back in August Silver Dollar City announced an $8 million expansion named Fireman's Landing, which will be packed with six new family rides and four new attractions.

Soon after the announced closure of the Geyser Gulch interactive play area, Silver Dollar City began removing old structures to make way for the new themed area.  Before long the area was wiped clean, expect for a few older thematic elements.

Fast forward to now, and plenty of structures and new rides, are already in place at the park.  SDCFans has a nice photo update of the recent status of Fireman's Landing, available here.

You'll see that the new FireFall S&S Double Shot ride is already standing, complete with a new top piece, and the steel structure for the large new indoor play house is also up.  The pads for many rides are in place, and the steel structure for the balloon ride - Fire Spotter - is also up.  Looking great so far!

Silver Dollar City's annual holiday celebration, An Old Time Christmas, starts on November 1st and the park has announced a major new attraction for this year.

Rudolph's Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade will cost the park a cool $1 million, and feature Rudolph himself as the grand marshal.  2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the original Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the park will be celebrating that milestone in style.

The evening parade will feature nine separate floats, each complete with music and plenty of twinkling lights - 100,000 in total.  Other favorite characters, such a Sam the Snowman and Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster will be featured.  There will also be "33 colorful costumed characters, 14-foot moose characters, 12-foot tall elves and 10-foot candy canes, plus penguins, elves and a troupe of marching wooden soldiers."

Silver Dollar City's An Old Time Christmas is known as one of the premier holiday events in the country, featuring dramatic live entertainment along with 5 million lights around the park.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cedar Fair Files Very Interesting New Trademark

I love a new Cedar Fair trademark filing as much as the next guy, but I really love it when the name being trademarked is a great mystery:

Yes, Cedar Fair filed a trademark for "Voyage to the Iron Reef" on October 14th.  What in the world is "Voyage to the Iron Reef" you're wondering?  Well, I am too.

The trademark is being filed for 'the usual' items that come with a large new ride or attraction, for use in categories such as amusement park rides, souvenirs of all kinds, clothing and more.

My mind is trying to put together what this will be, and I keep thinking that it can't be for a roller coaster... the name is simply too long.  That then takes me to a dark ride or something along those lines.  We haven't heard of a possible name for Knott's new dark ride, so could this be it?

Looking around the interwebs for "iron reef" doesn't show much, aside from a Louisiana based diving company, and sites about putting iron in your fish tank.  That would lead me to believe that Cedar Fair's version of an "iron reef" may be a mythical place, which also seems to fit with a dark ride theme.

Plus, the building that Knott's is rumored to be using for a dark ride is in the Boardwalk themed area, and oceans are certainly found near boardwalks.

Or, this could be for something even further down the line, like a 2016 project (water ride?) that we've heard nothing of yet. 

What do you guys think?  What is the "voyage to the iron reef?"

Comcast Revenues Soar in Theme Park Division - Thanks, Harry!

Comcast's 3rd quarter earnings came out this past week, and the success of its theme park division, a part of its NBCUniversal segment, continues its upward trend.

Comcast is a gigantic company, so although the parks division is doing really well, there's still limited detail included in the earnings releases.  But there are some interesting numbers to look at.

Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida
The 3rd quarter of 2014 saw the company's theme park division post a 18.7% increase in revenues, up to $786 million compared to $661 million in 2013.  A huge part of this is higher attendance and guest spending from the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.

For the first nine months of the year the parks segment's revenues increased 13.1% to $1.9 billion, compared to $1.7 billion last year.

It is not just more people that are coming out to the parks for the latest additions, it's record numbers of people!  The company reports that the added hotel capacity from Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Diagon Alley, led to "record summer attendance and a record labor day" in Orlando.

Transformers The Ride, another recent addition.
Also as expected, the amount of cash being spent inside Universal Studios Florida due to Diagon Alley is astounding, leading to double digit increases in per capita spending.  Also as planned, a large increased in park-to-park ticket sales has taken place, with guests wanting to experience both parks and Hogwarts Express.

It is no wonder that NBCUniversal is still itching to expand the Orlando resort even further - they seem to be no where near the roof on how many additional people they can get to come to the parks.

The release also said that Despicable Me at Universal Studios Hollywood is continuing to drive "strong attendance."  It sounds like they are anxious to see the response of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter once it opens in a couple years in Hollywood.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Buh-Bye Big Disney's Hollywood Studios Hat!

© Disney's Hollywood Studios
This isn't really much "news," in the traditional sense, but for fans of the Florida Disney parks this is pretty much a big deal.  The large sorcerer Mickey hat that has been sitting in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre replication in Disney's Hollywood Studios is finally on its way out.

The park confirmed the news today that the hat, which arrived at the park in 2001, will be removed early next year.  The reason why Disney fans are so happy to see the hat go has to do with the impact it had on the Hollywood Boulevard themed area, mostly the views from within it.  The park's original design used the Grauman Theatre as a "weenie," and the hat - well it got in the way.  Plus, the hat is very large and busy, with a store and stage underneath it.

Disney's Hollywood Studios also confirmed the removal of The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, a show based on the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, on November 6th.

Previously announced was the closure of the Backlot Tour, which oddly hasn't been taken off the park's map yet.  Probably because without it the small park will look too tiny!  It seems like big plans are under way, perhaps Star Wars themed if you listen to the rumors.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Spins into 2015 with Sky Force

The Sky Force, a brand new Gerstlauer Sky Fly attraction, will debut at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 2015, it has been announced.

The park has teamed with the "world famous" Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, known as the Red Arrows, to create the theme of the new flat ride.  The park touts that this is the world's first tourist attraction to have a ride themed to the famed aerobatic team.  The Red Arrows are a part of the Royal Air Force and are known for their aerobatic formations, especially the "diamond nine" formation.

The Sky Force ride will allow riders to control their flight, the ride vehicles can be seen in the upper right of the artwork the park has released.  The attraction will feature a control tower where new pilots will prepare for take-off.

The 12 individual vehicles are located at the end of a giant rotating arm, which moves 360 degrees at a maximum height of 72 feet above the ground.  Riders have the ability to help their plane spin, and full rotations are possible.

At the end of the ride experience guests will be able to check out a Red Arrows shop, with merchandise available exclusively at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  The park has indicated that the ride will be located near the Big One roller coaster.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Heard On... Six Flags 3rd Quarter 2014 Results Call

Six Flags Entertainment Corp. has announced their 3rd quarter results, which saw revenues grow to a record $542 million, 7% better than the quarter last year.  This also made EBITDA rise 8% to $291 million, on a 6% increase in per capita spending and flat attendance.

The solid results led the operator to announce a new goal - to reach $600 million in modified EBITDA by 2017.  EBITDA is the earnings before taxes and depreciation, and is commonly looked at by the investing community as a key statistic.

The company held a conference call to discuss the results, and while there isn't any huge news in there here are some notes:

• The quarter saw Six Flags produce a modified EBITDA margin of 40.7%, which they say is an industry record.

• Six Flags is continuing to slowly raise ticket prices and erase the deep discounting that the previous operators relied on to draw guests to the park.

• The Season Pass Membership program, where a monthly fee is paid by the guest year round, has created a 10% increase in the number of active pass holders.

• With regard to the contracts that have been formed for Six Flags branded parks around the globe, the company feels there can be more to come and that this segment will be a "sustainable, valuable and significant long term growth opportunity."  They are also in talks with more operators for additional parks.

• The company plans to continue to invest 9% of revenues into new capital projects, and use excess earning for stock dividends.  They also announced a 11% increase in the quarterly dividend per share.

• Year to date revenue includes $10 million of "international revenue," which I would assume are payments for the Six Flags branded parks being developed.

• The addition of Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Over Georgia will help to create additional revenue in the typically slow 4th quarter.

• Management was asked if they plan to acquire new parks to help reach the new goal of $600 million EBITDA, and management said they do not plan to take that route.  Sorry CNL parks!

• The revenues for Six Flags branded parks outside the U.S. will come from a design period that lasts until the parks open, then long term there will be management and licensing fees.  This actually sounds like a pretty great deal for the company overall.

Dollywood's DreamMore Resort Reaches Construction Milestone

The highest section of Dollywood's new DreamMore Resort was put into place today, marking an important milestone in the project's construction.  The resort's entrance tower, which will eventually greet guests as they arrive, was topped with the structure's highest spire.

The 307 room hotel will open right next door to both Dollywood and Splash Country in 2015.

© Dollywood
This photo shows that final spire being lifted into place, but also just how far along the outside of the building is.  Construction work will now focus on the resort's guest rooms and common areas.

The property also announced two key personnel additions for the property: "Kevin Osborn was appointed as General Manager of Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort after spending many years in leadership roles within Marriott International. Cordelia Marzak joins the team as Director of Sales and Marketing. Marzak joins the team after her tenure with JHM Hotels in Orlando."

The DreamMore Resort was inspired by Dolly Parton's memories of growing up in the Smoky Mountains, and will invite families to share stories, celebrate memories, and create new ones.  The property will offer amenities such as shuttle service to the parks, indoor and outdoor pools, landscaped gardens and a full service restaurant, salon and spa.

The resort is now accepting reservations for next year, and is the second addition that is part of a previously announced 10 year, $300 million growth plan.  The first addition was FireChaser Express, a family roller coaster that opened at Dollywood this year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Demo Underway at Valleyfair for 2015 Soak City Expansion

The addition of a large water slide tower and a family splash pad area to Valleyfair's Soak City in 2015 meant that a couple older structures had to bit the dust.  And they really turned to dust - and quickly!

© Dave Frazier
The park's General Manager, Dave Frazier, was tweeting along the progress of the demolition, which took place over three days last week.  The park had previously removed the large IMAX Theater, and the Hydroblaster wet/dry slides - opening up the start of a large expansion pad.  Now they've bulldozed a Subway building, dining patio, restrooms and some games as well.

The combined space will easily fit the new slide tower and splash area, and one might think there will be some room left over.  The park's Mad Mouse roller coaster will actually be a bit isolated now, with not much directly around it beside Soak City.

The expansion area is viewable from Valeyfair's webcam, a screen cap of which can be seen above.  The bulldozer in the middle is where the recent buildings came down, opening up a long space for the slide tower.  The splash pad area will be in the foreground, on the land from the IMAX Theater.

WhiteWater Secures Record-Breaking Deal for China Park

WhiteWater has announced that they have the "largest-ever single order for the global water park sector," striking a deal with Zhengzhou Yinji Kaifeng Waterpark in China that is worth in excess of $29 million.

The new water park will be the largest in China when it opens in 2015, featuring both indoor and outdoor sections.  The indoor section will have peak capacity of 15,000 guests, with the outdoor part handling 32,000.

An example Giant RainFortress © WhiteWater
The amount of attractions that are a part of the deal are staggering:

• Nine separate waterslide towers with a combined 50 waterslides
• Three custom themed AquaPlay structures
• A Shoot the Chute splash ride
• Three different wave pools
• Two types of wave rivers
• A FlowRider Double

The work for Zhengzhou Yinji Kaifeng Waterpark includes designing the entire park, providing engineering services, construction management as well as after sales service and maintenance.  “This is a remarkable project for WhiteWater,” says Geoff Chutter, the company’s CEO and founder. “Since 1980, we’ve been committed to creating world-class, entertaining waterparks. Yinji Dynasty’s recent order is a testament to that commitment and to our growth.”

I can't wait to see photos of this monster sized project as it develops!

CNL Lifestyle Owned Parks to Soon Have New Owners

CNL Lifestyle Properties is an investment company that has owned several amusement and water parks for years now.  A recent filing with the SEC by the company points out that their are nearing the end of their investment cycle, which means that they will begin selling off their investments (for a profit, one would hope).  For instance, they just finished an agreement to sell a ton of golf courses they also owned.

Here's a list, created by CNL, of the parks they currently own:

This is quite a mix of properties, but there are several of note.  Those include Darien Lake, Elitch Gardens, Frontier City, Magic Springs, Pacific Park, and Wild Waves Theme Park.  There are also a lot of water parks, with bigger names like the North American Wet 'n' Wild parks, and two of the Hawaiian Falls parks.

CNL doesn't operate any of these parks, since they are investments, with different firms handling that portion under contract.

Darien Lake is managed by Herschend Family Entertainment, and has seen modest additions in recent years.  I have to wonder how tightly CNL held the purse strings, limiting what Herschend could really do.  It would make sense to me for them to purchase the park, but you never know.  If they do it could mean a whole new chapter in the park's life, and one that could be exciting.

Elitch Gardens, Frontier City, White Water Bay and the Wet 'n' Wild Parks are currently operated by Premier Parks, LLC - a company that has changed names several times already but was founded by former Six Flags executives.  I would also think that if they can get the loan, they would go for purchasing these parks as well.

Magic Springs is managed by AMP, Wild Waves by NorPoint Entertainment, and Pacific Park by Santa Monica Amusements LLC, so it is not clear if these entities could/would purchase those parks or if another operator would swoop in.

As for all the other smaller water parks and fun centers, well your guess is a good as mine right now.  I'm not sure I see any of the big operators - like Six Flags or Cedar Fair - going after and of CNL's parks, but it would be interesting if they did - for sure!  Either way I'm sort of glad to see the parks leave CNL ownership since I think they stifled them a bit.  I'll be excitedly on the lookout for news of sales.

Monday, October 20, 2014

High Flying New Flat Ride Headed to Liseberg in 2015

Many parks would take a year off after a huge coaster addition like Helix, but Liseberg (Gothenburg, Sweden) will do no such thing.

The park just announced the addition of Mechanica, a massive new flat ride for the park's 2015 season.

The park has prepared a video showing animations of the new attraction:

Mechanica will stand an impressive 30 meters tall, or 98 feet.  The attraction will be built by Zierer, one of the company's "Star Shape" rides.  The spinning motions that Mechanica will create are hard to describe - here is how Liseberg's press release handles the description:  "The ride can best be described as flying at high speed in a pendulum motion while gradually spinning round on two axes through 360 degrees."

So basically the simple version is that you will spin - a lot - and flip - a lot.  Mechanica's theme will also be strong, “through a combination of unique design, carefully selected music and inspiration draw from eighteenth-century Gothenburg we are aiming to create an all-round experience. It will be a strange machine that mixes contemporary and historical elements, like something straight out of a fairy tale.”

The ride will seat 30 guests per 90 second cycle, and represent an investment of over $4 million.  You can see more of the ride over at Liseberg's website.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Remembering Cedar Point's Mantis

It is only a matter of hours until Cedar Point's Mantis stand-up roller coaster closes for the last time.  Already announced to be transforming into Rougarou as a floorless coaster in 2015, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the original Mantis announcement materials.

Many moons ago when new rides were announced we used to receive packets in the snail mail with materials from the Parks - that's probably a weird concept for many of you!  Above is the logo sheet that was sent by the park for use in publishing, however I scanned it in so it looks perdy.  As we all know, Mantis was originally announced to be named Banshee, but changed shortly thereafter.

While fact sheets are still utilized on websites these days, they also were printed and mailed once upon a time.  Here is Mantis' fact sheet, covering the basics of the ride.  Most of these statistics will stay the same when it becomes Rougarou, due to using the same layout.

And speaking of layout, the park also sent this look at Mantis' structure to give a visual impression of what was to come.  I'm sure many ride fans studied this image for days, excited to give Mantis a try the following Spring. 

Though not a part of the press materials when the ride was announced, the park did a nice spread on the coaster in the 1996 Getaway Guide, seen above.  They even included some neat sketches of the stand-up coaster trains, along with their color designs.

Hopefully everyone got to the Point to get in their final Mantis rides by now - if not you still have a few hours until it fades into history!

Two Inversions Now Complete on Holiday World's Thunderbird Launched Coaster

© Holiday World
Wasting no time with the construction of Thunderbird, Holiday World recently completed the launched wing coaster's second inversion.

What about the first?  Well that happened when I was away, but the highest point of the coaster - and first inversion - is also in place.  Seen above, the Thunderbird trains will launch into the Immelmann at 60 miles per hour, then flip upside down 140 feet in the sky.

© Holiday World
Just one week later the next big element on the ride was topped off, a 125 foot tall vertical loop.  Thunderbird's colors look beautiful set among the trees in the park - almost like it is trying to convince the trees to turn into a similar shade of orange!

© Holiday World
Here is one more shot of the newly completed vertical loop.  The track immediately after it passes high over the path of The Voyage, the mega-wooden coaster at the park.  The rest of the Thunderbird course will take place among the trees and feature two more inversions along with near-miss elements.

These photos come from Holiday World's Twitter feed, which you can find here.  Also if you haven't seen the fun "you control it" webcam that the park has up for Thunderbird, head over to their website to check that out, too.

Finally, here's a short video showing the topping of the vertical loop and other construction footage that Holiday World has released:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Carowinds Continues Fury 325 Construction

Hey, while the weather is nice why not get as much steel in place as you can?  Then again I suppose the winters aren't quite as bad for Carowinds - regardless - the park has placed plenty of additional Fury 325 supports in the past few weeks.  I'm still catching up from my trip, but saw a couple photos worth sharing.

© Carowinds
This peaceful early morning shot shows off all that has been completed so far.  After lifting the first piece of track into place, which appears to be for the station, the transfer track barn went up really fast.

Carowinds then moved to the other supports that make up the very end of the ride, which include the final brake run.

© Carowinds
Here is a closer look at the brake run with the transfer barn in the background, from the official Fury 325 website's construction photo gallery.  The track will slope downward after this, before completing a 180 degree turn to arrive back at the station.

With the park continuing to pour footers for the rest of the layout, it won't be long until we see more of Fury 325 rise toward the sky.

Friday, October 17, 2014

First Full POV of Twisted Colossus Released + New Details

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
The L.A. Times' Funland theme park blog got a major scoop in the form of the first full point of view video of Six Flags Magic Mountain's new Twisted Colossus ride.

The coaster, which is being converted from a wooden ride into a Rocky Mountain designed steel monster, only previously had video released that was a mix of on and off-ride shots.

When Twisted Colossus was first announced there was much debate about how the park would take two separate racing wood coaster tracks and convert them into one single 4,990 foot long steel track - but still have trains race and interact with each other on the course.

The new video answers that question nicely, explaining that the ride will need to dispatch a train every 110 seconds in order have the trains interact as designed.  Block brakes will allow multiple trains out on the course at the same time, so that as a train starts the second (green) lift hill another will just be starting up the first (blue) lift hill.

This means that each train will actually duel with a different train on each leg of the course, first with one that's already completed half the course, then with one that just started the ride.

© Six Flags Magic Mountain
The new point of view video also shows off the wacky track that has been designed for the trek toward the first lift hill.  No boring straight track to be found there!

Check out the new video, along with an article that is packed with new details, at this link.